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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
Resilient people don’t simply look in and try to figure out how do we just make it through? What they have the ability to do is they are going to roll up their sleeves and look out and go, “Who can we love?”
Who can we love? Who are the people that God has put along our paths to be the hands and feet of Jesus? This word look after means to go see a person with helpful intent. It’s actually proactive. I’m going to go see a person. I’m going to go out of my way and my heart and my intent is: how can I help? In what ways can I bring aid and hope to you?
The apostle Paul would say it this way in Galatians 5:6, the only thing that counts, think about this, that’s a big statement. The only thing that counts is faith. Faith is the confidence that God is who He said He is and He will do what He said He will do. Faith, your worship with God, expressing itself through love.
That we are fundamentally, regardless of what the circumstances are, to be a people of love, marked by love.
See, this is just what it means to be a follower of Jesus, no matter what season. The vulnerable, the ostracized, and the invisible. The people we don’t see, the people that we tend to overlook. I think in this season, the invisible is often the homeless and what they are going through.
Invisible might be a neighbor that you just really had no idea what they were going through because we often don’t ask maybe that deeper question and know what is really going on in their life and their struggles. It says, “Roll up your sleeves and love.”
And I think really it’s just what Andy Stanley said so many years ago, “Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone.” See, we get overwhelmed by the needs, we get overwhelmed by the pain around us, and so unfortunately what happens is we end up not doing anything at all.
And so, you can’t do everything for everyone. But you can and I can do something for someone. And if we would lean into that and go, “I’m going to do something, one specific thing, and I’m going to go and get my hands dirty, I’m going to roll up my sleeves and begin to love people,” maybe it’s a phone call. Maybe it’s checking in. Maybe it’s beginning to pray specifically for your neighbors or people that you’re going, God, open my eyes to the needs around me. You’re not going to go far until you run and trip over and God is going to put people along your path to love.
Three spiritual practices of the resilient, of the spiritually mature. There’s this restraining of our words, there’s this rolling up our sleeves and loving, and finally, there’s an engagement of a spiritual detox. Spiritually mature people, resilient people engage in a spiritual detox.
Now, I was training for a triathlon. I was going to do two different triathlons. One that was a shorter sprint and one that was a fuller one. And so, I was getting into rhythm with that, working on my diet, working on my exercise, all these sort of things. And then shelter-in-place hit.
And I’ve got to let you know that everything fell apart. My diet fell apart, my workout regimen fell apart, and it almost felt like, well, why even try? We’re probably not going to be able to do the triathlon and now I know we aren’t going to be able to do the triathlon. And literally, for a number of weeks and maybe you found this to be true as well, is I began to engage in coping or numbing activities that were not actually nourishing my soul, nourishing my mind, or nourishing my body. It had to do with just numbing out to TV.
And it was just one of those things of, like, you’re now home and the fridge is there all the time. And I just found myself just going in and just eating when I was bored and all these sort of things.
And it was only a couple weeks ago, I’m like, I’ve got to adjust, because this is not healthy. And we have to do that spiritually as well. We’ve got to engage in a spiritual detox. Notice what he says about this true religion that God our Father accepts.
He looks after the orphans and widows. And then notice what it says. “…and keeps one’s self from being polluted by the world.” Like there is this active keeping or abstaining to keep yourself from being polluted or tainted by the world.
Now, when James is talking about the world, he’s not talking about the world the way we kind of think about the world. Like, we think about the people in the world. He’s actually addressing what – different biblical authors talk about this in the New Testament and they use the word cosmos, as the world system.
It’s the value and the beliefs underneath this world that are opposed to God and His ways. One author said it this way, “It’s the total system of evil that pervades every sphere of human existence.”
And he’s saying there is this proactive keeping yourself from being polluted by that world system.
And I thought, well, in Jesus’ day, actually, just prior to Jesus, there was this big undertaking to take the Hebrew Scriptures and translate it into Greek, because so many people spoke Greek in that day. It’s called the Septuagint. And so, I was curious, was this the actual Greek word that the writers then used to translate the Hebrew word here guard? And it is, in fact.
And so, it says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” He says, “Keep one’s self,” James is making this clear connection between Proverbs 4:23 and right here. Guard your heart, keep one’s self from being polluted – there are things that want to contaminate and that will actually kill your joy, that will kill your peace, that will kill your life. Keep yourself from being polluted by those things.
Well, the question is, well, how do we engage in a spiritual detox? Well, first, we’ve got to identify the toxins in your world. What are the things that are contaminating? What are the things that are polluting?
John would say it this way, if you want to flip over just a few pages to 1 John. 1 John 2, verse 15. He says, “Do not love the world,” that’s that world system, “or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.”
It’s like you can either love what is going on in the world and the things of this world or love God. There is not this in between land. And so many of us try to live in the in between. He says you can’t.
And then he goes, “For everything in the world,” and he gives three areas, “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires will pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”
And he begins to unpack this. Lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life. That there are these things that are like these sirens calling saying, “These will provide happiness. These will provide meaning. These will provide significance and security.” And it is calling you and drawing you away from your purpose and your relationship with your heavenly Father.
The lust of the flesh is this calling, this siren of possessions. It’s materialism and consumerism and we get so consumed with keeping up with the Joneses, with driving just the right things, or wearing just the right things, and looking and being in shape and making sure we post at the Instagram or it’s so envious of how everyone else is living and looking at their travel things and going, “Well, I don’t get that.”
Or the lust of the eyes and this whole idea of pleasure or autonomy or your freedom to do and be whatever you want to be.
The boastful pride of life is we pursue power, we pursue platforms and prestige. Now we talk about it, being an influencer. And you have to identify the toxins, just like you would if you’re going to do a detox with food – what are the toxins that I’m going to take out and then what am I going to put in?
And so, identify the toxins in your world, then begin a daily habit of clean thinking. Begin a daily habit of clean thinking. The apostle Paul in Romans chapter 12 would say it this way, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world.” Same word here. The world system. The values.
That word conform literally means to be molded or shaped. Don’t allow the world systems and values and ideology to mold you and compress you and to form you. Instead, he says, “But be transformed,” that’s the Greek word metanoia, where it literally is that metamorphosis reality.
“Allow yourself to be transformed” – how? “by the renewing of your mind.” See, what you put into your mind is of principle importance. Every day you have a decision: what will I put into my mind? And whatever you put into your mind, you become eventually.
And we have to be so careful. As parents, we have to be so careful of guarding what we allow our kids, put into their mind. And as parents, we have to be so careful what we put into our mind.
As young adults and not so young adults, you never grow out of this. It says, would you begin a daily habit of clean thinking?
And frankly, I get really nervous when I hear what followers of Jesus who say, “I’m a follower of Jesus, but I’m watching this show.” Like, you know what? “The violence and the sex and the” – ooh, there’s another one that always – oh, “the language doesn’t bother me.” Well maybe it doesn’t bother you, but could it be because you have allowed those things to form you? We get used to pollution that we don’t even notice it and we just accept it as the normal reality. And he says no, no, no. Do not conform.
And begin to get God’s Word in your mind so that you can understand what is true and what is good. He says, “Then you’ll be able to test,” this is Romans 12, the end part of 2, “then you’ll be able to test and approve.” Like your life will experience and be able to demonstrate God’s will.
What is God’s will? “His good, pleasing, perfect will.” See, one of the great lies when we are talking about this is that God is somehow trying to keep you from fun and holding out. And there’s all these other areas and if you dive into those areas, that’s real life. No, no, no, no. God’s trying to keep you from harm and He wants the very best for you.
When I was a boy, we went to visit my aunt and uncle in Kentucky. And they had an Atari. And we didn’t grow up with video games and so this Atari was like the coolest thing ever. And I remember seeing the Atari and it was like, Oh my goodness. And I started playing and my brothers and I were playing on this.
And then the whole family was going to go out and I didn’t really know where they were going or what they were doing and they just said, “Hey, we’re going to go out. Why don’t you come with us?” I’m like, I’m loving playing the Atari. I just, “No, I’m just going to stay here.”
And I remember, the time they were gone, I’m just playing all the different games that they had. And then they walk in the door and someone is carrying this really big stuffed animal. And I looked up and I was like, “Where did you guys go?” “Oh, we went to a carnival.” “A carnival?” “Yeah!”
And then they began to tell me about all the things and the funnel cake and the rides and all the stuff that they experienced. And I was like, “Oh my goodness.” Had I known I was missing out on the carnival; I would have said no the Atari! Because the carnival was way cooler and the stories they were telling me, I’m like, Man, I don’t want to miss out on that.
And that’s how we live. We settle for things because that’s what we know. And, yet, the reality is is God says, I have something so much better for you here. C.S. Lewis picks up on this in his quote in The Weight of Glory. He writes, “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered. Like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in the slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
God loves you. He wants the very best for you. He is not holding out. And so, would you engage in a spiritual detox where you go, You know what? I’ve been watching movies I shouldn’t be watching. I have been on social media and it’s just contaminating. In fact, there are some friendships that are actually polluting right now and engaging in conversations that aren’t there.
And you begin to experience and be renewed and experience His good and pleasing and perfect will. See, this is what resilient or mature people do. This is how they respond. They bite their tongue, they love people well, and they engage in this spiritual detox.
And you’re going, Well, where do I begin? How does that help me today? And here’s what I would say. Take that and reverse the order. Take that and reverse the order. And so, today, would you begin a spiritual detox this week. Where you would begin to go, Okay, what am I going to stop allowing into my mind and into my heart? There’s a stopping. And I’m going to begin to get into God’s Word. I’m going to start playing worship music and get my heart and mind there.
And then roll up your sleeves and love someone. Spiritual detox and then roll up your sleeves and love someone. And here’s what you’ll find. Here’s what you’ll find is your tongue will be an indicator of the condition of your heart. And you’ll begin to see, Oh, you know what? I was able to hold that. You know what? I’m able to see these things and God is beginning to form and change me. And it’ll be an indicator of you seeing, Oh, God, You’re actually changing my heart because I would have responded this way. And, look, I was able to withhold that moment.
God, I just ask that in this moment as we respond to your Word, we wouldn't just be hearers of the Word, like we talked about last week, but we would be doers. God, I ask that there would be a specific next step for each person to take that you would give them the courage to do it no matter how hard it is. And that you would make us mature and complete. That you would make us resilient so that we can love people well and we can be Your hands and feet to a hurting a broken world. In Jesus' name, amen.