Saturday, December 29, 2012

December 29, 2012

Ephesians 5:1-2

Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.

Personal Challenge...

The life that God desires me to live is simply and completely layed out for me in the life of walk in love. However, it is a lifelong battle to learn how to love my God and my neighbor in the way that Christ did.

Friday, December 28, 2012

December 28, 2012

Psalm 63:3 (62:4 LXX)

Because Your mercy is better than life,
My lips shall praise You.

Encouraging Words...

God's mercy and grace poured out upon me, His adopted child, is far greater than anything that this life will ever give me. Why wouldn't I praise Him for it?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

December 27, 2012

Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Encouraging Words...

It is encouraging to know that we have had so much history in the Church that has gone before us that points to the truth of Christ and His work. Through this we can exercise our faith both in those things that have been promised and the evidence of these things in history that we may not be able to see, but do have the proof through the saints that have gone before us.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

December 26, 2012

Matthew 2:18

A voice was heard in Ramah,
Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children,
Refusing to be comforted,
Because they are no more.

Personal Challenge...

This is one part of the Christmas story that is often neglected. Even in the midst of the glory of Jesus' birth there is an outpouring of evil that occurs. All the more of a reminder of the need for the redemption provided by this precious babe in the manger 2,000 years ago.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

December 25, 2012

Galatians 4:4-7

But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, Abba, Father! Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

Encouraging Words...

Praise be unto God the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit! Through the work of Jesus the price of the old covenant has been paid and the new covenant set in place. Through His work and the grace of God I am now an adopted child into His family with all rights and privileges including the opportunity to grow through theosis to be like Him, my Father. Christ is born! Glorify Him!

December 24, 2012

Isaiah 9:6

Great shall be His government, and of His peace there is no end. His peace shall be upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order and establish it with righteousness and judgment, from that time forward and unto ages of ages. The zeal of the Lord of hosts shall perform this.

Encouraging Words...

This day is upon us one and all. When Jesus cam to earth to be born a lowly child, to live the live as a common human being, and then to be crucified, buried and resurrected He established His kingdom forevermore and made it possible for a sinner such as me to enter into His eternal presence. I do not have to wait for some glorious age because it is here today. Happy birthday Jesus.

Friday, December 21, 2012

December 21, 2012

Mark 10:27

But Jesus looked at them and said, With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.

Encouraging Words...

This verse immediately follows the fate of the rich young man and his love for his wealth. I am sure the disciples were concerned that no one would be able to make it into heaven. And Jesus gently reminds them and us that God is in control and He can do even the imposible things. Glory be to God!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

December 20, 2012

Mark 10:24-25

And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.

Personal Challenge...

I must ask myself after reading this story of the rich young man and seing Jesus' admonition to His disciples on riches, "What riches in my life do I put my trust in over God?" Is it my job? Is it my savings or 401K or retirement plan? Is it the stuff that I have accumulated? How about the stuff that I want? All of these things are but tools that God has given me, better yet blessed me with, to build His kingdom, to tell His story. I must be careful not to make them my gods, my idols, and hold on to them lightly. Lord, have mercy!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

December 19, 2012

2 Timothy 3:12

Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

Personal Challenge...

I have always understood that if I try to live a godly life in an ungodly world there will be persecution. As the saying goes, "Been there, done that!". If we, ungodly mankind, persecuted and crucified Christ won't the same be done to His followers? What I don't get, what I don't understand, is why do those who try to live godly lives for the King get persecuted within the church? Is it that the church has become too much like the World? Is it that there is competition in the church? This is so hard to comprehend and so painful to endure. And yet, we are told that if we desire to live godly in Christ Jesus we will be persecuted. So be it, more of an opportunity to lean on Him.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

December 18, 2012

Titus 3:9-11

But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless. Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self- condemned.

Personal Challenge...

Sometimes I do not know what grieves me more...the loss of precious lives like what recently occurred in Newtown, CT or all of the senseless chatter that has followed in the name of Christ. Now is not the time to step up on our soap box for or against gun control. It is not the time to pound our drum for or against abortion. Now is not the time to expound on that item on our agenda the we want others to hold as dear as we do. Now is the time to pour out the love of God to a grieving community and nation. My political party affiliation, or my stand on different societal issues does not make be a better or worse Christian.

I am reminded of what Jesus did when He stood before the grave of Lazarus...He wept. If we truly desire to follow in the footsteps of our Lord shouldn't we stop politicizing everything and start weeping for those whom are dead, dead to His calling and His eternal grace and love?

Monday, December 17, 2012

December 17, 2012

Mark 9:49-50

For everyone will be seasoned with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt. Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another.

Personal Challenge...

Throughout our lives we will go through trials and tribulations. These events will either refine us and make us stronger or cause us to run away. How it turns is partly controlled by our choices. We are also told that these events season us like salt. But once again we have a choice to choose whether or not the salt stays good or looses its flavor. As for me, I choose to live in a way that gives peace to others.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

December 16, 2012

Colossians 3:4-11

When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.

But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.

Personal Challenge...

In the Orthodox Church this passage and Luke 14:16-24 are read every year on the second Sunday before Christmas as we remember the Holy Ancestors of Christ. This has been a tradition for over 1,000 years.

These verses teach us about true asceticism: As baptized Christians, we are becoming in practice what we are already in spirit. As we died with Christ, so we must will to experience death daily by killing old sinful and disintegrating passions (vv. 5–9). As we were raised with Christ, so we must will to experience life daily by the virtuous and unifying desires of the new man we all are in the body of Christ (vv. 10–14). (taken from The Orthodox Study Bible)

In light of the tragic events this past week: 26 shooting victims in Connecticut, 20 stabbing victims in China, bombings and killings in Afganistan and Pakistan, and many other events in OUR world, I have been prompted to search my heart, mind, and soul for my response to this.

As a Christian I (we all are) am commanded, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Matthew 22:37-39) My response is to love my neighbor. To love them before during, and after these events. This love does not include politicizing, evangelizing, proselytizing condemning, retaliating, etc. but loving like God loves...enough to let His Son die.

Maybe it is time to stop looking at the world through my eyes, my desires, my biases and look at it through God's. Isn't that what "willing" to live like Christ is all about?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

December 15, 2012

Titus 2:6-8

Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober- minded, in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.

Personal Challenge...

As I get ready to enter into my "senior" years of life this passage speaks to me a very sobering message. Am I living my life in a way that I am exhorting the younger men around me? Am I being a patter of good works? Is the living out of my faith, my doctrine, showing integrity, reverence incorruptibility and sound speech Can I go into any situation and not be condemned? This is a tall order, but isn't this what God has called me to do in my later years? Isn't this stage of life what God has been equipping me to be ready for? Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

December 13, 2012

Psalm 46:11 (45:12 LXX)

The Lord of hosts is with us,
The God of Jacob is our protector.

Encouraging Words...

In this day and age when there are so many occurrences and issues of abandonment it is refreshing to know that the Lord of Hosts, the Creator of all, is always with us, always our protector.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

December 12, 2012

2 Timothy 4:7-8

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

Encouraging Words...

Isn't this the definition of be able to look back on your life in your final days and be able to claim that you have fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith. I desire to follow my Lord in such a way tat not only will I be able to say this in the end, but those whom I leave behind would be able to say this about me as well.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

December 11, 2012

2 Timothy 3:16-17

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Encouraging Words...

God has not sent me out into the world to live for Him by my own means. He has given me the tools needed to live a complete, righteous, and equipped life. He has given me His scriptures, the teachings of the saints that have gone before me, and the traditions and mysteries of His Church. I must, however, take up these tools of the faith, absorb them into every aspect of my life, and become like His Son in order to serve Him effectively.

Monday, December 10, 2012

December 10, 2012

2 Timothy 2:22-26

Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.

Notes from Orthodox Study Bible...

vv 2: 20- 23 Heresy corrupts: bad theology leads to bad behavior. The Church on earth is a mixture of wheat and tares sown together (vv. 19–21). Membership in the Church guarantees nothing—even the baptismal confession (quoted in v. 19) acknowledges the necessity of struggle.

vv 2: 24- 26 Good theology helps us along the path to good behavior. Although the truth stands firm and unalterable and cannot tolerate the false (see 1Co 5: 1–13; 2Co 6: 14–18), it instills a reasonable patience and gentleness toward all, especially toward false teachers—while not losing sight of the fact that they are enemies and to be avoided (3: 5).

Personal Challenge...

I have been blessed to be a follower of Christ for most of my life. In that time I have seen many theologies and teachings. It has only been within the last couple of years that I have discovered that there is another perspective on living the Christian life, one that dates back to the beginning of the Christ's Church. The more I learn how to live with this perspective the more i grieve for those whom I hold dear and hold onto a doctrine that is not complete. As I look back I can now appreciate why there was always a restlessness in my spirit which has been calmed. Lord, have mercy and thank you!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

December 9, 2012

Ephesians 6:10-18

And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—

Personal Challenge...

One of the big mistakes in modern Christianity is that we only see our faith in the temporal, that which we can see, touch, hear and smell. One of the beauties of the Orthodox Church is that we hold on to the mysteries of God as those things that He does in the spiritual realm. Through His grace we can participate in that realm. This passage not only reminds us that we are always surrounded and living in both the temporal and the spiritual realms, but that we also have available to us the tools needed to protect ourselves in both of these realms. Life is a battle and we must treat it as so. I am so thankful that I am a part of the winning side.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

December 8, 2012

Psalm 73:26 (72:26 LXX)

My heart and my flesh fail,
O God of my heart; and God is my portion forever.

Encouraging Words...

Even though I sin and fail my God, He never gives up on me. My God is my portion for everything.

Friday, December 7, 2012

December 7, 2012

2 Timothy 1:7

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Encouraging Words...

I know that I can stand firm in confidence that the Holy Spirit dwells within me and the He will guide me through any persecution. Through Him I do not need to be fearful or timid, but can go through life with a spirit of power and a sound mind.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

December 6, 2012

Psalm 119:130 (118:130 LXX)

The revelation of Your words gives light,
And it causes children to understand.

Encouraging Words...

It is interesting that Christ told His disciples that we must be like children to receive Him. Here the psalmist expresses that God's words shine light into our lives and helps us who are like children to understand these words. God desires that we desire Him.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

December 5, 2012

1 Timothy 6:6

Now godliness with contentment is great gain.

Encouraging Words...

Contentment...sometimes this can be so elusive for me. This verse doesn't talk about happiness or delight but simply contentment. If I am to grow in godliness, in the likeness of Christ, I will also need to grow in contentment. Whether times are good or bad, prosperous or slight, healthy or sick, and the list goes on, I am to be content. Lord, have mercy.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

December 4, 2012

Hebrews 13:15-16

Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

Personal Challenge...

As a child of the living God I am called to be praying and glorifying Him at all times. However, that verse does not tell me to be locked away someplace away from the rest of the world in order to do this, but to do this while I am in the midst of the world doing good in His name, sharing with those around me, sacrificing myself for Him.

Monday, December 3, 2012

December 3, 2012

Philippians 4:19

And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Personal Challenge...

Wants or Needs? I find it so difficult sometimes to differentiate between my wants and my needs. Honestly, I do not need that much, and as I look back on my life I can see how my God has always provided for my true needs. It is those "Wants" that keep getting in my way, causing me to take my eyes off of my Lord, to not treat my loved ones with the true love and respect that they deserve, to put myself before others. I need Him to keep reminding me of what my priorities should really be in life.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

December 2, 2012

Ephesians 5:8-10

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.

Personal Challenge...

In our salvation from darkness by Christ we are now called to walk in the world in such a was as to shine light that points to Christ. We are not to withdraw from the world. Through our actions and words that are guided by the Holy Spirit we can bring goodness, righteousness, and truth to a dark and needy world. This applies to our homes, our church, our work, our friendships, our shipping, everything we do everywhere we go.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

December 1, 2012

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.

Personal Challenge...

I am not my own anymore. My body, my mind, my soul, were purchased for a great price. And as a bondservant I have freely given my all to my Lord and Master. With this in mind I must always remember that every thought, every word spoken or mumbled under my breath, every action taken or not taken, are done as the temple of the Holy Spirit and in the presence of my Heavenly Father and all of the saints that have gone before me. My only response to this sober thought is, "Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on my a sinner!"

November 30, 2012

1 Peter 4:7-9

But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. And above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.

Personal Challenge...

As a sinner I need the love of those whom God has placed in my life to love me in such a way so as to cover my sins. Should I do any less to them? I am commanded, once again, to love those in my life, and to love them fervently. This command is not just targeted at those people whom I like, but everyone. I am to be hospitable to them all and to not complain or grumble about any of them. Lord, have mercy on me a sinner. Is it no wonder that this commandment is preceded by the admonition to be serious and watchful in my prayers? Without this prayerful attitude I will never be able to love my neighbor this way.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

November 29, 2012

Acts 2:38

Then Peter said to them, Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Encouraging Words...

What a wonderful gift we receive from God when we give our lives to Christ...the Holy Spirit. We are not only saved from death, but we are filled with God Himself through the Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

November 28, 2012

Psalm 16:3 (15:3 LXX)

To the saints on His earth,
In them He magnified all His will.

Encouraging Words...

Through the Church, historical and present, God has poured out His will so that the world might know Him. Through the Church, both collective as a body of believers and individually as His saints, God has given His light to be beacons in a dark world.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

November 27, 2012

Psalm 119:133 (118:133 LXX)

Direct my steps according to Your teaching
And let no lawlessness rule over me.

Personal Challenge...

Do I truly desire to be like Christ? To follow in His footsteps? If so, then I must be pursuing Him like nothing else in my life matters. I must be reading His scriptures, learning from the fathers of the faith, spending time with Him in prayer and practicing the traditions of the Church. If my steps are to be directed by Him then I must be near to Him and know Him intimately.

Monday, November 26, 2012

November 26, 2012

1 Timothy 1:5

Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith,

Personal Challenge...

The law, the commandments of the old covenant as well as the commandments of Christ are all built around loving God and loving our neighbor. Paul informs me here in this letter to Timothy that I cannot love the way that God wants me to out of the compulsion of the the law for the it is superficial.. I must love from a pure heart, one that is filled by the Holy Spirit and continually being turned over to Him. I must love from a good conscience, one that is continually being cleansed by confession and repentance. I must love from a sincere faith, one that is actively pursuing the likeness of Christ.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

November 25, 2012

Matthew 16:24-28

Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.

Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.

Personal Challenge...

Why is it that I continue to turn my back on what I know to be the truth and my responsibility as a follower of Christ? His expectation is really simple...deny myself, take up my cross, and follow Him. The difficulty comes up in the desires that are in my flesh for the things of this world. Is not the reason that we fast from the things of this world so that we can develop the capabilities to give up other things from the world. We do not fast out of legalistic obligation, but as a willing way to build up our spiritual muscles.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

November 24, 2012

Luke 10:19-20

Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.

Encouraging Words...

Through Christ we are given such great power and authority over this temporal realm as well as in the spiritual realm. This, however, is not what we should cherish because that leads to pride, idolatry, and sin. We should cherish the work of Christ, what He has done for us, which leads to humility and righteousness.

Friday, November 23, 2012

November 23, 2012

Galatians 5:22-23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self- control. Against such there is no law.

Encouraging Words...

I am so thankful that I was able to grow up in a rural farming culture. It was hard work at times but it has given me insights and understanding in the scriptures that are invaluable. A tree does not give off any fruit other than what is imbedded in its genetic structure. This passage is a promise that if I have the Holy Spirit dwelling within me then this fruit will be forthcoming in my life. The degree or magnitude of the harvest is dependent upon how I take care of myself (my thoughts, my desires, my actions) but in all cases the Holy Spirit provides my genetic capability for this fruit to be present. How is my garden growing.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

November 22, 2012 (Happy Thanksgiving!)

2 Thessalonians 3:3

But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one.

Encouraging Words...

God is faithful. When I let that sink in it reminds me just how powerful this is. It is absolute, it is permanent, it is all-inclusive. God is faithful. He will never falter on me, He will never abandon me, He will always do what is best for me in my and on into eternity.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

November 21, 2012

Luke 18:15-17

Then they also brought infants to Him that He might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to Him and said, Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.

Encouraging Words...

The commentary on this passage usually focuses on the way that we should be as we come to children; believing, trusting, obedient. However, this passage also says a lot about how God receives us. I am a father, I have raised children. I am blessed that now I am a grandfather and get to participate in the raising of another generation. God receives us as our Heavenly Father; with open arms, with delight, with great joy and love. He wants no one or no thing to come between us and Him. His arms are wide open for me, His son, His child, and I am blessed to rest peacefully in them.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

November 20, 2012

Isaiah 26:2-4

Open the gates; let the people enter who keep righteousness and guard the truth, and who lay hold of the truth and keep peace, because they hope forever in You, O Lord, the great and eternal God,

Encouraging Words...

What a wonderful progression we have here. It all starts with our great and eternal God. Jesus, God as man, came to live amongst His creation so that death coud be conquered and so that we would have someone to put our hope into. Through that hope in Christ and our desire to be like Him we can be peacemakers in the world around us. As we do this we can begin to lay hold of the truth that He reveals to us. As we guard this truth, assimilate it into our lives, we become more like Him in our righteousness and enter the gates that He has opened before us.

Monday, November 19, 2012

November 19, 2012

Luke 17, 20-21

Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, See here! or See there! For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.

Encouraging Words...

The notes in my Orthodox Study Bible say, 'The "kingdom of God" is a spiritual reality present within the Christian believer and within the community of the Church. "Within you" can also be translated "among you" or "in your midst." What a wonderful and refreshing view of eternity and our hope for heaven. The moment that we were baptized into Christ through the Holy Spirit we stepped into the reality and the presence of the kingdom of God. This is not something that we are waiting upon our physical death to be made present, but it is now. With that in my mind (and in my heart) I should be living my life as an eternal being in the kingdom of God, pursuing Him, striving to be like His Son...progressing on my journey of theosis. It is a mystery, but then again, He is God and I am not, who am I to question His ways.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

November 18, 2012

2 Corinthians 8:9

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.

Encouraging Words...

What a precious gift from give up His Son so that I, a part of His creation, might be reunited to Him in eternity. What a wonderful sacrifice that Jesus was willing to make in order to heal the brokenness caused by sin. If only I can become more like Christ and give up of myself to those in my life...especially my wife, children, grandchildren, other family, and friends.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

November 17, 2012

Psalm 91:1 (90:1 LXX)

He who dwells in the help of the Most High
Shall lodge in the shelter of the God of heaven.

Encouraging Words...

This chapter in the Psalms describes the intensity of spiritual warfare that we, the Church, are engaged in. In order to stand up in this battle I must dwell under the protective wings of my Lord.

Friday, November 16, 2012

November 16, 2012

1 Peter 2:9

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

Encouraging Words...

As a child of God I am set apart and special in His eyes. If I truly believe this then it is imperative that I live my life in a way that proclaims Him, praises Him, sheds light (His light) on those around me. May God, in His grace, be ever present in my heart and therefore in my actions.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

November 15, 2012

1 Thessalonians 5:14-15

Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.

Personal Challenge...

I cannot remember how many times I have found myself in the midst of a church family feeling lonely, overlooked, and looking for community. I admit that part of that falls upon me, but part also falls upon the church. I believe one are of deep brokenness in our church here in America is the lack of true community, true fellowship. And I believe a lot of this is due to our individualism and propensity to define the gospel that way that fits our own personal doctrine. One of the things that I sincerely appreciate in the Orthodox church is the focus on community. We believe our salvation is worked out in community. Even our prayers use collective petitions (us, we, our) versus individual ones (I, me, mine). Paul tells us in these verses to live our lives active in our church community...not as consumers, but as investors.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

November 14, 2012

Lenten Prayer of St. Ephraim

O Lord and Master of my life, do not give to me the spirit of laziness, faintheartedness, lust for power, and idle talk.
But give to me Your servant the spirit of purity, humility, patience, and love.
O Lord and King, grant me to see my own faults and not to judge my brother, for blessed are You unto ages of ages.

Encouraging Words...

This powerful prayer which is typically prayed during Lent is a regular part of my daily prayer and scripture routine. I love how it reminds me to depend upon my Lord for everything and to put others around me above myself. This is no simple task and the reason why I need a daily reminder. O God, cleanse me a sinner.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

November 13, 2012

1 Thessalonians 3:12-13

And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.

Personal Challenge...

Is my goal, my desire, in life to be determined blameless in holiness when I stand before my God? Then this verse gives the formula for getting there...loving one another. Quite a simple formula yet one that will take everything I can muster to follow every day with everyone in my life.

Monday, November 12, 2012

November 12, 2012

Romans 5:8

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Personal Challenge...

I am getting so tired of well-meaning people around me acting like doing the "right" things in my Christian life are what make me a better, more godly Christian. Say these prayers at this time, bow this way, go to this "spiritual" place, read more scripture (or worse yet, more books about the scriptures). Jesus did all of the work that could possibly be done to save me from death. I can do nothing to be saved or be more saved. If I am truly following Him with all of my heart, soul, mind and body then I will do things that glorify Him, that build up His body, that encourages and uplifts those around me, I must always be examining my heart to make sure that my motives are His motives and not mine.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

November 11, 2012

Psalm 119:130 (118:130 LXX)

The revelation of Your words gives light,
And it causes children to understand.

Encouraging Words...

Why do we make the Christian life so much more difficult than it really is meant to be? Christ
Himself told us to become like little children in our relationship with Him. Is my heart as innocent as a child's? Is my desire to know my God as deep as a child's? My prayer is to be a true child of God.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

November 10, 2012

Psalm 119:11 (118:11 LXX)
I hid Your teachings in my heart
So as not to sin against You.

Personal Challenge...

The Christian life is not one lived in a vacuum or lived according to my ways, but it is a life that is a lived out by pursuing the heart of God, reading His scriptures, listening to His teachers, practicing His traditions. It is a life that is a journey and not just a destination.

Friday, November 9, 2012

November 9, 2012

Psalm 145:18 (144:18 LXX)

The Lord is near to all who call on Him,
To all who call upon Him in truth.

Encouraging Words...

Truth...such a much misaligned word or concept in today's world. How often have I heard in the corporate world the belief of not telling the customer all of the story of what we can actually deliver (i.e. withholding details) is telling the truth, or fudging on what our company can actually do is telling the truth. When did the white lie become so acceptable. Now we are seeing organizations, educational institutions, churches and ministries doing cover ups (financial scandals, sexual improprieties and on and on) in the name of protecting the image of their precious cause and calling it truth. I do not believe that any of this aligns with God's definition of truth. And here in this verse we are reminded that the Lord is near to all who call on Him, but He does give us a caveat...we must call upon Him in truth, His truth not ours. Maybe this is why we are seeing so many exposures of hidden lies in His Church today. If God beginning to clean His house.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

November 8, 2012

Judges 6:12

And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, mighty one of the armies!”

Encouraging Words...

I love how the Lord reveals to us in the scriptures His true heart and well as ours. Here we see Gideon hiding from his enemies so that he can sneak together some wheat for himself and his family. An Angel fo the Lord appears to him and speaks of his true character..."a mighty one of the armies." God knows our heart better than we do. He knows me better than I know myself. Doesn't it make sense that the closer I draw to Him the more the true me will be revealed. I love how the early church fathers state this in my daily prayer for the acceptance of God's will.

     O Lord, I do not know what to ask of You.
     You alone know what are my true needs.
     You love me more than I myself know how to love.
     Help me to see my real needs which are concealed from me.
     I do not dare to ask either for a cross or for consolation.
     I can only wait on You. My heart is open to You.
     Visit and help me, for the sake of Your great mercy.
     Strike me and heal me; cast me down and raise me up.
     I worship in silence Your holy will and Your unsearchable ways.
     I offer myself as a sacrifice to You.
     I have no other desire than to fulfill Your will.
     Teach me to pray. Pray You Yourself in me. Amen. 

God is God and I am not.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

November 7, 2012

Luke 12:48b

For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.

Personal Challenge...

This verse should be very sobering to anyone who takes on a leadership position in the church. Whether it be Sunday school teacher, choir member, pastor, priest, elder, bishop, committee member, or whatever...once we willingly accept the role of leadership we step into the reality that God will expect more from us. And the higher up in leadership that we go, i.e. the more people that my decisions and actions affect, the more that God will expect of me. I often wonder why it is that so many times one moves up in his/her leadership role the more they forget this truth. My prayer is that I will remember it all the more and become more humble each time that God chooses to give me more responsibility.