Craig Groeschel - When You Want to Give Up
I wanna talk to those of you who might feel like giving up. Maybe at one time you had a goal or a dream, maybe a vision and you started it with great anticipation, but you maybe hit some resistance, you stalled. Maybe you've had the very little or no progress. And frustration has set in. You're discouraged and you feel like giving up. I don't know what it might be for you but maybe there was a relationship that you tried to restore and when you reached out to bring healing things to didn't go well and now the relationship is worse today than it was before. Or maybe there are those of you that you're really fighting to save your marriage, you're doing everything that you can, but you feel like you're running out of fight.
There are certainly some of you, maybe those of you watching online that you're believing for a miracle and you've been praying for your child to come back to Jesus, or you've been praying for healing, or you've been praying for financial provision, or you've been asking God to please help you overcome an addiction and you've tried and you've prayed and you've believed, but you haven't seen the results and now you're discouraged and maybe you're losing hope. Today I wanna talk to those of you who feel like giving up and the title of today's message is When You Want to Give Up.
Father, we are so thankful for your goodness, your presence, your word and your people. We pray that we would all meet today that as your people, we would meet you, worship you, be transformed by your living and active word, that we could finish what you call us to start. Give us the courage God not to give up. We pray in Jesus name and all God's people said, Amen. Amen, amen.
Type it in the comment section, amen so we'll you're with us. Today we are concluding a message series that is called pre-decide. Pre-decide. We have been for the last several weeks talking about the importance of our decisions because we know that the quality of our decisions will determine the quality of our lives. The problem is of most us are not very good decision makers, are we? And that's why instead of waiting for the heat of the moment to decide in the future, we are seeking the wisdom of God through the word of God, to pre-decide and make certain decisions ahead of time. For example, we have kind of this phrase that we've been saying that we are predetermining when we face a certain situation, when we're faced with a blank, we are pre-deciding to take a certain course of action. When faced with this, we pre-decide this is what we'll do. And we have six specific decisions that we are making to determine who we will be as followers of Christ.
If you've been with us you know we start with ready. What are you? Let's all say it aloud, all of our churches. It's no fun without you. What are you? I am ready. Ready. I am consistent. Consistent. I am devoted. Devoted. I am generous. Generous I am faithful. Faithful. And I am a... Finisher. We're not waiting until we get in the middle of the moment. We're determining ahead of time that we pre-decide no matter what that we are ready, we are consistent, we are devoted, we are generous, we are faithful and we are a finisher. Finisher. One thing I know about the desire to finish is that it's really easy to start something new, but it's not easy to finish. And this idea is way more important than most people understand because I could ask you some question and I think you'd see the reason. What do you think separates average people from amazing people? What do you think separates those who are really fulfilled in life from those who are often empty? What do you think is the difference between those who struggle and those who succeed?
Let me tell you what it's not. It's not their intelligence and it's not their appearance. It's not their talent or their education. It's not who or what they know. The difference is their perseverance. It's their perseverance. It's their willingness to stick to it, it's their grit to finish, it is their drive to persevere, it is their refusal to quit. In fact one of my favorite authors that I enjoy, I like Angela Duckworth. She did some groundbreaking research and she studied why really successful people succeed. And I like what she did. She looked at business leaders, she looked at military at leaders, she looked at teachers in a very difficult situation. She looked at fifth graders who could spell the hardest words in the entire world and she asked, what are the qualities that separate these successful people from other successful people? And the number one top qualities she identified is what she calls grit.
Grit, she defines grit "as the strength of character that refuses to quit". The difference isn't what you know, it's not even who you know, it's your willingness to stay in the fight, it's the strength of character that refuses to quit. In fact, I like her quote that she says, she says this, "Enthusiasm is common, but endurance is rare". It's easy to start but it's often way more rare to finish. And so that's why we're pre-deciding that we're finishers because by nature we tend to take the easy way out, by nature we tend to take the path of least resistance. If things get difficult, it's easy for us to quit so our big decision today is going to be this. We are gonna decide this. We pre-decide that when I commit I don't quit. Why? Because I am a finisher.
Now that's good right there. You might wanna clap at any time because you're not gonna wanna sit by and not say that. What I know is you're not a quitter and you want some of this so with all of our experiences, let's just say it aloud. What do we decide? When I commit I don't quit. I don't quit. Why? Because I am a finisher. One more time everybody. When I commit, I don't quit. When I commit, I don't quit. Why? I am a finisher. I am a finisher. How do we as disciples of Jesus, how do we strengthen our perseverance when the devil wants us to quit? How do we strengthen our character, our refusal to quit? In order to do so I wanna look today at the words of the Apostle Paul as he gave what we might call a very emotional farewell to his spiritual son in the faith, Timothy. And to give you the context of 2 Timothy. It appears that the Roman emperor Nero had sentenced Paul to be beheaded.
So if you can get this in your mind, Paul is writing out this letter to someone that he loves dearly and he's awaiting execution in a deep dungeon underground. It was really more like a sewage drain and some of the prisoners would die in the sewage drain even before their execution. And so this is where Paul is likely writing this very emotional letter days before he's likely to be beheaded. And he writes to Timothy, his spiritual son, these words of encouragement. He says, "Don't be afraid of suffering for the Lord".
Listen, if you're gonna finish, you're likely going to suffer. Being a Christian doesn't mean that you don't have hard times. In fact, in many ways it guarantees you will have hard times. He said, "don't be afraid of suffering for the Lord". And then watch what Paul tells his spiritual son. He says, "Work at telling others the good news," and watch this and carry out the ministry, "fully carry out the ministry that God has given you". In other words, finish what God called you to start. "Fully carry out the ministry God has given you". And then Paul says, very emotionally he says, "as for my life has already been poured out like an offering to God. The time of my death is near".
Now look at what Paul says. He says, "I fought the good fight". What did he say? Say it with me. He said, "I have finished the race," "And I have remained faithful". I've been in the battle. I haven't given up. I fought the good fight and I've remained faithful. Here's what's powerful. It's obvious that Paul had finished his race but, you have not finished yours. God has more for you to do. And, if you find yourself discouraged, if you find yourself feeling like giving up, maybe God would say to you, if you are not dead you are not done. Oh, come on somebody. There is more for you to do. God has more plans, God's got more assignments to you. There's more to do, there's more love to give, there's more people to help, there's more ministries to start, there's more businesses to launch, there's more content to create, there's more hope to share, there's more friendships to make, there's more addictions to break.
Look at the person sitting next to you. Tell 'em, God's got more for you. Look at him and tell him that. Type it in the comment section. God's got more for you. If you're not dead, you're not done. There's more for you to do so. What do you do? Fully finish the work that God had you start. And some are like, "Great Craig, but I'm tired. I'm so tired". I'm not just tired where I'm from, I'm tired. I'm so tired. How you doing? I'm busy. I'm tired. I'm just tired. How you doing? Busy. I'm tired. I'm busy, tired. I'd like to finish but I got too much to do. Anybody relate? If those of you who feel like there's too much to do, I like what David Allen said in his book called "Getting Things Done". He said this, he said, "Much of the stress that people feel doesn't come from having too much to do. It comes from not finishing what they've started". Oh, I don't know who this is for right now but maybe some of the stress you have, isn't that you got so much to do, but you haven't done what of God called you to do.
So what I want you to do for a moment is just be in a posture of prayer. At all of our churches, those of you watching online, just be open and you might even just say in your own mind, just a simple prayer. God, show me what you wanna show me. Speak to me. And I'm gonna ask you a question and I want you to see if God doesn't give you an answer to this question. What I want you to do in just a moment is I want you to think about what you started, but you haven't finished, what God prompted. Not just like you don't go like, oh, I haven't finished season four of that show I was watching. I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about something that God prompted you to do. And I'm gonna read you a scripture then I'm gonna ask you a question. This is what Jesus said to the church in Sardis in Revelation. He said this in Revelation 3. He said, "I know your deeds. You have a reputation of being alive but you're dead".
Do you ever feel like that? Other like, oh, you're a strong Christian but inside you're actually know you're not doing what God called you to do. Jesus says, "Hey, wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die for. I found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God". Jesus says you didn't finish what I called you to start. You have some unfinished deeds. In a posture of prayer, I would ask you this question and have you just listen to what God may say to you. What is your unfinished business? What is your unfinished assignment? What is it that as a follower of Jesus, you were prompted to do, you know you're supposed to do, you thought you were supposed to do it, you were going to do it, you hope to do it, you thought about doing it, you knew you were supposed to say it, you were prompted to give it, you were looking to reach out to someone, what is it that you're prompted to do? It may be a number of different things.
Perhaps for you, you were going to try to heal a broken relationship and you never reached out to someone. Maybe for you God had prompted you to share your faith with somebody. Maybe you were supposed to give something and you never gave what you were supposed to give. Maybe you were supposed to finish your degree. You felt like you were and you never have. It might have been, you were gonna start some kind of a hobby or you were gonna join a life group, or we talked about serving at church and you knew you were gonna use your gifts to serve but you never followed through. It was a ministry that you were supposed to start or business you were supposed to launch or a physical goal. You were gonna lose 20 pounds, or you were gonna apologize to someone. What is the unfinished business that you have in your life? God had called you to start and you haven't followed through. What is your unfinished business?
Think about it. Let it sink in. What would God be saying to you? I love the advice that the Apostle Paul gave to the Corinthians. They were going to give big and they started but they didn't follow through. And Paul said, here's my advice. His advice to them, maybe God's advice to us. He said, here's my advice. "It would be good for you to finish what you started a year ago. Last year, you were the first who wanted to give and you were the first to begin doing it". Now he said, what should you do? Somebody say it with me now. You should finish what you started. What is your unfinished business? What is it that God prompted you to do that you haven't done yet?
Now, you may raise the question like, what's the big deal if I quit? And honestly, there are some things that you will want to quit. You don't wanna do everything with, you're not called to it, but there are some things that would be like divine assignments that you haven't done yet. Why does it matter if you quit that? And the reason is because every decision you make is actually a vote toward your future. Every time you decide in the moment you're voting, what kind of person are you and whenever you decide to quit, what you're doing is voting that you really don't have what it takes, that you're not a finisher. On the other hand, when you stand strong in the Lord and you persevere and you don't back down and you finish, you are voting I am a finisher. I persevere. When I commit, I don't quit. Why? Because I am a finisher. You're always voting.
For example, I'll tell you a little bit of a long story. I hope it's worth the payoff. I played a lot of sports. One of 'em I played in high school was tennis and I was okay. I was decent. In the semi-finals of the state championship I played a guy that was undefeated and I played the match of my life in front of a college recruiter. I beat an undefeated guy, 6-3, 6-2, wiped up the court with his little undefeated self. And the scout came out and signed me on the spot for a really, really good school. Then the scout left, I went into the finals. I played a guy that I'd beaten two weeks previously and he waxed up the court with me and the scout didn't see that match.
First day at this school, it was an NAIA school, which normally is second class but in tennis back when I played, that meant basically you could be any age and so they would recruit ex-pros. I was the only American on an international team of kind of professional athletes and this team was one of the best in the country. My first day there, I played one of my teammates. I lost 6-0, 6-0. My first match, I was playing number six, lowest on the team, played with the guy number six on another team, lost 6-0, 6-0. Cracked all of my rackets. This was before I was a Christian. Cracked all of my rackets, screamed I quit, walked off with a full and tension to quit. And some guy there knew my high school coach and called him. And he drove an hour and a half to come to my school, knocked on my dorm room when I was in there saying every bad word you could ever imagine, TVMA all the way. And he came into my room and he sat down. He goes, so this is the kind of person you are, huh? I never saw use a quitter.
And I told him to go some places and do some things to himself. And he said, this is a really big day in your life and I'm glad I'm here to get to see it because today you're gonna determine what kind of person you are. I never will forget it. My coach drove an hour and a half to come sit down while I'm throwing a fit and said, you're gonna decide what kind of person you are. And he asked some kind of question, kind of like, do you quit in the face of adversity or are you an overcomer? And when he walked out I decided in that moment that when I commit, I don't quit. And I hung in there and barely survived my first year and got better my second year. Believe it or not, I was undefeated at my level of the third year. In my fourth year, I won the athlete of the year of my entire college.
Do not clap for that because it's not about that. The power of the story is I didn't quit. I didn't quit. Listen to me. Here's what you may know about me is you may see me struggle, but you won't see me quit. Oh, come on somebody, look at the person sitting next to you. You just tell him that. Tell the person next to you, tell him right now, you may see me struggle, tell them. You may see me struggle but you won't see quit. Because when I commit, I don't quit. I am a finisher. Scripture is so powerful and honestly, one of my favorite verses in all the Bible is Acts 20:24 when Paul said this. He said, "I consider my life worth nothing to me". My only aim is to do what? He said, "My only goal in life is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me". What was that task? It was, "the task of testifying to the good news of God's grace. My only goal in all of life is to finish the race".
Now there's a little phrase in that power packed verse that so many people miss. Why could Paul finish the race? It's because he wasn't running for himself. He wasn't running for himself. He said, "I consider my life worth nothing to me". It's not about me. It's not about my desires. It's not about my dreams. It's not about my 401k account. It's not about my popularity. He said, "I consider my life worth nothing to me". And I wanna speak to somebody right now. If you are quitting, what God called you to start maybe it's because you care about something more than you care about running God's grace. And so for you, he said, "I consider my life worth nothing".
You'll probably wanna put something in this blank that'll be very personal to you. I consider my what worth nothing. If only I may do what you called me to do. I don't know what you'll put in there, but I hope you'll put something in there. I consider my personal comfort worth nothing if only I may please Jesus and finish his race. I consider my net worth worth nothing. I consider the opinions of other people, what they say. I consider my social media follow, I consider my personal hopes and dreams worth nothing if only I may finish the race that God called me to run. You see, when we commit to him, we don't quit because we're finishers. How do you run your race? How do you finish?
Well, you don't run it for you, you run it for God. You run it for God. You run it for God. And then here's what you do, let me just tell you what you do. You wanna the finish here's what you do. You take the next step. That's what you do. You take the next step. You take the next step. And the great news is you don't have to finish your race today. You just take the next step. And when you look at the life and ministry of Jesus, it is indescribably powerful and emotional to look at how it ended. But if you look at every step he took from when he started to when he finished, he just faithfully ran for God, taking a step after step.
Think about it on the cross. Right before Jesus looked up to heaven and he cried out to his father, into your hands I commit my spirit and he breathed his last, right before that Jesus said this. He said, tell a tetelestai, Greek he said, "It is finished". I did everything you sent me to do Dad. I finished the race. How did he do it? He wasn't running for himself. He was running for his father and day by day, week after week, month after month, year after year, painful moment after painful moment, he just took the next step. When they hated him, he just took the next step and loved them back. When they struck him on the cheek, he just took the next step and turned the other cheek. When he was carrying the cross up the hill and he fell to the ground, he just stood back up and took the next step. Hanging on the cross, when they at him and mocked him and shamed him, he just took another step and said, father, forgive them for they don't even know what they're doing. From the very moment he started he had pre-decided I'm always ready, I'm always consistent, I'm always devoted, I'm always generous, I'm always faithful, and when I commit I don't quit because I am a finisher. I am a finisher.
What are you gonna do? The trajectory is always toward what's easy. It's always toward what's convenient. And the devil will want you to quit what God called you to start. So you're going to pre-decide. No, when I commit I don't quit. And I don't know how this will play out in your life. Maybe for you when you're about to give up, you just decide, no, I'm gonna say one more prayer or I'm gonna make one more call. Or even when it's difficult, I'm gonna give one more gift or when they hurt me again and again, and again, I'm gonna forgive one more time or I'm not going away, I'm sending one more email or I'm running another mile or I'm memorizing another verse or I'm taking another lesson or I'm asking for another meeting or I'm talking to my child again and I'm praying for my child again and I'm loving my child again or I'm showing back up and doing what's right even when everybody else says what's wrong.
Dream that dream. Stay in the game. Because when you commit you don't quit. You just take another step, you just take another step, you just take another step. They knock you down, you get back up. They tell you you can't, you just believe with God's help you can. You run for God and you just take another step. Then what do you do when you have no more? You've forgiven with every bit of faith you have. You've loved when they've taken advantage of you. You've given what they didn't care. You've prayed and you see no results. What do you do when you've tried to run and you don't have the power in your own strength to take another step?
In the 1992 Barcelona Olympics there was a British athlete, a runner, sprinter named Derek Hammond who was potential favorite in the 400 meter race. And he got off to a very good start and midway through the race, he ruptured his hamstring, fell to the ground. Every Olympic dream crushed knowing he didn't have what it takes to finish the race. And in one of the most emotional moments in sports history, his dad who was in the crowd got up out of the stands and came down onto the track and carried his son to the finish line. When the son could not go on, the father carried the son to the finish. What I hope you'll understand is this. You never run alone. You never run alone. You never run alone. And that's why you can be confident of this, "that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day that Christ Jesus returns".
Our God will carry it on. When you are weak, when he will be strong, You never run alone. You never run alone. When you think about it, it's an interesting question. Why is it that so many people quit? Why do so many people quit on their marriage? Why do they quit on their dream, why did they quit on God? Well, probably the most simple reason is because quitting is an option. Quitting is an option. What if it wasn't an option for us when God calls us to it? What if, when we got married, we got married into a covenant, not a contract and said this is something till death do us part. What if when God calls us with a vision, with a dream we said, this is from God and what, if God is for us, who can be against us?
And instead of walking away and quitting on God, what if we ran to him even in our doubts, even in our fears, even our disappointments and cried out to him saying, I don't understand, I don't trust you but I'm just clinging to you and I'm not letting go. Because you may see me struggle but you'll never see me quit. Why? Because we are disciples of Jesus, because he is the ultimate finisher, he is the author and he is the finisher of our faith. He started it and he will finish it. Somebody say, when I commit... When I commit... I don't quit. I don't quit. I'm a finisher. I'm a finisher. One more time. When I commit... When I commit... I don't quit. I don't quit. Because the author and the perfecter, the finisher of my faith dwells within me.
So Father today, I pray that your Holy Spirit does a deep work in our church. I would ask God that individually, we would be open to what you would say to us. What unfinished business do we have? Prompt us, show us and God by the power of your word, the truth of your spirit empower us to be faithful, to run this race.
As you're reflecting today those of you online or watching at a live church, I wonder how many of you, something comes to mind? Something comes to mind and you just wanna say, God, I know this is from you and I want to follow through on what you called me to do. Would you lift up your hand right now? I'm curious, lift up your hand. All of our churches, there's something that comes to mind like this. Excellent. Okay, that's about half of you. I'm gonna stop right there. Before I go on, I'm gonna say, wow, congratulations to the rest of you. You guys are amazing. You've been perfect the whole way. Okay, I'm being a little bit sarcastic. Here's what I know is that all of us, if we'll be sensitive to what God says, we have promptings that God will call us to do. What your assignment is to watch for what that is because all of us have unfinished business.
Father, I pray that you would stir within us, that you would reveal to us any place that we have an unfinished assignment, something to give, an encouragement to offer a word to someone, a blessing, something to start, something that we need to go and redo, something we need to try to undo. God, speak to us. And I pray God that every day we'd run for you and just take the next step. Not have to finish today, not at the end of the week, just take the next step. And God, I pray that just like Paul had we might have the blessing toward the end of our life, toward the end of our days on earth to look at you and say, "I ran a good race. I'm finishing my race. I've been faithful to you God". God help us to be faithful today, to take the next step and honor you in all that we do.
As you keep he praying today, it's interesting to think about what Jesus said on the cross. He said, it's finished. Now, what was finished? There was a lot, there were like a lot of prophecies in the Bible, he fulfilled them all. But the biggest thing that Jesus did is he finished the work and the plan of God. What was God's plan? God recognized that because we've all messed up, we've all sinned. You know, you've done those things that you feel bad about, you're ashamed of. What is that? Well, that's what the Bible calls sin. And God is a holy God. He can't look upon, he can't tolerate, he has to punish sin, but God loved us so much that he wanted to do something about this problem and so he sent his son, he became one of us in the person of his son Jesus, who was without sin.
Jesus gave his life on the cross. He was the innocent sacrifice. He did the work of God and said, it's finished in your hands I commit my spirit. He gave his life as the perfect sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins. Jesus, the son of God died, he was buried. And three days later, the stone was rolled away. The tomb was empty, why? Because Jesus was not there. God had raised him from the dead. What does that mean? That means that anybody and this includes you, because of the finished work of Jesus when you step away from your sins and step toward Jesus becoming his disciple, God forgives all of your sins. He makes you brand new. He's the author, he starts it and he's the finisher of your faith.
Some of you today is the day you start your journey with Jesus. It starts with one step, stepping away from your past and stepping toward his grace and saying, I need your forgiveness, I need your mercy. I call on you and all of our churches are online, those who say yes, I want that. I step away from my old life, I step toward Jesus. Today by faith, I give my life to him. If that's your prayer, he'll hear your prayer, he'll forgive your sins, he'll make you brand new. Wherever you're watching today, those who say yes, I'm taking that step. I give my life to Jesus, that's your prayer. Lift your hands high right now, all over the place. Lift them up. Come on, somebody, lift them up. Those of you online, just type that in the comment section, I am giving my life to Jesus. Just type it in there. I'm giving my life to Jesus. And what we're gonna do is we're gonna pray together. Nobody prays alone. We are starting the work that God will finish in you, taking the first step toward Jesus. Just pray today. Pray:
Heavenly Father. I surrender to you. And Jesus forgive my sins. Save me. Be my friend, my savior. Be the Lord of my life. Help me to start following you, doing your will, showing your love. My life is not mine. I give it all to you. Thank you for forgiveness. Thank you for your spirit. Thank you for your love. Thank you for new life. I give you mine in Jesus' name I pray.