Character: Finishing What You Start

 

Sunday July 31, 2011   Phone: 570.829.5216
Pastor David Miklas e-mail pdmikBBM@aol.com
Message: Developing Godly Character #3 Text: Luke 2:46-49; II Timothy 4:7-8 

 

Character: Finishing What You Start
 
Introduction: In Luke 2:46-49 we read, "And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" These verses give an account of Jesus and His family going to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. In the passing of time, and as they began their long journey home, Mary and Joseph realized that Jesus was not with them. They turned back to Jerusalem to find him. When they arrived, they found him in the Temple sitting in the midst of some very influential people, teaching and learning from them. Rightfully so, Mary and Joseph asked Jesus why He had allowed Himself to be separated from them, and He answered, "…wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" Jesus was saying, "I have started something for My Father, and I must work on it until it is finished." Today:
 
We're a generation of starters but not a generation of "finishers."
We're a generation of beginners, but not a generation of “completers.”
We're a generation of promises and commitments that only last for so long, they don't last.
 
An important trait of character is that of finishing whatever is started. Unfinished tasks clutter the lives of millions. How many times does something go unfinished that God needs to be completed for His work?
 
I. FINISHING WHAT IS STARTED WILL REMOVE MUCH FRUSTRATION FROM LIFE. Unfinished tasks often contribute to life's discouragements. I have learned if ever I find myself miserable with my work, it is often due to unfinished tasks. In this case, I sit at my desk, and compose a list of what needs to be finished. I then work to finish all that I can. As I finish a task, I mark through it on my list. At the end of the day, each task I have marked off the list ceases to cause frustration and becomes an encouragement to me. The same goes for my weekly schedule. I believe the most miserable people in the world are those who are not “finishers.”
 
II. STUDENTS SHOULD FINISH SCHOOL. In this point, I speak to students at every level – high school, or college. I have read that the United States government has now passed laws giving a 16-year-old the right to quit school with parental consent. Young people especially should learn to finish what they start. A youth who does not finish high school is apt to live life lacking strong character. I believe that parents should be aware of their children’s assignments and then make them finish the required assignments on time. By doing so, parents are teaching children early in life to finish what they start.
 
An unskilled and untaught young person will have a difficult time finding good employment. He may even end up living on welfare from the tax money paid by graduates who had the character to finish. He may even spend his life freeloading off of his parents.
A high school dropout will often struggle to support a family. A general equivalency diploma (G.E.D.) is better than nothing, but it is not as good as a high school diploma. Many earn their G.E.D. because of a lack of commitment and an abundance of laziness.
 
A college student should also finish what he starts. People often look with disapproval on a high school dropout. I feel much the same way toward a college dropout. It is just as important to complete college as it is to finish high school. It may even be more important because of the stage of life that college represents.
 
III. A PERSON SHOULD FINISH HIS FOOD. There was a time when people ate all the food they put on their plates. Children used to be taught to clean their plates. Americans are people who waste much. While people in other countries starve to death, Americans put food in the trash at a rapid rate. This practice is a sin against God. Select the appropriate amount of food to put on your plate, and then eat it. Finish the food you are given by God, and don't waste His blessing to you.
 
IV. A PERSON SHOULD FINISH HIS FINANCIAL COMMITMENTS. If a person starts a financial agreement, he should be sure he finishes with the transaction. If he borrows money, he should repay it – on time. If he promises the bank a certain payment, he should keep his promise and finish making all of his payments at that agreed amount. If a person incurs a debt with a family member, he should finish by repaying that debt. Just because a person addresses the people from whom he borrows as parents does not give him the right to take advantage of them nor steal from them.
 
Today, we live in a society in which many think you get credit cards and write checks to enjoy yourself in life. However, the truth is you are a thief if you owe anyone money and you are late even one day paying it back. Do not borrow money unless you can afford to pay it back. Never begin a debt you cannot fulfil.
 
V. A PERSON SHOULD FINISH PROJECTS. I could easily go into a lot of detail on this subject.
 
To build character, a person might study his life and list the projects that have been started, but are unfinished, and if possible, finish them..A person should not even begin projects that are not worth finishing, so look ahead before you start a project. Even hobbies and projects that are started for enjoyment should be finished.
 
A conscientious person finishes the little projects around the home and at work that need attention. A conscientious person finishes what he or she has committed themselves to do on a church project or on a committee obligation. We seem to live in a world with a lot of starters and not many finishers. Why is that so? I believe it is because of a lack of commitment.
 
VI. A PERSON SHOULD FINISH FOR THE LORD. Have you heard people say any of these or said them yourself?
 
“I'm going to commit myself to PRAY for twenty minutes a day.” That will last for maybe a week!
“I'm going to commit myself to reading through my BIBLE this year.” That is until you get to the book of Leviticus!
“I'm going to be a SOUL WINNER and go on visitation once a week.” That is until either the weather changes or someone throws cold water on your efforts.
“I'm making a commitment to LIVE for Jesus.” We say "Praise the Lord", but how many will be doing that come a year from now?
“I'm making a commitment to SERVE God.” But unless you realize that your efforts must be Holy Spirit motivated, and Holy Spirit energized, you will not finish the course.
“I'm making a commitment to come to Sunday school every Sunday.” Believe me, adults need Sunday school as long as we are alive. We need the commitment to Sunday morning and evening and also to midweek Prayer meeting. But even here, we find today more so than ever, people who are becoming more and more inconsistent with their church attendance.
 
Since God has started a work in every Christian, that Christian must be sure to finish his life in the will of God. Philippians 1:6 says, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." Every Christian needs to finish what he starts in his Christian life.
 
VII. A PERSON SHOULD FINISH HIS/HER MARRIAGE. In Matthew 9:6 we read, "Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." Marriage IS a commitment! A couple should get married and stay married. "Till death do us part" is a part of the marriage vows. Once the marital relationship is started, it should be finished. Neither one should turn from this responsibility. Far too many couples run to the divorce courts, because of a lack of character. Hard work is required to correct marital hardships, but hard work is not an excuse to divorce. A couple should not lie about their promise to stay together. The couple who finishes their marriage will not quit on their children, parents, or God.
 
VIII. A PERSON SHOULD NOT START WHAT HE CANNOT FINISH. In this point, I am speaking of criticism about others. When a person begins talking about the faults of others, he enters a realm that is out of his control. When a person gossips about another's faults, he won't be able to change or help that person. Criticism does not help anyone. Remember this statement, "Judging is giving verdict without any intention of ever helping." Criticism falls into the same category as criticism. I say, "Don't talk about that which you cannot change." Let me repeat, a person should not start what he cannot finish.
 
IX. CHILDREN SHOULD BE TAUGHT TO BE FINISHERS.
 
Children should learn to finish a task given to them completely and in the way it was expected to be done.
Children should learn to finish a project and then clean up after themselves. In the same way younger children should be taught to put away their playthings when they have finished playing with them.
Children should be prompted to finish coloring one page before going to the next page.
Children should be required to clean their plates at every meal, if age-appropriate portions have been given.
Children should be required to finish cleaning their rooms before privileges are granted. Remember responsibilities must be completed before privileges are given.
Again, children should learn to finish schoolwork as a good method of training.
 
Developing the character to finish the little areas of life will condition them to finish school and much larger areas of life.
 
XIII. JESUS WAS A FINISHER. John 19:30 says, "When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost." It cost Jesus Christ His life to finish the task before Him, but He did it. Then He had to rise from the grave. Wow! Has anyone succeeded at that lately? Talk about a hard task to finish! Jesus allowed nothing to stop Him from finishing the mission God gave Him.
 
Every person should finish whatever task he starts. In drawing this message to a close I want to call your attention to II Timothy 4:1-8, “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, 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, 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.” Every person should join the Apostle Paul in saying, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness." (II Timothy 4:7, 8a) For the most part this passage in II Timothy 4:1-8 has been used as a challenge and encouragement to preachers and pastors. However, I believe there is much to be said to all of us. Paul is talking about finishing the job. I believe with all my heart, our children and grandchildren and the next generations need people to look up to. There are no good excuses for quitting. You who have received eternal life from Christ and started out on a COURSE of service to Him, please "DON'T QUIT!" Our teenagers need to see Christian people being adults who stand up like the Apostle Paul, and at the end of life can say to some young Timothy in the faith:
 
I HAVE HANGED TOUGH; "I have fought a good fight!"
I HAVE STAYED WITH THE PLAN; "I finished my course!"
I HAVE WALKED WITH GOD; "I kept the faith!"
I HAVE FOCUSED ON THE FUTURE even in the difficulties of the present because the eternal rewards are being set aside by God.
 
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If God has spoken to your heart after reading the sermon “Character: Finishing What You Start,”then right now talk to God about what He has spoken to you.
 
Do you have the assurance that one day you will go to heaven? If you have no assurance that you know Jesus Christ, then I trust you will decide to accept Him as your personal Savior. The Bible tells us in
 
Acts 16:31, “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…”
Romans 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
This prayer is here for those who need to ask Jesus to be their personal Savior: “I do want to go to Heaven. I know I am a sinner, and I do believe Jesus Christ died for me. I realize I cannot buy this great salvation, nor can I earn it. Knowing Jesus died on the cross and arose from the grave to pay my sin debt and to purchase my salvation, I do now trust Him as my Savior, and from this moment on I am completely depending on Him for my salvation.”
If you made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, let me know. Please send an e-mail to pdmikBBM@aol.com and I will send you some literature that will help you in your Christian life.
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In His Amazing Grace,
Pastor
David Miklas
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