Did you ever accidentally break something? I mean break something really expensive and go, oh my gosh, what have I done? Even more important, have you ever broken someone's heart?
Have you ever looked into the eyes of another person and realized you have crushed them? There's a big difference between the two and today we're going to explore it. Stay with me. Thanks for joining us for this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. Living on the Edge features the Bible teaching of Chip Ingram on this daily discipleship program.
I'm Dave Drouy. We're in a series called The Hope of Christmas and in this program Chip explains that because of Jesus, even when we blow it, grace and mercy are ready to cover everything. That sounds like hope.
I mean it sounds good but how can we be sure we'll get it? Well, that's where Chip's headed today so open your Bible, if you will, to Psalm 103 verse 11 and let's join him for part two of his message Everlasting Father. Look at the next verse. He says, for high as the heavens are above the earth so great is his loving kindness toward those who fear him.
I mean just get the picture. Here's the earth, the heavens. It's vertical. How high? How high? How many millions of miles? I mean the heavens.
It's certainly an idiom but it's just higher than you can imagine or think. Whatever level you think God loves you, it's as high as the heavens are above the earth. He loves like no one else. The people that no one would touch, the leper, he loves. The people that are an outcast or prostitute, he loves. The woman caught in adultery, he loves. The tax collector who's betrayed his people and are ripping people off, he loves. The self-righteous Pharisee, he loves them too. And then he loves the marginalized, the people that the whole culture kicks to the side, the children, the prisoner, the widow. He loves them. In fact, he even loves his enemies. The Roman soldiers that beat him to a pulp and mocked him and here he is hanging on a cross and the religious leaders, if you think you're God, come on down. And what's he do? Father, forgive them.
They don't know what they're doing. As high as the heavens are above the earth, it's how much God loves you. You're the object of his affection. I don't mean to be trite but he's head over heels over you. He likes you.
Some of you think he loves you, you just don't think he likes you very much. He would like to hang out with you. He'd like to talk. He'd like to bless you. He'd like to give you wisdom.
He'd like to intervene in powerful ways. He would just like to have coffee with you. He loves you. He made you. He sent his son to reveal what the father's like. And not only does he love you as high as the heavens are above the earth, but as far as the east is from the west, he takes the vertical one then he goes, hey let's go horizontal. As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed your sins from you.
To those that fear him. By the way, there's that little condition each time, right? You can do your own thing. You can stiff arm God. You can say I don't need you. You can be the rich young ruler and basically say, hey look, you know what, what's going to make my life is my stuff and I'm confident. You bring in the self-righteous Pharisee. Say look, I'm going to keep the rules. I don't need your grace and you God. Or you can just be passive. But for everyone who fears God, for everyone who says not my way but yours, not my selfish kingdom, not what I think will deliver, but your kingdom. I'm going to seek it first and you first and you promise because you love me so much.
This is the greatest, wisest thing I'll ever do. I think sometimes we rank sins, don't we? I mean we probably theologically know it's, you know, a sin separates us from God. But some sins, right, have bigger consequences. And I think when we rank them sometimes we think sexual sins.
Now those are bad, right? And they have some pretty heavy consequences. Or financial sins, right?
He embezzled. Or lying. I don't know about you but when people lie to me it doesn't take many times.
Oh wow. Can't trust them. When are they telling the truth?
What's the deal? Those are hard but I think this is, don't go tell someone this is what the Bible says. Here's what I think the worst sin is.
This is the Chip Ingram commentary, okay? So, you have yours, I have mine. I think betrayal is the worst sin. At least it's the hardest to digest. You know, someone lies to you, they rip you off, you know, money's money, stuff comes, stuff goes. People lie, you know, it's the way it is. But when you're tight with someone, when you got each other's back, when you're loyal to one another, and whether that's in marriage or whether it's your best friends, when you're betrayed, when they turn on you, when all the commitments you've made to one another and someone goes off and does something and they betray you, I don't know about you, that's been the most difficult for me to ever forgive. And yet, as far as the east is from the west, you know, we think of the anchor of the church, Peter, John, James, later the Apostle Paul, but remember when Peter betrayed the Lord? Remember the night Jesus said this is what's going to happen? Hey, these other guys, these other schmoes, they might not abandon you, but I'm here, I'm for you, I mean, I'll die with you.
And everyone said, yeah, yeah, that's right, yeah, yeah, me too, right? And Jesus said, Peter, you don't know your heart. In fact, by the way, that's a good lesson to know. You know, you say, I'm totally committed, but I would do, you do not know your heart and you do not know what you would do until you're tested. And that's why God brings tests.
He brings tests for your benefit, not his. And he warned Peter, before you hear the rooster crow three times in front of this, you know, little gal near the fire and a couple other times, and then after he denied him and he heard the rooster crow, he was out in the courtyard near the fire and Jesus was being examined and their eyes met, says he went out and wept bitterly. If you have ever betrayed someone, if you've ever gossiped about someone, if you've done something and betrayed them and then had the amazing courage to go ask them for forgiveness and seen the tears run down their face, it's like, boy, I do not want to do that again. When I sin, okay, whether I sin in my thinking, whether I sin with my words or in my actions, when I sin, you know what I do? I betray my heavenly father.
I betray him. I say, I don't want your kingdom. I don't want your will. I know better. The kingdom of chip shows up and here's, I've got it figured out and this is what I want and here's how I'm going to get it.
I don't want to listen to you. Now, that old view of God is right. He's way, way distant and there are all these rules, so it becomes Christian behavior modification. And what that means is try really hard not to sin. Don't do this. Be relatively clean. Give a little money.
Come to religious services and really try hard to be a little bit better morally than other people, but compare yourself with other people who are a little less moral than you because you stay in good standing. And then when you break a rule, when you do what's wrong, when you lie, when you have little comments, when you put people down or when you do a big one, it's like, oh, I'm really, really sorry. I broke a rule. I'm going to try really hard not to, I'm not going to log on. I won't drink that second or third glass of wine.
I'm going to, you know, you come up with your list. I'm going to try really, really hard and you, and you can't figure out why it's doesn't work. Cause see when you break a rule, it's just a thing. When you break someone's heart and you look into their eyes, there's something that happens inside where, see, sin is always relational. It may be a thought or an act or a behavior, but it's relational. And when I can get my sin breaks my father's heart and if I believed he really loved me and I believed he cared and that he was gracious, he's compassionate and he's slowed anger, then, oh God, how could I do that? The biggest changes I will tell you and my bad habits in my marriage journey have been times when my wife has used a little bit of a word picture and helped me see that this action that I don't even know what it's got to do with our marriage is communicating to her that I don't love her. And whether it was dealing with stuff at the house or whether it was being late all the time, you know, I just tried harder when I looked her in the eye and she had tears. It was like, you know what, if this means I love you, I'll change my behavior because I love you. And see, if you can understand how much God loves you and that it's a relationship, it completely changes how you go about.
It's not like, oh, I have to read the Bible. It's not like I go, oh boy, you know, good marriages, you got to talk, okay. Let me, okay, let's see, I'm going to give Teresa 16 minutes this morning because this is really important and, you know, I was supposed to go on dates so I guess we ought to go out sometime somewhere.
Can I tell you something? I just love to talk to her. I just love to go out on dates. I love to take walks because I love her. And probably why I love her, she loves me so much.
I want to be with her. And that's what God wants for us. He goes on and he begins to give us the picture. Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him. You know, imagine God is distant. In fact, the scribes would say he's in the seventh heaven. He's far, far away. He's transcendent. He's demanding. He's cold.
You can't get close. And you've been following Jesus around for a while. And he's getting ripped by the religious leaders.
Hey, you're hanging out with sinners. And so he tells them a parable to explain why he hangs out with sinners. And he said there was a sheep that was lost.
There was a coin that was lost. And there was a son that was lost. And he builds to a crescendo and he makes the point that all three of the stories have one, one main point. And the one main point is that God is pictured here as a father. A father.
And not just any father, not even a good Jewish father. This is a father who allows the son to go and bears the shame. This is a father when the kid comes to his senses in the pig pen and says, okay, I'm going to admit that I'm wrong.
I'm going to own my stuff and I'm going to earn my way back. He gives his little speech and before he can talk about earning his way back, stop. He absorbs the shame of the village instead of allowing his son. Then he says, son, put sandals on his feet. Slaves barefooted. Sons, sandals. Put a ring on his finger. That's his black American Express MasterCard.
You do business with the family. Take the finest robe, that's his robe, and cover him. Kill the fatted calf and we're going to celebrate. He says, that's what it's like in heaven when one far away from God, sinner, returns. That's who you get greeted by. And that is a picture of God the father that is completely foreign to the disciples.
And by the way, completely foreign to a lot of you. He loves you. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion.
Now what? On those who fear him. And then I love part of the reasons why. For he is mindful of our frame.
I love the next verse. He's mindful of our frame. In other words, our humanity, our constitution, what we're really made of. That we're just people of flesh. That we're human. That we blow it.
That we're merely dust. He makes this picture of the father and the dust. I said, he gives them a picture of God the father in the parable of Luke 15. At some point in time, these very good Jewish boys who've heard all this stuff about what God's supposed to be like, it's getting shattered. And the one thing they can't quite figure out is because every time as a good Jewish boy and the rabbis and the religious leaders, when they prayed they would get on street corners and they would have their phylacteries and they would have all their verses and they would pray out loud and do it in Hebrew.
And so they come to Jesus because they can't quite get this relationship. And he says, they say will you teach us to pray? And here's his first words. When you pray say Abba. Say Aramaic.
Say Abba. The word means father or our father. Is he transcendent? Who is in heaven? Who's all knowing? Who's powerful? Who's creator? Who's holy? But you have access, Abba. It's interesting when the apostle Paul in Romans 8 and Galatians chapter 4, when he wants to talk about intimacy with God around prayer, he actually takes that Aramaic word, it had such impact, and he'll say Abba and then he'll say hopater, translated in Greek for people later that don't know this.
Do you realize what he did? He said there's not some form. This father is approachable. In four countries in the Middle East right now, especially in peasant villages, the first word every child learns is Abba. Papa. Daddy. Access. When Jesus was hanging on the cross and he said it is finished and it says what?
The veil in the temple that separated the holy place from the holy of holies was ripped apart. You've got access. The awesome, powerful, all knowing, pure, unapproachable light, transcendent God of the universe also says I'm your daddy. You can come and sit on my lap.
You can bring the hardest, the most difficult, your pain, and I will listen. I had an experience this week that it was an interesting one. I had a friend and we were going to meet for coffee and it was near where my daughter lives. He said he knows my daughter and said why don't we give her a call and he really likes Noah. So he says we'll hang out with them.
So I called and she goes sure. Came over to Starbucks and the place was just packed with people and we're on some of these high stools and so I've got Noah next to me and we're doing some stuff and he just is like he's two. And so I can't even remember, I was trying to keep him from falling off the stool and he turns to me and goes no. Whoa.
Must be genetic on the male side, you know. Well, you know, I'm thinking he's two. Well, you know, two more times. No.
No. I'm just going oh wow. Now here's what I did not do. Now there was a level of embarrassment, okay.
His mother had gone someplace so I'm sort of in this moment of what's that guy going to do. Here's what I did not do. I didn't pick up Noah, set him on the ground, take two steps back. I'm a really big person and you're a really small person and you better shape up right now. Shut up kid. See that's how some of you think God responds or will respond when you mess up.
How did I respond? He's two. Okay, he's two. You know what two year olds do?
They do stuff like that. When you were two you did it. He's going to grow out of this. He's two. You know what?
I'm mindful of his frame. I understand that's part of being a two year old. When you mess up, when you say stuff, when you lie, when you steal little things, when you lust in your heart, when you make a big mistake, most of us run away from God because we have a bad, wrong, warped view of God.
Because we think what we're going to get is this and then this. What did I do? Dealt with things, gently. Earlier in the week he came over to my house and this no stuff is sort of his new flavor of the month. So his grandma, my wife, said a little something and to my wife he goes, no. And his mom's not around now.
That is not going to fly in my house. So I got down to eye level. I said, Noah, we don't talk to grandma that way.
No. Or me. And then I sat him on a little stool and it's time out. And I, you know, just that tender balance like he's two. Like if you do it too long he'll frustrate him.
If it's not long enough he won't realize. So I'm sort of sitting there going, okay, I think he's getting the message. So after a little bit of time I said, okay, no, come here. No, no, come here, Noah. Comes up, okay. Climbs up on my lap. And we went over, Noah, we don't talk to mommy like that.
Okay. Noah, do you know how much I love you? And then I didn't say anything. I just put my arms around him. I said, oh God, thank you so much that when we do something wrong and we come to you, you always cleanse us and forgive us and want to be close to us. Amen. Now, I'm not telling you that my two year old grandson theologically understood much of what went on, but I'm going to keep doing that and he's going to get it. But I'll tell you what happened that I can't explain is that after I did that he took his little arms and just put them around me.
And after he messed up, we were close. Are you running away from God or running to him? And when you run away, because there's nowhere to go, right? So you eat or you drink or you buy stuff or you work more or you have an affair, because see, when you run away from God, bad things happen. What if you believed come unto me, all of you that are heavy laden with life and stuff and pressure and difficulty and guilt and fear and I will give you rest. Take my yoke.
This isn't just a prayer. This is let's do life together. Let's talk. Get to know me. And I'll give rest for your soul.
Why? Because I'm gentle, lowly in heart, humble, and you'll find rest for your soul. I like to close by every year when I get near this time of year, I try and read through. I end up probably writing in two or three of these journals through the course of a year and I try and just kind of read them really fast to say, is there any patterns that God is speaking to me about that maybe for the next year I need to address? And it's interesting. I was in that journey and this is of December 4th, a year ago, just barely over a year ago.
And I share this because here's what I want you to get. This journey of getting a right and accurate and clear and biblical picture of God is at the core of everything, but it is a journey. And so I've memorized a lot of verses to try and get my mind. I read the Bible to get my mind. I try and get around people that I think have a clear view of God and then I try and process. And so this is one of those mornings where I was writing my best understanding of what God's like instead of how I think about Him.
Thank you so very much for your grace, Lord. Your disposition, your mood is one of joy and delight to see me, to help me. You actually enjoy my presence. In human terms, you're in a good mood when we meet.
You ever think about that? It's taken me years to believe God's in a good mood when we meet. Your countenance is a smile, a warm inviting smile of approval and welcome. Your arms are wide open and inviting me to come near, to draw close, to embrace, to be protected, to be encouraged, to be comforted. Your eyes are filled with compassion and mercy. My sins, my mistakes, my failures are met with your longing to forgive and to remove any and all shame.
You desire great things for me and great things from me but your expectations are reasonable. You're mindful that I'm but dust, magnificent dust made in your image but you're patient in your understanding with my struggles. When I purposely rebel and reject your love and your plans and your will for my life, you graciously and lovingly provide pain and no peace in my heart and ever increasing consequences to prompt me to come to my senses return to you. You don't keep your anger and you don't hide your face from me when I come with an honest and a humble and a broken spirit and a contrite heart. When I find myself far from you or being bombarded by the enemy or the evil in this fallen world and I am absolutely in impossible situations, your ears strain to hear my cry for help.
Your feet run to meet me in my desperate situation even when it's of my own making. This is what God my Father is like. He is not a concept or an energy or a theory or the force. He's generosity in action that seeks my highest good, meets my greatest needs and delights in me just for me.
Totally apart from anything I could do or have ever done. His love and grace is free, undeserved, counterintuitive. That's the disposition of the infinite creator of the universe toward me expressed most clearly and personally in the person and work of God the Son, Jesus Christ. He's a wonderful counselor. He's a mighty God.
He's an everlasting Father. You've been listening to Chip's message, Everlasting Father, from one of his newest series, The Hope of Christmas. Seven hundred years before Jesus was born, the prophet Isaiah wrote to God's people to give him hope. Chip used a little bit of that text for this series because the hope Isaiah wrote about is for us too. Here's what he said, For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine, and they will rejoice. For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given.
The government will be upon his shoulders, and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Now that's hope that'll keep you going. This Christmas season, God wants you to know he has a plan, and it's a good one. You know, this would be a great series to listen to every now and then. With the Chip Ingram app, it's always handy. If you like CDs, take advantage of the current discounts online at livingontheedge.org.
And remember, the MP3s are always free. Well Chip, we're going to get to your application in just a sec, but you know, sometimes you talk really fast, and as you've been talking about the importance of our December match, I think some folks might be wondering, is there a simple overview we could look at and then see what's being planned for 2021? Absolutely, Dave. In fact, every December we develop a ministry report, and we believe that those people that have prayed and given to the ministry deserve what we call an ROI. What's your spiritual and eternal return on your investment? And so our ministry report will give—it's very brief, it's very easy to read, probably in under five minutes you can get a quick overview—this is all that God did through the team of Living on the Edge and their ministry partners, and this is where we're headed in 2021. And then we'll come back and let people know exactly what we did with their money and how the ministry went. And so let me encourage you to check out the report. It won't take long. Dave, can you give them a web address about how they can click on and read it right now?
You bet. To take a look at this year's ministry report, all you need to do is go to livingontheedge.org slash report 2020. That's livingontheedge.org slash report 2020. And be sure to use numbers when doing that 2020, okay? You'll see an easy-to-read overview of all that's happened this past year, and then where we believe God's leading us this upcoming year. It's a great look at where we've been and where we're headed, and it might be a real help as you consider becoming a financial partner.
Now, to check out our year-end ministry report again, just go to livingontheedge.org slash report 2020. As we wrap up today's program, the Lord is pressing on me just to pray. Regardless of what you're doing, obviously don't close your eyes if you're driving, but would you stop? Would you quiet your heart?
Would you even bow your head and close your eyes if it's possible? And would you join me as we greet Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father? Thank you that you are all these things and infinitely more. Thank you there's not a concern on our heart that you don't have the power or the will to resolve. Thank you that you take us through hard times to grow us up, to strengthen our faith, to help us to learn to see our trials as opportunities to come closer to you that we couldn't get in any other way. Holy Father, would you change our desires? Would you give us a hunger for your word in the midst of all the noise in our world? Lord, as we get closer to Christmas, would you sharpen our thinking about Jesus and why He came? Would you help us long to bless others and give a reason for hope that's within us, especially to those that don't know you? Would you help us live in such a way that people would ask us, why? Why do you have such peace? Why do you have hope?
And then would you give us your answer in that moment? Help us to look forward to those moments knowing that you're with us. Lord, we pause and we praise you and we thank you. We exalt you that we know you because of Jesus.
Amen. As we wrap up, I want to say thanks to those who make this program possible through your generous financial support. Your gifts help us create programs, purchase airtime, and develop additional resources to help Christians live like Christians. If you've been blessed by the Ministry of Living on the Edge, would you consider sending a gift today? There's never been a better time because thanks to a small group of ministry partners, every gift we receive, between now and December 31st, will be doubled dollar for dollar. Now you can call us at 888-333-6003, tap the donate button, or donate online at LivingOnTheEdge.org. Your support is greatly appreciated. Well, be sure to join us next time when Chip continues his series, The Hope of Christmas. Until then, this is Dave Druey saying thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge.
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