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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
The apostle Paul said, “I knew all about God. I had it all memorized! I kept all the rules. I was morally pure. I fasted the right days, I went to the temple, I sacrificed. If you can get there on your own, I was over here.” But what does he say? “I count it,” the word is garbage in one translation, it’s dung in another translation. It’s just a really graphic word.
He said, “I look at all the junk, all the self-effort, all the religiosity compared to intimacy and life and grace and power and the transformation. Over here, I was a slave to religion. I’m a son of God! I was a slave!” And when you try to earn it on your own, you get arrogant and anyone who doesn’t disagree, you take them out. So he tried to take out the Church. And then Jesus revealed Himself. “The surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”
And then he doesn’t say, this is very interesting, notice in your text. He doesn’t say, “For whose sake I lost all of that.” He changes the word. “…whose sake I have lost all things.” Now, you’ve got to understand. Let’s not make this like Bible world.
This is a guy that is a Roman citizen. He comes up in Tarsus. There’s the elite, the Harvard, the Yale, the Stanford of his day. That’s where he – and he is the number one student of the number one professor. And he’s the star. So much so that, boy, when this Way, this Christianity starts, he goes after them.
He lost his reputation, alienated from his family, kicked out of his position of power, lost his money, became an outlaw, ended up being persecuted. When he says, “I lost all things,” this isn’t some theoretical, Oh, this is a transfer of intellectual issues. This is: “I count all of it,” not just the religious side, “but everything I have lost.” Everything that people value: power, money, fame, success, career, upward mobility. He had all that! He goes, “All of that compared to Christ…”
Where is his hope? It’s in a person. It’s in a person who is the Second Person of the Godhead. Who, from the foundation of the earth, would give us freedom to choose, to accept or reject Him. And, then, knowing the consequences, what, actually, from the foundations of the earth agree with the Father and agree with God the Holy Spirit, that He would come and be born that He would grow up absolutely dependent and live an absolutely perfect life so that people would know, You ever wonder or know what God is like? Jesus said, “The Father and I are One.” He came and He explained Him.
You read through the gospels. You want to know what God is like? Just look at Jesus’ life. You want to know how He feels? This is how He feels about hypocritical people. It’s not pretty. This is what He feels about people that are hurting and broken and honest and come.
And then He came knowing that He came to seek and to save that which is lost. So He purposefully set His face like a flint and said, I am going to go to that cross. I know the break it’s going to be with the Father. I am going to hang on that cross, and when I hang on that cross, I am going to take the sins of all people of all time and I will be the sin offering, being fully man and fully God and the Father will pour His just wrath out on the sin that separates people. And I will absorb it. And in that moment, He will turn away and I will be hidden in the earth and I will declare the victory in the, “Sheol” is the word. The place of the dead.
And I will rise in victory and conquer Satan, conquer sin, conquer death. And I will ascend to the Father and I will be at His right hand and I will open My arms to whosoever would believe. I will forgive your sin, I will bring you in relationship with Me and eternal life will begin the moment you turn from your sin and receive Me and walk and follow Me.
The surpassing value – and the Spirit of God is the One who will live inside of you and you will be sealed and you will be adopted and you will have an inheritance and the Spirit of God will actually manifest the very presence and person of Jesus so that the goal of the Christian life is not fire insurance. The goal isn’t: I prayed a prayer. The goal isn’t that I have life after death. The goal is: I didn’t have a relationship with God and now the surpassing value is I am now connected with God solely and completely based on Christ’s work on the cross and His resurrection. And the goal is to love Him and to be loved by Him. That’s what Paul is saying.
Over here it was, “This is what I can do. This is what I have achieved.” Over here, “This is what God has done and this is what I receive.” You see the difference? His hope, his moorings, his future – it’s in Jesus.
Question, is your relationship, right now, with Jesus growing more passionate and rich and real? Are you experiencing deeply God’s love, His forgiveness, promptings from His Spirit, a hunger for His Word, a sense that there is purpose and direction and that He actually wants to even use you to help others and that as you do that, things happen you can’t explain?
In other words, is your unconscious passion to be just a little bit more moral and try and get God to work things out so that what your hope really is in can come in? Or is it in Himself? See, God doesn’t give His glory to another. And He won’t be a means. He is not a means for your kids to get into the right school, He is not a means for you to be happy, He’s not a means for your life to work out right, He’s not a means that if you believe in Jesus your marriage goes great, He’s not a means that all your kids turn out right. He’s not a means. He is the end.
Now, the amazing things about grace, as your hope is in Him, there’s a domino effect that it impacts all those other things. But none of those things ever can become your hope. In fact, we are warned often, don’t let them. Not because God is mad, because He loves us and doesn’t want us to miss.
There are three big takeaways, I think, that are super practical from this passage I would like to share with you.
Whatever we put our hope in will determine what we worship. Whatever we put our hope in will determine what we worship. If my hope is in my job, I worship it. If my hope is in my family or my mate, I worship it. If my hope is in someday, someway I am going to, I will worship it. If my hope is in money, I’ll worship it.
False hope is always focused on the external, the rules, the laws, success, status, and salary. And the confidence in that hope is: this is what I’ve got to do! Workaholism! Believe me, I understand that one. It’s all about what you can accomplish. What you have got to do.
In the text, it was circumcision, the law, and religious works but in our day, the external can be church attendance or morals. The external can be you worship education; you worship your kids. Your whole life is around your kids, their education, their sports, their traveling team. It can be money. It can be your looks. I believe in working out as much as anybody. I’ve got news for you, no matter how many vitamins you take, how much you work out, and how many surgeries you can afford, you’re going to get old. And you’re going to get wrinkles. And probably a lot more.
But you know what? Ask yourself: what is my hope in? Is it when I make partner? Is it when my kids get in this school? See, what happens is if your hope is in anything other than Jesus, it doesn’t have the power to deliver. And, so, false hope is in external things and the confidence is in yourself and what you can achieve.
And the source of real hope is always internal. It’s a rich, deep, growing relationship with Christ. It’s grace. There’s a sense of dependency. There’s a sense of gratitude and empowerment.
And, finally, it’s confidence in what He has done. And, so, this is another one of those questions I am asking me and you. If you don’t give me words, but I could see your financial statements, where all your time goes, what you think about, what you dream about, and what you want to happen and what gets you really down – you would know in a minute what your hope is and what you really worship.
I have a concern, that an intellectual understanding of what it means to be a Christian has substituted what it means to be a genuine follower. And what I can tell you is that there’s just great pictures in our church of both people who I see when difficulty and pain and adversity comes it’s obvious where their hope is, and they cave.
And I had a conversation just this week of maybe the most of all difficulty. And I was in amazement at a man and his wife of where their hope is rooted. Because takeaway number two is: false hope always ends in either pride or despair.
If you happen to be pretty successful, unconsciously or consciously, it’s: Look at me! Look at what I did! I’m a self-made man! A self-made woman! Look at my success! Look at my family! I’ve got how many patents. Look at what I built, look at what I wear, look at how I dress. Look at me!
We are Christians so we do it in subtle ways, but we do it. The problem is that no matter what you achieve, the horizon is always moving.
I had an elder many, many years ago in a church that I served many, many years ago and he loved these sailboats and people would be talking. He goes, “The thing is when you’re on a sailboat and if you’re sailing toward the sun, the horizon is always moving.” And I didn’t know exactly what he meant.
He goes, “People think, I’m single. Once I get married, then…” No, no, no, no. Well, then, if we have some kids. Well, then if our kids turn out right. Then, then, then, then, then. And the hope just keeps changing and then people realize it doesn’t have the power to deliver.
I have actually sat across the table from a man who was being completely honest with me who was a billionaire who he would only be satisfied when there was a new number behind how many billions he would have. And he was a follower of Jesus, but his hope was in his money.
Super high levels of debt tell you what? Your hope is in things. Do you have the 4k yet? Has the Apple 12 come out yet? Has Samsung done…?
It’s like an addiction. Are you ready to spend all kinds of money this Christmas that you don’t have to impress people that don’t care to get someone to look at you and say, “Oh, wow, you’re wonderful!”
And at the same time, and again, if this produces a little discomfort, good! I just came back from people that are pastoring churches of five hundred or a thousand people – they don’t even have a library. Now they’ve got two books. They’ve got a Bible and the one I gave them. It always leads to despair. Or pride.
1 Timothy 6:17 says, “Instruct those that are rich in this present world not to be conceited or arrogant and fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches but on God,” by the way, “who gives us all things,” look at the last line – why? So that you cannot have anything? “…to richly enjoy.”
Having things is not the problem. It’s our priorities and where is our focus and where is our hope?
I had a challenging experience when I lived in Atlanta. We got to be a part of a church plant and one of the really key members was a guy that had done well, lived in a very nice country club, knew all the right language, he was a spiritual guy, he was at the foundation group of launching the church.
And probably a year or so after I left, I got news of – and he had this fund and I don’t know if he was a hedge fund guy or whatever this or that. And all I can tell you was he went missing. He was missing for, like, a week. And they found him a week later at a cabin and he had this fund and the thing had slowly gone down, gone down, gone down, gone down.
And he hid it, because his identity and hope was really in: I’m a rich, generous guy. And they found him and he put a shotgun in his mouth and a note that said, “I’m sorry I failed everyone.” And it just broke my heart.
See, we can intellectually think our hope is in Christ. Here is how you know. Just look at your behavior. Your behavior never lies. What I believe and what you believe has almost nothing to do with what we say or what we think we believe. What we believe is how we actually behave. Our behavior reveals the core of our beliefs.
It will happen again this year, as tests are taken and we will have high school students that do not get the grades they want and they won’t pass the tests they want and they will do what they do here very often, so much that it’s almost not reported. And they will step in front of a train because their hope is they didn’t get into that school and the pressure they feel and the shame that they think they’re going to bring on their family.
Education is not hope. Money is not hope. How many likes is not hope. How many followers is not hope. What other people think of you is not hope. The only hope that will never disappoint is a deeply rooted relationship with a God who will come through all the time.
Finally, true hope is rooted in a relationship and results in joy and endurance. There’s a byproduct. If there’s no joy in your life, let me tell you this, your hope is somewhere, but it’s not in Christ. He loves you! He is for you! He will take you through any circumstance. He doesn’t promise it’s always going to be easy. In fact, what He promises is there’s going to be tribulation.
But He’ll not only give you joy, He’ll give you endurance. Hope is built in Jesus who left heaven, paid for you, loved you, cares for you. If you’re a follower, He lives in you. He will guide you, direct you, protect you, sustain you, you might have a lot, you might have a little, you might be single, you might be married, you might have kids, you might not.
But He promises that the fruit of His living life as you stay connected to Him, is you’ll experience love and peace and joy and kindness and goodness and gentleness and self-control. And your life will be full. Not easy. But it’s built on a hope and an endurance.
The apostle Paul would say it well in Romans 5, “Therefore we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand.”
That’s what Paul was saying. He goes on to say, “But we also boast,” or, “exalt in hope,” are you ready? “…of the glory of God. And not only this, but we exalt in our tribulation.” See, when really hard times come, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance, you hang in there. You just hang in there. That’s why we need each other. That’s why we need His Word. Hard things happen. “And perseverance brings about proven character.” It’s in the vice of life and the difficulty that you actually change.
“And proven character produces hope.” Because what you realize is nothing out there can ever satisfy you, but nothing out there can ever make you or break you. “And proven hope doesn’t disappoint because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who is given to us.”
Lord, my prayer is that You would help us this season as never before to sink our roots deep into the hope of the Living Christ. Our faith is not about how many times we pray or how many times we read the Bible or how many times we come to the church or a lot of external things. Those things are great means, but they don’t make us right. It’s You. It’s us believing Your love, forgiveness, resurrection. It’s a relationship.
So, would You help us to put our hope in You like never before? And, Lord, I just feel compelled that you brought maybe a handful of people that need to put their faith in You for the very first time.
And, so, I ask if you’re one of those people that say, “I need Jesus. I have been thinking about it.” Could I invite you to find your hope in Him right now? To bow your heart and say to Him, Lord Jesus, make me Your son. Make me Your daughter. And He will. In Jesus’ name, amen.