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About this series
I Choose Hope
How to Face Your Future with Confidence
We all hope in something or someone. The question is: Will your hope deliver? In uncertain times, hope can waver. Families are under assault, the global economy is tenuous, and violence is on the rise. Is it possible to live confidently in such alarming times? In this series, from the book of Philippians, Chapter 3, Chip explains what God has to say about our future and our fears. He'll teach us how we can face tomorrow, and each day that follows, with certainty and hope that never fails.More from this series
Hope is the mental and emotional attitude that life is good, that the future is promising, and that progress is absolutely certain, even in the midst of challenging circumstances and difficult people.
In other words, you wake up in the morning and most parts of the day, as you are relating to people, as you think about work, in your responsibilities, there is this buoying up inside that life is hard, but it’s good! The future is uncertain, but it’s promising because God is in control. I just sang, I’m not going to trust in any sweetest frame, no other person. God is going to come through. I just don’t know how.
And progress is absolutely certain. He made this promise: “He who began a good work in me is going to complete until the day He comes back.” Regardless of the difficulty and the challenges, that everybody has difficulties. Everybody has challenges. But I have a hope. I have an anchor to my life. That’s what we are talking about in hope.
Three things. One: wherever we put our hope will determine what we worship. Wherever my hope is, if I think it’s work that’s going to come through, if I think it’s this person who is going to come through, if I think fame is going to come through – wherever I put my hope, I worship.
Second is: false hope always ends in pride or despair. When I put my hope in something or someone that doesn’t have the ability to come through, either I get a bit arrogant when I make some success or it’s despair because life isn’t working.
We found that false hope is almost always focused on external things. True hope is always about internal things. False hope is what I can accomplish; true hope is about what has already been accomplished by Christ for me.
And, third, we learned that true hope is rooted in relationship and it results in joy and endurance. I think joy is way underrated. C.S. Lewis said, “Joy is the serious business of heaven.” Jesus, on the very last night, after they had gone through everything and He is in this vineyard and He is talking about a deep connection with Him by abiding in Him and the kind of rich relationship, regardless. He has already told them it’s going to be tough.
And He says, “These things I have written to you that My joy might be in you,” the joy of Christ, “and that your joy might be full,” or, literally, “overflowing.” See, real hope produces a joy when the external circumstances are going, “No way.”
So, here’s what I want to ask you. Okay? A lot of what I am going to say, for many of you that have been around for a while, it’s like you know these things, okay? The issue isn’t: do you know them? The issue is: are you experiencing them?
And, so, I am going to ask you to do a little something. This is very private. Don’t write anything down. But I want to ask you: what relationship or what circumstance just right now, just where you’re seated today, it doesn’t have to even be a huge, big thing. But it feels hopeless. Just in your life, it just feels hopeless.
It might be just an area of your marriage – it feels hopeless. It might be something at work and a supervisor or a frustration or a project. It might be one of your kids that you’ve tried, tried, tried, tried. I don’t know what it is, but what I want you to get your arms around, we are going to talk about how the Spirit of God wants to take the truth of God’s Word and help you not know about hope but experience it.
One of the best ways is to start with: Where do I feel a little hopeless? Have you got it? You need to get that in your mind.
And I’m not saying it’s true, but it’s how you feel. And your feelings influence how you respond. The big question I want to ask and answer with you today is this: How do we experience true hope in everyday life? Monday morning. Saturday night. Tuesday, in the midst of a meeting. Thursday when a project is not going well. Friday when your kid is sick. How do you experience hope in everyday life?
The answer is Philippians chapter 3, verses 10 and 11. And there’s an important context. If I would read what I am going to read to you and if I knew, historically, like Paul – this hater of the Church, this persecutor, this murderer, this super religious guy, totally out of touch with God, just came to Christ – and he had been a Christian six months and was all fired up, I would read this one way.
But what I am going to read to you is the apostle Paul, former Saul, thirty years after his conversion. This is what he says after he has been beat up more than a few times, where he has been left in the ocean, he has been left once for dead already.
His life, this is the guy that was the rising star of Judaism. So, he’s a Roman citizen, city of Tarsus, he has wealth, reputation, education from the Stanford, MIT, Yale of his schools. He has got it all and this is how he is viewing life. Have you got it now? Thirty years later, here’s the passion that is pumping through this guy’s spiritual veins.
He says, “What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing value of” – what? “knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Will you underline that? This is his hope. The prestige, the power, the wealth, the influence – all of that I consider a loss now in comparison to a deep, personal, intimate relationship with Christ.
“…for whose sake I have lost all things.” And here’s our accounting term, “I consider them garbage,” or, literally, “dung, that I might gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes through the law, but that which is through faith in Christ.” Circle faith in Christ.
Memo to people who like to skip ahead: faith is going to be the key to moving from hope that I actually possess to hope that I experience.
It’s the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. Now here are verses 9 and 10 where he now just zooms in about his consuming passion and the source of his hope. “I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
I want you to understand exactly what he means and then I’ll talk about what it really means to us.
What he is saying is: I don’t want the intellectual knowledge about God. I don’t want facts. I don’t want data. I want a deep, personal, intimate relationship with God the Father through the Person of Christ.
In fact, the Hebrew word, when it’s translated in this passage, if a Hebrew was translating this, he would use the word yada. And the word yada was when God is speaking about Adam and Eve and it says, “Adam yada-d Eve, and she gave birth to a son.”
He takes the most intimate moment in the relationship between a man and a woman, the culmination of communication of the spirit, mind, and body and he says, “I want to have the kind of intimacy with the living God that a man and a woman who are unashamed and come together, physically. He says, “That’s the depth; that’s the level.”
And then, grammatically, basically it would be: “I want to know Christ namely. Now I am going to give you three phrases that identify how you experience this kind of intimacy.”
First, namely, the power of His resurrection. Now, he’s not talking about someday, someway after he is resurrected with Christ. He is talking about the operational power, the supernatural power in daily life. Life-changing power over guilt, life-changing power over addictions, life-changing power over the way he used to think, life-changing power to forgive the people and to receive God’s forgiveness and to experience the very living Christ inside of him.
He says, “That’s how I want to know Him.” I want to know Him so that every day is different than any other day because the living Christ lives in me. The same power that rose Him from the dead dwells in me; I want to experience that.
Second, I also want to know Him intimately through something that most of us don’t want and we would never welcome, but it’s a reality – the fellowship of His suffering. The word koinonia, we have a koinonia class, it means “to participate in,” “to associate with,” “to share,” “oneness,” “communion.” It has this idea of a a connection with someone that, as you are going through something, they are with you. They are with you all the way.
And the ups and the downs and the struggles and what you know, the people that you are closest to in all the world are the people that you have been through some huge, difficult, painful thing and you supported each other on the journey. And he is saying: In my life, if the suffering comes from without, if it comes from persecution, if it even comes from within, I want to experience the very presence and the comfort and the enabling of Christ in the midst of that.
And, third, he uses this word, “becoming like Him in His death.” Morphe – You know what the word morphing means? It means to change intrinsically from the inside out. What he is saying is: I want an intimate, deep relationship. I don’t want to know about God. I want to experience Him. And I want to experience Him with a level of power and energy and impact that transforms me and I see things happen that have no human explanation and I want to experience Him in the lowest and the hardest and the most painful things of life so that I am actually morphed, or transformed from the inside out. How? Into the likeness of His death.
And you say, “Whoa, what do you mean by that?” Well, what was the likeness of His death? Jesus came to the point, “Father, I do nothing unless You say.” He comes to the very end of His life and He prays, “Lord, if there is a different way, rather than going to the cross, let’s go with that plan. Nevertheless, not my will, but Yours.”
Paul is praying, I want to be so transformed in an intimate relationship with Jesus that when my Gethsemanes come and I have to make a crossroads decision about: I so want to do it this way. Or, I so want to cheat just a little. Or, I so want to…I will say, “Not my will, but Yours be done.” Because he would come to the point where he would be so changed that he would actually believe that a good, kind, loving all-powerful, sovereign God that would be for his best, regardless of the front-end cost.
And, so, “Somehow,” hear the “somehow?” He’s not doubting whether he is going to be resurrected. So, “Somehow to attain to the resurrection from,” put a circle around from and write the little word out of. It’s a little Greek preposition.
He is saying, I know that all people of all time are going to be resurrected. The good or the righteous and the unrighteous will be resurrected. He said, “Out of that general resurrection,” he says, “I want to be reminded that whether you come back or whether I die,” because, remember, he thinks he is going to get executed or might be. He says, “Out of that resurrection, to the final end, that my faith in knowing You would turn to sight and it would be forever.” That’s what he is teaching.
I want to flesh out: how do we experience this intimate relationship with Jesus in everyday life for you and me? And I am going to suggest that Paul has said, This is what I want, namely that there are three things that we must know and progressively, underline progressively. This isn’t overnight. This is like this morning, early, I was in my study reviewing everything and I was reading a psalm that talks about your descendants and then walking in righteousness.
And three of my grandkids really, really just, they just came to my mind and I just, it was like, I’m going to go out of town tomorrow. I just have to see them. So, I got up and ran them doughnuts and – grandfathering is a big plus.
So, I went to the little doughnut shop and I drove over to my daughter’s house and knocked on the door and came in and I had a little bag for them and a little bag for them and coffee for my daughter and her husband. And just fifteen, twenty minutes.
But it was this: I just want to be with them. I just want to experience life with them. And I long for them to experience what God has for them.
And, so, but when I was there, my little one grandson, he just learned to walk about two and a half weeks ago. We went from: is he going to make it? And it was like…you know? He gave me this. He knows “doughnut” already!
And all you health food people, I eat very healthy normally. When you’re a grandparent you get to do this stuff. My daughter can feed them healthy stuff all the time. I’m bribing them. Sort of.
Here’s what I want you to get – as you listen, I asked you to plant in the back of your mind: where do you feel hopeless? I want you to begin, now, to take that thought as I walk through. How can you progressively experience the power of His resurrection? How can you progressively, in the midst of this, experience Him in your suffering? And how can, in the process, you can come to, even before we walk out of this room, a sense of morphing and changing that, even if you can’t see it – by the way – hope, you can never see. It’s a certainty of things unseen.
That you would say, Lord, not my will but Your will. Because I am going to trust in what I can’t see – You, Your power, Your love for me.
And, so, with that he says, “What is the power of His resurrection?” How, exactly, do you experience that?
What the apostle Paul did in verses 10 and 11 is he gave you the overarching big issues of how to have an intimate, personal relationship with God through Jesus. But his teaching through all the epistles is just filled with explaining these phrases. So, what I thought I would do is each time I’m going to give you his theology of resurrection power, and then I’ll give you his experience.
Then I’ll give you his theology of suffering and then his experience. Because as you see both those things, guess what you’re going to do – you’re going to go, “Aha. I got it.”
The way the apostle Paul is going to teach us that we experience the resurrected power is out of our weakness.
Romans 8, verse 11 says, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”
In other words, the same power that raised Christ from the dead, when you turned from your sin, asked Christ to forgive you, come into your life – the same power, the same Spirit lives inside of you. So, you should expect supernatural things to happen.
And then what he’s going to say is: But the way those supernatural things happen is a recognition that what you need is His strength or you need His power in the midst of your weakness. Most of us – just our mental, human, fleshly bent – is that I’m going to make it by what I do and this is what I can accomplish.
He’s going to say the flip with God is it’s when you come in humility and admit you can’t. The twelve-steppers have a lot to teach us on that one. Bill Wilson, by the way, was a believer. Anybody know what the first step is?
“I’m absolutely powerless. I can’t do this. I can’t overcome this addiction.”
Well, guess what, you can’t overcome forgiving someone either. You can’t overcome your fear of failure. You can’t overcome your family of origin. You can’t overcome your fear about the economy. You can’t overcome what’s going to happen to your kids. Right? Can you really?
So, what the apostle Paul is, he has this difficult situation, three times he prays. God says, “No. No. No.” And then in 2 Corinthians chapter 12, notice what he says.
God, you have said no to me when I have asked You to remove this difficulty,” this tribulation, some physical issue, “therefore, I am well content with weakness, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties,” did you notice they are all plural? “…for Christ’s sake.” Why? “For when I am weak, then I am strong.”