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.

Monday, December 24, 2018

"Finish Strong" Devotional ~ Day 28

Day 28 - Monday, December 24th, 2018

God Loved and God Gave

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16) 

'Twas the night before Christmas… When we think of those words, we think of kids sleeping with one eye open. In fact, Christmas morning is perhaps the only morning in the year that kids wake up before parents full of excitement and anticipation. 

As we grow older we tend to be less excited about Christmas morning. Christmas morning is not about the packages, the boxes, the wrapping paper, the trees or even the lights. Christmas morning is about Love. Love worth waiting for, as the saying goes. And isn’t that what the Advent season is all about? Expectant waiting with that sense of anticipating the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, the long awaited Messiah, the essence of Love.

For God’s people, there had been 400 years of silence between the Old Testament and the New Testament. Now that’s a very long “night before Christmas.” The people were probably living their lives with one eye open, waiting for the promised Messiah to arrive. After waiting all of those years, all of those centuries, certainly they expected his arrival to be spectacular. But the first Christmas morning was not what anyone expected. The long awaited Messiah did not arrive like anyone anticipated. They were looking for a King; God decided to provide them with a Gift in a manger.

John 3:16 is the foundation of all other traditional Christmas verses. “For God so LOVED the world He GAVE…”  In the midst of the 400 years of silence, God never stopped loving, God never stopped providing, God never stopped planning ~ and it all came together on that first Christmas morning. The expectant waiting was over. The anticipation became reality.

God LOVED and God GAVE. God also provided a plan and a promise: whoever believes in Jesus will not die spiritually but will have eternal life in relationship with Jesus on earth and in heaven.

‘Twas the night before Christmas… you open your eyes on Christmas morning, let your first thought be to celebrate the greatest of all gifts… Jesus Christ ~ Love worth waiting for on Christmas morning and all year long!

Today's Challenge:
To focus on Jesus this Christmas, the present and eternal hope and reward of my heart.

Today's Prayer:
Lord, help my thoughts to center on you, to desire you above all else, and to prioritize my relationship with you over the other temporary things of this world. Thank you for sending your Son to be my most precious gift, one which gives new mercies every day and blesses me with every spiritual blessing in Christ now and forever.

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.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

"Finish Strong" Devotional ~ Day 27

Day 27 - Sunday, December 23rd, 2018

Submitting to Those in Authority

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. (Romans 13:1-2)

Someone once told me that you can learn as much from an incompetent or bad manager as you can from a good one, and I think that's probably true. But the learning is more difficult and painful!

I've heard many sad stories from people who work for a boss who is either lazy, disorganized, inexperienced, or unqualified for the job of manager. Others work for a boss who uses tactics or methods which are either unethical, ineffective, or contrary to company policy. The people skills of these managers are often sadly lacking, and they are not usually willing to accept suggestions from anyone else.

The first biblical principle we need to consider is our attitude toward those in authority. God has established authority as the order for the universe, and if it were not for the principle of authority, we would have nothing but chaos. The same is true in our business world. Authority is essential.

Therefore, the people in positions of authority are part of God's plan for authority. As Christians, we are directed to submit ourselves to those people who have risen to those authority positions.

Even though you may have a boss who does not use his or her position well or appropriately, his/her authority is nonetheless from God and, as Christians we are to respect it.  To rebel against that is to rebel against God's order and, as Paul said, it will bring judgment on us.

Today's Challenge:
To re-adjust my attitude toward authority, and recognize that those in authority over me receive their authority from God, even if they use it poorly.

Today's Prayer:
Lord, this can be a very difficult Christian principle to incorporate in my life because it feels wrong to respect a person who does not use authority rightly. But because I want to obey you, I want to learn to have genuine respect for those in authority over me. Please teach me and help me to do that.

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 22, 2018

"Finish Strong" Devotional ~ Day 26

Day 26 - Saturday, December 22nd, 2018

What We Owe Our Employer

Then he [Jesus] said to them, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's." (Matthew 22:21b)

Think of "Caesar" as your employer. What are you required to give to your "Caesar"? Here are a few important obligations a Christian has to an employer:
  1. Hard work. We must be careful to apply ourselves conscientiously and work our full shift. A Christian should never take advantage of their employer by cheating them out of time or work that is due to them.
  2. Protection of the employer's assets. Those pencils and pens, paper clips and pads supplied by your employer are not for your personal supply room at home. The telephone is another costly asset which we can abuse in the way we use it. Expense accounts should be meticulously honest and fair.
  3. Loyalty. While you are taking money from that employer, you owe them respect. You should not be found stabbing them in the back or running them down to others.
On the other hand, what do you NOT owe your employer?
  1. Dishonesty of any sort. Lying for your employer is giving to them what is due to God. An employer has no right to ask an employee to lie or deceive in any way. This is where you have to take a stand and not render to that employer what is not due them.
  2. Participation in any activity that is dishonoring to God. Socializing after work or with customers is the American way, but frequently it is not the godly way. If you have to be a part of compromising situations in order to keep your job, it's probably time to look for another job. You are rendering to Caesar the things that belong to God.

Today's Challenge:
To draw a clear line between what I owe my employer and what I owe God, and never compromise those standards.

Today's Prayer:
Lord, I want to do a better job of giving everything I honestly owe to my employer without compromising my commitment to you. Please teach me how to do that and give me the strength to follow through.

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 21, 2018

"Finish Strong" Devotional ~ Day 25

Day 25 - Friday, December 21st, 2018

Become an Encourager

Encourage the exhausted and strengthen the feeble. Say to those with anxious heart, "Take courage, fear not." (Isaiah 35:3-4, NASB)

Have you noticed that discouragement seems to be at epidemic levels? Most working environments are flooded with discouragement, and many times our homes are full of discouraging words.

As Christians, being an encourager is not an option; it's a directive. Christians should be people who strengthen the feeble and exhausted with encouraging words.

Can you think of someone in the feeble and/or exhausted category right now? Maybe it's a co-worker or your manager. They may put on a face that says, "I have it all together and I don't need anyone." But don't let that fool you. Just like you and me, they need to hear encouraging words, words of hope and cheer ~ and they need to hear them from you.

We also need to encourage people who have failed. Barnabas was that kind of an encourager. When Mark had failed and the Apostle Paul didn't want to give him another chance, Barnabas insisted on allowing Mark to travel with them. So, when they could not agree, Paul went one way with Silas, and Barnabas and Mark went another way.

Later on, Paul asked Timothy to get Mark and bring him for "Mark is useful to me for service." You don't have to fill in too many blanks to see that happened. Barnabas had taken Mark, taught him and encouraged him, and Mark had become a profitable servant of Jesus Christ. Obviously, Paul recognized this, too, and, I imagine, Paul learned a valuable lesson from Barnabas. It is really important to encourage people at times of failure.

If you know someone who is struggling with failure, encourage them. They need to know that all is not lost and that they can go forward from where they are.

Today's Challenge:
To encourage at least one feeble and exhausted person today.

Today's Prayer:
Lord, sometimes I get so wrapped up in my own world and my own problems that I forget to be an encourager. Please help me to see those around me today who need a word of encouragement from me. Then give me the right words to say to bring them hope and comfort.

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 20, 2018

"Finish Strong" Devotional ~ Day 24

Day 24 - Thursday, December 20th, 2018

The Power of "I'm Sorry"

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

A good friend of mine told me that the biggest difference between her and her co-workers who are not Christians is that she apologizes a lot more than they do! She struggles with things in her life, just like you and I do. But she is willing to say, "I'm sorry," and God is changing her day by day. I'm convinced her apologies are witnesses to the power of Jesus.

Have you recently lost your temper with a co-worker, told a lie to your manager, or deceived a customer in some way? If so, your conscience probably hasn't stopped bothering you, and that's good. When our own sin doesn't bother us, we are in a very dangerous position. A prickling conscience is one way God prompts you to take advantage of his offer to forgive you and purify you; all you have to do is confess.

Maybe you're wondering how you could ever be a witness for Jesus since you know you've failed, others know you've failed and, what's more, you may fail again. But everybody struggles with failure, and those who are not Chistians have no good way to deal with the guilt that often accompanies failure. One of the best ways to witness is to own up to our own failures, make restitution where necessary, and share that God is a forgiving and restoring God.

I can remember when God used a specific failure on my part to help a struggling Christian co-worker understand that God would forgive and restore him when he failed. I really blew it in front of him, and I didn't want to go back in that office. But God clearly told me to go back and be very honest about my failure, which is what I did.

Obviously it would have been better not to fail, but isn't it great that God uses even our shortcomings? Don't let some failure or fear of failure keep you from being a bold witness for Jesus. Remember, he can turn your ashes into beauty, if you will let him.

Today's Challenge:
To recognize that even my failures can be an avenue of blessing and witness for the Lord.

Today's Prayer:
Lord, I've often been hamstrung by my fear of failure and the knowledge of my past failures. Would you please help me to understand that you specialize in taking even my blunders and turning them into instruments of praise?

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 19, 2018

"Finish Strong" Devotional ~ Day 23

Day 23 - Wednesday, December 19th, 2018

"Zero-Budgeting" Our Lives to Fit God's Plans

I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. (John 17:4)

In business and in government, we hear the term, "zero-budgeting," a process that starts each yearly budget at zero. Everything in the budget is up for scrutiny and reconsideration; each budget item must be justified. For example, if you had a budget last year for travel, you may or may not have it next year. Before the money will be approved, you must demonstrate a need for it.

At the end of his ministry, Jesus was able to say that he had completed the work the Father gave him to do. That's because his agenda was always the Father's agenda. Time and again he said, "I do what the Father tells me to do." 

For us to be able to finish the work God has for us to do, we need to start at point zero and say, "Lord, what would you have me to do?" We also need to ask ourselves penetrating questions such as the following:
  • Is there anything I have said that I would never do? Is that my agenda, or God's?
  • Are there any areas in my life where I keep saying, "Hands off ~ don't touch this, God!"
  • What assumptions do I have about what God wants me to do, or not to do? Are those assumptions from God, or are they my own?

Zero-budgeting may lead us to some radical changes, or it may confirm for us that we're to stay where we are, doing what we're doing. But when we give God permission to set the agenda, then we have tremendous peace and freedom, and we can say with Jesus, "I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do."

Today's Challenge:
To be willing to do zero-budgeting in my relationship with the Lord and give him permission to have control and make changes wherever he pleases.

Today's Prayer:
Lord, I want you to know that I truly desire to do the work you have given me to do, not to run my own agenda. Please show me where I need to do some zero-budgeting in my life and give me the strength to truly turn all controls over to 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.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

"Finish Strong" Devotional ~ Day 22

Day 22 - Tuesday, December 18th, 2018

Limping Along

So tighten your loosening grip and steady your wavering stand. Don't wander away from the path but forge steadily onward. On the right path the limping foot recovers strength and does not collapse. (Hebrews 12:12-13, PHILLIPS Translation)

Are you limping along today, spiritually speaking? Does it seem like God is far away, and that your prayer time is unrewarding and dead? Does your mind wander when you read the Bible, and do the words run together on the page? Does it seem like a dry history book rather than a love letter to you from the Lord? Has your desire to be involved in ministry grown cold, and are you going through the motions out of a sense of duty?

If so, you've got a spiritual limp. We all get them, and we need to be prepared to deal with them. Most of us want to leave the race when we start limping, don't we? We figure we just can't keep going, so we give up and sit on the sidelines or start down another path which looks a little easier. But that's not how we should deal with a spiritual limp.

Tightening your grip and staying on the right path, regardless of how you feel or whether you are getting results, require discipline. The first verse of that 12th chapter of Hebrews tells us we must run with endurance the race marked out for us. We may even run the race with a limp, but we must not sit down or get sidetracked.

Let me encourage you today to keep running in the right race, even though you're limping along. If you'll keep doing what you know you should do, even without feelings or visible results, your limping foot will recover and pretty soon you'll be running strong again.

Today's Challenge:
To avoid the natural tendency to quit when there is a "limp" in my spiritual walk with God.

Today's Prayer:
Lord, teach me this very important principle of not giving into my emotions when there is a "limp" in my walk, but rather to stay on the right path until I find healing.

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Monday, December 17, 2018

"Finish Strong" Devotional ~ Day 21

Day 21 - Monday, December 17th, 2018

Becoming Gentle and Assertive

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. (I Peter 3:3-4)

This gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth to God, is not intended to be limited to women only. We know that because the same words were used by our Lord to describe his own spirit. In Matthew 11:29 he said, "Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you will find rest for your soul." The words in these two passages are the same.

Frequently Jesus treated people with gentleness and compassion when others were condemning and intolerant. For example, the woman taken in adultery, the Samaritan woman he found at the well, and Zacchaeus the hated tax collector. It takes more strength to be gentle and quiet than it does to always say what we think. Gentleness is much more demanding and requires greater discipline and self-control.

But please keep in mind, Jesus' gentleness did not prevent him from being assertive. Jesus was often bold and assertive in his words and in his actions. For one example, think of how he threw the money-changers out of the temple when they were misusing God's house for their own personal gain.

Gentleness and assertiveness can comfortably coexist in the same person. What we have to do is pray for wisdom to know when to use a gentle approach and when to be more verbally assertive. Jesus had that kind of wisdom and, since we have his Spirit in us and we have the mind of Christ when we are born from above, we can confidently ask for his wisdom in these kinds of situations.

Gentle and assertive. It's a wonderful combination. Ask for it; it can be yours when you are a daughter of the King.

Today's Challenge:
To have that gentle spirit which is of great value to God, and at the same time know when and how to be appropriately assertive.

Today's Prayer:
Lord, I'm so thankful that you have not left me here to live the Christian life on my own because I could never do it. I thank you that your Spirit lives in me and you have promised to give me wisdom. Therefore, I pray that you will spread your gentle and quiet Spirit in me, at the same time give me courage and guidance to be assertive when I should be.

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Sunday, December 16, 2018

"Finish Strong" Devotional ~ Day 20

Day 20 - Sunday, December 16th, 2018

Giving Jesus Complete Control

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus' knees and said, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!" (Luke 5:8)

When Jesus gave Peter a lesson in fishing, Peter learned a lot more than how to increase his fishing productivity. Jesus intervened in Peter's business dilemma and gave him instructions on how he could catch fish, even though Jesus' methods were unorthodox, even though Peter didn't think it would work. Jesus knew what he was talking about, and Peter caught so many fish that his nets almost broke.

It's interesting to note Peter's response when he sees all the fish in the net. He responded in humility because he knew his own heart, and he had not fished by faith. He never believed for a minute that he would catch even one fish. So, when the nets started to fill up, Peter was again reminded that Jesus is Lord of heaven and earth ~ and of fish!

And as he is reminded of who Jesus is, he sees his own faithless, arrogant heart and knows his unworthiness to even be in the presence of Jesus Christ. Notice that the result of this experience for Peter is that first, he had success; second, he understood Jesus better; third, he saw himself more clearly. 

Jesus longs for us to allow him to be a part of every area of our lives, to invite his control over the mundane, the everyday, the business matters of our lives where we have, in the past, just tried to do everything ourselves.

And as we learn to do that more and more, not only will we find that we're more successful at what we do, but more importantly, we'll become better and better acquainted with Jesus, his power, his authority, and his concern for our needs. And as we know him better, we'll become more and more humble, recognizing how powerless we are and how much we need him.

Today's Challenge:
To allow Jesus to be a part of every area of my life today and invite his control over everything I do.

Today's Prayer:
Lord, I often try to do my daily tasks in my own strength. Help me today to invite, yes, even insist on your control in every area of my life. Remind me to turn to you for wisdom, guidance, and strength in all I do today.

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.