Today on Inside for Living, from Chuck Swindoll.
Train yourself, discipline yourself, and what's the goal? Godliness. Godliness doesn't just emerge in a life. You meet up with someone who has a walk with Christ that's consistent and enviable. You can be sure of this. She or she wasn't born that way.
No, it's a matter of discipline to get there. Most of us can readily identify a silver lining that occurred during the global pandemic. While many suffered losses untold, millions of others found a new rhythm in their lives.
The required mandates to stay at home brought solitude we'd never known. Well, today on Inside for Living, you'll hear a message from Chuck Swindoll that was presented in the midst of the pandemic. He draws a fascinating parallel between Paul's isolation and our own.
And through our shared experience, we'll learn how to respond in those rare moments when we're all alone. Please turn with me to the first chapter of the letter Paul wrote to the Galatians, Galatians chapter one. There are occasions in the scriptures where the apostle interjects a statement regarding his testimony, and on occasion he reveals things in one place where those details are not revealed anywhere else. And this is one of those times here in Galatians one, I'd like to begin reading at verse 11. Galatians one, 11. Reading from the New Living Translation, dear brothers and sisters, I want you to understand that the gospel message I preached is not based on mere human reasoning.
I received my message from no human source and no one taught me. Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ. You know what I was like when I followed the Jewish religion, how I violently persecuted God's church.
I did my best to destroy it. I was far ahead of my fellow Jews in my zeal for the traditions of my ancestors. But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace. Then it pleased him to reveal his son to me so that I would proclaim the good news about Jesus to the Gentiles. When this happened, I did not rush out to consult with any human being, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to consult with those who were apostles before me. Instead, I went away into Arabia, and later I returned to the city of Damascus. My interest especially today is on that last statement, I went away to Arabia. We'll probe into that and see the implication of it as it relates to our world today. You're listening to Insight for Living.
To study the Bible with Chuck Swindoll, be sure to download his Searching the Scriptures studies by going to Insight.org slash Hope. And now the message from Chuck titled, When Solitude Drives Us Deeper. The past two months have been days of abnormal living. How unusual they have been. Two months ago, we scarcely used words that we now find familiar to us.
Words like quarantine, virtual meetings, social distancing, shutting down the economy, gloves and face masks, especially COVID-19 pandemic, ventilators and vaccines and half a dozen other terms that have become commonplace. I thought it was interesting while thinking about these two months. Most of us are now much more familiar with our temperature than we are our weight.
That's new. Normally we're preoccupied with how much we weigh. Most couldn't tell you right now, but they could tell you exactly what their temperature is. And whoever thought we would come to the place where we're concerned about not working enough. Ours is a country that is known for working more hours than we should.
And here we find ourselves of late not working enough. And something also especially unusual that reminded me, which dates me a bit of my boyhood days during World War II, has been the rationing of goods and foods and shelves at the store, sometime being completely empty. Last week I heard over my car radio an advertisement that this company was making. They were saying, normally you would come to us and we would have the pleasure of serving you. Now we're going to come to you. In fact, we will come to your front door and deliver to you what we will serve. As a matter of fact, to thank you, we will bring a jumbo roll of toilet paper. That's the first time in my life I've ever heard of a reward being a jumbo roll of toilet paper.
I would imagine some people said, that's great. Let's find out about that. Unusual times.
What an unusual period to live through. If we're not careful, we will lose the significance of it, especially as we think about getting to the end of it, getting past it. Quite likely we will, if we're not careful, miss God's message in the middle of it. I came across Malcolm Mugridge's profound statement that's worth repeating. Any happening, great or small, is a parable whereby God speaks to us and the art of life is to get the message.
Let me read it again. Any happening, great or small, is a parable whereby God speaks to us and the art of life is to get the message. To get the message. I can't help but wonder if most during these two months are really missing the message.
You may be one of them. When I was sent overseas involuntarily, bear with me as I quickly remind you of that now familiar story. I was unprepared for it and I didn't want it. I could see no value in it whatsoever.
Only been married two and a half years and here I was on a troop ship to the other side of the world, 8,000 miles away from the wife I loved and the family I enjoyed and friends that we had made over our years and to go to the place that I couldn't even imagine. I couldn't even think of there being anything worthwhile in that. Little did I realize the message God had for me. As a matter of fact, it was, if not the, one of the most life-changing of all messages which was, I want to remove from you every crutch, everything you normally lean on so that I can have your full attention because my plan is to change your whole course of life. I missed that message for a number of months, though little by little it began to emerge. And what I looked at at the time as nothing more than a disruption or an interference in what I would call a rather happy life, I came to realize was an essential message I would have not gotten had it not been for those 16, 17 months, totally removed from all things familiar. It's that kind of emphasis I want to place on what we are going through.
Because if you're not careful, you'll be riveted only to statistics. You'll hear the news and you'll be focused on the virus or the impact of the virus and as important as that may be, it's not the message. It's not what God wants us to hear. That is not the deep message He would have us take in. So let me redirect our thinking for the next few moments this Sunday and the next as we consider what He might be saying. The first stop off I would like you to make is at Psalm 139. If you have your Bible handy, please turn and rather than looking at the familiar early part of the Psalm, I want you to go to the very end of it, which is a prayer. David's prayer, he writes in verse 23, search me, O God, and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you and lead me along the path of everlasting life. David's prayer is a prayer for self-awareness, which is easily missed by all of us who are leaders engaged in life, frequently helping others as they live their lives. I read somewhere that the one most common missing part of the type A life is self-awareness.
We're so engaged in the other things, the responsibilities, the assignments, the demands, the deadlines of our lives, that we rarely pause and look deep within. That's what he's praying for. Search me, O God. Now, he didn't ask to be searched that God might find out what he was like. No, God already knew.
He knows all about us. As the Psalm begins, he's aware of every move we make, every thought we have, every word we speak. But the Psalmist says at the end of it, now search me that I might be aware. Make me aware of what I had been missing. In fact, the key part of it is right there in verse 24, rendered in the new living, anything in me that offends you.
The Hebrew reads, any way of pain. I would paraphrase it, anything that has no business in my life. Search me that I might become aware of something that needs to stop or the reverse, something that needs to begin. What is it within me that you, O God, want to change? What's that message? Now, that's not the kind of prayer asked by those who are sort of skipping their way through life.
A.W. Tozer's words come to mind. May not the inadequacy of much of our spiritual experience be traced back to our habit of skipping through the corridors of the kingdom like children in the marketplace, always chattering about everything, but pausing to learn the true value of nothing.
What a penetrating statement. The COVID-19 virus stops us in our tracks. It pulls us out of the fast lane. It pushes us into isolation. And if you will, we're left to ourselves, our immediate families, those under our roof, our own individual lives, which some can't remember the last time that happened. Because we don't deliberately go there, there are occasions when we are forced to be there.
This is one of those occasions. Having slowed down, in fact, having virtually stopped, even the traffic has stopped, business has stopped. The movement of life, the rhythm of life has stopped. We have been pulled over for an extended pit stop in this racetrack called life.
And I'm saying, let's not miss the message. What is it that he would have us know? In my case, in the journey I took back in 58 and 59 of my life, I discovered it was a rearrangement of my whole career, my whole direction in life was put in reverse. Timothy was put on track since I had gotten off track without realizing it or planning it. Now, let's go from Psalm 139 over to 1 Timothy chapter 4.
Let me take this a little further. Verse 7. Look at the last part of verse 7, 1 Timothy 4. Paul writes to Timothy, instead, instead of these other things, wasting your time or spending your energy on those other things which he's been writing about, instead of that, look at this statement. Your Bible probably reads, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness. This rendering I'm using reads, train yourself to be godly.
That tells me that it isn't automatic. It also is a reminder that it isn't easy since there's a discipline involved. This is an imperative, it is a command. We don't always have marks in the scriptures, but there's an exclamation point that belongs at the end of the sentence.
Train yourself, discipline yourself, and what's the goal? Godliness. Godliness doesn't just emerge in a life. You meet up with someone who has a walk with Christ that's consistent and enviable.
You can be sure of this. He or she wasn't born that way. That person didn't just wake up one day and discover that the qualities of godliness were at work. No, it's a matter of discipline to get there. It's something we're involved in, something we're engaged in. In fact, look at that word train or discipline.
It's the Greek word gumnos, G-U-M-N-O-S, we get our word gymnasium from that original root term. Kent Hughes in his disciplines of a godly man writes this about that word. My New Testament times it referred to exercise and training in general, but even then it was and is a word with the smell of the gym in it, the sweat of a good workout, gymnasticize might be a paraphrase term, exercise, workout, train yourself for the purpose of godliness conveys the feel of what Paul is saying, writes Hughes. If godliness is our goal, then we're to be personally engaged in reaching it unless you think we just sort of haphazardly go there, look back and you will see that there's more to it than that where the apostle writes that we are to be, or look ahead, I should say verse 16, keep a close watch on how you live, stay true to what is right. Your Bible may read persevere in these things.
There's work involved in it. I say again, it won't come easily and it won't come naturally, but it can come in a time when we're all set aside from the normal activities of life. If we are aware of it and see it as a priority, Richard Foster in his work celebration of discipline rights, superficiality is the curse of our age. The doctrine of instant satisfaction is a primary spiritual problem, the desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people or gifted people, but for deep people. I suggest to you that a major message that's conveyed within the era of the virus is that we go deeper in our lives, that we take stock of how we have been living our days, our years, and we pause and go through the disciplines involved in probing deeper and deeper in our relationship with our Lord. May I urge you in the waning days of the virus by God's grace, in the waning days of this, to get alone with Him, to pay attention to His word, His message. The art of life, remember, is to get the message.
It doesn't require much imagination to remember the days of isolation the pandemic required. And as we mentioned earlier, this message from Chuck was delivered at the peak of the pandemic. He's urging us to use solitude to hear God's still small voice. Today's edition of Insight for Living features message number 11 in Chuck's brand new series called Clinging to Hope.
And to learn more about this ministry, visit us online at InsightWorld.org. And then if you wanted to secure a copy of Chuck's brand new book by the same title, pick up the phone and call us, or go online while it's still fresh on your mind. Life is difficult and demanding. It's often filled with pain, heartaches, setbacks, and detours. When these kinds of troubles strike, it can be downright devastating.
But it doesn't have to be. In his book Clinging to Hope, Chuck reassures us that we can survive, even thrive, when we experience life's calamities. To purchase a copy right now, go to Insight.org slash Hope, or call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. Thank you so much for giving financially so we can share these daily programs far and wide. Your donations truly make a difference. For instance, one of your fellow listeners wrote to us and said, I am 53 years old and I've been blessed by your ministry for well over a decade and a half. Thank you for the great job you are doing across the earth, which the Lord has used to bless my life so tremendously. I've recently been ordained as an elder in a church in Nigeria where I live. Chuck's teaching has helped to enrich my life.
Thank you for not relenting. Wow, you know, when you give, you are enriching the lives of people you may never meet this side of heaven. And you can give a donation today by calling us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888.
You can also give online at Insight.org slash donate. Treat yourself to a vacation you'll never forget. From the Inside for Living Ministries cruise to the Great Frontier with Chuck Swindoll. Honestly, I had no idea that a cruise to Alaska could be so much fun. And without a doubt, the stunning views took my breath away. God's artistic genius is on full display in Alaska. In fact, I guarantee this, you'll come home refreshed and filled with awe for his majestic creation. Yeah, at one point our ship was getting chased by dolphins.
They were playing and spinning in the waves. It was amazing. You'll have plenty of time for adventures on shore, lingering conversations around mealtime and strolling through the idyllic ports of call. You'll be a part of some of the best parts of our day, laughing, singing and celebrating our God. Plan to come with us, won't you?
The dates are July 1st through July 8th, 2023. To learn more, call 1-888-447-0444. That's 1-888-447-0444 or visit insight.org slash events.
The tour to Alaska is paid for and made possible by only those who choose to attend. I'm Bill Meyer. Join us when Chuck Swindoll continues to describe how to hear God's voice when in solitude. That's our topic Thursday on Insight for Living. The preceding message, When Solitude Drives Us Deeper, was copyrighted in 2020 and 2022, and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2022 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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