Season: 6 Episode: 088
Why is the beginning of something easy? Most people have the motivation to start something new, but once it becomes a routine, it’s hard to stick with it. Today we talk about why God emphasizes the start rather than the finish.
“Every sin is a weight but not every weight is a sin.”
“We don’t need endurance when we’re motivated. We need it when we’re tired and things are tough.”
“We don’t need endurance when we’re motivated. We need it when we’re tired and things are tough.”
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Hey guys! Welcome back to another episode of Her Faith Inspires podcast. I hope everyone is having a great summer and enjoying all of the fun summer things. Summer is my favorite season. It’s super hot here in California (where I currently live but won’t be living for long). It’s been 100 degrees and feels like an oven. But summer is just so fun with BBQ’s, swimming, lake days and vacation. Because we have big changes coming up this summer, I am recording a lot of my summer episodes before I leave Cali and I’m slowing down a bit on my social media posts.
But, before we know it, fall will be here, kids will be back to school and the apologetics class will start again. It is a 6 week class with reading material and videos to watch. It is not a bible study but an in depth class that will teach you how to defend your faith. Email me if you have questions and register at the link in the description or on my website at shandafulbright.com.
Today, we are going to talk about finishing what you start.
I was talking to other podcasters in an interview and I said something that caught my own attention. I know that’s weird but sometimes it happens and the concept resonated with me and stuck with me, and a podcast episode was birthed. So, here we are!
I said, “The Bible doesn’t emphasize the start but the finish.” I’m going to elaborate on what I mean by that today and hopefully encourage you to keep going in everything in life. Because sometimes we can get discouraged, tired, grow weary, and lose the motivation to keep striving at marriage, parenting, friendship, ministry, and even reading our bibles and praying. I do.
Sometimes I get so brain tired from reading, studying, listening and seeking that I just need to be with God with nothing in hand and no one around. There are times when I can’t even look at my social media or answer another question for a couple of days. We all get tired because we’re human.
So, today I want to talk about:
- Why the start of a thing is so easy.
2. What happens when you get caught in the middle?
3. Why the Bible emphasizes the finish more than anything else.
Why is the start of a thing always the easiest?
I will say sometimes it takes a bit for people to start something because of fear, intimidation or even the awareness of what it’s going to take effort wise. But much of the time, the start is the easiest because that’s when we’re the most motivated.
Here are some practical examples to prove my point:
Most podcasters start a show and don’t get beyond the first 4 episodes. There are currently more than 2, 238,000 podcasts. But The stats show that only 59% of the podcasts on Apple Podcasts are currently active. To be active means they’ve released a new episode in the last 90 days.
Many people are quick to begin a podcast but then stop because it is a lot of work.
How about finishing a book you start?
Many sources say less than 50% of the people who read finish the books they start. If I start a book, I have to finish it or I feel guilty. I try and read about 3 books at a time, one chapter a day. But if the book is too intellectual, I will split the chapter. It’s not worth reading and not retaining. I am always excited to start a new book. It’s like diving in to new information and I know I’m going to learn so many new things. But about halfway through, I can’t wait to finish it. And once I’m one or two chapters away, I start speed reading to get it over with.
To start the book is easy … to maintain the pace in the middle is hard …. And to get to the last page is the goal.
People who start exercising usually quit 3 months after they start the gym.
According to brides.com, the average US marriage lasts 8 years.
My point here is to say that it’s easier to start something but harder to maintain it and if we don’t maintain it, we won’t finish. Finish could mean reaching a goal or achieving a lifestyle. It could mean loving your spouse until your last breath.
The Bible emphasizes the finish more than it does the start, but God also has something to say about the start:
In Zech 4:10, the temple was rebuilt and God spoke through the prophet Zechariah about the beginning of the construction. Because some didn’t have enough faith that the temple would be rebuilt. And others didn’t think it was possible to even finish the work. Solomon first built the temple and it was one of the most awesome structures in Israel, if not the most. To think of beginning the task was overwhelming.
But the word of the Lord was this, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.” The plum line is a reference to the fact that Zerubbabel would lay the foundation of the temple.
God loves to see us start the work He has put in our hearts. He also does not despise small beginnings. When I first started this new ministry and left youth ministry, it was hard. I hated starting a new social media page with 0 followers. I felt so ridiculous. All I wanted to do was get the passion for God’s truth out of my heart and onto the page or into the mic to teach others.
I despised my small beginning. But God didn’t.
What we need to tell ourselves is this: Time will go on whether I start the work or not. If it takes 4 years to earn a degree, 6 weeks to put time into the online apologetics class, 6 months to lose 10 pounds, 2 months to finish reading a book … that time will pass even if I choose to do nothing. Why not start and every day be one day closer to the goal?
The start is also easy because it hasn’t become routine yet. The routine becomes a grind. No one notices you putting in the time and effort. They only see the results and when that happens, you make it look easy.
One of my principals once told me that when other teachers make it looks easy, that means you don’t know how much work they’re putting into the preparation. And that is so true.
At the start, we have all of our energy and motivation.
When I’m at the gym, the easiest part of the workout is the first round. I haven’t depleted my energy yet. The beginning of the book is new, the start of a relationship is nostalgic and romantic. We haven’t put in the work yet.
When we apply this to our relationship with God, how do we stay motivated to read, study, pray and stay on fire for the Lord? Because sometimes we start on fire, and then we lose the motivation.
Paul tells us in 1 Cor 9:24, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” Do we run the Christian race as though there is only one prize and we want to win it?
I’m going to share with you how to keep going when the fire burns out, the newness wears off and you’re in the middle of the race.
I get a lot of people asking about the motivation to stay on fire or keep reading and studying the bible.
And Paul often refers to the Christian life as a race. Why a race? Because it’s going to take some things required to finish a physical race as it does a spiritual and eternal one.
Let’s revisit the verse about running in the Bible: Paul said to run as though only one receives the prize. We know many will enter the kingdom of heaven, but we are to put in the effort of an athlete knowing only one can receive first place. That means give God your best.
That’s not always easy to do, especially when you don’t feel like it.
But in another scripture reference to running the race, Hebrews 12:1 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” (NLT)
What I want to take note of here are a few things mentioned about the middle of the race.
This is once we’ve started but haven’t finished yet. And most likely, those of you listening to this podcast are running your race. You’ve started. So how do we give God our best and continue to run when there are things in the middle of the race that hinder us?
First, Paul says to strip off the weight that slows us down. Every sin is a weight but not every weight is a sin. Let that settle in for a minute.
There have been things in my life that weren’t bad things, but they kept me from doing what God wanted me to do. For example, distractions and a full schedule can become a weight. They can keep us from continuing in the word or from time in prayer.
Distractions and busyness can keep us from ministry, serving our families well, or from giving our best.
TV can become a weight. Reading books (even though I love them) can become a weight because they can override the need for the knowledge of Scripture.
Simple things like wasting time on social media is a weight if it’s not managed properly.
The Bible doesn’t lay out a list of weights like it lays out sins. Weights are anything that impedes our progress in the christian life. That means we must use discernment. It can also be relationships that do not encourage, support or applaud your life in Christ but those who pull you away from Him.
It is not always easy to throw aside a weight when it isn’t a sin. Sometimes we want to drag those things along because we don’t want to shed anything from our lives. Jesus sort of alluded to this when He said, “And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” Matt 5:30. Of course Jesus is specifically referring to sin here, but the concept is the same. Sin will definitely keep you from heaven. And weights can hinder your race. They can cause you to stumble and sometimes they can even cause you to give up.
This is not only a spiritual concept, it is a practical one as well and can be applied to many of the things we talked about.
If you want to get healthy and haven’t removed the obstacles of junk food or scheduling workouts into your day, your progress will be hindered. And in many ways, that’s why people give up after they start. They do not remove the weights of hindrance.
Secondly, we are to remove any sin that trips us up. One theologian puts it this way, “Rejecting sin’s entanglement lets us run our race with staying power. Perseverance calls for stamina or staying power. The race is that path God has marked out for us. We cannot select our own program. We must faithfully follow the route God himself has marked.” That means what God has deemed a sin is a sin we must lay aside.
Whether we believe it or not, sin will keep us from finishing the race.
There are sins that some in the church are deeming permissible, and they are outright calling evil good. We should expect this from the world, but the church? This grants a warning: Make sure YOU know what the bible says about sin because in the end, no one is going to run your race for you. Only you will give an account to God for the race you ran and there will be no one to blame for what you believed because God laid it out in His word for us to know for ourselves.
Staying power means those who will continue in the race. Those who will head toward the finish line. And that means we need endurance in order to finish. Endurance actually means the act, quality or power of withstanding hardship or stress. It also means continuing existence and duration. In a nutshell .. it means you keep going.
Let me tell you, we won’t always feel like reading our bible or praying.
I don’t. I tell the Lord the truth on those days. But I keep going because I want to know Him. I want to encourage you not to quit. Don’t give up. Don’t lose heart. Throw off the weights and the sin that so easily trips you up and keeps you from going and DO NOT QUIT.
The Bible emphasizes the finish.
Finally, the Bible tells us how to finish. And one of the things we are going to need is endurance. Endurance means the “fact or power of enduring an unpleasant or difficult process. The other definition is “the capacity of something to last or to withstand without fear.”
Crossfit has taught me a lot about endurance. It has taught me how to mentally think about how to tackle a workout before I go into it. All of our workouts are posted the night before and I always look at what’s coming. I always think about how I’m going to face the challenge. And there are times I know the workout is going to hurt.
There are many times I talk to myself and tell myself to finish strong. I push past the pain knowing that the end of that workout is going to feel good. And often times, I equate what I feel during a short workout to times in life. There are times when I know I can do it, and times when I struggle through it and times I want to give up.
What’s the deciding factor: Endurance. Mental, spiritual and physical endurance.
We don’t need endurance when we’re motivated. We need it when we’re tired and things are tough. The Bible tells us not to grow weary in doing good but in due time you will reap a harvest.
If we grow weary, we give up. Know that the time for a harvest always comes once the season of plowing and planting have taken place.
Got Questions (a great resource and site) says this, “To endure is more than just continuing to exist: it is continuing to exist in the same manner as before the suffering began. If Paul had lived through is sufferings but at some point had thrown up his hands in defeat, stopped being obedient to God, or no longer worked for the cause of Christ, he would not have “endured”. If he had responded to his sufferings with an attitude of bitterness, anger or retaliation, then Paul could not have said that he ‘endured’.
To endure means to push pass the hard, the tired, and the trial so you can make it to the end.
We don’t have to deny the fact that the Christian life is hard sometimes and we don’t feel like speaking truth into this culture. We don’t have to deny when we feel sad, burnt out, or angry because the race is not easy. It just means we show up anyway. We lean on the ones running with us and we continue to hold fast to Christ because we won’t give up even if we end up scratched up and bruised when we get there.
There are times when I wonder if I can endure the hardship of standing for Christ in this world because it is getting more and more hostile toward Christianity. If it comes to enduring imprisonment for the sake of the gospel, can I do it?
Those things are not fun to think about but those are the things I am honest with God about. I ask God to help me endure to the end.
Jesus said in Matt 24:13 that he who endures to the end will be saved. Paul told Timothy in 2 Tim 4:7, “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.” Notice how enduring to the end is keeping the faith as well. To quit before you finish is not keeping the faith.
What a statement.
As Paul knew he was about to be beheaded, sitting in prison, he already settled in his heart that he was going to be a martyr for Christ. It was as good as done.
I told one of my pastors that I often wonder if we can make it to the end if America becomes like all other countries and we lose our religious freedoms. Listen friends, I am not trying to scare you or be a doom and gloomer. I am trying to be honest. America is headed that way.
But the most comforting words he gave me came from scripture themselves and he said this: “I never worry about that. Because He started the work in me and He promises to finish what He started.”
Paul told the Philippians: “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (1:6)
God is not going to fail you.
He will continue the work as long as you continue to show up. God will give you and me the strength to see us through whatever comes our way. That should be our confidence. And I think of that verse often and I know God will equip me for whatever He allows me to face. Because no one can divert His sovereign will and no one works outside of His sovereign will.
I want to close this up today with a couple of things to remember:
I was asked to go run 4 miles with a friend the other a. I have tendinitis in my heel right now so I can do any explosive movements (running included). I haven’t ran in 2 months because of it. I also know that I won’t be able to just go and run 4 miles and keep up with my friend because my endurance isn’t there. I would be a fool to think that she and I can run at the same pace at this point because I haven’t trained for a 4 mile run.
There is no marathon runner who doesn’t prepare for the race and builds up their endurance before they run it. There are apps to help people increase their miles at a slow and stead pace in preparation for runs like these. Only a fool would jump into a race with no idea of how to run it.
But if we aren’t sitting with the Lord and in the word everyday, we are doing just that.
How can we endure if we do not train with the intentions of winning the prize?
The prize is Jesus and heaven awaits. Our light and momentary afflictions in this life pale in comparison to the glory which will be revealed in us as we await heaven. Don’t think you will be able to handle and endure hardship or persecution if you are not training under the direction of the Holy Spirit in prayer and reading, taking heed to throw off every weight an the sin that so easily entangles us.
And lastly, I hope you know you have a cheerleader with me. I want so badly for the church to stand for truth and speak it. I have several friends who ask for tips about starting podcasts or how to study and get into apologetics. I do not hesitate to give them all the info they need and point them in the right direction. This is not a competition. We are all in this race together and I pray you finish well.
I pray you will also be a cheerleader for others in your life.
Sometimes all people need to hear is, “You got this!” Or “Keep going!” When I get messages in my inbox or reviews and ratings on my podcast, it puts the wind in my sails. There is nothing like the power of encouragement. Nothing.
So be that for someone else. You got this! God wants you to be an ambassador for the Lord and we need your voice. Keep going! Don’t quit. Show up and know that God will finish the work He started in you.
I’ll catch you on the next one!