Joyce Meyer - Why Is It Hard To Finish What You Start?
I'm calling this message, why is it so hard to finish what we start? Well, well, well, I wanted to call it when you try to do good, evil always comes, but I thought I'd put this title on it just so it made a little more sense later when people are just trying to pick something and they pick it according to the title. I want to start by telling you something that happened to me and I should know better after all the years that I've been in ministry and all the teaching I've done, but this will just prove how we can be deceived by the enemy and hopefully give us a good lesson.
So, on November the 22, 2016, which has been almost a year ago, not quite yet, I wrote down in my journal that I keep pretty much every day and I actually have what I wrote in the back of these notes. I'm not gonna read it all because it gets kind of lengthy, but I wrote that I was making a commitment to be more generous than ever before in my life. And actually, I really do enjoy giving, it's one of the things that I enjoy. I really enjoy making people happy. I enjoy maybe knowing something that somebody wants and then surprising them with it. I've kind of been like that since I was a kid and so I just believe it's one of the gifts that God has given me.
And so, I just decided, I want to be more generous this year than I've ever been before in my life. And I got off to a good start. I've even wrote back here a lot of, I mean I wrote down all kinds of scriptures about giving and all kinds of thoughts. Matter of fact, I'll just right here, this was my commitment. "I am reaffirming my commitment to God to be generous and to help as many people as I possibly can. The world is filled with hurting and needy people and nothing is better or more powerful than helping them. I'm excited to abound and excel in giving and to watch God work in my own heart and life as I go forward".
And then I wrote all kinds of things about when you're selfish or unhappy and the best way to fight greed is with generosity and Satan hates generosity. And I've got scriptures to be generous is to be more like God. So, you know like most things, you make a commitment for a little bit. It's on your mind, and you're pressing forward, and everything's going good, and you're excited. And then, you know, we tend to get busy with something else and we kind of forget about it. You know what I'm talking about, don't you? It's like, well, I'll give you enough examples if you don't know now, you will.
And so, then I went into this period of several months where I just felt more greedy than I had felt in, I mean, I was worrying about money. I was thinking about retirement and, what are we gonna do then? And what's gonna happen if I get to the point where I can't do this anymore? And just prices are high and on and on and on and on. And I mean, it was even like aggravating me when I felt like I needed to do something. And I'm thinking, "What is wrong with me? This is not me. This is not what I'm like at all". And so, I would kind of beat it down for a while and get it out of my brain, and then pretty soon I'd find myself again, you know, just being concerned about money, which it was stupid. That's just not what I normally do.
And so then on August, the 1st of August this year, God reminded me of my commitment to generosity, and he showed me so clearly that the whole thing had just been an attack from Satan to keep me, to get me off my commitment and get my mind on something else. And so, as usual with me, God gave me a great message that not only helped me, but now I can preach to you. And he took me to Romans 7:21 where Paul said... Well, he starts out in Romans 7:15 and he said, "I don't understand myself, the thing I want to do, I don't do. The thing I don't want to do, that's what I always end up doing. What is my problem? What's wrong with me? Why would anybody do what they don't want to do"?
You know, if you're familiar with those scriptures, you're like, "Man, I can relate. I get it," you know? You lay in bed in the morning and make your plans for holiness that day, and it works until you put your feet on the floor and then it's over. And it can be really frustrating when you really want to do good and somehow or another, you just don't get around to it or if you do, it's only for a short period of time. And so, listen to what Paul said, Romans 7:21, "So I find it to be a law, a (rule of action of my being) that when I want to do what is right and good, evil is ever present with me and I am subject to its insistent demands".
So, in other words, anytime you want to do good, you might as well just figure that opposition is gonna come. Just because we decide to do something good, that doesn't mean the enemy's gonna roll out a red carpet and say, "Oh goody, let me help you". Is anybody relating to this already? Okay. How about making a commitment to "I'mma spend time with God every morning before I go out of the house"? Well, the devil does not mind at all if you start something, but he hates it if anybody ever finishes.
Matter of fact, I don't think there's a lot of people that ever really finish what I would call God's destiny for their life. Their purpose coming all the way through and really fully being what God wants them to be because we live in the age of distractions. There's so many things to distract us and to grab our attention and today more so than ever, but I think that hearing this today is gonna help you realize that it's all Satan's plot to keep you from being the person God wants you to be and from having what God wants you to have. How many of you think it's time that we not just start things but that we finish them?
All right so, 1 Corinthians 16:9, "For a wide door of opportunity of effectual service is opened unto me a great and promising one, and there are many adversaries". I love that scripture. Paul said, "Okay, I've got an opportunity to do more good but with it, I also got a lot of opposition. I got a lot of stuff coming against me". And, you know, Satan may come against your mind, he might come against your physical body. He may do something to get you rattled and upset so you get your mind off what your commitment is. I mean, his ways of distracting us are limitless, and you know what? We have the wisdom of God and it's time for us to wake up. Thank you, I'm gonna talk to somebody that's listening. It's time for us to wake up and start really doing what God wants us to do, amen? All right, are you ready?
1 Peter 4:12, "Beloved, do not be amazed and bewildered at the fiery ordeal which is taking place to test your quality, as though something strange (unusual and alien to you and your position) were befalling you". Why are we so surprised when opposition comes? "Well, I just don't understand why this is happening". The devil's saying, "Do you really mean it? How sincere are you about doing this"?
Let's talk about distractions. Mark chapter 4, beginning in verse 14, "The sower sows the word". Well, you know, that's what I'm doing today. The Holy Spirit working through me is sowing good seed into your heart that will produce an amazing harvest in your life if you can hang on to it long enough to let it take root, amen? Let me tell ya something, for all the word that we have available to us today, and for all the word that so many of us hear and have heard year after year after year, there's not much excuse for some of us to still be doing some of the things that we do.
Let me ask a question, for example, how many times are we gonna need to hear, "Be quick to forgive"? Heh, heh, yeah. I love that, heh, heh, heh, heh. I know what that means. How many of you get it? All right, anger does not promote the righteousness of God. Be quick to hear, be slow to speak. I mean, how many times do we need to hear the same message over, and over, and over, and over before we don't really have to keep hearing that all the time because it has become a firmly established habit in our life? We hear the word, but we have to do more than hear it. It has to become revelation in our life. It's gotta get from our head down to our heart and actually become part of our nature, part of who we are.
I believe that, as believers in Jesus Christ, forgiving people should just be part of our nature. It's not something we have to try to do, talk ourselves into doing. We've got it, we understand, we've read the word, we know the heart of God, and we just simply are not going to live angry. That's just not what we're gonna do.
Have any of you ever had on some clothing that was very uncomfortable? Okay, well, I find this to be interesting. The older I get, the less willing I am to wear something that's uncomfortable. I just I'm not doing it. I don't care if I don't impress you, I'm not doing it. I mean, I used to wear shoes, and did for years on the platform, that was just idiotic for me to wear up here, these, back then they were like 3-inch heels, but I ended up with corns on my feet, and bunions on my feet, and had to have one surgery to have the bunion taken off. And a couple of times I had to surgical have corns removed, all to look cute.
Come on, now. Well, you know what? I'm smarter than that now. And the longer we walk with God, the older we get in Christ, come on, the less willing we should be to wear something that doesn't fit. And I'm not talking about clothes right now. I'm talking about the Bible talks a lot about the clothing of a believer. "Put on your shoes of peace. Put on the helmet of salvation. Put on the breastplate of righteousness. Know who you are in Christ and walk securely knowing who you are. Walk in peace, stay in peace, do everything you can to keep peace. Tighten the belt of truth. Walk according to the word".
Colossians 3 says, "Above all that you put on, put on love, put on kindness, put on mercy". Well, you see just like I'm not gonna wear clothes that don't fit me anymore, anger doesn't fit me anymore, unforgiveness doesn't fit me anymore. Being rude does not fit me anymore. And every once in a while, I'll still put on some rudeness, but it doesn't take me long to take it off, all right? And I believe that as believers in Christ, the older we become in Christ, the more the ways of the world should be uncomfortable for us. Are you with me?
"The sower sows the word. The ones along the path are those who have the word sown in their hearts, and when they hear the word, Satan comes at once and by force takes away the message that is sown". So, I want you to understand that everything you've heard in this conference, the devil is gonna try to take it away from you. Now, you just might as well count on it. "And in the same way the ones sown upon stony ground are those who, when they hear the word, at once receive and accept and welcome it with joy".
"Oh, this is so exciting, be at the Joyce Meyer conference, whoo-hoo-hoo. Man, she preached a great message last night on forgiving your enemies and ooh, this morning about not people pleasing. And now this afternoon another good message about finishing what you start. That was really good". Well, what happens if you go home and nobody did what you asked them to do while you were gone? You don't want to go home, walk in the front door, "I can't believe..". "Oh, I'm sorry, you know, blah, blah, blah". "Nope, I'm mad. Heard a great message last night on forgiveness but I'm mad," amen? Come on, you know exactly what I'm talking about. And I'm warning you, you will be tested, amen?
You know, many, many, many years ago, I mean, it's been 30 some odd years ago now, when I taught my very first women's meeting at the church that I went to then and started, which has been now actually, 37 years ago, when I asked God what he wanted me to teach on, he said, "I want you to tell my people that I love them". And I thought, "Well, that's silly, everybody knows you love them". And he said, "No, they don't. If they did, they'd act a lot different than what they do".
Well, then he had to show me that I didn't have any revelation on how much he loved me either. Well, you don't get revelation overnight. It's something that you got to stick with. And so, for one solid year, it wasn't the only thing I studied because I needed to study to teach those weekly meetings I was doing, but for my own personal study, for one solid year, I read books on, I looked up scriptures on, I studied and I meditated on how much God loved me. And I can remember even going and standing in front of the mirror and looking at myself, and saying, "God loves this woman right here. God loves me". And you know what? I got it. I mean, I got it as a revelation. It's part of me, it's down on the inside of me, and I don't care how much trouble I have or what happens, something you're not ever going to hear me say is, "Well, God don't you love me"?
And see, when you don't have that revelation, the first time trouble comes, you think, "Well, God, don't you love me? Well, God, if you love me, how could this be happening to me"? It's the same thing about knowing that God is good. If you know that you know that you know that you know that God is good, then you're able to trust God because no matter how bad a situation is, you know that a good God can take that thing and work it out for your good. We need roots. We need to be rooted and grounded in the things that we say that we believe. And they need to become such a part of us that the devil cannot take them away from us.
In Romans 8, it says, "Let nothing separate you from the love of God". Not things impending, not things to come, not things that have been, not sickness, not death, not anything, let nothing separate you from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. And that's the first revelation we all need, is God loves me. He loves me, he loves me, he loves me. He's never going to stop loving me. He loved me when I was still yet living in sin, and he will never stop loving me no matter what I do. And boy, when you get that, you start to get some confidence, and the fear in your life begins to go. Go home, write down what you remember about anything I've said this weekend, write it down. When you write things out, it helps it become part of who you are.
You know, it is so easy now to study, and I'm not sorry that we have the convenience that we have today, but the way that I study now compared to the way I had to study when I started 42 years ago, you can ask the web any question and up will come an answer. Hopefully they're right, but you know, you can say, "Scriptures on anger," and they all pop up. "Give it to me in all translations," and they all pop up. But see, when I started this, and I'm so glad for those years that I had because I would sit down on the couch and I would have books surrounding me, all these translations of the Bible, and concordances, and dictionaries, and so on and so forth. And I mean, it was work.
But let me say again, what you don't put any effort into does not seem very valuable to you, amen? You're all looking at me kind of like, "Well, how much effort am I going to have to put in"? Well, how mature do you want to be? How victorious do you want to be? Do you want to finish what you've started, amen? There are some things that nobody can just pray for you and you just get it instantly. Discuss the teachings that you've heard this weekend with a friend. If you're driving home with somebody, don't get in your car and start talking about all your problems. Come on. Don't talk about how bright the lights were, how cold the room was, or you know, how crowded the parking lot was. Just don't, you know, just tell somebody with you, "If I complain today, slap me".
Come on. Talk about what you've heard. Just say to somebody, "Tell me what all you remember about what you heard this weekend". Talk about it. Talk about how you can apply it to your life. And then I'm just going to make a suggestion, out of these three messages that you heard this weekend if you were here the whole time, whichever one meant the most to you or seemed to resonate with you the most, spend at least one week in your Bible on that subject. Did you hear me? Spend at least one week studying forgiving people who hurt you. I really believe with all my heart this is part of the reason why people don't get the breakthroughs that they say they want and they need. You are not going to get muscle because you go out and buy a set of weights. You are not going to lose weight because you buy an exercise video.
Okay, well, praise the Lord. Moving on. Satan works to distract us by causing cares, anxieties, trouble, persecution, or tempting us with worldly desires, or just that same silly, old excuse that we got to get rid of, "Well, it's just so hard. I mean, exercise is so hard. I tried and I got so sore". You know what? We need to stop wanting things that we're not willing to pay the price for. Oh, now, somebody's thinking, "Well, I can't help it, I'm just not disciplined". Yeah, you are. Yes, you are. You may not be using the discipline you have, but self-control and discipline is one of the Fruit of the Spirit that God has put on the inside of you as a born again believer. It's in you.
Now obviously, you know, you can be undisciplined all you want to, and that doesn't mean that you won't go to heaven. But if you want to have victory in your life, then we need to do more than just look at this stuff. We need to start putting a little effort into it. It's really funny trying to talk to people about putting out an effort. I tell you, it's like... All right. We need to know what our priorities are, and we need to steadfastly stick with them above all else. You might have an idea about something that you want to do, it may be a sincere desire, but it must become a habit. And the only way you can make a habit of something is doing it over and over and over and over. What about time with God? Bible study, prayer time.
Luke chapter 10, verse 38, Mary and Martha. "Now, while they were on their way, it occurred that Jesus entered a certain village, and a woman named Martha received and welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister named Mary, who seated herself at the Lord's feet and was listening to his teaching. But Martha was overly occupied and too busy and she was distracted with much serving. And she came up to him and said, 'Lord, is it nothing to you that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me lend a hand and do her part along with me'".
Now, isn't it interesting that people that are working get mad at people that are resting? "You need to get up and do something". All right, now you know what? If you would've asked Martha which she thought was the most important, listening to Jesus or cleaning the house, she would've said, "Well, no brainer, listening to Jesus". So, she knew what was important, but she didn't do the thing that was the most important. She let the details of having Jesus there distract her from the priority of actually taking advantage of what he was there for. And I wonder how many times in our life we set ourselves to study the word on a daily basis to take even 30 minutes every day to spend time with God, and yet we can't make it past the beeps and the dings of the phone and the computer and all the other things that come up that we think that we need to do.
It is difficult if you're going back to this part of the house to study to get through the house without getting distracted by something else that you feel like you have to do before you go do that. But the thing is, is go do that first, and then God would give you a supernatural energy to get the rest of it done. Come on, give God a praise. Jesus told Martha, "You are overly anxious and too busy with things that are not that important". You know, what we focus on is what develops in our life, amen? What we focus on is what develops in our life. Everybody loves to take pictures today, my goodness. I mean, this happens consistently. People are looking right at me, "Can I get a picture"? I'm like, "Cut one out of my magazine, you know"? I mean, you probably get 30 pictures of me a month sent into your home. But everybody wants that picture.
Well, you know, if I wanted to take a picture of anything in the room, I can't just go... I've got to focus on something and then take the picture. Well, what we focus on is what develops in our life, come on. So, it's very easy to understand. If you do have a problem with anger and there's a situation where you really need to forgive, you need to let it go, you need to get on with life and that's been an issue for you, then why just hear what I said last night, and then hear seven or eight other different subjects the rest of the week? Why not just make a college course out of forgiving people until you have got it? Come on, does anybody hear what I'm saying? Well, I like my message anyway, kind of fond of it.
Hebrews 12:2 and 3 are so good. "Looking away from all that will distract unto Jesus, who is the author and the finisher of our faith bringing it to maturity and perfection. He, for the joy of obtaining the prize that was set before him". Come on, whatever it is that God wants you to do, no matter how hard it is, there's a prize attached to it. There's a reward. There's a victory on the other side of it. But watch, "For the joy of obtaining the prize that was set before him, he endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of God. Just think of him who endured from sinners such grievous," what? "Opposition and bitter hostility".
You know, even for Jesus to die for our sins, what he had to go through to set us free is absolutely mindboggling. The opposition, the pain, the hostility, even all the stuff he went through before he ever even got to the cross. The people that were against him, just all the stuff that happened. But you know what? Jesus endured the opposition and he finished his race. And because he did, we are here today set free by the blood of Jesus Christ.
I want to ask you to finish your race. I don't care if it's something like you decided 2 months ago to clean the closet out, and you still got part of the stuff you tried to get rid of laying on the floor. Come on, are you there? I mean, let's finish some stuff. It's never too late to go back and start again. Come on. Matter of fact, I don't care if you have to start 30 times, you keep starting until the devil finally gets the idea that you're not going to get off of it, that you are going to be the person that God wants you to be, amen? Cause see, a lot of times when you've tried something a few times and you haven't made it, then the devil will just tell you, "Well, it's useless"?
I've had a number of people tell me like when they're on diets that they'll do good for 2 weeks, and then they have a weak day and they eat three pieces of cake, and so then they just say, "Ah well, might as well forget it, just eat anything I want". I mean, how silly is that? I mean, if you ate three pieces of cake yesterday, get up and start again today. You know, eating those 3 pieces of cake won't undo everything you've done in 2 weeks. Just get started again. Make the devil understand that you are not going to quit and you are not going to give up.
Whoo, come on. Come on. I mean, after hearing that message last night, you should make your mind up, "I am not going to live angry". I am not going to stay mad about something that happened to me in my childhood, and be full of hatred and bitter and resentful. The devil already took enough from me, he's not taking anything else. And if you really needed the message that I spoke this morning about people pleasing, if you're tired of everybody else running your life, then it's time to do something about it. I can tell you right now, you can't get everything you need from just listening to somebody else who has a victory. You just can't. And God is not going to do everything for you. He has a part and you have a part. And I'll tell you what happens when you have a problem, you go to God and you ask him to help you, and I can tell you what happens.
Now, I'm not saying that there's not times when God supernaturally delivers people, but most of the time when you pray for God to help you, he will show you what you need to do, and then he'll give you the grace to do it. But somewhere along the lines, you've got to do some doing. Because let me say it once again nothing that you try to get without any effort is even worth having. It's true. Galatians 5:7, "You were running the race nobly. Who has interfered and (hindered and stopped you from) heeding and following the truth"?
All right, I want to go through a little bit of Nehemiah with you just as we finish up this afternoon because, to be honest, one of the best stories in the Bible is found in the book of Nehemiah. You talk about somebody who stayed focused and stood against opposition, I want to encourage you to read Nehemiah. Here's a guy, a young man, who when he found out that the walls that protected Jerusalem had been torn down and that the people had no protection, he decided that he was going to do something about it. Boy, I wish we had more people that, when they see a problem, they would decide, "I'm going to do something about it," instead of always thinking, "Somebody needs to do something about it".
And so, it's way too long for me to get into it in detail, but he got permission from the king to start rebuilding this wall. He stirred up a bunch of other people to help him, he got to work, got a plan from God, got to work, and immediately enemies of the Jews who did not want to see them receive the help started coming against Nehemiah. Nehemiah 2:10, "When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the servant or the Ammonite heard this," so we're just going to call them the enemies, I'm not going to read all those names every time, "It distressed them exceedingly".
Any time that the devil hears that you're going to try to do something good or something that's going to give progress in your life, something's going to help the kingdom, something's going to help somebody else, it will distress him exceedingly. Thank you. But Nehemiah just kept going. Verses 19 and 20, "But when the enemies heard about his plan, they began to laugh at him and despised him, and said, 'what is this thing that you think you're doing'"? Man, do I ever remember when I first started trying to teach a Bible study, the lies, "What do you think you're doing? Who are you? You don't have any training for this. You don't have the ability to do this. Who do you think you are"?
Have you ever thought that maybe you might be able to do something great for God, and the next thing you hear is, "Who do you think you are? What makes you think you could do that? You can't do that"? Well, let me tell you something, if anybody can do it, you can do it. If God calls you to do something, you can do anything God calls you to do. God believes it, but do you believe it? They laughed and said, "What is this thing that you're doing"? But verse 20, I love that Nehemiah always came back with the right answer. He said, "The God of heaven will prosper us". In other words, "It doesn't matter who I am, God's going to make it work". "Therefore, we his servants will arise and build".
He made a decision, "We will arise and build, and you have no portion or right or memorial in Jerusalem". In other words, "Devil, this is none of your business". Then the enemies of Nehemiah just continued to come against him, and he continued to build. Nehemiah chapter 4, verses 1 and 2, "But when the enemies heard that we were building the wall, they were angry and in a great rage, and they began to ridicule us". Verse 2, "And he said before his brethren and the army of Samaria, 'what are these feeble Jews doing'"? Now he's belittling him. "Will they restore things at will and by themselves"?
Well, they weren't trying to do it by themselves, they were doing it through the power of God. "Will they try to bribe their God with sacrifices? Will they finish up in a day"? And Nehemiah's response to all their nonsense, "And Nehemiah prayed". Oh, I love it. Let me tell you something, when the devil is telling you the biggest lie he can come up with and you pray, ooh, he just gets so mad. If you could see his face, I'm sure it's as red as fire. Ooh, he hates it when he throws his best shot and we just say, "I trust God and I'm going to keep on keeping on".