Tuesday, July 31, 2012

July 31, 2012

1 Timothy 4:10 NASB

For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.

Encouraging Words...

I have had the awesome privilege of walking with our Lord, our Savior, for most of my life. One thing that has often shown up in this journey, and always caused me great concern, are those who claim to have the proper method of becoming a Christian. It turns out to be their way, actually their way of putting God in their box. This verse reminds us that its the living God, the Savior of all men, who defines what it is to be His child, a Christian. It is interesting to me that this verse clearly claims that God is the Savior of all men, especially those who believe in Him. I know that looking at it this way will definitely generate a lot of contention, but there are so many other scriptures that profess the work of Christ as bringing to mankind victory over death.

July 30, 2012

Galatians 1:10 NASB

For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.

Personal Challenge...

I am sure that Paul was dealing with quite a dilemma in his life...please those in his life, whether friends or family or fellow learned men in the church...or please God. Have you ever found yourself trying to please someone in your life that you care about just to realize that to really do so would really soil the Name of the God that you serve? It is indeed a personal challenge to truly try to live your life in a way that honors God, that demonstrates that you are a bond-servant of Christ when it means alienation from your family, your friends, your coworkers, and even sometimes those whom you worship with. But it is God whom we should be seeking favor from.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

July 25, 2012

Acts 3:16 NASB

“And on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all.”

Encouraging Words...

Faith...it is the center of our life in Christ. As you read through the accounts of healing in the New Testament you almost always see it accounted to faith. There are even accounts of Jesus saying that his ability to perform miracles is limited by the lack of faith of the people He is trying to minister to. And where does this faith need to be directed? It is to be directed to Jesus. It is in His names that salvation comes. It is in His name that we have victory over death. It is in His name that we can live lives that glorify God. It is not our churches, our doctrines, our knowledge or wisdom, our wealth or health, but it is in the name of the Son of God.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

July 24, 2012

Matthew 5:37 NASB

“But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; and anything beyond these is of evil.”

Personal Challenge...

I recently had a conversation with a man that is a leader in a ministry. I was sharing with him some insights that I had into the operations of the ministry that were not ethical or godly. As a matter of fact the expectations from the ethics training for my secular company far exceeded these operations. His comment was something like, "But David, look at all of the people the are being touched by our ministry. Even if we are only 30% right in what we are doing isn't it worth it to touch all of these people." To be honest with you, I was shocked. As Christians we are commanded to speak the truth at all times, to live our lives as personal representatives of God. The ends never do justify the means. Not in God's kingdom. It is harder to do things God's way, to stand up for what is right, to be ethical and moral in our actions as much as we are in our sermons. Lord have mercy on those who have chosen to dilute God's truth in order to gain "bigger" results.

Monday, July 23, 2012

July 23, 2012

Malachi 3:1-5 NASB

“Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the LORD of hosts. “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. And He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the LORD offerings in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD, as in the days of old and as in former years. Then I will draw near to you for judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers and against the adulterers and against those who swear falsely, and against those who oppress the wage earner in his wages, the widow and the orphan, and those who turn aside the alien, and do not fear Me,” says the LORD of hosts.

Personal Challenge...

How often have I longed for the coming of my Lord to take away the pains and sorrows of this earthly life? Yet how much do I have to realize that maybe I am not yet ready for His arrival. His desire is that I pursue Him with all of my heart, soul and mind; that I desire to be at His business in all that I do. How often does my yearning for His return become a hindrance to my being with Him in the midst of the labors that He has ordained for me to do. My journey of theosis can be one that is drawing me closer to Him, if I give up of myself and my desires...even my desire for His return. Have I really accomplished that which He has ordained me to do? Have I really become the righteous child that He wants me to be? If not, since not, then I must become less as He becomes more.

Friday, July 20, 2012

July 20, 2012

Proverbs 17:14 NASB

The beginning of strife is like letting out water, So abandon the quarrel before it breaks out.

Personal Challenge...

I cannot recall how many times I have allowed myself to keep going in an argument or disagreement and find myself at a place where far too much has been said and feelings irreparably damaged. What good advise the writer of Proverbs gives us...abandon the quarrel before it breaks out. Sometimes that means just being quiet, sometimes it means sincerely apologizing ro my wrongs, sometimes it just means giving a hug. In all cases it is definitely worth it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

July 18, 2012

Psalm 34:1 NIV

I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.

Personal Challenge...

Is this where my heart and mind are? Not really. Is it my desire to extol the LORD at all times and to have His praise on my lips all fo the time? Not really. If I am to be a man after God's own heart then isn't this what my life should be like? Can I do what Paul challenged us to do, "Pray without ceasing."? It is possible to get to that point in our lives, but it will take work, and it will begin with a choice to do so followed by many more choices to continue to do so.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

July 17, 2012

1 Peter 2:12 NASB

Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.

Personal Challenge...

If you have been watching the news in recent weeks and months you will be aware of some storms brewing within the church due to misconducts of various church leaders. If you have been involved in the church as long as I have you will have seen this more times than you would have liked. I wish I had an explanation for why this happens in the church (other than the fact that the church is comprised of people like you and me), but what I do have is this verse, which charges us to live our lives in a way that is excellent amongst those around us. We are to live our lives in such a way as to point those around us to God, in ways that glorify and magnify God. If we live this way consistently then we can know that our Lord will guide us away from these types of actions.

Monday, July 16, 2012

July 16, 2012

2 Timothy 2:15 NASB

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

Personal Challenge...

Our journey through life is a Christian is not a journey of coasting along or floating through the gentle currents, instead it is a journey that is often filled with rapids and obstacles to be navigated. We are to be active workers in God's kingdom, working in such a way that we are not ashamed of our labors. Lord have mercy on me a sinner, for this is a journey impossible to navigate without Him at the helm.

Friday, July 13, 2012

July 13, 2012

Ephesians 6:7-8 NIV

Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.

Personal Challenge...

Who am I really serving, really working for? It is so easy to get caught up in our daily grind and forget who we are really doing our work for. It is so much easier to make it through a day of difficult and challenging work when we remember that our real boss, our real employer is our Lord. It is means that the work I do should always be of such quality that it glorifies my Lord.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

July 12, 2012

Romans 10:8-13 NASB

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, 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; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” 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; for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.”

Encouraging Words...

How is it that we have come to practice that the only revelation of God is that which has been printed on paper? Paul, who wrote this letter to the Romans years before there was a published Bible, tells us that the Word is near us, it is in our mouth and our heart God's Word most certainly comes to us through the written Word, the Holy Bible, but it also comes to us through the traditions and teachings of the church. I have been asked why am I interested in worshiping in a way, a method, that dates back to the first century. It is because even this is part of the Word of God, the Word that has been passed from generation to generation with little change. This living Word, this tradition, does not have to doctored up with multimedia or theatrical flare, because it is a way that has been handed from generation to generation. And through it all, what truly rings important is whether or not we believe in Him, if we call upon His name, confess and profess Him.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

July 11, 2012

Luke 11:28 NIV

He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

Personal Challenge...

This is Jesus speaking. Contrary to popular belief, the word of God that is referred to here is not just the Bible as we know it today. Yes, this is part of God's instructions to us, but we are also to be obedient to the traditions of the church and the teachings that have been handed down by those saints that have gone before us. The Christian life is one of submission and obedience. It is not about having it my way, but about me submitting and serving.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

July 10, 2012

Proverbs 16:32 NASB

He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.

Personal Challenge...

Theosis ("deification," "divinization") is the process of a worshiper becoming free of hamartía ("missing the mark"), being united with God, beginning in this life and later consummated in bodily resurrection. Our journey through life as Christians is the process of theosis, the process of being united with God. This journey involves challenges such as these presented in Proverbs 16:32, being slow to anger, ruling our spirit. Even through the challenges of living this way can be significant I am thankful for the opportunities that God presents to us to know Him better and to strive to be like His Son.

Friday, July 6, 2012

July 7, 2012

Psalm 100 NASB

Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth. Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing. Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations.

Encouraging Words...

In the Orthodox Church we view people, God's creation, as diamonds covered with mud. We are created in God's image and it is through our walk with Him, our journey through theosis, that the mud gets washed away to reveal His likeness. This is so much different than the perspective that we are heaps of dung. Try reading this passage and the rest of the scripture through the eyes of Orthodoxy and things will look so different.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

July 5, 2012

Psalm 18:32 NLT

God arms me with strength, and he makes my way perfect.

Encouraging Words...

"He makes my way perfect." I am sure that many read this in the expect God to give them a perfect life. However, it is His perfection that is being worked out in my life, not my perfection. If I am truly trying to walk in His path, to become more like Jesus, to grow in my theosis, then the perfect way that He make for me is His perfection. And all the while that He is doing this He is arming me with the strength that I need to follow in His path.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

July 3, 2012

2 Chronicles 7:14 NASB

and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Celebrating July 4th...

This statement was made to Solomon by the LORD, the Creator, Sustainer, Redeemer, after he had finished building the temple for the LORD and seeking His blessing. Our LORD wants to bless us, to bless our land, to bless His people, but He also wants us to pursue Him, to humble ourselves before Him, and to turn from our worldly ways. This is not about a country such as the United States, but about her people, especially her people that claim to be Christians.

Monday, July 2, 2012

July 2, 2012

1 John 4:15-16 NASB

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

Encouraging Words...

God is love...what a wonderful blessing its is to know that God is love and those who abide in love abide in Him. And how do we abide in Him, by confessing that Jesus is His Son. It is such a great mystery, but nonetheless, it is His work.