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When Solitude Drives Us Deeper, Part 3

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll
The Truth Network Radio
November 11, 2022 7:05 am

When Solitude Drives Us Deeper, Part 3

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll

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November 11, 2022 7:05 am

Clinging to Hope

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Modern technology provides wonderful benefits, but there's a downside too. From the time we wake up in the morning to bedtime at night, we're preoccupied with our cell phones, checking email, and surfing the web. Today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll presents a refreshing study on the sanctity of solitude. Delivered at the peak of the pandemic, his observations gelled during a season when many of us were isolated at home, with rare moments of peace and tranquility. He's teaching from Galatians chapter 1.

Chuck titled his message, When Solitude Drives Us Deeper. 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 re-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. 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. Now we're ready for Galatians. We'll go to Galatians 1 and to no other passage, so find your way there where I read earlier. This chapter deserves the attention of anyone who wonders about Paul's incredible insight into spiritual truth.

But you wouldn't imagine that it took place as it did. You would think that Paul was mentored in the truths he taught. You would think there were those apostles that came alongside and discipled Paul, or Saul of Tarsus as he was originally called.

You remember his former life? If you don't, he tells us right here and he menses no words. Verse 13, you know what I was like when I followed the religion of my heritage. Look at this, I violently persecuted the Church of God. He was a terrorist, did it in the name of religion.

Worst kind of terrorism is done in the name of God. It's a false understanding of God, but nevertheless, the apostle pursued it. I was in fact more zealous than my own Jewish brothers in the faith.

My zeal for the traditions outreached and outstretched all of theirs. And as a result, you remember Acts chapter 9, the Damascus Road, when he was on his way to what? Persecuting Christians. And the Lord stopped him with this bright light and he was blinded and then taken to the house of a man named Judas. And there he sits blind, not knowing what's ahead of him. And he is at a total loss wondering what this is all about, having just been converted to Christ.

And now he steps in with the next phase of his life. He says in verse 16, when all 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. He tells us what he did not do. Well, what did he do? What was it that moved Paul into the deeper things of God?

This is going to perhaps surprise you. He says, instead, I went away into Arabia. Some help is gleaned from Charles Ryrie's footnote in his study Bible.

Allow me. Quote, Paul's intent is not to pinpoint the location. So he doesn't tell us specifically in this large area of Arabia, doesn't tell us exactly where he was. Probably a place fairly near Damascus, we could guess, but maybe went deeper back to Ryrie. He does not pinpoint the location, but he writes this to emphasize that it was a place in contrast to Jerusalem, where there was no apostle to instruct him. In Arabia, he was alone with God. Thinking through the implications of his encounter with the risen Christ.

On the Damascus road, end of quote. What does this have to do with us? Frankly, I think everything. Maybe you haven't paused to think in this realm.

I thought on it for two months. Why are all of us hunkered down? Why are all of us isolated? What is the message from God? I understand physically, I understand as it relates to the virus and the whole idea of keeping us safe and protected. We understand that. I'm saying the message from God, which is not written out.

Just as we're not given the script of his life in Arabia. What's happened in these last two months has taken taken over. Have you gone deeper? Has it dawned on you that you have been stopped in your tracks for a reason?

That you are not to be engaged in things as you earlier were? Back to Paul. What happened to him in Arabia? I'll put it simply, a complete makeover of his inner person. Remember his life before this? He was a violent aggressor. He was engaged in one event after another. His schedule was airtight, morning to night, regularly. Except for that observance of the Sabbath, which he would regularly observe as a good Pharisee.

But regularly engaged in this, this, that and that and that and that. Suddenly it all screeched to a stop. He's blinded and then later given his eyes, eyesight, but not before Ananias visits him and tells him how much he must suffer for Christ. That's a brand new thought. All his life he had brought suffering to others. Now, the rest of his life, he will endure suffering.

It's a whole makeover. It's a whole different Paul, Saul. Remember also before he was powerful, he was popular, he was certainly brilliant, aggressive and active. Now, none of that works for him, not in Arabia. The howling winds of the wilderness swept around him, the heat of the day, the cold of the night.

All of the events of his busy schedule were now canceled, just like ours. For the first time he became what he earlier could not have even imagined, he became obscure. No one could find him. Probably left no forwarding address. There was no address.

F.B. Meyer writes this, above all things, Paul wanted to be alone with Jesus, to know him and the power of his resurrection, the anointing which makes human teaching needless because it teaches all things. He continues, month after month in Arabia, he wandered to and fro, now sharing the rough fare of some Essene community, or the lot of a family of Bedouins, now swept upward in heavenly fellowship and again plunged into profound meditation. But deeper than all was God's work in Paul's soul. Grain by grain, don't miss this, grain by grain, his proud self-reliance and impetuosity were worn away, no longer confident in himself.

He was more than content to be the slave of Jesus Christ, going where he was sent, doing what he was bidden, and serving as the instrument of God's will. We all need to go to Arabia to learn lessons like these. We don't need to go to Arabia. We just check into life as the virus runs its course. But you see, the way we're put together, we fight the virus. That is, we fight what it brings.

We're irritated over the fact that we can't get back into the routine of it. We're not meant to get back. That's the whole point. God doesn't scream his message. He waits for us to get it. Remember the art of life is to get the message.

Are you getting it? Does it concern you that godliness is still more than six feet away from you? That you still long to have a walk with Christ like those you respect? It's a discipline. It's learning to use the discipline of silence for that purpose. Search me, O God, and know my heart.

That is, help me to know my heart. He must have prayed something like that rather frequently during his extended time in Arabia. By the way, you know, when all of this happened, I just came across this last night in my study. There's a there's a 10 year period of silence. A.D. 35 to 45 in in Saul of Charles's life, where there isn't a lot of activity. In many cases, there's no activity.

There's no account. You read of his conversion, then you read of his involvement with Barnabas, who gets him introduced to the disciples, who are all afraid of him, still remembering as a terrorist. But in between, you know what I believe occurs there? These revelations mentioned he mentions in Galatians one direct received a direct revelation. I think it ties in with Second Corinthians 12, which is why he was given a thorn in the flesh. The suffering ties in with that. I believe it was here he was caught up in the third heaven.

I believe it was here. And that's there's some a lot of mystery about that. I really know very little about that. It's never happened to me. Never happened to anyone I know. But Paul says, in fact, there were some who doubted it, which is what he says in that passage in Second Corinthians 12. I'm not lying.

I'm telling you the truth. I was caught up and it was there I received such things as I'm unable to convey. They were so profound.

So when you read passages like those written in Romans or Ephesians, that just boggle your mind and grip you deeply. You know, no human taught him that. God taught him that. Because he took advantage of the silent years.

Years. You know what happens in Arabia? You lose the allure of the limelight. The appeal of public attention and adulation. The hunger for applause. Paul lived for it before Arabia.

Following it, he runs from it. Calls himself a slave of Jesus Christ. Meaningful words from Richard Foster, if I may repeat his name. This is from his work, Money, Sex and Power. When we see in the Book of Acts the great work of Paul, we must remember the hidden preparation that preceded it.

Please concentrate as I read this. Today we have forgotten the importance of this hidden work of God. As a result, we immediately thrust people into notoriety, bestowing on them unbelievable power, and then wonder why they're corrupted.

Unless we are ready for it, power will destroy us. Because of our wholesale ignorance of the importance of hidden preparation, we have thrust untold numbers of workers into the limelight before they were ready. In the hiddenness, God completely reverses our priorities. What we once saw as great and wonderful shrinks down to trivial and insignificant.

Genuine, gaining recognition, success, wealth, and autonomy no longer attracts us. As we learn to let go of all humanly initiated bids for power, things we once considered unimportant and beneath us become matters of genuine consequence. Finally, in the solitude of the desert, we are stripped of all our support systems and distractions.

That's happened in this pandemic. Stripped of all support systems and distractions, we face the demons without and those within. There in the desert alone, we look squarely in the face of the seductive powers of greed and prestige. In time, we see through all that deception. With the power given from above, we shout, no! We crucify the old mechanisms of power.

Push, drive, climb, grasp, trample. We turn instead to a new life of love, joy, peace, patience, and the fruit of the spirit. My desire for all of us is that we make the most of the solitude.

Rather than grinding away in irritation over it, see it as a gift. Unexpected, involuntary, but thrust upon us. And God says, here I wait and I long to meet with you and take you on a journey deep into your own life where you see yourself as you really have become and realize there's a makeover.

I would like to see transpiring your life. It begins now, during this time when we're alone, away from all the other things. 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. I promise you, I want to do that. And rather than grinding through this time of solitude, I want to make the most of it. I want to come back deeper than I've ever been before. I want to be increasingly more authentic, less impressed by applause or public adulation. That I may know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings.

That's what I want for all of us. Bow with me, will you? You're here as a part of our leadership team, musical leadership, elder leadership, pastoral and staff leadership. Our church will never go deeper than you and I go as we lead this assembly. Their hunger for godliness will never be greater than our hunger.

How important it is that we cultivate that hunger, not to display it or talk about it, but to begin to model it. Dear Father, help us in these unusual days when our world is topsy turvy, when our schedule has been stopped and rearranged, when our whole way of life has been reframed for us. Hear us today when we invite you to search us, oh God, and know our heart.

Hear us when we say we long to discipline ourselves for the purpose of godliness, to make the most of the Arabia of our lives and our times. And rather than simply becoming mystical and mumbling spiritual sounding words, we genuinely cultivate a fresh walk with you that gives priority to prayer and sees the importance of things like serving others and walking humbly with you. Guide us, I pray, through this journey that is becoming exacting for all of us. Thank you in advance for the benefits that will come from our getting your message. These things I pray, believingly, sincerely, in the name of Jesus Christ.

Everyone said, amen. Well, as Chuck Swindoll said a moment ago, the art of life is to get God's message. We certainly hope and pray that today's message inspires you to cherish times of solitude for that very purpose. You're listening to Insight for Living and a message that Chuck delivered at the peak of the pandemic.

It's message number 11 in this 12-part series called Clinging to Hope. To learn more about this ministry, visit us online at insightworld.org. Well, if you've had good intentions about requesting a copy of Chuck's brand new book, also called Clinging to Hope, now is the time to reach out.

The quickest way to purchase a copy is to go directly to insight.org slash hope. And if you have some extra time to reflect, be sure to take a look at Chuck's online sermon notes. We call this resource Searching the Scriptures. By design, this document will walk you through the process that Chuck used to study today's passage in Galatians. By doing so, it'll help you understand how God's word applies to your specific situation.

You'll find all the details for Searching the Scriptures with Chuck at insightworld.org slash studies. In closing, I want to take a moment to encourage you with a recent note we received from Northern California. It said, Chuck, if I were to share every time that Insight has seen me through difficult times and encouraged me to go deeper in the scripture and with my relationship with Christ, there would not be enough space. I started listening when I was 30 and with the blink of an eye, I'm now 70. Thank you to all who give to make this ministry vibrant.

Humans like these are made possible because loyal friends like you support Insight for Living. And if God is prompting you to give a contribution, give us a call. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888.

Or you can give a donation online by going to insight.org slash donate. Cruise ships leave the harbor for Alaska all the time, but there's only one that's hosted by Insight for Living Ministries. You're invited to travel with Chuck Swindoll this summer. Every moment of your vacation is thoughtfully prepared and protected so that you can enjoy the perfect balance of rest, adventure, relaxation, sightseeing, and just plain fun. All in the company of those who share your respect for God's word and God's creation.

Yeah, I'll put it this way. God had a very good day when he created Alaska. I was awestruck by the majestic mountains, the wildlife, the quaint little seaports. All my life, I've wanted to see a glacier.

When I stepped out on the deck of our ship and witnessed the massive wall of ice, wow, it was truly breathtaking. Escape with Insight for Living Ministries to the great frontier, July 1st through July 8th, 2023. Call 1-888-447-0444. That's 1-888-447-0444. Or learn more at 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, urging you to listen when Chuck Swindoll presents his final message in the series called Clinging to Hope. That's Monday 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.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-10 17:13:50 / 2022-11-10 17:22:28 / 9

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