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Keep Pressing Ahead - Facing Difficult Circumstances, Part 2

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram
The Truth Network Radio
October 30, 2023 6:00 am

Keep Pressing Ahead - Facing Difficult Circumstances, Part 2

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram

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October 30, 2023 6:00 am

Whether it's the loss of a job, the loss of your health, the loss of a friendship, or the loss of a spouse or child, we all face circumstances that are hard, gut wrenching, and confusing. What do you do when you are faced with difficult circumstances? Chip gives you a step-by-step outline for confronting and disarming even the worst of times.

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Amy Lawrence

You know, we all face difficult circumstances that are hard, they're gut-wrenching, they're confusing. And so the question is, how do you get through these kinds of times? I want to give you a God-inspired, step-by-step outline for beginning to confront and disarm even the most difficult times you're going through. Stay with me. Thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram.

Living on the Edge is an international teaching and discipleship ministry focused on helping Christians live like Christians. Well, today Chip picks up where he left off in our series, Keep Pressing Ahead, with a remainder of his message, Facing Difficult Circumstances. Now in this program Chip will highlight three principles that will help us overcome our most demanding situations.

With that, go in your Bibles to Nehemiah chapter 7 for the second half of Chip's talk. Notice that he asks the right questions. I mean, you've got this big open space, and he basically says to the people, he has a big meeting, right?

He pulls them together. He says, who are we? We're not a ragtag group of people that are in this empty city without a purpose. We are what? We're the people of God. Where do we come from?

Well, we came from a lineage from all the way back to Adam. We're in David's line. We're in Solomon's line. God has a purpose. He made all these promises to this nation. God always keeps His promises. He made these promises to David. He made these promises about the land of Abraham. And by the way, look at the miracles.

I mean, the miracles when Zerubbabel went, the miracles when Ezra went, the miracles when I went. I mean, we got these foreign kings paying our way. And then, by the way, he says, well, who do we have? Notice his focus. He doesn't focus on what he doesn't have.

He focuses on what he does have. And so he said, wow, I wonder what we ought to do. We got men of Israel. We got men of Bethlehem. Hmm.

Let's see. We got priests. What do they do?

Oh, that's right. They do stuff in the temple. Levites, what do they do? They help with the temple.

Singers, what do they do? They sing in the temple. Temple servants, that's pretty obvious.

Servants of Solomon. And all of a sudden, he helps the people understand your lineage, your heritage, the promises of God, the miracle working God. There have been all these dots, not for hundreds, but thousands of years that have led you to this point. And your circumstances may be this empty city, but the God of the universe has a plan for you, his people, and his program.

And you are the next dot. And he's going to provide what you need. Was it the goal of God that you would be comfortable and financially secure and everything would go great?

Or does God have a purpose for his people in this time in history? And that's where you're at. Why are you here?

What do you have, not what do you lack? See how those questions, he asks those right questions, and he begins to answer those questions. And then he asks the big one. So what are we called to do?

I mean, what's the game plan? See, at times like this, you can get so off focus about not only what matters, but what you're called to do. Because all you can see is the minuses. All you can see is, you know, the financial numbers. All you can see is the fallout. All you can see is, you know, the report that came back from the doctor. All you can see is the disappointment.

It takes great discipline. Our God is all wise. He's all knowing. He's gracious.

He's good. And you are the object of his affection. And you can either get under the rock of your circumstances and live there and moan and whine and complain. And there's no lack of people that'll do it with you. But I will tell you, what if you got outside of all that and said, you know, I understand what's going on in the world. But I know God's in control. But I know I have a purpose. I know God calls me to live by faith.

I know God wants me to make a difference. There's people in your network today. There's people in your neighborhoods and people where you live and people that you're related to that are scared to death. We've always had this sort of unconscious, well, we're America. I mean, we'll come out of this, right?

Maybe. But what if God is actually allowing things to be so unsettled so people that have never thought seriously about spiritual things, about eternal life, about forgiveness, are more open now than ever before? And what if, instead of living under our circumstances, we said, we're the people of God. This is what we do have. This is our calling.

This is what we're going to do. When you look back in history, that's how God's often done it. Notice then he does something very counterintuitive. Look at verse 70.

There's not resources. And so he models something crazy. It says the heads of the families begin to give, but it says the governor gave 1,000 drachmas of gold. 1,000 drachmas. And you know what happened then? It says then the heads of the families, then the rest of the people. Long before Matthew 633 was written, Nehemiah practiced it.

And when difficult circumstances come, we tend to withdraw, look for security, and figure out how to hedge our bets. But Matthew 633 says this, Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. His agenda is the idea, and all these things will be added unto you.

And so Nehemiah looks at the shortage and doesn't say, well, you know what? It could get a lot worse, and I don't have a place either. I better hoard my stuff.

I better really take care of me and mine. Instead, what's he do? He models generosity and he takes a step of faith.

And here's what we know. God honors faith. In fact, without it, it's impossible to please Him. He that comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a what?

Rewarter of those who diligently seek Him. You know, I'll be honest with you. You know what my difficult circumstance? Circumstance number one was what in the world am I going to say out of Nehemiah chapter 7? All right? Now, you know, I've done my basic work and I've broken up the passages. I do that all in advance. And then when I get right down to the week, you know, how am I going to teach this? And it's, you know, super in depth. And it was like, God, there's just a bunch of lists.

I mean, are you kidding? What am I going to say? I literally wrote this in my journal. Dear Father, what would you like to say to your people through this passage?

Because I don't have a clue. And you know, as I studied it, it's how it works. I don't know about you, but I think you could write a little pamphlet about how to respond to negative circumstances even in the secular world to say, well, improvise, delegate, listen, ask and model. And I will tell you what, that'll pull you out of negative circumstances and create momentum in a positive direction, will it not? And it's, guess what?

Right out of the Bible. My second difficult time was, was kind of crazy. Well, I was at Spirit West Coast and it's a, it's really a music festival that they have some speakers here and there. And so there was a sort of the big main event and they had this really hot super rock band and people came for them.

Okay. When I got there, I realized they came for them and people camp out for most of a week and there's all these tents and trailers and apparently about 10,000 people show up. I'm thinking, oh man, this is great. They're just really going to want to hear.

So in my plan I had this PowerPoint done and I've prayed before I've gone and I'm going to give them an overview of how to hear God's voice and being a Romans 12 Christian and I'm going to overview the whole chapter. And it's like, this is not going to work. And they've given me 40 minutes and I'm thinking if they listen for 25, I'm just going to be happy as a lark, you know? And then, and then I'm thinking, so what am I going to do? It's six o'clock and I've learned all this and I've walked around. So I just decided, okay, Lord, all I know is here's my circumstance. This will not work.

My message will not work. That's not good because I don't have another one in my back pocket. So I went and I just thought, well, I'm going to walk around. So I literally walked around to all the events and saw all the t-shirts and the people and I wanted to find out who was there. And then they had a little mobile unit and I sat on my plastic chair and praise God, I got such a great wife. She sat in there with me and she didn't say a word for two hours and I could tell she was praying the whole time. And then I got my pin out and I got my notes and I tried to adjust them. And then it was like the first hour, that's not going to work. And I threw those away and then I took a sheet of paper and I thought, you know, I can't even take anything.

I took a sheet of paper like this and fold it like this and fold like that. I said, God, I have that much room that I can write whatever notes, whatever you want me to say. And I don't know what to do.

And as I was doing that, I mean, a God idea came. You need to start with a really powerful story and just tell them one thing. They can only hear God's voice if they do his known will before he'll reveal his specific will. Tell them that story.

Just do verse one. Explain, surrender. I love these people. They're all hyped up. They need to surrender and know what that means. One verse, Chip, that's it.

Go for it. And so I did. And apparently hundreds of people took a step of surrender.

I couldn't see much. I was told this because this light was in my face the whole time. And I got done 10 minutes early. And this, for a pastor, this is a miracle. I thought, I'm done. I'm just saying amen. And I did. And then I said, now let's welcome. And I named the group and hoo, hoo, hoo, you know, the pyrotechnics were ready to go. And I just got out of there.

Here's all I want to tell you. That's a little circumstance. But sometimes we hear God's word like it's always about the big issue with your business, your house, your wife, your singleness, your health. Circumstances every single day, small and large, come in where the Spirit of God wants to say to you, are you willing to improvise? Are you willing to delegate? Are you willing to listen right now instead of plow it through and be in control and be frustrated?

Are you willing to ask the right questions? And then if I would show you, would you be willing to model a very counterintuitive step of alignment and commitment with me often evidenced by generosity in your time, your attitude or your money? And I will tell you what, that's how God gives wisdom.

That's how you can consider it all joy. And I'm praying that God's going to give you guys some ideas and a different perspective. You're listening to Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram, and we'll get back to his message in just a minute. But first, our heart is for you to deepen your connection to God as you study His word with us. And another way we're supporting you in that is through our free resource called Daily Discipleship with Chip.

Let me encourage you to stick around after this message to learn more about it and how you can sign up today. Okay, here again is Chip to finish his talk. Well, what can we learn from Nehemiah? Because there's two things I want you to learn kind of about Bible study. Number one is that sometimes the structure of a passage teaches us as much as the content.

I mean, the content basically was the first five or six verses and a few verses on the back, right? But when you outline the book, chapters one through six are about rebuilding the wall. Chapters eight through thirteen are about rebuilding the people, right?

So what we have is this pivot or this hinge, and it's in there for a reason. It's the genealogy. And so the rebuilding of the wall had to do with walls and work and physical and external things.

The whole rest of the book is going to be about spiritual, internal, rebuilding the people. And so you look at the structure and you say, God, why is chapter seven in here? And then when you look at that structure and you see what he did, then often what we need to do is realize that there's probably not a lot of application directly for us, but there's principles. So when you study, one is you want to look at structure as well as content. Secondly, what are some timeless principles?

Because I did some careful research. There's 49,000 people and roughly 7,000 donkeys. What I realized, there was one donkey for every seven people. Do you have a difficult circumstance in your life? Is it hard?

Is it difficult? We're buying some donkeys. We're going to have to share because I've learned from Nehemiah that you get one donkey for every seven people.

It stinks a little bit, but I mean, we're going to make progress. I mean, it's obvious that is not the application, correct? But it's obvious from that. What's the principle? He itemized what he did have and got his mind and his heart off of what he didn't have. And so with that, there's three principles that emerged for me.

Principle number one is the principle perspective. Like Nehemiah, we must not confuse our means, activities and projects with our goals, desired end results. Nehemiah's initial job was to rebuild a wall. The end result was to rebuild people. And so here's the question I want you to write underneath that.

Why am I doing what I'm doing? See at some point in time, Nehemiah, the walls are done. He could have said, hey, I'll see you guys.

I'm going to take one of those donkeys. You're down to 6,000, you know, 199, whatever it is, and I'm going to go back to Persia. But he understood. I got here. Job one was the walls.

I didn't come here for walls. But he had to stop and say in the circumstance, why am I doing what I'm doing? Why are you doing what you're doing? So often the means over time becomes the end.

I mean, I mean, it's true of us, right? Work. Quick example. We work for what? We want to provide for ourselves and our families to be able to do what God wants us to do. And then pretty soon you go to work and you get good at work and make some money at work and you get some promotions in work.

And pretty soon you leave early and you come home late and work is your life. The means becomes the end. Or, or, you know, I've seen people and been in a couple of houses where people are really, they really want, what's a home for? A home is to create an atmosphere, isn't it?

Where love and relationships can thrive. And then you said, well, we want it to thrive. So we remodel this. Then we remodel that. Then we get this piece of furniture. Then we're going to do that. We're going to get this.

We get that. I've been in homes where they've spent so much time creating this atmosphere. You go like, Oh, don't touch that. You know, you know, I've been with my kids hands to your sides, hands with me.

If you touch anything in this lady's home, I will kill you. You know, right? Well, what happened? The means that it started well, or you go to school and you go to school to what? Learn and grow and actualize what God gave you in your mind and your heart. And so you go to school and, and you're excited and you're learning. And then you get an 89 on your first test and you look over and someone has an 84 and you feel pretty good.

And this one has a 97. You feel not so good. And then pretty soon you realize when you get 97 people look at your paper and then pretty soon all you do, it's grades, grades, grades, grades, grades. And you know what? You don't learn anything and the grade, the degrees, the number of letters, instead of learning, you follow me or even spiritually.

I mean, what's, what's the goal is to know God is to love God is to love other people. Well, I, do I need to read the Bible? Yeah.

Do I need to spend time talking with him? Do I need to be in a small group and have community and don't need to take some steps of faith, whether it's with my finances or a mission strip? Of course. But have you not my personal confession, I got to where the means were so important. I went for like three or four years. I never missed a day of praying and I prayed through the whole list.

And I would memorize at least three to five verses every week for five or six years. The only thing was I didn't love God. I didn't love people. And I was the biggest jerk that most people knew because the means became the end question in your circumstance.

God may have brought it. Why are you doing what you're doing? Why are you doing that job? Why are you doing the hobby? Why are you doing what you're doing with your family? Why are your kids in the school that they're in? Why are you doing what you're doing?

Stop. What circumstances can give you the gift of perspective? It was Drucker who said, there's a big difference between efficiency and effectiveness. Efficiency has to do with doing things well.

Effectiveness is doing the right things. It's his classic illustration that he said when the railroads were going through a difficult time. He just asked the question, are you in the train business or the transportation business? Some thought the train business, they stayed with trains and they went out of business.

Others said transportation to begin to diversify and said it's trains, it's trucks, it's... What business are you in? Are you in the make myself happy business? I gotta be in control. Everything's gotta work out. Are you in the following Christ business?

Second is the issue and principle of priority. Like Nehemiah, we must make people our passion. People were really important to Nehemiah. You say, how do you know? Look how many he listed of them. He lists them.

To me, this is a very boring chapter in the Bible, but if one of these people was my father or grandfather, it'd be exciting. Look at this. Hey, do you understand this? See this guy's name that you can't pronounce? It's my granddad.

You know Zerubbabel? He hung out with him. I mean, this is like spiritual NFL. It's MVP.

It's my dad right here. There was a sense of identity and heritage and pride. People mattered. Not walls, not houses, not interest rates, not jobs, not money, not 401Ks, not your success, not your career ladder, not what job or school your kids get in or don't get in.

All of that can be a means and with the right heart, you can make great decisions, but I will tell you what, you can get your total priorities messed up. The world's terrible because our house used to be this big and now it's this big. The world's terrible because I had this role and now I have this role.

The world's terrible because I signed up for this and now the market's changed. Is really the world terrible so people don't love you anymore? There aren't relationships. There aren't friendships. You don't have purpose. You don't have life. Is the world terrible or is just your world and your expectations?

Maybe the greatest gift God gives you is to reorient. And the question to ask here is what really matters? What's really important? I mean, we all have the right answer. It's people. I mean, I say this a lot, but I just I've buried a lot of people. And when you bury them, no one talks about anything other than the relationship.

At the end of the day, no one says, you know what? This guy looks good dead. You should have seen his house.

He had 11 classic cars. I mean, I'm telling you what, she had the best jewelry in all of Northern California. People don't say stuff like that. She was there for me when I needed a friend. He was generous. He listened to me when no one else cared. He was my dad.

Everyone else thought he was a big shot, but he always took time for me. Make people your passion. And then the principle of evaluation, like Nehemiah, we must make faithfulness to our calling the measure of our success. And ask the question, how am I measuring success?

Sometimes God uses difficult circumstances to wean us of our unconscious sense of privilege with regard to success, material prosperity, or status. Why am I doing what I'm doing? What really matters?

And how will I measure success? Lord, you know how those questions need to be played out in the hearts and minds of the people in this room. And I ask you right now, give them God sized ideas.

Give them open palms and hands to say, I just want to surrender my expectations, my relationships, my home, my business, my finances. And I want to listen to you. You're listening to Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. And the message you just heard, Facing Difficult Circumstances, is from our series Keep Pressing Ahead. Chip will join us in studio to share some insights from today's talk in just a minute. The Bible teaches that followers of Jesus are more than conquerors.

But when we're really suffering or struggling with something, that idea can sound like religious mumbo jumbo. Now in this series, Chip's going to change our perspective toward hardship by examining the life of Nehemiah. Discover where adversity comes from and what we can do when our most challenging circumstances threaten to pull us under. If you've missed any part of Chip's teaching, catch up anytime on the Chip Ingram app. Well, Chip's with me in studio now. And Chip, you know, most of us know Satan's chief goal is to steal, kill and destroy. You know, but I don't think many of us realize the subtle, more devious ways the devil attacks us.

Well, that's absolutely true, Dave. There are plenty of obvious kind of external attacks that we encounter every day. The ones that are really most effective are often the most seemingly innocent or subtle. In fact, we get fooled.

We don't realize it's actually the enemy. I love what C.S. Lewis said. He said the safest road to hell is a gradual one. The gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts. Here's the issue.

How do you spend your time, your talent and your resources? The fact is, you're in an invisible war. You're in a battle where the distractions can little by little by little take you out of being a son or daughter of the King of Kings that's making a difference, that's in his word, that cares about your neighbor. I want to help you learn how to do spiritual battle. We're beginning a brand new daily discipleship with Chip.

It's called the Invisible War. Through this study, we'll open our Bibles to Ephesians Chapter 6. We'll learn what spiritual warfare is, who Satan is, what power he has, what power he doesn't have, and tools to help you live victoriously each and every day. And for those of you that are new to daily discipleship, this is a free video resource where you and I can study God's Word together.

I'll never talk for more than ten minutes, and then I will ask you for ten minutes with a brief study guide, and here's the thing. You're going to learn to study the Scriptures, to hear God's voice. This is not a Bible study. I'm going to mentor you one on one. Two hundred and thirty-four thousand people have gone through daily discipleships with me, and they all say basically the same thing. I'm now hearing God.

I understand the Bible. I'm growing on my own. And that's our heart's desire for you. So let me encourage you.

Make the decision today. Sign up for the daily discipleship. We're in the midst of a spiritual battle. God has given us the victory, and I want to show you how to experience it. Thanks, Chip. Well, I can't encourage you enough to sign up for this new daily discipleship, The Invisible War, by going to As you and Chip study Ephesians Chapter 6, you'll learn how to defend yourself and fight back in this unseen battle. Again, to sign up for this brand-new daily discipleship, visit App listeners tap discipleship. With that, here again is Chip. As we close today's program, I do wish we could sit down and talk about this one, because you or someone you love may be going through some really, really difficult time.

And there isn't just some little, here's three easy steps. Just think this way, and everything's going to be okay. I've had times where it got so dark, and I wondered where God was, and I've come to realize that sometimes I'm asking the wrong question of my circumstances. Sometimes I'm asking, God, why don't you get me out of these, or just make it easier, or get me through, or help me understand all the whys. And I'll be honest with you, sometimes I don't know the whys. It doesn't seem to get a lot easier getting him through.

All I can really do is praise God, look in the rearview mirror, and realize, well, you know, I got through some of those in the past, and I can now see maybe some of the reasons why. I don't know all the reasons why, but it really goes back to who is the God that you worship? I mean, what is God really like?

And is he good? I mean, are his hands tied in heaven and just bad stuff happening? And he really wishes he could help you, but one, either he's not good and he doesn't want to, or he's not powerful, so he really can't pull it off right now, or this is just the best plan he can come up with. You know, there's a lot of people to take care of, and you know, you're like number 78 on the list of 1 to 10, and you know those things aren't true, but so it goes back to who is God? And what I can tell you is the greatest comfort and perspective and the ability to endure for me has gone to God is in control, he's sovereign. God really is good.

He's going to orchestrate even the worst of things for my good, and he's all wise. If there was a better, easier, tender way to bring about the best for me, that's what I would be experiencing. But over and over I hear people say, you know, I felt like I was always battling through my Christian life in a way of trying to get God to do what I wanted him to do and for my life to work out, and I realized, wow, you know, it really is about God, it's not about me. And so what I encourage you to do is maybe step back and really get a higher view of God and maybe even just open the Psalms or Isaiah chapter 40 and just get a fresh, big picture view of God and recognize that you can trust him and he's good and that he's wise and that he's for you, and it'll bring things into perspective.

Thanks Chip. And if you honestly want a higher, more accurate view of God, we have a handful of resources that can help. Go to and search for The Real God. From there you can order a copy of Chip's book, a small group study guide, or listen to Chip's broadcast series. Our hope is that through whichever tool you use, you'll better understand and appreciate the God we serve. To learn more about our resources for The Real God, search for them at or call us at 888-333-6003. Well until next time, this is Dave Droe saying thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-10-30 05:32:53 / 2023-10-30 05:44:31 / 12

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