Saturday, September 29, 2012

September 29, 2012

Isaiah 40:29-31

He gives strength to the hungry, and sorrow to those who do not grieve. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the elect shall be without strength. But those who wait on God shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not hunger.

Encouraging Words...

Today I will be doing my sixth Iron Butt ride with two of my friends. A basic Iron Butt ride is 1,000 miles in 24 hours on a motorcycle. Some people think I am absolutely crazy for doing this, but to be honest for me it is really refreshing and a reminder of just what I am able to do. Also, I find time on my motorcycle presents a great opportunity to be alone with my God, aka meditation time. We would appreciate your thoughts and prayers along the way. I will try to post some updates on Facebook as we progress.

Friday, September 28, 2012

September 28, 2012

Wisdom of Solomon 6:1-3

Listen therefore, O kings, and understand;
Learn, O judges of the ends of the earth.
Give ear, you that rule over multitudes,
And take pride in yourself over a multitude of nations.
For power was given to you from the Lord,
And your lordship from the Most High,
Who will make a careful search of your works
And examine closely your plans.

Personal Challenge...

My initial thoughts on this passage was to call out the leaders of our country and remind them that they will be accountable for their actions, especially in this political season. This is still true, but this passage is also aimed at me. I am the leader of my household; how am I treating my wife? I am a leader in different aspects at my church: how am I being as a leader there? I am in a leadership position in my workplace; how am I glorifying God there? He is watching, He will examine my actions, and I will be accountable for how I represented Him here on earth in my lifetime.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

September 27, 2012

Psalm 119:2 (118:2 LXX)

Blessed are those who search out His testimonies;
They shall search for Him with their whole heart.

Personal Challenge...

Sometimes I wonder where God's blessings are in my life. And then I am led to a verse like this one and reminded that those blessings come from my pursuit of God. He will not pour out His blessing when I just sit around waiting for Him to heap them on. He wants me to search for Him; in His Word, in the teachings and traditions of the church, in fellowship with my brothers and sisters in His family. Christianity is an active faith that is always outward focused.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

September 26, 2012

1 John 4:4

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them (the false spirits and teachers of the world), because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. (Italics added)

Encouraging Words...

By the grace of God who dwells within us by the work of Jesus Christ we have the Holy Spirit bestowed upon us. Through this mystery we can overcome the world.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

September 25, 2012

Matthew 11:28-30

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Personal Challenge...

Have you ever had that feeling that you are out there all alone? Working. Doing what you think is what God wants you to do. All the while feeling like no one else is in the mix to help. But I must remember that it is not up to me to determine what work I am supposed to be doing. It is up to my Lord and my job is to listen to His leading and doing what He wants me to do. And the results of living this way? Rest! A lightened burden! Why do I keep trying to do it my way on my own>

Monday, September 24, 2012

September 24, 2012

Wisdom of Solomon 3:9

Those who trust in Him will understand truth, and the faithful shall continue with Him in love, because grace and mercy are upon His elect.

Encouraging Words...

Through Christ and His work truth, love grace and mercy are truly fulfilled and bestowed upon those who are faithful to Him.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

September 23, 2012

September 23, 2012

For He says:

    “In an acceptable time I have heard you,
    And in the day of salvation I have helped you.”

Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

Personal Challenge...

What are we waiting for? What am I waiting for? God as heard our cries for salvation, our calling out of the wilderness for His leading out of lostness and darkness. He has answered our calls and yet we continue to look for our help elsewhere; in the offerings of the world, in ourselves, everywhere but in Him. What am I waiting for? Now is the acceptable time!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

September 22, 2012

1 Corinthians 10:24

Let no one seek his own, but each one the other's well-being.

Personal Challenge...

Is my desire to be like Christ? Is my goal in life to be a righteous man? Am I trying to glorify God in all that I do? Then here is the place to all that I do in love and for the other's well-being. Again, it is not about me, but is about those around me that are the living icons of God.

My life motto has been:
   To be and do...
      All that I can...
         With others...
            For God!

Maybe it is time to step up and do this with all my energy.

Friday, September 21, 2012

September 21, 2012

Psalm 118:8-9 (117:8-9 LXX)

It is good to trust in the Lord
Rather than to trust in man;
It is good to hope in the Lord
Rather than to hope in rulers.

Encouraging Words...

Every political season I am amazed at how many Christians begin to proclaim their party and their candidate as the symbol of their faith. "You are not really a Christian unless you vote for...". The psalmist reminds us clearly that our trust and hope are to be in none other than our Lord, our true Ruler. Yes, we should exercise our right as citizens in this world but we should not equate faith in Christ to the things of this world.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

September 20, 2012

Ephesians 1:3-6

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.

Encouraging Words...

Our Father, the Creator of all, is truly sovereign over His creation. We are His and His love for us is eternal. As my journey through life has transitioned along the path of Orthodoxy I continue to be blessed by the explanations and teachings of the early church fathers that date back to the beginnings of Christianity. These notes from the Orthodox Study Bible help to explain these verse from their perspective.

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Everything comes from God, and everything should be drawn back to Him. God's original intent for the Incarnation was not redemption from the Fall but adoption as sons of God (v. 5), that is, deification. For when God contemplated creating the world, He planned on bringing it into union with Himself through the Incarnation of His Son, that is, through the Son's union with human nature. That is why St. Athanasius can say, “God became man that man might become god.”

The Father chose us (v. 4) in Him, the Son. Christ, who is God by nature, became Man by choice. If we choose Him, we, who are human by nature, become “gods” by grace. If we are in Christ, the Son of God, we are sons of God. Paul is not addressing individuals as such but us, the community, the Church. And he is not addressing the issue of human will in salvation but the will of God, which is that all are chosen (see Rom 11: 32; 1Ti 2: 4; 2Pt 3: 9). But being predestined (v. 5) by God does not nullify human will: in everything, God is the originator, the initiator; we merely respond, but our response is necessary. Becoming a Christian is not so much inviting Christ into one's life as getting oneself into Christ's life. What is true of Christ must become true of one who is in Him.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

September 19, 2012

Galatians 6:2-5

Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load.

Personal Challenge...

Christianity is an active faith that produces works that glorify God and touch the lives of those around us. I am reminded by these verses to examine my life, my relationships with my loved ones, my actions around my coworkers, even my thoughts about those whom God has placed in my life, and whether or not I am doing what I do for my God. Or, as is far more often the case, am I looking out for my own interests? The study Bible that I am using explains these verses this way:

     "Paul admonishes us to bear one another's burdens. But moments later, he notes
     that “each one shall bear his own load” (v. 5). Both are true. We are called to
     initiate caregiving in the Church, and not to be needless burdens to others."

I like how this points out that we are responsible for our actions, our works, but that responsibility comes in the context of the Church, our community.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

September 18, 2012

Galatians 5:24-26

And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Personal Challenge...

Wow! What an indictment fo the true condition of my heart. Have I ever really crucified my flesh with its passions and desires? Do I purposely, regularly walk in the Spirit, or do I choose to walk in the flesh? Do I go through life conceited, provoking and envying? If I am truly pursuing Christ, striving to grow in His image, then there must be radical changes in my life. I must be set apart for Him.

Monday, September 17, 2012

September 17, 2012

Psalm 111:4 (110:4 LXX)

He made a remembrance of His wonders; the Lord is merciful and compassionate.

Personal Challenge...

No matter how hard I try I can find no reason for every man, woman or child to not know of God. He has placed His essence in every aspect of creation. This may not mean that everyone expresses their belief in God the same way that I do, but who am I to judge others on their belief and even better yet, who am I to judge God on how He has chosen to touch others hearts. The Lord is merciful and compassionate.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

September 16, 2012

Galatians 6:14

But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

Personal Challenge...

I am nothing without Christ, I am everything in Him through the work that He did on the cross. Through His crucifixion, burial and resurrection I can be crucified to the world and its pull on me toward worldliness and sin. If I live my life in this power then I will only want to boast in Him.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

September 15, 2012

Psalm 104:33-34 (103:33-34 LXX)

I will sing to the Lord all my life;
I will sing to my God as long as I exist;
May my words be pleasing to Him,
And I shall be glad in the Lord.

Personal Challenge...

My God and Lord has taken such good and loving care of me throughout my life. My desire is to sing of Him to those around me. My prayer is that my words will always be pleasing to Him.

Friday, September 14, 2012

September 14, 2012

1 Corinthians 1:18

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Personal Challenge...

In light of this week's events (the release of a film slandering Islam and the following response that took innocent lives) I was moved by this verse to ask myself a question, "Am I a fool for Christ? Am I willing to defend and proclaim the message of the Cross even unto my death?" I do not condone either of the actions in this chain of events, but I am moved to assess my own commitment to my God and what He has done to save mankind, which includes me. Am I willing to be a radical for Him as those whom we often condemn are for their beliefs? Would I be willing to walk up to a man with a bomb strapped around himself and give him a hug in the name of Christ?

September 13, 2012

Galatians 3:28

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Personal Challenge...

This verse was written specifically to the members of the church in Paul's time. Apparently there was division and discord amongst the believers. Could this verse not be rewritten for the church of today: "There is neither Baptist nor Presbyterian, Catholic nor Orthodox, Methodist nor Lutheran, Russian nor Greek, there is neither evangelical nor fundamentalist, there is neither democrat nor republic nor libertarian; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Definitely something to think about.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

September 12, 2102

Luke 11:28

But He said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

Personal Challenge...

We live in an age where information is king, where information is prolific and often wrong. Because of this we have developed the ability to filter the information flowing at us and selectively chossing what we want to keep and what we want to reject. We are told here by Christ that our blessing comes from not only hearing the word of God but keeping it, meditating on it, applying it to our lives, living it out and letting it change and control us.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

September 11, 2012

Psalm 85:15 (86:15)

But You, O Lord, are compassionate and merciful,
Longsuffering and very merciful and truthful.

Encouraging Words...

We are commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves, to love our enemies, to put others first...even those who hate and persecute us for Christ's sake. We are not asked to do something that our Lord does not do Himself.

Monday, September 10, 2012

September 10, 2012

Psalm 70:6 (71:6)

By You I have been supported from birth;
From my mother's womb You have been my protector;
My song shall be always of You.

Encouraging Words...

God has been actively participating in my life since my conception. He has always been my protector and provider, whether I was walking with Him or not. Why wouldn't my song be of Him?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

September 9, 2012

John 3:16-17

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

Encouraging Words...

The early church fathers (those who built the church in the first couple of centuries) taught that God created mankind with free will, and with that free will we have been given a choice to believe in Christ and follow Him or to reject Him and face eternal condemnation. If you read through the scriptures with this in mind then they look so much different than reading them from the perspective that we do not have a choice, that some are pre-chosen and some are not. Praise God for His love for mankind and providing us a way to be with Him throughout eternity.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

September 8, 2012

Proverbs 9:10

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. And the counsel of saints is understanding; For to know the law is characteristic of a good mind.

Personal Challenge...

Wisdom! Understanding! A good mind! All precious jewels to be sought after in our lives. We so often seek out our God and fear Him, and in that process gain His wisdom. We also read and study His law, His word, and from that gain a good mind. But what about the counsel of the saints, those whom have gone before us? Much of the modern church has abandoned this part of our pursuit of godliness and righteousness.

Friday, September 7, 2012

September 7, 2012

Psalm 46:10 (45:11)

Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth.

Encouraging Words...

Contrary to what is so often taught in many of our churches, knowing God is a two-sided activity. I must take action to know Him, I must slow down and be still so that I can hear His voice. He expects me to be an active participant in the relationship with Him.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

September 6, 2012

Galatians 1:10

For do I persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.

Personal Challenge...

I cannot have it both ways...pleasing God and pleasing men. These two ways are mutually exclusive, diametrically opposed! To follow God is to leave the ways of the world behind. This is what it means to be a bondservant to Christ. Am I willing to give up my all for Him?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

September 5, 2012

Psalm 33:18 (34:18)

The Lord is near those who are brokenhearted, and He will save the humble in spirit.

Personal Challenge...

Oh, how many times have well meaning Christians told me that I need to get closer to God in those times that I have been brokenhearted. "Read more scriptures!" "Pray more!" "Go to church more!" But this Psalm reminds me that it is in those times that I am boken that God draws near to me, that He wants to encourage and comfort me. Maybe an important part of our path to righteousness comes through the humility that comes out of being brokenhearted. Is my heart broken for Christ.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

September 4, 2012

I recently finished my read through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. September 1st is the beginning of the calendar year in the Orthodox church. I have decided to follow the readings of the church for the next year using the Orthodox Study Bible, which is the New King James Version with the Old Testament based on the Septuagint. As I do this I will be doing my verse of the day from these readings.

Psalm 31:8 (32:8)

"I will give you understanding, and I will teach you in the way you should walk; I will fix My eyes on you."

Encouraging Words...

I am not on this journey through life alone. God is there with me all of the way. He desires to teach me and give me understanding. Am I willing to receive it and let go of my desires?