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Keeping Love Alive - Volume 4 - A Life-Giving Relationship with God, Part 1

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram
The Truth Network Radio
February 6, 2023 5:00 am

Keeping Love Alive - Volume 4 - A Life-Giving Relationship with God, Part 1

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram

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February 6, 2023 5:00 am

Do you long to keep the love, the spark, the intimacy alive in your marriage? In this program, Chip will help us do just that – as he kicks off his series, Keeping Love Alive, Volume 4. Stay with us as Chip identifies 4 relationships great marriages have in common… and why they’re vital for you and your spouse.

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Do you long to keep the love alive in your marriage? The spark? The intimacy? That deep connection?

That's today. Stay with us. In the coming programs, Chip's going to identify four relationships great marriages have in common and why they're vital for you and your spouse. And let me say, Chip's teaching is geared to encourage every relationship at any stage. So I hope you'll invite a few couples to listen to this helpful series too, either through the Chip Ingram app or at livingontheedge.org.

Well, as we kick off the series, Chip begins by sharing why this topic is so close to his heart. My prayers, I want to show you the four specific kinds of relationships that create a root system that bring life to you personally so that you can actually give life to your mate. There is an awe when a man and a woman in connection with the living God accept and love one another and your minds and your hearts and your emotions and your bodies become one in windows and seasons that are all inspiring and what you realize that this is a taste of the kingdom. And what I want to share with you is the four relationships that every marriage has to have to make it through the storms. You will have seasons of drought.

You'll have seasons of anger. When there's death, when there's cancer. Because marriage, fundamentally though, it will be very fulfilling and very challenging. It's really an image of Jesus and his church. And it's really a picture of a fulfillment and an intimacy that God longs for us to have. And you're living in a world that's 100% against that and trying to destroy it.

So with that in mind, are you ready to go? The first relationship that you need to have that kind of a marriage is a life-giving relationship with God. You might underline life-giving. I don't mean you happen to go to church. I didn't say you read your Bible.

Not how many podcasts. There may be lots of means, but I'm talking about a life-giving relationship. That you're experiencing life and power and grace and motivation to care, to forgive, to step out, to grow. Great marriages are characterized by couples who give their mates what they need the most when they deserve it the least at great personal cost.

I'm going to read that again. This is my personal definition of what love is. Great marriages are characterized by couples who give one another what they need the most when they deserve it the least. I mean, you're thinking, not now.

Are you kidding? After what he said, after what he did, after what she said, at great personal cost. And I think if you look at Jesus on the cross and you want to define love, Jesus gave us what we needed the most when we deserve it the least at great personal cost. Translation, marriage is not a 50-50 proposition. Great marriages are built on loving our spouses in the same way Christ loved us. I put it in your notes, John 15-13, greater love has no one than that he or she lay down your life for your friends. 1 Corinthians chapter 13 says, love is patient.

You say, I really love my wife, I love my husband. Love is kind. Love is not jealous. It does not brag.

Love isn't arrogant. It doesn't act disgracefully. It does not seek its own benefit.

It is not provoked. Love does not keep an account of wrong suffered. It does not rejoice in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. Love believes all things, hopes all things.

Love never fails. We throw that word around quite easily and here's the principle that I want you to get. What I just described is impossible. The principle is you cannot give what you have not received. Jesus said, John 10-10, I came that you might have life and you can have it abundantly. But if you are not, not just that, quote, are you saved or are you forgiven or are you a follower or are you, you know Jesus personally.

Great, you've now entered the family. I'm talking about are you receiving daily moment by moment the life, the grace, the power to actually have Christ live his life through you so that the man that shows up or the woman that shows up in your marriage is Jesus wanting to fulfill his agenda. To actually treat that person you're married to exactly how Jesus would if he was living inside your body.

Memo. Scripture says that you are the temple of the Holy Spirit and that when you prayed to receive Christ and repented of your sin, you were taken from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light and you were sealed with the Spirit. And guess what? So that means Jesus does live inside of you. Now we all have that battle with our flesh and even after 42 years, I'm just going to tell you, in my marriage, the way I want is my way. And when I try and get my way or I try and manipulate my wife or I try to get things to work out so, quote, it all works for me, it never works. So I'm going to encourage you that the reason you need a life-giving relationship with God is you simply can't, you can't give your mate what they need. And it's not a negotiation.

It's not a 50-50. It's you saying, regardless of how my mate responds, I'm going to be Christ to her. I'm going to be Christ to him. Biblical marriage from Ephesians 5, 22 to 33 requires sacrificial, other-centered love that is humanly impossible but supernaturally enabled as we receive a steady flow of God's love in us. 1 John 3, 16 talks about not loving in word or tongue but a deed in truth.

We love because he first loved us. Early in our marriage, my wife was abandoned by a man that she married quickly out of high school to get away from her father and put him through school. And when they were both through school, she had these twin boys. And when she had these twin boys, unbeknownst to her, he already had a lady on the side that he had an affair with.

And the boys came and so he left for another state, no money, no help, no anything. And so she is a single mom with no money, no hope, and has a boss that shares with her that Jesus loves her. And through that, she became a Christian. I met her two and a half years later with these two and a half year olds. And I was a basketball coach at the time and she was working at this college. Long story, I had a privilege of getting to marry her. I got to adopt those boys when they were six. And so all I want to tell you, we've got a blended family and two people with alcoholic pasts with baggage that are up to the ceiling. And she was the most committed believer I'd ever met and I was absolutely sold out.

And so I assumed she loves Jesus, I love Jesus, this is going to be awesome. And it was for about three months. And I felt like I was really clear, I played basketball all around the world and sharing Christ. And God had used some people to say, I think you have a teaching gift. And I'd already been to school, I'd already been to graduate school. And I thought I was going to, you know, my goal was I'm going to have Bobby Knight's job. That was my goal. And I was coaching at a level and I was pretty good at it and I thought, you know, that's what I'm going to do. But I traveled around the world and got to share Christ. And when I taught, these people came to Christ and God said, I want you to coach a different team.

It's my team and it's called the church. I said, okay. And we put everything in a rider truck six months after we were married, stupid, with all those issues.

And we thought it'll be fine. And I get to seminary within three months. She's making me nuts.

And we don't know how to resolve it. So when I'm angry, I verbalize. I mean, I wasn't a screamer or a shouter.

I quoted verses, had a lot of verses. And so I would walk around the bed. The Bible says, Teresa, that we do not go to bed angry, we're not going to go to bed with the sun go down. And then she just put her head under the pillow and she just wouldn't talk to me for two days. And then we would pretend nothing happened and we'd act like it was okay and did it again. And it was over. I mean, it was over stupid stuff looking back.

It wasn't stupid then. And so we went to marriage counseling and we learned some skills. And it still wasn't working very well if you think learning some skills to get the other person to act the way you want them to act so you can get your way.

And the breakthrough in marriage counseling was, it was the biggest lordship decision I think in my marriage ever. And it was, I can't change her. And at that time I was young and stupid and I couldn't grasp the pain. You talk about PTSD, her home, her dad, abandonment, rejection. I mean, she'd been through so much. And all I could see was, she shut down because of all that, because I didn't understand.

But I wasn't understanding. And I remember, okay God, if I could get a divorce I would, but I made a vow so I can't. Since I can't change her, the only person I have any power to change is me. And so I am, not for her because I'm so ticked at her right now, I don't want to do anything for her, but for you.

I will do whatever you show me you want me to do as a husband, whether she responds at all or not. And at this moment in the message it should be something like, and then the crescendo. And I did that and she just responded great. That's not the story. I did that. And I sowed. And I sowed.

And she was hearing the same thing. And it was hard. And so we had to read books together. And we would sit in the morning and review passages because our brains were so warped about marriage and life and self-concept and identity. And then the lights came on. But there was a season where I'm sure she got up every day thinking, everyone thinks Chip's so wonderful because he can get up and talk, but he's so insensitive and he so doesn't get me. And when I got off of what she didn't do and shifted to what do you want to do in me, that was the change.

And four kids and 12 grandkids later in a great marriage, I'm glad I didn't give up. Memo to those in the room who even if you haven't verbalized it, and some of you I'm sure probably have. In your private thoughts, don't entertain that.

You know, get behind me saying don't entertain that. It's not a solution. Whatever problems, whatever issues, you know, when you change partners, they just come right with you. Except they get more complicated. Will it be easy?

No. But God has a plan. And so what I want to talk about now is developing a life-giving relationship requires three things. Some of these I'll go over rather quickly because many of you will say, been there, done that, got it.

And others I'll spend a bit more time on. Developing a life-giving relationship with God requires one, a spiritual birth. Many of you probably know this but I don't want to assume it. One of the great passages in the book of John is a spiritual leader of Israel comes to Jesus by night and he wants to know, obviously you're from God, you do all these miracles, what's the deal? And John chapter 3, if you'd like to follow along. There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, Rabbi, we know that you've come from God as a teacher for no one can do the signs or the miracles you do unless God is with him. Jesus responded and said to him, he's a religious leader, he has probably the major portions of the Old Testament memorized.

So there's no big introduction. Truly I say to you, unless someone is born again, he cannot see or cannot enter the kingdom of God. Literally the word is born from above, a spiritual birth.

Nicodemus took it pretty literally. He said, well how can a person be born when he's old? He can't re-enter his mother's womb a second time, can he? And Jesus said, truly, truly I say to you, unless someone is born of water, physical birth, and the spirit, spiritual birth, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the spirit is the spirit. Do not be amazed that I say to you, you must be born again. And then he begins to explain it in language that an Old Testament Pharisee could clearly understand. But here's what I can tell you, I went to church, a high church, I sit and kneel, stand, I could cite the prayers. God was very distant and I believed what I think a lot of, quote, even Christians think. I thought if my good deeds outweighed my bad deeds, someday somehow I'd get in. And so I, like most people, compare myself with like axe murderers and people that were, you know, mass killers and thought, I'm better than most people and if you get in. In my self-evaluation, I didn't understand that I needed a spiritual birth, not religious activities.

I didn't understand that God is holy and if we put it, you know, I'm an old coach. So let's just say in your personal life you have to score 100%, right? Make every free throw, make every shot in the game, every single one and no turnovers. One missed shot, you're out. Or if you're a math person, you have to get 100 on the test and the test is life. Never a bad thought, never a lustful thought, never an envy thought, never a bad word, ever. One bad word, one bad thought, you fall short of perfection and in heavens it's perfect so you can't get in. So no matter what you do, all fall short of the perfection or the glory of God. And so it says the only way is you need to be born again and the gospel is not a repair job, a remodel job of trying hard to clean up your life and be a better, nicer person and go listen to someone talk and sing a couple songs. The gospel is you are dead in your sin, separated from Christ and God in His great love sent Jesus to die upon a cross to pay for your sin absolutely, rose from the dead to prove it's true and comes to you and says, I long to forgive you, I've created you, would you receive this free gift? Repent just means a change of mind.

Those who turn from their sin and have a change of mind and recognize their need and say, just like the thief on the cross, save me, I need your help, please forgive me. Jesus said, verily, verily, when He says it twice that's sort of the Greek New Testament way to say underline, underline. Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that hears my word and believes on Him who sent me has present tense, you don't guess, has eternal life and it's passed from death to life and will not come into condemnation.

And so the question I have for you that's so important is, are you certain you're born again? And there's going to be a sign in some end zone, right, and it's going to say John 3.16. And if you never knew what it said, it's for God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever does what? Circle that word, believes, it means put your trust in.

Believe it, it doesn't mean intellectually agree with. Shall not perish but have eternal life, but no one quotes verse 17. Here's the reason, for God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world but to save the world through Him. God's not down on you. I grew up with a God whose arms was crossed, toe tapping, and man, if it was fun, He was against it.

Bad, bad, bad, wrong, wrong, wrong. That's not the God of the Bible. The God of the Bible, His arms are open, He understands, He was tempted in every way like us, yet without sin. And He understands where you have messed up. And He understands the consequences and the pain and the shame. And He's just saying, if you would just be real and come to Me, I've already forgiven you where you receive it. Second, a baby's born, right, physically.

You know, some of you, I still remember when my wife turned to me and said, my water broke. And that's why I said, that which is born of water. He says, just like there's an actual birth, there's a spiritual birth, the moment a person recognizes their need, turns from your sin and asks Christ to forgive you and come into your life. Then you begin a journey where He begins to produce the life of Christ in you. Developing a life-giving relationship with God requires, one, a spiritual birth.

The second, for a life-giving relationship, it requires a radical dedication. I won't go through the whole book, but the whole book of Romans is Paul on his way to Spain, and there's a mixed group of all these house churches from multiple ethnic backgrounds. But you've got to get the context, right? Chapters one through three, he just makes one point, all have sinned and fall short of God's glory. Religious people, unreligious people. Chapters four and five is God's solution to this problem of falling short of sin. It's that by the death of Christ, He gives grace or a free gift that can be received by faith. Chapters six through eight then is how do you live out this new life, and the answer is you can't. Only the Holy Spirit can live out the life of Christ. And so chapter six will talk about when you prayed to receive Christ and He came into your life, you died with Him, you were raised with Him, you had this battle in chapter seven, and thanks be to God, chapter eight, and he talks about the role of the Spirit in your life, living it out. And then chapters nine through 11, you know, if you're a Jew, you're thinking, Paul, this sounds pretty good, but what about all those promises to David?

I thought, you know, that seemed pretty clear. What about that throne that's going to go on forever? And Abraham, didn't he make some promises to Abraham about this land and your people and all that? And chapters nine through 11 will explain sort of that, again, forgive all the basketball analogy, but Israel had too many turnovers and they're going to go to the bench. It doesn't mean they're off the team, but we're going to develop a new team called the church, and it's going to be empowered by the Spirit, and then at a little bit later time, we're going to say, hey, Israel, you know, this is the game plan. This is where you guys get to come back in, and I'll fulfill all the promises to David and also to Abraham.

And after 11 chapters of all of that, you have it in your notes. Therefore, just follow with me intellectually, this is not about how to become a Christian. That happened at the end of chapter three describes what really occurs, and then chapter four and five, we learned it's by faith, experiencing God's grace. But now he's given a whole picture of the Christian life, and he's speaking to a group of people that have the Spirit living in them, and now the question is practically what does this look like? What does a follower of Jesus actually look like?

What's the first step? Therefore, I urge you, my brothers and sisters, in view of God's great mercy, 11 chapters, to offer your body as a living and holy sacrifice. Then notice there's a purpose clause. Why? This is your spiritual service of worship. Translation, this is what God really wants. I had pretty much rejected the church, assumed there's some being that created everything.

I don't know who he is, if he was like the people in my church, I didn't really want to get to know him very well. But those of you that maybe have an athletic background, I was a gym rat. If you went to an outdoor basketball court, you would see in the inner city of Columbus, Ohio, all black guys and one skinny white guy and one really tall white guy, because I always took one big guy with me. And I knew if I was going to get good, this is where you play. And that's why I got my scholarship in basketball.

Pete Marovitch is my hero, and everything he learned to do, I learned to do, and got me in trouble sometimes with all the behind-the-back passes, but I loved it. And all I cared about was sports. But I graduated, and I remember sitting in a circle with a bunch of friends, about 25 friends, and we were passing a joint around.

And so it's coming around, and I'm like this disciplined off-the-wall. I don't put anything in my... And I'll never forget, I gave it to Jackie, and Jackie was a girl that was next to me in study hall, the first girl that became a friend, and she was really pretty. And the reason she was a friend, because she dated a guy three years older that was really big, really bad, and he would kill you if you messed with this girl. So she was safe. And so I got to know Jackie, and I passed it to Jackie, and she turned to me and said, you must be really happy tonight. And I said, why? She goes, well, you know, we're in study hall.

I mean, think about it. You know, you date that really cute little girl. You have a basketball scholarship. You did really well in school. You graduated top of your class.

And it was the biggest sinking feeling. I'd forgotten all about that, and I'd already gone to... Tell you what I'm going to do with my life. I am going to go. I'm going to be a trial lawyer. I'll have $300 suits. I will have an Irish setter, a beautiful girl. I'm going to have a luxury car and a station wagon. I'm going to live in the suburbs, and by 32, I'll be a leader of my community.

Ready? Go. And, you know, one of the things my dad instilled was confidence. You want it, work for it, you can do it. And so I'd already set the next set of goals, and when she said that, it's the most empty feeling I'd ever had. And, you know, some of you understand what it's like to realize it doesn't deliver.

It doesn't deliver. Before we go any further, I'm sure there's many of you, maybe even most of you, that understood where I was at spiritually. All the things that I thought would deliver, you know, popularity or success or doing well in sports, a pretty girlfriend.

Yes, it was that high school stuff. But, you know, as we get older, we just substitute it with other things. And, you know something, maybe that's where you're at. We're going to talk about marriage in this series, but I want you to know, great marriages have people that are deeply connected to God so they can give to their mate what God has given to them. And that's an eternal love burst in their heart, an ability and a grace to actually give another person what they don't deserve.

But, you know, you can't give away what you don't have. And I want to speak to those of you right now that realize, as you were listening to me, that you were where I was. You don't know Christ personally. You may believe in God. You may even go to church. But you've never said to the Lord Jesus Christ, I fall short.

I'm not the person I need to be. I have sinned. And you've admitted that you need His forgiveness, and you've asked Him to come into your life and forgive you based on what He did on the cross. And so today's your day.

Today's the day that God appointed for you to meet Him personally, to receive Him personally, and to have eternal life. And so right at this moment, even if you're driving, you can pray in your mind. Pause with me right now and pray. Lord Jesus, I admit to you I've sinned.

I know I'm not the person I need or even want to be. And I ask you right now, will you forgive me based on Jesus' death on the cross that paid for my sin and His resurrection that proved that it's true? Lord Jesus Christ, please forgive me and save me and come into my life right now. And I want you to know when you pray that, out of the sincerity of your heart, God hears. And He has given you a fresh spiritual birth. And what I'd love you to do right now is do two things. Number one, get online, livingontheedge.org, and you'll see very clearly where it talks about coming to know Christ or praying to receive Christ. And we have some information absolutely free.

We want to help you grow. And then second, I want you to text or call the greatest Christian you know. Find a Bible you can understand and go to a church this weekend that teaches God's Word. Welcome to the family.

Thanks, Chip. Well, if you just prayed to receive Christ, we do have a free resource we'd like to put in your hands called Starting Out Right. This tool will help you gain a clear biblical understanding of what it means to put your faith in Jesus. Request this free resource by calling 888-333-6003 or by visiting livingontheedge.org, then clicking on the New Believers button.

That's livingontheedge.org, or call 888-333-6003. Let us help you get started in your faith journey. Well, Chip's still with me in studio, and Chip, today you kicked off the fourth volume of your ongoing Keeping Love Alive series. And in these new programs, you're highlighting four relationships great marriages have in common. Would you quickly identify what they are and why they're vital to the bond between husbands and wives?

Yeah, I'd love to, Dave. The fact of the matter is, is that there are certain things that when you meet people that have great marriages, it's not an accident. You know, I talked about they have four practices they have in common, they have four skills they have in common, four challenges they have in common, and in this one, I wanted to give people the four relationships they have. And what we're going to learn about is they have a deep relationship with God, they have a healthy relationship with themselves, they have a connected relationship with the body of Christ, and this is a key one. They have a relationship with how they respond to personal attacks and injustice.

They respond differently than other people. So, I think this series is going to be super helpful because the seeds of a fruitful marriage grow in a special kind of soil, and these are the relationships, the soil, that make marriages great. Thanks, Chip. Well, I hope you'll join us for every message. And if you want to go back and listen to the other volumes Chip alluded to, go to Special Offers on the Chip Ingram app or at LivingOnTheEdge.org.

The entire Keeping Love Alive series was created to strengthen your marriage, so be sure to check out all four volumes by going to Special Offers on the Chip Ingram app or at LivingOnTheEdge.org. As we wrap up, I want to thank those of you who make this program possible through your generous financial support. Your gifts help us create programs, purchase airtime, and develop additional resources to help Christians live like Christians. Now, if you've been blessed by the Ministry of Living on the Edge, would you consider sending a gift today? You can do that when you visit LivingOnTheEdge.org or the Chip Ingram app. And now you can text DONATE to 74141. That's the word DONATE to 74141. And we want you to know how much we appreciate your support. We'll join us next time as Chip continues his newest series, Keeping Love Alive Volume 4. Until then, this is Dave Druey saying thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge.
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