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He Holds Me Forever - Teddy Bear Hugs from Above, Part 1

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram
The Truth Network Radio
May 10, 2024 6:00 am

He Holds Me Forever - Teddy Bear Hugs from Above, Part 1

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram

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May 10, 2024 6:00 am

One of the things we know about Jesus, He was practical. He told the disciples to feed a crowd and then provided the food. He taught about grace and then rescued a woman caught in adultery. He taught about serving one another, and then died on the cross, as the ultimate sacrifice. Practical love is powerful. In this program, Theresa Ingram brings a message about the practical love of Christ that meets you right where you are - when you need it the most.

Main Points

We reflect the heart of God as we love one another:

  • We are commanded to love one another. - 1 John 2:7-8
  • Our love for one another is proof that we belong to Christ. - 1 John 2:9-11, 1 John 3:10, 1 John 3:14
  • God's love is poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. - 1 John 4:7-13
  • We are to love others as Christ loved us. - 1 John 3:16
  • Love for others is expressed by actions, not by mere words. - 1 John 3:17-18
  • Love for others is a choice we make, not always a feeling. - 1 John 3:23
Broadcast Resource Additional Resource Mentions About Theresa Ingram

Theresa Ingram has a passion to see women transformed as they learn to see themselves as Christ sees them. Theresa has taught and mentored women in the local church for over 25 years. She is a graduate of Fairmont State University, the mother of four grown children & 12 grandchildren, and resides in San Jose, California, with her husband Chip.

About Chip Ingram

Chip Ingram’s passion is helping Christians really live like Christians. As a pastor, author, and teacher for more than three decades, Chip has helped believers around the world move from spiritual spectators to healthy, authentic disciples of Jesus by living out God’s truth in their lives and relationships in transformational ways.

About Living on the Edge

Living on the Edge exists to help Christians live like Christians. Established in 1995 as the radio ministry of pastor and author Chip Ingram, God has since grown it into a global discipleship ministry. Living on the Edge provides Biblical teaching and discipleship resources that challenge and equip spiritually hungry Christians all over the world to become mature disciples of Jesus.

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Have you ever seen a little child hold their very first teddy bear? It's a touching moment to see that little kid pull that warm, fuzzy stuffed animal into their arms.

It's pure, it's unashamed love. Did you know that God cherishes you and me just like that? Today I'm turning the mic over to my wife Teresa as she talks about that kind of love and how we're to love others with the same tenderness and experience it ourselves. Stay with me. Welcome to this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. We are a discipleship driven ministry on a mission to encourage Christians everywhere to live like Christians. And what a heartwarming picture Chip just painted of God's very personal love for each of us. And as we've learned so far in this series, He holds me forever, nothing can separate us from that love. Today our guest teacher, Teresa Ingram, will help us better grasp that idea.

So if you're ready, let's settle in for her message, Teddy Bear Hugs from Above. This was a time when I was really lonely. And I did okay during the days because they were full. I went to work and so I'd be at work all day and during the week and I was busy with taking care of my kids in the evening and so my days were full. But then the weekends would come and I would just get so lonely. That was the hardest time. I was a new believer and I was just beginning to grow spiritually, just beginning to attend church on a regular basis and I was becoming acquainted with a few Christian people.

But all my friendships were people that I worked with and so all my friends were built around the work week. But when the weekends came and Friday evening came, I had two whole days ahead of me by myself and the reality of being alone, the reality of being a single mom was really hard. It was hard to face and the ache in my heart that I felt at being rejected by my husband, feeling abandoned and no more arms there to hug me and no one to make me feel loved and wanted and no one to tell me that I was important or the focus of their lives. And so I was just, I was so lonely and so much so that it just felt overwhelming at times. And it was on one of those days that I felt that way, that it felt so overwhelming that I cried out to the Lord and I said, Lord, would you just send somebody to my door?

Would you send somebody to visit me? And in about 15 minutes, there was a knock at my door and I thought, whoa, this prayer thing really works. And so there was a knock at the door and I opened it up, well, and there was Edith. And it wasn't exactly the dark, handsome stranger that I thought was going to come and sweep me off my feet. And it wasn't my Prince Charming at my door, but it was Edith. And she looked to be in her 60s and she was a little overweight.

She was very short, but she had a great big smile on her face. And she introduced herself as my next door neighbor. And I found out that Edith was also alone. And she began to tell me as we got to know each other her story and how she had been divorced later in life and how her adult children had taken sides between her and her husband. And now she rarely saw her children and her grandchildren.

So she was really alone. And Edith was a cafeteria worker and she worked in the cafeteria at the college where I was a secretary. And she wasn't exactly what I pictured in my mind to fill up my loneliness, but she was a gift from God because she was a tangible expression of His love to me in a way that I could feel, in a way that I could see that God really did love me.

And so Edith and I became the best of friends and the Lord used me in her life to help her come to know Him as her Savior. And she was a negative person. She could see something negative in any situation that she was in. And so she expressed that all the time. But I watched her and as she grew in her relationship with the Lord, she became the most positive person that you could ever be around. And she was so encouraging to me. And Edith showed God's love to me by spending time with me. And she helped me with my kids. And she made me laugh. And she listened as I shared my struggles with her. And she had an amazing gift to play the piano. And she had never had a lesson in her life. And she played and we sang and we had the best of times, just Edith and I.

And it was an amazing gift to me that God gave to show His love. And Edith's life was not fancy at all. There was nothing about her that would make her stand out in a crowd. She was just a common, ordinary person, ordinary cafeteria worker. And the world won't remember her for any great achievements or any heroic acts.

But you know what? God used Edith in a powerful way to show His love to me and to lots of other people as she grew in the Lord and in a way that I could see, in a way that I could understand God's love. And I just can't wait to see her in Heaven someday because she's with Him now.

And I can't wait to see her. And we're going to have a good time sharing about how God brought these two unlikely people together. And we became the best of friends and the greatness of our Heavenly Father in allowing us to love one another. And so what this lesson is about is loving one another. And I was trying to come up with a title for this message. And all I could think of every time I was thinking of loving one another was teddy bears.

That's the only picture that kept coming to my mind. And I don't know if you've all come up here and walked past all these teddy bears, but they're just adorable. You have to come up and look at all of them. And I've just never outgrown my love for stuffed animals. I love them. And any time I pass them in the store, when I see a teddy bear, I always have to go and look at it. And Chip thinks I'm nuts because I stop at every stuffed animal that I pass because I have to touch it. Because they look so cuddly and so inviting. And you know when a child is sick or when they're sad, many times they're given a teddy bear.

There's just something about how cuddly they are that brings comfort and helps a child feel loved. And so I thought a teddy bear would be a good picture for us to remember of loving one another. We reflect the heart of God when we love one another.

It's a reflection of his heart. And in the book of 1 John, we find out what it means to love one another as children of God. The book of 1 John tells us how it happens.

How does it work? Why are we to love one another? John the apostle wrote this book and he walked with Christ. And he saw Christ. He knew him intimately. And he saw how he lived. He saw how he taught.

He saw how he cared and how he sacrificed for people. And John experienced that love in his own life. And he wrote this epistle of 1 John to help believers come to have an assurance of their salvation, how they knew for sure that they belonged to him, to the family of God. And he wrote this book in very simple words about the basics of the faith. And when he spoke in this letter, he talks about the contrast between darkness and light. And he compares truth with false teaching and eternal life with death.

And he also makes the contrast of a love for God and a love for others with that of the world, a love of the world and a hatred for others. And so we're going to look just briefly at the book of 1 John and make observations about what does it teach us about loving one another. And so the first thing that we see here is that we are commanded to love one another. It's a command given to us by God. In 1 John 2, 7 and 8, he says, Dear friends, I am not writing a new commandment for it is an old one you have always had right from the beginning. This commandment to love one another is the same message you heard before, yet it is also new. This commandment is true in Christ and is true among you because the darkness is disappearing and the true light is already shining. Now in the Old Testament in Leviticus 19, 18, we find the commandment to love one another that was given by God to Moses for the people of Israel. And it says, Never seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone, but love your neighbor as yourself.

I'm the Lord. It was a command given a long time ago by Moses to the people of Israel. And so John is saying here, it's an old commandment.

It's one that you've always had and yet it is new. It's new because Jesus has now come as an example of what true love really is, of what it looks like. He is an example of what it looks like to love others. And it's a love that goes beyond just loving those who love you. You know, it's a love like Christ's love. It's a love that's self-sacrificing. It's a love that's self-giving.

It's a servanthood kind of love. It's the kind of love that reaches out to our enemies and loves those who even persecute us. And Jesus says in Matthew 5, 43 to 48, You have heard that the law of Moses says, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say, Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you.

In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good. And he sends rain on the just and on the unjust too. If you love only those who love you, what good is that?

Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect. And you see, it's that radical kind of love. It's not the kind of love that we can stir up within ourselves. But it's that divine kind of love that comes about as Christ is at home in our hearts. And God says to us that we are to love one another. It's a commandment that he's given us.

It's not an option. The second thing is our love for one another is proof that we belong to him, that we belong to Christ. If we say we belong to Christ and we continually hate someone else, then we need to do some real soul searching to see if we are really in the family of God or not. In 1 John 2, 9 through 11, it says, anyone who says, I am in the light, but rejects another Christian is still in darkness. But anyone who loves other Christians is walking in the light and does not cause anyone to stumble. Those who reject other Christians are wondering in spiritual darkness and don't know where they are going for the darkness has made them blind. And then 1 John 3, 10, so now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the devil.

Anyone who does not obey God's commands and does not love other Christians does not belong to God. 1 John 3, 14, if we love other Christians, it proves that we have passed from death to eternal life, but a person who doesn't love them is still dead. You see, the love that we have for our brothers and sisters in Christ is evidence. It's proof that we belong to God.

It's proof. It shows that we have eternal life. The love expressed through the body of Christ is the greatest testimony of the reality of Jesus that we will ever have in our lives. Jesus says that by this shall all men know that you are my disciples when you have love for one another. This is not saying though, even though we are to love other believers, we are to love one another. It's not saying that we never get angry with someone because we do. And it's not saying that we never dislike the way a person acts. And it's not saying that we have to put up with things that are wrong or damaging to the body of Christ that someone is doing. And it's not saying that we feel a connection with everybody, with every person that we meet, because we won't or we like being around everybody. Because I don't know about you, but I don't.

I don't connect with every person. But what it is saying here is that this love is an attitude of the heart and that we have the ability to love others because of this new life that is in us that has been given to us when we invited Christ into our lives. When the Holy Spirit comes at that moment of salvation, dwells within us, He takes up residence in us for the rest of our earthly lives. And then we begin to take on the nature of God.

We become like Christ. And then we allow the Spirit to have control and we begin to love other people with that radical love, with that God empowered love that's different than the world has to give. It's the kind of love that enables us to love our enemies. It enables us to love the people who persecute us. It allows us to forgive the people who mistreat us. It allows us to love others and not expect anything in return. And it's a love that wants what's best for other people, no matter what the cost may be.

You're listening to Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. Before we hear the rest of our guest teacher, Teresa Ingram's message, let me remind you that we are a listener-supported ministry. Your regular gifts help us create programs like this one, develop new resources, and encourage pastors globally. Prayerfully consider becoming a monthly partner today. Then go to livingontheedge.org to give a gift.

Thanks so much for your support. Well, with that, here again is Teresa. There was a little poem that I read, a short little thing. It said, He drew a circle that shut me out, heretic rebel, a thing to flout. But love and I had the wit to win.

We drew a circle that took Him in. See, it's a radical kind of love. The next thing here is that God's love is poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. 1 John 4, 7 to 13. Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is born of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. God showed how much He loved us by sending His only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him.

This is real love. It is not that we love God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God, but if we love each other, God lives in us and His love has been brought to full expression through us and God has given us His Spirit as proof that we live in Him and He in us. His Spirit is proof and He pours out His love through the indwelling of His Holy Spirit in our lives. In Romans 5, 5 it says, For we know how dearly God loves us because He has given us His Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love. Now, the Holy Spirit fills us, and this means, in other words, that He floods our hearts. He floods us with His love.

And as we surrender our lives to the Holy Spirit's control, we will begin to experience that love and to know and understand it more and understand more the greatness of God's love for us. And the Scripture says that we're flooded with it. Have you ever seen a flood? Well, where I grew up in West Virginia, there was a large creek that ran right in front of our house, and it was also beside the main road that went by. And every spring, nearly every spring, when the storms would come, this stream would begin to rise and we would watch it as it would many times come to the place that it was overflowing its banks and was in the street and sometimes even a part of the little town of Smithfield was underwater. But the flood, as we watched it, it's a powerful thing. It's a powerful flow.

It's a strong force. And we would just watch in fascination at all the things that would go down the road that were taken in the force of this flood. You know, every tree limb, every piece of loose debris that was laying around anywhere floated down the road in front of our house.

And so we stood there with excitement and watched what was going to float down the road in front of our house. But the force of a flood is a powerful thing. It impacts its surroundings.

It changes the way things look. And you can't stop it. It's so powerful.

When God's love is poured out in our hearts, when our hearts are flooded with the love of God, you can't help but love other people. That's just the way it is. Because the force is so strong that it changes the way things look. And it changes how we look at people. It's a powerful thing. And it changes other people's lives as we love them that way. God is the source of our love.

You know, we can't make it happen on our own. But it happens as we grow and spend time with God and His Word and have fellowship with Him. Well, next we are to love others as Christ loved us. 1 John 3.16, we know what real love is because Christ gave up His life for us and so we are also to give up our lives for our Christian friends. Now, one thing I thought was really wonderful about Jesus' life is that He modeled for us how to practically love people.

He did it in a very practical way. And He gave us such a wonderful example to follow. He loved sacrificially, but His love was always looking out what was best for other people.

And He was turning water into wine at a wedding ceremony. His love was practical, was looking out for what is best. You know, it was maybe healing a blind man or taking time to hold a child on his lap or having concern over the people that were following Him and listening to His teaching that they were hungry and He took time to feed them. His love was practical and it always reached out and it always touched other people's lives where they needed it the most. And if we ever have a decision to make, if we are thinking about, you know, whether I should love that person and how could I do it, we need to ask the question, how would Jesus love that person?

And I think it will become really clear how we're to love them. And we aren't called upon much, as this passage says, to give up our lives for someone else. We don't do that much today, but we love as Jesus loved. When we sacrifice our time, when we give of our energy, when we share our possessions, when we use our abilities to serve other people, when we reach out to others in need, then we are giving our lives for our friends. Well, love for others is expressed by actions, not just by words. 1 John 3, 17 and 18.

But if one of you has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need and refuses to help, how can God's love be in that person? Dear children, let us stop just saying we love each other. Let us really show it by our actions.

Let us really show it. Love is a verb. It's an action word. It responds to others' needs when we have the resources to do so. The scripture says love not in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth.

It's an action word. D. L. Moody, who is the founder of Moody Bible Institute, used to say that every Bible should be bound in shoe leather. And I thought that was a really wonderful thing to think about because it's easy to say we love others. You know, it's easy to say how concerned we are and to talk about it, but it's when we actually put shoe leather to it that God's love is truly expressed through our lives. I'm not the kind of person that gets on an airplane and shares my faith. Chip does that all the time. I get so upset with him. Every time he comes home, he has this wild story about how he shared his faith and led someone to Christ on the airplane.

Those things never happen to me. I kind of like to get on the plane and get out my book. That's not Christ-like, though. But this time, of all times, I was sitting with this young man, and he was in the Navy. He was very friendly. We got to talk, and we talked the whole way. And the more I talked, the more he wanted to know about the Lord. And I was amazed.

I couldn't believe it. And I would say a few words, and he would ask me another question. And then I would say a few more. And he would ask me something else. And I just recently mailed him some material. He wanted to know more. And it was the most exciting thing.

And we just had the neatest time. But if I hadn't responded to the Lord and loved the way he wanted me to, that would never have happened. My mom had a heart attack, and it was followed by open-heart surgery. So she was in the hospital clear on the other side of the country. And my dad was there with her, and they don't have a lot of family and friends around them to be supportive of them.

And she was in critical condition, but she was stable at the time. And my dad was staying there at the hospital and sleeping in a chair for two weeks because he was so far away from home, and he didn't have any place to go. And so it was a difficult situation for them. And at the same time, I was really overwhelmed with things that were going on in my own life.

And right when that happened, we had a trip planned to Atlanta, and we were supposed to meet the people at walk-through, and we were supposed to look for a house. And we just had all these things going on, and I was preparing for the retreat, and just so many things happening in my life. And so I was struggling with, what do I do?

How do I respond in this situation? And every day I would call my dad and I would talk to him, and I would tell him that I loved him. And I did this for a few days, but after a week, I just realized that those words felt so empty to me.

They just didn't feel like real love anymore. And so I prayed, and I asked the Lord what he wanted me to do, and he showed me that I needed to go. And so I talked that over with Chip, and we were in Atlanta, and I left Atlanta and went to see my mom and dad. And I put shoe leather to God's truth, to my love for them. And I was so amazed at what God did. I let go of all the things that I needed to do. I didn't find a house, and I didn't do a lot of other things that I was supposed to do, but I did what God wanted me to do, and that was to love as He would love them. And God opened all kinds of doors, and I got to share with my parents and open up the Scriptures with them like I never have in my life.

And so I put shoe leather to my love, and God did a great work. This is Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram, and you've been listening to the first part of our guest teacher, Teresa Ingram's message, Teddy Bear Hugs from Above, from her series, He Holds Me Forever. She and Chip will join us shortly to share some additional thoughts on what we've heard. In these handful of messages, Teresa is highlighting a fundamental attribute of God, His love. She'll explain why people view God as cold and distant, and shed light on the deep-rooted issues that cause people to struggle with their identity. Join us as we better grasp our Creator's deep love and care for us. So if you're wrestling with your self-worth or purpose in life, this series will renew your mind with gospel truth.

You're not going to want to miss a word. Our Bible teacher, Chip Ingram, is with me now in studio. Chip, many of those listening right now wholeheartedly believe in the work and mission of Living on the Edge and are considering becoming a financial partner, but haven't yet because they think their gift is too small or won't make that big a difference.

What would you say to them? Dave, you know, a lot of people think that. But the fact of the matter, it's not just a person giving, say, $10 or $25 or $30 or $50 or whatever they think seems to be insignificant with the huge needs that there are to help people here and around the world.

It's the combined efforts. I mean, think right at this moment. I mean, over a million people are going to list on a radio broadcast, a podcast, or on the app.

I mean, a million people. If just a few thousand, say if 10,000, gave $10 a month, can you imagine what we could do here and around the world? So I just want to encourage some of you who just don't feel like you have enough to give or it wouldn't make much of a difference, would you pray and say, Lord, I will just give whatever you would lead me to give?

And could you know when you do that, it's a lot like the widow's mite. God will honor it, and we'd be very grateful. Thanks, Chip. Well, if joining the Living on the Edge team is an idea that makes sense to you, we'd love to have you partner with us. Your support multiplies our efforts and resources in ways only God can do.

So if you'd like to be a part of that, let me encourage you to become a monthly partner. Set up your gift today by going to livingontheedge.org or by calling us at 888-333-6003. That's 888-333-6003 or visit livingontheedge.org.

App listeners tap donate. Well, with that, here now is Chip and Teresa to share a few final words. Teresa, toward the end of today's teaching, you shared something really powerful where, you know, your mom was in the hospital and you were calling every day and you had this line that really struck me. It felt so empty just to say words and say, I love you. And you felt this compulsion that you needed to act and go visit them and be with them. And you talked at the very end about we don't always feel like doing the right thing, but love demands a real step of action.

I'm wondering, as we think of all the issues going on in the world today, could you give us some practical ways that we could put love into action in this current environment? Yes, we can get so focused on ourselves and how we feel and what I need and what do other people need to do for me. And we do need to care for ourselves. I'm not saying that we don't, but our attitude needs to be about serving other people and loving others. I remember the first Christian book I ever read after I became a believer was all about serving other people and I was hurting desperately and I wanted life to change. But God showed me that one way to help myself even was to begin to look at the needs of other people and to serve them. And as I did that, then I would actually grow in my relationship with the Lord and I would feel better.

It would help me to feel a lot better even in the difficulties that I was in. And I think about Jesus and when He came to the earth and left His heavenly home and all the goodness and perfection of heaven. And so He gave up everything of His heavenly home to serve us and He gave His life.

He sacrificed everything in service for us. And I believe that He desires that we follow in His footsteps and we serve others and love others in the same way that He loved us. One way that we can all work, be practical in this is to think about and be aware of what other people are going through, to be aware of their needs, to think about what can I do to help. And when we're in need, ask for help, but ask for it in a kind way and treat others, just treat others the way that you would want to be treated. And I think doing that, God will show us how practically to live out His love for others. It really is so counterintuitive that even when we're hurting, to take the step and just help someone else, even in a small way, can really turn your day and your life around.

Thanks for that word, Chip and Teresa. Hey, as we close, if you're looking for good Bible content, check out the Chip Ingram app. You can listen to our most recent series or sign up for Daily Discipleship with Chip, a great resource to help you study God's Word at a deeper level. We want you to grow in your walk with Jesus, and the Chip Ingram app will help you do just that. Well, be sure to join us next time as our guest teacher, Teresa Ingram, continues her series, He Holds Me Forever. Until then, I'm Dave Druey, saying thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-10 04:08:05 / 2024-05-10 04:20:14 / 12

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