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The Great Rescue - The Unlikely People, Part 2

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram
The Truth Network Radio
December 27, 2023 5:00 am

The Great Rescue - The Unlikely People, Part 2

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram

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December 27, 2023 5:00 am

When it comes to the attributes of a great rescue team, you might be surprised that the rescue team you'd put together vs. the rescue team God puts together may look very different from one another. Find how how different and why.

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Two days ago, we celebrated Christmas Day, but the Christmas story is far from over. Christmas is about the greatest rescue operation in the universe. Today, we'll look at two unlikely heroes that remind you and me that God uses ordinary people, and he wants to use you. 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. Today, we're wrapping up our series, The Great Rescue, Hope for a World in Need of a Savior. In this program, Chip's going to suggest that any special ops team created to complete the most difficult assignment wouldn't compare to the group God assembled to perform the biggest rescue mission ever. But before Chip explains why, if you've been encouraged or motivated by this series, take a minute after this message and share it with a friend.

You can do that through the Chip Ingram app or by sending them the free MP3s you'll find at LivingOnTheEdge.org. Okay, get your Bibles out and go to the book of Luke as we join Chip for part two of his message, The Unlikely People. Finally, it's been eight days, and Mary and Joseph are good and devout Jews, and so they're going to obey the law. And on the eighth day, the law says that you need to circumcise your child.

And in Luke 2, verse 25, it's the eighth day, and they go into the temple. Now, can you please try and get in your mind what it would be like? I don't care how mature you are.

Let's just really exaggerate. Let's say Joseph is 20 or 21, and let's just push the envelope beyond the scholars and say, Mary's like 18. Can you imagine being a 20, 21-year-old and maybe a 17 or 18-year-old? You've never been with a man, and you have a baby. You got these weird guys coming from far away, bowing down and worshiping your little baby.

These shepherds out of the blue are talking about angels singing in the sky, and they worship and bow down. And then you take this baby, and you go, man, what in the world? Okay. What are we going to do with all this? And then, well, take the next step, right? Let's just obey. So we go into the temple, and as they go into the temple, can you imagine the fears and the uncertainties? I don't know about you, but sometimes God speaks so clearly to me.

This is it. I'm absolutely clear. And then I start going, and I start going, start going about four days later or three weeks later or two months later. I have these overwhelming doubts that I really hear God.

Does that happen to anyone else? And you know what God does? He graciously reaffirms it in ways and often through people. So they're in the temple, and there's some old guy. Is there any room for really old people?

This is a really old guy. He's not famous. We only get his first name. All we know is he walks very closely to God, and the text says that he's sensitive to the Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is revealed to him. And on that certain day, the Holy Spirit prompted him to go to the temple. And he goes to the temple because God had made a promise to him. And his Spirit had spoken to him and says, you are not going to die.

You're one of my choice people. You walk with me. What really matters, you walk closely with me, and you won't die until you get to see the Savior of the world. And that day, he's doing whatever a really, really old guy does whose name is Simeon, and the Holy Spirit goes, temple.

Go to the temple. He goes to the temple, and he sees the child. He goes, this is it. And he picks up the child. And Mary, Mary and Joseph, who's this old guy? And he begins to prophesy over this child and pray. And he begins to declare he's the Messiah, the Savior of the world, and quoting all these old tips and the passages. And then he stops, and he prays for Mary and Joseph.

And they're going, wow, maybe we're not nuts. And why this is happening, as it's happening, there's this like, really, are you ready? For those of you who think that, you know, my days are past. I'm not sure God can really use me. I've kind of retired from service and ministry.

You know, I've sort of done my part. Well, wait, wait, this is Anna. Anna's 84. And in that culture, average person only lives to about 40.

I'd be like being like 160 now. I mean, she's old, old, old. And she's had a tough life. She got married.

Only married seven years. Her husband died. She's been a widow. But she had this heart for God. And so it says she fasted and prayed in the temple. I mean, for decades, God's speaking to her, supporting people. She wasn't upfront. She didn't preach messages. She didn't have money to give. She wasn't famous. But she prayed and she was a prayer warrior.

And she was doing the battle behind the scenes. And as she did that, as Simeon is blessing this baby, she walks in and bam, then she begins to get in on the act. And I just want you to pause and think of the greatest rescue of all humanity starts with pagan astrologer, wise men, sorcerers studying the sky, a priest with a cursed wife who doesn't believe God, a teenage girl who does believe God, who's poor and your least likely person to save the world, with a husband who believes God. He's not a Pharisee.

He's not educated. He just is devout and righteous. And then you have some shepherds. They're nobodies. They're nobodies in the world's eyes.

They're somebodies to God. And then God finances a project that we think it all has to happen at once. All of this happens. And then the clock starts. The birth of the rescue starts. And for 30 years, everything has to get into place. You ever feel like that you've been searching and following God and you don't see how it all fits and you know what?

Either you're not ready or things aren't ready or neither are ready. And then at 30, it goes into phase two, ministry phase. And 33 years later, the rescue, the death happens, humanity forgiven, death defeated, Satan defeated, resurrection, eternal life offered to whosoever will. I would just venture to say that God's special ops team is a little bit different than ours, wouldn't you? And here's the lesson from Isaiah 55. My thoughts are not your thoughts. Neither are your ways my ways declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

I want you to think about that. And then the magi show up. They come into Jerusalem and they said, we've been following the star, following the star. Can you tell us where the king of the Jews is going to be born?

I mean, we'd really like to know. The assumption is that the nation of Israel would be more concerned about is there a king coming than we are, but we've seen the star. It's been prophesied in your own books.

So, you know, the chief priest, just a second, man, we're going to check our computer. Micah, Micah 5, 2, Bethlehem. And these magi come and they, they worship, they worship the king of the Jews, a baby. And then, right, then they give gold, myrrh, frankincense. How did God finance his special ops team? He finances it through foreign Gentile wise men, stargazers. Well in a dream, Joseph learns very quickly, you need to get out of town because Herod's going to come. So he's a refugee and he ends up a refugee in Egypt waiting for Herod to die. Well, what's it like to go to a country, you don't speak the language, you can't get a job.

How do you support yourself? Are you beginning to see how unlikely these people are? How he works and how he orchestrates. Part of all of that is this, is that we think that there's some special, special ops type of people that God really uses to change the world.

I think our journey through God's special ops team would just bring that one crashing down. True? There's three specific observations I have from this story for us and maybe for me personally. Number one, truth to treasure and apply. As I read this story, intelligence and ability are overrated, wisdom and availability are underrated.

Fair? Intelligence and ability, right? You got to get the smartest people, the most gifted, the most talented. I mean that's, our special ops team, that's who we're looking for. The strongest men, they can do anything.

Yeah, and the power of, yeah, and I want our special ops teams to be that. But when God is about accomplishing his will in your life and through your life and in your friends and around the nation and around the world, we tend to evaluate and say, we want really smart people and really gifted people. This story doesn't play that out, does it? God's looking for wise people. Wise isn't about smart. Wise, you know what wisdom is?

Definition of wisdom is understanding how God has designed life to work and following that design. That's the whole book of Proverbs. God says, this is how relationships work.

Okay, this is how money works. This is how forgiveness works. This is how you respond when people betray you. This is how life works under pressure.

This is how you respond with your anger. There's a way to do it, the wisdom of God. There is a way, which seems right to a man, but ends in death. God says, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. He's like, I want to do life your way. When God finds a woman, Mary, or a young man, Joseph, who just says, be it unto me according to your will. You know what that is? That's the fear of God. I mean, Joseph, you talk, his reputation, Mary's future. I don't know what she was thinking, but it wasn't this. Wisdom and availability is what God's looking for. You willing?

You're listening to Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. We'll get back to our series, The Great Rescue, in just a minute. But quickly, I want to remind you, we're in the middle of our year-end match. Thanks to a few close ministry friends, every gift we receive until December 31st will be matched dollar for dollar.

For more information about how to partner with us, go to livingontheedge.org, or call 888-333-6003. Thanks for doing whatever God leads you to do. Well, let's rejoin Chip now for the remainder of his message.

He's just looking for someone, not with a literal hand, but maybe in your heart. My hand's up. God, you want to use me? I mean, I don't think I'm smart enough. I don't think I'm talented enough. I don't think I know enough.

God said, great, you're in. Because the people that think they're talented enough, think they know enough, they're really hard to use. Now, if they're dependent, it's great to use. But they're really tough to use because what we can accomplish is just what they can do. See, when I get people that are available, then I can do things that are really supernatural, and they will realize that it wasn't them. And I'm pretty particular about who gets credit for things.

It's called my glory. Second truth is that power and position are overrated, and humility and faith are underrated. Right? Herod, powerful. Pharisees, powerful. Chief priests, powerful.

Position. Isn't it interesting that these fellows probably had the first five books of the Bible memorized, then they had all this stuff they learned. Herod, he's a king, he has power, he has wealth. If someone came and said, the savior of the world is coming, don't you think you would at least go check it out?

I mean, positively or negatively? I mean, oh yeah, Micah 5 2, why don't you pagans go see if it's true? We're not going. Why? We got our position. Life works for me. We've got our power.

We've got our status. And so God finds people with humility. I would encourage you to read the story of Zachariah, Mary's response, Joseph's response, Simeon's response. What you're gonna find is over and over, they just keep quoting passages, that God is opposed to the proud. That he's lifted up your humble bondservant. Be it unto me according to your word, your bondservant, Mary would say. When God finds humble people, I'll do whatever you want. I don't think I'm better than anyone.

I'm available and I'm humble. And then did you notice? Faith. Zachariah has been in the ministry for probably almost 50 years. He's got all this knowledge and an angel speaks to him, the very thing he's been praying all of his life.

And he goes, I don't know you're an angel, but I don't think you can pull that one off. And you got a little 15 year old girl, no theological training, but formally, a girl couldn't even get it. Faith. Joseph. Faith.

Simeon. I'm old. Anna, I'm old. I'm not worth anything.

No status, no value. Shepherds. I mean, it's like this whole story goes out of its way to say, guess what? I don't do the things you do. The world and its system and ability, smarts, power, position. Let me ask you something. In your own thinking, what do you value? What do you value in other people? In your personal ambition, right?

For all of us, we all have it. What are your goals? I mean, if we were really honest and if I said, are you trying to improve all your ability and get smarter and smarter, or do you want to be more wise and more available to God?

Are you looking for more power and more position versus, wow, I'm really, I'm on track to be more humble and have more faith. I mean, which would it be? Final lesson here is that knowledge about God is overrated. Knowledge of God is underrated. The people who seem to know more about God than anyone else, they don't trust Him. It's not an either or, but knowing a lot about God, knowing a lot about the Bible, being morally faithful and doing things you opt to do just because you think it's right is overrated. A knowledge of God, a personal intimate, listening to His voice, Simeon, a fasting and praying, Anna.

Boy. Paul would write to a group of Christians and make this very point. He says, where's the wise man according to the world? Where's the scribe?

Where's the debater of this age? Has God not made foolishness of the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God, the world in its wisdom did not know God, God was well pleased through the foolishness of the message, the preaching of the cross to save those who believe. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men and the weakness of God is stronger than men. And then I love his application to that church and I think it would apply to us. For consider your calling, brethren, that not many of you were wise according to the flesh, not many were mighty, not many were noble, but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things that are strong and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen the things that are not, that he might nullify the things that are, that no man should boast before God. But by his doing, I love this, this is us, by his doing, you are in Christ Jesus who became to us the wisdom of God and the righteousness and sanctification and redemption.

Just as it is written, let him who boasts, boast in the Lord. You're listening to Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram and the message you just heard, The Unlikely People, is from our series, The Great Rescue. Chip will join us in studio to share some insights from today's talk in just a minute. In this series, Chip examined the most successful rescue mission ever that has forever changed how we celebrate Christmas. Our prayer is that as you learned about God's incredible plan, the unlikely team he assembled, and the perfect child that came to earth, you discovered why we can have unexplainable joy and hope this holiday season.

Let me encourage you to go back and revisit any part of this series by going to livingontheedge.org. That's livingontheedge.org. Well, Chip's with me in studio now, and Chip, before you come back with some application for this message, you have a super, super important announcement you wanted to make. Dave, here's the announcement. I mean, all month we've talked about the match, the year-end match, where every dollar is doubled right up to midnight, December 31st. I mean, we're down to the very end, but it's not too late. I want to encourage my brothers and sisters, if Living on the Edge has ministered to you and you've thought or you've intended but you haven't acted yet, go online, livingontheedge.org.

That's livingontheedge.org. Or get out your checkbook and make sure it's postmarked by December 31st. Every gift given up until midnight December 31 is going to be doubled dollar for dollar. I don't want you to miss out, and I don't want us to miss out on the greater ministry that we can do. Thanks so much for whatever God leads you to do.

Thanks, Chip. And let me quickly say, when you give during our year-end match, you're helping us train pastors across the world, develop new resources to encourage Christians to live like Christians, and engage today's youth with the Gospel message. So to give a gift, visit livingontheedge.org, or call us at 888-333-6003.

That's 888-333-6003, or go to livingontheedge.org. App listeners tap donate, and we appreciate your support. Well, with that, Chip, let's get to your application. As we wrap up today's program, part of what I wanted to communicate is that God really wants to use your life. And what I wanted you to see in this whole series is God uses very, very ordinary people. And I talked about how that intelligence and ability, what you tend to think.

And I do too. If I was just smarter or more gifted, God would use me when what He's looking for is wisdom and availability. Or we think that if I just had a bigger position or if I was a more powerful person or if I could do more or give more. And the fact is God's looking for people with humility and faith. It's, are you available?

Are you willing? And finally, we learned that it's not knowledge about God. You don't have to know all the Bible.

We don't have to answer everybody's questions. It's knowledge of God. I think God wants you this Christmas to think of one or two people that you know are outside of Christ.

You know that if they died tomorrow, they would not go to heaven. And you have a relationship. And for whatever reason, it's really hard for you to share anything with them.

Here's what I'd like you to consider. What if, in fact, all you needed to do was not be smarter or wiser or know more of the Bible or be able to answer their questions? But what if in humility, this Christmas season, you said, there's something I have to share with you? Jesus, this Jesus that's all about Christmas, has personally changed my life. And I want you to know that He loves you. It's not just a tradition.

It's not just a time of year. And I've so longed for you to have the kind of relationship with Him that I have. Or maybe you just ask for permission to say, could I take five minutes just to tell you my story? I want you to know that people have come to Christ and their lives have been completely changed. Because rather than us worrying about what people think, in humility, we take a step like this. Imagine if tens of thousands of us listening to my voice right now did that this December.

What God might do. You take your step and I'll take mine. Let's go for it. Thanks for that encouragement, Chip. Well, just before we go, I want to thank those of you who support this ministry with your generous financial support. Your gifts help us reach countless lives around the globe with the power of God's word. Now, if you haven't given to us before, but want to partner with us, now is a great time. Between now and December 31st, every gift we receive will be matched dollar for dollar. To send a donation, go to livingontheedge.org, or call us at 888-333-6003. That's 888-333-6003, or visit livingontheedge.org. App listeners, tap donate. Thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. I'm Dave Dourley, and I hope you'll join us again next time.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-27 05:33:57 / 2023-12-27 05:42:54 / 9

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