Billy Graham once said, Without dark clouds in our life, we could never know the joy of sunshine.
As true as that is, it doesn't make those dark times easier to go through. Today, I want to suggest that when we're depressed, when we're in those painful periods of our lives, God actually can and wants to do something very significant in us. Stay with me. I think this truth is really going to help you. Thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. Living on the Edge is an international discipleship ministry featuring the daily Bible teaching of Chip Ingram. I'm Dave Druey, and in this program, you'll hear the second half of Chip's message, Understanding the Power of Purpose, which is part of our ongoing series, I Choose Joy. Today, Chip's going to remind us that despite the hurts and struggles of our everyday life, God is still in control, and he's actually helping us become more like Jesus. If you're ready to learn more about how God does that, turn in your Bibles to Philippians 1 as we join Chip for his talk. In God's economy, mark it down.
The shortest distance between two points is a zigzag line. You can look at Joseph. You can look at Moses. You can look at the children of Israel. You can look at your life. You can study church history. You can look at the lives of people that you really admire, that God has greatly used and have great character. And I will tell you this. The game plan was a zigzag line. So what I want to help you do is learn we can actually choose joy when we know that these current circumstances, God actually is using them. There is a purpose behind him. It's not linear. It's not always the way we think.
You got it? A number of years ago, I'd give you probably a million illustrations, but one of the most graphic for me, because it was so devastating. Have you heard all my crazy stories? I'm a basketball holly, and I love to work out. And I remember a number of years ago, and I was playing a lot of pickup ball with college guys, was still in good shape. It was a misty, rainy day. And I thought, boy, I don't want to play outside. We'll slip.
Someone will get hurt. So we went over to Bethany College, played some pickup ball with some college guys, and I was just having a great day. And I was dribbling down, and out of my eye, I saw a guy filling the lane. I was going to throw my John Stockton off the bounce pass.
And he was one of my heroes, by the way. And as I got right to here to do it, and then my eye caught, another guy saw me, and he was going to get it. So I leaned more, and I really put the mustard on it. So all my whites on this, and I torqued it. And it was like a gun went off.
Bam! And I was like, oh my gosh, what happened? Anything inside of a knee that can blow up, blew up.
I mean, ACL, MCL, meniscus. I find myself going to physical therapy after surgery, and a lady begins to talk to me, who's my physical therapist. I learned very early on, her dad is like the super-fired-up atheist, hates Christians. She finds out on my paper I'm a pastor. So you're one of them, and I mean, she is ticked off. Here we go, here we go. Oh my gosh, Lord, would you give me an opportunity? Here's what I can tell you.
I don't know, it's maybe after the sixth, seventh, or eighth appointment, and I've done it about a month or so. And so finally she puts her hands on her hips, and if you've ever rehabbed, sometimes they push you, and it's like you're just ready to cry. It hurts so bad.
I thought she enjoyed it. I really do. You Christians. My dad thought I hate you guys. And so she goes, okay, so what's with you? I said, so what do you mean, what's with me?
I watch how you act, you know, you kind of know everybody in here, and your attitude, and you're not at all like those Christians that my dad told me about. And I said, do you really want to know? She goes, yeah. I said, no, no, do you really want to know? She says, yeah.
I said, your dad missed out, he doesn't know. And I began to explain to her who Jesus was, and to make a long story short, I saw her trust Christ. She'd been through a horrendous hardship, and abandoned by a husband, and had a little five-year-old girl. And I remember when I had the chance to baptize her later, and I remember then she'd come to church and sit way up front. She says, I want my little girl to... It was like, wow, this music, and when we worship, and what God's doing in me.
Her life just 180. And what I remember thinking, because I went back to playing basketball, and I had this brace, and you know, it's kind of bummed out. Like, you know, okay, I lost my first step.
Of course, didn't have much of one at that age anyway, and couldn't jump at all. And God said, so Chip, let me get this right. Do you think just blowing out your knee, a little difficulty, a little challenge, is worth that young woman's eternal future, and what happens to her daughter? And I remember thinking, wow. You know, Lord, that is so awesome. That is so awesome. Would I give a knee for someone in what I saw?
Absolutely. What are you going through? What are you going through right now that God wants to use so that other people, so the gospel can go forth? How you respond to the difficulty, the pain, the injustice?
What's happening at work, or what your ex is saying, or what's happening with one of your kids, or a health issue that everyone's going, wow, how do you even get through this? God wants to use your present circumstances, exhibit A, for the furtherance of the gospel, but that's not all. Exhibit B, here's another good thing that happened. The church grows stronger.
Notice what he says. And that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord, notice the phrase, because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear. See, when we step up, when he's in the midst of this, and he's being bold, the rest of us go, wow, you know something?
The Praetorian Guard, the church was being persecuted. And now they say, you know, if Paul can do it in prison, I can do it. I have two or three friends that have very high-level jobs in the high-tech world, and they're bold. I mean, they're out there, and they're not asking, can I do this, or can I say this? They're loving, they're kind, they're great at what they do, but they are bold. They're not afraid to say, yes, I'm a Christian, I'm not anti-intellectual, I'm not narrow, I'm not a hater. And by how they're living, and how they're treating people, I'll tell you what, it just makes me go, you know, I can do this.
I can do this. Sometimes adversity and difficult circumstances cause the gospel to go forth, and sometimes difficulty, circumstance, you know what it does? It builds the body. It causes the church to grow. One of my deepest zig-zags was God made it really clear, Chip, you have to be back in local church. I had the privilege of leading Walk Through the Bible and what they're doing here and all around the world. It was a great organization, but I wasn't teaching God's Word anymore.
I was just creating some videos and then traveling all around the world and kind of sharing it with a few people who would teach it to others. But, I mean, I wasn't teaching God's Word. And administrative responsibilities got bigger and bigger, and that's not my strength. And so God said, I want you to leave that and go back to local church. I said, okay. So, you know, I had this good transition plan and, no, I want you to resign.
God didn't understand. I don't have a job yet. I know. So do you trust me or not?
Okay. And so I thought, you know, that stage in my life, I bet there's a church somewhere and some people said, hey, yeah, why don't you think about this or that? And we came up with a profile. Here's what I want to tell you. For two years, I was not pastoring a church. Living on the Edge was developing and growing and get its feet as an independent organization. And I was in limbo. I mean, I woke up every day like, I mean, I went to a little makeshift office with a cardboard table with two other guys and two other employees wondering every month are we going to even pay the bills to get Living on the Edge moving and where it needs to be. And I wake up on Sunday morning and, you know, I'd visit this church and visit this church and then I found a friend that I went to this church. And, I mean, if you do what I do for a living, and I love visiting good churches, but, I mean, when I'm sitting in this row over here and thinking, Lord, what are you doing?
Are you kidding? You said to do this. It's been two years praying, processing. And here's what I learned is God wanted to do some things in me. It was crystal clear that we were to come here. He was preparing this church so this church would be ready and I would be ready and Teresa would be ready so we'd all come together. And let me tell you something that happened.
This is really, really cool. I never thought about this until this week and this passage. I thought about, okay, that two years was like wasted. Really, Chip?
Yeah. So what happened the two years? Well, we prayed and the internet was exploding and, you know, there's so many good communicators. Maybe we're only on the radio in order to develop a platform for discipleship. And we took this huge step of faith, and I'm sure we couldn't have done it if I was teaching full time. We took this huge step of faith and we said, you know something? We're really not just a teaching ministry.
That's never been a heart. It's a discipleship ministry. And so we went off three major morning time slots in top ten cities in America to shift the paradigm to say, the issue isn't how many people listen, it's how many people are growing and becoming reproducing disciples. And then we took that and we started building small group material and we decided we would launch small groups off the radio and then later digitally. And as I'm sitting here, I thought I wasted those two years.
Nothing could happen. We now have 27, I think, different small group resources used all around the world. We have over three million people that are either in or have been in small groups just in America alone. And all of that grew out of two years of limbo with a frustrated chip going, you know, what's the deal? What's the deal? And yet, those difficult times, it was a zigzag line. The gospel's going forth, yes. Second, the church was being strengthened. More people are growing deeper than if I was at a church, if I could have been at 10 churches, 15 churches, 100 churches.
Here's the deal. God knows where you're at. He knows what you're going through. Third, he takes our circumstances not only for the gospel to go forward, not only for the church to grow strong, but Paul gets very personal.
He says exhibit C is the man grows deep. When these zigzags happen and if it's cancer or losing your job or your mate walks out on you or one of your kids is going through a struggle, if you're clinically depressed, I don't know what it is with you. But we all have stuff, right? You were in justice. You were passed over for a promotion.
Where you thought you would be in your life is not where you are right now. And you wake up, you wake up almost every single day going, you know what, it's half full. I'm still single. It's half full. I still don't make any money. It's half full. I still don't own a house.
It's half full. I've had this physical problem, this ailment. I've prayed. I've been to the doctor's. Guess what?
I still got it. I want you to know that part of God's agenda is not just the gospel going out and not just the church getting stronger. Part of what he does is he transforms you and transforms me and sometimes pain, challenges, difficulty. I mean I got a testimony of a couple years of my back that have drawn me to Christ in ways that, and I already thought I was pretty close. Notice what Paul says. He says, some to be sure are preaching Christ even from envy and strife but some from goodwill. Then he goes on to talk about the latter, do it out of love, but the former are, they're messing with me. He's in prison.
The rumors are, here's what it is. Guess what? If Paul had more faith, he wouldn't be in prison. He can't be God's man. And people out of strife and envy and ego are, we're the new leaders in the church.
We're God's spokesman. It's not Paul. I mean their doctrine was right, but it was political. It was a power play.
It was an agenda. And Paul's in prison going, really guys? Are you kidding me? God blesses people, right? And if he's blessing you, you're in his will. And Paul's in prison.
You know what? We don't think he has enough faith. He's not the real leader we are. And Paul said when all that was happening, his reputation's being attacked. He feels that some of the people that he probably discipled are betraying him now. I mean this is a really difficult, where do you go with all that, Paul?
Notice what he says. He says, some good motives, right? Some bad motives. Are you ready? What's the purpose?
What's his lens? What's my purpose? What did God tell me to do? Why am I here? I'm here to take the gospel to all the world. I'm here to disciple people to be mature so they're like Jesus. That's my mission. So I'm being attacked. I happen to be in prison.
Yes, these rumors about me are this or that. He said, what, literally it's, what does it matter to me if Christ is preached? He goes, whether their motives are good or their motives are bad, my purpose and my mission is to preach the gospel and disciple people who disciple others. Guess what?
That's happening. He grows deep. You know, sometimes Apostle Paul or some of us that grew up in churches where all these 12 guys were in stained glass, or some of us grew up where the pastors or the clergy or the priests, they're way up here and we're all these just regular people. I got news for you. There's no superstars. Paul, you, me, everybody, he's got an ego. He had to wrestle. He had to struggle.
He had to feel like this isn't fair. But he had to come to the point where he would say, God, what do you want to do in me? And I think some ego issues, my reputation. You know what? You have my reputation. What people think of me, God, is what you think of me. In pain and difficulty, that's where God gets our attention. I want you to know that when you're going through pressure and it's difficult and it's hard and you're angry and you want to give up, ask this question, God, what do you want to do in me? God, how do you want to use this to help other people?
How do you want to grow your church? But what do you want to do in me? Don't miss out. Don't waste the pain.
Because if you meet very, very, very godly people who have amazing walks with God, what you'll find is they've been through a lot of pain. A very, very close friend. He has a physical issue going on right now that prevents him from driving. You know, he runs a business. He's got, I mean, and I mean, it is just, they've tried everything and there's no cure. And I am around this man and I will ask him, so how's it really going and how are you doing?
And, you know, are they, you know, they've tried a couple things and they give you a little temporary relief. And I mean, his attitude makes me want to just be like Jesus. His perspective, his attitude. You know, the Lord is teaching me a lot. And, you know, because of this, my wife is getting up at five in the morning and she's driving me to all the job sites. And, you know, it's a great time together. And he goes, you know, I've seen some things about myself I don't think I would have seen. And, you know, he's just saying, you know, God's purpose is to make me like Jesus. You know, do I like this? No.
But he doesn't complain. How about you? What's your purpose? And what if you started looking at what the half full issues in your life were through the lens, not just of focus, but of purpose. I want you to ask yourself three important questions. Three purpose statements for every single believer.
This is true of all of us. Purpose statement number one, I am an ambassador or messenger of the gospel. The gospel, the good news won't go anywhere in your relational network, where you live, where you work, if it doesn't come through you.
Not just your life, but your words. The purpose is to reach the lost. The people out there aren't bad, they're lost. They're lost, they don't know. I grew up in America, I had no idea what the gospel was.
Someone shared it with me. Here's the question. How could God use a difficult circumstance in your life to advance the gospel?
Are you taking advantage of that? Advance the gospel. Purpose statement number two, I'm called to encourage God's people to help them grow to full maturity.
Every single one of us. Why we talk about getting involved in ministry and getting in groups and God using you where you're at. Here's your purpose, it's to build the found.
No one grows on their own. Someone came up next to my life multiple times in different stages of my life. And in your life, if you've grown and they helped you, here's the deal. Who are you helping? Who are you discipling? Who are you mentoring?
Who are you coaching? Who do you care about? Their spiritual growth, well-being, quality of life, walk with God matters.
And you're building them up. Question, how could your adversity, how could your circumstances, how could your current difficulty build up a brother or sister in Christ? I want you to really think about that. Third purpose statement, I am a servant of the living God.
A servant, Jesus called himself a servant. Here's your purpose, become like our master. I don't know what you're going through, but I can tell you the will of God for sure.
You got this? Here's the will of God for sure. Whatever you're going through, no matter how good or how bad, God's agenda is to make you like Jesus.
So here's the question. What might God want to do in me through my present circumstance? Some of you might learn to pray like never before. Some of you might learn to love God's word like never before. David in Psalm 119 said, if I had not been afflicted, I'd have gone astray. But when I was afflicted, now I keep your word. Some of us need the difficulty we're in to woo us, to make us dependent, and to bring us back into a vital relationship with Jesus. Because it's not hearing God's word that changes things.
It's hearing with a heart that says, Lord, you see it all. You love me. I'm going to take a step toward you by faith. I'm going to take a step of faith. I'm going to believe you to the point of acting. I'm going to believe your promises are true. I'm going to believe you're using the zigzags and the circumstances for my good and for your glory. The question I would ask you is, whose purpose and agenda are you most eager to fulfill? When you look at your time and your schedule, your money, whose agenda, whose purpose? Yours or God's?
That's heavy. But God's working in our life. He is doing a great thing. Chip will be right back with his application for this message, Understanding the Power of Purpose, from his series, I Choose Joy. Let me ask you, how do people know you're a Christian?
What sets you and me apart that causes others to think, what's different about them? Through Chip's study in Philippians chapter one, he reveals how joy supernaturally works in our lives and why it draws so much attention from others. Chip also illustrates what joy has to do with our purposes, expectations, focus, and sense of hope.
If you've missed any part of this series or just want to share one of these messages with a friend, check out the Chip Ingram app. Well, Chip's joined me in studio now, and Chip, before we go any further, I thought it might be helpful for you to talk about what happens when people support us financially. I mean, when you ask people to partner with us, how are their gifts being used? You know, Dave, what I want you to know is that when you support Living on the Edge, you bring biblical teaching on core issues that at times is not politically correct, but is at the core of what brings about real life change and families that are stable and honor God. And what I'd ask you to do is, would you be willing to partner with us as we create these small group resources, as we put them on the app, as we pay for radio time, as we try to help families be all God wants them to be?
It requires an enormous amount of time and energy and financial support. And so if you have never given to Living on the Edge, now would be a great time to say, you know, I want to help them reach families. Or if you're a regular giver to Living on the Edge, first let me say thank you, and then let me ask you this, would you be willing to become a monthly partner?
You know, there's nothing quite like having people that you know that you can count on each and every month. The amount is immaterial, whether it's $10, $50, $100, God uses every single gift. If you would pray and just give whatever He shows you, we will be grateful and we'll invest 100% of it right back into the ministry. Thanks so much for whatever He leads you to do.
Thanks, Chip. Well, if you're already a financial partner, thank you. With your help, Living on the Edge is ministering to more people than ever before. But if you're benefiting from Chip's teaching and haven't yet taken that step, now would be a great time to join the team. To send a gift or become a monthly partner, go to livingontheedge.org or text the word DONATE to 74141. That's donate to 74141 or visit livingontheedge.org.
App listeners just tap donate. Well, with that, here's Chip with some final thoughts. As we wrap up today's program, I'm reminded of a quote by C.S.
Lewis. He says, pain insists on being attended to. In other words, pain gets our attention. It says, God whispers during the good times, but pain is His megaphone. And I think what happens sometimes is we're human and the Lord understands and we get our agenda and our purposes and our dreams and our desires a bit ahead of His. And we learned today that there's three statements that are true of every single believer. That God brings difficulty or allows difficulty in our life. But there's three purposes that we need to take and make these the lens of the troubled relationship or the health issue or the wayward child or the struggle in your marriage.
So let me remind you of what we learned. Number one is we have a purpose to reach the lost. So I'm an ambassador for Christ. So here's the first question. How could God use my current difficulty and circumstance to get the gospel out to people? They're watching you.
They really are. They're watching me and how we respond. The second is that God's will, His purpose for all of us, isn't that we reach simply the lost, but that we build up the found, that we disciple other people.
And so here's the question. How could God use my present circumstance or difficulty to encourage another believer? You know, most of the people that have helped me the most are people that have been through what I've been through. You understand the people that have been through a divorce can really help someone going through a divorce. A person who has been clinically depressed has wisdom to help others who are clinically depressed.
And it goes on and on. Could it be that God wants you to take what you're going through and reach out and help someone else? And then the third thing we learned is that God's purpose is to make us more and more like Jesus, to make us more like His Son.
So let me ask you this. What might God do in and through your current difficulty or circumstance or relationship to actually cause you to be more loving, more kind, more joy-filled, more trusting to have a deeper faith? Is it that He could use all these difficulties to sort of chisel away some of the carnality in your heart and my heart to make us more and more like His Son?
I think if you'll ask yourself those questions in the midst of your pain and your difficulty, what you're going to find, like the Apostle Paul, that you can choose joy and that He will bring good out of the most difficult seasons and times in your life. Thanks, Chip. You know, the points Chip just reviewed come right from his message notes, which are a great resource to help you get the most out of every program. It provides you with Chip's outline, all of the scripture he references, and lots of fill-ins to help you remember what you're learning. So before you listen again, let me encourage you to download Chip's message notes at livingontheedge.org under the Broadcasts tab. App listeners, tap Fill In Notes. Well, from all of us here, I'm Dave Druey thanking you for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge.
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