Philippians 1:6 (NLT)
And 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 Christ Jesus returns.
As the New Year approaches, the Lord has been speaking to my heart. In worship yesterday, I was overwhelmed with gratitude. Looking down the pew at my cancer-free son and newly married daughter, we accomplished what we set out to do in 2014. We pulled it off by the Love, Grace, Mercy and Power of our Living God. Running the race of faith is like any other physical endeavor that can make us spiritually tired, exhausted, overwrought and even empty. But it is such times that God presses us out so that we can be filled with more of Him. I love the results but hate the process. Turning pride to humility can look a lot like grinding wheat to make flour as it is crushed under a millstone. It was in that place of worship as our new son-in-law sang and led others into the Presence of God that I dared to even hope of what was to come in the next year. This is not my usual stance but this has not been an ordinary journey. The last few years have taken me to the end of myself. It has given way to a process although painful, it is producing an inward change that will be worth it if I finish…
Like most people, I set goals for the coming year but this time around they seem a bit drastic. The Lord is calling me to simplify my life. What a relief? As my teenage daughter loves to say, “Plot twist!” Not exactly. It has produced an ant-like mentality somewhat obsessed with the new season attempting to do it and get ready now. We have a lot of stuff. Too much stuff. Lost in cluttered closets and surplus of unnecessary things that I have been hoarding away for years. Why? Good question. My husband asked me last night as I feverishly began removing clothes and shoes from my closet. All of my clothes were purchased at a discount but do I really need so much. Embarrassing I will admit that I own pants from size 2 to 10. Yet I have remained the same size for more than a year now. There is probably a lot of mental and emotional baggage attached to my keeping things like that. Look at my pantry, just before Christmas I started just making what I had for dinner during our break from work and routine. I cooked for over a week planning menus on what I already had in my pantry. Are you seeing my dilemma? We get lost every day in cluttered houses, offices, minds, relationships and more. Starting so many things, but never finishing anything because we become distracted. Standing in my closet last night, I was overwhelmed at God’s Provision in my life in clothing alone. I wonder how many other areas of my life that I have everything I need yet struggle because I failed to finish the last faith mission. God is calling us to finish well. It is with a promise and purpose attached if we only would have the patience to make it to the end and endure.
Ecclesiastes 7:8 (NLT) Finishing is better than starting. Patience is better than pride.
I want God to complete the good work that He has begun in my life through my relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ. No, I really want it enough to commit my life to having it. By doing so, I have entered a covenant promise that requires my constant connection to Christ as the Source for my life. The problem is that life with Jesus is so much better than anything that we ever imagined, a little goes a long way. We make a few changes and allow the Lord to transform a part of our life and decide that is more than enough to get us through this life stepping into Eternity. But what God has a better life for you right now? What if the only thing stopping you is that you keep starting over again and again? We get lost in the baggage of our life. The process of prosperity (beginning with our soul) is a complete and total plan. You must not only start it but finish it to have what the Lord promised. Total contentment and complete satisfaction will never be about what we have or do not have but exclusively in finishing what the Lord has started in our life to claim the prize that He has waiting for us. God planned goodness for our life that is better than anything that we will ever come up with. We must make room in our life to receive it by removing those things which take His Place. It is time to finish but do you have the patience to do so?
Luke 14:26-29 (NLT)
“If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you.”
Why waste our life running half-heartedly after God? I mean really what’s the point. Life will be what we make of it anyway because anything less than God’s Best is not His Will for your life. His Blessings are an inheritance which means that they are already provided and marked for you. You cannot change God’s Mind or make Him do more or less. He has perfected everything concerning you and me in His Will and according to His Timing. We just need to be patient. But unfortunately – most people give up on God because they never counted the cost of discipleship in the first place. You will never be fully committed to finish the race of faith unless you know what it is going to cost you. Everything my friend, following Jesus is all or nothing. Jesus is your Savior or He is not. Jesus is your Lord or He is not. I am not talking about making mistakes in our walk with Christ. If you want to finish the course – you must have faith.
Romans 1:17 (NLT)
This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”
So I am standing at a crossroads of sorts today, kind of scratching my head and looking around. We made it through 2014 with only a few days remaining. We made it. All of us. This in and of itself is a miracle credited to the Glory of God and His Great Love. We accomplished all that “we” set out to do. But now as I stand here, I know in my heart that God did not bring us through just to squeak by. He is prospering us from the inside to the outside. This is accomplished from “start TO finish” by faith! My life is found in my faith in God. So maybe it looks to the world like we are done and made it and should be thankful – We are, we did and we are very thankful. But God is telling me in my heart that there is more to this story than meets the eye and keep going… But God I am tired. Keep going. Lord, I am weak. I know but you are almost there. Haven’t we finished Jesus? Almost now you must finish for the prize! When we are happy to get by it is by faith and endurance that we thrive!
John 19:30 (NLT)
When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and released his spirit.
When Jesus said, “It is finished” on the Cross. He released His Spirit. He walked right into hell and grabbed the keys to the grave. He walked right out of the tomb and gave all that power to us. He lives in us now. See we couldn’t see that part. We didn’t go in the grave with Him, descend into hell beside Him or come up out of that tomb three days later. Each one of us must encounter the Lord for ourselves now that He is risen and alive. He is handing us our life back. Just as he tried to tempt Jesus, the enemy takes every given opportunity to make us give up, quit and walk away from the race of faith. (Luke 4:1-13) The devil will always without fail try to get us to comprise our completion. We fall for it. Thank you God for your Grace! Jesus finished the race on the Cross. That may not seem much more to you than a gruesome picture of a man battered beyond recognition dying nailed barbarically to an old rugged cross. He released His Spirit in that moment along with every ounce of power that He possessed and made it our inheritance. It is our prize. This was the moment when completion became possible in our life. It is the time when prosperity became our promise.
Zechariah 8:6-13 (NLT)
“This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: All this may seem impossible to you now, a small remnant of God’s people. But is it impossible for me? says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: You can be sure that I will rescue my people from the east and from the west. I will bring them home again to live safely in Jerusalem. They will be my people, and I will be faithful and just toward them as their God. This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Be strong and finish the task! Ever since the laying of the foundation of the Temple of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, you have heard what the prophets have been saying about completing the building. Before the work on the Temple began, there were no jobs and no money to hire people or animals. No traveler was safe from the enemy, for there were enemies on all sides. I had turned everyone against each other. But now I will not treat the remnant of my people as I treated them before, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. For I am planting seeds of peace and prosperity among you. The grapevines will be heavy with fruit. The earth will produce its crops, and the heavens will release the dew. Once more I will cause the remnant in Judah and Israel to inherit these blessings. Among the other nations, Judah and Israel became symbols of a cursed nation. But no longer! Now I will rescue you and make you both a symbol and a source of blessing. So don’t be afraid. Be strong, and get on with rebuilding the Temple!”
God is working on the inside of each one who has given our life to Him. He can only work on those parts that are surrendered in total faith and trust. This is the cost of becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ. Faith makes everything possible in our life. This renovation will not be complete until Jesus comes back. There will be some good days and challenging ones as we strive to remain committed to the process of faith. (Romans 5:1-5) To have faith requires us to surrender our heart, mind and body to this process by which more faith is found and secured into confident hope. So today, God has given me some encouragement in these verses when I look at my life as a rebuilding or renovation. 1) It may seem impossible…for now. With God all things are possible to those who believe. 2) God is faithful. Standing in my closet knee deep in clothing I was completely blown away by the abundance of God in my closet alone. 3) Be strong. Strength in God is manifested in my weakness. When I am weak, He becomes my strength. 4) Finish the task. There are some things that I set out to do in 2014 that I must not abandon because it was the Lord who laid them on my heart. He has given me some clear objectives for the coming year that I must be committed to. I need endurance which is a quality produced in the testing of my faith. So be it… 5) The Lord has planted seeds of prosperity throughout these last few years that will die on the vine and in the field if I do not continue to walk by faith. I will abandon my blessing if I give up now. I will forfeit my prize. And finally 6) I will become a “source of blessing.” This is called abundance my friend.
James 1:2-4 (NLT)
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
Who doesn’t want to be perfect and complete needing nothing? What if we are halfway there but do not know it? How could that happen? My family gave me a very nice camera for Christmas one that I had secretly wanted for the last several years. When I opened the box to use it on Christmas Day, I found that I didn’t have the memory card that I needed so I put it back in the box until I could get one. Well, last night cleaning out the clutter of too many clothes and too much stuff, I found three! What if God’s Provision for our life is buried in the clutter we surround ourselves for comfort and control? What if we decided to remove it from our homes, hearts and lives today? What would we find? Faith is a race to the finish. It is not complete until the end. I wonder if when we get there we will find that nothing else really mattered other than what we did for Jesus? Like loving our family and others more than ourselves. I will be simplifying my life in 2015. Making room for more Jesus and less stuff. It’s time to prosper what we planted but I need to clear and consecrate space in my Temple. My life is my worship place. It is my responsibility to surrender it all to Him. It will take a whole lot of patience to get this job done. If God calling you to finish today? Is your inclination to have a new start? His Will for you (yes you) is to be fully developed, perfect, complete and lacking nothing. I want that life, too. God is calling us to finish well today. Jesus gave us everything that we need to do so. His Spirit is in us ready to renew, restore and revive us again. What are you waiting for? Finish well.
2 Timothy 4:7 (NLT)
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.