Go Local!

July 2, 2017

Message Title:

Get Local!

Acts 1:8

(unedited manuscript)

Good morning everyone.  Happy 4th of July to all of you!  This morning I want to start by reading a couple of scriptures to you.  The first one is from one of Jesus disciples, John, who wrote a letter to young Christians based on Jesus’ teaching.  He told them, “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”  1 John 3:17-18


When it comes to being a serious follower of Jesus, there are three activities you will need to execute.  First, you will need instruction on how to live the Christian life.  This is why we have a teaching ministry here each week at Celebration.  Secondly, you will need to imitate the faith.  You will need to get around some Christians more mature than you and see how they live out their faith.  This is one aim of our Go Groups.  Thirdly, you will need to be immersed- as in jumping in and serving in Jesus’ name.  This is when you take what you have been taught and seen and take your own action.  This is done by serving others.

John says our faith isn’t truly executed unless we love others with deeds.  God did not put you on earth to live a self-centered life.  He put you on earth to make a difference.  He wants you to make a contribution with your life.  He wants you to give something back.  Whenever you use your talents, your abilities, your background, your time, your energy to help someone in God’s name; the Bible has a word for that, that’s called ministry.  Everyone is a minister.  We all have been gifted by God do something well.


How do you serve God?  This is what we will do in heaven- serve God.  Here on earth the only way to serve God is to serve people.  You cannot serve God directly on earth.  On earth it is by serving people you serve God.  God wants us to serve God together, in community, in relationship with others.  Notice John says, “Let us…”  He’s talking about us serving together.  We need to work together with heart and purpose.


The second verse I want to share with you is something Jesus said to his disciples just before he ascended into heaven.  He said to them, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  Acts 1:8. This is exactly what the early church did.   They talked about Jesus first in the city of Jerusalem, then into the surrounding region, Judea (the country that contained Jerusalem) and Samaria to the north (The country the Jews despised because they were culturally different), then it spread into Rome, India and North Africa, places that are geographically distant and culturally different.  All the way to you today.  Let’s apply this scripture to us.


Use Paper graph


For the disciples Jerusalem meant reaching people who lived across the street.  This is people who live within our geographical proximity.  People who live in your neighborhood, work with, go to school with, and play with.  Judea meant reaching people across the country but are like you.   These people are like you culturally but geographically distant.  Samaria was populated with people close to Jerusalem, but they were culturally different.  Then to reach across the seas meant reaching people who are geographically distant and culturally different.


No matter the different combinations and geography we are given one mission, the Great Commission, where Jesus commanded us to make disciples- and every Jesus follower is called to embrace it.  As I heard one minister put it, “The question isn’t “Does our church have Jesus’ mission,” but “Does Jesus mission have us?”  A growing church is an obedient church.  A healthy church follows the Great Physician’s instructions.

I believe being obedient to these two scriptures is incredibly important in today’s world.  It’s important because we are living in a more and more culturally diverse world.  We need to know not just what we believe but why we believe so we can properly shield our faith in Jesus.  We need to do what Jesus said to do in order to take the Gospel to our community and neighborhoods.  Jesus’ mission needs to take hold of in deeds and not just word so we can truly make a real difference.  We need Jesus mission to take hold of us so our lives on social media match our real day to day life.  We live in a world of terrorism, racism, political divides, and following and doing what Jesus’ said is our only light in the darkness.  It is important!


Today I want to share with you how our church is working at being obedient to these two scriptures.  What I mean by church is our mission partners.  Us in this room.  I specifically want to focus on our Jerusalem- Suffolk.  What good deeds and actions are we doing to demonstrate God’s love and make disciples?


The first place I want to show is our church family.  Psalm 68:6 says, “God sets the lonely in families.”  God did not design us to be alone. One of the greatest punishments we can give someone, one of the greatest tortures, is to solitary confinement.  Why is that?  Because it goes directly against how God designed us.  God never wanted you to deal with loneliness.  This is why we say Celebration is a church family.  You are not assimilated into our church family, you are adopted.  You are one of us.  You are loved.


Romans 12 says, “Since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other and each of us needs all the others.”  Notice that last phrase, “Each of us needs all the others.”


Because we are a family we do a lot of things a caring family does.  We have cookouts together, like the one recently did for Father’s Day.  When you are sick we pray for you.  If you need a meal to help in your recovery we bring you- sometimes several meals!  We listen to each other.  We celebrate the births of babies.  We encourage each other to persevere and to pray.


God never intended for you to walk through life alone.  Never.  We need each other. Proverbs 26 says, “Only fools trust what they think alone is right.”  A church family is God’s answer to loneliness.  We all need a place where we can practice and really learn how to love like God.
Recently we had a gathering of our Go Group leaders and as part of the discussion we talked about the strengths of our church family.  Everyone agreed we are a church that loves everyone.  We are a church that will look over people’s faults and failures and love them like Jesus.  We truly try to live out “No perfect people allowed.  Come as you are.”


Another area where we are doing good deeds in our “Jerusalem” is by empowering the poor.  One time Jesus got up and spoke about his ministry here on earth.  He said, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19  Our ministry is to look no different.


A few years ago the Elders and leadership made a great decision to be an externally focused church.  What does that mean?  An externally focused church is a healthy family of God, but they are oriented externally.  As a result, we sought to engage our community through good works and the Good News of Jesus Christ, making Suffolk a better place to live.


The reason we call our Go Groups “Go Groups” is want our groups to be strong but have an orientation to help someone in the community.  As a result, our groups have partnered with several organizations in the community.  Each month, Butch Gross’s Go Group supplies the volunteers at the Western Tidewater Free Clinic with a meal so the doctors and nurses donating their time, who often come straight from work skipping dinner, have something to eat.


Derby and Maria Johnson’s group works with Elephant’s Fork Elementary School and Oakland Elementary School in getting school supplies every school year.  In fact, we will have a drive coming up here in August.


I know other groups are involved in sending gifts oversea to sailors, helping widows, and more.


The scriptures also teach us to “Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” Ps 82:3-4


Just a couple weeks ago we through a party for some kids in the “For Kids” outreach.  For Kids is an organization that helps homeless families find a permanent place to live.  Now, here in Suffolk you might say we don’t have a homeless problem, like say what we hear about n Virginia Beach.  One unseen part of homelessness is what is called “Couch surfing.”  What happens is a family is homeless so they stay at a friends house for a couple weeks, then a relative’s house the next, and so on.  One of the biggest issues that crops up is school attendance.  Because the families are hopping from one home to another they hop from one school zone to another.  Many kids don’t get to finish school.  So when a homeless child finishes the school year it is a big deal.  They had to overcome a lot to get that accomplished.


This is why we are the sponsor for the For Kids end of the school year party.  We just did it a couple weeks ago.  To tell you about this year’s experience I asked Wendy and Jennifer to share about this year’s big party.


{Wendy and Jennifer share / photos}


Let’s give them a hand!  Thank you Jennifer and Wendy.


One last area I would like to share is a dream.  It is God’s dream.  And it has to do with the issue of racism.  I’ll be honest I am a little nervous talking about this.  I have a very limited perspective.  I grew up in eastern Indiana and my home county is 95% white, but I feel the need to talk about God’s dream in this regard.  At the heart of the Gospel is loving everyone- including those who are different.  Racism is not God’s desire.  He did not design us with racism.  As comedian Denis Leary said, “Racism isn’t born, folks.  It’s taught.  I have a two year old son.  You know what he hates- naps.”


The Bible says, “If you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin.”  We all have sorts of ways of doing this.  Rich people are snobs.  Heavy person is lazy.  Younger generation doesn’t work.  Preachers of megachurch’s are crooks.  Old people can’t teach.  White guys can’t jump.


God is after everyone. He is not prejudiced. The Bible says, “Everyone who calls on the name the Lord will be saved.”  Romans 10:12.


God’s vision and dream for heaven isn’t gold streets or fancy homes.  It’s a gathering of all kinds of people all across the globe.  Listen to this from Revelation, “…There before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb…And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” Rev 7:9-10


The good news we are part of making God’s Dream come true!  There is no plan B!  This is God’s dream for his church.  We live in a diverse area.  We can see God’s dream for heaven lived here at Celebration.  What did Jesus teach us to pray? “May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.”  Matthew 6:10  Father, may the diversity in heaven be done here on earth.  May it be done right here in this room!  I believe the church is a critical part eradicating racism.  We get to be part of God’s dream!  What a beautiful scene it could be in this room, incredibly diverse: black, white, Asian, Latino, rich and poor, education levels, age differences, Tarheels and Blue Devils, Hokies and Wahoos, all gathered saying, “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the lamb.”


How can you get involved in making God’s dream come true at C3?  How can you help the orphaned and the homeless and the widow?  How can you help out in our projects at For Kids and the Schools?  There are three ways you can get involved.

  1. Community Wide Events. A few times a year we sponsor an event for the entire community to attend.  This past spring we did the 10,000 egg Easter egg hunt.   This fall we will help the Y feed over 400 people buying the Turkeys for their Thanksgiving dinner.  All you need to do to participate in these event s is listen for the announcement and sign-up wherever you can!
  2. Then we have Church wide events. The End of School year party for 4 Kids, the backpack drive, or food drive, are all examples of a church wide event.  All you need to do at these events is bring in a donation.
  3. Lastly, and the one I want to encourage everyone to get in on, is to get involved in a Go Group. Each Go Group does several activities throughout the year to be externally focused.  Each Go Group decides what, who, and how of their service.  If you would like to get involved in a Go Group you can pick up a flyer at the Welcome Table or talk to me after worship.  I’ll be by the Welcome Tables.

One way I like to describe a church is a tree.  A tree has three healthy parts:  The root system, the trunk, and the canopy of branches with fruit.  A successful church has three primary activities.  With its roots it grows deep into God’s word, his family, and in worship.  It grows together strong by forming circles, like the rings of a tree in the trunk.  Then lastly, a healthy tree will spread out in community with other trees and make each other stronger.  It will bear fruit.  It will plant seeds to make more trees.  A healthy church does the same.


(Show video of Redwood Trees)


Redwood trees are massive and gorgeous to look at.  However, if they were to stand alone the would fall down.  By the mingling of their roots and branches the trees help each other stand up.


I believe it is the same for this community we live in.  We all help each other stand up and I believe the church is God’s gift to this world to bring people, businesses, schools, families, together to make a better Suffolk and western Tidewater through the power of God’s grace and shed blood.  I believe the church is God’s plan to make America great again!










Why Should I Be Part of a Go Group? Part 1.

Discipleship always happens best in the context of personal relationships.

We may hear a challenging sermon on Sunday morning, or hear a song that inspires us, but we have the ability not to do anything about it.  Just because someone preached on forgiveness doesn’t mean anyone is holding us accountable to forgive people in the next week.  If I decide not to do it, no one will know or say anything.  The result is we live a comfortable Christianity with a faceless faith.   We just take or leave God.  We live a cheap grace that belittles the cost Jesus took on our behalf.

It’s when we are involved in personal relationships with other disciples, with the same aim of helping each other grow in Christ, where we can grow in our faith.  It’s in our relationships with each other, formed in our Go Groups, where the skills of discipleship are honed and sharpened in a context of encouragement.  This is why you need to be part of a Go Group.

Gathering Dust

One of the great directives in discipleship was given by Jesus.  He said, “Come, follow me.”  Matthew 4:19.  Paul then took Jesus’ command and reinterpreted it to those he was leading in Christ.  He said, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1.

Hence a crucial system of discipleship was formed: Follow Jesus as I follow Jesus. Following Jesus means to imitate his love, his truth, his character.  In Jesus day they had a euphemism for it, “May the dust of your rabbi be upon you.”

Paul’s command to Follow my example as I follow Christ’s example, means imitation is more than asking, “What would Jesus do?”  It’s about taking the time to observe and have relationships with other Christians and learning from them.  Observe their actions and deeds and see what Christ’s love really looks like, acted out.  Then imitating it in your life.

So the challenge is, what other Christian, who is a stronger Christian than you, can you imitate as they imitate Christ?  Ideally this person is not at a distance, but someone of whom you have a good relationship.  On the flip side, who are you saying to, like Paul is, follow me as I follow Christ?

The Challenge of Discipleship

One of the phrases we use at C3 is we want to be a church of disciples making disciples.  What does that mean?  It’s based on what we call the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20.  Jesus said to his disciples, “Go and make disciples.”

A disciple is an apprentice of Jesus.  A disciple gets his or her instructions for life from Him, imitates Him, and immerses his or her entire experience in Him.

I came across a quote the other day I found interesting, “If you make disciples, you always get the church.  But if you make a church, you rarely get disciples.”  When you decide to make a church, you attract consumers who depend on a spiritual service religious professionals provide.  When you decide to make disciples, you get followers of Jesus Christ who make up the church.

On that note, we do not build the church.  Jesus said he will build his church.  That’s his job.  Our job is to make disciples.  It is the commandment he gave us.  There is no plan B.

This is the challenge of discipleship.  Staying focused on the task Jesus gave us to complete.

Three Commitments You Can Make to Be at Peace with Everyone

We’ve been talking about how to love people from the heart even if they have been unthankful or wicked towards us. We often react to difficult people by avoiding the person or situation, let them have their way, don’t give them what they want but their behavior continues, hope someone else deals with it, or power up and conquer.

Scripture gives us a better way.  Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”  Other verses in Romans 12 tell us what peacemaking looks like (as opposed to peacekeeping).  Verse 9 says, “Don’t just pretend to love others.  Really love them.”  Verse 17 says, “Don’t repay evil for evil.”  Verse 19, “Don’t take revenge.”  It also says in verse 17, “Be careful to do the right thing.”

You need to make three commitments when dealing with difficult people:

  1. I will commit to treat them with compassion.
  2. I may not be responsible for how they are treating me.
  3. I will take responsibility for how I react to them.

Be Patient with People’s Progress



June 11, 2017

Message Series:


Message Title:

God is Not Finished with People

Philippians 1:6

(unedited manuscript)

Take a look right now at this Top Ten List right here.  These are the plants that take the longest to bloom. (http://listverse.com/2013/08/11/10-ridiculously-slow-to-bloom-plants/)

  • Sheep Eating Plant (15 to 20 yrs)
  • Madagascar Palm (100 years)
  • Night blooming Cereus (1 year and only at night)
  • Narrow Leafed Campion (30,000 years)
  • Kurinji Plant (Once every 12 years)
  • Agave Americana (!0 years)
  • Queen of the Andes (80 to 150 Years)
  • Melocanna Baciffera (44 to 48 years)
  • Talipot Palm (30 to 89 Years)
  • Giant Himalayan Lily (5 to 7 years)

These plants give a whole new meaning to the phrase, “Bloom where you are planted,” don’t they?  Sometimes it takes longer then we like for the bloom of good to come out!


We started this series A couple weeks ago and we have gone over two actions to outlast the bad.  We said in order to do that we need to be grateful for the good in people.  Paul said of the people in the church at Philippi, “I thank my God every time I remember you..”  PH 1:3.  Then last week we looked at how to pray positively for people.  It’s the best way to turn a relationship from bad to good.  Paul again said in Philippians 1:4, “In all my prayers for all of you I pray with joy.”


Today, the third path to outlasting the bad in people so you can embrace the good is: Be patient with their progress.  Paul just didn’t look at a person’s past, he also looked to their future.  He looked to their future and was patient with their progress.  Sometimes, it takes people longer to bloom than we would like.  In verse 6 of Philippians 1 Paul writes, “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ.”  (NIV)  Paul says what God starts, God finishes.  What God started in your life at salvation He will bring it eventually to completion.


Mankind is often a great starter and not a great finisher.  Man has unfinished songs, like Mozart’s Requiem; unfinished books like Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales; Michelango’s sculpture of David; or the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Manhattan (It was started in 1892 and it’s still missing its spires).  (source: Mental Floss) {Show pictures}  Man doesn’t always finish what he starts but God always finishes what he starts.


God does not make a bird and give it half a wing.  He does not make an unfinished flower, or an unfinished star.  The Bible says when Jesus starts working in your life he finishes what he started.  In spite of my hangups, sins, insecurities, failures, faults, bad decisions that I face in life God is going to finish what he started in my life.  And in your life too!  You are going to make it!  The Bible says one day when you get to heaven you will be made complete, with no sin, and you will be like Jesus.  And that’s the goal.  We are all growing to be like Jesus.  God starts what he finishes.


How do you outlast the bad and embrace the good?  Lesson #3: Appreciate God is not finished with people.  We need to be patient with people’s progress.  To embrace the good in people we must allow for growth and for development.  Paul would tell you himself, “I’m not the man I used to be, thank God.  But also, thank God, I’m not the man I’m going to be.  I’m growing and changing.”


When we first meet Paul he is not the super missionary Christian who wrote half the New Testament.  In fact, he was the opposite.  We see Paul directly involved in the murder and persecution of countless early Christians.  He was a Pharisee of the highest order and saw Christians as a threat.  He saw them as blasphemers of God- deserving of persecution and death.  The first glimpse of Paul is when we see him nodding approval of the first martyr of the Christian faith. (Acts 8:1)


Shortly after that, as he was on his way to Damascus, Paul had a life changing event.  His plan was to arrest the Christians there and throw them in prison.  Closing businesses, splitting up children from parents, and destroying people’s reputations was all part of his plan.   On his way there Jesus appeared to him in a blinding light asking him why he was persecuting him.


Shortly thereafter, in Damascus, was a disciple named Ananias whom God told to lead Paul to a relationship with Jesus.  Now get this, Paul had done nothing yet.  He was a blind man in a stranger’s bedroom of a guy who he hated just a few days ago.  He was a brand new babe in Christ and this is what Jesus said of Paul, “This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel.”  Acts 9:15.  Jesus had some work to do with Paul!  Jesus started a work in Paul and he brought it to completion.  We “gentiles” in this room study his writings about Jesus 2000 years later!  What’s true for Paul is true for you and those around you.


Paul never lost on the fact God was helping grow more and more like Jesus Christ.  Over in chapter 3 of Philippians Paul talks about his own growth track.  He gives himself as an illustration of God completing the work in him.


First, he says this is my goal.  This is who I want to be like.  He says in verse 10, “I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead.  I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection of the dead!”  What amazing goal.  Paul is saying I’m continuing to grow into being like Jesus.  To love like Jesus.  To suffer like Jesus.  And because of Jesus’ resurrection to even conquer death like Jesus.  He says I want to keep growing to be like Jesus.  How do I know that?


Verse 12, “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection.  But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ first possessed me.”  Paul is saying I’m not there yet but I have confidence that Jesus will complete the work he started in me, including the resurrection!  This is the first lesson in being patient with someone: Look in the mirror.  Paul knew he had room to grow.  You too, need to realize you have room to grow.  We are really good at giving ourselves the benefit of the doubt.  We need to be good at giving that to others as well.


Jesus famously gave a parable that illustrates this truth.  Jesus put it this way, “Why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying, ‘Friend, let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” Luke 6:41-42  Jesus is saying before you go spouting off how other people should grow make sure you look in the mirror first.  Make sure you are growing in Christ too.


The first key to being patient with someone’s progress is to look in the mirror.  You haven’t reached perfection yet either.  The second key to being patient is to appreciate they have room to grow as well.


Notice how Paul starts verse 13, “No, dear brothers and sisters…”  He calls the people he is writing brothers and sisters.  He addresses them affectionately even, “Dear brothers and sisters.”  Paul sees these people as family.  He literally sees a bond of blood between him and them- the blood of Christ binds them together.  As Jesus followers we are to live in a family.  Here at C3 you just don’t join our church.  You are adopted into it.  You are now family.  Families help each other.  Families do life together.  Families stick together.  Families help each other grow.  Families stick together in tough times and good times.  We are not an island.  We grow up together in Christ.  All of us have room to grow and God has given us each other to help us grow.  Paul is saying I never give up on people.  We never give up on people.  This is why being part of a Go Group is so important.  Here at C3 we grow closer together in our Go Groups and help each other grow in our Go Groups. The second key is being patient with someone is recognize they have room to grow too.  God isn’t finished with them yet.


Paul gives us the third key for patience in verse 13, “I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgettting what is past…”  The third key to being patient with someone is to forget the past.


Arnold Palmer is one of the greatest golfers in the history of golf.  He is the golfer who is credited with taking golf from the elites and making it popular with the common man.  Vin Scully said, “In a sport that was high society, he made it High Noon.”  Many people born in the 1940’s became golfers because of Arnold’s popularity.  He won 92 championships and was 1960’s athlete of the decade.


As good as a golfer as he was, he knows more than anyone a golfer can have a bad hole.  The key to being good at golf is the ability to forget that really bad shot and focus on the shot you have.  It’s a difficult thing to do.  Especially on the hole you are golfing on has a monument erected to your incredibly bad shot- like Arnold Palmer.


In 1961 at the peak of Palmer’s career, at the Los Angeles Open, he his hit a good tee shot on the par 5, and he thought he get on the green with his second shot.  This put him position of a birdie, putting him closer to the leaders.

With his 3 wood, Palmer thought he hit a good shot, but it faded to the right, hit a pole, and bounced in to the driving range.  Palmer took a penalty, and hit the ball again from the same spot.  This time it went to the left and landed in the side road.  He took a penalty again.  He repeated this process many times.  When he finally put the ball on the green he had added ten strokes to his score- not a good thing.  It took him 2 putts to putt the ball in and finished with a twelve- when he had hoped for a four.  He scored so poorly he was knocked out the tournament.


Today, if you go to the 9th hole on the Rancho Park Golf Course in Los Angeles you will find a bronze plague that says, “On Friday, June 6, 1961, the first day of the 35th Los Angeles Open, Arnold Palmer, voted Golfer of the Year and Pro Athlete of the year, took a 12 on this hole.”

How was Arnold able to continue to play great golf after that disaster?  He put that hole way behind him and focused on what was ahead.  Too many people like to drive by rear view mirrors instead of looking out what’s ahead through the windshield.  Forget the past.


The fourth way to have patience with someone is to look to the future.  Paul says, “Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.”  We look forward to the work Christ is doing in them.  We look forward to seeing one day Christ completing the job.  By faith we believe God is working.  We never lose hope because we believe in this promise of God.  He is faithful to complete his work.  He doesn’t make birds with half a wing.  He doesn’t make incomplete stars.  Perhaps you have a friend or a loved one who is not a Jesus follower.  You can know that as you pray for them and faithfully live for Christ with them that God is working to bring them to a faith in them.


The common mistake we make is we judge people on the basis on how far they have to go instead of how far they have come.  Learn to enjoy people right now while allowing for growth and development.  Otherwise, they will never meet your conditions.  You’ve got to learn to enjoy them right now.  You make yourself miserable.  Enjoy your mate, your children, your coworkers.  There is no such thing as a perfect kid. There is no such thing as a perfect adult.  God is not finished is not finished with people.  Be patient with their progress.


There are four keys to having patience with others:

  1. Look in the mirror
  2. Know they have room to grow.
  3. Forget the past.
  4. Look to the future.


Paul gives us an incredible promise in Philippians 1:6, “I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Jesus Christ returns.” (NLT)


Notice in verse 6 Paul says I am certain of this, I am confident of this…  Paul believed in the power of God to change human personality.  He never gave up on people.  Paul is saying we can be confident, we can completely trust, we have faith that God is not finished with any of us yet.  No one is hopeless.  Part of faith is expecting the best out of people.  There is tremendous power in faith.  Concerning this promise Paul adds in chapter 3, verse 15, “Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things.  If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you.  But we must hold onto the progress we have already made.”


Paul would tell you that if anyone was hopeless it would be him.  In a letter to Timothy Paul calls himself the chief of sinners.  He was a murderer and persecutor of God’s people.  He was hopeless because of his mistakes.  But he also talks about how hopeless he was at being perfect for God.  He was completely zealous for God.  He says in chapter 3, verse 6, “as for zeal,…. as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.  But whatever those gains for me I now consider loss.”    He said he was faultless in pursuing laws of God.  He said that was hopeless too.  Expecting perfection is hopeless.


But in Christ we have hope.  We have hope because Jesus will complete the work in us.  John 1:12 tells us, “He gave us the power to become sons of God.”  The Christian life is a process.  We’re all becomers.  We’re all growing.  To outlast the bad and embrace the good, you have to enjoy people where they are now, not when they’ve arrived.   Jesus will finish what he started.  Our trust, our hope, our faith, is in no other than Jesus Christ.  The key to outlasting the bad in people and embracing the good is to be patient with their progress.  We are all children of God and inherit with children is they are not grown up yet.  God is not finished with them or you yet.