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Balancing Life's Demands - How To Escape The Rat Race... Forever!, Part 1

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram
The Truth Network Radio
January 9, 2024 5:00 am

Balancing Life's Demands - How To Escape The Rat Race... Forever!, Part 1

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram

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January 9, 2024 5:00 am

If there’s one thing we’ve learned, you can’t trust in material things to come through for you. Chip reveals how to rise above the daily grind and escape the rat race forever.

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You know, the great physicist Albert Einstein once said, not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts. Now, you might want to spin that in your mind a couple times, but what he's really saying is we spend a lot of time counting things that don't really matter, and we don't count some things that matter most. How do you get out of the rat race?

That's today. Welcome to this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. The mission of these daily programs is to intentionally disciple Christians through the Bible teaching of Chip Ingram, and we're nearing the end of a series balancing life's demands. For these last couple of programs, Chip will focus on how we can stop wasting our lives chasing one thing after another by uncovering God's plan for true contentment and peace.

Well, with that, let's join Chip for his talk, How to Escape the Rat Race Forever. Go in your Bible to Matthew chapter 6. I'd like to start with a little story. It's kind of a, I don't know, I think it's a little bit of a funny story, but it comes out of the Midwest. It may be even hypocrisy, so don't try and find this anywhere, but I think it's an old, old story.

But the story goes like this. There was a very strong Bible church, Bible teaching church, and they had what they called years ago revival meetings. And so once a year, they would bring in a great Bible teacher, and they had revival meetings.

It was a very small town. It was up in the mountains, and a very small community, and everyone knew everyone, and so it was a big thing in town, and a lot of people would come from the town, and every year a number of people would come to Christ, and Christians who needed their priorities realigned would get their priorities realigned, but they always knew what was going to happen on Friday night. On Friday night, they had a town drunk, and he chose Friday night, and he would come, and he would sit in the back, and he would listen to the message, and near the end of the message, you would hear, oh, amen.

Yes, Lord, that's what I need to do. And so they would give a time of invitation where people could come forward and deal with God, and everyone knew on Friday night, the town drunk came through. I mean, for the last 15 years, every Friday night, he would come forward. So it was Friday night. He had moaned.

He had groaned. He had amen, and now he is walking forward, and he comes, and he sort of had this down. Oh, Lord. Oh, Lord. Oh, the cobwebs of sin that I have been entangled in. Oh, Lord, I just ask once, please remove the cobwebs. Remove the cobwebs and the tangled sin of my life.

And there was a man after 15 years who had heard this for 14 years, and he stood up in the back, and in a very loud voice said, Dear Lord, forget the cobwebs. Kill the spider. And I'd like to suggest that we've really addressed a lot of the cobwebs of priorities of time and money and relationships, that we have said, OK, what's really important? We want to put first things first. We want to keep first things first. We want to develop some discipline. We want to do it in the right way.

We want to do it with a perspective that is relational and from the heart. And my concern is that you'll go for two weeks, maybe some of you for two months, and you'll stop knocking out the cobwebs. Oh, we've got a budget now. We're now giving off the first portion. OK, I'm starting to spend some time with God.

You start reading your Bible more, might even join a small group or get in a Bible study. You know, you start changing a little bit what you're going to do with your giving. And all these things are extraordinarily important. But, you know, you sort of hmm.

And then after three months, six months, eight months, nine months, a year. Oh, Lord, the cobwebs of those priorities. Oh, Lord, you know what it's like. There's so many demands on my time.

Oh, Lord. You know, we were on a budget for a while and we didn't expect that, Dr. Bill. And then there was that camp and then we really need and I'm kind of messing with you. But I like to suggest that to move beyond the periphery, we need to get to the kill the spider. What's at the heart of misplaced priorities? What is it that keeps pulling us in ways that our priorities over and over and over get out of whack? And Jesus is going to address it.

Jesus is going to say there is a singular root cause to misplaced priorities. And it is the spider. And you need to kill the spider.

And when you do, the cobwebs will go away. And if you'll notice in your notes, he's going to give a warning. And Jesus will teach us in Matthew 6 19 to the end of the chapter that the root problem in priority living is. And here's the word you can write. Materialism. Materialism.

Now, before you get all uptight and think, oh, he's going to talk about I have too much and is it wrong to have this? And every time someone brings us up, I feel guilty. Just lighten up.

OK, just lighten up. Let's talk. Let's let's let's analyze what is materialism. First, let me give you a definition.

And don't try and write all this down at this point. Try and think about what it says. Materialism, by the way, is a disease of both the rich and the poor and everyone in between. It has little or nothing to do with what you have. It is a condition of the heart where I am leaning, trusting, depending or even believing that the outward props of things, money and possessions and the fame, status and power that they provide have the ability to achieve for me inward peace, happiness and satisfaction in my life. Materialism is a condition of the heart. I can show you people that don't have two nickels to rub against each other that are shot through with materialism, as evidenced by when they get their first three dollars, they go to 7-Eleven and buy a lotto ticket, because, man, if I could hit the lotto, then everything would be OK. And most of them will never take the time to read some of the research. And actually, some of the sad books of tracing the lives of people after they've won the lotto.

The percentage who end in divorce, the percentage that say it ruined their life, the percentage who say, if I could do it all over again and not get it, I would do it. But see, it's a condition of the heart. And I could show you people with great wealth who have so many things to keep up with, so much stuff, so much demand that their time and their energy, it's not like they feel stuck on it, it's just their time and their energy because they unconsciously have been led to believe, I need to have these things, and there's no margin in their life. Their problem is not, can I get it or ever have it?

Their problem is, it has them, and they don't even know it. Material things are in no way, listen carefully, evil in and of themselves. You might jot in the notes, I've quoted it several times, 1 Timothy 6.18. Paul says, instruct those, teach those who are rich in this present world, that's you, that's me, not to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but to fix their hope on God who supplies us with all things to enjoy. The all things are material things, the goal is to enjoy, they can never be my hope. Don't be conceited, don't be arrogant, he says, and fix your hope on those things. So the problem is not that things are evil in themselves, it's when I'm trusting in or even desiring them with the belief that they can fill the inner void in my life and bring significance, security, peace, joy, and meaning. And what he's going to do from verse 19 through the end of the chapter, is he's going to teach you and he's going to teach me how to kill the spider of materialism so it will once and for all begin to remove the cobwebs of misplaced priorities.

Now the structure of this is very important, you've noticed in your notes I've put it on the right side. The context is what? It's Matthew 6 verses 1 through 18, and remember he talked about what? He talked about giving, he talked about prayer, and he talked about fasting.

What is the one thing that was true of his teaching about giving, prayer, and fasting? When you pray, when you fast, when you give, don't do it like thee, to be seen of men, but when you do it, do it in secret so your father who sees in secret, here's my point, here's what I want you to get. The context of what we're going to see is two motives.

You can either impress people or you can please God. And then the text will unfold because the question is, well, how do you know what your motives are? I mean, he just told me my motives need to be secret and to pleasing God. Well, how do I know who can know what's in your heart?

Well, in verses 19 through 21, he's going to say, guess what? I will show you a very clear way to know exactly what your motives are. The two motives will reveal two treasures. And then after that, he's going to say, now that you understand that there's two treasures, one eternal and one temporal, I'm going to tell you where those treasures come from, there are two eyes. There's two perspectives about life and then finally those two perspectives will determine two options, two masters.

Let me walk through the passage with you. Okay, Lord, we understand when we pray, when we give, when we fast, we need to do it with the right motive. Your means of protecting our motive is secrecy.

Well, how do we know what our motives are? Here's what he says, verse 19, Matthew 6, do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, the reason where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. Translation, it's a bad investment, but store up for yourselves.

Will you underline the word for yourselves? This is not about deprivation. This is about doing something good for you. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy. And where thieves do not break in and steal for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

And so he just makes a point. He goes, if you want to know what your motives are, it's pretty simple. Where's your treasure? Your money is the greatest, clearest, true revealer of your heart. Our trust always follows our treasure. Our trust, what I believe, is going to come through for me. People whose God is gold always have anxiety.

People whose God is Christ, even in the midst of varied circumstances, can relax. He says there's two treasures. So he says, be smart. Invest your treasures in what's ahead.

And then he says, well, okay, okay, now I can see where my motives are. I'm going to do an acid test of where my motives and heart is. I'm going to look at my treasure and the treasure of money for sure. But I would also say the treasure of my time, the treasure of my energy.

What are the resources? What is the wealth that I have and where do I spend that wealth? That will tell me my true treasure, my true motives. And then there's this kind of interesting passage, I mean really interesting little passage here. And notice what it says. It says, the eye is the lamp of the body.

If your eyes are good, circle the word good, and then above it write the word singular. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, circle bad, and actually then write the word evil underneath that, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness?

Now it's really interesting here. He's going to say the eye is the lamp of the body. And he's using this play on words. And he's going to help you see is that your outlook will determine your outcome. Your perception will determine your pursuits. He's going to say what you and I perceive to be as important is what we will passionately pursue. So I jotted a few thoughts.

A mother, her children. A man, his work. An athlete, his workout. An artist, his art.

A musician, his music. A Christian, his God. He's going to say if you don't know what drives your desires, he says if your eye is clear, the word is haplos, it literally means to be without any folds in it.

In Latin it's translated simplex. It has the idea of simplicity, clear, singular focus. On the contrast from clear, singular, there's two motives.

There's two treasures. Really he's getting down to the eye physically. Wherever the eye goes, the whole body follows, right?

I don't have eyes in the back of my head. Whatever I see, I can see, perceive, make direction. He says your desire, your core beliefs, your passions, your pursuits, what you believe, if it's clear, if it's singular, if it's on God, if it's honoring him, if it's being the man, the woman that you know he wants you to be, he says your whole body will be full of light.

Everything else comes. He said, however, you can have these external things going on in religious activities if your eye is evil, if there's duplicity, if your deep belief is that things and power and status and possessions can deliver satisfaction, meaning, and significance. He says your whole body will be full of darkness. Your eye or desire, if it's clean, healthy, undivided, and godly, your whole life will be directed and affected by God's blessing, power, and presence. It has the idea of undivided loyalty to God, singleness of purpose, if you will.

If your eye focus is bad, your whole life will be infected by darkness and ultimately destroyed. The word for evil here, it's very interesting. It's poneros. It means evil, corrupt, perverted.

It's used for food that has been spoiled or is unsuitable to eat. It's something separated or anti-God. It's translated Matthew 18, 22.

Remember the worthless servant? That's this word. John's gospel contrasts this word. You'll hear it against God's light, God's word, God's work.

In Matthew 13, 19, the article there is added, and the ho poneros is the evil one. And the point I want to make here is simply, at the heart of all these things we're talking about, cobwebs, priorities, time, money, symptoms. He said there's two motives in walking with me. Those two motives lead to your treasure. Your treasure will tell you where your motives are. But what treasure you pursue has to do with your core beliefs, passions, desires. What do you really, really want? What do you believe?

Not what you say, not even what you verbalize, but what do your actions demonstrate is your core pursuit in life. You're listening to Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. And before we continue today's program, let me ask you, are you in a small group? If so, are you looking for a new study to do together this year? Well, join us after Chip's message to learn more about our library of study guides that's sure to help you and your group grow spiritually. Well, let's rejoin Chip now for the remainder of his talk. And then notice what Jesus will say. He says, you can have only one of two masters. It will be either Mammon or him, right after the two eyes.

I mean, it's an amazing thought here. He says, no one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or he'll be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. It doesn't say you cannot have God and have money. It says you cannot serve God and money. The battle in priorities boils down to you either have faith in God and his promises for peace, security, significance, and your passion is relationship with him, or you have faith in things and their power to deliver for your life.

And so what you have here is it is clearly laid out as anywhere in Scripture. This is the issue. Materialism, it's a condition of the heart. How do you go about it? Well, check your motives.

There's some practices. Where's your treasure? It's the revealer. Check then your eye.

Where is it focused? And then finally, your eye will reveal one master or another master. Now here's the question. I mean, this is the question that brings everything we've talked about in the series to a head. Here's the fundamental question.

You'll notice I put it in your notes. It says do not allow the pursuit of material things to thwart your spiritual development. I mean, that's the statement. That's what he's saying.

But then the question is how can we live in a material world without becoming materialistic? I mean, isn't that it? I mean, I got news for you.

There's college tuitions and you save for this and you have house payments. And you know, I've got to rent this. I've got to do that. I've got to buy food. I've got responsibilities. So I live in a material world.

I can't come up to some mountaintop and hear great things about God. Buddy, when I get home, I've got bills to pay. I've got issues. I've got tuition. I've got car repairs.

I've got doctor bills. How do you live in a material world without being materialistic? And you notice, remember when Jesus was talking about spiritual growth and spiritual development, how it happens. And he was talking about the power of God's word. And he says the word of God is like a seed. And the man went out and sowed the seed. And there's four types of soils and the soils are the human hearts. And you know, Satan comes and the hard soil takes it away. And there's the one that sprouts up quickly and then persecution comes and it dies out.

The third seed, remember, it grows up but the thorns grow up around it. And it chokes out the life of truth in your heart and soul. Does anybody remember it's the worries of the world, the deceitfulness of riches. The deceitfulness.

By the way, when your money is messing you up, when your possessions are messing you up, I got news. You don't know about it. That's what deceit means. You know, we read stuff. Oh, yeah, boy, I bet there's some people out there that are really deceived. No, no, you don't get it.

I'm deceived. It's how much. And then that last part. This is why we don't have margin in our lives. Not just the deceitfulness of riches but, he says, and the concern, the worry, the preoccupation with what? Other things. What other things? Other things other than what really matters. He's talking about priorities. And so what I want to do is I want to walk now through verses 24 through 33 and we're going to get the solution.

This is how you kill the spider. And then those priorities and practices and disciplines are how you maintain that relationship of what? Having the right motives.

I want to please God. Of doing what? Looking at treasure as some tug of war?

No. I want my treasure to be an investment where it's going to make the most. So I invest the treasure of my money and my time and my heart and my energy in people, not in things. In doing things that last forever. In loving people rather than using people to get things.

Well, how does it happen? Well, let's pick it up at verse 24. He says, no one can serve two masters.

We've heard that. Either hate the one or love the other. Or be devoted to one and despise the other. And before we go on, because we are Americans, can you just swallow hard? You can't have it both ways, all right?

That's what we want to do. I love God with all my heart and, all right, you can't have it both ways, according to Jesus. You cannot serve both God and money. Therefore, I tell you, therefore, when you see that, what do you mean? Say, hey, hey, I understand this is axiomatic.

This is truth. Therefore, let me give you the solution. Let me help you learn how not to be materialistic.

Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink or your body, what you will wear. And then we get a rhetorical question. Is not life more important than food and the body more important than clothes?

And we would all say, well, yes. Or illustration number two, look at the birds of the air. They don't sow or reap or store away in barns and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them.

And then some logic, application. Are you not much more valuable than they? And it's grammatically in such a way that the answer is overwhelmingly, of course you are. Then, by the way, who of you by worrying can add a single hour to this life? Logical conclusion, let's see, no one.

And then a question, and why do you worry about clothes? Illustration number two, I mean, see the lilies of the field. They don't labor or spin. They're not wiped out. They're not in minivans and SUVs and having bills up to their eyeballs. You know, they're not stressed out. They're not uptight. They don't feel like their life's out of control. They're not taking pills to go to sleep at night and pills to get them up in the morning.

They don't feel like everyone's pulling on them from every direction and there's no way to find some peace and direction. Gosh, that passage really opened up, didn't it? It says, I tell you that Solomon and all of his splendor wasn't dressed like one of these. Now, again, the a priori logic from lesser to greater. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field which is here today and tomorrow is thrown in the fire, will he not much more clothe you and circle this phrase, owe you of little faith?

The issue behind materialism at the core has nothing to do with things or even money. It has to do with faith. It has to do with trust. Do you trust me? Do you trust me to come through for you?

Yes, in the material necessities. But do you trust me to come through for you that you're significant and valuable the way I made you? Do you trust that if you would find my purpose and my role for your life that you don't have to look like that? You don't have to live in that zip code. You don't have to drive that. You don't have to have so many people know you.

Can you trust me that if you do life my way, the deepest things that you long for in your heart, I'm going to give you because I'm good and I love you? That's really what he's getting to. So do not worry saying, what are we going to eat or what shall we drink or what shall we wear? And then just this is more than a mild rebuke for the pagans run after all these things and your heavenly father knows what you need, that you need them. Put a little line under run after because he's going to use a play on words. It means to vigorously pursue. And that verse that we like that's coming up that tells us how to really arrange our priorities where it says, but seek ye first, the word seek, this word is an intensive form of that.

It's the same word. The pagans are seeking, are running, are pursuing after all these things. And his point is, is that you don't look any different than the pagans when you're running after all these things, when your priorities are out of whack, when your relationships are being deteriorated, when you think that things and status and stuff and letters behind your name and kids getting into certain schools and SAT scores being a certain way and vicariously your little league teams of your kids and grandkids winning little championships that you can tell your friends about at cocktail parties. And of course, Christians drink different stuff at cocktail parties depending on what kind of background they come from.

In fact, our cocktail pailers are often in the foyer of the church. Have you heard about my grandson? Yeah, you know, Harvard really didn't quite work out, but we thought MIT would be a good second choice. Yeah, well, did you hear about my daughter? Yes, well, she's in the, of course, she's been doing it for 11 years. How old is she? She's 12. And at one, we put her in the pre-Olympic gymnastic team.

They could see from, they ran tests on her DNA for $100,000 and we could see that she had high side potential. And actually, in the Olympics of 2042, we're expecting a gold medal. And we've rearranged our entire life.

We'll be moving to Houston soon so that, you know, that's where the gymnast, I mean, I'm putting you on. But so help me, you just back that off a little bit and we all play those games. And we think our meaning and our significance and our value is what we've done, what we've accomplished, who we know, what our kids have done. Now, is there a place for a God-honoring sense of accomplishment and pride?

Of course. It's not what it's talking about here. And by the way, when this sucks you in, it's deceitful. This is Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. And you've been listening to part one of Chip's message, How to Escape the Rat Race Forever, from our series, Balancing Life's Demands. Chip will be back shortly to share some helpful application for us to think about. Do you long to get out from under the pressure to do more, have more, and achieve more? In this 10-part series, Chip provides practical biblical steps to help you move your life from chaos to contentment. You'll discover what it means to prioritize your hopes around God's hopes for your life and how to not only put first things first, but keep them there. To learn more about this series, go to livingontheedge.org.

That's livingontheedge.org. Well, Chip's joined me in studio now, and Chip, you know, so much of our lives nowadays is online and virtual, which limits our face-to-face time with others. But here at Living on the Edge, we believe authentic community is vital to every Christian's walk.

I'll take a minute and explain why. Well, Dave, I'll tell you, I don't want to oversimplify, but Jesus said, I came that you might have life and have it more abundantly. At the heart of the Christian life, it's allowing Jesus to live his life through you by the power of the Holy Spirit, rooted in the Word of God in the context of community.

And that little word, bio, means life. And so I've just taken that acronym here, Living on the Edge, and it simplifies it for me. If you want the life of Christ lived out, it means B, you have to get before God daily, and before Him with other people weekly in worship. The I is for in community. You have to do life with people, heart-to-heart, face-to-face, and the O is on mission 24-7. What I've seen so much is people have lost the in community aspect.

It's impossible to obey the Word of God, to experience life by yourself. So what we've done is we've put all of our small group resources on sale to encourage you to get in community. Get with a group of people, watch the videos on your own, then discuss them. Do it live, do it online, do it however it works best, but take the next step, get in community.

You'll never regret it. Thanks, Chip. Well, we have a growing library of small group resources on a wide range of topics, and they're so easy to use. Chip provides the teaching, then you'll have time to discuss what you've heard alongside our helpful study guides. We even offer some insights for leaders to lead their groups well.

So if you're not in a small group yet or looking for what to study next, check out our resources. And as Chip said, for a limited time, we've discounted all our small group resources so you can get into community today. To learn more, go to livingontheedge.org or call us at 888-333-6003. That's 888-333-6003 or livingontheedge.org. App listeners, tap Special Offers.

Here again is Chip to share some application for us to think about. As we close today's message, I wish, I mean, I really wish I could sit down with a cup of coffee, you know, across a small table and just look you in the eye, you look me in the eye, and say, you know, we heard the very words of Jesus. He said there's two motives, there's two treasures, there's two eyes, and there's two masters. And he's either our master or mammon or riches are. And I wish, I mean, at a level of deep accountability, we could just ask one another the hard question, you know, who's really your master right now? I mean, if you looked into, you know, my schedule and my time and my money, what story would it tell?

And if I looked into yours, what story would yours tell? And I believe that of all the areas here in America especially, it's about people that sincerely love God and yet their lives are often out of control and the driving force that's hard to admit. It's the dollar, it's the movement, it's the stuff you got to have, and it's very, very subtle.

It's the deceitfulness of riches. And so as we talk together, I just want to ask you to kind of have a real heart check and ask God to help you be honest with yourself. I can't remember the last time that someone in a Bible study said, you know, I just want everyone to know I'm struggling with materialism and I think it's an idol in my life and would you pray for me?

I mean, this is one of those things that's so close to all of us, it's insidious. And I had a guy recently come up after service and say, I realize that no matter how much I've made, I've figured a way to up my lifestyle and spend more and more and more. And in the last seven months, the best gift from God was I lost my job.

We're on a budget. I've begun to give the first portion to God. I'm in the Bible again regularly. I now understand what really matters. Could it be that some of the hardship that you might be going through is the loving hand of a kind God drawing you back to himself? Why don't you get a good friend since we can't have coffee and talk about that from the heart and then do what God shows you to do?

That's a challenging word, Chip, thanks. As we close, I want to thank each of you who makes this program possible through your generous giving. 100% of your gifts go directly to the ministry to help Christians live like Christians. Now, if you found this teaching helpful but aren't yet on the team, consider doing that today.

Sending a gift is easy. Just go to LivingOnTheEdge.org or call us at 888-333-6003. That's 888-333-6003 or visit LivingOnTheEdge.org. App listeners, tap donate, and let me thank you in advance for doing whatever the Lord leads you to do. We'll listen in next time as Chip wraps up his series, Balancing Life's Demands. Until then, this is Dave Druey saying thanks for joining us for this Edition of Living on the Edge.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-09 05:38:34 / 2024-01-09 05:52:11 / 14

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