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Finish The Job In The Lord

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Finish The Job, In The Lord

How many of us have started on a project with great expectations of what we were going to do, only to have that project sit around and eventually left half done. When we first got into it, it seemed exciting, but the longer it took the more work it became or the more time it ate up, or something else caught our interest. We do not measure things very often by how well it started, but rather how did it finish. If you ask someone, "did you win the game?" If they begin to tell you, "man we had a great first quarter, " then you know how the game ended without them saying another word. They lost.

We do not give A’s in school to people who started the project, but rather to those who finished well. We do not give degrees to people who enrolled in college, but to those who completed all necessary requirements. We do not give championship trophies to teams that played in the division, but only to those who ended up with a good season. If we want the reward, a great start is not enough, we have to finish the job, and finish well.

I want you to meet a young man by the name of Jeroboam. Jeroboam grew up in a single parent family because his father had died so his mother was a widow. But Jeroboam had a way about him, that when he started something, he finished it and got the job done. He worked so well, he got the king’s attention. King Solomon realized he needed him in his administration. So he put Jeroboam in charge of the whole labor force.

Now King Solomon was a king who had a great start in his life in his walk with the Lord, but as time went on, he went downhill in a hurry. Things got so bad that God decided to tear the kingdom from him and give it to one of his servants. One day Jeroboam was leaving the city of Jerusalem and went out into the country. He ran into a prophet by the name of Ahijah. Ahijah was wearing a new coat. He told Jeroboam, "just wait a minute or two while I tear up this coat."

Ahijah ripped the coat into 12 pieces. He gave Jeroboam 10 and he kept two. I can imagine Jeroboam saying, "man, why are you giving me these ripped up rags." Ahijah said to him, " The God of Israel says for you to take 10 pieces for yourself, because he is going to tear the kingdom out of Solomon’s hands and make you the leader of 10 tribes. For David’s sake, Solomon’s son will have two tribes to rule over. Solomon has gone after other gods and has not kept my commandments. But, Jerobaom if you do what I command, and walk in my ways doing what is right in my eyes, by keeping my laws, I will build you a kingdom that will last as long as David’s kingdom.

God saw a potential for greatness in Jeroboam. The key in it all, would be Jeroboam’s willingness to obey God, no matter what. Well once word got out that God had promised to give Jeroboam part of the kingdom, King Solomon went looking for Jeroboam in order to kill him. Thanks to God, Jeroboam had gone from top official in the administration, to the number one fugitive. His picture was on the 10 most wanted list at the post offices. Remember this, when you get a word from the Lord, it does not mean everything is going to start sailing ahead in your life. When God comes into your life, its bound to do some upsetting of things around you. Jeroboam had to leave what he had behind and ran for his life to Egypt.

Jeroboam was banned from his country until King Solomon died. Solomon’s son Rehoboam became king, and Jeroboam returned to his country. King Rehoboam did not start his kingdom well, and through some bad advice, he caused many of the tribes to rebel against him. Just as God had spoken years earlier, 10 of the tribes decided they wanted nothing to do with King Rehoboam. Instead, they got together and decided to make Jeroboam their king. They knew he had a reputation for finishing whatever he started.

Now God had promised Jeroboam, if you remain faithful to me, I’ll take care of you, your children, your children’s children, and many more generations after them. King Jeroboam started his kingdom well. Now God is not going to make us kings, but He is going to allow us to become husbands, wives, supervisors, directors, judges, government officials, superintendents, principals, foremen, pastors, business owners and more.

In each of these areas we are going to have to decide, am I going to obey God no matter what. It’s not enough for us as Christians to simply finish the job. We have the added responsibility of finishing the job in the Lord. Which means, "was God pleased with the way in handled myself throughout the time I was in my role." There is not a role we have in which a temptation does not arrive, which would detract us from our commitment to God. Expect for there to come periods in which like Shadrach, Meshak, and Abedengo, we will have to decide if we will bow down to the kings’s music just like everybody else, or will we be true to our God’s commands. A great start does not guarantee a great finish.

All was going well for King Jeroboam. He had power, respect, money, admiration and a kingdom that he could have never received if God had not chosen him for the job. But once he got the position, he felt it was up to him to do whatever was necessary to keep it. He could see a potential problem arising. His kingdom was in the north. Rehoboam’s kingdom was in the south. The city of Jerusalem where the temple was, was in the south.

Each year, all the Jewish men were expected to make a trip to the temple in Jerusalem to offer sacrifices to God. Jeroboam started to get a little afraid by this requirement. He thought that, "Now if these people go to Jerusalem to worship, King Rehoboam might be really nice to them and get them to turn against me. He would then be able to come back and take back the 10 tribes, and "I’ll be executed." We have to be on our guard against fear. Fear comes when we cease to trust our God. The same God who made him king, already knew about the festival to the temple, when He told Jeroboam, I will make your kingdom last for generation after generation.

Jeroboam could not think of the possibility of losing what he had. He went and sought advice. Unfortunately, he did not seek the Lord. Do you know why he didn’t seek the Lord? The same reason we don’t when we’ve already committed ourselves to doing what we want to do. God has a way for us to live in every situation. When times got really hard for Jesus, and he knew the beatings, the whippings and the crucifixion was just hours away, Jesus was afraid. But he did not let fear cause him to go find a group of people who would talk him out of doing what he knew he had to do.

Jeroboam’s plan was a simple one. I’ll make it easy for the people to worship God without going to the temple. He made a golden cow in the north of his kingdom, and a golden one in the south and told the people, here are the gods who brought you out of Egypt. There is no need to go all the way to Jerusalem to worship. You can do it right here. Not only that, he made the high holy day, the same day as they were to be in Jerusalem. So it forced people to make a choice.

The majority of the people sort of liked this more convenient religion. It did not require as much effort, and a lot of people were going along with it. After all, they did remember something about a golden cow with Moses and Aaron so it could not be all bad. What they forgot is that Moses broke that cow into pieces and ground it up so that it would be utterly destroyed. God almost had wiped them out at that point but Moses prayed for them.

Jeroboam led the nation into sin and idolatry in order to keep his position. It is somewhat funny how we get into a position and think its up to us if we stay there or not. There is a God who exalts who He wants to exalt, and brings low, whomever he wants to bring low. Jeroboam thinks that he’s securing his future, but in reality he’s initiating the destruction of his entire family two years after his death.

Jeroboam was not only king, he went a step further and made himself a priest as well. At the golden cow he had built in Bethel, he had a huge altar for sacrificing animals. One day he was there ready to present his sacrifice, standing by this awe inspiring altar. But God called a prophet from the land of Judah to go and speak against what Jeroboam had done.

The man of God cried out, "a son named Josiah will be born to the house of David. On this altar he will burn the bones of the priests you have set up." As a sign to let you know this is going to happen, this altar will split apart and the ashes on it will be poured out.

Now this was a little much for Jeroboam to take. How dare this foreigner from Rehoboam’s kingdom, come here and prophesy in his country, that his altar would be defiled by one of Rehoboam’s offspring. This man of God had some kind of a nerve.

Now do you realize it took a lot of courage for this man of God to go into Jeroboam’s country and tell him off in front of his soldiers. This man knew God had spoken to him, and he went and did what God told him to do, no matter the cost. This prophet started out good and was willing to finish the job even if it cost him his life.

Jeroboam was furious. He stretched out his hand from the altar and gave the order, " Get that man right now." But before they could grab him, the soldiers noticed that the anger on Jeroboam’s face had changed to terror. Right before their eyes, his arm became paralyzed and started to wither up. Jeroboam was unable to pull his arm back. Then the altar itself splint apart and poured out the ashes according to the word of the Lord as given by the man of God.

All of a sudden King Jeroboam realized, he was not as in control of his life as he thought he was. He went from giving orders, to making a plea. He told the man of God, would you pray for me to the Lord your God, that my hand might be restored. The king is forced to admit, the gods he set up could not help him. The God who had placed him on the throne, was no longer his God. That’s why he had to ask the man of God to pray to his God for a healing. This man who had started out so great, didn’t finish the job in the Lord.

The man of God prayed for Jeroboam, and in his mercy God reached out and restored his hand as before. God is far more willing to give us a second, third and fourth chance, but we simply take his offer for granted. Not even this situation will cause Jeroboam to turn back to serving God. If we say not to God enough times, nothing God does for us will be seen as God’s mercy.

Jeroboam did make an offer to the prophet as a way of saying thanks. He said look, "come home and have something to eat with me, and I will give you a gift." This was a way of saying to the prophet, "if you come under my protection, you will not have to worry about anything else. Your needs are going to be provided for. I’m going to take care of you." He’s essentially offering the prophet a blank check.

But the prophet knew, God had told him to do something else. Remember I told you, just because you have an offer for a lot of money or a big promotion does not necessarily mean, your offer is coming from God. The prophet told Jeroboam, look, "Even if you were to give me half of what you own, I would not go with you, nor would I eat bread or drink water here. For the Lord commanded me, "Do not eat any bread, or drink any water, or even go home by the you came." With that he said goodbye and did not return home by the way he had come.

I want us to follow this man of God for a moment. Just like Jeroboam, God chose to use him and to raise him up. Just like Jeroboam, God made provisions for him to do the job that needed to be done. Just like Jeroboam, God told him in advance what he should and should not do. Just like Jeroboam, this man of God got off to a great start in finishing the job in the Lord.

The word quickly spread of how God had used this southerner from Judah, and how he had been willing to confront the king all by himself. They told the story of the paralyzed hand and how the prophet had prayed for the king’s hand and it was healed. They told of how the king had pretty much offered the prophet a blank check only to be turned down. They told of the prophet’s commitment not to eat or drink anything as long as he was in the country, and to go home by a different way. Now I can imagine that as the prophet left the king that day, people wanted to shake his hand, pat him on the back, and let him know they wished they had that kind of faith. He must have been feeling pretty good when he left.

Now there was a man who had two sons. His boys had seen it all, and they came back and told their father what had happened. Their father was an old prophet himself. He asked his sons, "which way did the man go home." His sons showed him the road. He said, "saddle my donkey for me. I’m going after him."

The old man kept riding until finally he saw the man of God from Judah sitting under an oak tree.

Now my question is this, why was the man of God sitting under a tree, when God had basically told him to go do what he had to do, and to get out. You see to me, if you’re sitting under a tree, you’re tempting yourself to get thirsty and to get hungry. Even if you do nothing, thirst and hunger are going to come up. Now you know can’t eat or drink until you’ve covered the necessary miles. It would be better to get back home, where it would be easier to obey what God has said. I wonder if the man of God was thinking about signing some autographs. I wonder if he was thinking, somehow he was now more spiritual because of the way God had used him.

The old prophet came and invited him to come back to his house and eat with him. The man of God told him, "no can do. God told me not to eat or drink in this place nor even to go back the way I came." Now when he said this before, he got up and went on his business, but this time he kept sitting. What I want you to see is just because you had a victory over temptation yesterday, does not mean you can handle the same temptation today.

What do I mean? Well last Friday night, you were able to say no in the situation. That does not mean, the next time it comes up with slightly different circumstances, you’ll be able to say no again. The first time you realized you needed to flee. The next time, you’ll be willing to listen a little longer. The old prophet told the man of God, " You know I’m also a prophet, and an angel said for me to bring you back so that you can eat and drink with me." So he went home with him and ate and drank. He didn’t know it, but the Scriptures state, the old prophet was lying to him.

Now earlier, the man of God had turned down the opportunity of a lifetime in order to be obedient to God. Now he’s willing to disobey for some bread and some water. Sometimes it is far easier to handle temptation when we are in the limelight of others watching us, than it is when it’s just the two of us, or the one of us. Far many of us, it’s going to be the so called little tests that we are going to blow. Just like Jeroboam the man of God got off to a great start, and he almost finished the job, but not quite.

No sooner than he got him a big piece of meat, sopped his bread in the gravy, and washed it down. The word of the Lord came to the old prophet for real. He looked at the man of God and said, "Why have you disobeyed the Lord when he told you not to eat or drink in this place. You know what God told you to do and you didn’t do it. Because of this, you will not be buried with your fathers." The old prophet then put the man on his donkey and sent him back to Judah.

But the man of God never made it. A lion attacked and killed him on the way home. He made the mistake of thinking that just because he had almost done all that God required it was enough to keep him safe. Friends where are we compromising with what the Lord has commanded us to do. Where have we decided to sit down under a tree just waiting to have temptation come our way? What are we afraid of, that we’ll turn away from God to hold on to what we have?

God is calling us to finish the job we have in the Lord. We pledge ourselves in marriage. As far as the power lies in you, finish your marriage in the Lord. We pledge ourselves in service on our jobs or at school, finish the job you’ve been given, but do it in the Lord. We agree to serve in some ministry in the church, finish the job in the Lord. Jesus tells us, before we start any project we must first sit down and count the cost to see if we have enough to complete the job.

Even in his offer for us to come and be one of his disciples, Jesus says count the cost. If you’re not willing to love me above all your possessions, your friends and your relatives, you cannot be my disciple. I ask you to examine yourself, are you living your life finishing jobs in the Lord, or simply doing things that well let you get by. Like Jeroboam and like the man of God, all of us will have a day in which we will give an account for what we’ve done. I encourage us all, the finish the job in the Lord.

Sermon Outline

Finish The Job, In The Lord 1 Kings 12, 13

  1. The Project Of Great Expectations
    1. Almost Done, But Not Quite
    2. We Won The First Quarter
    3. A’s , Degrees, Trophies
    4. Not How You Start, But How You Finish
  2. Meet The One Called Jeroboam
    1. Single Parent Family Background
    2. Reputation Of Getting The Job Done
    3. King Solomon’s Administration
    4. In Charge Of It All
    5. The Meeting With The Prophet Ahijah
    6. You Take 10 And I’ll Keep 2
  3. Promises To Jeroboam
    1. If You Do What Is Right
    2. A Dynasty For A Long Time
    3. King Solomon Goes In Search
    4. Jeroboam Hanging In The Post Office
    5. When God Comes Into Your Life Expect…
    6. Fleeing To Egypt
  4. A Split In The Nation Of Israel
    1. King Solomon’s Death
    2. Rehoboam Becomes The King
    3. King Rehoboam Starts On The Wrong Foot
    4. 10 Tribes Defect
    5. Jeroboam Becomes King Of The North
    6. If Jeroboam Remains Faithful--Then
  5. What About Us
    1. God Is Going To Raise Us Up In Many Roles
    2. Will I Obey God No Matter What
    3. Is The Lord Pleased
    4. Temptation Is Going To Come
    5. Are We Going To Be Like Shadrack, Meshack
    6. A Great Start Is No Guarantee
  6. Jeroboam Sitting On The Throne
    1. He Had It Hall
    2. Got To Keep It Regardless Of The Cost
    3. Problem With The Temple In The South
    4. Possible Rebellion In The Kingdom
    5. Fear Sets In The King’s Heart
  7. Don’t Let Fear Take Over
    1. Where Are We Seeking Our Advice
    2. Remember Where Jesus Went
    3. Jeroboam Takes The Wrong Road
    4. Two Golden Cows, Two Wrong Gods
    5. When Religion Becomes Convenient
    6. God Still Exalts, And Brings Low
    7. Jeroboam Assures His Family Destruction
  8. The Great Confrontation
    1. Jeroboam From King To Priest
    2. Man Of God From Judah
    3. This Altar Will Be Destroyed
    4. The Wrath Of King Jeroboam
    5. The Man Of God’s Boldness
    6. An Order Quickly Taken Back
    7. A King In Need Of Prayer
    8. A Miracle Of Mercy Granted
  9. The Man Of God’s Stance
    1. Will Not Eat Or Drink
    2. Rejects The Opportunity Of A Lifetime
    3. Gone From The King
    4. Jeroboam & The Man Of God Comparisons
    5. The Fame Spread Of The Man Of God
    6. An Old Prophet Goes In Pursuit
  10. Flirting With Temptation
    1. Just Sitting Under The Oak Tree
    2. Why Wait Around To Be Tempted
    3. Get Back To Your Business For God
    4. Anybody Want My Autograph
  11. Two Prophets Get Together
    1. An Invitation Declined
    2. Today’s Victory Is Today’s Only
    3. You Might Not Handle It This Time
    4. A Deception And Lie
    5. It’s The Little Test We Fail
    6. Sold Out For Meat, Bread, & Drink
    7. God’s Judgment Falls
    8. An Unhappy Trip Home--The Lion
  12. Resisting The Urge To Compromise
    1. God’s Call Is To Finish The Job
    2. Jesus’ Call Is To Count The Cost
    3. Examine Our Lives & Our Jobs
    4. We All Will Give An Account
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