Steven Furtick - Don't Give Up Hope (It Can Be Better)
Anything God does in our lives, all we have to do is go on our phones and find somebody who is "er" than us…better, richer, stronger, happier, thinner, ripped-er, cuter. This is the one that'll break your heart. You think your kids are smart, and then you get around some other kids, and you realize that your kids, by product of comparison, were better than their 3-year-old brother, but around the same age kids… It's always this temptation. You don't have to do anything but flip on a commercial, and they will be pulling you back to the land of "er". It's better. There are things in your life right now that you're like, "It would be so much better if…" Would it really? Are you sure? "Yeah, yeah. If I was famous, that would be amazing. I would be significant. If people knew my name…" Oh, really? That would be better? You never saw a celebrity commit suicide? Are you sure it would be better? Is that what better really is?
"Well, if I had this amount of money, I wouldn't have any problems". Are you sure about that? You never met a miserable rich person? I can introduce you to a few. It's not like this is new. It's not like it's only for the church here in Rome that is being persecuted for their faith. We are all drawn back to the land of "er," of looking around and never feeling enough and comparing ourselves to things that were never meant to be our standard. The only standard worthy of your comparison is the full potential of Christ in you, the hope of glory. I want to declare over some of our lives today we don't even realize how good it already is. We are forgiven, set free, redeemed, breathing, clapping, walking, talking examples of the miracle-working power of God! I release this over your life. It's already better. You can already rejoice. You can give thanks right now for his goodness. Kreitton, better.
Don't let the quest for better in your life make you miss the grace of God that is already present. I'm preaching to every Enneagram One right now. It could always be better, but it already is. Look at what I deserved, and look at what he did. He did not treat me as my sins deserved. It's already better. I'm going to walk around saying that all week. It's already better. I'm going to declare it by faith on things I'm waiting for God to do. It's already better. It's already better. It's already better. It's already better. Once you give up the hope that it can ever be better, the only option is to go back, yet I'm so interested in how this writer constructs his argument. Better. He starts the whole book of Hebrews talking about Jesus Christ in his glory, and he doesn't give an introduction; he just gets right to business. He grabs the mic and starts talking about "Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets…" He's going backward. He's giving them what so many of us desperately need in our lives: a frame of reference.
When the Devil starts speaking to you, you lose all sense of where you really are in your life. You're drifting now. You're falling now. You forget how good grace is, because all you can think about is how bad you are. So he brings them all the way back. He rewinds it all the way back, and he says, "Long ago, in various times, various ways, God spoke to our fathers through the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…" Now he's beginning to construct the argument. Kreitton (better). He's going to introduce that word for the first of 13 times in this epistle, letter, declaration. He said, "I'm convinced of better things concerning you". "Well, how do you know? You don't know me like that. You don't know what's going on in my life. You don't know what I'm actually dealing with. You're up here preaching all this stuff. You don't know my mom is sick and in a nursing home and I can barely afford to pay for it and I haven't been to visit her but once this year. You don't know. You're up here talking about better".
Well, the writer of Hebrews says, "Let's go back". "Long ago, in various ways and at various times, God spoke through the prophets, but now in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things…" Jesus is better. The prophets were good; Jesus is better. The old way is good; the new way is better. Dunkin' Donuts is good, but Krispy Kreme is better. "…in these last days he has spoken by his Son, whom he appointed…" It's a better operating system, because he is the heir of all things. "…through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God…" It doesn't get any better. "…and the exact imprint of his nature…" It is perfection in flesh. "…and he upholds the universe by the word of his power". Verse 4 says, "…having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs".
Now, what surprised me about that verse was not that he chose to say that Jesus is better than the angels. Of course the Creator is better than his creation. He made the angels. It stands to reason that he's better than the angels. There is nothing in your life that God has given you that he is not greater than. Don't worship the gift; worship the Giver. The Giver is the source; the gift is the resource. He's better. That's the Greek word he translates. He says, "…having become as much superior [kreitton, better]…" It's the same word. Better covenant, better word, better promise, better ministry. Better, better, better. Jesus is better than the angels, and I'm not surprised. Whatever you put in the next blank, Jesus is greater than. He's better than popularity. He's better than man's praise. He's better than a high you can get from some people. He's better than what you can put in your body and feel good for five hours.
He's better, better, better! That's not what surprised me. What surprised me is when it said in verse 4, part A, "having become". He already was perfect, so how did he become better? I know from my study of the Word of God that he did not improve in character. I know from my study in the Word of God that Jesus didn't go into the gym and get gains, bro. I know from what I know about his immutable (which means unable to be changed) nature that he didn't get better like people get better. When that shocked me, that just stopped me. I said, "I know he's better, but he didn't become better; he was already better". I had to go backward to understand better.
In verse 3, it describes this process by which God became a man. What's better: a god or a man? God. But it said he became better. He didn't get better; he was revealed as better. And how did he do it? Because how we think of better is we climb up, but Jesus is not Drake. He didn't start from the bottom. He started in a celestial space that is untouched by the temporal. He started in eternity and came into time. He started robed in divinity and glory and entered into flesh and shame. Watch verse 3. It says, "He was the radiance of the glory of God". He didn't become that; he was that. He was the exact imprint of his nature. He didn't become that; he was that. He upholds the universe by the power of his word. That's not what he did; that's who he is.
So how did he become better? He made purification for sins and then sat down. I need you to hear this. For everybody who is dealing with shame and you feel like you've been going backward because you keep slipping and you keep stumbling and you feel like, "I'm going backward," I want to tell you, Jesus went backward so we could see that he was better. So, if you've been going down lately, if you haven't been feeling it lately, if some things have been subtracted lately, I want to declare you're getting better backward. God is going to do it in you. He is preparing you. God said sometimes you have to get better backward. Sometimes you have to switch the grip and understand that it's his grace and mercy, not your effort and your ability to walk in perfect faith. I'm getting better backward. I'm getting better through the power of the things I endure, and I refuse to go back. I refuse to go back when what I have is better.
D.L. Moody, the great evangelist, was talking one time to a critic. The man didn't like his preaching because he made too many grammatical errors. The man knew better English than D.L. Moody, but just because you know better English doesn't make you a better preacher. Even though the man criticized him, he responded with humility. The story that was told of him said that when a man approached him and said, "Hey, I don't like the way you give invitations. I don't think it's good…" And he would bring so many people to Christ. This was back in the day when you couldn't leave a comment on somebody's YouTube. You had to tell them straight to their face if you didn't like them. These were better times. No Internet courage back then. He said, "I don't like the way you do it," and D.L. Moody said, "Neither do I. I'm trying to find a better way". Then he asked the man, "How do you do it"? The man said, "I don't. I don't have a way". D.L. Moody said, "I like mine better, then".
I know it's not pretty sometimes and other people's progress can make you tempted to revert to past ways of thinking when you compare yourself to the wrong standard, but in the presence of God, in the presence of Jesus who is greater than all things, in the eternal Christ whose word has spoken not only from eternity but from time, from him who knew no sin who became sin, that we might become the righteousness of God… He says, "Don't get discouraged in your life. Don't get discouraged by your marriage. Don't get discouraged by another person's marriage". He said, "Don't get discouraged by what you don't have that they do have," but instead, I want you to declare over your life today that "Relative to my purpose, there is not a better person to be on the earth in position, on assignment, humbled before the presence of God…" Do you know what makes you better for the job than anybody else? The fact that you know you can't do it on your own. That's what makes you better in this world of improving, in this world of approving, and it could always be "er". Don't miss what is on a way to a place called "Er". God's name is not the "Great I Er". He's the Great I Am.