Summary: There are literally 100’s of 1000’s of people who have had great starts but only a very small percentage of those people have a great finish. Jesus was only 33 years old when he finished his mission. He said, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me.
Resolve to Finish
Clip of River City miracle http://www.cdol.com/saints/miracle.html
The New Orleans Saints had just scored a 75-yard touchdown on one of the wackiest plays in NFL history Sunday, then next-- just as unbelievably -- John Carney missed the extra point with no time left.. The result was a 20-19 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars that dropped the Saints out of the playoff race and was one of the most twisted, cruel moments history of Saints. But it speaks to our Scripture today. It is much easier to start something than it is to finish it. I found that with repairing my house. I worked 4 months straight 8-10 hours a day on my house and then my family moved in. We had a finish carpenter move down here to finish our house and he and I worked another four months until we finished. But we still had the punch list. Our carpenter moved on to other jobs and I set the punch list aside for a few weeks which then became months. I was tired and quite frankly sick of working on the house. And I was under the impression, there was less than a day’s work left. The catalyst was the news we were being appointed to this church. Our carpenter and I each put in more than 45 hours each to finish the house. I don’t think I would have ever finished had it not been this new appointment! Starting something is easy but finishing it is where the difficulty comes. It doesn’t matter if it’s a project around the house, your education, your marriage, your career, finishing is difficult.
There are literally 100’s of 1000’s of people who have had great starts but only a very small percentage of those people have a great finish. Jesus was only 33 years old when he finished his mission. He said, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me.” And it was at the end of his life, while he was dying on the cross, Jesus was able to say, “It is finished. I have finished the work you have given me to do.” And that’s where I want to be. How about you? So how do you finish and finish well? Nehemiah gives us six keys.
First, have a compelling life focus on the finish line. Nehemiah is a pretty obscure figure in the Scriptures and yet he is remembered for one thing: completing the wall of Jerusalem, which effectively allowed the economy and city of Jerusalem to be rebuilt. People who finish well are known for one compelling life picture or mission. Now the difference between a person who finishes and everyone else is that most other people try to accomplish about 50 things in their lifetime. And for a great person their life is about that one great thing. When you have a compelling life focus, it gives you clarity and clarity gives you the freedom to say no. No is a powerful thing to say but it is also one of the hardest. When you have clarity about your life purpose then you can’t live up to the expectations of everyone else. People who finish know that their life is to be about their one great thing and then do it. It is this compelling life focus which provides the resolve to finish.
Dorothy Haskins tells about a noted concert violinist who was asked the secret of her mastery of the instrument. This is what she said, “There are many things that used to demand my time. When I went to my room after breakfast, I made my bed, straightened the room, dusted, and did whatever seemed necessary. When I finished my work, I turned to my violin practice. That system prevented me from accomplishing what I should on the violin. So I reversed things. I deliberately planned to neglect everything else until my practice period was complete. And that program of planned neglect is the secret to my success.” Only a compelling life focus gives us the will to finish. People who finish have this compelling life focus which gives them the resolve to persevere through resistance, setbacks and distractions.
Second, avoid distractions. Verse 4: “Four times they sent me the same message, and each time I gave them the same answer.” Four times the enemy comes and tries to distract Nehemiah from finishing the walls and four times, Nehemiah sends back the same response. “"I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?" Distraction and opposition will always come when you commit in faith to the work of God. God demands that I have only one god in my life. That’s hard. I don’t want to have just one God, I want to worship the god of the sports car, I want to worship the god of lust, I want to worship the god of the larger house. There are a multitude of gods we want to worship. But God demands that there be 1 god in our life because you cannot serve two masters. It’s easy to say I believe and follow Jesus but quite another to live up to the calling and demands of worshipping just one God. Demonstrating fidelity to one God means always placing God first in my life. Part of the challenge for us is to keep the big picture of life God wants us to live.