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Balancing Life's Demands - How To Keep First Things First, Part 2

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram
The Truth Network Radio
January 5, 2022 5:00 am

Balancing Life's Demands - How To Keep First Things First, Part 2

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram

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January 5, 2022 5:00 am

Setting priorities, putting first things first is important. The question is how do you keep those priorities in place? Chip explores the essential elements that must be in place in order for you to be able to keep your priorities in line over the long haul.

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Do you know someone that has an addiction, alcohol, drugs, eating disorder and they were doing so well and then they fell off the wagon? How do you keep from falling into temptation?

How do we keep from falling into the very thing that we know we don't want to do but find ourselves repeatedly failing? The answer to that is today on Living on the Edge. Thanks for joining us for this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. I'm Dave Druey and Chip's our Bible teacher for this international discipleship ministry focused on helping Christians live like Christians. Well, we're currently in the middle of Chip's series Balancing Life's Demands. We hope you've been challenged by these messages to refocus your life on what matters most. If you've been impacted by Chip's teaching, would you take a minute after the message and share it with a friend?

You can do that through the Chip Ingram map or by downloading the free MP3s at livingontheedge.org. And be sure to include what you've been learning through this series. With that, let's join Chip for part two of his message, How to Keep First Things First from Hebrews chapter 12. How can some of the most committed, gifted people in all the body of Christ, both in Bible times and our times, how in the world can you get off track? And hopefully in your heart of hearts you're saying, I don't ever want to get off the track and I don't know how I could get off the track but gosh, if Paul thinks he could get off track and of all those people, the nation of Israel got off track and some people that were my heroes got off track, I guess I could. But how?

I mean, what happens? You and I underestimate the power of our own sinful passions. Paul will pick up the story after reaching in and giving us his spiritual view of those children of Israel, then he, in verse six through 11, he explains, now these things happened as examples or a type for us. Those things he just talked about, that we should not crave evil things as they craved and do not be idolaters as some of them were, as it is written, the people sat down to eat and drink and stood up to play, nor let us act immorally as some of them did and 23,000 fell in one day, nor let us try the Lord or test the Lord as some of them did and were destroyed by the serpents, nor grumble as some of them did and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now these things happened to them as, notice the repetition, an example and they are written for our instruction upon which the ends of the ages have come.

I want you to circle the word example, first line and then the last. I want you to realize his point is I'm making the example. Now if we had a lot more time and for some of you that really love to do Bible study, did you notice a lot of these phrases? He is, I mean, he's pulling out the whole big stories of the Old Testament, right?

Let me do some quick Bible study with you. I want you to put a line under crave evil things. What he's saying is there are passions. In fact, it's an intensive form. There's a word for cravings or lust or passions. This has a prefix.

It's an intensified form. So he's saying they had supercharged lusts and passions and drives that they fulfilled outside of God's plan. And then he goes on to say put a box around the word idolaters.

At the heart, always at the heart of us falling away from the living God is we make someone or something the idol or the God in his place. And guess what? It can be your mate.

Are you ready? It can be your ministry. Yes, it can be your money. It can be a car.

It can be another woman, another man. But anything or anyone that takes the rightful place of your loyalty and allegiance is an idol. He's saying we have passions. We have drives. We're tempted in the world to satisfy them in different ways. And so what's he saying?

He says they come out as idolaters as some of them did. Then notice he's going to, I'm going to ask you to put a, gosh, have we done lines? We've done boxes.

Let me give you three more boxes because I don't know whether we ought to do lines, circles or boxes. But when he says nor let us act immorally, put a box around act immorally. That's the lust of the flesh.

Skip down and put, it's hard to put a box around, but try or test the Lord. He's talking about the story of the envy of Moses. That's the lust of the eyes.

And then put a box around the word grumble. That's the pride of life. We want that power. And all I'm telling you is this is just so basic and he's given us this picture. He says you constantly underestimate the power of your own sinful passions. I don't care how much Bible, how long you've been a Christian on certain days at a certain time, you have these desires in different windows and different seasons and it can be difficulty or loneliness or travel or pain or sickness or some unresolved anger or injustice. And in that window of time, you know maybe only one out of 100,000 times you would act on that lustful sinful passion. But he says you better understand that you, David and everybody else, you can fall off and make mistakes that you'd regret the rest of your life. But it's an amazing thing is when we know there's going to be, my behavior is going to be brought into the light, it really helps me not go into the darkness.

I mean when you know there's, and you're not going to pretend, you're not going to fake it. In fact, I made a note to myself, did you ever wonder why so much sin occurs late at night and away from people? So much sin occurs in very dim, dark rooms. So much sin occurs out of town, often among people who don't know one another well, when people are all alone and when people are under great stress. Every one of those things has you in a place where there's not accountability, there's not the sense that the lie is you won't be found out. The truth is your sin will always find you out and my sin will always find me out. And so all I'm saying is, you know what, I'm trying to persuade you. Are you starting to get persuaded?

I'm trying to tell you that you can't live without this. I don't care what new lines do you say, you know what, I'm going to put first things first, I'm going to develop that discipline, it's going to be in this area, in that area, I'm going to honor God. I implore you to say who is going to go there with me? What group of guys can I do this with?

What group of women as a woman can I do this with? And in cases, what set of couples could we dream some dreams together and in appropriate ways be very honest? The fourth reason is because we constantly overestimate our ability to handle temptation. We underestimate the power of our passions or our sinful passions and we overestimate our ability to handle temptation. I mean some of you, and you don't mean it like this, but just in your subconscious you're just thinking, I would never do that. I would never do that. I mean I'm past that.

Those things don't affect me. I mean we're just friends. It's platonic.

Those kind of movies, I know some people struggle with them, but not me, they're a little bit racy in places, but you know, or this is, it could appear this way but we're both very mature Christians and I'm sure nothing would ever come of this relationship. What's Paul say? He applies this passage, therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. You might jot down Hebrews 3.13, it's one of my favorite passages. It says, encourage one another day after day, lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

You know, the word deceitful means you don't know, you don't get it. And notice it's about your heart. It always starts there. Your heart gets hardened. In fact, Jesus said that is the core reason for divorce.

He says men's heart, women's hearts, they get hardened. And that's why we're to be tender-hearted, forgiving one another just as God in Christ also has forgiven us. But encourage, get that, but encourage one another. And encouragement isn't like high-fiving, oh you're wonderful, I'm wonderful, isn't life happy?

This word is that parakaleo, it's translated in some places as the word for the Holy Spirit, it's one who comes alongside. Encouragement is you come alongside another person and sometimes it means you tell them really hard stuff, sometimes it just means you listen and support, and sometimes you just say I'm so proud of you. But it's doing life together.

It's caring. I just want in my heart and mind to just sort of say to myself, Chip, on any given day, in the exact right circumstances, you are capable of sin beyond your wildest imagination. So you need to make pre-decisions about where you'll go and what you'll do and who you'll hang with, and you need to have a group of people that you can surround yourself with that love you, that you invite into your life and say, you know what, here's my heart, here's my life, here's my motives, here's my struggles, this is what I'm going through in my life, where are you going? And if you don't have that, you'll start faking it. And you'll have these temptations and you'll have thoughts. And you'll feel like, well I can't, well actually it leads to the very next and last reason. The fifth reason that we need biblical accountability is we naively believe our struggles and temptations are unique. See, I need it because I think, I mean, well, whether I like it or not, I've been a pastor for like 25 years and people view me as a Christian leader, so I guess I'm a Christian leader, and then I have this profile of Christian leaders, I bet they never struggle with this, and I guess now I'm a Christian leader, so if I ever struggle with that, something must be wrong with me.

Wrong. I'm a man. And you're a man or a woman or a student. And no temptation has ever taken me or ever taken you but what is common to man. But God will, with the temptation, provide a way of escape that you might be able to endure it. One time someone said, you know, I don't know how you do it, Chip, because sometimes when you talk I feel like you're just talking to me like you're reading my mind.

This verse is my preaching verse. Now this may sound crazy, but any area I've ever struggled with in my life, I make this assumption. So does everybody else.

And then it's like I'm not, you know, I've told you I'm insecure just like everybody else in this room, and I'm not overly vulnerable, I'm just thinking to myself, let's see, if every guy I've ever met, apart from the comatose guys, struggle with lust at some level, every woman I've ever met at some level struggles with self-image, everyone gets overextended, I mean everyone has unresolved anger issues in your marriage, everyone has, some seasons in your marriage you have problems with communication, sex, in-laws, and kids. Right? I mean, duh.

So I don't think, it's not like, oh. I mean, you know when you start talking about a few of those things, it's like, oh gosh, what's wrong with him? You know what I get is, he's one of us, you know. And that's, you know what you need?

You need people that you don't have to have pretense with. You know, I wrote down a couple things, and I've been in some good men's group and some good brothers, and you need to be able to say to someone, you know what, I know it may not sound very spiritual especially in our church and our denomination, but I think I'm clinically depressed, and I'm not sure, could you kind of help me know, I haven't kind of gone through when and how and why, is medication good or not good, and how long, and who did you talk to, and there's people that are clinically depressed and they don't have anyone to talk to because it's like the unpardonable sin in their little group. Or a guy says, you know what, this is really like really weird, and it just only happened once, and it just flashed through my mind, but it scared me to death. I had a homosexual urge. You know what that is? I don't know what that is.

I mean, ah, you know. Or I was just driving one day, and as I was driving down the road, I was just feeling kind of low, and I just thought, you know, I'm just sick of all the pressure, and I was just, I was driving real fast, and there was a curve coming, and I just, I don't know why it came out of the blue. I just thought to myself, I think I'll go straight. I think I'll just floor it. I got some insurance.

I'm not down. I'm not depressed, but I'm just, I'm just sick of life, and as you're going, these thoughts are going through your mind, and you think, well, I'd never do that, but it's kind of getting closer, and then, you know, good, godly, amazing, committed, Bible study, teachers, leaders, moms, grandparents, men, women, you have some of those thoughts. Well, welcome to the human race. I mean, I remember I was teaching a series on spiritual warfare, and as I was studying that, and there was a lot of that in California, and I remember praying, and I mean, one of the things that God took away early and miraculously, some things I really had to work through, I just remember like three weeks after I was a Christian, God just went, bing, and I quit cussing, and I mean, I'd tried before. I had a bad mouth in you, locker room, and all that jazz, and I mean, I just quit, so I hadn't cussed like in 20 years, and I was praying, and I'm before the throne of God, and I mean, just stuff was going through my mind. It was like, what's happening to me, you know? Gosh, is this like God saying you're not a very good pastor anymore, and you know, my initial thought was, I'm going insane.

What's happened to me? And then I thought, wait a second, hold it. Temptation is not the same thing as sin. Temptation means there's an opportunity to be lured away in some way. You know, looking at a very attractive woman and going, wow, very attractive is not the same as lusting for her, and you know, as a mature believer, I can say, Lord, man, sunsets are beautiful, and the trees are beautiful, and she's beautiful, and that's look number one. Now I want to thank you for what you made beautiful for me, Teresa, but I'm not going to beat myself up all day because, whoa, I mean, I'm a man. God gave me eyes, and they're attracted to certain things when a woman is beautiful, and ladies, I mean, you know, you have to feel bad every time you see a beautiful room decorated, and your first thought is that would look so good here, but we'd have to remodel.

We just did that four years ago, and you know, the sin is when you start planning and figuring out how you're going to get your husband into doing that deal, right? But the point I want to make is because we naively believe our struggles and temptations are unique, we start to hide the ones that we think were too mature or we shouldn't have, and I just want to go back to secrecy is where the enemy will bombard you with doubts and struggles and condemnation. You know what?

When you have a struggle, let me tell you what the Spirit does. It's specific. It's sin, righteousness, judgment, repent because I love you. Condemnation is vague. You're a terrible person. You know, you're a lousy this. You're a lousy that. You know why God put you on this? It's general.

It's vague. Condemnation makes you not like you, not like God and not want to pray. Conviction is a light shining on something that needs to be addressed, and you lift it into the light and just like bacteria out of the darkness when the light hits the bacteria and so that the fellowship can be restored. If you confess, agree with God about your sins, He's faithful and just to what? Forgive, release you of all your sins and cleanse you of all unrighteousness. What's He say about this biblical accountability?

He says, what's the summary? Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. See, at the heart of it, at the heart of it all is that I end up me worshiping me. It's really not about the sex. It's about the ego. It's really not about the food. It's about the ego.

It's not about the business and the work. It's about the ego. At the end of the day, the core of sin is going to come back to in any and all of these is God gets taken off the throne, my way, my control, my agenda, a world system, lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, pride of life, promising me security, significance, value and worth apart from God.

I bite on the bait. I make an idol, and then Paul says, and if that happened, then I get disqualified. Disqualified for my relationship of eternal life?

No. Disqualified as a useful vessel of honor and disqualified not only of use by God, but bringing incredible, incredible pain in the lives of others. There's no such thing as private sins. Every sin I commit, every sin you commit has ripples. Some of them you may never see, but they have ripples.

Even the ones that no one else has found out about, they have ripples. So I've given you five reasons to say, dear God, I not only want, I am committed to having biblical accountability in my life. I mean, Paul needed it. I need it. 1 Corinthians 10 outlines clearly. We all need it. So how do you get it?

How does it work? Let me give you some practical, I guess I call them spiritual tips on getting there. Number one, it begins at home. When we talk about accountability, too often we jump into places outside. Start with the people that you live with. I think there's appropriate things as men, better off to share with men and women with women. I'm very super open with my wife, but there are certain things that, you know what, my wife is not a man, she doesn't really understand.

And I need some guys that I can share that with and her vice versa. But I think you've got to start in your home, your marriage partner or your roommates. I mean, they see you. See, in those accountability groups, you can do, man, it's smoking mirrors. Oh, yeah, you know, yeah, yeah. Tell you what, you don't do that at home. It's like you left the dishes here and you didn't clean up this here and you said that over here. And you know, you're saying all the spiritual jazz. I'm living with you. It's not matching. So you start at home.

Second, it's an atmosphere of love, tender, compassionate, someone who's rooting for you. You don't need to become and you don't need a spiritual Gestapo. How so? So you didn't read your Bible today, huh?

You blew it. I mean, I don't need that. I mean, I want people to be straightforward, but just I want someone who really loves me. They'll be tough when they need to be tough, but even when they're tough, I want to see a little tear or their eyes getting watery when they have mustered up the courage to confront me about something they know could split our relationship. And they're being really tough, but I can feel behind the toughness.

Man, they love me. Third, it must be voluntary and by permission. There is no need for another junior Holy Spirit in your life. You have one who has the job. And so people who come to you, and I would like to be your accountability partner and I can help you grow. Thank you?

No. By the way, I think this is one you need to really negotiate. It is really hard. Some of you are in these sort of semi-imbalanced kind of relationships and you're the wife and you're in the Bible and you love God and you're going to church and your husband's sort of, you know, not so close. And you know, it's like as he gets up, here's a Bible passage opened and here's a CD by so-and-so. And by the way, honey, I'll pick up your favorite meal if you just go to church with us. And just forget that jazz. Let God work. You let your chaste behavior and how you live say, tell you what, if this loving Jesus makes you love me the way you love me, then honey, you just keep going to church and I might even check it out. Let God and vice versa. So, you know, you need, it's got to be by permission. We don't go out and hold other people accountable.

Four, it must be specific, not generic. I mean this sort of, hey, why don't you meet, we all have coffee and so how are you doing in general? I'm doing pretty good in general. How are you doing in general? I'm doing pretty good in general. So what do you think of those Falcons? In our place they actually won a game. Amen. Or, hey, you think the Cardinals are, you know, going to be any good this year, that quarterback change? Or, I don't know. Have you seen the last of Southern Living magazine? I thought it was so cute the way that, you know, and isn't it good to be in these accountability groups? Just makes me feel warm all over. And we kid ourselves thinking that something's happening.

It needs to be specific. You might even put some things in writing and say, you know what, as we meet together, these are the things we want to cover. I have a fellow, he's that dad figure and I'll never forget, I was in Dallas and he has permission and we talk on a regular basis and he's real funny, he has a flat top and kind of looks at me like this and he said, okay, why we went on our food? Are you ready?

And, you know, it's like a game show or something. I said, hey, C-man, what are you doing? He goes, well, are you ready? So, yeah, he takes his wallet and he has this little laminated thing and real small print in his questions. Question number one, have you any time since we last met been on the internet and watched anything inappropriate? Question number two, and I mean, he goes through my thought life, my time, my money, my ego and then the last question after is like five basic areas, he goes, question number six, have you lied to me on questions one through five?

And, you know what, he's kind of a, he knows me and he's kind of goofy, he knew it'd be uncomfortable, he knew it'd be the kind of thing that, you know, it's always awkward, but guess what, I got a safe place to go. Anybody ask you those questions? You asking anybody those questions?

According to this passage, until the day you take your last breath and I take my last breath, there'll be struggles in those areas, right? So it needs to be specific. And by the way, every time it doesn't need to be like hardcore, all right, you know, but you know, you know, you build relationship and you build trust, but it's, we're going to be specific about some things. My rule of thumb is no more than four people unless there's unique relationships of closeness that allow for more. And I think two is not great because you start getting blind spots for one another. I mean, it's okay, I think mentoring relationships are great, but for accountability, there's something healthy about having someone listen to stuff and say, because what you do is you're vulnerable when you're really being open and you only have one set of eyes looking at what's going on.

I want a couple set of eyes. So I have kind of relationships with a handful of people like this. The conclusion, making sincere commitments is tough. Keeping them is next to impossible alone. There's hope.

Many start well, few finish well. You can be the exception. You can be the exception. There is no temptation taken to you. There is no trial taken to you, but such is common to man. And with that temptation, God will provide a way of escape.

And I'm telling you, the way to escape is of a chord of three, is not easily broken. Chip will be right back with his application for this message, How to Keep First Things First, from his series, Balancing Life's Demands. Does it feel like life is pulling you in a thousand different directions? Are you exhausted trying to juggle your job, kids, marriage, and everything else you're responsible for? Do you wish there was a way to relieve that stress and tension on your shoulders and live life with a little more joy? Well, in this series, Chip reveals what a balanced life really looks like, and how you can rearrange your priorities around what matters most.

Hear how you can experience the joy-filled and satisfying life God desires for you to have. For more information about this series, go to livingontheedge.org, or call us at 888 333 6003. Additionally, all the resources for Balancing Life's Demands are discounted, and the MP3s are always free.

Again, go to livingontheedge.org, or call 888 333 6003 for all the details. App listeners, tap Special Offers. Well, Chip, before we wrap up, you wanted to say something about the year-end match that we talked so much about throughout the month of December. Well, Dave, I just wanted to pause, I mean to really pause and tell you from the bottom of my heart, thank you. You know, every time a person makes a financial gift, a spiritual transaction occurs.

In other words, something actually happens in a person's heart. And I speak to those of you who gave. You gave, you responded, you invested in Living on the Edge, and I want you to know that as you've invested, we're going to invest in the lives of people here and all around the world. It really matters, and we are super grateful. Thank you, each one of you who prayed and said, Lord, what do you want me to do?

And then you followed his lead. The final numbers will be on our website as soon as we get all the mail that comes in. But I just want to say thank you. Thank you so very much for hearing from God, responding to God, and for being so generous. And let me add my thanks to that as well. All the information about our end of the year match will be on our website, livingontheedge.org soon. So if you're interested, keep an eye out for it there. And again, please know we're celebrating every gift and the impact it'll have on what we're doing in 2022. Thank you so much.

As we close today's program, I want to take the lens and pull it back a little bit. We've talked about the five specific reasons in the last two broadcasts of why we need accountable relationships. And then we have defined, and I think this definition is really important. Accountability is not other people playing the Holy Spirit and nagging my life. Accountability is me inviting trusted people into my life to help me keep my commitments to God.

Now, here's the other thing. There's a lot of, quote, accountability groups, all kind of small groups. But I will tell you, my experience has been that there's a big problem in these groups. It's called lying, okay?

I'm dead serious. I have been in accountability groups and have good friends in accountability groups, but people who walked off with someone else's mate, people who have been involved in fraud at significant levels were in the accountability group. I think it's so important that we create an atmosphere where we really accept one another for who we are and the struggles that we have. But it's also an atmosphere where there's some tough love that goes on. You know, so often I think in the name of caring for one another, loving one another. I've been in groups where someone shows up seven, eight weeks in a row, doesn't do the lesson, doesn't memorize the passage, doesn't be very authentic, and everyone just keeps giving them a pass like, well, you know, we're Christians, we don't want to be too hard on them.

Guess what? Sometimes you need to be hard on people that you love. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful but sorrowful, yet those who have been trained by it afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. I can look back at four or five major times in my life where people said things to me that I wanted to get up and hit them. I mean, I can't believe they said that.

And the reason I wanted to get up and hit them was because they were absolutely right. When you find people defensive and rationalizing, I will tell you underneath that is unknown, unresolved patterns of sin that need to be addressed. Let's really love each other and stop playing games.

Let's be Romans 12 Christians from the inside out. As we close, I want you to know that as a staff we ask the Lord to help you take whatever your next faith step is. And we'd love to hear how it's going. Would you take just a minute to send us a note or give us a call?

Either one is easy. Just send a quick note to chip at livingontheedge.org or give us a call at 888-333-6003. That email again is chip at livingontheedge.org or call 888-333-6003. We look forward to hearing from you. Well, I'm glad you've been with us. And until next time, this is Dave Druey saying thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-01 19:28:45 / 2023-07-01 19:41:08 / 12

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