BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made” (Gen 2:1-2 KJV).
It took God six consecutive days to finish the work of creating the heavens and the earth as stated in Gen 2:1. Everything was not done in one day. He kept at it, making progress each day.
Some people are lazy; they are starters but no finishers. It is easier to faint than to stand there to finish a certain piece of work, especially a project that is in stages and phases. It costs you time, money, sweat and a lot of sacrifice. You need diligence and patience; you need your faith to continue in the face of discouragement occasioned by unmet expectations. The end of a thing is better than the beginning thereof (Eccl 7:8).
Identify what is required for you to finish it. What are the resources you need – money, men materials, and machine? Is it more prayer, more faithfulness, more skill (expertise)? Get all you need by prayer and by diligent pursuit to get the work done. Rebuke every abortive spirit. He that endures to the end shall be saved (Matt 10:22, 24:13; Mark 13:13). The hall of faith has no place for quitters.
God finished the work and rested on the seventh day. That’s the problem with many people today. Some people work themselves to death – no rest. That’s not following God’s example. God worked and observed a Sabbath rest on the seventh day. Don’t be a workaholic who lacks balance. Don’t die prematurely.
There is also the other extreme – idlers who are resting when they have not worked. They loaf around expecting to eat from the fruits of the labour of workers. The Bible warns against such. “For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat” (2 Thess 3:10 NKJV).
Jesus Christ’s Example
Jesus lived an example of diligence to his disciple. Though the Son of God, he followed the example of his Father and worked. He didn’t loaf around believing thus: What is written is already written; whether the devil likes it or not, my ministry will be fulfilled. It is a settled matter. He didn’t say that; he didn’t go to sleep or engage in marathon prayer without going out to preach, teach and heal. No.
He followed the example of his Father; he worked and ensured that he finished his work. He said in John 5:19, “I assure you, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does” (NLT). He didn’t say because he was the Son of God, he didn’t need to work because God the Father would make everything to happen by miracle! No. Jesus performed so many miracles in his ministry but he didn’t fulfil his ministry by miracle! He laboured diligently to fulfil his ministry.
You may receive a miracle of healing, deliverance, financial supply, etc. but your destiny or ministry can never be fulfilled by miracle. You must labour to make it happen. You won’t just sleep and wake up to see that the detailed assignments of your destiny or ministry have been done by one angel! It doesn’t happen like that.
Jesus said in John 4:34, “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work” (NLT). Finishing his work was the focus of Jesus and not just starting or continuing to a point. He said again in John 5:36: “But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me” (KJV). Did you take note of that phrase: “the works which the Father hath given me to finish”? He didn’t say to do the work up to a point but to finish it.
That was why Jesus expressed the urgency to finish the work in John 9:4: “All of us must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent me, because there is little time left before the night falls and all work comes to an end” (NLT). In other words, he was saying there was no time to waste. Only someone who is well focused could say what Jesus said there. An unfocussed person would have thought that he had all the time.
The time is not always enough for anyone who has something worthwhile to do. Therefore, Jesus taught his disciples to work to finish the work. What he said to the disciples, he is also saying to you today: finish the work God has assigned to you; don’t neglect it or abandon it.
Jesus also taught the disciples to rest after work. “Then Jesus said, ‘Let’s get away from the crowds for a while and rest.’ There were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat. They left by boat for a quieter spot” (Mark 6:31-32 NLT). The Bible says, “The sleep of a labouring man is sweet” (Eccl 5:12 KJV). That assures you that God is in favour of rest after diligent labour. Even when you have not yet completed the project but you are done with a particular piece, you must not lose focus. You must complete the project; don’t abandon it. You must be a finisher, like Jesus. The Bible calls him the author and the finisher of our faith (Heb.12:2). He said in John 19:30, “It is finished.”
The life of anyone who doesn’t have a finisher’s spirit will be full of many abandoned projects. In fact, such a person will be an abandoned project! Nothing great gets accomplished without a finisher’s spirit. It is good that you started the race, but it will be better if you finish it. Don’t quit on the way.
There is no reward for participants in the race but for finishers, and indeed winners. Serious athletes run to win not to just participate. “All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize” (1 Cor 9:25 NLT). That’s why the Bible says that whoever endures to the end shall be saved (Matt 10:22, 24:13; Mark 13:13). The pressure of challenges you are facing in the pursuit of your destiny may be enormous but you must not quit; you must finish your work.
Paul is an example of someone who encountered serious challenges in the pursuit of the ministry that God committed into his hands. Nevertheless, he didn’t quit. Hear him speak at length on some of these challenges: “They say they serve Christ? I know I sound like a madman, but I have served him far more! I have worked harder, been put in jail more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jews gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled many weary miles. I have faced danger from flooded rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the stormy seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be Christians but are not. I have lived with weariness and pain and sleepless nights. Often I have been hungry and thirsty and have gone without food. Often I have shivered with cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of how the churches are getting along. Who is weak without my feeling that weakness? Who is led astray, and I do not burn with anger? If I must boast, I would rather boast about the things that show how weak I am. God, the Father of our Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows I tell the truth. When I was in Damascus, the governor under King Aretas kept guards at the city gates to catch me. But I was lowered in a basket through a window in the city wall, and that’s how I got away!” (2 Cor 11:23-33 NLT)
I’m sure that you have not faced as many challenges in life as these that Paul faced and highlighted in the scripture above. He didn’t say all this to attract the sympathy of anyone. It is good that he wrote down these words for our understanding and encouragement as we face our ministries and life’s assignments. There will be challenges but we must go ahead in spite of them to finish our work. That was what Paul did. He described all the problems as light affliction. “For our light affliction, which is for the moment, worketh for us more and more exceedingly an eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor 4:17-18 ASV).
What Paul called light affliction, going by the details you’ve read, was not really a light affliction! He was only speaking in relative term. He was comparing the affliction with the eternal weight of glory that was awaiting him and indeed every believer. When you see the glory that is ahead of you, like Paul, you will describe whatever problems you are facing in the process of fulfilling God’s purpose for your life a light affliction. You won’t allow them to stop you.
That was why Paul was determined to finish the race despite the obstacles in his way. “And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:22-24 NKJV). What a man! His attitude is worthy of emulation by every child of God.
Paul, walking in the spirit of Jesus Christ, later said, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me — the crown of righteousness that the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that great day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his glorious return” (2 Tim 4:7-8 NLT). Paul, like Jesus, expressed his desire to finish the race, and he did finish it. Like Paul, you must finish the Christian race that you have begun; you must also finish your life’s work. You must finish the voyage you have started (Acts 21:7).
Moses was a finisher. Under his leadership, the work of the tabernacle was finished “Thus all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting was finished. And the children of Israel did according to all that the LORD had commanded Moses; so they did” (Exodus 39:32 New King James Version). Exodus 40:33 also refers to the finishing of the Tabernacle: “…So Moses finished the work” (New King James Version). It wasn’t a small project; it took a while to finish it but Moses provided the leadership needed to accomplish this God-given task.
It takes a lot of sacrifice and discipline to build a house and become a landlord. Nevertheless, in the long run, it is cheaper to be a landlord than to be a tenant! A tenant pays rent forever! In some societies, the tenant is at the mercy of landlords who keep increasing rent almost every year with little or no improvement on the property!
It is not only money that is needed to build a house; financial discipline is a necessary requirement too. If you are a spender oran impulsive and compulsive purchaser, you will squander all that comes into your hand deluding yourself by expecting a “big hit” that you will use to build that ambitious, imaginary magnificent house from foundation to completion, all at once. Unfortunately, such a “big hit” is rare. God’s approach is often “little by little” (Exodus 23:30; Deuteronomy7:22).
In addition to financial discipline, you will need to sacrifice time – time to buy materials, hire personnel, visit site, etc. It will cost you something to finish your building project.
Moses was a finisher and we should learn from him. We must possess the spirit of a finisher and not that of a starter alone. We see the spirit of a finisher in Moses again with regard to the writing of the law. “And it came to pass, when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished…” (Deuteronomy 31:24 King James Version).
He started and completed the writing of the law. In fact, he wrote the law twice. While expressing his anger at the Israelites’ idolatry in his absence, he had broken the tablets on which he had written the law the first time. He had to return later to the mountain and fasted for another forty days and forty nights to receive the law again (Exodus 32:19, 34; Deuteronomy 9:17-18).He fasted for a total of 80 days to write the law! Of course, he was on the mountain of God, in His presence.
How many people today have abandoned the book they were writing? They didn’t go beyond a certain chapter! What about the other chapters? You are not an author until you finish writing that book. In fact, you must go ahead and publish what you have written before people can call you an author! You may have the ideas, information, etc. in your brain, but until you write and publish, you are not an author.
Moses finished writing the words of the law from the beginning to the end. That’s why the law is in the Bible today. Don’t just talk about that book; write it. It is not a book until you write it; it only exists in your mind. People want the book in a tangible form. Don’t just start, continue till you finish.
Did you notice that word – “until” in Deuteronomy 31:24 I cited earlier? “And it came to pass, when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished…” (Deuteronomy31:24 King James Version). That word “until” or “till”suggests a period of time; it suggests continuing in spite of odds, challenges – continuing until you finish. There is no one that finished who bypassed “until” or “till.”
Let me show you some Scriptures in this regard. Joshua 4:10 says, “So the priests who bore the ark stood in the midst of the Jordan UNTIL everything was finished that the LORD had commanded Joshua to speak to the people, according to all that Moses had commanded Joshua; and the people hurried and crossed over” (New King JamesVersion Emphasis mine).
Ruth 3:18 says, “Then said she, Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall; for the man will not rest, UNTIL he have finished the thing this day” (American Standard Version Emphasis mine).
Furthermore, 1Chronicles 28:20 says, “And David said to his son Solomon, ‘Be strong and of good courage, and do it; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the LORD God — my God — will be with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you, UNTIL you have finished all the work for the service of the house of the LORD” (New King James Version Emphasis mine).
The point I am trying to stress is that nobody will be a finisher unless he disciplines himself to continue until he finishes his life’s work, his destiny, his project, etc. No matter the odds against you, choose to continue until you finish. Finishers didn’t find it easy! They only decided to continue until they finished. Finish the work. Never quit.
Solomon is another example of a finisher. He finished the Temple that David, his father, had wanted to build. He finished his own house too. You must finish your own house; don’t die a tenant! You must finish whatever project that Heaven has committed into your hands to do; don’t be a quitter. “So he built the house, and finished it; and covered the house with beams and boards of cedar” (1 Kings 6:9 King James Version).
Verse 14also says, “So Solomon built the house, and finished it” (King James Version). The same truth is expressed in verses 22 and 38. The house being referred to in these Scriptures was the house of the LORD, the Temple. “So all the work that Solomon had done for the house of the LORD was finished; and Solomon brought in the things which his father David had dedicated: the silver and the gold and all the furnishings. And he put them in the treasuries of the house of God” (2 Chronicles 5:1 New King James Version).
Although David had prepared abundant materials for Solomon for the building of the Temple before his death, it was not a guarantee that Solomon would follow up. He might have decided not to start the project or he might have started and abandoned it. However, he had a determination to finish it. He made the necessary preparation to ensure that the project didn’t fail. “Now all the work of Solomon was prepared unto the day of the foundation of the house of the LORD, and until it was finished. So the house of the LORD was perfected” (2 Chronicles 8:16 King James Version). 1 Kings 9:25 says, “…So he finished the temple” (New King James Version).
Building the Temple took him seven years and work didn’t cease all those years. “And in the eleventh year, in the month of Bul, which is the eighth month, the house was finished in all its details and according to all its plans. So he was seven years in building it” (1 Kings 6:38 New King James Version). It wasn’t an easy project but Solomon was committed to finishing it.
He did not only finish and dedicate the Temple, he also went ahead to finish his own house. “Thus Solomon finished the house of the LORD, and the king’s house: and all that came into Solomon’s heart to make in the house of the LORD, and in his own house, he prosperously effected” (2 Chronicles 7:11 King James Version).
Having gone through the rigours of building that gigantic Temple that took him seven years, Solomon wouldn’t have embarked on another project like his personal house if not for the finisher’s spirit in him. The Bible says, “Solomon also built a palace for himself, and it took him thirteen years to complete the construction” (1Kings 7:1 New LivingTranslation). He finished the two buildings in 20 years.
With the description of the buildings in the Bible, and the materials that went into them, one is not left in doubt how magnificent they were and the toil and sacrifice that went into them. However, the good thing is that the two projects were finished. How I hope this inspires you to be a finisher!
The Elders of the Jews’ Example
The Elders of the Jews built and finished rebuilding the Temple at Jerusalem. The enemy had forcefully caused work to cease. “Now when the copy of King Artaxerxes’ letter was read before Rehum, Shimshai the scribe, and their companions, they went up in haste to Jerusalem against the Jews, and by force of arms made them cease. Thus the work of the house of God which is at Jerusalem ceased, and it was discontinued until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia” (Ezra 4:23-24 New King James Version).
Work had ceased at the foundation level for about 16 years. However, Prophets Haggai and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews in Judah and Jerusalem and Zerubbabel to resume work and finish the building (Ezra 5:1). Prophet Zachariah wrote, “This is what the LORD Almighty says: Take heart and finish the task! You have heard what the prophets have been saying about building the Temple of the LORD Almighty ever since the foundation was laid” (Zech 8:9 New Living Translation).
The people rose up and began to build with the prophets standing by them, helping them (Ezra 5:2). Tattenai, governor of the province west of the Euphrates, and Shethar-bozenai and their colleagues, following their visit to the project site and enquiries made, wrote a report to King Darius to confirm if the Jews had the permission to rebuild the Temple and restore the structure as they had claimed.
The Jews, however, continued the work on the Temple before a reply came back from King Darius, and was in their favour. He decreed, among other things, that the writers of the letter should keep away from the project and not hinder the governor of Judah and the leaders of the Jews in their work.They must pay the full construction costs without delay from his taxes collected in their province so that the work would not be discontinued. In addition, they must give the priests in Jerusalem whatever they needed for burnt offerings. The letter written to Darius by the governor of the province west of the Euphrates and others eventually became a blessing in disguise!
The Bible says, “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. Now the temple was finished on the third day of the month of Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius” (Ezra 6:14-16 New King James Version).
The elders of the Jews showed their followers a good example to follow especially how to endure to finish the work, not coming up with excuses on why it could not be done.
From the opposition against the project, it is obvious that they didn’t find it easy. They suffered a setback with the stoppage of the work by the enemy but they didn’t give up. What God has asked you to do won’t always be easy. Most times, it is most likely going to be difficult, but don’t quit despite any setback you may suffer. That is why you will need God to get it done.
See what the Bible says about the second attempt to stop the work: “But the eye of their God was upon the elders of the Jews, so that they could not make them cease till a report could go to Darius. Then a written answer was returned concerning this matter” (Ezra 5:5 New King James Version). It took God for them to continue in spite of the opposition. Prophecy preceded the resumption of work and the eye of God was upon the elders. May you receive the right word that will propel you to go forward in life, and especially when you’re feeling weary. Proverbs 15:23 says, “A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!” (New King James Version)
The eyes of the LORD are running to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him (2 Chronicles 16:9). May you know that the eyes of the Lord are on you so that you will not be afraid or intimidated by those who want to frustrate your life’s assignment.“The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry” (Psalm 34:15 New King James Version).
Nehemiah is another finisher any student of the Bible cannot overlook. Unlike the Temple project that the opposition stopped and attempted to stop a second time, the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem was completed in arecord time of 52 days under the leadership of Nehemiah. “So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of Elul, in fifty-two days. And it happened, when all our enemies heard of it, and all the nations around us saw these things, that they were very disheartened in their own eyes; for they perceived that this work was done by our God” (Nehemiah 6:15-16 New King James Version).
The project wouldn’t have been finished within 52 days going by the magnitude of the work and the opposition that tried to frustrate the project like they moved against the Temple project. Even the enemies admitted that it was God that did the work. But God had to use the people who believed in the leadership of Nehemiah and cooperated with God and themselves to make it possible.
Samballat, Tobiah,Geshem the Arab, Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, Prophetess Noadiah and co. tried infiltration, intimidation, manipulation and confrontation against Nehemiah and the Jews working with him but all failed because Nehemiah believed strongly in God.
For instance, in Nehemiah 6:9, he said, “For they all were trying to make us afraid, saying, ‘Their hands will be weakened in the work, and it will not be done.’Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands” (New King James Version). Also in verse 14, he spoke on the activities of the enemies against him and the Jews with regard to the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem: “My God, remember Tobiah and Sanballat, according to these their works, and the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who would have made me afraid” (New King James Version).
Nehemiah could have given up; after all, he had a good job that he left behind at Shushanbefore King Artaxerxes. He didn’t need to bother himself. However, if he had chosen this easy option, he wouldn’t have been reckoned with in the Bible. He started and finished the building of the wall. If you won’t finish, don’t start at all! Don’t enter into it ignorantly. Find out what it will cost you. “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first getting estimates and then checking to see if there is enough money to pay the bills? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of funds. And then how everyone would laugh at you! They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and ran out of money before it was finished!’” (Luke 14:28-30 New Living Translation).
Start and finish
The joy of building a house is to lay the foundation and finish the project – not to abandon it. Don’t start a ministry and abandon it. Don’t start the Christian race, a degree programme, a course, a training, a home, a business, etc. and abandon it. Start and finish it. “Zerubbabel is the one who laid the foundation of this Temple, and he will complete it….” (Zechariah 4:9 New Living Translation).
Starting and finishing a good thing is not only self-energizing; it is highly motivational for others. A quitter does not motivate anyone! Paul, a patriarch in the faith with a finisher’s spirit, asked Titus who encouraged the Corinthians in their giving in the first place, to return to them and encourage them to finish the ministry of giving they had started. Titus should finish the collection he had started when he was with them in Corinth; they also should finish the giving they had started (2 Corinthians 8:6).
Sometimes, because of the challenges we’re facing, we need others who believe in us to encourage us to finish what we have started and not to give up. Every human being needs encouragement and sometimes this could make the difference between quitting and continuing until we finish.
Finish the work. Finish your Christian race. Don’t be like the Galatians who started in the Spirit but at a point yielded to the flesh. “Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? Have you suffered so many things in vain — if indeed it was in vain?” (Galatians 3:3-4 New King James Version) Continue in the Spirit and end in the Spirit.
If you quit, whatever you have suffered before becomes a waste. It is better to stay put and continue to the end. DON’T WASTE YOUR SUFFERING.”Mysuffering was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your decrees”(Psalm 119:71NewLivingTranslation).Whatever suffering you may be going through or you have experienced is just for a while, not forever. The Bible says, “Take a firm stand against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are. After you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation” (1 Peter 5:9-10 NewLiving Translation).
Keep your eyes on the author and finisher of your faith
Your suffering is not peculiar to you; it is common. Therefore, refuse to give in; stand strong in faith keeping your eyes on Jesus the author and finisher of your faith – don’t keep your eyes on the problems you may be facing.Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterward. Now he is seated in the place of highest honor beside God’s throne in heaven” (New Living Translation). Take note of the phrase “on whom our faith depends from start from start to finish.” That means to start and finish your work, your destiny, etc., you must keep your eyes on Jesus.
Persevere and God’s presence will see you through. As far as God is concerned, He won’t quit the good work He has started in you, but you must quit the tendency to quit! You must stop the tendency to backslide. “And I am sure that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on that day when Christ Jesus comes back again” (Philippians 1:6 New Living Translation). Finish the work!
If you’re not born again, 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, soul-winning church. There you will be taught 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 repent and confess my sins. 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 have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible believing, Bible teaching, soul-winning church in your area where you will 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. I’ll be glad to hear from you. May the Lord be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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