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I Choose Joy - Understanding the Power of Purpose, Part 1

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram
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November 16, 2022 5:00 am

I Choose Joy - Understanding the Power of Purpose, Part 1

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram

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November 16, 2022 5:00 am

Sometimes the shortest distance between two points is a zig zag line. God’s ultimate purpose for our life is often achieved by circumstances that seem to make no apparent sense to us. Is that how you feel? Do you need some help? Join Chip as he explains how, even in our worst circumstances, God can bring us joy!

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What if I told you that the most difficult situation or person in your life right now is actually a tool in God's hands to accomplish His biggest and best purpose in your life? You want to learn how this works? Stay with me. Welcome to this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. Chip's our Bible teacher for this daily discipleship program motivating Christians to live like Christians.

I'm Dave Drewy, and in just a minute Chip will build off that radical idea he just posed as he continues his series, I Choose Joy. He's going to share a really simple equation that I think will help you find more satisfaction and enjoyment in life. But before he does, if this is your first time listening to Living on the Edge or you just want to learn more about what we do, go to

There you'll find tons of resources on a wide range of topics and countless programs to enjoy. Or if you prefer, the Chip Ingram app is also a great way to get plugged in with our ministry. Well, if you have a Bible, turn out to Philippians chapter 1 verse 12 for Chip's message, Understanding the Power of Purpose. What's a circumstance in your life that's tough?

Is there anything in your life right now that you say, if God really loves me, if He cares for me, and I'm obeying Him, I'm doing all that I know that is right, what's going on? I don't get it. Well, you're not alone. And so if you pull out your teaching notes, I want you to do a little exercise with me. It says, sometimes the shortest distance between two points is a zigzag line.

Now I want to say that again. Sometimes the distance between point A and point B, unlike in geometry where it's a straight line with God, sometimes the distance between point A, this is where you're at right now. This is where you're at in your life, in your singleness, in your marriage, in your work, in your health. Point A, God wants to take you to point B. The way we think, and especially those of you that were really good in geometry, unlike me, is we think point A, point B, straight line. That's how you get there.

In God's economy, mark it down. The shortest distance between two points is a zigzag line. I will never forget Dr. Sanukian sharing that. I can't tell you what the message is all about. I can't tell you when and where I was, but what I can tell you is a paradigm shifted in my mind. A paradigm shifted, and I realized that when I'm at point A and when I'm convinced God wants me at point B, when I don't get there right away or when I hit barriers and there's time issues and people issues and health issues and struggle issues and marriage issues and kid issues and at times when I was single, just, God, am I ever going to get married issues? It was beginning to say, wow, this shortest distance is a zigzag line.

This is going to be very, very helpful. I want you to get out of pen right now. Come on. Pull it out.

Just really quick. Right underneath that, where it says a zigzag line, I want you to put a dot on one side and then all the way over on the other side of the page, put another dot. Then I want you to actually draw a zigzag line. While you're doing that, let me just give you a couple examples so that I'm not just making this up. We're studying the book of Philippians, the Apostle Paul. Now, God interrupts his life and reveals himself and takes him to Arabia and says, okay, this is what you're going to do.

You are my man to the Gentiles. Your mission is to take the gospel to the whole world. He goes on these missionary trips and he plants all these churches. I mean, God is using him.

It's an amazing story. His point A, God has spoke to me. Point B, take the gospel to the whole world. Now, do you realize how many times, years after year after year, he was in prison?

I mean, he's got to be saying, whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a second. You told me to take the gospel to the whole world. Now I'm in prison for this. Now I'm in prison for this. Now I'm in prison for that.

How's this ever going to happen? Well, guess where Paul wrote a great number of all the letters inspired by the Holy Spirit that we read today while he was in prison. The most strategic way that God's word would go all around the world then and now.

This man wrote 13 books. You see, God had a zigzag plan but Paul couldn't see it. Or take David. God calls David to be the king and Samuel anoints him and this young man and he says, David, you're going to be the king. And Saul has been cast aside and he's turned away.

And David, I'm sure he's like, wow, I'm too young but okay. Well, he's anointed as king and for the next 10 plus or minus years he dodges spears, hides in caves, loses his wife, has everyone turn against him and wonders, God, if this is what it's like to be king, what's the deal? But you see, the zigzag line, he was preparing David and he was preparing the circumstance. And you can look at Joseph, you can look at Moses, you can look at the children of Israel, you can look at your life, you can study church history, you can look at the lives of people that you really admire, that God has greatly used and have great character. And I will tell you this, the game plan was a zigzag line. So what I want to help you do is learn we can actually choose joy when we know that these current circumstances, God actually is using them. There is a purpose behind him.

It's not linear. It's not always the way we think. You got it? Now, for those of you that weren't with us in our last session, let me do a very, very quick review. I have a question before we move on. This is a pitcher of water and the question is, is it half full or is it half empty? Now, you don't necessarily need to vote, raise your hand, but is it half full or is it half empty? And of course, you know the answer, right?

The answer is yes. It is half full and it is half empty. And in this series, what we're learning is that it's your focus. How do you look at that? It's your perspective.

If this pitcher represents your life, your relationships, all that's going on, there are some people that spend their entire life focusing on what they don't have, what's not yet. And they're down and they're discouraged and they blame people and they blame God and they're pretty negative and some of it just goes inside our heads because we all struggle with this. And there's other people who realize everybody's life is going to have some big empty issues, some struggles, some challenges, but their focus is, look at what I do have.

Look at what God has done. And they focus not denying what's empty, not pretending it's not there, not pretending there's not needs, but look, it's half full. And so on your notes, what I want to do by way of review is simply say this, C plus P equals E. That's our little formula. That's our formula for choosing joy. Circumstances plus perspective equals our experience. This whole series about choosing joy is learning moment by moment, day by day, into everything of life to get God's perspective, to look at a lens. Lens number one was, you'll see in your notes, key is focus.

Jot that down, will you? Your focus. The key question to ask when you're sliding, when you get discouraged, when you don't understand, when someone really ticks you off, here's the question, where's my focus? Key number two is purpose. You see, when I look at life, the ups and downs, the zigs, and especially the zags, I need to ask myself, what's my purpose?

I want to look at circumstances and challenges and difficulties through the lens of purpose. But what I want you to see is the structure of this passage. Verse 12, he's going to give his thesis.

He's going to tell us, this is what I want you to know. And then, in each one of the verses, it's like a lawyer. He's presenting his argument, and he has exhibit A, exhibit B, exhibit C. I'm going to show you that he's going to look at his life through the lens of God's purpose, and whether he's zigging or zagging, he will end this section with, and I rejoice.

So follow along. Here's his thesis, verse 12. Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, underlying greater progress and underlying gospel. And then he's going to tell us how those difficult circumstances kind of help the gospel go forth. Exhibit A, he says, so that my imprisonment and the cause of Christ has become well-known throughout the whole Praetorian Guard and to everyone else. And that most of the brethren who are entrusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.

And then he goes into some of the challenges and some things that were happening. Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from goodwill. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I'm appointed for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, rather than pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment. And then his kind of attitude toward it all. You know, what then or literally, what's it matter? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed.

And in this, I circle the word rejoice. Okay, here's his thesis. This church that loves him, that was birthed in Philippi, have heard our beloved apostle, church planner, our friend, our brother. Well, he's in Rome now.

And we've heard he's in prison, and they know what the prisons are like. And we'll learn later in the book, this was the very literal, only the church at this time that was supporting him financially. And so they have sent Epaphroditus to go meet him and bring a financial gift. And in that day, they didn't serve you food.

You had to have friends and people to take care of you. And so they're concerned about Paul. And this letter, he's writing back to reassure them it's okay.

And so here's his premise. I want you to know, because you're concerned, I want you to know that my circumstances, the difficulties, the challenges you've heard about, are turning out for the greater progress. The word greater progress, had you underlined, the word means advancement. It's a military term.

It was a term that when an army was coming through and they would have a barrier of trees, they would cut down trees, they would get rid of all the brush, but they would remove every barrier so that army could continue to advance. And it says I want you to know that it's difficult for sure. I am in prison, just as you've heard, but here's the deal. It's caused the gospel, the good news. And for some of us that didn't grow up in the church, the gospel's not some formula. Can I pause just a moment?

Can we park? I mean, just for a second. The gospel is a compound word, good news, or literally it's happy news. And what it is, it's an announcement.

It's not like here's how you ought or should to live. The announcement is all men of all time are in chains and bondage to sin. And we fall short of God's holiness. And God, the second person of the Trinity, came to earth.

He lived a perfect life. He died upon the cross and he paid for my sin and your sins and the sins of all people of all time. And then he rose from the dead and he demonstrated that it's true. And the good news, the happy news, the early church wasn't saying you have to believe this and you need to do this and why don't you start living this way and your morals need to be this way.

No, they were just going to say, look, there's happy news. We all know that we fall short. We all know that we've sinned. God visited the planet. He died in our place. Our sins are forgiven.

Will you receive it? I mean, it was like just going around telling people, this is amazing. And so Paul says, my circumstances have turned out for the advancement of this message, this amazing, powerful message. The gospel he would write to the Romans is the power of God to salvation to every single person who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Now he's going to make his point. So Paul, okay, you say it's an advancement.

We're still concerned about you. How does it advance the gospel? Exhibit A, the gospel goes forth. Jot that word in, the gospel goes forth. He says, so that my imprisonment and the cause of Christ has become, put a line under, well known throughout the whole Praetorian Guard and to everyone else. Now let's, again, let's get a little context here.

We read this through our 21st century lens. The Roman Empire is in absolute control. By this time, Nero happens to be the emperor and he is worshipped as God and emperor worship is very big.

But it's a Greek culture, so there's gods on every corner. Now in the midst of all these gods and emperor worship and this heavy-handed, strong Roman world, there was an itinerant preacher who came. He claimed to be God. He claimed to fulfill all these prophecies. He was rejected by his own people.

He died. He rose from the dead and 500 witnesses actually met him for 40 days in a resurrected body and he told them, I want you to go into all the world and declare and proclaim that people's sins are forgiven and now the barrier between God and man is down and you can have a personal relationship with God. And so there's this little sect that early they were called the way before they were called Christians. In other words, the way, the path, this is how you get to God.

Now it's AD 62 or 63. Jesus has only been resurrected like 30 plus years in this huge Roman Empire. And there's all these religions. So how in the world, how in the world does God give his key spokesman a platform and he says everyone everywhere and especially this Praetorian Guard, they know I'm here for the gospel. This is the platform of the known world and after 30 years, God takes these difficult circumstances so that Paul is declaring the greatest truth that this planet has ever, ever heard. And all people know is they're spoken evil of because they're weird.

I mean the people are selling their homes and meeting the needs of the poor. They touch lepers. They meet secretly.

They're absolutely committed to one another. They're radical in their faith. They keep talking about this dead man that came back to life. No matter what we do, we can't get rid of them.

I mean they were just a pain in the rear. I mean we march them into the Colosseums and we let loose the lions and they sing praises to God and they're asking God to forgive us as we do it. Nero actually took them and wrapped them. This is a bit graphic, but he would wrap these Christians who wouldn't recant in tar and then he would put them on poles and he would light them for his cocktail parties and they would sing praises to God. And so Paul's saying, you know, this little 30-year movement, this sect is getting global coverage because I'm here. It's turned out for the greater progress of the gospel. And by the way, you talk about a viral movement.

Here's a viral movement. The Praetorian Guards, every six hours one of these guards gets chained to me. And you don't know what a Praetorian Guard is. If you were an emperor at this time, the way that you normally lost your job is you were assassinated.

And it might be a military coup or it might be one of your sons or it might be someone competing for power. And so what the emperors would do, they would develop what was called a Praetorian Guard. And basically it was an army, an army of somewhere between 10,000 to 20,000 and these were like the Green Beret, the Navy Seals, I mean the greatest warriors, the most gifted, the best trained. I mean these were the absolute cream of the cream of the cream. And their job was to be loyal to the emperor.

And I mean they were esteemed. And so he, every six hours he has a different one. So Claudius comes in and he's nailed, you know, he's chained to Paul. So what are you in for?

Hey, I'm glad you asked. Have you ever heard of Jesus? Another six hours, you know. Augustus comes in, then Bob, then Fred, then Joe. I mean can you imagine being chained to the apostle Paul for six hours? He comes to Christ, he comes to Christ, he comes to Christ, he comes to Christ, he comes to Christ, he comes to Christ.

And what happens? What we find is that in the Book of Acts we'll learn that actually people in the household of Herod are coming to Christ. And all I want you to get is sometimes the zigzag line of difficult circumstances causes the gospel to go forward. What are you going through? What are you going through right now that God wants to use so that other people, so the gospel can go forth? How you respond to the difficulty, the pain, the injustice?

What's happening at work, or what your ex is saying, or what's happening with one of your kids, or a health issue that everyone's going, wow, how do you even get through this? God wants to use your present circumstances, exhibit A, for the furtherance of the gospel, but that's not all. Exhibit B, here's another good thing that happened. The church grows stronger. Notice what he says, and that most of the brethren trusting in the Lord, notice the phrase, because of my imprisonment have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.

See, when we step up, when he's in the midst of this, and he's being bold, the rest of us go, wow, you know something? The Praetorian Guard, the church was being persecuted, and now they say, if Paul can do it in prison, I can do it. Sometimes adversity and difficult circumstances causes the gospel to go forth, and sometimes difficulty, circumstances, you know what it does? It builds the body. It causes the church to grow. You've been listening to part one of Chip's message, Understanding the Power of Purpose. He'll be right back with his application for this teaching from his series, I Choose Joy. It's safe to say that we all want to live life with a little more joy, but what does that mean exactly? Is it just finding happiness or pleasure in something?

Will those feelings really sustain us through the hard knocks of life? Well, in this eight-part series, Chip explains why joy that comes from God is more than just an emotion. Discover how it can change your perspective on life and profoundly strengthen your faith in challenging times. To learn more about this study in Philippians chapter one, go to, the Chip Ingram map, or call 888-333-6003. Well Chip's joined me in studio now to talk about something that's been on his heart a lot recently.

Chip? Thanks so much, Dave. Is there a lot of turmoil and chaos in your house right now? Do you feel like you're merely surviving, not really thriving as a family?

Does it seem like despite your best efforts, every day feels like two steps forward, four steps backward? If you can relate to those thoughts, I'd like to tell you about a resource that will inspire you as a mom and dad and give you some practical ways, even when you're exhausted, to become an exceptional parent. I mean, what I can tell you is of all the things I did in my life with no regrets, it was investing intentionally and systematically in my kids.

I didn't do it perfectly at all, but Teresa and I made it a priority, but we used a lot of great tools, and we have one that I wish was available when we were raising our kids. It's called intentional parenting, and it comes from my friends Doug and Kathy Fields, and through their decades of parenting experience and working with young people, they've come up with ten crucial concepts to be intentional, God-honoring moms and dads to give their kids what they need. I just want to tell you personally, I've actually studied and written a book on parenting, but what Doug and Kathy have put together is some of the best stuff I've ever seen, and there's two ways to get it.

The first way is on these cards. They're intentional parenting cards. There's forty-three of them that cover these ten practices, and it's just like in bite-sized little ways that remind you kind of on an ongoing basis how to invest in your kids. The second is we have a five-part video series called Intentional Parenting that Doug teaches. These are things you want to get your hands on if you want to make a difference in the lives of your kids.

Thanks, Chip. Well, if you'd like to get plugged in with the online course taught by Doug or our card set, go to or call us at 888-333-6003. Make today the day you choose to be more deliberate about your calling as a parent or grandparent. Again, to learn more about these intentional parenting resources, go to or call 888-333-6003.

App listeners, tap Special Offers. Well, here again is Chip. As we close today's program, I want to remind you of the little formula that we're talking about. I'd encourage you to put this in the notes in your phone, maybe write it on a three-by-five card, put it on the mirror in the bathroom.

C plus P equals E. C stands for circumstance plus perspective equals your experience. And we're going to learn four basic questions to ask that will give you God's perspective. The first question is, where's your focus?

Remember, that was from the early part of chapter one. Is it inward or is it upward and outward? Now we're asking, what's your purpose? It's amazing how the lens of interpreting your circumstances alters radically when you think about God's purposes for your life.

What is he doing? The apostle Paul in this passage actually takes what is a horrendous situation in prison and he looks at it through the lens of God's purpose and says, wow, this is pretty cool. I'm here in the center of the world. I'm chained to these guys that have all this impact and the gospel is going to go forward. I mean, this is great. Instead of, I'm in chains and God, where are you?

And this isn't fair and this doesn't work. I said at the beginning of the broadcast that sometimes the most difficult person or situation in your life is actually a tool that God is using to accomplish his best and biggest purposes through your life. I'd like you to ponder and kind of look backward in your own mind's eye and think some really hard things or difficult things that really you wanted something to happen but they didn't and now you look back and go, oh, thank you, God.

You don't like dating that person you thought you would marry but you didn't and you think of who you have now. Or in my case, I remember, oh, I so wanted to be the pastor of this one church and I've been at this tiny little church for like seven or eight years and we went through the whole process and we got to the end and they said no. And I was devastated. Oh, God, I can't believe it.

I think I'm perfect for that situation. A year later, I went to Santa Cruz Bible Church and that was, I mean, a revolution in my life. In the last few years, I've had a back problem and I had every treatment and then finally surgery and it's like, this is so hard. This is so difficult. Oh, God, I just want you to know whatever you want to accomplish through this, will you do it? And I look back now and it was my back that allowed me to see I was overextended, that allowed me to refocus my life and God is doing things that I never dreamed. Here's my question for you. What's God's agenda or purpose in your life right now and what good does He want to bring out of what you're currently experiencing?

Ask Him and He'll tell you. Great word, Chip. Thanks. As we wrap up this program, just a quick but important thought. Living on the Edge depends on listeners just like you to help us continue to encourage Christians to live like Christians. So would you consider partnering with us on a monthly basis so others can benefit from the ministry of Living on the Edge? You can set up a recurring donation by going to or via the Chip Ingram app or text the word donate to 74141. It's so easy. Text the word donate to 74141. And thanks for doing whatever the Lord leads you to do. Well, until next time, this is Dave Druey saying thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-16 05:28:20 / 2022-11-16 05:38:45 / 10

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