”The Unfinished Task”….As we move further into the year
(what is it that you’ve always known you aught to do but just never got around to getting it done)…you might priorities that as your unfinished task..BUT…
The first unfinished task of every believer…is love…God is as interested in who you don’t love, than He is in who you do love! Our true identity as Christians, and the best barometer of our spiritual growth and health, is who we don’t love in this world of ours!
Jesus said 1 John 4:20 that if we say we love Him but don’t love our neighbor, we are only fooling ourselves!
So, it’s important to God who you don’t love.. as well as who you do love….
Growing in love, is an always unfinished task, because with each new opportunity to love the unlovely, our love is being perfected. Just when you think you’ve got it…..you’re thrown into another situation, another challenge, and another chance to develop and grow in your love life.
When Jesus said, the greatest of these is love….He was giving us priorities for our personal “to do” list! He put growing and developing in our love, above tongues, prophecy, and even works of faith….
1Corinthians 13:2 “And though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing”..
If you were to make a list of folks you don’t love or even like, and then put a check mark by all of those that God loves….I think all of them would get a check mark from Jesus, after all, He loves the whole world enough to die for it, so isn’t our challenge to love who Jesus loves?
This church, and the church corporately, around the globe, every day, is facing an unfinished task….Our very identity, is largely shaped and organized around our mission. But instead of seeing the church as having a mission….
the greater reality is that God’s mission has a church in the earth to carry out His vision. We all serve His vision, but many have focused instead, on just serving His church….. Living In Key West, you can reach people from around the world, just by walking down town….When we care about His vision, then we will more effectively serve His church. When we lose sight of His mission as the main focus of the church, then we are cast adrift and lose our purpose for existence.
If our heart isn’t in it, our bodies, our giving, Our witnessing, our time, our talent, and our prayers, probably won’t get involved either…. Sometimes we lose our passion about coming to church, because our focus is on coming to church instead of being the church all week long….
So often we abandoned the unfinished business of the gospel, because we see the church as a place to come to instead of a place to be sent out from!
(Reach out and touch someone and say “today you are being sent into the unfinished task” )
If we remove the “Go” from the gospel, all we have is a form of godliness which denies the power, so it never translates, demonstrates and transfers to the lost, the hopeless, and the hurting of the world.
How often have we settled for far less than we could have had…
I read somewhere that Adam was walking around the Garden of Eden feeling very lonely, so God asked Adam, "What is wrong with you?" Adam said he didn't have anyone human, to talk to. So, God said he was going to give him a companion and it would be called “woman”. He said this person will cook for you and wash your clothes, she will always agree with every decision you make. She will bear you children and never ask you to get up in the middle of the night to take care of them. She will not nag you, and will always be the first to admit she was wrong when you've had a disagreement. She will never have a headache, and will freely give you love and compassion whenever you need it. So, Adam asked, "What would a woman like this cost me??"
And God said, "It would cost an arm and a leg." (as you can tell, this is not the King James version)
So Adam thought for a moment, and then he said, "What can I get for a just a rib???" AND THE REST IS HISTORY!!!! (How often have we settled instead of selecting)?
The unfinished task not only requires that we see the world from the church, but we need to see the church from the world….Jesus was ridiculed because He ate with publicans and sinners…He knew that they needed to see how the church was working out in the world, more than they needed to see how the world could fill up the church…..when the first thing happens, the second thing will also happen…..
None of us can do it all, but we can all do something every day…..
Life is a puzzle that you and God are working on together….So, we must always look at the work of the church in the world, as unfinished business… just as we are to always see ourselves as unfinished business! You are not defined by any one moment or time, but you are part of a Divine process that is developing line upon line, precept upon precept, from glory to glory!
One of the dangers we may have when we are in a particular setting for very long, and doing things a certain way too long, is that we begin to define the whole puzzle according to our experiences and our need. We have this need to finish things, to have a conclusion, to reach a point of accomplishing it, like we would handle a school assignment that must be finished by a certain time.
But the problem with trying to finish and put a deadline on everything, is that you haven’t taken into consideration, one word… “attrition”… because so much of what we begin for the kingdom, will be finished by someone else. Someone else will water the seed we have sown, someone else will harvest the crop we have nurtured, someone else will reap what we have planted….If we understand attrition then we can rejoice together, as we see our part connecting with all the other parts of the gospel puzzle….
John 4:36 tells us that, “One sows, and another reaps but we all rejoice together in the harvest”. Our joy is fulfilled in being used of the Lord, no matter what part He chooses for us in this unfinished business!
The place of indecision, is in itself, a decision place…because choices are made whether we make them or not…and many choices are made by default….When it’s about life, we can’t say “Let Mikey do it”…(sorry mike)
We sing and we preach about how awesome, how powerful, and how wonderful our God is, and go out and do nothing with it except survive another week in our temporary jobs, living in our temporary homes, driving our temporary cars, shopping for our temporary food, and earning our temporary money, while the task of the eternal and far more valuable things remain unfinished and undone….
I can see an image of Jesus standing in our midst with His arms open wide as He did in Luke 13:34 as He says “How often would I have gathered you, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, close to her breast, and you would not”!
Do we so yearn to see a revival throughout our area, that would leave no doubt of God’s present power to heal, restore, deliver and transform?….
Revival will always be unfinished business…because it is a process, not an event…It is a process of reformation, regeneration, and transformation. Nehemiah is a book of the bible whose major theme is revival, and it describes the heart beat of a person who God used instrumentally to bring that about.
Any person seriously seeking to stir up the always unfinished work of revival in their time, needs to read the truths of this book.
The focal point of the book of Nehemiah begins with Nehemiah, himself. We see this revivalist weep, fast, and pray for his people. We see him as he is embedded with a vision of God’s heart for his people. We see his burning passion to rebuild Jerusalem again, in order that it might be the glory of the nations.
Nehemiah 2:12-13 I told no one what my God had put into my heart to do for Jerusalem. I went out by night, and I inspected the walls that were broken down and its gates that had been destroyed by fire…”
As the passion of the great task consumed him, we begin to see people drawn together and coming together to accomplish the vision with him, which immediately lets us know that there are many others who have received the same vision, and are sensing the heart of God for revival as well. Together, they begin to serve the vision of the Lord for the City, for restoration, and for revival.
If we could hear each person’s story, as they worked on the unfinished task, we would hear of dreams, visions, whispers in the night, and stirrings of the heart by God’s Spirit. We will never know how long and over what period of time these stirrings took place in their hearts, but we know this…..that God’s people suddenly had a mind and a heart to contend for revival, whatever you may think revival may look like….for the work of revival is never done alone, nor is it ever finished.
We shouldn’t be surprised to find people throughout our area, who are craving and longing for revival, just the same way the Spirit is stirring your heart. So, press in, and you will see God do His wonderful suddenly, once again, and again! And there will always be those of kindred spirit!!!
Dr. Douglas Brown preached on the fullness of the Spirit in Wales, and God did a mighty thing among the people. One young man sought him out afterwards and followed him into his room, and sought to find a solution to his spiritual dilemma, which keeps him from an all out commitment to Christ…
“Sir, he said, it's all well and good to tell me to be filled, but I'm full of cracks and it all keeps leaking out. Dr Brown replied: 'What if you are full of cracks? Even a straw basket when lowered into the sea, will be filled with water, and it will remain full – and if it stays submerged in the ocean it cannot be emptied. The basket will only lose its contents if it's removed from the sea. He said, Young man, cracks or no cracks, if you abide in Christ you will always be filled by the Spirit' -
With nothing but piles and piles of rubble all around him, Nehemiah caught a glimpse by God’s Spirit, of what it would all look like when the vision came to pass. He saw God’s glory upon it, and vision’s Holy flame consumed his doubts and fears….In the same way, God is showing his visionaries, our city, our churches, our homes, the way they would look and be, when revival comes! And you have to pardon those folks for acting a little out of touch, and a little weird, because they don’t see through the same eyes as everyone else…..They’re seeing what God is seeing!!!
Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. v2 For by it the elders (the visionaries) obtained a good report. v3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.v4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaks.
v5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.v6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.v7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.
v8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. v9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: v10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God”.
Prayer ushers the kingdom of heaven, into the kingdoms of earth…. And the realm of heaven invades the realms of this earth! There has never been a major move of God in history, that has not been preceded by massive movements of sustained prayer and fasting through God’s people. This, begins with the book of Acts all the way up to this very moment, today. It is in the understanding that there is a kingdom within a kingdom…that caused an open heavens on The Day of Pentecost, the Azusa street revival, the Welsh revival, the Cane Ridge outpouring, and the Pensacola revival….and all these shook the nations.
I came across this little story….. about a small west Texas town. It was a dry town, no bars and no liquor stores. It was a town filled with lots of Christians. But then, an atheist moved into town and he got approval to build a tavern and to start selling alcohol. And he chose to put his tavern, of all places, just around the cul-de-sac from First church.
Well, the church didn't like that at all. The construction went up, and then it was finished, and the next day it was going to be open for business. And so the church called a big prayer meeting and they prayed and prayed and prayed hours and hours that God would intervene, that God would shut down the tavern. And that night after the prayer meeting there was a big storm and a bolt of lightning struck the tavern and started a fire and burned it to the ground.
Well, the tavern owner, the atheist, was pretty upset about that. And he went to the church and said, ''You guys need to pay for this.'' They said, ''We're not going to pay for this, because we maintain that we're not responsible for this.'' And the atheist said ''Yes, you are, you prayed for this to happen.'' So because they wouldn't pay, he sued them, and took them to court.
Now the judge was looking at the case, and he said this in his opening remarks, he said, ''You know, this is a really strange case, and I don't know how it's going to turn out. But one thing is for certain, it is clear that this atheist has come to believe in the power of prayer and the Christians are claiming that they really don't''
Nehemiah was just one man, and his prayer brought him before the king of the largest empire in the earth at the time. Not only did prayer lead him there, but prayer produced a good effect on the king, long before Nehemiah began talking with him and his heart was prepared by God to be the agent of provision for the vision….
God’s Spirit went forth and softened the king’s heart, that same spirit raised up leadership, and skilled workmen, it released provisions and resources, and it won the battle before it was even fought!
You can see it again, If you look at Joseph, it was through prayer that Joseph moved through the divinely arranged opportunities and connections, through the pit, through Potiphar and his lying wife, through the prison, and through the Pharaoh….all the way to restoration and vindication…..When you have a vision, understand that you have to push through the No’s before you get to the Yes’s!!!
The pit was the launching pad, and Potiphar was the first stage, prison was the second stage with the baker and butler (the kings personal attendants) and the final stage was Pharaoh, the financier who provided the resources.
But, let’s get back to Nehemiah….
In Nehemiah 1:4 “As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven”… It is here, not in great preaching, great music, good sound systems, or padded seats, or even spectacular marketing…it is in the place of prayer, that believers are needing to experience a secret revival so that the open, public revival can come that everyone will be able to see. Homes, communities, regions, countries and the world are changed by what happens in the secret place of the most high!
We have many organizers, but few agonizers; many players and payers, but few pray-ers; many singers, but only a few clingers; many fears, but few tears; a lot of fashion, but very little passion; many writers, but only a few fighters. And failing here, we fail everywhere.
The secret of praying is often praying in secret. Jesus got alone with God so He wouldn’t be distracted by the kingdoms of men, in order to bring into the earth the Kingdom of heaven…..”Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven”
A praying man will stop sinning and a sinning man will stop praying and we will never be truly whole, until we have been broken in prayer…..When God breaks you, it is not to diminish you, but to increase and expand your God given gifts and calling. Revival is about coming to God on God's terms, and to come to God in His way and on His time table, Paul tells us he was often in watchings in the night season. He shows up for those who are looking.
To fulfill our part of the unfinished task…we must have seasons of “planned neglect”….
A famous concert violinist was asked the secret of her mastery of the instrument. The woman answered the question with two words: "Planned neglect." Then she explained. "There were many things that used to demand my time. When I went to my room after breakfast, I made my bed, then I straightened the room, dusted, fixed my hair and my make-up, and did whatever seemed necessary. When I finished all that, then I took up my violin to practice. But that system prevented me from excelling and becoming what I could be, on the violin.
So I reversed things. I deliberately planned to neglect everything else until my practice time on the violin was complete. And that program of planned neglect is the secret ingredient of all of my success."
Prayer Should be a priority, not a last resort!.... We will have a dynamic and effective prayer life, when we make it a priority to have a dynamic and effective prayer life!!!…
Many Christians act as though prayer is the dirty work of the church, right up there with cleaning toilets or changing diapers in the nursery…..which explains why prayer meetings are the least attended activities in the church
May we get a fresh revelation of James 5:16 “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed. The effective and fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much”.
No person is any greater than their prayer life. The Christian who is not praying is playing; the people who are not praying are straying and the folks who are not going are just blowing hot air!!!
Sometimes the task can remain unfinished because our priorities are misguided….or we have no clear objective…
During his physical, the doctor asked the patient about his daily activity level. He described a typical day this way: “Well, yesterday afternoon, I waded along the edge of a lake, I escaped from wild dogs in the heavy brush, I barely missed getting struck by an aggressive rattlesnake, I marched up and down several rocky hills, I waded through a patch of poison ivy, I struggled to crawl out of some quicksand and I was chased by an alligator.” Inspired by the man’s daily physical activity, the doctor said, “You must be a very dedicated outdoors man!” ”NAH,” he replied, “I'm just a horrible golfer.” (I won’t ask for a show of hands)
The Church can be a place for the show, the performance, the spot light seekers, and those who love their own voice….but the prayer closet allows no one to show off but Jesus. (I must decrease that He might increase)
I think of the words of David, as he faced the giant Goliath….
1Samuel 17:47 “And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD'S, and he will give you into our hands”.
Prayer can move kings and kingdoms. It can move the most powerful people on earth to do God’s will because He is Lord over all! (The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof)….Prayer can move people groups, it can move cities, it can shake schools, it will change families.
With Prayer, one size fits all. Without prayer, Christians are nothing. With prayer, Christians are everything they need to be, for whatever is needed.
Today, many have replaced holiness with liberty, and we have replaced a walk in the spirit, with religious activities. We have exchanged the demonstration of God’s power with social goodness, and we have allowed the user friendly approach by the church, to replace consecration, commitment and sacrifice. And the results has been a loss of spiritual vitality and impact.
But we do not lose hope, for we live in the unfinished task of revival which is ever before us…..and something is stirring, something is rising up, something is starting to shift and shake…..Someone in their spirit is saying, enough, no more, I will not be denied!!!!! I will not be kept back, I will not be held down any longer….it’s my birthright, and I want it!!!!
2 Kings 2:14: “And Elisha took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the LORD God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha moved forward and passed over”.
The original Hebrew is a little hard to understand here, but it appears that Elisha tried to strike the waters and nothing happened so it is then that he asked the question we all ask from time to time, “Where is the God of Elijah?” He finds his faith strengthened for the task, and the Hebrew indicates that he strikes the water again.
The Elisha who was plowing the field, who did not yet know his identity, is not the same as the Elisha of the mantle. The Israelites of the Red Sea are not the same as the Israelites who crossed over the Jordan River, for they have seen what they cannot deny! The apostles who fished for a living, are not the same as the ones who stood and preached on the day of Pentecost….For they have experienced something that catapulted them to another level….They have been changed. God has touched them and they have learned to trust His touch and operate in the calling and anointing which is upon their destiny.
Perhaps you have tried to open the waters before, without a true understanding of the mantle and the calling and anointing upon your life. But you are not that same person any longer, you have never been at this place before, and you have come to recognize your calling and you have learned to hear the voice of God and you’ve learned to trust his touch.
And now you stand, at another river crossing, as you will many times to come, and perhaps you’re asking, “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” It is time to step out into the river so that the waters may now part for you. The waters are ready to part for you, because God’s spirit is stirring the waters, but they can’t open until you touch them. God wants to move, but He cannot until you are willing to now take up the mantle and carry it forth and pass over into the place of fulfillment.
I close with this….In the Berlin art gallery is a painting by German painter Adolf Menzel (1815-1905). It’s Only partially finished. It intended to show Fredrick the Great speaking with some of his generals. Menzel painted the generals and the background, but he left the king until last. He put the outline of Fredrick, but died before he could finish it. It’s called The unfinished painting, and it was his final work…..
How different from that, were Paul’s final words…. 2Timothy 4:6 “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. v7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: v8 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”.
We are called to be part of the Great Unfinished task, but Let’s not get to the end of our lives with the most important things that are our part, and ours alone… unfinished… (tell someone, “today is all we’re guarenteed”)
Let’s Remember, that it wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark….The Red Sea hadn’t parted when Moses led the folks out of Egypt….The Jericho walls hadn’t come down when the Hebrews started their march….Goliath was still threatening when David put the stone in his sling….No-one had ever walked on water, before Peter stepped out of the boat…
We only have right now, we only have today, because tomorrow never comes…. I have been with folks when they were dying and I always ask them if there is something they need to finish…. Many times as we pray, their strength will return, they will rally long enough to get the unfinished stuff finished, then they will peacefully go home to their reward…
Our mandate is “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you” Is there unfinished business that you just never seem to get around to….Give yourself to Him, to be His hands, His feet, His eyes, ears and heart of compassion… He will take it, bless it, multiply it and do more with it than you ever could! I believe that we are a part of the generation, that is called to finish the unfinished task!!!