Monday, December 31, 2018

"Finish Strong" Devotional ~ Day 35

Day 35 - Monday, December 31st, 2018

Great and Precious Promises 

Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. (2 Peter 1:4)

As we start a New Year tomorrow, it's a good time to focus our minds on God's promises to us for the New Year. In 2 Peter 1:4, we are told that through God's divine power and our knowledge of God, "he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires."

Peter tells us that God's promises are great and precious: Great because they are powerful, and precious because of God's great love for us. Through these promises we are encouraged and equipped to become more like Jesus, to live a life of glory to God.

Here are two important promises to focus on as you begin 2019:

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9)

Is there a more important promise than this? Just to know that you have forgiveness ~ forgiveness for all the stuff you've done, all the sin in your life, all your unrighteousness. He is faithful and just, and will always forgive you if you confess. This promise is absolutely essential because without forgiveness we have no hope of eternal life. But God has promised us eternal life when we have received his forgiveness and been made a new creation in Christ. In the same book of I John, we read this promise:

And this is what he promised us ~ eternal life. (1 John 2:25)

As you begin this New Year, make it a regular practice to remember this promise ~ that he has and will always forgive your sins and cleanse you from all unrighteousness. It’s a great and precious promise ~ just for you!

Today's Challenge:

To keep in the forefront of my mind God's abundant forgiveness, and to rejoice in his righteousness which he freely gives to me as his child.

Today's Prayer:
Lord, thank you for the unconditional forgiveness you give me when I confess my sin to you. Help me remember this precious promise so I can overcome my tendency to hold onto shame over my sin, becoming discouraged and defeated. Thank you for the victory over sin, death, and the enemy which I can live in today because of your great sacrifice for me long ago.

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Sunday, December 30, 2018

"Finish Strong" Devotional ~ Day 34

Day 34 - Sunday, December 30th, 2018

Conflicts of Interest

Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: "Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy." (Leviticus 19:2)

A very common issue we deal with in business and in politics is that of Conflict of Interest. Executives in most companies have to sign affidavits that they are not involved in any activities that would conflict with their positions. Politicians and government officials have to verify that their private interests do not conflict with their public service. I was thinking that many Christians have a problem with conflict of interest.

I wonder how many Christians would be willing to sign a document guaranteeing that their activities would not be in conflict with their Christian principles. How many of us could say that our lifestyles do not conflict with the example set by our Lord?

Let me get real specific here:  Many times I've heard Christians talk about movies they've seen which would definitely be in conflict with Christian standards. Frequently you'll hear them say, "Well, except for a few bad scenes, it was a good movie," or "It's just impossible to find a movie nowadays that doesn't have something objectionable in it, but this one wasn't too bad." My friends, I believe a real commitment to Jesus Christ will cause us to take a close look at the movies we see ~ at home or in the theater ~ which would conflict with Christian standards. It will undoubtedly limit our movie going and watching very severely, but we should not be involved in this kind of conflict of interest.

What about the ethics and integrity of Christians on their jobs? How many times are they in conflict with their Christian principles? I am aware of many sad stories of Christians who fail to practice honesty on their jobs ~ who think nothing of lying or of taking things from their employer, like supplies or time. Those are conflicts of interest.

The reading material of many Christians would come in confli­ct with their Christian interests sometimes, too. Trashy novels; inappropriate magazines; internet websites that are sexually explicit; pornography. When you feed that junk into your mind, you have a conflict of interest with the mind of Christ within you. You're asking for problems.

How about you today? Could you honestly sign a Conflict of Interest agreement with the Lord? If you'd have to make some changes in order to do that, are you willing? One of the reasons we have not reached our world for Christ is not because we're outnumbered, but because those of us who know Christ have so many conflicts of interest, that our witness and our light are very weak and very dim. 

Today's Challenge:

To examine how I spend my time, identify habits which create a conflict of interest with my walk with Christ, and make necessary changes to honor him above all else.

Today's Prayer:
Lord, I confess that some of my activities have been in conflict with your righteousness and with your commands for how I am to live as your representative. Show me the areas where I need to better reflect your holiness, and give me the strength, wisdom, and perseverance I need to change.

Was this devotional a blessing to you? If so, please consider making a donation to The Christian Working Woman's year-end giving campaign, "35-Days to Finish Strong." Click here to give.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

"Finish Strong" Devotional ~ Day 33

Day 33 - Saturday, December 29th, 2018

Trusting God When Nothing Seems to Be Happening

O God, do not keep silent; be not quiet, O God, be not still. See how your enemies are astir, how your foes rear their heads. With cunning they conspire against your people; they plot against those you cherish. (Psalm 83:1-3)

Asaph is wondering if God has gone to sleep or forgotten him or been distracted. Or perhaps God can't see all those enemies getting ready to attack. Don't you sometimes wonder if God sees the whole picture? Why is he standing still with all those enemies around? It just doesn't make sense to us. 

What we have to learn is what Asaph had to learn ~ that just because you can't see God working doesn't mean he isn't doing anything. When you're standing still, you can trust that he is working behind the scenes, usually out of your view, and often in ways you would never imagine. But you can believe that his ways are perfect and he has a good plan for you.

Abraham had to stand still and see how God would make him a great nation when he was childless. Moses had to stand still and see how God was going to get them across the Red Sea. Joshua had to stand still and see how those walls were going to come down around Jericho. Esther had to stand still and see if she perished when she asked that her countrymen be spared. But God was working while they were standing still, and you can trust him to work for you, too ~ even while you're standing still!

Can't you see how God is working on your behalf? Don't understand why you have the problems you have on your job? Wondering why you're still unemployed or underemployed? Join in with the Psalmist repeating, "Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God" (Psalm 42:11).
Today's Challenge:
To learn to believe that God is working on my behalf even when I can't see it.

Today's Prayer:
Lord, I choose to believe that you are working for good in my life today, even though I have no idea what you're doing or when you're going to do it. Please help me to remember that your ways are not my ways, and I can trust you to work behind the scenes on my behalf.

Was this devotional a blessing to you? If so, please consider making a donation to The Christian Working Woman's year-end giving campaign, "35-Days to Finish Strong." Click here to give.

Friday, December 28, 2018

"Finish Strong" Devotional ~ Day 32

Day 32 - Friday, December 28th, 2018

Pray for Those in Authority

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be made for everyone ~ for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

We are to pray for peaceful relationships with those in authority. If you're dealing with an incompetent or unfair boss, have you been praying for him or her regularly? Until you begin to truly pray for this person, you won't see much change in your attitude or in his or her behavior.

Smart employees understand that their job description includes making your boss look good. The world uses that principle as a manipulative tool, but we have other reasons for doing it. 1 Corinthians 13 describes the kind of love we are to develop in our lives ~ a love that is like God's love. That kind of love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres (1 Corinthians 13:6-7).

As Christians, we are to ever be seeking to have God's love fill us and overflow through us to everyone in our lives, including our incompetent bosses. Therefore, we should try to make them look good because God's love motivates us to protect others from bad exposure, to delight in the good things they do, not the bad things, and to try to smooth over their mistakes whenever we can.

Can you begin today, by faith, to ask God to give you his love for your boss? Are you willing to allow God to give you the desire and the wisdom to want to make your boss look good, to promote his or her welfare? If you will take just that first step towards God in this area, you're going to discover that he will pour his grace into your life and enable you to do what now looks impossible.

Today's Challenge:
To pray for my boss, and to do everything I can to make him/her look good.

Today's Prayer:
Lord, today I want to respond to my boss in a Christ-like way. Please show me ways I can make my boss look good; please help me to avoid the negative talk that goes on about him or her. Give me the desire and the power to respond to the authority of my boss in the right way.

Was this devotional a blessing to you? If so, please consider making a donation to The Christian Working Woman's year-end giving campaign, "35-Days to Finish Strong." Click here to give.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

"Finish Strong" Devotional ~ Day 31

Day 31 - Thursday, December 27th, 2018

Jesus Understands the Challenges You Face

I know where you live ~ where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city ~ where Satan lives. (Revelation 2:3)

Jesus understands where you live, just as he did the church in Pergamum, and he knows you are living where Satan has his throne. Satan is temporarily in power, and we live and work right in the middle of his territory. It's analogous to living in a foreign land, where you speak a different language, have a totally different culture, and a completely alien set of values to everyone else.

Jesus said we are to be in this world but not of it. So, we are not to allow the people of this world to pull us down to their level, yet we are to be available and open to be their friends, to help them when we can, to spend time with them for edifying and helpful reasons.

Since you live in enemy territory, don't be surprised to discover that those around you see life totally differently because they don't have God's viewpoint. They are spiritually blind, and therefore not able to see God's truth. But you must remain true to the name of Jesus, just like the Christians in Pergamum. That's more important than anything else!

Remember, Jesus knows where you live and he will be with you in your difficult work environment. So take heart, because he has overcome the world.

Today's Challenge:
To be in this world but not of it.

Today's Prayer:
Lord, I know that you understand this world in which I live and work. Sometimes I truly feel like I'm living in a foreign country. Help me to remember that you will never leave me or forsake me, and that I can be in this world but not of it. Teach me how to practice that principle and remain true to your name.

Was this devotional a blessing to you? If so, please consider making a donation to The Christian Working Woman's year-end giving campaign, "35-Days to Finish Strong." Click here to give.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

"Finish Strong" Devotional ~ Day 30

Day 30 - Wednesday, December 26th, 2018

Practicing Compassion on the Job

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36)

We're told that Jesus is touched with the feelings of our weaknesses because he was in all points tempted like we are (Hebrews 4:15). That continually comforts me as I go to Jesus with my problems, knowing that he's walked this path before me and he knows how I feel. That's how we become compassionate people ~ by putting ourselves in other people's shoes and feeling what they feel.

I remember a sermon where the minister challenged us to ask God to break our hearts with the things that broke his heart. Jesus' heart was broken when he saw harassed and helpless people, people who were without any purpose in life, people who had no compass for life, no meaning in life.

Do you have any of those people working around you? They may be people who irritate you a great deal and even cause you considerable trouble. But if you looked beyond their behavior and truly saw their condition, like Jesus did, you might be able to have compassion on them.

I've found that as soon as I can feel compassion for someone, as soon as I walk in their shoes even for a few minutes, my entire attitude changes. I respond very differently to someone for whom I feel compassion. I do things for someone for whom I have compassion that I wouldn't do otherwise. And in the process, I reduce my own stress immensely as I take the focus off of myself and put it on the other person.

Maybe those harassed and helpless people are in your life for a reason. Perhaps they need your compassion today.

Today's Challenge:
To recognize the people in my life who need some compassion today.

Today's Prayer:
Lord, I truly want to learn to have compassion for people as you did. I give you permission to break my heart over the things that break your heart, and I ask you to give me a kind and compassionate response for the harassed and helpless people in my life.

Was this devotional a blessing to you? If so, please consider making a donation to The Christian Working Woman's year-end giving campaign, "35-Days to Finish Strong." Click here to give.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

"Finish Strong" Devotional ~ Day 29

Day 29 - Tuesday, December 25th, 2018

Not Only Christmas Day

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

Merry Christmas! Christmas is often a day full of family and friends, food and fun, and of course, gifts! Well, I just want to add my greetings to you this day—this day when “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

This day comes and goes, as we all know, and our lives pick up again and we go on as always. But when we truly contemplate that God became man and dwelt among us, it’s a truth that should be remembered every day, not just on Christmas. This poem reminds us of this:

Not Only Christmas Day
Lord, this is my prayer
Not only on Christmas Day
But until I see you face to face
May I live my life this way:
Just like the baby Jesus
I ever hope to be,
Resting in your loving arms
Trusting in your sovereignty.
And like the growing Christ child
In wisdom daily learning,
May I ever seek to know you
With my mind and spirit yearning.
Like the Son so faithful
Let me follow in your light,
Meek and bold, humble and strong
Not afraid to face the night.
Nor cowardly to suffer
And stand for truth alone,
Knowing that your kingdom
Awaits my going home.
Not afraid to sacrifice
Though great may be the cost,
Mindful how you rescued me
From broken-hearted loss.
Like my risen Savior 
The babe, the child, the Son, 
May my life forever speak
Of who you are and all you've done.
So while this world rejoices
And celebrates your birth,
I treasure you, the greatest gift
Unequaled in your worth.
I long to hear the same words
That welcomed home your Son,
"Come, good and faithful servant,"
Your Master says, "Well done."
And may heaven welcome others
Who will join with me in praise
Because I lived for Jesus Christ
Not only Christmas Day
~ Mary Fairchild

Today's Challenge:
To every day contemplate the great significance of Jesus coming to earth as my Savior and to live in that reality both in my personal and work life.

Today's Prayer:
Lord, teach me what it means to live daily in the reality of your birth, your death, your resurrection, and your return to heaven to the glory you had before you came. Help me to live for the purpose of bringing you glory and urging others to join me in knowing and praising you

Was this devotional a blessing to you? If so, please consider making a donation to The Christian Working Woman's year-end giving campaign, "35-Days to Finish Strong." Click here to give.