You know, we're so used to popping a pill for the aches and pains of life, we've completely lost sight of the fact that sometimes it takes real pain and real suffering to get the things that matter most.
What if God wants to leverage the most difficult thing in your life to give you something you can't get any other way? That's today. Stay with me. 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. Well, in this program, Chip will continue our series, I Choose Hope, by asking, how can we experience an intimate, meaningful relationship with Jesus?
We'll learn that answer today, but before he gets going, let me encourage you to keep listening after Chip's message as he shares some insightful application that you won't want to miss, so stick around. Well, if you're ready, go to Philippians chapter three in your Bibles for the remainder of Chip's talk, Experiencing Hope. The way the Apostle Paul is going to teach us that we experience the resurrected power is out of our weakness. Romans 8 verse 11 says, but if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. In other words, the same power that raised Christ from the dead, when you turn from your sin, ask Christ to forgive you, come into your life, the same power, the same Spirit lives inside of you. So you should expect supernatural things to happen. And then what he's going to say is, but the way the supernatural things happen is a recognition that what you need is His strength or you need His power in the midst of your weakness. Most of us, just our mental, human, fleshly bent is that I'm going to make it by what I do and this is what I can accomplish. He's going to say the flip with God is it's when you come in humility and admit you can't. The 12 steppers have a lot to teach us on that one.
Bill Wilson, by the way, was a believer. Anybody know what the first step is? I'm absolutely powerless. I can't do this. I can't overcome this addiction.
Well, guess what? You can't overcome forgiving someone either. You can't overcome your fear of failure. You can't overcome your family of origin. You can't overcome your fear about the economy. You can't overcome what's going to happen to your kids. Right?
Can you really? So what the apostle Paul is, he has this difficult situation. Three times he prays, God says, no, no, no. And then in second Corinthians chapter 12, notice what he says, God, you have said no to me when I've asked you to remove this difficulty, this tribulation, some physical issue. Therefore I'm well content with weakness, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties.
Did you notice they're all plural for Christ's sake? Why? For when I am weak, then I am strong. So Paul says, wow, in a suffering fallen world, I want to experience your power.
I've asked you to deliver me out of it. Make everything great, make everything right. And God said no in this case.
He doesn't always say no. Sometimes he does the very, very miraculous. So Paul says, okay, therefore I'm going to be well content. I mean, it's not just I'm going to get through it. I'm going to have a sense of settled peace, the difficulties, persecutions, distresses, because when I'm weak, then I'm strong. He explains, and God said to him, my grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.
Most gladly, therefore I'll rather boast about my weakness so the power of Christ may dwell in me. Power is perfected in weakness. God's power shows up in supernatural ways when his children say, I can't do this. I can't make this relationship work. I can't change my supervisor. I can't get inside my kid's head or my parent's head and get them to see things the way they ought to.
I can't break this habit. I have unresolved anger issues. And then power is perfected in weakness. The first step to experience God's power is, Lord, help me. Remember Peter?
What happens? Very short prayer. Peter is sinking. What's he cry out?
Help me, David, who really messed up. The Lord is near to the broken hearted. He saves those who are crushed in spirit.
This is an unfortunate truth. You will probably never experience the love of God and the power of God more than at a time when you come not to a hard situation, but when it gets impossible. And it's like, hands up. I can't do this. I can't do this a single more moment.
I can't do this. And then you cry out, Oh God, deliver me. And he may deliver you out of it. He may deliver you through it.
He may change you in radical ways. One of my closest friends went through, I think, and this is Chip Ingram's opinion. There could be worse things.
I just can't think of any. His grown son, prime of life, committed suicide. In a moment had some bipolar stuff going on. And I've watched that man's life change more in the last two years out of his pain, out of his suffering. I've seen God's power because in his deep, deep distress, he was reading the Bible before, but he was listening a lot better now. He was praying before, but now once a week, he drives out near where he and his son would spend some time, special time. And he looks out over this and he just pours his heart out to God.
And guess what? He's met Jesus. He's met the power of God and the comfort of God and the grace of God and the patience of God. And he's had deep, deep down valleys. And he's not, you know, he's a big former athlete and, you know, not known for tears, not known for being overly sensitive. It's probably why we get along.
No comment, please. And I've watched his sensitivity and a crying and an emotion that's transformed him. But if it's trying hard and Jesus, will you give me a little help? You'll never experience his power.
How could you take where you're feeling hopeless and admit today, I can't do this second, not just his power and our weakness, but his presence in our pain. We are a society in the Western world, especially in America, that any type of suffering or pain is to be avoided at all costs. If I could make one television rule, you could never advertise drugs ever again. It makes me nuts. It makes me nuts. There's no matter what's happening to you, there's a new drug. And then of course, you know, 67 seconds of all the byproducts that will, you know, deep constipation.
Many people have died from this liver problem. Maybe you may find you have suicidal thoughts. And why the B roll, right? The B roll has, you know, they're having fun. But the point, here's the point.
It's not the drugs. The point is this message. If you ever have suffering physically, mentally, and other way, there's a pill.
There's a sweet, quick solution. You have been called for this purpose, says first Peter. You've been called for this purpose to suffer with him.
In the end of chapter one, he said, it has been granted to you. The word is grace. God has given you this grace, not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for his sake, experiencing the same conflict, which you heard and now see to be in me.
Now, this is not a masochistic. There's plenty of suffering that's going to come your way. But if unconsciously your worldview is all suffering, all difficulty, all pain is I've got to avoid it all costs, or I've got to just get through it.
I've got to zoom through it. You will miss God. You will miss God. Some of the suffering that you're in, someone else did it to you. Some of it you brought on yourself like me. Some of it, it's just a fallen world.
You don't have, you can't, the economy, the politics, the racism, the tension, the work situations. You don't have control of all that. Here's what I'm going to tell you though.
And you guys know this, so just turn on those really smart brains of yours. Everybody in this room is going to go through a life that's really, really hard and you're going to suffer true or false. I mean, if you haven't had some major health issues, just hang on. If someone hasn't betrayed you that you really trusted yet, just hold your breath. If you don't get like a raw deal of injustice somewhere, somewhere, if one of your kids don't really disappoint you or God doesn't come through and bring Mr.
Right or Ms. Right into your life, if you don't experience it in church, well, you're an anomaly. Some of the worst things I've ever seen happen among church people.
But here's my point. We're all going to suffer. You know what Paul says in a fallen world where suffering is going to come at the hands of others, persecution at times for doing exactly what God wants me to do. He says, I don't want to waste it. I was with Jesus. And when I was with Jesus, there's something that happens when someone goes through it with you. Notice his experience.
His experiences. Second Corinthians, Chapter four, verses seven through twelve. He says, but we have this treasure, this the spirit living within us, this gospel, this new life in earthen vessels, speaking of this human body, so that the surpassing greatness of what are we back to? The power will be of God and not from ourselves.
Now, listen to this list. This is his life experience. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed. We are perplexed, but not despairing, persecuted, but not forsaken, struck down, but not destroyed. Always caring about in the body the dying of Jesus. Notice his purpose clause.
So that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. What he's saying is, I've just been doing exactly what God wants me to do. And you name it, we've been there.
It's bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, and little worse. But in the midst of it, God is, hey, not struck down, not giving in, not giving up. And as we die to ourselves and we ask God, what do you want this to look like in the midst of my suffering? The manifestation of the life of Christ. He says, I'm experiencing that. Notice he says, Jesus also being manifested in our body for we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus sake.
Why? So that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our mortal bodies so that death works in us, but life in you. My friend I was telling you about, death is working in him. And now I've watched life in family members. I've watched, he has a heart for evangelism and he's just a bold human being. And so he came to my office a little bit before all the things with his son and he said, he calls me, bro, hey bro, I need some good stuff. I meet all these people.
They got all these needs. And he kind of went through, okay, give me those three CDs on that. Give me a couple of books on that.
Give me three CDs on that. And so he kind of cleaned out part of my closet and he puts them in the back of his truck. I can't tell you, I bet there's been 50, 60, maybe a hundred people in two years that have seen the baptism of his son coming to Christ, heard his story, him listen to them and their clients. And he's handed either a CD or a book. And he says, I only give it to the ones that I know are serious. Death in him, life to others. And then, you know, and then he tells me that he goes, man, he played major college.
He was a quarterback at a big school. He said, man, I've experienced some highs. It doesn't get any better than this, does it? I mean, it's like when Jesus is like going right through your veins and you realize it's not you. This is what Paul's talking about.
What are you suffering? The theology of it. He says, yeah, thanks be to God. Romans five, we're justified by faith and we exalt or boast in this brand new relationship. It's our introduction into grace, but only this. I also exalt. Do you understand the mindset that's so different than us? I exalt in the tribulation that I'm going through.
Why? Because tribulation produces endurance. What's endurance?
I just keep getting up and doing the same thing when it's hard and I don't feel like it. And what's endurance do over time? It produces proven character.
What's that? It means your attitudes change as you hold up under that by the grace of God and proven character doesn't disappoint because what? It produces hope and hope doesn't disappoint because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts. And what he's giving us is a theology of suffering and difficulty in a fallen world that as you trust in him and as you persevere and you say, Lord, I can't do this, but will you be near me? Oh God, one more day of work and I hate this job. Oh God, this marriage counseling is the worst idea in the whole world. I can't stand facing all this stuff, but I'm not giving up. I'm not giving out and I'm not dropping out.
And as you do that, change happens and the change happens in you and the change produces this unswerving hope in your life that you realize, wow, God is real and he's with me. My wife got cancer. It's very serious. They did major operations and you know, then they did radiation, all this high powered stuff. And thank God for Kaiser, Stanford.
Everybody did an amazing, amazing job. But here's what I can tell you about suffering. If you go through something deep and scary with someone you really love, however much you thought you love them, it goes to a whole new level. I will never forget driving her after all that to each radiation treatment and they did some new high powered thing that just and every single time we would leave and we'd pull into a little coffee shop and she would sit in the car like this and I would go in and get two cups of dark roast, of course. And then they'd get, they had little oatmeal cookies and they said, would you like it heated?
I said, please. And I would take my little oatmeal cookie and I give her her coffee and we would break it in half. And I didn't know if I have a few more weeks, a few more months or a few more years, but I can tell you this, that moment, those journeys together, there was a love and intimacy that I've shared with my wife that God has allowed to continue that could have never happened.
Now my hand goes up, Lord, I would like to be on the list of no more cancer ever. And then my hand goes up and say, Lord, it's horrendous, but I wouldn't want to miss that what I share with her. And what Paul is saying is this is what I want to share with Jesus. But do you see behind all of this? There's this passion.
There's this focus. There's this sense that, you know, Paul has been there and done that. If getting famous or being smart or getting in the right school or or wealth or how your kids turn out or all that, if all that could be a hope that would satisfy, he'd been there and done all that stuff. He's saying this is what matters. Finally, he says the life, the life we can experience in our death. He's really talking here about coming to that point where I'm going to be conformed to the likeness of Jesus' death. And here's this theology. In fact, you could read all of Romans six, but verse four says, therefore, we've been buried with him through baptism into death so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so too we might walk in newness of life. And then here's his theology. For if we become united with him in the likeness of his death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of his resurrection, knowing as a fact that our old self, the old Paul, the old ship, the old you, was crucified with him.
Why? In order that the body of sin or sins power over us might be done away so that we're no longer slaves to sin, for he who's died is freed from sin. There's a lot there. Here's all I want you to get. There is a mystical union that when you turn from your sin and recognize I fall short of the glory of God and you repent and you turn toward God and say, I can never be made righteous, but I accept the gift of Christ on the cross and his resurrection to pay for my sin, come into my life.
Now I want to walk with you. There's a mystical union. The moment you do that, I don't understand it, and if anyone can explain it, they're probably lying.
I don't think they can either. But what he says is that we're united. We're actually in Christ in his death so that when he died, your sins, your past bam, sin, death, Satan, broken power, you're resurrected with him. So you're in this real spiritual union with the living God. That's the theology.
And so notice what he here's his practice. His practice is Galatians 2 20. He says, See, I don't have to sin anymore.
I still do, but I don't have to because I've been set free. Here's Galatians 2 20. Here's how he lives each and every day to experience. I am crucified with Christ. I have been crucified with Christ. Notice it happened, and it's no longer I who live. In other words, I have new life in me.
The old Chip, the old you, the old Paul, Saul died. But Christ now lives in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh in your body, I live by. Oh, there's our word by faith in the son of God who loved me and gave himself up for me. Paul's living every day with the reality that what is really true of me is this. When I trusted in Christ, the old me died.
I was raised with him. His spirit actually that raised Christ from the dead dwells inside of me. I now have complete access to God.
God, the father, sees me like he sees God, the son, fully righteous in my position. And now I'm on this journey of experiencing his power in my weakness, experiencing his pain, his presence in my pain, and I'm being changed so that I can come to that thing that you identified and said, I feel hopeless about my marriage. I feel hopeless about my future finances.
I feel hopeless about where we ever have Children. I feel hopeless about and I can invite Jesus in and say, I can't solve this. I can't manipulate it. I can't get people to do what I want in my weakness. Will you give me help?
I don't even know what that looks like. And until or through in the presence of the difficult and the pain that I feel, I want to experience you. And what I will tell you is that as you read the Psalms and read the gospels, that's where I would go if you're suffering. And as you look at the life of Jesus and you say, Will you help me know you that way? You will experience hope, not just know about it. You pray with me.
Lord, I thank you so much. I confess I want to be the first to get in line that run to the front of line and confess to you that I know a lot more than I experience that I can explain this better than I can live it. But Lord, I also I kneel here before you and my brothers and sisters, and I would tell you I have experienced you in ways I never dreamed.
I've seen supernatural things in my life, around my life, in this church and through people that there's no explanation but you. And God, I thank you for your comfort and your love and your transformation. That's what I long for. That's what you long for, for every man, every woman, every student right now. Can I ask you just in a moment of silence as we close just to say, Lord, what's the next step for me?
And just listen quietly. Lord, what's a step toward you look like? You're listening to Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram, and the message you just heard, Experiencing Hope, is from our series, I Choose Hope. Chip will be back to share some insights from today's talk in just a minute. In uncertain times, what do you put your hope in?
And how confident are you that that person or thing will actually deliver the peace and stability you're desperate for? As Chip teaches through Philippians chapter three, he'll share what God has to say about our fears about the future and how it's possible to be confident in these anxious times. Stay with us as we learn to face tomorrow and each day that follows with complete certainty in a never failing hope. To get more plugged in with this series, I Choose Hope, or any of our helpful resources, visit livingontheedge.org.
That's livingontheedge.org. Well, I'm joined now in studio by Chip, and Chip, hopelessness has really taken hold of our society. Whether it's economic uncertainty, family troubles, or just the weariness of everyday life, people are really discouraged right now. So would you take a minute and share how you've dealt with all that's going on? You know, Dave, most of us are going to have coffee or tea and sit around and talk about negative things that are happening. And I think one of the things that has helped me the most is remembering that now is not all there is.
If I take the lens of just sort of temporal, what's happening, and all those things you described, and you know, we could multiply a lot more to them of, I mean, how many of us have lost someone that we loved in the last couple of years? I have found remembering the anchor of heaven that Jesus promised He's coming back. Jesus promised He's prepared a place. It doesn't mean we put our head in the sand.
It doesn't mean we don't deal with things. But as I shared with someone who recently lost someone very subtly who died, the reality, the anchor that there is a heaven that is real changes your perspective and literally gives you hope when you feel like there is no hope. And the book that I wrote and the resource that's a small group on heaven, what the Bible actually says, has been something that we've seen God use in an amazing way. What heaven is really going to be like when you understand it is something that is hopeful and that you look forward to and gives purpose and design and life and encouragement and brings into perspective all the struggles we have today. So Dave, could you take a minute and share with our listeners how they can get a hold of that book and the small group resource? Be glad to, Chip. Well, if you've been searching for some solid biblical answers about heaven, let me encourage you to get plugged into our resources for The Real Heaven. Whether it's Chip's popular book or the small group study, you're going to walk away with a more accurate and exciting view of the place God's preparing for us. For complete ordering details, go to livingontheedge.org or call us at 888-333-6003. That's 888-333-6003 or visit livingontheedge.org.
App listeners tap special offers. Here again is Chip with a few final thoughts. As we wrap up today's program, I confess to you that this is a really heavy message. I mean, there is so much pain and suffering and sometimes it feels overwhelming.
And you know, it just can seem like right now the world is spinning out of control and it's so difficult and so hard. And I want you to know that there's hope in the midst of that pain. That's what the Apostle Paul was talking about when he said, I want to know him, the power of his resurrection, and the koinonia, or the fellowship of his suffering. And in Romans 5, he says, not only that, but I exalt in my tribulation.
And then he says, because why? He says, there's this process God uses in a fallen world. Tribulation brings about perseverance.
You just hang in there. And then as you hang in there and you persevere proven character, God actually changes you. And proven character leads to hope because what you realize is that even though the external world may not change, God actually changes you. And hope doesn't disappoint because in the midst of your dependency and your pain and your suffering, he pours out the Holy Spirit in your heart. I think so many people are deeply, deeply disappointed with God because they're expecting God to do things he never promised. The Apostle Paul told us in the end of chapter 1, it has been granted to us as a gift, not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for his sake. The theology of suffering, especially here in the West, when I go to the Middle East, believe me, they get it.
When I go to China, believe me, they get it. But the theology of suffering somehow is almost completely missing from our prosperity-oriented mindset about God. And I know I'm speaking to some people right now that you're angry at God or disappointed with God and your arms are crossed or you even turned away from God because, you know, you went to church and you prayed and maybe even gave a tithe and you know what, your marriage didn't work out or your kids made some bad decisions and you're blaming God. I want you to know that he never promised all that would happen. What he promised is that he would love you and never leave you and be with you in it and through it. And he wouldn't always deliver you out of things, but he would deliver you through everything as you trust him. And that's what the Apostle Paul is teaching us. It's in trusting and loving God in the midst of it all that our lives are transformed and changed.
And honestly, the greatest testimony to the outside world is not that you drive a nice car, have a big house, have a great job, and it looks like you have it all together. The greatest testimony is the reality of Christ in the midst of the most difficult issues of life—the cancer, the divorce, the unexpected car wreck—when there's no explanation other than a supernatural hope in your heart and in your life. I want you to know that God will be there for you.
Run to him. The Scripture says you have need of endurance so that once you've done the will of God, you might receive what is promised. And Lord, it is so hard to endure for some right now. I pray in the name of your Son and by the power of your Holy Spirit that each person listening to my voice at this very moment might be given the grace to just endure, to hang on. And then Lord, I pray that you reveal yourself in power and in comfort and in fortitude in Jesus' name. Amen.
Amen, Chip. That encouraging word is going to speak to a lot of people. And if you're in a painful season right now, we'd love to pray for you. We sincerely care about what's going on in your life. So call us at 888-333-6003 and a team member would love to pray for you. That's 888-333-6003. Or if it's easier, email us at chip at livingontheedge.org. That's chip at livingontheedge.org. Well, until next time, this is Dave Druey saying thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge.
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