Gospel-Driven Optimism


There are two types of people: optimists and pessimists. Which one describes you most days? As we continue our series, “Philippians: To Live is Christ,” JP teaches from Philippians 1:12-20 that as Christians, we should have gospel-driven optimism. When we keep this perspective, it inspires others, sees opportunity, and always overcomes.

Jonathan PokludaOct 28, 2018
Philippians 1:12-20

In This Series (9)
Don't Worry... This Message Is for You
Todd WagnerDec 9, 2018
An Accountant, an Athlete and an Alien Walk Into a Church
Todd WagnerDec 2, 2018
Stars of the Faith
Jonathan PokludaNov 25, 2018
The Song That Changes Everything
Todd WagnerNov 18, 2018
How to Make Every Relationship Better
Jonathan PokludaNov 11, 2018
To REALLY Live Is Christ
Todd WagnerNov 4, 2018
Gospel-Driven Optimism
Jonathan PokludaOct 28, 2018
Philippians - Week 2
Todd WagnerOct 21, 2018
The Pastoral Epistle I Would Write
Todd WagnerOct 14, 2018


There are two types of people: optimists and pessimists. Which one describes you most days? As we continue our series, “Philippians: To Live is Christ,” JP teaches from Philippians 1:12-20 that as Christians, we should have gospel-driven optimism. When we do, it inspires others, sees opportunity, and always overcomes.

Key Takeaways

Optimism: Hopefulness and confidence about the future.

Optimism Inspires Others

  • This is leadership 101. If you are leading others, know that optimism is contagious. It inspires others.
  • Consider the implications of emotional leadership on your household…how is your temperament at home?
  • Todd Wagner, our senior pastor, is infamous for always saying—especially when things seem to be going or have gone “wrong”—“It’s all going to work out.” What is your response when something goes wrong?
  • Optimism doesn’t mean you can’t be sad. Jesus wept. But when you are tempted toward negative emotions, ask how you can use your situation to advance the Kingdom.
  • Gospel driven optimism inspires others to share the gospel fearlessly.

Optimism Sees Opportunity

  • Paul was not just optimistic, but opportunistic.
  • Even if we disagree with someone, if we agree on the gospel, let’s celebrate that!
  • There are real dangers about following Jesus the way some people follow Jesus, but we can and should celebrate agreement on the gospel.
  • We are not praying that God would only use us.
  • The gospel is fueled by opposition, so it can’t be stopped. When you try to stop it, you’re effectively pouring kerosene on it.
  • Gospel driven optimism sees opportunity even in opposition. Even when someone is working against you there are opportunities to share the gospel.

Optimism Always Overcomes

  • As Christians, we know how it ends. Have you stopped remembering how it ends?
  • Failure is often just a matter of when you give up. If it’s not over, you haven’t been defeated.
  • Gospel driven optimism can be summarized in one word: faith.
  • We believe the glass is half full because the tomb is empty.
  • Take an eternal perspective. When you’re tempted to despair, see your situation through the lens of the gospel…in light of eternity.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  • How do your emotions affect those closest to you? In what area of your life—family, friend, work, etc.—do you have the most room to grow in your emotional leadership?
  • What is your response when something goes wrong in life? What’s the first thing you think? Say? Do? How can you grow in a gospel driven optimism in these moments?
  • How can you think about eternity more often this week than you did last week? Share your answer with your community group, and ask them to answer the same question for you.

Hello, Watermark. Hey, Dallas, those streaming online, Plano, Fort Worth, and Frisco. Come on! Welcome Frisco to the team. My boy Connor is out there leading with some other friends, and God is doing an incredible work. How crazy is it how he adds to our number daily those being saved, not just in the way of people but campuses? It is an incredible work. If we haven't met, my name is JP, or Jonathan Pokluda, and it is a privilege to travel through the Scriptures with you today.

We're in this series Philippians. We're moving through the book. I want you to know up front that there are two kinds of people. Even here there are two kinds of people. There are cat people and there are dog people. How many of you are dog people? Raise your hand if you're a dog person. Okay, good. There are some dog people. How many of you are cat people? Raise your hand. If you're a cat person, what we'd love for you to do is just go ahead and exit through the doors. We have a bus to take you over to The Village. So we're going to do that with you today.

No, there are two kinds of people indeed. There are In-N-Out Burger people and there are Whataburger people. "Texas forever" Whataburger people. That's right. In-N-Out people? California. That's where you should go. Listen. There are two kinds of people. It all comes down to how you pronounce this word. How do you pronounce that word? On three. One, two, three. Good. It's clear now.

Here's the deal. I know some of you are like, "But the acronym, and the word starts with a G." But the inventor of the acronym says that it is indeed pronounced "jif," like the peanut butter. It's solved now. It's GIF with a J sound. There are indeed two kinds of people here today. There are those of you who set your alarm and get up when it rings, and then there are those of you who set multiple alarms for some reason: every 5 minutes, every 15 minutes.

Hey, why do you do that? Stop that. When you see my wife today, would you just intervene on that deal? Because I don't understand why I have to wake up at 5:00 because she wants to get up at 6:00 and set the alarm every five minutes. I just don't get it. Anyway… Okay, I'm sorry. There are indeed two kinds of people. There are those of you who dip your french fries in the ketchup, and then there are those of you who put ketchup all over the french fries. I don't understand. Why do you do that? You must be cat people or something. I don't understand.

There are indeed two kinds of people. There are those of you who go zero inbox. Those little bubbles drive you crazy. You have to clear them right away. Then there are those of you with 3,596 emails. Yeah, you people. That's me people. I was actually talking with my friend David this week. There's mine: 32,894. So if I haven't emailed you back, I'm going to get to it. I promise.

All of those are kind of fun. Those don't matter, but there are indeed two kinds of people. I think this one matters. I think this one is a little bit more important than the other ones. There are those of you who see the glass as half full, and there are those of you who see the glass as half empty. "What does it matter? Who cares? I'm just a little pessimistic, a little negative, a little cynical. It's kind of my wiring. It's who I am. It doesn't really matter."

I want to argue with you from the Scriptures that I believe it does. There is something about understanding the resurrected Jesus Christ that labels our lives with optimism, a hopeful outlook, believing the best about the future because we know the endgame. So as we move through this series in Philippians, I want to talk about Gospel-Driven Optimism.

Here's the deal: optimism feels like a neutered term. It feels like, "Who cares? What does that really matter? Think happy thoughts or good vibes. What is it really? Optimism and the gospel? Is that really important?" I think it is. I think it's more than just a personality type. I know you may be skeptical right now if you are bent toward cynicism. You may be thinking, "What? Is he coming at me with some self-help today?" No. No, this isn't just self-help. I think it really matters.

In fact, optimism is defined like this: hopefulness and confidence about the future. When you put it like that, hopefulness and confidence about the future, that's a basic fundamental belief of Christianity. Hopefulness, believing the best about the future, confidence in what God is doing. When you are optimistic in the midst of obstacles, you can appear foolish. The world might be tempted to think you're naïve or even ignorant.

In fact, in a day of skepticism, so much negativity, more than I've ever seen in my lifetime; I've heard, I've read more than has ever been… You turn on the news, and it's tragedy after tragedy, shooting after shooting, bombs after bombs, pointless racism. It's so easy to drift toward the negative. In fact, to be positive, to be optimistic in this fallen, broken world takes work.

It can feel like you're swimming upstream. It can feel like you're going against the current, because everybody at the water cooler wants to have a negative conversation. If you're into that…instant friends. They'll pull you right in. In fact, they'll suck you in. They will pull you down. They will take you the way of the current of our culture.

When are we the most tempted toward a critical spirit? It's when we feel like God has let us down. Something happens here. Something has been happening here, a long season of hurt. "What are you doing? What are you doing up there? I don't understand. You're supposed to be good. You're supposed to be a good God." We feel tempted to despair, almost entitled to some negativity.

I think we can learn from our brother Paul today, from the apostle Paul, from the Scriptures. I'm in Philippians 1:12-20. That's where we're going to be today. I know if you're here and you're a cynic, if you're a skeptic or a pessimist, you think, "No, I'm just a realist." I get it. "I'm just a realist." No, you're not. You see the glass as half empty, and you have a choice. You can change your lens by which you see it. I know you're still skeptical that that matters, but I want to show you that I think it does.

Last week, Todd was in verses 9-12. He read the apostle Paul's prayer for the Philippians, and he talked about how godliness doesn't come with anything instant. There's no fast track to godliness. We discipline ourselves for godliness. It comes with long obedience in the same direction. As we move into verses 12-20, I want to show you how optimism inspires others, how optimism sees opportunity, and how optimism always overcomes. We're talking about gospel-driven optimism.

Let me remind you as we set this up…Paul planted this church. He loved these people. The theme of Philippians is love and joy. You see rejoice a lot. He really cares about these people. He wrote this about AD 62. He's in prison in Rome, most likely chained to a Roman soldier 24 hours a day, and he's penning this letter that he sends to the Philippians that later makes it into our Christian Bible. We read it and are inspired by it and learn from it today.

He has just prayed for them, and then he says in verse 12, "Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me…" If you have your Bible and a pen, underline the statements of optimism, just so you know I didn't make this subject up out of nowhere. See if you agree that it's in here.

"…has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear."

He looks at his situation. He's in chains, he's in prison, he's chained to a guard, and he says, "Hey, it's okay, guys, because this accomplishes my end goal. What is my life mission? It is to advance the gospel. Even me being here can advance the gospel, so I'm content, because what I want most in this world is happening." Then he says this really convicting idea: "If they're talking about me, they're talking about Jesus."

Paul's life was so intertwined with Jesus Christ that to talk about Paul was to talk about Jesus. Now think about your life. If someone is talking about you, are they talking about Christ? He's like, "Hey, if they're going to talk about me, then that means they get to talk about the one who saved me, my Savior, and I'm okay with that. That makes it all worth it."

Then something happens. He says, "The church is being strengthened in the midst of this adversity." Why? Fear is such a powerful motivator. Right? If you're afraid to do something, you can get frozen in fear. "I don't want to do that." Well, they're afraid to share the gospel because "If you share the gospel, we're going to throw you in prison." Paul is like, "No, I'm in prison, and God still uses it."

It's like this. Has anybody ever been bluff jumping, cliff jumping? Come on. Anybody? I'm the only one? Okay, good. I was feeling judgment. "Why would you do that, jump off a cliff?" Maybe you've been to Lake Whitney or Possum Kingdom. There are cliffs and a lake. You get up there. Just imagine you're with all of your friends and you're up there. You're like, "Whoa! It's much higher up here than it was down… Wow! Okay. Gosh. How deep is it? Wow. Any rocks down there? I can't see under the water. I don't know if I'm going to do this."

Then you have that friend, because everybody has that friend who's like, "Woo!" and just runs and jumps off, double gainer into the water. Then you're like, "Where did he go? Where did he go? Where is he? Is he coming up? Is he coming up?" Your heart is racing. "I don't want to do this." Then he comes up in the water, big smile on his face. "Woo! It was awesome!" Then another friend jumps off. You're still kind of scared. Then another friend jumps off, and they come up with a smile, and they come up with a smile.

All of a sudden, the fear turns to FOMO. You're like, "Man, I feel like I'm missing… I have to do it. They're fine. They're fine. Let's go." That thing you were afraid of… When you see someone else endures it, all of a sudden you're strengthened. That's what's going on here. They see the apostle Paul enduring the thing they're afraid of, and they're strengthened. "If he shares, then I'm going to share. Let's go." So the church was strengthened through Paul's optimism. Gospel-driven optimism.

1._ Optimism inspires others. This is leadership 101. If you are leading others, if you are leading an organization, if someone is looking to you for leadership, you need to know that optimism inspires others. In fact, there's an article put out by the _Harvard Business Review called "Primal Leadership." I'm just going to read to you some quotes from this article. This comes from two years of research. Two years of research concluded this:

"The leader's mood and behaviors drive the moods and behaviors of everyone else. […] A leader needs to make sure that not only is he [or she] regularly in an optimistic, authentic, high-energy mood, but also that, through [their] chosen actions, [their] followers feel and act that way, too." Then this last line. Listen. "Emotional leadership is the spark that ignites a company's performance, creating a bonfire of success or a landscape of ashes. Moods matter that much."

I didn't just bring you here today to help you be better leaders. Think about your home for a minute. I get home from work. It has been a long day. Usually I go straight from my truck to the dinner table, and I'm tired. Do you know what I feel like? I feel entitled to check out. They're talking about this and that. "You wouldn't believe that so-and-so…" and "Dad, I made this on my test." "Oh really? That's good. Okay." If the dad of the home isn't in it… "Hey, it's okay. I deserve a little rest. I need a break in between." …it impacts the mood of everybody else.

Maybe you've seen the sign: "If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." We got some elbows on that one. Think about how we're leading our home. You can remember growing up. You're sitting at the kitchen table. Your parents are fighting outside. You're sitting there wondering if they're going to make it. Tears start streaming down your face. You don't realize where this is going. You can remember the stressful times, the angst and anxiety that creates.

Or maybe it's a road trip, and Dad is glued to the windshield. It's pouring down rain. The windshield wipers are doing this, and you're just sitting back there. He's like, "Everybody be quiet!" Gosh, what did I do? It affects the whole family. But it's not even just about your family. See, Paul's optimism serves a purpose of his life mission, his life goals, if you will, to move the gospel forward. As he's optimistic, others are tempted, willing to, driven to move the gospel forward.

Can I let you in on a secret just between you and me? And you, Plano; and you, Fort Worth; and you, Frisco. Keep that just between us. I believe, my personal opinion, this is the secret of one Todd Wagner, this idea right here. This is what he does. He's constantly thinking, "It's all going to work out." I've heard him say it countless times. "It's all going to work out. It's all going to work out." The staff is strengthened to move forward and share the gospel.

I could share with you a dozen stories. The first one that comes to mind… Before staff retreat he'll bring in a speaker to address the staff. It's a big deal. It happens once a year. This particular year he had invited Voddie Baucham to come and address our staff. Voddie was flying in from Africa. Our whole staff gathered right before we go on a retreat for a couple of days, and this is what starts the retreat. We all come in a room. We're waiting for Voddie. We're excited to find out who the speaker is this year.

Todd walks in and says, "Hey, he didn't make it. His flight never left, and it's going to be awesome." He says, "The Lord knows about the ships." I'm like, "I don't even know what that means," but I feel inspired. I'm like, "Okay. God knows about the ships!" He goes, "I think God didn't bring Voddie here this morning because God wanted you to meet with Jesus." He said, "Everybody get their Bibles, spread out throughout the campus, and who's going to speak to you this morning is the Lord Jesus Christ himself. Spend some time in his Word."

We did, and what happened afterward is one person after the other on our staff said, "Man, that was the most powerful moment before staff retreat we've had." It was this negative situation that became positive because Todd is looking for opportunity. What does God want to do through it? In the midst of tragedy, his number-one response all the time… I don't mean this in a trite, cliché kind of way. He just believes in an awesome God.

When the wheels fall off, he's like, "This is going to be awesome because God is at work. He's still driving. He's still in control. He's still doing something. I know that he wins. I've read the back of the book." What it does for me, personally, is it makes me want to proclaim the gospel without fear. Why? Because he jumped off and he came up and he fist-pumped and said, "It's awesome."

Right about now you have a mix of emotions. Some of you, I see it on your face. "Can I not be sad?" Yeah, you can be sad. Remember the shortest verse in all of the Bible? Lazarus just died, and it simply says, "Jesus wept." The one who's going to raise him from the dead took a moment to grieve with those who grieve, because he saw a sin and death in the world that never should have been. It wasn't his first desire.

So can you be sad? Sure you can be sad. Just don't stay there, because you know how it ends. You know what's waiting for you. You know where this is going. You know where this leads. Gospel-driven optimism inspires others to share the gospel fearlessly. Some of you want your kids to share the gospel. Can I tell you how? If you want to do that, here's 101. Here's how you get them: You jump off the cliff. You come up with a smile. You share the gospel, you lead out, and you show them it's always going to be okay. Even if someone responds poorly, they see you're okay. Life is going to go on. "I'm all right."

Let's dive back in. Verse 15: "It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel." He's saying, "There are two kinds of people." "The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains." Okay, it sounds like he's going negative a little bit right here. If I'm reading this I'm like, "Okay. He turned negative."

Then verse 18: "But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I [am sad] ." Nope. "…because of this I rejoice.""I have joy." He says there are two kinds of people. One preached the gospel for good reasons; one preached the gospel for bad reasons. How does someone preach the gospel out of selfish ambition? What does that mean?

We always think the prosperity theology… That applies here, I believe, but most likely what's going on is the leader of the church, the Way, is now put in prison, and people see opportunity. Some people are like, "Okay, we have to preach so that the gospel will go on," and some people are like, "Hey, I'm going to preach so that people will look…" Let's just say, hypothetically, Todd goes away and there's Blake Holmes, Kyle Kaigler, and me.

Blake and Kyle are like, "Hey, we need to continue to preach the gospel so that the body is strengthened," and I'm like, "Todd is gone. It's my chance. It's my time." I'm like, "I need to preach the gospel so that they'll think much of me." Therein lies the problem. I think that's what's going on here. He says some preach it to stir up trouble for him. What does that look like? In this day and age people were entertained by drama. Not anymore, but then.

They go up to officials, and they're like, "Let me ask you a question. Did you hear about this Jesus guy? He died and came back to life? That's crazy. He was telling that he came to save people from their sins. I mean, at least that's what that Paul guy said. You know, the guy that you locked up. He told everybody that." They're stirring up trouble for him because they're entertained by the drama. All the while, Paul is like, "Hey, God can use this. God is in the midst of this." Paul is not just optimistic; he's opportunistic.

2._ Optimism sees opportunity_. He says, "Hey, I'm going to make the most of every opportunity." He told us that in another letter that he wrote to the church in Colossae from the same prison cell. Colossians 4:5: "Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity." We can do that. Even if we disagree with someone around other things, if we believe upon the gospel and we have that in common, we can celebrate that.

If they believe you are saved by grace through faith alone in the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, if we have that in common, even if there's a lot of other stuff we disagree with we can come together and celebrate that. In fact, just last week I was at an event with a lot of different churches, some denominational, very charismatic, Bible churches, fellowship churches, community churches, the whole gamut. The thing we came together on was the gospel.

People online said, "Why would you do that? Why would you share a stage with so-and-so? Why would you get up there? Why do you want to do this?" Let me tell you why. Let me answer it now, loudly, so you know. If someone is going to give me a stage and a microphone and allow me to preach the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, I'll take it. As Todd has said here so well, I'll lift up the name of Jesus with anyone.

Now I might follow it up with, "Hey, don't follow Jesus like they do." There are some real dangers to some of what's going on there, but yes, if we have Christ in common we can celebrate that and disagree here. "Hey, I think that's wrong; I think it matters. Hey, I think that's wrong; I think it matters, but this… Yes, you got this. Let's hold this in common." We can celebrate people getting saved.

It's interesting. So often the critics, the ones who are pointing out, are not doing anything to advance the gospel. I love how he said it last week. We're not praying that God would only use us. We're under no delusion that he only uses Watermark. I've seen the senior leadership here, the elders and other leaders here, meet with churches that we disagree with and lovingly affirm them in some ways and challenge them in other ways and say, "Hey, we think that really matters. In fact, we think it's destructive," and do so in love, even with strong affection.

In fact, it's so ironic. I'm an auditory learner, so when I'm going to preach a message, what I'll do is I'll listen to five or six other Bible teachers take the same passage. So I'm listening to a message from a church in Austin. They brought in a communicator from Washington, DC. He's a guest speaker there at a church in Austin.

He's teaching this exact passage: Philippians 1:12-20. I'm kind of listening. I'm reading some commentaries, I'm studying some words, and I hear something. My ears pop up and I kind of lean in. I'm like, "What did he say?" It was interesting. On this text right here, let me show you what he said. Watch this.


Male: Secure people who've embraced a God-given purpose celebrate the advance of Jesus no matter whose mouth it comes through. Two of the largest, most successful churches in Dallas are Watermark Church and The Village Church. Just a few weeks ago, maybe a few months ago now, Todd Wagner, the pastor of Watermark Church, put a little video out on Twitter called "What I Really Think of The Village Church." Ooh. Someone clicks on it to see what he's going to say.

He says, "Let me tell you what I think about The Village Church," and for about the next five minutes he just celebrated all that that church was doing to proclaim the name of Jesus and celebrated their people and what they were doing and the influence they're having on the city. You watch that and you're like, "That's awesome. That's awesome." We're home team. We're on the same team. So if I'm chasing him and you're chasing him, you're not a threat; you're a friend.

[End of video]

How crazy is that? That there's a pastor from somewhere teaching at a church in Austin, talking about two churches in Dallas. You just see the unity of the body of Christ working together to advance the gospel, to celebrate the gospel moving forward. I've talked about this before. The gospel is like holy jujitsu. Jujitsu is a martial arts that uses your opponent's or the opposition's force against them.

This is what the gospel does. It takes any force that is working against it and just turns it on that force. It's like this fire, and when it faces opposition, they think they're going to snuff out the fire, and really they're pouring kerosene on it, and the gospel is just strengthened. You see that. How frustrating must it have been to come against the apostle Paul? It had to be mind-blowingly, pull-out-your-hair frustrating. You just think about that. "Hey, we're going to throw him in jail."

"Hey, man, prison guards need Jesus too. I'll just convert the whole prison."

"We'll beat him."

"I rejoice in the sufferings of Jesus Christ, the fellowship with him."

"Stone him to death! Drag him outside the city."

"Ha-ha! You didn't kill me. I'm going back to this city."

"Okay. We'll chain him up. Chain him to a prison guard."

"Cool, man. I'll just write the Bible."

"All right. Put his hands in stocks."

"I'll just dictate to Timothy."

"Kill him!"

"To die is gain."

"Let him live!"

"To live is Christ."

"Aaagh! What do we do with this guy?"

Gospel-driven optimism sees opportunity even in opposition. Even when someone is working against you, there are opportunities to share the gospel. He goes on to say in verse 18, "Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and God's provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance." Is that optimism? "Will turn out for my deliverance. I know that it will."

"I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death." I will not lose hope. Whatever happens, I know how it ends. I don't want you to hear this so many times that you lose that. I know how this ends. Have you stopped knowing how it ends? Like, you know how it ends, but you don't know how it ends. I know how it ends.

3._ Optimism always overcomes. Overcomes what? Overcomes _everything, even death. Failure is often just a matter of when you give up. If the game is over and you're down, then you lose, but this game isn't over till he wins, and then it still isn't over; it's just a long victory dance. Like, a really, really long victory dance. It's not over. With the gospel, it's not over even when it's over.

Gospel-driven optimism… What does that mean? If you had to say in one word what gospel-driven optimism is… It's faith. It's the essence of what we believe. He says, "Here's how my faith is strengthened: the prayers of others, the power of Jesus' Spirit, the Holy Spirit." He says, "A hope for the future. Even at the end of my life I have hope for the future."

I love this. On Tuesday I was gathered with our staff here in Dallas, and I just asked them, "What are you most looking forward to when you think about heaven?" When you ask those questions sometimes you think, "I'm going to have to pull answers from them. Okay, here's what I mean by that." But I just got to the end of the question, "What are you most looking forward to when you think about heaven?" and it was like, Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom!

They're talking over each other, interrupting each other. "Let me go. Let me share. Oh, I've got one." I had to cut it off. I was like, "Hey, guys, we've got to stop." They were ready. The staff here was ready for that question. They said, "No more shame. No more brokenness. No more hurt." One said, "No more struggling with sin." Another said, "Can you imagine what it's going to be like to be reunited with those relatives?"

"Well, what about the people we shared the gospel with and we don't know if they were saved, and then we see them in heaven?"

"Yeah, yeah. Forget all that. Face-to-face with Jesus forever, worshiping Jesus."

"Understanding the mysteries, those confusing things in the Scripture. All of a sudden we see clearly now. We get it."

"How we can search God forever, continue to learn about him even in his kingdom."

"We get glorified bodies."

And on and on they went. My heart was strengthened. Courage from an understanding of the gospel that death is not the end; it is the beginning. We believe the glass is half full because the tomb is empty. Do you hear me?

We believe the glass is half full because we know the tomb was fully empty, that Christ rose from the dead, that we have hope for eternal life with him, that we can live forever with God. Because of Jesus, because of what he did, because he paid for our sins, you don't have to suffer for your sins, because Christ suffered for your sins on your behalf, and you get to be with God forever and ever and ever. You see the world through that lens, that the tomb is empty.

Then we think about eternity. We reflect on it. This is what Paul did. Remember, he talked to the resurrected Lord on the road to Damascus. He had a conversation, a real conversation, a two-way conversation with Jesus. So he exercised his gifts in accordance with his faith, which was great. C.S. Lewis said this about heaven in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Last Battle:

"The further up and the further in you go, the bigger everything gets. The inside is larger than the outside. […] And as [Aslan] spoke, he no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after.

But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before."

We get eternity with God. Don't lose sight of that. Eternity is the great equalizer. Do you know what I mean by that, the great equalizer? Every one of you would take this trade. If I came to you and said, "Hey, tomorrow is going to be a horrific, tragic, awful day. Things will happen tomorrow that you can't even fathom how terrible they will be, but if you endure tomorrow, the next day and every day after for the rest of your life will be perfect. It will be paradise, it will be pure bliss, nothing negative," everyone would say, "Sign me up. I'll endure tomorrow."

Tomorrow the unspeakable will happen, but the next day you will wake up as though waking up from a nightmare, look back, and say, "It was all a dream. I'm going to be okay." We would all take that deal. In the gospel, we've all taken that deal. Your 76 years or 88 years or 104 years on this earth are but a vapor, and then for infinity, for eternity, forever you're with God in his kingdom where there is no pain or shame, no sadness or death, no sickness or disease. Pure joy and laughter. We have hope. We see it as half full because the tomb is empty.

So what do I want you to do? I want you to take an eternal perspective. When you are tempted to despair, when you're focused on sadness, when things aren't going the way you had hoped, I want you to take a giant step back and look into eternity and know that in Christ it's going to be okay. Better than just okay. It's going to be good. In its purest form the word good: beautiful, amazing, incredible. You see your situation in light of eternity. He says it like this in 2 Corinthians, chapter 4:

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

We hate it when bad things happen to good people. If there was ever a good person, other than Jesus, we would say the greatest missionary of all time is here. He's in prison. Bad things are happening to him, and he says, "I don't lose sight of eternity. Though my body is wasting away, I know what is stored up for me. You shouldn't either." In summary, optimism inspires others, optimism sees opportunity, and optimism always overcomes.

When good people suffer, we're tempted to despair. We're tempted to think, "Man, God. Them? Really? Them?" My friends Gloria and Bobby Gilpin are faithful servants of the gospel here. They came into this place. They served in Merge. They served in Summit, Foundation Groups. They served in Equipped Disciple. She served in women's Bible study.

They gave of their lives here. Then Bobby was hit with a massive stroke. He was going through DTS so he could be a better discipler of young men, and he's hit with a massive stroke, driven to a wheelchair, Gloria now taking care of him. This is what she says. Watch this. This is their story.


Gloria: My name is Gloria Gilpin. My husband and I have been married for 51-1/2 years. My husband had just retired, and we had big plans. We celebrated our fortieth anniversary, and then suddenly, in a split second, everything changed. He had a massive stroke, and nothing was as it was before. First it was the shock, the initial anxiety. All of a sudden, I was in charge of everything.

When Bobby came home from the hospital, he was in a hospital bed. Our home no longer worked for us anymore, nor did our car. Everything had to change. It's sell the house of 39 years, find a new place, remodel. I was really overwhelmed. I had to remind myself of his faithfulness, to have confidence in his strength. Trust is being content in not knowing what's ahead. Scripture really nurtured my spirit, especially Psalm 40. It says,

"I waited patiently for the Lord** ; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God."**

My life is very different from my own expectations. The Lord has given me absolutely everything I need for happiness. We celebrated our fiftieth anniversary, rejoicing in the years that we almost didn't have. We may not dance the way we used to, but we have a dance of joy. I am not a fool for using tragedy for God's glory.

[End of video]

We recorded that a little while ago, and a couple of weeks ago Bobby went home to be with Jesus. I talked to Gloria the day before yesterday, asking permission to share that. I asked, "How are you doing?" I know it's a dumb question.

She said, "Everything changed when Bobby had a stroke, and now everything is changed again. I just lost my biggest job, which was taking care of him. Now there's only one place mat at the table. There used to be two there. Now there's only one, but I know that the Lord is going to wrap me in his feathers (Psalm 92). I know that he's good. He's going to put me on a firm foundation and put a new song in my heart."

She said, "JP, I don't know what that song is, but I know that it will be one of declaring his goodness and faithfulness, because that's what Bobby wanted to give our lives to: to know God and to make him known. So whatever the song he places in my heart, it will be knowing him and making him known."

If she can say that, so can we. If David says, "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not fear, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil, and my cup overflows…" It isn't half full because the tomb is empty. Let me pray we'd believe that.

Father, as we move to worship you, would you fill our hearts with hope? Remind us of truth. Stir our affections around the things you've done for us. Help us not to be given to the negativity of the world, the cynicism of our critics, hopelessness, but to be filled with hope and a courage rooted in the future that you're coming back for us and that you have promises for us. In the name of Jesus, amen.

About 'Philippians'

Todd & JP walk us through the entire book of Philippians, a love letter from a pastor to his congregation.