BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“This is what the LORD Almighty says: Be strong and finish the task!” (Zechariah 8:9a New Living Translation).
The Jews in exile in Babylon returned to Jerusalem by the permission of Cyrus, the king of Persia, to rebuild the Temple. The foundation was completed, but the enemies rose against it, causing the project to stop for many years.
God sent the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, who prophesied for the work to resume (Ezra 5:1). The prophecy encouraged the Jews to resume work. The enemy rose again, but the plot failed as the document permitting the project to be done was found and approval was given by Darius, king of Persia that the work should not be stopped.
Zachariah prophesied in Zechariah 8:9a, “This is what the LORD Almighty says: Be strong and finish the task!” (Zechariah 8:9a New Living Translation).
In Ezra 6:14, the Bible says the elders continued their work and they were generally encouraged by the preaching of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah. The Temple was finally finished as had been commanded by the God of Israel and decreed by Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes, kings of Persia (not the Artaxerxes mentioned in Ezra 4:21-24 who stopped the rebuilding of the Temple).
Be encouraged and finish your task. Finish that project; don’t abandon it because of opposition and discouragement. Receive encouragement from God’s Word and His servants. Persist notwithstanding the challenges. You will finish it. That project won’t become an abandoned project in Jesus’ name.
Solomon finished the building of the Temple. “So Solomon built the temple and finished it” (1 Kings 6:14 NKJV). The project took him seven years, but he finished it (1 Kings 6:9, 37-38). Finish your own project also. In addition, Solomon finished building his palace, which took him 13 years to complete (1 Kings 7:1). Finish your own house, too.
Jesus started and finished His ministry. John 19:30 says, “So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit” (NKJV). Finish your own ministry; don’t abandon it. Be focused.
Furthermore, Paul finished his ministry. He said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8 NKJV). Whatever state you are now in your ministry, determine to go forward and fulfill your ministry. Strive to finish well.
At a time, Paul had said, “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14 NKJV). But he went pass that and finished his ministry. Finish your ministry; fulfill your ministry. “But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:5 NKJV).
What you must do
1.Be led by God to start. Do what God has blessed, not just anything you like and want Him to bless. Romans 8:14 says as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. The Temple project that Solomon finished was God’s assignment for him. The LORD had told David, Solomon’s father, “And it shall be, when your days are fulfilled, when you must go to be with your fathers, that I will set up your seed after you, who will be of your sons; and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build Me a house, and I will establish his throne forever” (1 Chronicles 17:11-12 NKJV). That assignment was waiting for Solomon to start and finish even before he ascended the throne. Don’t struggle to do what is not God’s will for you.
2. Count the cost. Jesus said, “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it — lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’” (Luke 14:28-30 NKJV). Don’t start what you cannot finish because you have not sat down to calculate the cost.
Be focused. Don’t be distracted. Forgo alternatives. Pay the price that is needed for you to accomplish the task. Delay gratification. One of the qualities of Nehemiah which made him finish the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem in a record time of 52days,(Nehemiah 6:15), despite the opposition, is that he was focused.
Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem derided and despised them; they opposed the project and criticized it, but Nehemiah remained (Nehemiah 2:19-20; 4:1-5). Four times Sanballat and Geshem sent a message to Nehemiah asking him to let them meet together among the villages in the plain of Ono but their plan was to harm him (Nehemiah 6:2-4). Nehemiah sent messengers to them on each occasion, saying, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?” (Verse 3). He was focused on his assignment.
3. Be disciplined. Discipline is doing what is necessary, not what is convenient; doing what is needful, not what you like; doing what is important, not what you enjoy. Paul said he disciplined his body and brought it into subjection (1 Corinthians 9:27). Discipline your body also.
Discipline yourself to engage in diligent labour and labour in grace. Paul said of himself, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10 NKJV).
4. Endure hardship; persevere. Jesus is the finisher of our faith. The Bible says for the joy that was set before Him, Jesus endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2).
If you want to be a finisher, you must endure contrary situations. 2 Timothy 2:3 says, “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (NKJV). Paul said he endured all things for the sake of the elect (2 Timothy 2:10a). According to John 16:21, “A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world” (NKJV).
Endure the challenges or pain you encounter in the course of laboring to accomplish the task. It will not always be easy, but it is possible. It won’t happen at once; it may take some time. Isaiah 66:7-8 says, “Before she was in labor, she gave birth; before her pain came, she delivered a male child. Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion was in labor, She gave birth to her children” (NKJV).
5. Wage good warfare. There are powers that don’t want you to start a task, or finish what you’ve started. Engage in spiritual warfare. There is an abortive spirit; there is opposition. Don’t be ignorant. Paul charged Timothy to, according to the prophecies previously made concerning him, wage the good warfare (1 Timothy 1:18).
2 Corinthians 10:4-6 says the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.
The spiritual controls the physical. You must not be illiterate concerning spiritual warfare. Be ready to fight. Ephesians 6:12-13 says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (NKJV). You will finish the project or task you’ve started or you want to start in Jesus’ name.
6. Key into prophetic declaration and direction. In Ezra 5:1, the prophets Haggai and Zechariah gave the prophecy that kickstarted the resumption of the work of the Temple that the enemy had stopped. “Then the prophet Haggai and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophets, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel, who was over them. So Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak rose up and began to build the house of God which is in Jerusalem; and the prophets of God were with them, helping them” (Ezra 5:1-2 NKJV).
The Jews continued to work on the Temple while Tattenai the governor of the region beyond the River and Shethar-Boznai was awaiting the reply of his letter to Darius, king of Persia, to confirm that the Jews had the approval to rebuild the Temple. Darius issued a decree which directed Tattenai, governor of the region beyond the River, and Shethar-Boznai, and their companions, the Persians, who were beyond the River to keep themselves far from the Temple project. They should, among other things, let the work of this house of God alone and let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews build this house of God on its site (Ezra 6:1-12).
The Temple project prospered because of the prophecy the Jews received an acted upon. “So the elders of the Jews built, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they built and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the command of Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia” (verses 14 NKJV).
Though there are fake prophets everywhere, don’t despise prophecy. Believe genuine prophecies and act upon them. “So they rose early in the morning and went out into the Wilderness of Tekoa; and as they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, ‘Hear me, O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the LORD your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper’” (2 Chronicles 20:20 NKJV).
Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah believed the prophecy of Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, and acted upon it and the LORD gave them victory. They didn’t have to fight in the battle just as the prophet had said. Jehoshaphat appointed to go before the army, singers who sand to the LORD, and praised Him. The LORD set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah. They destroyed one another; they defeated themselves!
Act upon genuine prophecies. Paul told Timothy, “Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership” (1 Timothy 4:14 NKJV).
7. Be receptive to Godly counsel. Don’t be wise in your own eyes (Proverbs 3:7a). Only fools think they know it all. “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise” (Proverbs 12:15 NKJV). Proverbs 15:22 says, “Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many counselors bring success” (NLT). Get Godly counsel from others. What you don’t know, you don’t know! “Get all the advice and instruction you can, and be wise the rest of your life” (Proverbs 19:20 NLT).
You are wise if you benefit from the wisdom of others. You’re wise if you apply Godly wisdom in the pursuit of the task before you. Godly counsel from others will help you in accomplishing your assignment. Proverbs 24:3-6 says, “A house is built by wisdom and becomes strong through good sense. Through knowledge its rooms are filled with all sorts of precious riches and valuables. A wise man is mightier than a strong man, and a man of knowledge is more powerful than a strong man. So don’t go to war without wise guidance; victory depends on having many counselors” (NLT).
The LORD gave Moses the work of building the Tabernacle. But He filled certain persons with the skills needed for the work (Exodus 35:30-35; 36:1-2).
Conclusion: With regard to the giving the church in Corinth promised a year earlier but were yet to fulfill, Paul wrote to them, “I suggest that you finish what you started a year ago, for you were the first to propose this idea, and you were the first to begin doing something about it” (2 Corinthians 8:10 NLT). This is God’s Word to you, too.
Make no provision for abandoning any project, task, or assignment you commence. No matter the obstacle or set-back, determine to finish it. The only exception is if the LORD is telling you to cease from continuing. However, don’t let temporary failure, delay, disappointment, or any similar thing be the reason you quit. Whatever noble task or project you’ve started but have not completed, don’t give up; finish it.
If you’re not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus. I urge you to take the following steps:*Admit you’re a sinner and you can’t save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start to attend a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and surrender my life to him today. I invite Jesus into my heart today. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you’ve said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You’ll need to join a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church in your area where you’ll be taught how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things becoming all God wants you to be.
T.O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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