Have you ever done the honorable thing and it backfired on you?
Did you ever do all the work and the other guy got all the credit? Well, if you've ever been the one that received a raw deal, I mean, you said to yourself, life is unfair. God, what's up? Then stay with me because today God has a word for every single one of us that's gotten a raw deal. Welcome 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 today we begin our series, Finding God When You Need Him Most. For the next handful of programs, Chip highlights a few meaningful psalms and unpacks how they can help us better experience God's presence through the ups and downs of life. And if you're looking for deeper insight into how you can do that, listen after each message in this series to hear some practical advice from Chip.
You're not going to want to miss what he has to share. Okay, let's kick off this series with Chip's message, Experiencing God When You Get a Raw Deal. Turn in your Bibles to the book of Psalms chapter 73. I don't know about you, but there's been times in my life where I didn't think God was so good. In fact, some of you may have some circumstances where your theology, the scripture, your teaching, you intellectually know God is good.
But then when you look at your circumstances, you may be saying, uh, this doesn't add up. I was walking across my college campus and I had the strongest feelings of anger toward God I'd ever experienced in my life. I'd been a Christian a little over three years.
I had only months before made the biggest lordship decision I'd ever made. I mean, it was one of those where I knew with all my heart, this is what God wanted me to do. And every fiber in my emotional and intellectual being wanted to do the opposite. And by faith, I decided I'll do it God's way. And I thought, you know, if God's ever going to bless me, it's gotta be now. And instead, life didn't get better. It got worse. As I was walking across the campus, I irreverently, and I would add unwisely, told God, he better speak to me very clearly tonight when I get back to my dorm room, or I am checking out of this Christian life forever. And I mean, I was dead serious.
Now you need a little background to understand what's going on. I had been dating for two years a gal that I was certain would be my wife. She was certain I would be her husband. She had gone home to meet my family, the whole nine yards. And she was a believer, she was charming, she was beautiful, she was talented.
I was in love up to my eyeballs. Only little problem was, I was convinced God wanted to do something significant with my life, and as a believer, being sold out to Christ was the only option. It was a real struggle, but I came to that. Her view was, I know I'm in God's family, I know I'm forgiven, and as long as God's plan fits with what I want to do, that sounds good. And so she was an only child, her family was very close, and there was a little home with a white picket fence across the street from her mom and dad, and that's where in her mind we were going to live happily ever after.
And I realized, I can't go there. But I loved her, and yet I knew her life was going this way, mine this way, and we broke up, and my mind said this is the right thing to do, and my heart said, Ingram, this is the dumbest thing you've ever done in your life. I used to go out on a hill, and I remember I could see the light of her dorm room and just cry, and say, God, change your heart, turn it all around, I know you'll make it.
I know you'll make it okay. On this particular night, it was a home basketball game, and after home basketball games for two years, I came up from the locker room, and she was always at the top of the stairs waiting for me. It was one of those really neat things, we'd go out and get a Coke and talk. Been three months since that happened, and I came up through the locker room, and there she was, and my heart skipped a beat.
Yes, God has worked, this is awesome, her heart's turned around, we're going to, oh man, oh God, you are so good, this is so wonderful. And I said hi to her, and I noticed it wasn't cold at all, but it wasn't like I'm here for you. And as I was sitting there thinking how wonderful this was going to be, and it was a little awkward moment, one of the other members of the team, another guy who played guard, walked right by me, she had a sheepish smile, said hi, and he put his arm out, and she stuck her arm in his, and they walked out. I mean, I was dangerous at that point. I have never been, now you say that's childish, and that's puppy love, and you were only 20, well I was only 20, it was real to me.
I thought it was really real, and I think it was. I was so angry, I was so livid, and so I walked out of there and I just said, God, this stinks, you know what, I'm more committed to you than I've ever been, and I get this? I make the biggest sacrifice of my life, and I get this, and then I know this guy, and you guys out there, gals who've played on teams, you know what it's like to be in a van for six, eight hours, you know what it's like in locker rooms, you know what everybody talks about in locker rooms, you know where a guy is coming from, you know where his values are, you know what he thinks about girls, that guy with my girl?
I wanted to say, stop, stop, you need to know about this guy. And I walked across that campus and I just said, I felt like an animal, I was so angry, in fact that came to my mind, the phrase that went through, I feel like a beast inside, and I thought, you know, he is arrogant, he's proud, and he's mocked my faith in the locker room, and he's made fun of me, and he's made fun of you, God, how in the world, and I mean, I'm livid. And I said, God, if you don't speak to me tonight, if this is the way it works, I'm out, I'm checking out. And I went home and I didn't, I thought, I was an old enough Christian to know that probably just opening my Bible and saying God speak to me would not be a good way to go, although he'd done that some in the past. And so I picked up my Bible where I was reading normally, and I was in the Psalms, and I read Psalm 70, and that was alright, Psalm 71, that was okay, Psalm 72 didn't make much progress, and then I read Psalm 73. I want you to imagine, if you will, where I'm at emotionally, what I'm thinking, and follow along as I read.
In fact, better than follow along, enter in the experience with me. I've told you how I felt like I am getting a raw deal, but before we read this, I'm gonna tell you how God spoke to me like never before. I had no understanding that the God of the universe could cause the Holy Spirit to make his word so alive to interact in one little guy's life like mine, but before we do that, I want you to think of when you've received the raw deal that bothers you the most.
So when we read this, I want you to read with the same kind of feelings and emotions and thoughts and questions that I had that night. When's the last time you received a raw deal? When's the last time someone betrayed you after you did good to them? When's the last time someone else got a promotion because they had a special relationship with the boss, not because they were better than you?
When's the last time you sat down, those of us that are parents, and said to your little son or your little daughter, the reason you don't get to play, and you try and, see, that other kid is the coach's son, even though you're a lot better. For some of you, it was a mate who walked out on you. For others, you invested the entire life in your kids, and you cared, and you loved, and you know what, something happened, and they took some course somewhere, and all their problems are your fault.
For others, you've cared and loved, and your parents, and they got near the end of their life, and they just wrote you out of an inheritance. For other people, you were involved in a business relationship, and they did you in. You know, you trusted them. They just did you in. For others, you were involved in the marketplace and, you know, people moving right ahead, and they're lying.
I mean, they're not telling the truth. You're playing by the rules, and they keep going upward, and you are stuck, and you're stuck because you're doing it, quote, God's way. Now, I want you to think about when that was because then you'll read this passage with the kind of emotion that Asaph did. He's the choir director for David's choir. He's a godly man.
He's a worship leader, but he's having a bad day. He writes in verse one, surely God is good to Israel to those who are the pure in heart. I mean, to those who are totally committed. That's the idea of that word. Yeah, that's true, right? Verse two, but as for me, my feet almost slipped. I nearly lost my foothold, for I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. I thought about that that night.
I watched that guy going with my girl, and I thought, that stinks. They have no struggles. Their bodies are healthy and strong. Literally, they're sleek. They are free from the burdens common to man.
They're not plagued by human ills. Therefore, pride is their necklace, and they clothe themselves with violence. From their calloused hearts comes iniquity. The evil conceits of their minds know no limits.
As I read this, little pictures were coming to my mind about sitting around and talking in the locker room, and this guy mocking God and his arrogance. They scoff. I thought, boy, I've heard that. They speak with malice, and their arrogance, they threaten oppression. Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth. They think they've got it all together. They think they've got the world by the tail. Therefore, people turn to them and drink up waters in abundance. It's kind of like the life of the rich and the famous.
I mean, they're cheating people and doing stuff and doing stuff that's immoral, but people are just lining up, just lining up around the street to get around them. Therefore, people turn to them and they drink up those waters of knowledge, but only that. They say, how can God know?
Does the most high have knowledge? No regard for God. This is what the wicked are like, always carefree.
They increase in wealth. Then a little low moment, surely in vain, I've kept my heart pure. I've washed my hands in innocence. All day long, I've been plagued.
I've been punished every morning. That's exactly how I felt. I thought, here I am.
I'm 20 years old, 20 and a half, something like that. I've got a pure relationship with this girl. There's four girls on this campus to every guy.
We're in the midst of the sexual revolution. I become a Christian right before I go to college and I decide I'm going to do it God's way. Every basketball trip, I hear all these guys talking about all the pleasures of the world and it's killing me to live a pure life. Then what's God do? He takes my Christian girl and some guy who I know where his heart and mind and everything else is, is with her in vain. Basically, what am I getting out of this God?
My answer is not much. You ever felt like that? Then he goes on to say, I've been plagued. I experienced God but I had a lot more struggles as a Christian than before I had a Christian. I didn't struggle with temptation.
I did lots of stuff. I didn't even know it was sin. Then there's a little shift in verse 15. He begins to think a little harder, a little deeper, a little bit.
The emotions now are beginning to calm down out of this flame. If I had said, hypothetically he's thinking out loud to himself, if I had said, I will speak thus. I'm going to talk like this. This is the direction I'm going to go. This is how I'm going to view life.
I would have betrayed your children. Very tender idea here. He's a worship leader. People look to him for guidance.
He's a guy that's really walked with God. He said, if I bail out of the faith, there's going to be like a big rock in the pond of impact. I am going to impact multitudes of people who place their faith in God because of what you've done in me. If I bail out, this isn't just about my personal faith.
This is going to impact them. Not only that, but what about all the deep relationships I have with them? When I tried to understand all this, he says, it was oppressive to me. In other words, the word means I was in turmoil. My gut was turning. Life's not working and it's not fair, but if I bail out, think of the implications. What do I do?
Where do I go? That's how I felt. Verse 17 begins a very important shift where he gets perspective. It says, until or then I entered the sanctuary of God. He gets out of his human reasoning. He gets out of his passion emotions. He gets out of life isn't fair.
Life stinks. Why do bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people mindset? And he says, then I entered the sanctuary of God and then, ah, the lights came on. Then I understood their final destiny. Literally the word means they're afterwards.
What's going to happen later? Surely you place them the wicked on slippery ground. You cast them down to ruin. How suddenly are they destroyed?
It comes like a surprise. Completely swept away by terrors. As a dream when one awakens. In other words, the wicked prosper, but it's only a dream. It's only a fantasy. It's only a phantom.
It's only short lived. So when you arise, oh Lord, you will despise them as fantasies. You know, people sell porn on the internet and people do all kind of lurid things, but there's a day of reckoning and there's a day of judgment and he doesn't put up with it forever. See, he's getting perspective and as he gets perspective, now he moves from getting perspective on the wicked who are prospering and now he's going to get a little perspective on his own life.
Verse 21, when my heart was grieved, literally when it was pierced and my spirit wasn't bittered, literally means when he was depressed, when it was struggling, when it was filled with self-pity. He said, I was senseless and ignorant. I was a brute beast before you.
He said, I got so hot emotionally that I got irrational. I lost sight of the big picture. I lost sight of who you are. I lost sight of what you've done. I lost sight of the relationships you've given me and I got so mad, so angry that I lost it. And now he's going to move out of that into some very clear perspective. Verse 23, yet I'm always with you.
Huh, that's true. You hold me by my right hand. In other words, you've been a counselor to me. You've helped me. You've sustained me. You guide me with your counsel and here's that same word and afterward, you take me into glory. Notice those three things, hold me, guide me, take me. He says, I'm protected. I'm secure. I'm loved.
He's beginning to get the lights and then he raises this rhetorical question. When he really thinks about it, when he really ponders, he says, whom have I in heaven but you? And besides you, I desire nothing on earth. In the final analysis, who will never let me down? Who will be my security? Who's taking care of me? Who gives me joy no matter what? He says, it's you. Whom have I in heaven but you?
And then he admits his humanness. My flesh and my heart may fail. I may blow it. I'm going to have ups.
I'm going to have downs. But you are the strength of my heart and you are my portion forever. And I'll never forget that word portion.
It was like it grew this big on the page and jumped out of the page and landed on my shoulders. And I realized all of life is like a big pie and every person in the world gets a slice. That's your portion, your slice. And in my heart of hearts I thought what would really make me happy in my slice is the right girl, the right job, success and on and on and on. And I looked around the world and I realized there's only really a portion or a slice that will ever ever fulfill me. And my portion is God himself.
That night this passage became my dating verse. My future verse, whether God ever gave me a mate, is that he would be enough plus nothing. He would be enough plus not anything else or no one else. He would be my portion.
He'd be my slice of pie. And see what that does is that gives you incredible freedom because people come and people go and jobs go and jobs come and money goes and money comes and houses go and markets come and markets go and we don't control it. But he says he will be there forever. You're my portion forever. Then notice the conclusion. He says those who are far from you, he takes the lens and he goes wait a second he says those who are far from you, people who mock you, people who are arrogant, people who don't want to live life your way, people who stiff arm God and reject Christ, they perish. You destroy all those who are unfaithful to you.
Then notice the contrast. But as for me, notice that was verse 2. Verse 1 was surely God is good to Israel to the pure in heart but as for me my foot almost slipped. I almost bailed out of the faith is what he said. And now he's come full circle and he says you know in the final analysis you know the wicked are going to really, they're going to go through some very desperate times when you look at the big picture but as for me the nearness of God is my good. And then notice here's a choice he made.
He reaffirms his relationship. I have made, that's a choice, the sovereign Lord. What an interesting view of God. He's in control. I have made, personal choice, the sovereign Lord my refuge, the place that I run. And then he says not only that but I'm trusting since God is good even though my circumstances aren't and he's in total control that means he allowed it and since he's faithful he's going to take even the worst of my circumstances, turn it around for good and someday, notice that last line, I will tell of your deeds. That night I was crushed, that night I was angry, that night I lost the most important person in my life.
I've got news for you. She wasn't a Teresa. She bet. She wasn't a Teresa. And I know just enough about science to know that my DNA and Teresa's DNA are unique and when our DNAs come together there are unique people on this planet that would not be on this planet unless she and I got married. And I look at the kids that I have and I can now step back and say short term pain, long term gain. Now let's talk about you. This is a lot more I share about my inner struggles than normal but I thought you could identify. Now what I'd like to talk about is your inner struggles and I'd like you on the white board of your mind to say under the heading, I got a raw deal. And now underneath that I want you to say, what is it?
What's the one that pops up to the surface? And by the way, knowing that sometimes that's so painful, instead of dealing with it, instead of facing it, a lot of us repress and are in denial, oh I don't want to talk about that, I don't want to think about that, it's way too painful. I know that one out of four, according to statistics, one out of four, one out of five women have been sexually abused.
That's a raw deal. We know that half of all Americans have been divorced. We know that infidelity is rampant in America.
We know that people lie and cheat in business. Now I'm going to encourage you, as painful as it is, to let that come to the surface so God can deal with it. Have you got it? I'm trying to give you a little time. Where do you feel like you've gotten a raw deal?
Where have you gotten injustice? And then I want to develop four life lessons or four principles to help you walk through how to deal with the raw deal that you appear to have, okay? Well, let's look at that together. Principle number one or life lesson number one, if you want to overcome the raw deals in your life, and that's God's will, here's the first thing you need to do.
Asaph models it for us. Pour out your heart. Face it. Share it.
Get it on the table. Tell God about it. I don't know about you, this is so encouraging. Even godly people struggle with doubts and confusion when God's truth and their experience don't mesh. It's a fallen world. If you haven't got it yet, life is not fair.
Until Jesus comes back, it's not going to be fair. You know what that means? That means bad things happen to good people, and the converse, good things happen to bad people. And when that happens, don't stuff it, don't repress it.
What's Asa show us? Take it to God. It doesn't mean you're ungodly. It's okay to be mad with God. Now do it reverently. Don't do it like I did it.
I think I was such a young Christian, God kind of winked at how I talked to him. You be honest and you share it and you get it out on the table and let the full vent of your emotions say, God, I am upset. This stinks. This is wrong. This is terrible. And if you never get it there, you will put it down inside and it'll come out.
I guarantee it'll come out in very unhealthy ways. Chip will be back in just a minute with his application. You've been listening to the first part of his message, Experiencing God When You Get a Raw Deal, from his series, Finding God When You Need Him Most. Through this study in the book of Psalms, Chip helps us develop a biblically grounded perspective toward our most difficult circumstances and experiences. Hear what God wants us to know when things aren't going well and why we can totally trust his promise to be there for us again and again and again. To learn more about this series, go to LivingOnTheEdge.org, the Chip Engram app, or call 888-333-6003.
Chip's with me in studio now. Chip, as we get started in this series, I think it might be helpful for our listeners to hear how this teaching came about and why you're focusing on the book of Psalms. Would you take a minute and do that? Dave, I'd love to because there's certain seasons in not only my life but in the life of a church where God just births things. Two things were happening at this time when I was teaching. Number one, by the grace of God, we had literally scores and scores of people coming to Christ. They had no background, but they had zeal and love, and God was bringing them to himself. The second thing that happened simultaneously is it was just like so many people were getting cancer in crisis. We had a major car wreck, and one of the key elders got a unique kind of cancer, and it was terminal. I remember we were understaffed, and I was praying. I said, Oh, Lord, would you show me how do I serve your people? He brought to my mind all these what I call classic Psalms, like Psalms 23 when you're in a crisis or Psalm 73 when you get a raw deal or when you feel like a nobody going nowhere, the deepest issues of our life.
What I know is there's pain everywhere, and God wants us to invite him into those places and get real, real help from a loving God. That's what this series is about. Great. Thanks, Chip. I'm really eager for our listeners to dive into these timeless Psalms with you and experience God on a deeper level. So let me encourage all of you to get Chip's message notes for this series. They'll really help you get the most out of this study. To download them, go to the Broadcasts tab at livingontheedge.org.
App listeners, tap Fill In Notes. Well, Chip, as we wrap up our time today, every single person listening has gone through a time or season that's really rocked their world. I mean, that's something, unfortunately, that unites all of us, right? Exactly.
In fact, I don't know anyone. I mean, from two-year-olds to eighty-two-year-olds that haven't said, that's not fair. I mean, that's just not fair, and on really, really big things. It's not just not fair, but God, if you're fair, how could you let this happen? I just talked with a man earlier today who talked about his daughter who put her husband all the way through medical school. He sets up practice, and then after two years, he leaves her for an office manager, and she has nothing.
That's not fair. I mean, what's gone on in your life? What is it that, as I've been talking and I shared my story and kind of had that amazing moment with God that I didn't expect? I mean, literally, I've never seen the Bible speak to me like that.
That was like one of the very, very first times in my life. But what is it that you're wrestling with? What would you cry out in your heart and say, that's not fair? In our next broadcast, I'm going to talk to you about how to deal with some of those things. In all the rest of the series, we're going to go to the jugular. We're going to go to the heart kind of issues. We all have pain.
We've all been betrayed. We all have crises. We all have difficulties. I mean, there is cancer.
There are problems. There are family issues, but God wants us to experience Him. He wants you to know that He is there and in a fallen world. Yes, it's not fair, but He loves you and He's for you.
And all I want you to do today is this. Just tell Him. Just be honest. Just find some private place and if you have to yell it out loud, if you have to pour out your heart, if you do it in tears, just pour out your heart and let Him know how unjust, how unfair, and how hurt you really feel.
Because if you don't get those emotions out, you'll push Him down in. And little by little, the enemy will twist that. And pretty soon, you'll not have an unfair life. You'll have an unfair God and your heart will harden. What I want you to know is that it was unfair for Jesus to be on the cross and the Father was with Him.
It was unfair when Stephen was martyred, but the Father was with Him. And I sat with the man with bombs going all around his home. He's one of our partners. And I said, How are you doing? And he looked at me and his eyes watered. He said, Chip, it was a bloody week.
Hundreds of people died. And yet he said, I can't explain it. I'm not afraid. That's the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit. And He wants to invade your life in the midst of your pain.
So share your pain and then invite Him in. Let God love you right now. Thanks, Chip. And as we close, if you are walking through a difficult or painful season right now, we want you to know we really care about you. We'd love to pray for you and whatever you're going through. Call us now at 888-333-6003 or email us at chip at Living on the Edge dot org. That's chip at Living on the Edge dot org or call 888-333-6003. Well, I'm glad you've been with us. Until next time, this is Dave Druey saying thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge.
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