Return To Where You Began

Have you received a promise and rejoiced?  and then after the promise came hardship and delay?  Did you struggled in faith?  Well, you are not alone.   And just like Abraham, the father of our faith, you can return to where you began.

Abraham was called by God to leave his family, his comfort zone, and his financial safety net. He left everything because he heard God and trusted in His promises (Check out Genesis 12 and Hebrews 11 for more of the story).

When Abraham arrived in the land of Canaan he heard God say, “To your descendants I will give this land.” So he built an altar as an act of worship to God. This altar was a symbol of his faith—of his joy, his gratitude, his confidence, his resolve to follow God.

This altar was a symbol of his faith—of his joy, his gratitude, his confidence, his resolve to follow God.

But then Abraham was confronted with an economic crisis, a drought and famine. After the promise came hardships and delay.  Abraham struggled in his faith. His character was tested. Abraham went down to Egypt where it was safe. He lied, putting his wife in danger, to save his own skin.  Hint: don’t follow that example. 

But after his failure came restoration. Genesis 13 describes Abraham’s return: he came out of Egypt and returned “to the place where his tent had been at the BEGINNING, between Bethel and Ai, to the place of the altar which he had made there at FIRST. And there Abram called on the name of the Lord (Genesis 13:3-4).”

“…to the place of the altar which he had made there at FIRST.” -Genesis 13:4

Did you see that!? He returned to where he BEGAN. He returned to the place he had FIRST built an altar. He went back to the place God had spoken, to the place he believed God, to the place of joy, of confidence, of resolve, of thankfulness. He returned to faith.

Do you need to return to faith? Do you need to remember what God has promised you? Do you need to remember joy, confidence and thankfulness? Do you need to return, rebuild an altar of faith, worship and call on God’s name?  Well, you can. Just like Abraham you can return to where you began.  God’s mercy is new today. He is waiting for you to turn to Him, and cry out for His help.

And here is a good place to begin: like Abraham, be “strengthened in faith, giving glory to God (Romans 4:20).” Worship.  Boast about God.  Praise Him.  Find His promises in the bible and shout, “Thank you!”





Sinless Audio Message Series

Audio message series: Sinless.  You will discover the fullness of what Christ paid for on the cross and be convinced of how fully he has saved you and deeply he loves you.  You will understand the truth proclaimed in Hebrews 10:14 that he has forever PERFECTED those he is sanctifying.  Enjoy!

sinless part 1 …understand how Christ has made us perfect by his sacrifice.

Sinless part 2 …understand how much God delights in you because of Christ’s sacrifice.

Sinless part 3 …understand God’s redemptive strategy to heal and transform us and the world.

Sinless part 4 …understand why you are still in process, how you are BOTH perfected in Christ and being sanctified.


Hebrews 10:14–For by one offering He has PERFECTED forever those who are being sanctified.

Perfected!?  Jesus has made you perfect.  The gospel, clear as day, declares that those who have put their trust in Jesus have been made perfect because of his blood, his sacrifice on the cross.  That’s a big deal.  He does not say, “one day you will be perfect” but rather “he (Jesus) has perfected” you forever. That means it is his work; he did it for you by his grace.  And that means it has already been done; it’s nothing you can earn or work towards.  It’s done, paid for, accomplished, finished.  And–it gets better–It’s forever!

So, what does “perfected” mean?  Is this how God sees us; are we actually perfected? Or is there some hidden meaning in the Greek (original language of the New Testament)? Is it just some exaggeration or figure of speech?  Let’s observe what the author of Hebrews describes “perfect” to mean by backing up and reading the context surrounding verse 14 (by the way you may want to read all of chapter 9-10).

Hebrews 10:1-4–For the law, having a  shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach PERFECT.  For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.

First, the author explains that the blood of animals can never make us PERFECT (see verse 1).  He then goes on to describe what perfection would look like in verse 2-4: purified, conscious cleared of sin, and sin removed from us.  The law and sacrificial system in the mosaic covenant was intended to expose our sin and show our need for Christ; to remind us (verse 3).  Paul makes this clear when he says, “Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith (Galatians 3:24).”  It’s not the law that was the problem but our inability to save ourselves and walk in God’s ways (you can read more about this in Romans 7-8).

Before Christ, we were not perfect–far from it.  We were filled with sin and dead in it.  Because of sin’s defilement we did not have access to God.  We were separated from him and his eternal life.

But then, Christ came.  The author of Hebrews makes it clear that what Christ did was sufficient, complete, and effective.  What we could not do, God did for us.  Because of the blood of Jesus, we have been made perfect.  And he explains what perfect looks like: sin has been removed, our conscious has been cleared, we have been purified, and we have access into God’s presence.  Observe how he defines perfect in Christ here: ‘”Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” 18 Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin. 19 Therefore, brethren, having  boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus… (Hebrews 10:17-19).’

And so, because of Jesus you are perfect: your sin has been forgotten and removed, you have been purified and your conscious has been cleared.  You are sinless in Christ!  This is the truth, this is reality for those who are in Christ. The price has been paid, it is finished.  God has already forgiven you and even removed your sin from you.  You are pure, clean, right with God.  You are holy and without blame in his sight.  You can come to God with a clear conscious and with boldness knowing he loves and accepts you.  And all of this is by his grace, not your works.  In other words, it is somthing God has done for you, paid for with his blood, and not something you did or do for God, not somethig you have or can ever earn.  You only receive it by faith.  Like any gift, we simply say “thank you” and open the present.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

I am aware of what many think when they hear about this amazingly gracious gift of salvation.  Many feel unworthy to receive or think “if this is true, then why do I still sin and/or struggle with temptation?  And since I do, does that mean I’m not really a christian (I.e. Saved)?”  l will explain this in more depth in another post but, for now, consider this: you struggle with sin because you are born again.  You hate it.  You are a bad sinner.  Paul explains that our flesh and spirit are battling in Galatians 5:16-18.  Though we are perfect in Christ (meaning sinless) we are still in process, still being sanctified.  That is why it says, “He has perfected those he is forever sanctifying” (Hebrews 10:14).  He did the perfecting and he is doing the sanctifying.  It’s his ongoing work in us. And if he began the work in you, he will finish it (Philippians 1:8).  If he perfected you and if he is sanctifying you, you can be sure he is for you and not against you.  He is committed to your development, success, wholeness.  You can trust him, follow him, enjoy him.

Thoughts, questions?  Please comment below or contact me.

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God enjoys you even in the process

Philippians 2:12-13 “WORK out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who WORKS in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”

Each of us is called to take responsibility for our own relationship with God.  We are not saved by works but there is a work of faith involved in our relationship with God.  We are to partner with the Lord by faith, with a deep desire to please him, in order to grow in Christ-like character.  Our participation is required.

But, for many of us, that call to growth is frightening.  We fear failing. We fear that, if we are not perfect, God or others will be angry, disappointed, or displeased with us.  We fear we will be rejected.  And that fear shuts down our motivation and robs us of courage.  We either strive in our human effort, driven by guilt, to earn his acceptance; or we hide in shame, victimized by bondage; or we try to fake out God or others with religious behavior.  All of these unhealthy responses are rooted in a lie about God, rooted in fear.

In this passage, Paul explains what our motivation to partner with God should be rooted in saying, “FOR it is God who works in you….”  Notice we are called to work with him, but our work is a response to something he has already done and is doing.  The truth is that God loves us and is pleased with us even while we are in process. He is working in us to will and to do FOR his good pleasure!  Our work is a partnering with a work he is already doing.  Like kids helping their dad carry a heavy box, he is bearing the weight and we are simply participating for our development and his enjoyment.  He does not need our help.  We are the ones who need his strength.  He is not sitting while we work, but he is calling us to get up and work with him for our benefit and growth.  This truth frees us from fear, guilt, shame, and hiding. This truth motives us to grow and fills us with courage.  God is already pleased. He enjoys us in the process, he likes working with us and in us.

I say it again: our work is a partnering with a work he has already done and is doing.  Hebrews 10:14 says, “For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.”  First, God has already made us perfect in Christ.  Because of the blood Jesus shed for us we are already perfected, forgiven, righteous, free, accepted, loved, adopted, and more. He has “predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will (Ephesians 1:5).”  According to the pleasure of his will!  That means you are his kid because he wanted you to be.  He made you, he chose you, he saved you, he adopted you.  And the very fact you are his, makes him glad.  He is filled with pleasure simply because you are his. Second, he is the one sanctifying us.  He is making us increasingly like his Son Jesus.  He is healing us, shaping and molding our character, renewing our mind, transforming our lives. It’s his work in us.

The goal: conformed to the likeness of Christ (Romans 8:29)  Yes!  When God is all done with his work, we will look just like Jesus.  We will want what he wants, love how he loves, think how he thinks, be holy as he is holy.  This is the work he is committed to.  It’s already paid for and he is already doing it in us by his Spirit.

The process: he is working in us to will and to do.  He covers the whole process.  The willingness is given to us and the doing.  He gives us what we do not have–that’s grace.  Where we lack in motivation or willingness, he gives us that.  Where we lack the courage or ability or wisdom to do he gives us that too.  He is the author and finisher; it’s his work, strength, righteousness, power, grace in us from beginning to end.  The work he began he will finish, he will not fail.

And so He already enjoys us in Christ, he enjoys the process of making us like Jesus and he will enjoy when we are complete.  We can’t lose, we can’t fail.  He won’t reject us.  He is the one bearing the weight of the work.

So get up, come out of hiding.  Let God enjoy you.  Let him transform you.  It’s worth it.  You will not become like Christ by staying stuck in fear, shame or guilt.  You won’t become like Christ by hiding from God and trying to get “better” on your own before coming to God.  You will only become like Christ by being with Christ.  It’s his work in you and the only power for transformation is through yielding to him.  It’s by knowing him that we become like him.  So enjoy God, enjoy the process, enjoy life.

God does not want to do it for you, but with, in and through you.

John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

God does not want to do it for you, but with, in and through you.

The image of the vine and the branch is a powerful and real image of our connection to Jesus.  Vine: He is the source.  Branch: we are the conduit.  In order for fruit to be produced, the plant requires the vine and the branches.

Simple truth: we need Jesus.  Without him we can produce nothing of his Kingdom, of his character, of his power, for his glory.  Without him there is no eternal life.  But without us nothing can be produced either.  His kingdom does not come, his power is not released, his character is not manifested in the world except THROUGH us.  If we do not abide, if we do not surrender to his leadership, trust in his provision, rely and depend on him, then the life that is in him will not flow through us to produce fruit.  In order for the redemptive Kingdom of God to manifest in our lives and in this world we must be connected to the vine.

This is why faith is the essential response to the grace of God.  In Fact, Hebrews 11:6 tells us that without faith it impossible to please God.  Grace is his work; faith is our response.  As Paul says in Ephesians 2:8, “For it is by grace that you have been saved through faith….”  Notice God’s work of healing and redemption (saved) is by grace AND through faith.  Not one or the other, but his grace and our faith cooperating.

What God wants to produce for us in this world must flow in and through us.  God wants us to be fruitful.  He wants to bless us and make us a blessing to the world.  He wants his redemptive kingdom manifested in the world.  He has provided all we need through the finished work of the cross and the ongoing work of his Spirit.  And we are the conduits.   Our participation is essential.  He has decided that he will do nothing on earth except through the willingly participation of human beings.  Why?  Because he gave us this world as our home to manage (see Genesis 1-2).  He gave us dominion over this world.  We are responsible.  And so his work of redemption must flow in and through us.  He will not bypass you or your will.  He won’t produce something without a transformation of your character and an alignment of your will.  He does not want to do something for you but with, in and through you.

This is why our intimate connection of trust and dependence on the Lord is vital.  That is why Jesus calls us to ABIDE.  This is why our character development is vital.  This is why we need our mind renewed, our souls sanctified by the transforming power of the preached Word of God.  This is why submission to his leadership and to healing community is vital.  Everything he produces must done with us and flow in and through us.

Want to start a friendship with God or deepen it?  Next steps.

Got thoughts or questions?  Your turn; comment below.