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Monday, March 15, 2010

Journey to the Cross - It is Finished

Have you ever known when something was finished? I have. I remember the moment my first book was finished. I’d been working on Pocket Full of Quaters for almost 2 years and as I typed those last few words, relief flowed through me because I just knew.

I needed to tell someone so I called my sister-in-law, Susan, and said, “I just finished my book!” Technically, the book was a long way from complete. There were many edits and drafts and it wasn’t published until almost a year later but those were just clean up. I knew when it was finished. Finishing my book was the beginning for my readers.

Jesus' work was harder than anything we have to do on earth. He did it willinging and knew when it was finished. He shared it with the world by saying, "It is finished." The finish for Him was the beginning for us. The sixth message of the Seven Last Words of Christ is about being finished.

Morning Meditation

Read John 19:30.

John 19:30

When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. KJV

Let yourself wonder what the world would be like if Jesus hadn’t finished.
• Quietly bow your head and enjoy what He finished.
• If you are struggling with anything, bow your head and “give up the ghost.”


Morning Prayer


Thank Jesus for finishing His work.

• Ask Jesus to help you finish your work.

• Tell God your joys, fears, and needs. Praise Him in everything.

• Pray for knowledge of God’s will for you today and the power to carry that out.

• Ask the Holy Spirit to interpret the scriptures you are about to read.





Morning Bible Study


Lest you think that Jesus’ words were a silent whispering, read Matthew 27:50-51 and Mark 15:37-39.



Matt 27:50-51

And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. NASU



Mark 15:37-39

And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last. And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. When the centurion, who was standing right in front of Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, "Truly this man was the Son of God!" NASU



How did Jesus utter the words?

• What happened as He breathed His last?

• What impact did it have on people watching?




Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could get to the end of our life knowing we’d fulfilled our assignments? When Paul was close to dying, he knew he was finished.



Read 2 Timothy 4:6-8.

2 Tim 4:6-8

For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 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. KJV



What did Paul say he had done?

• What was he anticipating?

• How could he have such confidence?

• Why do you think he shared that confidence?




Often when the work of others is finished, our work begins. As the ancient Jacob lay dying, he charged his sons with their assignments. Jacob was dying and the work of his sons was beginning. Read Genesis 49:33.



Gen 49:33

When Jacob finished charging his sons, he drew his feet into the bed and breathed his last, and was gathered to his people. NASU



Perhaps more importantly, often when God finishes, our work has begun. While Jesus breathed His last breath, the disciples were being prepared to spread the gospel message. We see examples throughout the Bible of our work beginning when God’s work is finished.



Read Exodus 31:18.

Ex 31:18

When He had finished speaking with him upon Mount Sinai, He gave Moses the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written by the finger of God. NASU



What did God do when He finished speaking?

• Think about what you know about the Ten Commandments. What did Moses do with them?

• How are the Ten Commandments being used today?




As you probably know, after breathing His last, Jesus returned to earth 3 days later. Before returning to God, He left us with orders. His work was finished but ours had just begun. Read Matthew 28:18-20.



Matt 28:18-20

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen KJV



Who had the power?

• Where are we to go?

• What are we to do?

• What is Jesus’ promise to us?


Application



For 17 years of our life, my husband Bob and I ran a custom software development company. I was the Chief Executive Officer and Bob was the Chief Technology Officer. Bob was famous for asking the developers, “Is it done yet?” Over the years, I grew to understand that Bob and I had different definitions of done.



In the role as CEO, my definition of “done” meant the software was ready to deliver to the customer. When we were “done,” I hoped to hand working software over so the customer could “begin” their work with the software. I understood little about the nuances of the development phases but I understood finished.



To a Chief Technology Officer, “done” meant ready for the next stage of development. When technologists said the software was “done,” they really meant that it was ready for the next software developer to complete their phase of development. The final delivery of the product could be weeks or months away. Bob, who did understand all the nuances of the development phases, celebrated every completed victory as finished.



After being disappointed with software delivery timelines, I began teaching a class about what “done” meant. I found that if we communicated our definition of finished, everyone’s expectations were met. At our company, when developers were asked if something was done, they learned to ask what you meant by “done.”



The interesting thing about being finished with software is that the work is never really “done.” If a software developer has “finished” their task, the next software developer’s task may be just beginning. If our company delivered “final” software, our customer’s work was just beginning as they learned to use and apply the software in their business environment. As the customer’s business environment changed, the software had to change right along with it and often they handed the software back to us for changes.



When Jesus used the word “finished” on the cross, He was referring to His “pre-resurrection” work - the fulfillment of prophesy and the sacrifice He made for the sins of the world. He had other earthly assignments, which He fulfilled during the 40 days following His resurrection. When He ascended into heaven, He left assignments for us to fulfill during our time on earth.



Every earthly assignment we have connects to another assignment. When I talk to people on the streets of America, the words may or may not have a visible impact but I have a feeling of completion at the end of every conversation. I know that I am one small part of what God is working out for each person. God may have to send many more people and circumstances before someone surrenders to Him or they may never surrender. My work may be finished and someone else’s is just beginning.



The only thing that is important for us to know is our own personal assignment. We don’t have to know why or how it all fits into the grander plan for creation. If we don’t know our assignment, we can’t know when we’re finished. Each assignment has a beginning, middle, and an end. Like the differing definitions of “done” Bob and I used in the software world, perhaps our definition of “done” is different from God’s.



If, when I travel, I used a global definition of “done” for my ministry, I would be constantly disappointed. Personally, I want the people I meet to turn their life and will over to the care of God by the end of our conversation. I would like to see the results of the finished product. But alas, I’m like the software developer who has to hand their work over to someone else. My task may be small but it’s necessary. I may never see the results but I have to trust that they’re there. God is my CEO and His definition of “done” is bigger than mine is and it is the only one that counts.



What is your assignment today? Are you frustrated because you’re not “done?” Perhaps you need to redefine the word “done” and accept that your assignment may be smaller than you imagined. Ask God for knowledge of His will for you today and the power to carry that out. He will answer that prayer.

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