Need some encouragement to finish that project?

Do you need some encouragement to finish that project?

How many times in your life have you started a project and struggled to complete it? Perhaps you are in that situation right now! Where do you go to get the encouragement you need to finish a project? 

Striving to find a way

So many times in my life I have been unable to find a way through. I strive to find the strategy, to find the key to moving forward.

When I feel myself striving this way, I know there is only one action to take - Be Still. Yes, Psalm 46:10 again! I keep coming back to that very clear command from God - Be Still. Just “Be Still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). It’s as though God is saying, “Will you just stop thinking all those thoughts and listen to Me.” 

Not by might nor by power

Often too God reminds me of the words the angel said to Zechariah to encourage the Israelites to complete the rebuilding of the temple after their return to Jerusalem from exile. The angel said to Zechariah,

“ ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.” (Zechariah 4:6 NIV)

It was a challenging time for the Israelites, they were returning to a city that had been decimated. One commentary says,

“Although the archaeological data is fragmentary, there is enough to suggest that the exiles returned to a shattered urban landscape where considerable effort was needed to simply survive.” (NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, p1555).

Encouragement to complete the project

The rebuilding of the temple project seemed impossible to the Israelites. There was so much to be done and limited resources available. The Israelites needed some encouragement to keep focused and complete the project God had given them to do. So God provided that encouragement through Zechariah. Here is what one commentary says about their struggle:

“The community was struggling to rebuild a sustainable economy, and severe limits on resources made rebuilding the temple an almost unthinkable task. For this reason, both Haggai and Zechariah needed to remind their audiences that God controlled the resources.”  (NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, p1555). 

Who controls the resources?

An aside (or perhaps a key point!), in the economy we are living in today, it is important to remind ourselves that God still controls the resources. I remember one day last year I was walking and talking to God about my concerns about our finances, a Philippians 4:6-7 prayer. As I prayed a flock of cockatoos flew over, probably about 30 of them, and the Holy Spirit reminded me of Matthew 6:26, 

“Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:26 NKJV). 

Yes, God is in control and He is trustworthy.

By My Spirit says the Lord

Getting back to completing projects and the need for encouragement, let's have a look at  Zechariah 4:6 from the Amplified Bible,

Then he said to me, This [addition of the bowl to the candlestick, causing it to yield a ceaseless supply of oil from the olive trees] is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit [of Whom the oil is a symbol], says the Lord of hosts. Zechariah 4:6 AMPC 

I love how the Amplified Bible gives that fuller picture to help us understand more of what God is saying. Read it again and listen out for which words the Holy Spirit quickens to you, 

Then he said to me, This [addition of the bowl to the candlestick, causing it to yield a ceaseless supply of oil from the olive trees] is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit [of Whom the oil is a symbol], says the Lord of hosts. Zechariah 4:6 AMPC 

A Ceaseless supply

These words are quickened to me “ceaseless supply of oil”, followed by "“My Spirit” [of Whom the oil is a symbol]." 

Who is the Spirit? He is the Holy Spirit, the third member of the Trinity. When we receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour, the Holy Spirit comes and indwells in us. Jesus tells us this in John 14:16-17,

“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you."  John 14:16-17 NIV

So with the Holy Spirit living within us we then have a ceaseless supply of God’s power.

The Holy Spirit

The Passion Translation footnote on John 14:16-17 explains some more about the Holy Spirit, 

“The Greek word used here is parakletos, a technical word that could be translated “defence attorney.” It means “one called to stand next to you as a helper.” Various translations have rendered this “Counsellor,” “Comforter,” “Advocate,”  “Encourager,” “Intercessor,” or “Helper.” However none of these words alone are adequate and fall short in explaining the full meaning. The translator has chosen the word Saviour, for it depicts the role of the Holy Spirit to protect, defend, and save us from our self and our enemies and keep us whole and healed. He is the One who guides and defends, comforts and consoles. Keep in mind that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ, our Saviour.” (The Passion Translation p630).

Ask the Holy Spirit for help

So what do we do when we need encouragement to finish the project, or perhaps we need some wisdom on how to finish the project? We ask the Holy Spirit for His encouragement and help. Joyce Meyer says, 

“Are you faced with a difficult obstacle? Like the Israelites, you cannot overcome any situation with determination alone. You do need to be determined, but as Zechariah 4:6 teaches, be determined in the Holy Spirit - not in the effort of your own flesh. The Holy Spirit is your Helper; seek His help. Lean on Him. You cannot make it alone. You need Him.” (The Everyday Life Bible - Joyce Meyer (p1451))

No project is too big or small for the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is there available to help with all sorts of projects and problems - nothing is too big or small. 

Last week I was having difficulty doing some formatting in a word document. I tried a few things but they didn’t work, I could feel myself getting frustrated. So I paused and asked the Holy Spirit for help and then I felt a quiet prompting, “Try this,” I did and it worked. Perhaps I should have asked sooner for His help! 

As the year ramps up and the days get busier, sometimes it is a challenge to fit all the tasks and activities into one day and I can once again feel myself getting frustrated and impatient, saying things to myself like, “There is not enough time to get this all done.” But again, a simple inquiry to the Holy Spirit as to what is actually necessary to do today always makes the day flow better. He knows which jobs can wait, and even which jobs are completely unnecessary. 

On the bigger scale, there may be a situation that I have been asked to pray for - a situation where there appears to be no human way for things to change. So people pray, the Spirit moves, miracles occur and situations change. I’ve been blessed to witness this more than a few times in my life. 

These are only a few examples of surrendering something, some project, to the Holy Spirit and trusting that He will bring the right resolution, 

“ ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.” (Zechariah 4:6 NIV)

The parenting project

A final note about a slightly different type of project - parenting. It is a project I find I often need encouragement for! 

Parenting is a major area in my life where I have found this truth, "Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit"  to be revolutionary. So many times I have wanted to yell and scream and jump up and down and say to our children “Just do it this way!” And honestly, there have been occasions, to my embarrassment, when I have done that and it didn’t end well! I quickly learnt that “Might and Power” wasn’t a good strategy with teenagers! Yes, boundaries are necessary but the implementation has to be right - love, grace and truth is a good starting point. And who is best-placed to give you the specifics of that implementation - the perfect approach for each child? Yes, that is right - the Holy Spirit!

A challenge for this week

So I’ll leave you with a little challenge for this week. The next time you need encouragement with any project, big or small, and you are tempted to just ‘get in there and fix it’ or perhaps even thinking of giving up, then pause, take a breath and declare that this situation won’t be resolved “by might nor by power, but by the Holy Spirit,” and then ask the Holy Spirit for His guidance, making sure you be still so you can hear His answer!

Looking for more encouragement?

Are you looking for more resources to help you draw closer to God, please check out my other blog posts and podcasts.