February 2, 2004

Encouragement for Today

 

Finish What You Start
Glynnis Whitwer, Senior Editor P31 Woman, Speaker for Proverbs 31 Ministries

 

Key Verse:

 

“My food,” said Jesus “is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work.”  John 4:34

 

 

Devotion:

 

Here it is February.  One month into a new year.  By this time in past years, I had given up trying to read through the Bible in a year, abandoned my resolution to exercise three times a week (unless you consider getting out of bed exercise) and was back at Weight Watchers convinced I would lose those extra pounds that year.

 

It’s always easier to start something new than finish it.   I wish I could point my finger at someone else while saying that, but each time I try, my finger whips back towards me. 

 

My list of projects begun but not finished includes photo albums, wallpaper not installed, great ideas for articles never written.   Let’s see … I already mentioned exercise and diet. 

 

One of my problems is that I lack focus.  There’s so much that I want to do, I’m often scattered.  I allow myself to be pulled in multiple directions, intrigued by the possibilities of a new and exciting project.   But finishing something requires discipline that doesn’t come naturally.

 

Jesus, on the other hand, is a picture of focus and discipline.  When the disciples wanted Jesus to eat, here is His response:

 

“My food,” said Jesus “is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work.”  John 4:34

 

In the verses before John 4:34 Jesus had reached out to a Samarian woman while the disciples went to find some food.  It’s the middle of a warm day.  Jesus is weary from the journey and probably hungry.  Yet, He is focused on the eternal needs of a woman who is living a life far from God. 

 

Jesus knows what His Father has asked Him to do and is committed to “finish” this work.  In this passage, Jesus models clarity of purpose, perseverance and compassion; all characteristics that we should have. 

 

An obedient life is defined by discipline.  It takes discipline to finish what we start.   Unfortunately, discipline often requires sacrificing comfort and pleasure to do the will of the One who calls us. 

 

If you have abandoned a resolution or good habit, the great news is that today is a new day.   It will take some work, but you can begin again.

 

If you feel like you are always starting things and never finishing, perhaps you need to pare down the activities in your life and focus on one or two things that God is calling you to.   Don’t try and tackle everything at once.  Ask God for His priorities for your life, and concentrate on doing your best in those areas.

 

Changing life-long patterns of not finishing things will take time.  Focus on your successes and not failures.  Above all, pray daily for the strength to persevere.

 

 

My prayer for today:

 

Heavenly Father, thank you for forgiving me when I fall short.  Help me be like Jesus.  Show me Your priorities for my life and help me be focused on Your will and work.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

Application steps:

 

Identify one or two areas that you believe God wants you to focus on this year.  This could be bad habits that need to be changed, projects that need to be finished, relationships that need to be strengthened, or an area of ministry that needs to be pursued.  Ask God to help you align all areas of your life with His priorities for you.

 

 

Reflection points:

 

What good habits do you need to develop?

 

What is something you have started but not finished?

 

Is there something you know God wants you to do, but you haven’t done it?  What is it?

 

What can you do to help yourself become more disciplined?

 

What characteristics of Jesus do you most desire for yourself?

 

 

Power verses:

 

Hebrews 10: 35-36 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.  (NIV)

 

Isaiah 43:18-19 Do not remember the former things; nor consider the things of old. Behold I will do a new thing! Now it shall spring forth. Shall you not know it?  I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.  (NKJV)

 

Psalm 93:1 The Lord reigns, He is robed in majesty; the Lord is robed in majesty and is armed with strength.  The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved.   (NIV)

 

Psalm 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.  (NIV)

 

James 1: 2-4 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  (NAS)

 

 

Additional resources:

 

Seven Life Principles for Every Woman Set (Hardcover Book and Bible Study) by Sharon Jaynes and Lysa TerKeurst

http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/sevenlife.html

 

The Ultimate Makeover by Sharon Jaynes

http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/makeover.html

 

Radically Obedient, Radically Blessed by Lysa TerKeurst
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/radical.html

 

P31 Woman Magazine by Proverbs 31 Ministries
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/newsletter.html