September 6, 2004
Encouragement for Today

Finishing Well
Glynnis Whitwer, Senior Editor P31 Woman, Speaker for Proverbs 31 Ministries, editor@proverbs31.org

Key Verse:

"My food," said Jesus "is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work."  John 4:34 (NIV)


Devotion:

I love to start projects.  When I was younger, I started clubs in the neighborhood.  I would make up folders for everyone in the club, filled with lined notebook paper so they could take notes at our meetings. I assigned everyone a role, with me always being the president.  

I would make up a clubhouse somewhere, and we would start with a bang.   Once there was the Good Deed Club and once there was the Flower Club.

What I don't remember is those clubs lasting more than a week.  That was partly because I was soon on to the next project.  But it was mostly, I'm sure, because my friends and little sister got tired of me always being the boss.  I had lots to learn about leadership, but back then, I was happy to start something new and be in charge.

I have great intentions, but follow through has been a weak point of mine.  Jesus, on the other hand, modeled finishing well.  The passage in John 4 tells about Jesus speaking with the woman at the well.  After Jesus' time in the village, the disciples rejoined Him and urged Him to eat.  Jesus replied by telling them He had food they didn't know about, and that it was do the will of God and to finish His work.

We know from reading the gospels that Jesus finished God's work in spite of hardship, persecution, physical torture and an agonizing death.  We have eternal life because Jesus finished well.

We have the opportunity to finish well when God calls us to obey.  Here's an example of finishing well.

Let's say you get a call from a friend whose beloved husband has just passed away.    Here are three ways you can respond to this tragedy in your friend's life.

The first is good.   You can send her a card, letting her know you are praying for her.  You can attend the funeral.

The second is better.  You can do the above, but you also offer to watch your friend's children, and you organize a week's worth of meals.

The third exemplifies finishing well.  You can do all of the above, but you also offer to help your friend when she has to sort through her husband's clothes and belongings.  You go with her to the mortuary or to meet with the pastor to plan his funeral.   In a few months when everyone else has moved on with their lives, you remember your hurting friend and you connect with her throughout the coming years.

It's hard to finish well.  Life goes on.  Other demands arise on your time.  You get bored with your current responsibilities.  Things get tough.

By your finishing well in the above example, your friend will be able to help her children.  She will find hope in the midst of sorrow.  Her life will be changed, and so will the lives of her children because of what you did.

God calls us to finish well, and Jesus modeled it.  Sometimes finishing well means getting your hands dirty in life.  Sometimes it means walking through someone else's valley of the shadow of death.  But finishing well always means pleasing the Lord with your commitment and obedience.


My prayer for today:

Heavenly Father, I praise You for Your goodness and faithfulness.  Please forgive me when I don't fulfill my obligations to you or others. Thank you for forgiving me when I fall short.  Help me be like Jesus and be focused on Your will and work.  Show me Your priorities for my life.  In Jesus' Name, Amen.


Application Steps:

Identify an area of your life where you need to finish well.  List ways you can complete your task or follow through on your commitment.  Ask for forgiveness if you have hurt anyone by not finishing well.  Commit to finish the projects you have currently started before accepting any new assignments.

Reflection points:

What is something you have started but not finished?

Is there something you know God wants you to do, but you haven't done it?  What is it?

Do you have any relationships that have been shortchanged due to your busy schedule? 

What are some reasons you have difficulty with following through on your commitments to others?

How has your life benefited from others who have kept their commitment to you in spite of personal difficulty?


Power Verses:

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.  John 15:13 (NIV)

His master replied, "Well done, good and faithful servant!  You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.  Come and share your master's happiness." Matthew 25:21 (NIV)

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.  Hebrews 10: 35-36 (NIV)

Do not remember the former things; nor consider the things of old. Behold I will do a new thing! Now it shall spring forth. Shall you not know it?  I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.  Isaiah 43:18-19 (NKJV)

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  James 1: 2-4 (NAS)


Additional Resources:

P31 Woman Magazine by Proverbs 31 Ministries
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/p31woman.html

A Woman's Secret to a Balanced Life by Sharon Jaynes and Lysa TerKeurst
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/secretbalanced.html

Radically Obedient, Radically Blessed by Lysa TerKeurst
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/radical.html

P31 Woman Magazine by Proverbs 31 Ministries
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/newsletter.html