God will finish his work in you

Published 9:54 pm Friday, August 4, 2017

Dr. Thurman R. Hayes Jr.

It’s good to be back after some restful vacation time with family.

During this vacation, it was a blessing to do some extra reading. As a pastor, I read a lot anyway, but vacation allows me to do more, because I am not preparing sermons.

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On this vacation, I decided to read two very different types of books. First, I indulged my love of history by reading “Battle Cry of Freedom,” a book about the Civil War era, by James McPherson. It was tremendous. Dr. McPherson teaches history at Princeton, but he communicates in language that anyone can understand.

Second, I read “Camino Island,” the latest thriller by John Grisham. This was a page-turner and the perfect beach read. Grisham has a gift for keeping you guessing to the very end. It is hard for me to put his books down.

In this case, I finished both books. But there are plenty of books on my shelf and on my Kindle that I have started and not finished.

I don’t beat myself up for this. Some of the books I haven’t finished are reference books that are gleaned for information but not necessarily read from cover to cover. Some books bored me. In other cases, I wasn’t bored, but life distracted me. Often I’ll go back to those books later.

But here’s the deal: We don’t always finish well. We devise great projects in our minds, but we don’t always finish what we started.

It is never that way with God. He always finishes what he starts. As the Apostle Paul says in Philippians 1:6, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

Note Paul’s confidence here. He is not confident in Paul. Paul knew very well that even as an apostle he was still far from perfect. No, Paul’s confidence is in the faithfulness of God.

It is God who began the good work in his children, and it is God who will finish what he started. He always does.

This is important. Early in my walk with Christ, I dealt with a lot of insecurity. I knew that I still fell so far short of who I wanted to be, and I lived with a constant sense of unease about how God regarded me.

Thankfully, God used his promises (like Philippians 1:6 and the whole book of Romans) to assure me that I was secure in him, not because of who I am, but because of who he is.

The more I read and understood the Bible, the more I came to understand that God loves and accepts me as his child, not based on my performance — which is always imperfect — but based on the perfect performance of his Son.

Jesus lived the perfect life we can never live, died for our many sins on the cross and then rose from the dead.

When we turn to him and trust him as our Savior, God receives us as his beloved children. In fact, he loves us the way he loves Jesus, because we are now united to Christ by faith.

This is the basis of our security and joy. Live in that.

Dr. Thurman R. Hayes is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Suffolk. Follow him on Twitter at @ThurmanHayesJr.