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Message Books

God Will Give You Hope

By John C. Maxwell

2062 08/09/2020

Good morning! What a delight it is to be at the Crystal Cathedral. It's a beautiful sunny day in Southern California and it's warm. And I'm here with Dr. Schuller, who has blessed us in so many ways and inspired us. I remember a few years ago, coming out and having dinner with Dr. Schuller and his dear wife Arvella. I'd just written a book called, "Failing Forward." Dr. Schuller had taught me so much about possibility thinking and how to fail correctly. He is my mentor in that area. So, when the very first book came off the press, I held onto it, and when I came out to Los Angeles to have dinner with the Schullers, I gave Dr. Schuller that book. It was the first book and I wanted to give it to him because he is like the godfather failing forward. I have a picture of Dr. Schuller holding up my book, and it's in my office today. So when I see it, I'm reminded of what you have taught me.

All of us at the Crystal Cathedral and all of us that watch his TV program throughout America and around the world could all say from our hearts to Dr. Schuller, thank you. Thank you for teaching us possibility thinking. Thank you, for teaching us how to fail forward.

Let me tell you how I came to writing the book, "Failing Forward." My wife and I were going on a cruise to see the fjords of Norway and about two weeks before we were ready to leave on the cruise, I looked on the calendar, and I realized it was a two-week cruise. So I said to my wife Margaret, "Sweetheart, don't you think that's a little long? Does it take that much time to see the fjords or Norway? I mean, God created the heaven's and earth in only six days. Can't we go for a week and take pictures? So, we talked it all out and, nonetheless, had a marvelous two-week cruise.

Anyone out there who doesn't believe in compromise has never been married. We compromised - we made a deal that I would go on the two-week cruise with her if she would let me write a book, so that at least while I'm watching the fjords of Norway, I could be doing something profitable.

We had this wonderful suite at the front of the ship lined with windows. So, while we spent those endless days looking at the beautiful fjords of Norway, I could write my book. I like to write by hand, so I'm sitting at a desk right by the windows writing my "failing forward" book and all of a sudden, there'd be a fjord and I'd say, "Hey babe. Look, look, there's a fjord! Wow. That's something." A little bit later, I'd say, "Honey, honey, look, look, another fjord."

Throughout the two-week cruise, I wrote the book. As I wrote, Margaret would pull off the pages, read them, and make suggestions and corrections. As we disembark from the ship at the end of the cruise, she had this manuscript written on legal pads under her arms. As we're halfway to shore, she stops and turns around and says, "John, I love the book. I love the book!"

I said, "Thanks honey. Tell me, what do you like about the book?"

"Oh," she said, "your candidness. On every page of this book, you talk about your failures and you're so open and you're so honest. When the reader picks up this "Failing Forward" book, they're going to be so encouraged because they're going to identify with all your failures. But, there's one problem. You didn't get all your failures in that book. I see a series! Failure 101, 201, 301, 401. You have a whole series of books to write on failure."

And it's very, very true. It's true in my life, its true in your life. You know, we could do a success seminar in one day, but if we wanted to do a failure seminar, it would take a week! Because we've all failed. Maybe I shouldn't assume that. There may be someone out there who hasn't failed. But not likely

Let me ask you, have you ever failed? Have you ever failed to get a job or a promotion you wanted? Have you have ever been impatient with a child? Okay, be truthful here, have you ever fallen asleep during a sermon? Now, not one of Dr. Schuller's sermons, of course.  

In fact, somebody asked Pastor Elza Brooks, one time, what he would do if somebody fell asleep in a pew while another pastor was preaching. He said, "I'd leave the pew and I'd go wake up the pastor!"  

We've all failed. We've all failed and we all understand. We all understand that failure often has a way of dampening our spirit and causing us to give up. But, on the other hand, so many people that we look up to today are what I call "famous failures." For example, Bill Gates, a dropout of Harvard, spent 50 bucks on computer technology and then started a business and hasn't done too bad.

Mark Hanson and Jack Canfield, the authors of the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" book series, were rejected by 50 publishers before they found one that would publish their books, which have sold 75 million copies.

J.K. Rowling, when she took her first manuscript of "Harry Potter" to a publisher, he said, "There's no money in children's books."

There are a lot of famous failures and the Bible. What I love about God's Word is that it takes some of the most significant, important people - people that we look up to, people that we want to pattern our lives after - and talks about their failures.

The one famous failure I want to talk about today is Peter. In fact the lesson that Peter learned from God about failure was that God will give you hope. Because in Peter's failure, he had a tendency to give up hope. Now let's go to the beginning when Jesus saw Peter.

When Peter came into the presence of the Lord, Jesus saw this strong muscular, square-jawed looking leader, and he said, paraphrased, "I'm going to change your name. We're going to call you the rock. You're strong and you have capacity, and you have a physical presence. We're going to call you the rock and this is not a bad thing." I mean here is Peter the disciple and he's somewhat intimidated with Jesus. Then Jesus looked at him and he said, "We're going to call you Rocky. You're going to be Rocky."

I think Peter probably said, "Ho, ho, ho. I'm the rock!" If you look at Peter's life, you might envision chisels cutting away on the Rock with each mistake that he made. You turn the pages of the Bible to see the many examples of when he failed. He spoke out of turn many times. He took his eye off Jesus when he entered into the water from the boat. He went to sleep at a very important time in the Jesus' life when asked him to pray with him. He took things in his own hands, attacking a soldier with a sword. You can read all about Peter and you can see all kinds of shortcomings, mistakes, and failures. And the classic one, the one that you and I know about, is when his best friend, Jesus, needed him the very most, when he depended upon him to speak out for Him and to stand up for Him, you know the story - Peter denied knowing his best friend. Now that is a major failure.

I've asked myself many times regarding the denial of Peter towards his Christ - why did he do that? What caused that failure? I think there are three reasons that Peter failed.

First, he placed himself spiritually above the others. I know that Peter saw himself in a more favorable light than the other disciples, and I know that he placed himself spiritually above them. I know this because, when Jesus talked that night about the betrayal, he looked at his disciples and he said, "Tonight you're going to desert me."

And Peter declared, "Lord, if everyone else deserts you, if everyone else leaves you, if everyone else messes up," he said, "I just want you to know, I will not desert you." In other words, he said, "Hey, Lord, I'm the rock! I'm the rock! You can count on me! Lord, I can't talk about these other guys. But, I just want you to know you can count on me."

I can tell you in our own spiritual journey, whenever we begin to place ourselves above others, when we begin to think that we are more spiritual than someone else or that we're stronger than someone else, it is almost always a sign that we're about to fall. That pride is eventually going to bring us down. I can promise you this, this comparison game -comparing ourselves with others - you're never going to win. You say, "Well, I know I'm better than them and I know I'm more spiritual than her," but if you go long enough, you're always going to find somebody who's better and more spiritual than you are. When you really think you're good, think of Billy Graham. I was talking to Billy one time and he said, "John, when I think I'm doing well, I just think of Mother Teresa."

The comparison game doesn't work. In fact, I know so many people godlier and more holy than me that I've developed this theory. When I get to heaven, the good ones, I mean the real good ones, the godly ones, I think they're going to be in heaven around Jesus. And people like me are going to be out in the lobby with the satellite feed! But I do know this for sure - we are setting ourselves up for failure when we think that we are more spiritual than someone else is.

The second reason Peter failed is that he thought he knew himself better than Jesus did. This amazes me. Because Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, Peter, this very night before the rooster crows, you're going to deny me three times. You're going to deny that you even know me."

"No," Peter insisted. "Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you." You see Peter thought that he knew more about himself than Jesus did. And every time I begin to think that I have better plans than God has for me, or I have better ideas than God has for me, or I have better decisions to make for myself than God has for me, I'm setting myself up for failure.

The third reason Peter failed was that he felt that he was stronger than he was. He literally felt that he was more capable than he really was. Jesus said to him, "Peter, the spirit is willing, but the body is weak." In other words, "Peter, you've overestimated yourself and you've underestimated others. During the pressure he received from the crowd, we know what happened - while Jesus was on trial, three times Peter denied him. And in denying Jesus the third time, the rooster crowed, and the Bible says, and the Lord turned. When the rooster crowed, the Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. He never said a word. But as Peter saw the Master look at him, he could tell in Jesus' eyes, he could see the disappointment. Peter could sense that this was a bigger failure than he had ever experienced before in his life, and he was crushed. The rock was crushed as he went outside and wept.

Yet, on that first Easter morning, you know the story, when the women found the tomb empty, the angel said to the women, "He who was crucified is now risen." This brought great hope to the women. One of my favorite verses in the Bible is this one: "The angels looked at these women and said, ‘Now go and tell his followers, the followers of Jesus...'" and notice this, "...and Peter." They wanted him to know that, in spite of his failures, his terrible denial, that God loved him unconditionally. He was still a disciple and he was still in the inner circle and he was still unconditionally, preciously loved.

Now, while all of this was happening, what does Peter say? Peter's discouraged. Peter's given up. The last time he saw Jesus, he saw that look in the Lord's eyes knowing he had denied him. Peter felt that his was a failure that he could not overcome. So, he said to his disciple colleagues, "Guys, I'm going to go fishing. I'm going to go back to the trade I had before I met Jesus." This young man who had progressed so far in becoming a fisher of men is now going back to fish for fish. A young man who was called the rock now wants to slink away and get as far away as he possibly can, to try to forget what he's done and to abandon all those ideals and values that he had acquired. He was disappointed, he was discouraged, he had lost hope, and he was in despair.

C.S. Lewis in his book, "Screwtape Letters," said Satan's strategy for all of us is to get Christians preoccupied by their failures. Because when we're preoccupied by our failures - what we didn't do, what we should have done, what we can't do - when we're preoccupied by our failures, it causes us to take our eyes off Christ.

So, here's Peter fishing with the disciples out on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus, the resurrected Lord, now comes back, he's on the shore, and he calls out to his disciples who are out there fishing. He said, "Have you guys caught anything?" And, I love this; the Bible says this, "The disciples said, ‘No, we haven't caught anything.'" Now, I just have to stop here long enough because my sense of humor is just what it is. When they said they had caught nothing, I believe it's the only time in recorded history that fishermen have been truthful. They said they'd caught nothing!

Jesus said, "Well, cast your nets on the other side."

When they cast the nets over on the other side, they pulled up a huge haul - 153 fish! John said to Peter, "It's the Master! That is the Master on the shore." And then, as the boat started to turn slowly back to the shore, Peter dove into the water. When he dove into the water, he was basically saying, "The boat's too slow. And I'm getting a second chance! I thought that I had blown it forever." The Master is on the shore, so he's swimming. He's saying to himself things like, "I've held onto this failure long enough. I've allowed this mistake to control my emotions long enough. I've allowed this to keep me from my potential long enough. I have to get to Jesus!" And to the shore he swam, as fast as he could.

In the scripture, it says that when they got to the shore, they sat by a charcoal fire. Stay with me. Of all the five senses, the sense of smell is the one that you remember the best. And when he came on shore to see Jesus, to get this failure off his back, the first thing he sees is Jesus and the fire and he smells the charcoal. Charcoal's only mentioned twice in the Bible. You see, Peter was sitting at a charcoal fire when he denied Jesus. Now he's coming back to get these failures off his back and again he smells the charcoal. All it does is to bring back a fresh reminder of that failure and that mistake. So how did Peter turn from failing Christ to following Christ? It's in the dialogue in this passage of scripture.

If you're going to start following Christ after your failures, you're going to have to wake up to your problem. Jesus, when he looked at Peter, asked his disciple a very simple question. He said, "Peter, do you love me? Peter, let me talk to you. Do you love me?" To be honest with you, if I was Jesus, I would not have asked that question. I wouldn't even have thought of that question. I'd have looked at Peter and I would have said something like this: "Peter, I am so disappointed in you. Dear God, Peter, I've spent three years of my life investing in you. I mean, Peter, haven't you been with me when we saw miracles, when we've seen the glory of God? Peter, Peter, Peter, Peter, how could you do that? Why did you do that?" Those are the kinds of questions I would ask.

However, Jesus knew that those weren't the right questions. He knew there was one issue, and he wanted to wake Peter up to the problem. He said, "Peter, do you love me?" He didn't ask that question once or twice. Three times, he said, "Peter, do you love me?"

By the third time, Peter is beside himself wanting to get this failure off his back. He said, "Lord, you know me. You have to know that I love you."

And then Jesus said something interesting. He looked at Peter and says, "Peter, do you love me more than these?" When he said "more than these," what did He mean? He could have been pointing to the boats. "Peter, do you love me more than the fishing business that you've gone back to? Do you love me more than the boats?" Or, he could have been waving his hand to the disciples.

Remember that Peter said, "I don't know if you can count on them, but you can count on me."

Now, Jesus said, "Peter, let me ask you, do you think you love me more than these other 11 followers love me?" Wow. He said, basically, "I want you to wake up to your problem. It's a love issue. And I want you to break up with every rival love, whatever they are - the boats, the disciples. And then he said, "I want you to take up your ministry. I want to give you a ministry." This next bit of dialogue is very interesting. Jesus shared with Peter that he was not going to, from that day on, control his life. He said, "I'm telling you the very truth Peter, when you were young, you dressed yourself and went wherever you wished, but when you get older, you have to stretch out your hands while someone else dresses you and takes you where you don't want to go." He said this to help Peter understand what kind of death he would experience. Then he commanded Peter, "Follow me."

And, turning his head, Peter noticed the disciple that Jesus sought. In other words, Peter turned his head and he saw John. And he said, "Master, what's going to happen to him?" In other words, he said, "Jesus, I don't mind having this kind of tough life as long as John has it too. Just tell us were all going to suffer and I'll feel better."

And Jesus said, "What is that to you? You follow me." And Peter did.

A few weeks later, Peter became the preacher at Pentecost, which literally gave wind and birth to the greatest gift we've ever received outside of our salvation. And that is the church of Jesus Christ. Peter, who had lost hope and had gone back fishing, all of a sudden has a fresh wind beneath his wings and it's all because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Eighty one times in this word, you'll see the word "hope" - one time before the resurrection, and eighty times after the resurrection. After the Lord arose, there was hope for us. No matter what our mistakes, no matter what our failures, no matter what our problems, no matter what we'd done, no matter what we'd gone through, there's hope. Peter would tell you, he would tell me, that the lesson he learned in his failure was that God will give you hope.

I close with this very personal story. Just a few days ago, my mother died. About a month ago, I was in Asia doing a book tour, and speaking to the corporate community. I was in Thailand and my sister Trish, who is an RN, called me on the phone and said they just discovered that Mom had cancer. So, as soon as I could, I got back. My wife Margaret and I drove from our home in Jupiter, Florida, to Winter Haven where Mom and Dad live. And we had a wonderful Thursday with her. She had just gotten back from the hospital and I've never had a better day with my mom. We laughed a lot.

At one point, she wanted to get rid of some of the books on her bookshelf, so I took all the books down and read to her the titles. With each title, she'd say, "I don't want that one anymore," or "I want that one." And then I picked up one of my books off the bookshelf and she said, "Oh, now, what do I do with this one?" Finally with a smile she said, "Okay, you're here, I'll have to keep that one." We had a phenomenal day.

Toward the evening, Dad called me into his office, and said, "Its not going to be long, is it, son?"

I said, "No, Dad, it's just a matter of days."

He said, "I want you to do the funeral."

I said, "I don't know if I can. It's my mother." I've done many funerals. I've talked a lot about the resurrection and hope. But I didn't know if I was emotionally able to do my own mother's funeral.

My father, who's a good leader and a very confident man, looked at me, and said, "Son, God will help you. You can do it. And I know that it would please your mom." So I said I would do my best. So, I put some thoughts together and a few nights later, she went to be with the Lord.

That Friday, I began the memorial service by sharing the thoughts of a Greek scholar who, in 125 AD, described for the secular world Christian funerals and why Christianity was contagious and growing. He said that, at a Christian's funeral, they sing songs and praise God. They talk about the fact that they're leaving this world and going to one that is eternal. Their viewpoint of death is different from other persons, he said.

So, that's what we did - we sang and rejoiced that Mom, though she had left this world, was now in a world eternal. As I talked about my mom, God did help me. I shared about how my mother, with her great sense of adventure, loved to travel and plan the trips. How she loved to talk about where she was going and what she was going to do at each destination. I closed that day by saying to those who had come to say their last goodbyes, that my mom had taken the trip of all trips. That she'd gone to a place where God dwells. She may be diminished from our sight, but she was now on heaven's shores. They're saying, "She is coming, she is coming, she is coming!" And then I looked at her friends and family and said, "The reason I can stand before you and smile on the day of the memorial service of my mother is because I know where she is."

My friends - you watching television in America and around the world, and you at the Crystal Cathedral today - here is my last word to you - it's "hope." No matter what you've done, no matter where you've been, God forgives your failures, God loves who you are, God offers you hope, and he offers you eternal life. That is the promise that causes us to rise above the difficulties and disappointments in life because we have a hope and a faith in a God who offers us a home with him where we can live forever and ever. He offers hope for a better life on earth and an eternal life with him. He beckons, "Follow me."

© Copyright Hour of Power 2009. This message was delivered by John C. Maxwell from the pulpit of the Crystal Cathedral and aired on the Hour of Power, Aug 9, 2009.

Read more about this week's guest pastor, John C. Maxwell.


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  1. youngeone writes:


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    08/09/2020 00:22:30
  2. dsvalu@gmail.com writes:

    Thank you God, John. M and all who have contributed to helping me revive my christian walk...I've been away from God a long time please remember me in your prayers. May God Bless Us All. Dave from Papua New Guinea

    Report Abuse

    08/09/2020 07:33:10
  3. youngeone writes:

    I was fortunate to see this program again today,and also to read it on the internet.I always get more from a message when I see any message again ,I was particularly impresses by what JOHN MAXWELL said about His Mothers funeral and the Blessed Hope that we have .What wonderful memories this Lady has left for those she loved and what comfort that leaves them with now . Looking forward to all programs of the HOUR OF POWER.THANK YOU AGAIN. JMC.

    Report Abuse

    08/09/2020 21:30:06
  4. youngeone writes:

    dsvalu@gmail.com writes To DAVE, Another opportunity that HOUR OF POWER gives us is that we can pray for one another. I have put you on my prayer list ,and will pray for you .JMC

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    08/10/2020 00:39:46
  5. Rachel Christopher writes:

    First, Peter thought himself better than others, then he thought he knew himself better than Jesus did, and thirdly he also thought himself stronger than he was, but when he eventually came a full circle before the risen Lord acknowledging His Lordship he admitted, "Lord, you know me". Boy am I glad He knows me better than I know myself.

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    08/10/2020 02:15:52
  6. Rosebud37 writes:

    Thanks for this great message of HOPE! The LORD knows us, and even when we may be tempted to give up on ourselves, how wonderful it is to know -- that our LORD won't give up on us ... oh, what marvellous news this is! DAVE: prayers ascending for you today!

    Report Abuse

    08/12/2020 01:06:12

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