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About this series
Withstanding the Storms of Life
What’s the key to standing strong in the storms of life? How do we keep getting up no matter how many times the waves of trial and discouragement knock us over? One word – Resilient. Chip and Ryan Ingram team up on this series from James, Chapter 1, to remind us that God has given us all the resources we need to come out on top, regardless of what’s going on. If you’re looking for inner strength and outward power to withstand the toughest of circumstances, “Resilient” provides the guidance you need, to not give up or give in.More from this series
Watch over your heart. How? With all diligence. Why? For from it flow all the issues of life. And so, he says you have to cultivate the seed of God’s Word in your heart. And so the question becomes, right? How do we wholeheartedly cultivate God’s Word within us?
Verses 22, 23, 24, and 25 are going to tell us exactly how to do that. Are you ready? Number one, we must specifically apply God’s Word to our lives.
Okay, now, let that sink in. It doesn’t say you must read the Bible. It doesn’t say just listen to the Bible in the car. It’s not about just exposure. It’s we must specifically apply God’s Word to our lives. There is a need. This is what God’s Word says. Here’s a sin. This is what God’s Word says. Here’s a problem. This is what God’s Word says. This is a relationship. This is what God’s Word says. This passage says if you want to be a joyful, winsome Christian who is not deceived, whose life changes, if you want power – whatever God’s Word says about that, do it and you’ll experience it.
Notice – why? Because exposure without application is self-deception. Exposure without application is self-deception. Anyone who listens to the Word, if you have downloaded the notes, underline the word listen. And this is an interesting word. It means just to glance at. This isn’t looking deeply. This is just glancing at it. “…listens to the Word but doesn’t do what it says, is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror.”
Now, during this time, mirrors were not made out of glass. They were made out of metal and they weren’t super clear. And so, if you really wanted to get a good look at yourself, you had to really gaze and stoop down and get a good look.
But this is the person who just gazes at the mirror and notices, oh, there’s a hair out of place or there’s dirt all over my collar. But it’s just a quick glance and then they go on. They go away, immediately forget what they look like.
Most of us don’t do that. In fact, especially, my wife and I were talking about this and yesterday she was saying, “You know, I never really got that illustration because especially as a woman, when I look in the mirror, if there’s something wrong, I want to fix it, right? My lipstick isn’t quite right or there’s a hair sticking up or, oh my gosh.
You know, what I mean, when you look into a mirror, most of us really want to address it. The illustration came to my mind, I don’t know if this happens to you, let’s say you get a text from someone, you’re really busy, and you see it’s a text and it’s an important person. It’s someone you really care about. And you just look at your phone and you just glance at it quickly. You don’t read it all that carefully, and you say to yourself, Oh, wow, that’s an important person. I’ll text them back. I’ll get to that later.
Now, maybe none of you have done this. And then, like three days or four days or five days and maybe you’re lying in bed or you just wake up and this is an important person. And you realize, Oh my gosh, I didn’t even text them back. And I remember there was a question and I don’t remember, but it seemed like it was really important. I totally blew them off.
How do they feel? Well, what has really happened? That’s kind of the picture here. This is a picture of someone who comes to a meeting of God’s people,
Then they leave. There is no sense of, God, what do You want me to do? Lord, search my heart. Father, how could I have violated that and offended You or offended someone else? Oh, I never saw that. Me, deceived? I thought things were great. Do you get the idea?
I remember years ago, I found it in some old notes. And this was, oh gosh, maybe fifteen years ago. Maybe more. And there was a group that had done a study that basically said that seventy-one million people in America claim to be followers of Christ.
And then they did further studies to say, wow, that’s very interesting because in terms of morality, behavior, finances, character, only about one in ten of those people who claimed to be believers live any different than the people who don’t claim to be believers.
And I remember, this will date me, but if you hear this name, you ought to read some of his stuff, it’s amazing. Francis Schaeffer was a theologian, philosopher, started a group called L’Abri in Switzerland and skeptics and intellectuals from all around the world would come and he created this place of dialogue and where you would just live out the faith and people could come with any questions.
And I remember getting to hear him. I actually wrote one of my master’s thesis based on the trilogy of core books that he wrote. And I remember he made this statement, it must have been about 1976, ’78. He said, “Christianity in the United States currently,” this is 1976, “appears to be all but bankrupt.”
In other words, it so doesn’t resemble the life of Christ. It is so filled with either religion or rules or compromise, a lack of love. These radical core messages of Jesus are sort of like on a salad bar. Love your enemies? Nah, I don’t think so.
Sexual purity? No, that’s not in. Love one another, meet as a group, have some…
He just said the authority of God’s Word and believers sensing that submission to what He says is a non-negotiable, because He is God, because He’s the Savior of the world, because He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. And whether it’s willfully now or someday later, every single person who has ever lived will bow the knee before the Lord Jesus Christ. And every tongue will confess that He is in fact Lord to the glory of God.
And some – I don’t know what happened, I really don’t. And at Living on the Edge, my heartbeat, the ministry sort of as a missionary to America and around some places of the world, it’s helping Christians live like Christians every day in every way, everywhere for the glory of God and for the good of all mankind because the people that helped me become a follower of Christ, they lived it out.
It was a bricklayer. He wasn’t eloquent. In fact, the Bible studies were just downright boring. But I had never seen a man love his wife or date his wife. I had never seen a father invest in his kids. And I got to see the arguments and I lived with them at times, I lived in a garage apartment in the back, I worked for him.
I saw a man that would, he was a bricklayer, and I still remember building, it’s called a footer. When you’re going to do a house you have to put in a footer and then after you do that, you put these haydite blocks.
And it was out like a half and inch on one area. And it would have passed inspection and all the rest. And I remember him walking through. And with his foot kicking down all those haydite blocks that I had carried and I had mixed all the mud. “Dave, what are you doing? What are you doing, man? What are you doing?” He goes, “It’s out of square.” And I said, “Yeah, only that much. I mean, give me a break.”
And I’ll never forget, he looked at me and he goes, “Chip, you don’t understand. I don’t make this house and build this foundation for you or the inspectors. Whatever I do, it’s my offering to God and I’m not going to give Him second-rate anything.”
And what I want you to know is that being around Dave, it wasn’t his cool Bible studies, it was after a few years, I wanted to be a man of God like Dave, I wanted to be a husband like Dave, I wanted to be a dad like Dave. And it all went back to this reverence for God’s Word, this sense that it’s not casual. This isn’t an option.
I watched Dave, after all these years, still having all these little cards that I started doing and I watched him live it out and then I watched him when he blew it. And he’d kind of humbly say, “I messed up and would you forgive me?”
See, there is power in the authenticity of walking with God and obeying His Word. What he was doing was he was humbly receiving the Word implanted and over the years and over the years and over the years then God birthed fruit in his character, but then He also birthed it in ministry. Dave is still a bricklayer. Dave is still helping out on colleges. And Dave has got to be eighty now.
And he is helping Chinese Ph.D. students. And he’s got a high school education. And he has them in his home and he loves them. And whatever he needs to learn so he can talk to them, I have watched him do this, are you ready? I have watched him do this for over thirty years. It’s just amazing.
But he’s a Christian that lives like a Christian. And Dave has no sense that there’s pastors and clergy and other people. I learned from him all of us are full-time ministers of the gospel.
And so, he tells us that exposure without application brings death. It kills our relationship with God; it kills the power. In fact, one of my profs had a great line. He would say, “The problem with most Christians is they are like a photograph: overexposed and underdeveloped.”
And Prof always had those great ones. And what he was really saying was, overexposed, “Oh, I heard this podcast. I heard this podcast. Oh, did you hear this teacher? Oh, did you know what is happening here? Oh, I read this book. So-and-so says this. Oh, I…”
I’ve got news for you. God would be a lot happier with you reading three verses and obeying all three verses today than reading three hundred verses and going, “Hm, that’s nice.”
See, the organ of transformation in God’s kingdom is not knowledge and it’s not just cognitive. It’s obedience. In fact, notice, number three, because immersion with application brings freedom and transformation.
Look at the text. “But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom and continues to do this, not forgetting what he heard, but doing it, he will be blessed in what he does.” Notice what he says. “The man who looks,” this is a different word. This is for pausing, stooping, gazing clearly into it.
What does he gaze into? He doesn’t gaze into his own heart or his own feelings. “How do I feel about me? How do I feel about God? Do I feel close to God? What do others think?” In other words, there’s a standard of truth. What does the Scripture say? See, I don’t meet with God every day because I think I get brownie points on a refrigerator. I meet with God every day because I know the deception of my own heart and that I need the Word of God to purify my mind and my thinking.
And see, when you look into a mirror, what’s a mirror? A mirror is a source of evaluation, isn’t it? You look in a mirror and you evaluate. Well, looks good, doesn’t look good. I need to touch up here. Missed a spot here.
Well, the Word of God is a source of evaluation, but it doesn’t tell you how you look on the outside. It tells you how you look on the inside. It judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
You might jot down a verse and it’s worth memorizing. Hebrews 4:12, “For the Word of God is living and active and sharper than a two-edged sword and piercing to the division of both joint and marrow. It’s able to judge the thoughts and intentions of our heart.” It’s powerful.
And so, he looks intently to the perfect law, God’s Word, that gives freedom. Freedom – what? Not freedom to do whatever you want. Freedom not to sin, freedom to look to be all that God made you to be. Freedom to have joy in every circumstance. Freedom to be the man or the woman that God wants you to do.
Then notice he looks into it, he continues to do it, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it. And then notice, he will be blessed. He’ll have God’s favor.
I pulled out those words and looking intently, you know what that is? That’s me reading, or like in the first century why it says, “Those who listen.” Most of the people were illiterate. And they would hear God’s Word over and over, they would repeat it to one another. They were oral learners.
And most everyone in the Church would have all the books memorized. And then they would meditate on it. And notice, “Continues to look at it.” That’s, okay, I looked at it, I read it, now I’m going to continue to meditate and ponder. The reason that I memorized these verses is so that when I’m in the car, I can meditate. When I’m waiting in line, I can meditate. I can begin to think about: where is God speaking to me?
And as you memorize Scripture and you don’t forget it, the Holy Spirit will then begin to pull it, answer to prayer, piece of wisdom, do this, don’t do that, protection here.
If you have never done this, you would just be amazed. All the research, you meditate on God’s Word, heartrate, blood pressure. Physically, physiologically. When I started memorizing Scripture very, very seriously, your mind is like a muscle. I was shocked at how sharp my mind became as I memorized a few hundred verses and then some short chapters and then a few short books. And how I would go into a class and I would listen and, gosh, I think after my junior year, I never got a B. And it wasn’t because I was so smart, it was literally God refined my mind in a way that I could take in information and retain it.
He wants to bless us in every area of our lives, but notice the key is application. You do it. And then you’ll experience His favor, His happiness in your heart, satisfied.
And so, I summarize sort of where we’re at in this series. In summary, in the midst of difficult circumstances, first twelve verses; and powerful temptations, verses 13 to 18; and emotionally challenging relationships, 19 to 21 the man or woman who regularly feasts on God’s Word by listening, reading, studying, memorizing, and meditating for the purpose of obeying what it says, will be set free to become the joyful, winsome, loving person he or she longs to become with God’s hand of favor upon all that you do. What a promise.
As I close, I don’t know what to say other than I have been asked by a lot of people, “Would you teach me how to do that?” How do you get into the Bible where you hear God’s voice?
I was just from memory, I paused and I thought, are you ready? Just lean back, will you? I just jotted these and just in the bottom of my Bible as I thought over the years of the power of God’s Word. 1 Peter 2:2, “Like newborn babes long for the pure milk of God’s Word, that by it you may grow with respect to your salvation.”
2 Timothy 3:16 and 17, “For the Word of God,” what? “It’s God breathed and it’s profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness that the man or the woman of God would be fully or adequately equipped for every good work.”
1 Peter 1:23, “For we have been born again by the Word of God.” Then he goes on to say, “The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the Word of God endures forever.” Jesus’ own words, “Man will not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”
Jesus would say to a group of Pharisees in John 8:32, “For those of you who have believed on My name, if you abide in My Word then you will know the truth and the truth will,” you know the rest, don’t you? “…set you free.”
I thought of the great people in Scripture and their relationship with God’s Word – here’s what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to get you to where you would say, “You know something? More than my phone, more than TV, more than Netflix, more than my breath I am going to make God’s Word what I listen to, what I read, what I study, what I meditate, what I memorize.”
And what I will tell you, you will receive power. You will receive power. Issues, addictions, struggles, temptations – you are never going to be perfect until He comes back, but you will receive power.
Moses, in his farewell, he sends them into the Promised Land. He says, “Take to your heart all these words, which I am speaking to you today, for they are not an idle word, they are your life. And by this Word you shall possess the land that you’re going into.”
Joshua was going in in chapter 1 of Joshua. And God says to him, “Joshua, this Book of the Law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you should meditate on it day and night that you might be careful to do according to all that is written therein. For then you will have success and then you will prosper. Be strong and courageous. Don’t tremble. Don’t be dismayed because the Lord your God is with you.”
I think of Ezra who said, “He set his heart to study the law of the Lord and to practice it and teach its ordinances in Israel.” I just want you to know, whether it was David, “If Your Word had not been my delight,” Psalm 119, “I would have perished in my affliction.”
All through Scripture, men, women, they hang onto the Word of God because the Word of God is powerful.