I had a little prompting this week. There’s a friend of mine who’s an extraordinarily gifted guy. And do you ever watch people kind of get a lot of darts here and darts there. And, I’ve seen him recently, he’s kind of discouraged and was more discouraged.
And as I was praying one morning, God just prompted me, you need to go sit down and talk with this guy. And so I did and asked him a few questions and as he began to share I said, well, time out. Do you understand in your field, you’re probably one of the top three in all of America? Okay, maybe top five. I think three. Two.
Do you understand God has used you to do this, this, this, this, and this? Yeah. Do you understand that these things that are getting down are about this big? You know, you’re starting to believe the criticisms that you’re getting. I just want to tell you something. I believe in you. I’m behind you one hundred percent. And whatever you decide to do with your life, I want you to know, I’m in it with you.
And, you know what? It wasn’t a big deal. But I watched his countenance change. And I watched what happened to him in the rest of the week. Who in your world needs to hear from you, “I believe in you”. That mistake…that divorce…that abortion…that dropping out of school…not making the team…that lie. It doesn’t have the power to define you. I believe in you. Who needs to hear that from you?
And maybe change the course of their life. You know it’s called? It’s called love. And what we’re going to learn is, when you do this, see, love never fails. Love never fails when you bear with one another and cover the sin. Love never fails when you believe in people.
Third, love hopes all things. The word is used thirty-two times in the New Testament. Eighteen times it’s translated “trust.” Ten times it’s translated “hope.” A handful of times it’s translated “hope for.”
It has the idea, to wait for and have confidence in, deliverance. Usually it has the idea of salvation. Deliverance, not just from the forgiveness of your sin, but deliverance out of this world and all of its evil. And our great, great hope is heaven. The return of Christ, the anchor of our soul.
There is coming a day that no matter what’s happening, how unfair it may be, our ultimate, ultimate hope is that we have a Savior, the God man, Jesus, who died, was raised from the dead, and those who trust in him have an eternal hope.
And practically, it’s not hope in hope. When people speak, kind of, in English or, you know, in a sort of casual way, they use hope. I would translate it, wishful thinking.
It goes something like this. So, what are you going to do? Meeting someone at work. I’m going to Vegas this weekend! Really! Yeah. What are you going to do? Get married! Really, how long you known him? Two weeks! Hope it works out. Good luck! How’d those last two marriages go? Not very good. But I’m hoping for the best.
Hope, hope, hope, hope. I mean, it’s just hoping in hope. There’s not basis, it’s like writing checks without a bank account.
By contrast, this is confidence, this is absolute confidence. Not that this person has the power to change. Not that circumstances are going to change and work everything out. This is a hope that’s rooted in the promises of God, the character of God, and the sovereignty of God that he’s in absolute control.
And even though these are situations where someone’s been struggling with addiction and you’ve tried and tried and tried and they’ve been to a couple rehabs. Someone who’s, you know, got a kid, and they lie, they lie, they lie. You’ve done everything but stand on your head. And guess what? They still lie.
This is a problem in a marriage that you can’t even get them to go to counseling and you hope and hope and hope. And I mean, this is just where, you got a co-worker that, I mean, they just make everybody crazy. But they happen to be your supervisor.
And you get to the point where you’re just out of emotional gas. And you get where they’re going to change, that there’s gonna be some big thing that will happen. You lose hope in their capacity or in your ability to fix the situation.
This is a hope where you say, you know something? I’ve done all I can do. This person, I’m not putting my hope that someday, someway, under the right conditions they’re going to have this “ah-ha” moment and everything’s gonna be wonderful.
But I refuse to give up hope because this is a book where Saul became Paul. This is a book where Rahab went from prostitute to being in the line of the Messiah. This is a book, as long as the resurrection of Christ is true, failure is never final.
And I’m not gonna trust in this person, I’m not gonna trust in this program, I’m not going to trust in my ability. I’m gonna trust that the all-knowing, all-powerful, sovereign, loving God cares about this person. And I’m going to trust that he’s going to work. I had a really, what I thought was a pretty good illustration, right at this point in my message, which I would share right now. But I’m not going to.
Last night, we were singing and as we were singing, the third song was, The Greatness of Our God. And as we were singing that song, it was just like, God, bang, hit me. And I just, I went back twenty years. Eighteen years.
And I remember, I remember knowing the songwriter of that song. And that song now, it was introduced at Hillsong, there were a hundred thousand worship leaders from all over the world and it’s coming out on four or five major albums with major worship leaders. I mean, it’s just sweeping the globe. That and another song.
And as I was sitting there last night and singing the song and hearing people embrace the greatness of our God. I just thought, you really are great. Because, see, when that songwriter was sixteen, I lost all hope that any of my parenting in any way could ever make any difference.
When that songwriter was seventeen we were so butting heads, and he was rebellious, and he had a dad that was young and afraid and was too hard on him at the wrong times. And we just had a horrendous situation in our house.
And I got to where, I mean, he told me. He said, Dad, I gotta tell you, I kinda like you as a person. I just don’t believe in any of the Christianity. That’s where you’re going. I’m not buying it. I’m just rebelling. And I mean, it broke my heart.
And, Theresa and I would sit up in bed and pray and talk and cry. And he had no desire, I came to where, you know what? I have lost all hope that he will change. And I have lost all hope that I have any parenting technique that will bring about change.
And I had just absolute hope in the God who changed Saul from Paul. The person that you think it’s impossible for God to reach or change. The issue in your marriage that you think is stuck forever. Or something with one of your parents or one of your kids or a close friend.
And I just came to, you know what? As long as Jesus rose from the dead, God still does the impossible and God, I’m asking you for your glory and for your name that you do something special in that boy’s life.
And at about late seventeen [years old], it’s a long story - he did. By eighteen, he was leading worship. By nineteen, he had a band. By twenty something, he was going around the country. By early twenties, he was writing for Sonicflood and was a lead singer and opening for them.
And then pretty soon he just started writing music. And to think that someone I had no hope in could change and I saw my failure in my parenting to think that God would have him write a song that millions of people would talk about how great God is. That, my friend, is Biblical hope. See, that’s what Jesus did for Peter. I mean, I don’t know, there’s lots of sins and I think sometimes we categorize them, probably a little differently than God does. I think with God, betrayal is, like, way up there on the top of the list.
You know, people that love you – they give their life, they care, and you turn your back on them and you just totally diss them. That’s what Peter did. Under pressure, I don’t know him. In fact, it was, blankety, blank, blank, I’ve never seen the guy. And the blankety blanks are cuss words, for those of you who wonder what that means.
And he turned away completely. And Jesus had such confidence. He told Peter, you know, you’re going to blow it. My trust isn’t in your bravado. My trust isn’t, everyone else will let you down, I’ll never let you down. My trust is not in the Peter of your willpower and what you think you can do. My trust is in what God can do. The Acts 2 Peter.
And then Peter, after you repent. Go back and strengthen your brothers. I believe in the Peter of the statement, “upon this rock I’m going to build my church”. And the rock isn’t your personality or your ability. It is my word and my promises through you.
And so, in John 21, we have this amazing picture of this betrayer, and he feels like he’s ashamed and he’s blown it and he’s betrayed the Lord and he’s heard about the resurrection and he feels like a heel. And my life’s over and I’m not going to be any good and I just, I’ve blown it! It’s too much, it’s too long.
Peter, have some fish. Thanks, Lord. Peter, a question. Do you love me? Ah, yeah. Peter, do you love me? Yeah. Peter, do you love me?
Betrayal, betrayal, betrayal. Question, question, question. Lord, you know all things. You know where Peter got? My hope is not in my ability to obey. But you know my heart. I’ve blown it. Peter, feed my sheep. Feed my lambs. Feed my sheep.
God reinstated. God restored.
Someone you know needs to know that your hope is God, not their ability to change. Who is that person? And what will it look like, this week, for you to love them?
The final way we learn is, we endure. We endure all things. To endure means to actively remain, to persevere under misfortune and trial. I love this. The meaning of the word is, “to bear bravely and calmly ill treatment.” It means, “to remain.”
You might just jot in your note, “love stays.” It’s not staying out of an inability to leave or an inability to set boundaries or an inability to deliver consequences. It’s not a meshed co-dependent love that says, I have to stay because I’m an incomplete person and so I will live in this dysfunctional situation and continue in this abuse or continue in this dysfunction.
No, no, no, no, no. Truth and grace. Truth: Here’s the boundaries and that kind of behavior, that kind of addiction, those kind of things will not be tolerated. Here’s consistent consequences and the help from others to maintain those.
Grace: But I’m not giving up on you. See, the opposite of love is not hate. When there’s hate, there’s passion left. The opposite of love is indifference. You just don’t care. Just, what the heck. And often you say that more strongly. Just, forget it.
This endurance. Hupomeno. Hupo, to be under. Meno, the pressure, stress, misfortune, pain, difficulty. And it’s an active word. It’s not passively, I’m going to endure what’s happening around me. It’s an active engagement of remaining healthy and understanding, this is the truth that must be obeyed.
But, despite these devastating failures and I might have every reason and right, I’m going to stay. And I’m not going to stay because of you. I’m going to stay because what God has done in me and the strength and grace he gives me to demonstrate the love of Christ to you.
That’s what Jesus did on the cross. He endured. It wasn’t nails that held him up there. It wasn’t the Romans that put him up there and it wasn’t the Jews that got him there. What held him on the cross was, he endured - love stays. And he remained because he knew you would fail badly. And I would fail badly.
And you may think you’ve just, I’ve messed up a little. When the standard is absolute, unapproachable light, completely perfection 24/7, 365, as long as you live, you think you’ve failed badly. And so, he endured. And as he endured, the Scripture says, that he became sin or a sin offering on our behalf.
And so, your sin, my sin, the sin of all people for all time, as he hung upon that cross as an offering, God took all that sin and he placed it on Christ and then he turned away because he couldn’t tolerate sin. And the wrath of God for your sin and my sin and all people’s sins, and that’s why Jesus cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Because there was a division in the Godhead for the first time in all eternity. And when he died, he paid, or covered, or atoned for your sin and your sin and your sin and your sin and my sin, once and for all.
And the Gospel is not: Get religious, become a Christian, and try hard to be moral. The Gospel is, you have already been forgiven. The wonderful, happy news is of a God of love and kindness. And you can receive it by faith. You don’t have to receive it. You can tell God, forget you. I don’t want your free gift. But you can never earn it.
And so those that would understand the good news of the Gospel, that you have been forgiven and the offer is by faith, will you receive it? And those who receive it by faith, by turning from their sin and believing and trusting on what Christ’s done, the Spirit of God enters their life.
They’re born from above or, literally, born again. And the Spirit is sealed in their physical body and the life of Christ, the power of the Holy Spirit takes up residence in you and you have been removed from the kingdom of darkness, placed in the kingdom of light, spiritual gifts have been deposited, you’re connected to this supernatural community called the church, and then God wants, through his Spirit, in relationship for you to begin to walk by faith and live and enjoy him.
So, the Christian life is not how long your read the Bible, not how much you pray, not how much money you give, not how many good works. It’s all about abiding in relationship with the Father through the Son and the power of the Holy Spirit and then what you find is, you love to be around people that you love.
And you begin to read this because God speaks to you and your relationship deepens. And then you start talking to him and it’s not just a little five minutes or ten minutes in the morning or at night. But it’s all through the day.
And then pretty soon, the love of God compels you because of what he’s done in you to share that with other people and you find yourself taking money out of your pocket to give other people who need it more and you don’t get little brownie points for it, you are just following Christ. Why? Because love never fails. Love never fails.
Literally, the word is translated over seventy times, “falls” or “to fall down.” It means, love never falls down. Love never gets corrupted. Love never gets ruined. When you love, situations and circumstance may not come out the way you want them all the time, but you will never lose. Why? Because you are governed by an all-wise, all-powerful, sovereign God.
That’s why Joseph, who was betrayed, who was lied about, in terms of, the rape. Who was forgotten in prison. At the end of his life, the difficulty, the pain. He understood, I don’t get it but, I’m going to stay in God’s program. He’s in control.
And he would say, at the end of his life, after he’s made the second most powerful person and saved the entire nation of Israel, he would say to his brothers who have feared for their life after their father died, thinking how Joseph will take revenge.
And he says to them, guys, you still don’t get it, do you? You meant it for evil. But God meant it for good to bring about this present result to preserve many people.
When you love you can never fail. Outcomes may not be the way you want them but you can never fail. It never fails.
I was thinking about what we’re going to study this week and there’s a little section on sovereignty that brings to mind the hope that we have. On page 82, you’ll read it later in your small groups. It says, if someone is sovereign, he’s the boss. He calls the shots and has the authority. What he says goes. He’s the king.
God claims to be the king, not just of this planet, but the entire universe. He’s outside of time, he’s infinite, he has no beginning, he has no end. He’s the ruler of everything. When I think of sovereignty, the phrase I like best is, God is in control. And that is such a comfort.
When a loved one lies in the hospital bed, God is in control. When we think of our most difficult times with a child, God is in control. When a close friend is in the ICU, God is in control. When the economy, whether it’s national or personal is on the slide, God is in control.
Listen carefully. Nothing will enter your life that God does not either decree or allow and nothing will ever enter your life that, if you’re willing to trust him, he cannot work out for your good. That’s what it means when we say God is sovereign. And his sovereignty and rule in your life begins when you can just do what we said at the very beginning, admit I’ve failed. All the energy of blaming other people, blaming your past, blaming your parents, blaming someone else, blaming Hollywood, blaming, you know, your family of origin.
When you can just face that love requires truth and grace and just own up and say, I’m not the dad I’m supposed to be. I’m not the Christ follower I’m supposed to be. What’s coming out of my mouth is a failure. How I’m spending my money is a failure. This addiction I have, I’m failing. And you just come on this day together and in just thirty seconds say, God, I admit it. I can’t do this. Will you forgive me? Because the answer will be, I already have. And he will ask, will you receive it? And your answer needs to be, unreservedly.
Scripture says, if we confess, it just means to agree with God. If we confess our sin, missing the mark, failure, he’s faithful. And he’s fair. To not only forgive you of your sin but to cleanse you from all unrighteousness.
For many, that happens at a very first time and we call it trusting Christ, becoming a Christian. For many, many people that are Christians, you’ve trusted Christ, the fact of the matter is, you’re just negotiating all your failures. You’re just blaming here and chucking and jiving here. And you gotta come clean and be honest and get real and receive his forgiveness and then follow with his power and his grace.
The truth of the matter is, Christians and non-Christians alike have one country song in common. A lot of us are looking for love in all the wrong places. And when we do, we hurt ourselves, we hurt other people, and we miss God’s best.