yeargin How to Build Hope
1) Surrender the Flesh (phil 3:1-7)
Now, quit comparing yourself to other people. I’m going to tell you something, folks: There are people in this church who are smarter than you are. And there are people in this church who are richer than you are. And there are people in this church who are stronger than you are. But nobody can love Jesus better than you can. And you put it down: You can have all of Jesus you want. And I don’t know how much of Jesus you have; but you probably have just about all you want. And we need to just have a holy dissatisfaction. If you’re satisfied with your spiritual life right now, it’s simply because you’re aiming too low. You ought to be a growing Christian. You ought to be moving up one step higher.
2) Suffer for the Faith (phil 3:8-11)
There’s an old story that preachers love to tell about a social gathering. And there was an old man who preached the gospel for many, many years there, and there was a very famous orator, an actor, there. And somebody thought it would be a form of entertainment, I suppose, to hear from both of them. They said, “Let’s have both of them recite something for us.” The old preacher, who had preached for many, many years, was not learned; he was not educated, not eloquent, and not particularly gifted. And then there was this artist, this man who knew elocution. He knew acting. He’d been on the stage. He knew drama. He was well educated and very well trained. Somebody said, “Let’s ask them both to quote the Twenty-third Psalm.” So everybody thought that was a good idea.
And so, first of all, the actor quoted the Twenty-third Psalm. Oh, the expression! It was so magnificent. It was so beautiful. He knew exactly where to put the emphasis. Every word was perfect. And the people were just awestruck. And when he finished, they applauded. Then the old preacher stood up, and he quoted the Twenty-third Psalm entirely different. But he quoted those six magnificent verses. There was no applause, but there was not a dry eye in the place. And afterward somebody asked that actor, “You know, there was a dramatic difference between what you did and what the old preacher did. There was a difference. And you were both wonderful, but what was the difference?” The actor said, “I’ve thought about it, and I know what the difference is. I know the psalm; he knows the Shepherd.” Amen? That’s what we need to learn, friend. It’s not merely the Word of God, but the God of the Word.
This is a man—this is the Apostle Paul who was a grizzled old warrior now in prison getting ready to die, and he’s still talking about knowing the Lord Jesus Christ. And he doesn’t think that he has already attained. He’s not already perfect. He wants to know more and more about the Lord Jesus Christ. He wants that higher ground that Jim was leading us to sing about. So what we need to do very first of all is to fix our focus.
I think one of the great dangers that every seminary student faces and every Bible student faces is to have orthodoxy without the Holy Spirit—you can backslide with a Bible under your arm—to be Bible-taught and not to be Spirit-taught.
A) Paul was willing to suffer to know the Lord Personally ()
Meology has replaced theology. Now Paul said, “I want to know Him.” The whole point here is relationship is more important than accomplishment—relationship is more important than accomplishment.
I come to the garden alone
while the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear, falling on my ear,
The Son of God discloses.
And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own,
and the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.
B) Paul was willing to suffer to know the Lord powerfully ()
C) Paul was willing to suffer to know the Lord preeminently ()
3) Sanctify the Future (phil 3:12-14)
Satan Binds You to the Past; But Jesus Frees You for the Future
A) we need to forget past guilt
What are things that we need to forget in our lives? Past guilt. If you will look in this same chapter, look in verse 6. Concerning zeal, persecuting the church, Paul knew the things that he had done—and they were terrible. But he refused to be haunted by the ghost of guilt. He buried those things in the grave of God’s forgetfulness.
B) we need to forget past glory
C) we need to forget past grief
Paul talks about false brethren, people who had done him wrong; but he refused to be drinking the intoxicating cup of self-pity
You can have sickness and sorrow and financial reverse. Don’t sit around licking your wounds and drinking from that intoxicating cup. Paul said, “I forget that.”
D) we need to forget past grudges
Now, what is the principle? The principle is you’re never a failure until you quit. Forget your failures. Forget those things that are behind. If there’s somebody here tonight who says, “Well, pastor, I am not the Christian I ought to be: woe is me,” well, all right, let’s put that in the grave of God’s forgetfulness then and forget those things which are behind. You’re never a failure until you quit.
Now, what is the principle here? The principle is that concentration is the secret of power—concentration is the secret of power.
These lights that are shining on us tonight, they’re defused. If they can concentrate enough, what do you have? A laser. It can burn through solid steel—concentrated light. When we were little boys—all little boys have done this—we would get a magnifying glass, go outside on a hot day, and do what? Set leaves on fire. It’s getting those beams of that magnifying glass focused just right. Or else we’d wait till we had one of our friends that wasn’t looking, and we’d put that on the back of his neck and watch him jump when it got hot enough. You see the guy that laughed? He’s done exactly that same thing.
“No man can serve two masters.” (Matthew 6:24) Nobody can! Now He didn’t say you couldn’t have two jobs. He said, “No man can serve two masters,” because, you see, your master is the one who tells you exactly what to do, not part of the time, but all the time. That’s your master. You might have two bosses, but “no man can serve two masters.” Let me tell you what the Apostle James said. He said, “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:8) Let me tell you what the Apostle Paul said. He said, “This one thing I do.” Let me tell you what a runner does. He puts his eye on the goal and with complete concentration looks at it. As he mentions here in verse 14, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” It’s concentration.
You say, “Well now, pastor, that brings up a real problem. I’ve got to do my job. I’ve got to have my rest. I think recreation is legitimate. I believe I ought to have friends.” And so do I. But listen to me very carefully now. Your job, your rest, your recreation, and your friends ought to help you toward this goal, or else they’re wrong for you. Did you know that’s the test of whether anything is right or wrong: whether or not it will help you to know Jesus? Any friend that makes it harder for you to love Jesus is not a true friend. Any job that you cannot do for the glory of God you have no business doing. Any vacation that you take that draws away your love for Jesus or dulls you is the wrong thing for you to do.
I read what an Olympic runner said, and here’s what he said. Listen to it. This is really good. He said, “The only way to win a race is to forget all previous victories which would give you false pride and all former failures which would give you false fears. Each race is a new beginning. Pressing on to the finish tape is all that is important.” Is that not wonderful? You forget all past victories. That will give you false pride. Forget all past failures. That will give you false fear. And you put everything you’ve got into the race. That is, you keep your eye on that goal. You cannot run a race looking over your shoulder.
In Sunday School, talking about Lot’s wife and how she looked back and turned into a pillar of salt, a little boy said, “Well, that’s nothing. My mama was in the car, looked back, and turned into a telephone pole.”
You say, “Well, I was on the deacon fellowship; I’m finished with that now. I used to teach; I’m not going to teach any more. I used to be in the choir. It’s now time for me to rest a little bit. I used to tithe. Boy, I used to study the Bible. I used to. I used to.” Friend, you’re sick. Your voice may not make the sweet notes that Joyce’s could make tonight. Maybe you don’t have what it takes to serve in the deacon fellowship. Maybe your eyes won’t let you read that print in the Bible anymore like you used to. Maybe your mind is not as clear as it used to be. That’s fine. But I’m going to tell you something: You never stop running for Jesus. You never stop growing. You never stop going. You never stop glowing. You just keep on keeping on, and keep on keeping on. Here’s the Apostle Paul, and at the end of his life he says, “That I may know him.” (Philippians 3:10)