Part of the chapter that I'd like to focus on is beginning in verse number 1 where the Bible reads, "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him that endured such contradiction from sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds."- and this morning I want to preach on the subject of finishing, and finishing what you start.
Now in this passage Jesus Christ is held up as the great finisher. He is the author and finisher of our faith and we need to look unto him lest we become wearied and faint in our minds. We might get to a point where we're discouraged and we think about quitting, and the thing that should motivate us not to quit, but that we would finish our course, is when we look to Jesus and think about the fact that he is the great finisher that we follow.
Flip over to John, if you would. John, chapter number 4. Jesus Christ is the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him that endured such contradiction from sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
See, fainting takes place in the mind. Here the Christian life, and the life of Jesus Christ are being likened unto a running race, he says run with patience the race that is set before you. When he talks about fainting in your mind, he's talking about giving up, and thinking that you can't go any further, when really you can always take one more step, and keep going, and God will sustain you.
Look at how Jesus was such a great finisher. It says in John 4:34, "Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work."- flip over to chapter 5. He said my meat is to finish the work of God. Meat is referring to food, they're offering him food, they're saying Jesus, have something to eat. He said no, my meat is to finish the work that God has given me to do.
Verse 36 of chapter 5, "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."- notice the Father gave him works to finish them.
Flip over to chapter 17, verse 4. The book of John emphasizes this in 4 different verses, that Jesus was a finisher. It says in John 17:4 "I have glorified thee on the earth:" and at the end of his ministry he says, "I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do."- flip over to chapter 19 and of course we'll see the very famous words uttered by Jesus Christ on the cross right before his death in John 19:30, "When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost."- that's an amazing thing that Jesus Christ made it all the way to the finish line, because although he was God in the flesh, he also became human, he took upon him the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of men, and the Bible says that he was tempted in all points, like as we are, yet without sin.
Jesus Christ lived an amazing life. He went through his infancy and childhood, and His young adult life, and then His ministry starting at age 30. All the way to the finish line when He died on the cross, He was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross the Bible says. He made it all the way to the finish line of living a godly, righteous, and sinless life, so that He could be that perfect sacrifice for our sins, and be that lamb of God that would take away the sin of the world. There were times throughout there where he said that He could call upon legions of angels to come and deliver Him from the soldiers that were arresting Him, but He said how then shall the scripture be fulfilled.
He wanted to finish. He desired to finish the work that God had given Him to do. He is a great finisher, and the Bible says we need to look unto Jesus, who is not just the author. He didn't just have a great idea and then not follow through with it. He's the author and the finisher of our faith, lest we be wearied and faint in our minds.
When we think about quitting and bailing out, we need to remember that Jesus is the great finisher. Look at Luke chapter number 14. I want to show you in Luke chapter number 14 that there is shame in being a quitter. There's shame in not finishing. There's glory in finishing, shame in not finishing. Look at Luke 14:28, "For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,"- do you see the shame there? "Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple."
Go to 2nd Timothy chapter 4. See, Jesus Christ wants us to be His followers, His disciples, and he doesn't want us to look back. He said, he who putteth his hand to the plough and looketh back is not fit for the kingdom of God. God wants us to follow him all the way to the end, and to be a finisher, not to be one who does it for a little while, and then quits.
Jesus had people who followed him for a very short time and then quit. Then he had people who stayed with him, and he said to them, "Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations."- they were the ones who had finished, and made it all the way to the end.
It says in 2nd Timothy chapter 4, this is the apostle Paul speaking. "But watch thou in all things, endure"- a similar word that we found in Hebrews 12, about enduring the cross, and enduring affliction. He said "endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight"- and here's the emphasis, "I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."- there's the glory in finishing.
He said, I finished my course, and I have this crown waiting for me at the finish line. That's the award. See today you might receive a medal or a t-shirt or a certificate, but in those days you would receive a crown for finishing an athletic event. He says that crown is waiting for me, the glory of finishing is there for me, but look what it says in verse 9, "Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world"- and here's a guy who didn't finish, and he goes down in history as being a failure. People don't name their child Demas. There aren't great sermons preached about being a Demas, be like Demas. I'm sure he did many great things for the Lord to have even been serving with Paul in the first place. Because he failed to finish it all goes out the window. We remember one thing about him. He quit. He failed. He loved the world too much to continue serving Christ.
"For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia."
Go to Acts chapter 20. A lot of scriptures about the importance of finishing. We see it in the life of Jesus Christ, we see it in the life of the apostle Paul, that they were great finishers. While you're turning there I'll read for you from 2 Corinthians 8:6 where the Bible reads, "Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also." Not enough just to begin, finish it.
He says in Acts 20:22, "And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy"- saying that's all that matters, is that I just finish, even if it means dying I'm going to finish, I'm going to go all the way to the finish line. "I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God."
He was able to say no man's blood is on my hands. I've evangelized this area, I've preached the word of God, I've taught you everything, and I'm done. I finished. I'm ready to move on to the next destination because my work here is done.
So many scriptures about being a finisher. What are some practical applications or things that we could apply this to in our life? Things that we need to finish. Lots of things that we could think of. One of the things that comes to mind is marriage.
Finish it. You say, when is it done, when is it over? When you die, or when your spouse dies. Finish it. It's easy to start something, isn't it. Starting anything is easy. Start learning a new language, start reading a book. Start going to church. Start serving God. Starting is easy. Finishing is what takes character. Finishing is where the glory is. Lots of people start things and don't finish.
It's easy to get married. I got married in Reno, Nevada. It was pretty easy to get married. Pretty simple, but finishing is a challenge. Staying married, being in it for the long haul is where the glory is and so many people today quit on their marriage. They don't make it all the way to the finish line. They're a quitter. They don't finish it. They don't do it until death parts them, and that's a shameful thing. There's glory in staying married. We need more preaching on that today because there's so much divorce out there and it's rampant.
Amongst Christians the divorce rate is the same as it is amongst the world. You know what that tells me, that Christians are patterned after the world when they have the same divorce rates, same issues. We need to stay with marriage until the end.
Think about reading the bible. Some have started and said, I'm going to read the Bible, cover to cover. Finish it, it's a great feeling to finish reading the Bible. I guarantee you that the two most read chapters of the bible, in the history of mankind, are Genesis 1 and Matthew 1. You know that's true. You know that everybody has read Genesis 1, so many times, but how many people have read Revelations 22? How many people have read Malachi chapter 4, and made it to the end.
People start things but they don't finish. I remember the first time I tried to read the Bible, cover to cover, and I decided I'm going to read 15 chapters every day. This was a little bit ambitious for a child, but I was a little kid and I thought, I want to get this done over the summer, I'm not in school, I have time to do this. I'm going to read 15 chapters every day. I read Genesis, 15 chapters a day, 1 through 15, 16 through 30, 31 through 45. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers. It starts out being easy. Genesis is easy. Exodus, the first half is easy. Then is starts getting a little harder.
I remember I got to a day where I missed a couple of days of reading. Got busy, missed a couple of days, and I was like, wow, I need to read 45 chapters today. There all in Numbers and Deuteronomy. I was like, forget it. I was stupid, because what I should of done is just pushed my deadline back 3 days, and then just kept going 15 a day. I just threw in the towel, I just quit. What's the use? I'm not going to read 45 of these dense chapters, it's just too hard, and I quit.
Then a little bit later on I decided, I'm just going to read the whole New Testament cover to cover, and I did succeed at that. I had a less ambitious goal, 15 chapters a day is not right for a beginner. Now later on I successfully read 15 chapters a day for years and years and years, but when you start out you've got to set reasonable goals.
Remember in Luke chapter 14, it says when you go to build a tower you need to figure out what you're capable of finishing. What you have the sufficiency to build before you start building and you get overly ambitious. I didn't finish reading the Bible cover to cover until I was 17 years old. I started it back when I was 10, 11, 12, whatever it was, when I tried the first time, and I didn't finish until I was 17.
Let me tell you something, finishing the Bible cover to cover is something that is of the utmost importance for all of God's people to do. It's extremely important, and I'd venture to say that 90-some percent, probably 99 percent of Christians have never read the whole Bible cover to cover.
People have been in church for decades and never read the Bible cover to cover. There's so much in the Bible that you'll never hear about if you don't read it yourself. At church you're just getting selections, you're just getting certain stories and certain scriptures, and I try to preach the whole Bible, but there are going to be some things that I emphasize more than others.
To get the whole picture you've got to read the Bible yourself. If you haven't read the whole book you don't really know everything that God expects of you. You don't really know everything about who God is, you're missing huge sections of God's personality, God's will. The truth of God's word. God's commandments. You've got to read the Bible cover to cover. It's critical.
Now, depending on what level you're at, if you're Christianity, how mature of a believer you are, you might want to start out with something where you say, hey, I'm going to read the Bible cover to cover in one year's time. Which is about 4 chapters a day. You say I'm going to read it in one year, it takes about 15 minutes per day to do that, or maybe if you just say, wow I really struggle with reading, that sounds too hard. Even if you just read one chapter a day, or two chapters a day, but have a plan. Set a goal, and decide, I'm going to finish the goal.
Now, in order to finish a goal, you've got to have it mapped out, you've got to have a plan. You can't just say every day I'm just going to open my Bible and just read it, and eventually I'll get through the whole thing. Never going to happen. Never going to finish.
Some people like to read it just from Genesis to Revelation, just turn the pages. I've never read the Bible that way one time in my entire life. Even though I've read the Bible scores of times, I've never opened at Genesis 1 and finished at Revelations 22. I actually skip around, is the way I read it, but I check them off to make sure I get through the whole Bible. Over and over again, the whole Bible, the whole Bible.
I just like to read what I feel like reading that day because I find that if I read what I like that day I'm going to read more. If I read what I'm in the mood for. Because I might not be in the mood for Leviticus today but another day I will be in the mood for Leviticus and so I just read what I'm in the mood for and just check them off. That way I make sure I get around to everything.
Other people like to just read it from left to right, left to right, left to right. Some people like to do left to right but they do a portion of the Old, and a portion of the New Testament every day to get a balance there.
Whatever you do, whatever your plan, you need to have some kind of a paper and pen where you mark it off, or at least a bookmark that stays in there where you mark it off. Or you get that one year Bible, we like that one year Bible where it just breaks it into one year portions, that's what we do in our family for the kids and so forth.
You've got to have that plan to read the Bible and to finish it, and listen, have you ever started- don't answer me- but in your mind, think about it. Have you ever started to read the Bible, cover to cover, and then you quit and you haven't finished? You need to go back and finish that task. That's a critical task for your spiritual growth. You need to go back and finish it.
Now here's the mistake a lot of people make when they go back to finish it. They go to Genesis 1 again. Start where you left off. Now I remember when I was 17 I had to, or started when I was 16, finished when I was 17, but when I was 16 I had to reevaluate and say, okay, I'm going to finish reading the Bible, but I'm not going to start over. I want to figure out, what do I know for sure I've already read.
I took a pen and I went to the table of contents, and I checked off the books that I, and I'm not saying I was 99 percent sure, only the ones that I was 100 percent sure that I had read. I checked them off in the front of my Bible. In other books where I said, I know I made it through the first half, I marked it off. Then I started from there with what I wasn't sure about and I read the whole thing, and I was able to finish it.
The hardest time was that first time, you know just plowing through it the first time. Then the second time it got easier, and it got easier, and I started doing it multiple times per year. You need to figure out where you're at in your Bible, I'm not going to have a raise of hands, but if I had a raise of hands of who's for sure that they've read it cover to cover, there would be hands that could not go up. If that's you today, you need to decide right now, I am going to read my Bible cover to cover. The Bible says, Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
That's what you need to live, that's the food that's going to feed you, that's the nourishment that you need, not part of the Bible. Not just the New Testament or just Psalms. You need every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. That's the nutrition that you need. That's going to keep you from being imbalanced, and malnourished.
You need to decide right now, I'm going to finish the job of reading my Bible cover to cover and figure out- go home this afternoon- figure out where you left off. Say, I know I've read Genesis. I know I read Genesis. I'm not sure how far I got into Exodus, and just start at Exodus 1 you know and go from there. Or you say, well I know I read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and then start at Acts in the New Testament. Start checking them off and write it down, that way if you do quit for a while, at least you could pick it up later where you left off, because you must pick it up later where you left off. You must finish. You need to make it all the way to the finish line.
That is a worthy goal, to read the Bible cover to cover. Be one of the few, one of the proud. I'm not telling you to go join the Marines, I'm telling you to read your Bible cover to cover, and to know the truth, and the truth shall make you free, and you will be the few. You will be the proud. I'll tell you that most Christians don't make it to the finish line on that. They read Genesis 1, 2, and 3. They read Matthew 1, 2, and 3. ... God must have put some super important truths in those chapters just knowing, this is what people are going to read.
If you think about it, this is what most people are going to read. ... I love Matthew, it's great to start out the four Gospels with Matthew, it's a wonderful book, but you have to finish it. It's critical. Finish your marriage, make it all the way to the end. Make it all the way to the finish line.
You know another thing that people need to think about finishing is home schooling. The reason I say that is because there are a lot of people who start home schooling and then they bail out on home schooling. Or they say, well I'll home school in elementary school, and then send them to junior high. Oh that's a great idea. Yeah, just send them at the worst, most critical time of their development.
Or, well I'll do it through junior high, but I'll send them to public high school, send them to government schools for high school. You see a lot of kids go to the devil that way because the parents don't finish.
Look, it's so hard to teach them how to read, that's the hardest part of homeschooling. Talk to my wife, talk to other people who home school, the hardest part is teaching them how to read. Then it's all downhill from there. A lot of people go through all that work of teaching and reading, and the home schooling in through elementary school, and then just ship them off to junior high. Ship them off to high school. Ship them off to the devil for a while.
Honestly, they don't make it all the way to the finish line, and then their labor is in vain. Because you didn't finish, you didn't get it done. You didn't do anything.
I mean think about what if you were a contractor in the construction business and you do a job and you don't finish the job. You're not going to make any money on that job. You can't just say well, pay me for the part I got done, because here's what they'll do. They'll pay you for the part that you got done, but here's what they'll do. First they'll subtract everything that they did when they had to hire somebody else to come finish it, and they'll just make sure that you get this much profit.
You have to finish what you start, in business, in life, in marriage, you know when you're home schooling, reading your Bible. God wants us to look to Jesus as the great finisher and to become a great finisher ourselves. Just be the type of person that finishes tasks, that gets things done. Not just partially complete, and then quits.
Home schooling is critical. The Bible commands us to teach our children diligently. To train them up. To bring them up in the nurturing atmosphere of the Lord. To train up a child in the way he should go, so that when he's old, he'll not depart from it.
Let me tell you something, a 12 year old, a 13 year old is not ready to be thrown to the wolves of the government school system. Especially not a girl. Good night. I mean, I wouldn't send my boys either, but to send a girl, I mean just kiss her goodbye. To send an impressionable young girl off to the wolves and off to the school system, it's a bad idea.
Finish home school. A lot of people say, well it just gets too hard in high school, it just gets too complicated. You know, algebra, I did bad in algebra the first time. You know what then you need to do? You need to study some algebra. You need to get some smarts and you need to teach those kids. You say, well I'm not smart enough to home school. Here's the thing, you start home schooling them when they're young. Because any adult should be able to home school their child in kindergarten.
Here's how you home school your child, you just always have to stay one step ahead of them. Or a few steps ahead of them. It's not like you just have a baby, and it's time to start home schooling, and you whip out pre-calculus. No, you start out with just two plus two is four. So you're reviewing all that math as you go. Hopefully you didn't need a review on that fact, but you start reviewing the basic algebra, and the basic geometry and you review it, and you learn with the child.
I guarantee you there are many things that my wife has learned through home schooling the children. As she goes through the history and the science and the geography and the math and the Bible and the English, she's going to learn things too.
It keeps women smart. Because they're at home schooling. And you say, ah you just want women to be dumb and ignorant so you can control them. Wait a minute, home schooling and being a home maker doesn't make you dumb. Because if you're actually properly home schooling your child, you're actually learning a lot. You're actually staying really up on a lot of history and science and math and English. You're constantly reviewing and learning those things, and picking up new things yourself, and it actually makes women smarter to go through that effort of constantly- because when you teach people that's a good way to learn yourself, you learn by teaching. That goes for all areas of life.
You know what makes women stupid is college. Because college makes everybody stupid. Because fools say in their heart that there is no God. It's an Atheistic, it's not a school system, it's a fool's system that teaches humanism and Atheism and agnosticism and godlessness and blasphemy against the Lord Jesus Christ.
Look, the beginning of knowledge is the fear of the Lord. The beginning of knowledge. The beginning of wisdom. The beginning of understanding is the fear of the Lord, and you see so many fools walk out the door of these institutions of so called higher learning, because they're learning from fools, and they become a fool themselves.
You talk to some of the smartest people that you know, they're people who know this book really well. Why? Because the Bible says of the word of God, making wise the simple. The Bible makes wise the simple. I've noticed people when they get saved and start reading the Bible, they get smarter. In all areas, not even just spiritually, they just get smarter. Because the Bible makes you smart. College makes you dumb.
Why do you say that? Look, you say I knew a smart guy who came out of college. He came out of college smart, in spite of college. He was already smart when he went in, and he was smart when he came out because he read books while he was in college. It's not because he was sitting in college classes. It's because he read books. Because you know what makes you smart? Reading books. You talk to somebody that says, I don't like to read, this is their translation: I'm shallow.
Did you hear me. If you talk to a girl or a boy that says, I don't like reading. I'm shallow. I'm dumb. You're going to get really bored with me soon. Don't marry me, because I'm going to be a boring person. Because, I'm going to be fun for a few weeks, or a few months, until you actually try to actually have a serious conversation with me about something.
Look it's true. If somebody says, I don't like reading, isn't this a huge part of the Christian life, reading this book? So you say, I don't like reading. Change! Start liking reading. In all areas of life, knowledge comes through reading, wisdom. Well I'm just the kind of person that just, I just learn better by watching stuff on TV. No you don't, no one does. Well, I just learn better from watching The History Channel and The Science Channel and The Discovery Channel.
You say, what's the difference. What's the difference between watching an educational TV program and reading a book. You know what the difference is, if you read a book? You're smart, and if you get it from TV, you're dumb. Show me the science. It's just true, just believe me. It's a fact, okay. It's true.
Let me liken it to weight lifting. It's like people who lift with free weights vs machines. Oh, but the machines are just as good. No, machines are a waste of time. Any real weight lifter lifts with free weights. You say, well why, what's the difference, it's the same thing? Because if you lift with the free weights, you get a lot stronger, when you lift with the machines, you don't. It doesn't matter why. It's just true.
I don't understand, I could not give you the science right now why free weights work and machines don't, but anybody who is succeeding at weight lifting will tell you that's true. Anybody who is an intelligent person reads books. People that are dumb spend a lot of time with their mouth open, and drool coming out in front of the boob-tube, the idiot box, the hellevision, whatever you want to call it. It's true.
So you don't always have to understand- look I don't know why necessarily all the things that the engine in my car does work the way they do, but they do. I don't have to know why. When I step on the gas pedal, the car goes. When I push the brake pedal, it stops. If you read books you get smarter, if you watch TV, you get dumber. These are just things that you observe and learn through life, and that readers are leaders, and that people who read get smarter. Reading this book will make you smarter than anything, because this is the most important book you'll ever read, because it's written by God.
These are facts my friend. Say, oh but I saw a big buff guy on TV using a machine. He's a paid actor. Number one, he's on steroids, number two, he got that way by lifting free weights. He's using some gimmick, he didn't get huge using that stupid gimmick, he got huge lifting free weights, then he got on TV and made a bunch of money, and he's probably on drugs, but you just believe TV. You just believe that watching historical TV, and science TV, and educational TV, it's not the same as picking up a book and reading it. I can't explain to you why. All I know is that I've learned a lot more from books than I ever learned from watching TV, or films, or documentaries, or anything. Because you learn the most from reading.
What else do you need to finish? I noticed that when I was studying the subject of finishing in the Bible, go if you would to Exodus 39, I noticed that there was a lot of talk about finishing when it came to the house of God. When we talk about the house of God we can think about a few different phases of that because the original house of God, besides obviously Jacob setting up stones and calling it Bethel. Remember when they built the tabernacle in Exodus, that was kind of the original major facility for worshiping God. Then later on that became the temple, then the temple was destroyed. Then they built a new temple. So those are kind of three major phases of the tabernacle, the First Temple, and the Second Temple.
When you look in all three of those phases there is a lot of talk about finishing the house of God. It says in Exodus 39:32, and I'm only reading you some of it, for sake of time, "Thus was all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation finished: and the children of Israel did according to all that the Lord commanded Moses, so did they."- look at chapter 40 verse 33, it says, "And he reared up the court round about the tabernacle and the altar, and set up the hanging of the court gate. So Moses finished the work."
Go if you would to 2nd Chronicles 5. While you're turning to 2nd Chronicles 5, I'm going to read for you where David is speaking unto his son Solomon about building the temple and so forth. David says to Solomon, his son, be strong, and of a good courage, and do it. Fear not, nor be dismayed, for the Lord God, even my God will be with the. He will not fail the nor forsake the until thou has finished all the work for the service of the house of the Lord.
He said, God is not going to fail you. God is not going to quit on you, but you need to finish the work of the service of the house of God. You need to finish it.
2nd Chronicles chapter 5 verse 1, "Thus all the work that Solomon made for the house of the Lord was finished." Look at chapter 7 verse 11, "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."- look at chapter 8 verse 16. "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." Here's another word that's similar to the word finished in the Bible. "So the house of the Lord was perfected." Right, the finishing touches were put upon it. It was completely finished.
You don't have to turn there, but 1st Kings 6:9, "So he built the house, and finished it;" talking about the temple. Verse 14, "So Solomon built the house, and finished it." Verse 38, "And in the eleventh year, in the month Bul, which is the eighth month, was the house finished"- talking about the house of God, the temple. Over and over again 1st Kings 9:1, "And it came to pass, when Solomon had finished the building of the house of the Lord, and the king's house, and all Solomon's desire which he was pleased to do."
Then if you were to jump, you don't have to turn there, but turn all the way to Zacharias, chapter 4 verse 9, talking about the second temple, it says "The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you."
A lot of talk about finishing the service of the house of God, finishing the work of building the house of God, not quitting, getting it done. God is going to be with you, God is going to do his part but you need to finish. How can we apply that today, well a couple of things we can apply with that is when it comes to starting a church, a pastor going out and starting a church. Many people go out and start a church and quit. They're not able to finish. It's a tragedy, because churches need to be started up. There's so much great work to do in these places where churches are being planted, we need people who are going to go out and start a church to finish.
So if you are a young man who says, you know, someday I want to go out and start a church, I want to pastor, you need to decide before you even start that you're going to finish. I remember when I started Faithful Word Baptist Church in December 25th of 2005, I remember when I started out, it was hard. It was a very slow process of starting a church from scratch, with no support, no help, just 3 days of door knocking and have the first service, and just kept knocking doors, kept winning souls.
The very first service we had 9 people, but that's including my family of 5, so we had 4 outside people come in. That night we had 2 other visitors come in. Wednesday night it was just me and my family. Next Sunday morning we had grown from 9 to 8. Then on the next Sunday morning after that we were still at 8 again. Then on the 4th Sunday morning, 22. Wow, it's finally taking off. No, it wasn't. It did for a while, it had ups and downs, you'd have big days and low days throughout that first year. I would say that first year we averaged 10, including my family of 5. We'd have high days in the 20's, other times we'd be down to just a few people. There were only 2 services where it was just me and my family.
You know, my family are people too. I enjoy preaching to them, and teaching them the word of God. By the end of the year, on the 1 year anniversary, we'd grown in 1 year's time. Remember on the first Sunday, Christmas morning, 9. Christmas Eve morning I believe it was on the 1 year anniversary we'd grown from 9 to 7. Hallelujah, see I mean, God will do it.
So we went from 9 to 7. The second year we pretty much averaged 20 throughout the year. It did start to pick up that second year. Probably averaged 10 the first year, 20 the second year, 30 the third year, 40 the fourth year, 50 the fifth year, and then in the last several years our growth has been a lot faster than that, growing by about 20, 30, 40 a year, it's been growing more.
The thing is, in those early days, you don't know how it's going to turn out. I remember when I was 6 months into pastoring, and we'd had a time where we were in the 20's for a while, and then everybody left. We got back down to where in that summer of 2006, there were basically 2 people who went to the church besides my family and I, so we ran 7. It was Amanda and Virginia, and that was it, and I'm 6 months in, and I'm thinking, okay I've been working at this thing for 6 months, knocking a ton of doors. Preaching, praying, just doing everything, working so hard, and so far we've got 2 people in the church besides my family.
You're just thinking, is this ever going to take off? Is this ever going to grow? I love those 2 people, it was important, and I love my family and I felt like, I'm winning souls, I'm knocking doors, people are getting saved, but you know it was something where I had to look at that and just decide, no matter what the numbers, no matter what the success or lack thereof, I'm not going to quit. I remember, just over and over, just telling myself, I'm not going to quit, I'm not going to quit, I'm not going to quit, I'm not going to quit, keep at it, and I'm glad I didn't quit.
I kept at it, and I kept at it, and kept at it, and kept at it, and eventually God really blessed and opened it up and more people were reached, and so forth. Honestly, it was hard. Without Amanda it would have been really hard, because at least Amanda was faithful from the second Sunday onward. She came to the second Sunday morning, and was faithful all the way through. Without that, it would have been very discouraging, because there were many services where it was just my family and Amanda.
We just stayed with it and it was just hard to do because you didn't know what the deal is, you know why is the church not growing, what's taking so long, what is going on. You think of people in Genesis where they get married and God is telling them that they're going to be a great nation, and then they're just not having kids.
Abraham was like that, Isaac is like that, not having kids, not having kids, not having kids, what's going on? What's the deal? You've got to just get it in your mind not to quit. I think when you go out to start a church the best motto to have is the only way to fail is to quit. Just keep going, keep going, keep trying, keep trying, keep going, keep going, keep working at it, don't quit, don't quit, starting a church you have to make that- don't ever come to me and tell me, you know I want to go out and try starting a church.
No, it's not going to work. I think I'm going to try marriage. See how I like- no, you don't try marriage, you don't try church. You don't say, well I think I'll try reading the Bible. No, you read it. You say, we'll I'm going to try living the Christian life, and see if God blesses me. No, try it until you die. You can't try it, you have to have a commitment. You have to put your hand to the plow, and not look back, and not quit.
You say, I'm never going to pastor, how does this apply to me? The service of the house of the Lord is not just done by pastors. The service of the house of the Lord is done by every man, woman, boy and girl who is evangelizing, who is coming to church, who is singing out the hymns, who is learning the Bible and giving the Gospel, and giving the word of God unto other people, and raising their families, and raising their children, and having a godly marriage, and being an example of the believers, and winning souls, and doing all of the things that we do here.
Whether it's cleaning the building, or whether it's leading the singing, playing the piano, whatever. You need to finish the service of the house- you are a part of this body. God says some of the parts of the body we give the least glory and honor to are some of the most essential parts of the body.
Some people have a more visible role, like the pastor, like the piano player, like the song leader, but other people in the church have an important role. That they need to be there playing that part. Being an encouragement, greeting visitors, getting to know people in the church, praying for them, helping them, being a friend, winning people to Christ, all the things that everyone should be involved in.
Finish, don't just get in church for a while and then bail out. Decide not to quit, decide to finish. Well, you say, is it every right to quit things? Some people get this weird idea that they should never quit anything. Have you ever known that phenomenon where people are just like, I just can't quit anything. I just have to finish everything I've ever started. Look, let's not go too far my friend. Quit smoking, quit drinking.
You're like, I started smoking, and I'm going to finish it. I don't want to be a quitter, I'm looking unto the finisher! I want to be a finisher! Look, if you're doing something stupid, quit. It's okay to quit a government school. It's okay to quit the Mormon Church. It's okay to quit Catholicism. It's okay to quit things that are wrong.
You say, you know what I started this video game, and I'm not going to quit until I've defeated the final boss of the last level, with no cheat codes. I'm going to finish. Not everything in life is worth finishing. Some things you need to quit. When it comes to building something. When it comes to doing something for the Lord. When it comes to raising your kids, home schooling. When it comes to your marriage. When it comes to church. When it comes to reading the Bible. You need to decide, I must finish, I don't want to be a quitter.
There are people who have a habit of quitting. They constantly start reading books and don't finish them. Even outside the Bible, they start a book- you know if you start reading a book and it's stupid then I won't finish it either. They just don't finish things out of character.
Okay, here's the worst thing of all, the worst. Starting a board game and not finishing it. You know those people, right? They get into a board game with you, you get a few hours into it, it's real intense, you're playing Risk, you're just about to dominate the whole world, and then it's just like, I'm tired of playing, I'm done.
No! Finish it! Right? Finish Monopoly, I don't care how long it takes. Finish Risk. Finish Trivial Pursuit until you have all 6 wedges. Even the one on sports that's like from the teens and twenties, facts about sports. Finish it!
No, honestly, it's a character thing. People do sometimes have a character flaw where they just don't finish things. Finish your food for crying out loud. I'm done, I'm quitting, I'm finishing. It makes your life really stressful when you have a lot of loose ends. Too many ongoing projects. Too many loose ends. It's great to just wrap things up and move on to the next thing. To the next task. Not just kind of start cleaning one part of the house, and then move on to something else. You never really get anything totally done. You never really get good at anything.
Learning a foreign language is pretty easy to start, pretty hard to finish. A lot of work- a lot of people will start, but they don't finish. Again, sometimes there can be exceptions to these things, you might start, and you're like wow- I just don't have the aptitude. I just don't have the ability. Well then, there you go. The thing is though, a lot of people do have the ability and they just don't finish because of a lack of character, they just don't finish.
Learning how to play piano, it's a great skill, or any instrument that could be used to serve the Lord. A lot of people start and get excited about it. I sell my piano- I give it away free here, if anyone wants my piano course that I wrote I give it away free, I refuse to sell it to anybody around here. I give it away for free here, so if you want a copies of my piano books I'll give them to you, but I sell them online to people in distant states. I've noticed that the vast majority of people they buy all three books, and I love that, because then I make a little extra money, because I'm selling three books instead of one.
It's funny because sometimes when I'm packaging up that envelope I'm thinking, the vast majority of people who are buying all three, and I really appreciate that, but I'm thinking how many of these people are going to make it to book 3? Because book 1 is pretty hard, who has started my piano course? Who has finished it? Every hand goes down- no I'm just kidding.
It's hard, even book 1 is challenging, and I'm just thinking to myself, they buy all three- and I remember when I was a kid we didn't have the piano course that I wrote, we had a piano course called The Henry Slaughter Gospel Piano Course. It's out of print now, and if you go to buy it on Amazon it's like 200 dollars, collector item. That's why I even wrote my piano course because the Henry Slaughter course, you couldn't get it anymore.
I remember, we always had books 1 through 6, my parents bought us all books 1 through 6. Nobody ever- we barely scratched the surface of book 3, but we had all 6. 4 through 6 never were touched. Because it's easy to start book 1, it's hard to complete book 6. It takes a lot of dedication and diligence and character to finish something. It's a lot easier to start something than to finish something. Let me just say this, before I close.
There are a lot of people in the Bible who started out really good, really strong, serving the Lord, greatly, but because they didn't finish well, they just go down in history as being a bad person. Right, and I think the best example of that in the Bible is King Saul. I mean, we forget completely about the glories of King Saul, and his great humility, his great faith in God, and how humble he was, and what a good guy he was, and how he was filled with the spirit.
It says of him that he was filled with the spirit more than any other person in the Bible. I believe I counted, and he and Samson were tied. Saul and Samson. Look, another guy who goes down in a negative way, Samson. They both had the spirit of the Lord come upon them more than anybody, but did they persevere unto the end? No. You look at King Saul, he started out a great guy, a godly man, a powerful warrior.
Courage, humility, boldness, a spiritual man, a giant in the faith, and yet, he goes down in history as being that bad king who persecuted David, and chased David around, and went and sought a witch, and then committed suicide. He just goes down as a horrible guy. Of course, he's in Heaven because you can't lose your salvation, you never could lose your salvation. Otherwise everybody in the Old Testament would have lost it.
The Bible teaches very clearly that Saul is in Heaven, but he goes down in history as not being a great example. You got a New Testament guy who is going to serve the Lord, he changed his name from Saul to something else. He does all the great works under the name Paul. Just to change it. How many people do you know named Paul? A lot. How many people do you know named Saul? Maybe Jewish people, rarely? It's very rare that anybody has that name. That's how your life is going to be if you quit on the Lord, and quit serving God, everything that you've done before that is going to be forgotten by people, and you're just going to be thought of as just a total failure.
The Bible talks about losing rewards too, earning rewards and then losing rewards, so honestly you need to be very careful that you are one that is set on finishing and not just what's called the Roman candle Christian. The one who gets real excited, and then it's just gone. It's like, where are they? They were so excited, but they didn't finish. So we need to be a finisher, let me just close with one verse.
Better is the end of a thing- this is what Ecclesiastes said- better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof, and the day of one's death than the day of one's birth. It's a great thing to get to the end of your life and be able to say, you know what, I stayed faithful to my spouse all the way to the end. I taught my children the word of God. I stayed in church. I wasn't always perfect, I made mistakes, I failed at times, but I kept getting back up, and I always went to church, and I kept reading my Bible, and I kept soul winning, and I kept on trying, I kept growing, and I kept reaching people, and I made it all the way to the finish line and I never quit.
That's a great testimony, and that's what we need to strive for in our lives. Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. The great finisher, the Lord Jesus Christ. Let's bow our heads in a word of prayer. Father, thank you so much for the fact that you finished, Lord, and thank you for that example of the Lord Jesus who just kept saying over and over again, I'm going to finish the work, I have finished the work, it is finished. Lord, help us to have the same motto to finish the work that you've given us to do Lord. Help us to finish the Bible for crying out loud, cover to cover, at least one time, and then finish it again. Help us to live our lives as a finisher. In Jesus name.