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The ART of Survival - A Theology to Understand, Part 2

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram
The Truth Network Radio
March 14, 2022 6:00 am

The ART of Survival - A Theology to Understand, Part 2

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram

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March 14, 2022 6:00 am

In times and circumstances that are overwhelming, and everything in you wants to give up or give in, your number one need is perspective. Perspective is the antidote to discouragement. Question: How do you get perspective? Chip tells us in this program. Don’t miss it!

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In times and circumstances that are overwhelming and everything in you wants to give up or to give in, your number one need is perspective. Perspective is the antidote to discouragement.

How do you get perspective? That's today. Don't miss it. Thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. Living on the Edge is an international discipleship ministry focused on helping Christians live like Christians. I'm Dave Drouin, and in this program, Chip wraps up his series, The Art of Survival, based in James chapter one. Now, before we begin, if you've been encouraged or motivated by this series, would you take a minute after this message and share it with a friend?

Now, you can do that through the Chip Ingram app or by sending them the free MP3s that you'll find at livingontheedge.org. Well, let's join Chip now as he concludes our series with the second half of his message, A Theology to Believe. Now, what I want to do is I want to take the truth of this passage, and I want to develop three very practical, specific principles to help you slay the dragon of discouragement. Or as I like to say, hanging tough in tough times demand first that we get God's perspective on our circumstances.

How do you do that? By looking at our circumstances through the eyes of faith. That's exactly what he calls us to do. Look at your current circumstance. Remember, what is it that's discouraging you? What is it that's difficult and painful right now that you just think, I can't take it?

I can't take it. Look at it through the eyes of faith. What is it that God's going to do because you're trusting what you can't see? You're trusting his promises. You're trusting his character.

How do you do that exactly? Well, you need to understand that the Lord has you in a position to develop a work in you that's primary and even more important than the work through you. So don't get discouraged.

Just by faith. I mean, remember I wrote for 20 months, there's a passage in Psalm 25 that God gave me that said, Chip, I will instruct you in the way in which you should go. And for 20 months, I'm going, Lord, and you know what he gave me? Here's what you do today. Here's what you do today.

Here's what you do today. I kept saying, what about six months? What about six years?

What about 10 years? Lord, I have visionary gift. I need to know where I'm supposed to go. And what he said is, I'll show you what you need to do today and I'll give you grace to do it today. And what I didn't realize, I had no idea that God's purposes for my family, my marriage, my children, my grandchildren, and the ministry, they were going to expand and expand and expand. And when God's going to do something wide through you, he first has to do something deep in you. And when God wants to do something deep in you, he has to remove the pillars and the dependency of your arrogance and your pride and your trust in people and wanting the affirmation of others. And he will strip you in ways for your good because you're so precious, but it's painful. So in your discouragement, can you say, if it looks like I have little, you should boast in your high position because you are dependent.

And I would love to say, I would love to say it. And after 35 years as a pastor, I would love to tell you this is true, but it's not. I would love to say that when things are going well and when they're easy and when all the relationships are good and circumstances are wonderful and we have lots of money that we just trust God, that we go to deep levels with the Lord.

The fact of the matter is all of us, all of us have to have seasons where God takes the things that we trust in and he sets them aside so that we have him, just him. And God's doing that right now. He's doing it in the world. He's shaking people. He's shaking communities. He's shaking the church.

He's shaking the world. The question is, will we listen? Will we humble ourselves and be dependent? So the first thing we need to do is look at our circumstances through the lens of faith. The second thing we need to do is get God's perspective on our future and how? By looking at our future through the lens of hope. See, our hope, if it's in the now, if it's in what I can see, if it's in the ministry, if it's how people are responding to me, if it's in my bank account, if it's in things going well or not going well, my circumstance, what do we learn?

It goes up and it goes down. He says, you need to take what you're experiencing right now, whatever is discouraging you. And he goes, I want to give you another new set of glasses. After the glasses of faith, you set those down and now you put on the glasses of hope. Listen to what the apostle Paul said, therefore we do not lose heart, though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we're being renewed day by day. For the light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal weight that outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes on not what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporal and what is unseen is eternal.

He tells him, I'm telling you this after I've been shipwrecked, I've been beaten about three times, I've been left in the sea. I mean, he is viewing all of his temporal difficulty, pain, circumstances through a lens of hope and what God is preparing for him, not just now, but forever. The third thing that we need to do is get God's perspective on our circumstances, God's perspective on our future, and now God's perspective on our motivation by looking at our motivation through the lens of love.

Here's the question, and this is different for all of us, and this is very personal, so I want you to lean back. I want you to really think for a moment before you would immediately answer, am I willing to enter into the fellowship of his suffering? Are you willing, like the Apostle John and the Apostle Peter, to consider it a privilege and a joy to suffer for the sake of Christ? You see, in the early church, as they were beaten and taken in by the Sanhedrin, and they went back there in Acts chapter two and three and four and told the other believers what happened, they were filled with joy, being counted worthy to suffer for the Lord.

It's out of loyalty. The Apostle Paul would say, I want the fellowship of his suffering. There's something about a love for the Lord Jesus that when you are suffering because you refuse to give up, refuse to give in, that is very, very precious. And what I would have to admit to you is that sometimes when I've worked hard, I've tried hard, I've prayed hard, I've ministered hard, and circumstances don't get better, and I don't feel better, and candidly I'm not very happy, and I wish God would change things and change them faster. What I have to admit privately is that my motivation is really about God working my life out instead of me being willing to experience whatever I need to experience for me to express my love to him. I remember a number of years ago teaching a seminar, it was in Hong Kong at the time, and was meeting with a group of pastors, and that evening I had dinner with a pastor who happened to be a house church leader, an evangelist, and he was telling the story and we had helped him with some resources and helped him with what he was doing in terms of discipleship, and as he was traveling doing evangelism, the church was meeting in his house and the Communist Party came, it was a remote area, and his wife said, no, no, I'm the pastor, I'm the pastor, none of these people are here, and she got all the people to leave, and they took her down to the police station, and for two days they beat her to a pulp. And he came back from his evangelistic trip and found what was happening, and I'm listening to the story and in my mind's eye thinking about my wife, my wife's name is Theresa, and as he's telling the story I'm just thinking, boy if someone did that to my wife, I don't know if I could keep my faith, boy I would just, and I'm having all these emotions and anger and retribution, and he finishes the story and when he gets done with the story, very calmly, he looks at me and my friend and he says, can you imagine that God would count us worthy to get to suffer for him?

And I was too embarrassed to say the emotions and the thoughts that I had. But I want to ask you that. These are the times that we're living in.

Is our love going to be loyal? As we wrap things up, let me help you evaluate kind of a little bit where you are and to remind you that you can slay the dragon of discouragement. You are not a victim. Victims have self-pity. Victims look through the lens of me. Victim looks through the lens of now.

Victims look at, are things going well? Survivors don't. Survivors have an attitude and we count it all joy, whether we feel like it or not. Survivors don't know what to do, but we have God's wisdom and we'll take it one day at a time. And survivors get an eternal perspective, a divine perspective, a theology, a way of thinking about life and circumstances and the future and our relationship with the Lord in terms of motivation.

And because of that, here's the deal. You can overcome discouragement, but you have to fight. So can I ask you, remember when we began this teaching time, I said, what person, what circumstance, what specific thing was really discouraging you? And I ask you to get it really clear in your mind. Before I go on and give you some practical tools, where are you struggling? From what I've shared so far, what is God saying to you today? What does it look like for you to look at life, your life, your sadness, your disappointment, your challenge, your heartache through the lens of faith, through the lens of hope, through the lens of love?

Let me give you a couple handles that I think will help. Number one, reevaluate your circumstances, and here's the test. Is my faith in things that are perishable or in things that are permanent? Just pause for a moment. Your faith, what are you trusting in?

Are you trusting in things that are perishable or things that are permanent? I remember again in China, speaking to a pastor lamb of many years ago, and he was beaten and tortured and the church grew. And so they put him in prison and the church grew even more. And so he got out of prison after many years and he had almost like a tree house, I remember, and he had speakers and just hundreds of people would gather to hear him preach and proclaim God's word. And the officials came at that time and said, we are going to kill you.

And he smiled at them. He said, you torture me, the church grows. You put me in prison, the church grows bigger. You kill me, the church will explode.

Did you hear it? His faith isn't in what was perishable. His faith is in what's permanent. I was talking to one of our partners who does ministry in the Middle East, and you may know that the fastest growing church in the world is in Iran. And they came out of Iran and did some teaching and they were growing in their faith. And as they were ready to go back into their country, one of the ladies said to the trainer, before we go back into our country, would you teach us to die well? She understood. She understood what they were going to do and what they were going to share in all probability is going to cost them their life. They wanted to die well. I sat across the table from a young doctor who had a contract on her life. She was in Yemen and the church has exploded in the midst of that civil war and she was making her way to another country to be safe. And she was young, maybe 30, 31, and she just looked at me and goes, I know I won't live very long.

And she didn't say it with any sense of self-pity. It was a sense of this is my calling in life. There is more to life than right now. My question is, do you believe that? Does your behavior, does my behavior declare that? For those of us in sort of the first world, I have a very good friend who's gone broke a couple of times and made a lot of money, I guess probably three times now.

And this big COVID situation and all that it does to the financial markets and all the rest. And I asked him, well, how are you doing? And he looked at me, he said, it really doesn't matter. It's just money.

In other words, there are numbers on a sheet of paper. Over time, he has come to actually believe and understand that money can't make you, money can't break you. He's looking at life through the lens of faith.

Second is to reevaluate where your focus is. The test here is my hope determined by the size of my problems or the certainty of God's promises. I mean, is your hope where the promises are?

You know, those problems are getting smaller. Or is it these big promises of God? Where is your hope focused? The Apostle Paul writing to the Romans and they have their share of struggles. The Roman Empire is persecuting Christians. And he says to them, for everything that was written in the past, the Old Testament, it instructs us or teaches us that through, listen carefully, endurance and the encouragement of the scriptures, we might have hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus so that with one heart and one voice, you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. And then he quotes a number of Old Testament passages about four or five about the inclusion of the Gentiles. And then he ends with verse 13 of chapter 15.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. In our dependency, I'm going to challenge you. One of the things that God wants to do is break down some of our preconceived ideas and our focus. For then it was Jew or Gentile. For some of us, it's black and white. For others, it's different tribes. For some of you in different countries, though you love Jesus, there is this division.

There's this prejudice. God wants to take us to this place of dependency that brings about unity. He says he gives encouragement and he gives what?

Endurance how? Through the Scriptures. Here's the question. Where is your mind going? Does your mind focus on the problem, the problem, the problem, the problem? Or are you focused on the promises, the promises, the promises? You know, as I shared before, one of the reasons I memorize Scripture, one of the reasons I renew my mind, one of the reasons I sing and worship out loud is I want to fill my mind and my heart with the truth and the promises of God so I can look at the very challenging and discouraging circumstances in a fresh way, God's way. You see, it's perspective. Finally, we reevaluate our motivation and the test is, is your primary motivation and the motivation of your heart to love Christ or simply experience relief and get what you want for you? This is a hard one to be honest with, but as I shared, I think the brothers and sisters that I've met around the world have taught me more about a pure love than anybody else in the world because they, there's very little hope for any financial gain or fame or life getting better. They do what they do.

They experience what they experience and you all suffer what you suffer because you love the Lord Jesus. As I close, when you start to get discouraged, are you ready? I just want you to remember three words.

That's all you need. Three words. As you struggle, the art of survival. Word number one is faith. God is in control. Word number two is hope.

You are his child. He has a place, a plan, and a promise for you. And the last word is love. Suffering is a chance and a privilege for you and for me to express our love for the Lord Jesus. Father, these are words of hope and life, but we confess in our humanity, in our fallenness, that they're very challenging words to apply. Lord, thank you for your word that gives us encouragement.

Thank you for the examples of David and Moses and Deborah and Esther. Lord, thank you for Paul and Peter and John. Lord, thank you for people in our life, the heroes of today, that blaze the trail, that love you, that live by faith, that focus on what's unseen rather than what's unseen.

And Lord Jesus, may we be those kind of people. Thank you that we are not victims, that we're more than conquerors in Christ. Will you fill us with perspective and wisdom and hope? And will you grant us the ability to fight the good fight, to finish the race, to do all that you've called us to do? In Jesus' name, amen.

God bless you. Let's keep pressing ahead. Chip will be right back with his application for this message, A Theology to Believe, from his series, The Art of Survival. You know, many of the pressing problems we're facing today, injustice, social unrest, religious persecution, moral decay, are not new.

In fact, they've been around for centuries. So how are we, as followers of Christ, to respond? For that answer, Chip turns to the book of James, chapter one.

Throughout this series, he explains that the uncertainties and fears that discouraged first century believers are similar to the hardships we're facing right now. By using the word ART as an acronym, Chip highlights three critical truths for how we can endure challenging times. A stands for an attitude that strengthens. R is for a resource God offers.

And T is for a theology that guides. This is such a relevant series. So if you've missed any part of it or want to learn more about our resources, get plugged in with our ministry through the Chip Ingram app. Well, before we wrap up this series, Chip, I can see you want to jump in here and talk about something that's really important to you.

Thanks, Dave. You know, we live in very unsettling times. In fact, I would call them disruptive times. And we all know that change is normal, but we've never experienced the kind of chaos and division like we see now. How do we navigate the turmoil of the world that we're living in and whether that's in our personal life, our families, our churches, our workplaces? And what I want to suggest is that James chapter one, the very first book in the New Testament written gives us a blueprint about how to survive and even thrive in the midst of life's greatest trials. And what I'm going to invite you to is to dive into James chapter one in a brand new daily discipleship with Chip. It's called The Art of Survival.

And here's how it works. Each day, I'm going to meet with you one on one for 10 days, and we're going to discover what James chapter one teaches about the art of survival and life's trials. We'll start our time together where I'll literally get a cup of coffee, open my Bible, and I'll talk directly with you one on one. And we'll walk through how to study the Bible.

You'll learn to study the scriptures for yourself in a way where you hear God's voice and have God speak in such a way that gives you the strength to make it through life's hardest and most difficult times. So here's the challenge. Spend 10 days, 10 minutes a day with me, 10 minutes on your own. And then let me encourage you.

Invite 10 people to join you. Let's be difference makers. Let's learn the art of survival in the age of chaos. You know, those early disciples turned the world upside down, and that's God's plan for you and me.

Won't you join me? Thanks, Chip. Well, we're so excited to share with you our new Daily Discipleship with Chip, The Art of Survival, based in James chapter one. Through this free video series, we'll discover how to handle circumstances out of our control, guard our attitude against discouragement, and trust God and his provision. If you're ready to learn the art of surviving in these challenging times, then register today to take the Daily Discipleship Challenge. And when you sign up, we'll send you a new leather-bound prayer journal as our gift to you. To take this free 10-day Daily Discipleship Challenge, go to livingontheedge.org or call us at 888-333-6003.

That's 888-333-6003 or go to livingontheedge.org. App listeners, tap discipleship. As we come to the end of our time today and to the end of this series, I was talking with a group of pastors from India, and the situation there is beyond almost what you could believe. And you could just hear the angst and the trusting of God and the desire.

And I'll never forget one of the pastors turned to me when he heard this message, and he said to me, Actually, Pastor, your last three words were what I take away from God. Faith, hope, and love. Faith, God is in control. I either believe that or I don't. Hope, I am His child. I have a future. There is a heaven.

It's real. My physical life is not all that there is, and life is not about money or what anyone thinks. I have hope and love. I've never thought about it this way, but suffering is a chance and a privilege to prove to my Savior that I love Him.

Not a love of feelings, but a love of loyalty, that His life for mine, His love for me, His plan for me is more important than my life, my agenda, and my personal dreams. Faith, hope, and love. We get God's perspective on our circumstance, regardless of how difficult when we look through the lens of faith. We get God's perspective on our future when we look through the lens of hope.

We don't know what will happen today, tomorrow, the next few years, decades. We don't know when the Lord will return, but the anchor of our hope is a promise that I go to prepare a place for you. And if it weren't so, I would not have said it, that there is a certainty that death can't touch, circumstances can't touch. And finally, there is love. And I can say I love God all day, in many ways, as can you. But times like this give me a chance to express it, the kind of sacrifice back to Him.

The Apostle Paul would use the phrase that he was filling up the sufferings of Jesus as He was pouring out His life for others. So that's my encouragement. Be the hands of Jesus now.

There must be at least someone that has a little bit worse than you. Be His feet and go where there's needs. Share and care for others. There is an art to survival. There's an attitude that you can choose to have.

Consider it all joy. There's a supernatural resource that's available if you're willing to do whatever He says. And there is a theology, a theology that will give you a perspective that can overcome discouragement regardless of your circumstance. May the Lord Jesus fill you with His Spirit and all insight into His will. And may He grant you a deeper and deeper knowledge of Himself, fill you with the wisdom that comes from above, and give you the grace to trust Him, to not give in, to not give up, to be an outward-focused, loving follower of Jesus that would be the light of the world holding forth the Word of God in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. May we be that by His power and by His grace. God bless you. Let's keep pressing ahead.

We will survive. Before we wrap up this program, I want to thank each of you who's making this program possible through your generous giving. 100% of your gifts are going directly to the ministry to help Christians really live like Christians.

Now, if you found CIP's teaching helpful, but you're not yet on the team, would you consider doing that today? To donate, just go to livingontheedge.org, tap donate on the app, or give us a call at 888-333-6003. And let me thank you in advance for whatever the Lord leads you to do. Well, until next time, for everyone here, this is Dave Druey saying thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-22 19:41:39 / 2023-05-22 19:51:49 / 10

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