Working On The Weaknesses

Romans 11-13

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Friday June 16

 

When I was younger, I used to forget commitments that I had made and assignments that were due.  It was the worst feeling to fall short!  And then I would be tempted to lie to get out of the consequences of my lack of planning and that just added to my problems!  I also used to be messy and would spend lots of time looking for things.  Where did I put my keys?  I know they are somewhere!  Where is my favorite shirt?  Did I leave it under a pile of clothes?  Hours were lost just looking for things because I was not organized.  Have you ever experienced this?

 

Romans 13:10-14

10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.¶

11 Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed.

12 The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.

13 Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy.

14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.

 

In verse 14, it says make no provision for the flesh.  At some point in my life, I recognized that I was forgetful and messy.  They were weaknesses of mine and I decided to do something about it.  I started writing myself notes, keeping a planner, and using the calendar on my phone to remind me of all my appointments and commitments.  I started to organize my things and find homes for all the various items in the house.  That way, I could put each item in its home and I would know where to find it when I needed it.  Making these changes had a huge impact on my daily life!  I took stock of my weaknesses and came up with a plan to strengthen those areas in my life and it worked!  Now, I rarely forget what I need to do and I spend way less time trying to find things!

 

I vividly remember a beaded butterfly necklace that I had and loved.  I cherished this necklace and wore it often.  My friend Rita also loved it and told me so.  I felt in my heart that I should give her the necklace but my flesh wanted to hold on tight to it.  It was mine and I didn’t want to give it away! “I’ll never find another one like it,” I thought.  But then, I considered what God would want me to do.  He would want me to give with a pure heart.  So I did!  The funny thing is, Rita was delighted and overjoyed that I gave it to her but after a few weeks, she gave it back.  She said it didn’t suit her as much as it suited me.  God was so good!  He taught me a lesson that I was meek to receive.  I was not to hold on to physical possessions that would burn one day (Dr. Joe Martin did a sermon years ago that I still remember called “It’s All Going to Burn”) but He blessed me with the return of the necklace.

 

We should take stock of our spiritual life and strengthen it!  Where is your flesh weak?  What are the things that tempt you?  If you are tempted to be greedy, than make a conscious effort to give.  If you find that going to parties causes you to sin, then don’t go.  Don’t make room in your life for sin!  If you have friends that are a bad influence, change your circle of people!  Surround yourself with people that will make you better for God and help you to look more like our Lord Jesus Christ!  “Make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts!” Romans 13:14

 

Ruth Finnegan

 

(photo credit: http://www.knowing-jesus.com/romans-13-14/)

No Scamming Here

Romans 8-10

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Thursday, June 15

There are so many powerful verses in the three chapters for today but the section that really stuck out to me was this:

 

Romans 10:8-13

 

8 But what does it say? “THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching,

 9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;

10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

11 For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.”

12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him;

13 for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.”

 

 

“Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  It doesn’t matter who you are, how you look, what race you are, or how much money you have…we can all be saved!  You believe with your heart, which results in righteous or “right” living, which means you are obedient.  Then, with your mouth, you confess, you speak out loud that Jesus is your Lord.  Calling Jesus your Lord means that you obey him.  He has authority over you and your life is not your own, it is his.  Doing these things, results in salvation!

 

Bonus!!! Our God is abounding in riches for all who call on Him.  It almost seems too good!  Usually when something seems too good to be true, it isn’t true.  It is a scam.  Like when someone calls my phone from a faraway place and tells me I entered a contest and won…and they just need some vital information to process my winnings!  Thousands of dollars could be mine if I will give them my name, social security number, and birthdate.  Humph!  I don’t think so!

 

Scammers market things to you that appear like they will improve your life in some way but truly it is to rob you.  With God, the truth is that He wants you!!  Not only does He want you but He wants to give you the things that money can’t buy like peace, joy, love, and purpose.  Don’t be scammed by the world.  Too many times we have seen people in our small group get the job they have always wanted, promotion, or a boy/girlfriend, only for it to take them away from church and the family of God.  The most precious thing we have is our faith and our hope.  Make a solid confession and live righteously. If you have slipped in some area and are not giving your whole life to your master Jesus Christ, recommit yourself to him and surround yourself with strong believers.

 

God wants you more than anything and those verses above contain the necessary information for you to be with Him forever!

 

1 Timothy 2:4

“who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

 

-Ruth Finnegan

(Photo Credit: http://insta.bible/romans-109-niv/)

 

Suffering!

Romans 4-7

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Wednesday, June 14

I really don’t like tribulations but I do like what they produce in my life.  When I think about the hard times that I have been through, I see how God proved himself to me over and over again.  It is those times that have built my faith in an invisible God.

 

Romans 5:1-4

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.  And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;

 

Looking back, the trials and tribulations that I have suffered were well worth it.  Of course, at the time, in the midst of the storm, I was filled with angst and anxiety.  What often helped me was prayer.  I know my limitations and how powerless I am but God has no limits and He intervenes on our behalf.  Now when I look back at those hard times, I don’t feel the sting of stress but I see the power of perseverance!  I persevered with prayer and God answered me.  Whatever the situation was, God helped me and my faith grew stronger and stronger each time.  This helped me to mature as a believer and it changed my character for the better.

 

I also see, as I reflect back, the strength I have gained from seeing God prove himself time and again, and knowing and believing that the promises He has made will come to pass. This is hope.  This hope is what helps us to push through the trials and not give up.  We have hope that God will hear our cry, incline His ear to our prayers, and touch our lives.  I am reminded of the section in James where it talks about joy in tribulation…what??  That can’t be right, can it?

 

James 1:2-4

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.

 

I will be completely honest.  I am not there yet.  I do not view trials with joy, not even in the slightest.  I wish I could encounter a trial with a smile and look forward to what it will produce in me.  I only smile when it is over and some time has passed and then the joy part sets in.  So, I have some work to do and I am sure that I will have plenty of opportunities to get better at this.

 

This whole section of scripture we read today is also about faith…each trial and tribulation has strengthened my faith.  Even when my faith was shaken, I came out the other side stronger.  My brother John and his wife Grace, almost 9 years ago, found out they were expecting a baby.  We were so excited!  Early on in the pregnancy, they found out there were some complications, all was not right.  We quickly went from excited to shaken and scared.  This doesn’t happen to us, this could not be.

 

My mom, myself, and Grace decided that we would pray together every day until the baby was born.  We prayed and prayed and prayed.  I had never prayed so diligently before this.  We were certain God was going to perform a miracle.  Grace felt God was leading her to name the baby Jeremiah.

Jeremiah was born and we did not get the miracle we prayed for…in fact his condition was worse than we expected and he would continue to have more challenges as he grew.  This shook our faith and tore us up inside.  I won’t go through all the questions I hurled at God and the sorrow we felt but I will say, that through it all, God was with us.  Jeremiah may not be like everyone else, but he is a miracle and he has given our family such joy.  In the end, my faith is stronger because I know that we live in a broken world and that bad things happen…even to us.  But, then I think of this scripture:

 

Isaiah 35:6

Then the lame will leap like a deer,

And the tongue of the mute will shout for joy.

For waters will break forth in the wilderness

And streams in the Arabah.

 

One day, all will be made right and we just need to have faith.  Faith to keep going, to tackle each trial with hope and perseverance and that will mold our character for the better.  Take some time to reflect on your life and your hard times.  What did they produce in you?  Do you have a stronger appreciation of the hope we have because of your trials?

This is Jeremiah.  He is full of joy, laughter, and kindness.  He is nonverbal, has low tone, and other issues but one day, when our Lord returns, he will run fast like the wind and talk up a storm.

jeremiah

– Ruth Finnegan

(Photo Credit: http://www.godswordimages.com/wallpaper/hope/romans-5-3-5/)

No Partiality

Romans 1-3

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Tuesday, June 13

Have you ever asked yourself; “What are you storing up for yourself?”  There will be a day of judgement concerning how each of us lived our lives.  Did we store up incorruptible treasures in heaven as it says in Matthew 6:20 ““But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;”  or have we stored up wrath determined by the righteous judgment of God as it says in Romans 2:5-6, “But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS:”

 

We will all be judged and held accountable.  It is so easy to judge others; almost without thinking, we label, categorize, and take measure of others.  Oftentimes, people are cruel and harsh in their snap judgement of others.  Maybe you nudge your friend when you are on line at a store and slyly point out the haircut that is out of style or the clothes that don’t fit right.  Because of this, we can also fall into trying to please the whims of the world.  We bend and yield our convictions to be liked and accepted.  Perhaps we join in with verbal jabs or we enjoy the latest juicy gossip.  With God, there is no partiality (Rom. 2:11).  What does this mean?  Partiality as defined by Merriam Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary says:

 

 : an unfair tendency to treat one person, group, or thing better than another

 : a tendency to like something or someone — often + to

 

As it says in the first definition, we have an unfair tendency to judge certain groups of people more favorably than others.  God doesn’t do this.  He can’t be bribed, bought, or persuaded from what is right and true.  He sees us for what we are and judges us accordingly.  He knows the secret depths of our hearts, even the parts we don’t want to admit are there.  In light of this, we should recognize that what we do and how we live our lives, matters.  What we watch and put into our hearts also matters.

 

Matthew 15:18

“But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man.

 

I grew up in New Jersey and moved to New York shortly after college.  After Sean and I married, we moved to Georgia and attended the Atlanta Bible College.  I had never been to the South for any length of time and was struck by how friendly everyone was.  Cashiers would have full on conversations with people in line and they would take their time with each customer.  I liked how friendly people were but found myself annoyed and impatient when their friendliness cut into my efficiency.  Yet, when I went home to New Jersey and New York after being in Georgia for a while, I was startled by how quickly people would yell, honk, and gesture at one another.  There was a harshness to the North that I had not noticed before.  Regardless of where you’re from, God’s word teaches us how we should be.  That is what we should put in our minds and what will consequentially come out of our mouths.

 

Guard your mind and keep your thoughts on the things that are above.  Do not allow yourself to become a harsh critic of others but love and reserve the judging for God and our Lord Jesus Christ.  While you still have breath and you are alive, ask for forgiveness for the times you have fallen short and sinned, and then start again with renewed vigor.  The Bible says in Romans 2:8 that there is eternal life for those that persevere or persist in doing good seek after the glory and honor and immortality.  Let’s encourage each other to persevere in doing good!

-Ruth Finnegan

 

What’s Yours?

Acts 24-28

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Monday, June 12

 

In this section of scripture, I was most impressed with Paul’s focus on his purpose, to preach the kingdom of God and to teach the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 28:31) all through confrontations, imprisonments, and wild storms at sea.  Throughout these major crises, Paul kept his cool and stuck to his mission.  He saw every crowd, every Jewish leader or government official as an opportunity to share the good news.

 

Many times in our lives, we face overwhelming situations or things that aren’t fair and each time we have a decision to make.  Do you lose yourself to the circumstances that surround you or do you stay focused on your mission?  Have you made a conscious realization or decision about your purpose in life? If not, take a moment to write down and define your purpose.  Here are a few scriptures that might help:

 

Matthew 22:36-40

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”

And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’

“This is the great and foremost commandment.

“The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’

“On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

 

Matthew 28:19-20

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

 

These sections of scripture give a basis for our purpose.  Love God, love your neighbor, go and preach the gospel to all creation and baptize them, and teach them all that Jesus taught.  Paul was entirely focused on this, so much so, that being accused by leaders in the Jewish community did not deter him, nor did he get shaken when the governor imprisoned and questioned him.  He still maintained his calm and focus as he appealed to Caesar.  He used each situation as an opportunity to speak truth.  I found this section to be confrontational personally because there are times when I do lose my focus.  I only see what is happening around me and start to feel overwhelmed instead of putting my attention on God and the purpose He has given me!  We have power through the holy spirit just as Paul did.

 

We can harness our minds, no matter what our situation whether it is good or bad, to accomplish our mission.  We may be unjustly accused, people may lie and scheme against us, or we may even be imprisoned or face major storms in life…but we can look beyond the surface and fulfill our purpose by loving people enough to share the gospel and spread the truth.  Go be a Paul!

-Ruth Finnegan

 

 

 

Giving – the Very Best

Acts 20-23

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Sunday, June 11

I would like to start off this post with a short introduction.  My name is Ruth Finnegan and I am married to Sean Finnegan and we have four sons, who range from age 11 to 1 month old.  It is my joy and pleasure to be a stay-at-home mom!  When Sean and I first got married we had a lot of discussion about “how are we going to be.” We decided to set a few tenets or standards for our life together.  These were:  seek righteousness; don’t be cheap, tip generously, only use good toilet paper, and be given to hospitality.  Recently, I went to the store to stock up on toilet paper and they were out of our usual brand.  I bought a cheap package to tide us over until I could go to the store again.  Oh man! Mistake!!  Sean started declaring, “Have we lost all of our principles?? What is this, sandpaper?! Should we stop tipping too?” I burst out laughing when he said this because I was instantly brought back to that conversation early on in our marriage.  I went out and bought good toilet paper for the house and got rid of the cheap stuff.

 

Sean and I have been married for almost 14 years and we have always been passionate about being given to hospitality (Romans 12:10).  Over the years, we have had many people come stay with us.  Some come for just a night and some for many months.  We feel that God has given us much and blessed us abundantly and that it is our joy to bless others with our home (and with our good toilet paper).   I have found that you discover a lot about people when they stay with you in your home.  I thought about this as I read Acts 20:17-38.

 

When Paul was in Ephesus, his mission was certain.  He served and lived among the people, he kept back nothing, teaching them “repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21).  Paul was a true shepherd who cared for his flock and was very clear about his purpose.  He made sure that he was not a burden.  He took care of himself and those with him and he used every opportunity to teach and shepherd the flock there.  He truly cared for people and genuinely wanted the believers to be protected from the wolves that were sure to come.  Paul knew he had to leave and wouldn’t see them again.  He implored them with these final words:

 

35 In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

 

And with that, he knelt down with them and prayed for them.  When Paul left, they did not breathe a sigh of relief because he had inconvenienced them.  No, they had deep sorrow in their heart because he had been a blessing to them.

 

We have had people stay with us that were all about what they needed or being served so when their time of departure came, we were thankful!   We have also had the pleasure of having guests that infused our home with light and eternal blessings!  They had eyes to see and wanted to be a blessing and help.  When we go about our lives and come into contact with others, let’s strive to be like Paul.  He was all about teaching the eternal things of life like the Kingdom of God.  He was not a burden but a blessing to the believers and sincerely cared for them.  He didn’t complain about his lot as a missionary, he was driven by the holy spirit even when it came to his own discomfort and sacrifice.  Let’s strive to encourage others and remember it is more blessed to give than to receive!

-Ruth Finnegan

(Photo Credit: http://www.alittleperspective.com/acts-20-2016/)

 

 

 

Can You Be Called a Berean?

Acts 17-19

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Saturday, June 10

Does your church have a Berean Youth Group?  Way back when, as a child growing up at Garden Park Church of God our youth group was called the Bereans, and I know the name was also used in many other church youth groups.  Hopefully, even if you have never been called a Berean, you really are – or you are working towards that right now.

The name comes from Acts 17.  Paul and Silas had just barely escaped a mob of jealous Jews in the city of Thessalonica.  During the night they fled to the next town and their missionary journey continued – in the town of Berea.  Acts 17:11 says, “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”  Unfortunately for this church group the troublemakers from Thessalonica came to Berea to rile up the masses against the missionaries here, too.  Paul was quickly whisked away to safety in yet another town even further away (Athens) and Silas and Timothy were told to, “join him as soon as possible.” (17:15)  So, this is sadly the only mention in the Bible of the church group at Berea (besides one of its members accompanying Paul in Acts 20:4) .  And yet, what a great thing to be said about this body of believers!  I would imagine that this church did alright – even without the help of months or years of teaching and preaching and encouragement by the famous missionaries (as several other churches would receive).  This church was making sure that they were grounded in God’s Word – daily.  They were diligently using God’s Word (the Old Testament, at that time) to test the “modern” ideas and theories.  Looking to His Word to see – who is this Jesus?  Is Jesus really the promised Messiah?  Is everything that Paul says true?  I have no doubt that God blessed their searching and revealed the answers to them.

In these 3 chapters alone there are multiple other passages reminding us of the importance of Scripture.

Acts 17:2-3 “As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and for three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. ‘This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ,’ he said.”

In Acts 18 we meet an interesting man named Apollos, a man with a “thorough knowledge of the Scriptures” (Acts 18:24) – remember that was the Old Testament.  He was on-fire for God, believed in Jesus and was a great speaker and spoke accurately all that he knew – even though he had thus far ONLY been taught about Jesus’ baptism.  Priscilla and Aquila saw his passion and heart and welcomed him into their home so they could teach him much more.  Armed with his new-found knowledge and understanding Apollos “was a great help to those who by grace had believed.  For he vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.” (Acts 18:27,28).

You don’t need to know everything to start standing strong for Jesus.  Start with what you know and keep using all your means and the Word of God given to you to deepen your understanding and your love for your Creator and His Son.  And, just like Priscilla and Aquila, be a Godly mentor and guide to anyone in need of just a bit more understanding.

My prayer for you and me is that we might love His Word more and more and learn what He has prepared for us.   Let’s be Bereans together – examining His Scriptures daily.  His Word is alive and active.  Love it and learn from it!

-Marcia Railton