Tuesday, October 30, 2012

October 30, 2012

Colossians 3:1-2

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.

Personal Challenge...

Through my baptism in Christ I have been raised up into Him. Why is it so difficult for me to take my eyes off of the things of the earth and set my heart and mind on Him? It can be done! It must be done! Lord, have mercy.

Monday, October 29, 2012

October 29, 2012

Psalm 35:22-23 (34:22-23 LXX)

You saw this, O Lord; do not keep silence;
O Lord, do not be far from me.
Arise, O Lord, attend to my judgment,
My God and my Lord, to my cause.

Encouraging Words...

Have you ever had one of those times in our life when you felt that you were being judged by everyone around you? This is a passage that I have held onto for a long time. God is my Judge, and God alone. He sees all, He knows all...both my right choices and the wrong ones. He will judge me fairly and because of His love and the work of His Son I will still be victorious over death. So it really does not matter how others judge me as long as I stay true to my pursuit of the likeness of Christ.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

October 28, 2012

Psalm 103:8 (102:8 LXX)

The Lord is compassionate and merciful,
Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.

Encouraging words...

I have often heard that the greatest commandment to mankind is to love the Lord my God above all else, and the second is to love my neighbor as myself. It make sense that these are the commandments to follow as I remember that God is love He is the source of all love and through His compassion and mercy to me I can love Him and others.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

October 27, 2012

Luke 8:16-18

“No one, when he has lit a lamp, covers it with a vessel or puts it under a bed, but sets it on a lampstand, that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light. Therefore take heed how you hear. For whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him.”

Encouraging Words...

I absolutely love it when a precious morsel of God's Word leaps out at me, especially when it is something that I have read over and over. "Therefore take heed how you hear." Jesus placed this statement between two sections on what is seen; the light and the lampstand on one end and what we have been given, which is physical, tangible, and therefore visible on the other end. Why did He do this? He is reminding me to be attentive in my listening and discriminating in my response. According to the notes in my Orthodox Study Bible, "I must not only hear, but hear properly." Is this not the reason I have been given the Holy Spirit? To hear God's spoken Word clearly, to read God's Word precisely, to be constantly changed by God's Word whether I receive it through the worship services and traditions that I participate in or the scriptures I read. In all of these I need to be in the Holy Spirit. In all that I do I must be intential at submitting to the Holy Spirit and His working in my life. Thanks be to God for showing me this short, six word morsel of truth.

Friday, October 26, 2012

October 26, 2012

2 Timothy 2:3-4

You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.

Personal Challenge...

If I am truly living my life for the Lord, glorifying Him, spreading His message to those who do not know Him, then I am living a life at war. At war with the enemy of the kingdom of God. At war with the norms that are around me. At war with worldly desires within my own heart and fleshly body. The more that I pursue a life for Christ with the attitude and understanding of a soldier the better I will be prepared for this war.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

October 25, 2012

Psalm 146:1-2 (145:1-2 LXX)

Praise the Lord, O my soul.
I shall praise the Lord while I live;
I shall sing to my God as long as I exist.

Encouraging Words...

Our Lord, Our God, is worthy of our constant praises and songs lifted up to Him. As I praise Him my focus shifts from me to Him, from the temporal to the heavenly.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

October 24, 2012

Psalm 111:10 (110:10 LXX)

The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord;
A good understanding is in all who practice it.
His praise continues unto ages of ages.

Personal Challenge...

In a day and age where wisdom and knowledge are touted as the end all we are reminded they must be rooted in the right foundation to be of any true value. That foundation is the fear (respect, awe, trust) of the Lord our God and Creator. Any other foundation than that is bound to crumble.

This verse reminds me of the homes that we built in Haiti after the earthquake of 2010. The foundation for the concrete that we mixed, the mortar that we used to tie them together, and even the key element of the blocks themselves was the sand that we used. Those who used the cheapest, most readily available sand, which was powdery and non-binding built structures that fell apart in the tempest. Those built of the right foundational material, the harder to find material, the more costly material, will stand through the tempests thrown their way.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

October 23, 2012

Colossians 1:9-12

For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.

Encouraging Words...

One of the traditions/teachings of the Orthodox church is that when we fall asleep in the Lord we enter into His presence in eternity. We are henceforth living in eternity with Him and this is the reason we can reach out to those whom have gone before us to petition our Lord on our behalf. I can see Paul lifting up this prayer on behalf of all Christians yesterday, today, and tomorrow asking our glorious God to quide us and protect us as we draw closer to Him.

This passage provides us a summary of progress in a truly spiritual life: from discernment of God's will (v. 9) to doing God's will (v. 10) with divine energy and virtue (v. 11), within the Church, the baptized and eucharistic assembly. In the apostolic tradition, this life is open to all the saints, not just to a few. (Orthodox Study Bible)

Monday, October 22, 2012

October 22, 2012

Philippians 4:11-13

Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Personal Challenge...

Contentment: that long sought after prize of every man, woman, and child. We have advertisers, politicians, preachers, and everyone else that you can think of selling us the latest gadget, program, or concept of what will provide us contentment. And here we find Paul giving is the ultimate true answer to contentment. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Contentment is not found in the stuff we accumulate, or the status and achievements that we acquire. It is not found is what I can do or what others can do for me. It is found in trusting Christ, loving God and loving our neighbor, making a choice to let go of how the world does things and letting God be our source...of everything.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

October 21, 2012

Philippians 1:2

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Encouraging Words...

Throughout the scriptures we, the readers, the faithful, are offered greetings such as this. Should I not follow this example and offer up prayers and blessings to those whom God has placed in my life. Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ to all whom I know, love, and care for.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

October 20, 2012

Proverbs 16:1
All the works of the humble are evident before the Lord,
But the ungodly will be destroyed in the evil day.

Personal Challenge...

Throughout the scriptures we are reminded that we are to be about God's work. What is critical in this is our thoughts and actions. When we go about our Christian lives with a sincerely humble spirit it pleases our Lord and points others to Him. However, if we do our work, even the work of the Lord, with a prideful attitude then the works become ungodly. Something to ponder and a reminder to keep checking the state of my heart.

Friday, October 19, 2012

October 19, 2012

Colossians 4:6

Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.

Personal Challenge...

Laura and I have often labeled this age that we live in the "Seinfeld Age". Sarcasm, putdown's, criticisms offered followed by "Just Kidding!" and snarky remarks are the normative way of speaking. But here we are commanded to always speak with grace to be loving and caring and building up in our speaking. If being a dedicated Christian means living a life that is "Set apart", different and conforming to the likeness of Christ then it must go beyond the fasts, or reading the Scriptures, or attending church regularly, and encapsulate both what comes out of my mouth and how it is delivered; with grace and love!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

October 16, 2012

Luke 9:23-24

Then He said to them all, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it."

Personal Challenge...

I am either all in or I am all out...there is no in between. If I choose to receive the salvation of Christ then my life must constantly be changing into His likeness. If it is not, then I am just basking in the glory of His work and am not one of His. This means that I am continually taking up my cross, which God has made unique to me, and bearing it for Him. Why? Because in so doing I am following in the footsteps of Christ, being refined, purified, sanctified by Him and for Him. And I do not just bear my cross for myself, but for those around me so that they may see Christ, just as when Christ was lifted up on His cross it was so that all would see God.

October 18, 2012

Philippians 3:8-11

Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Personal Challenge...

Paul gave up so much in order to be a disciple of Christ. He was of the religious elite, from a wealthy background, a figurehead in his community. And yet he cast that all aside to follow and pursue his Christ. Am I willing to do the same? Throughout the history of the church we have had so many who have stood firm in their commitment to Christ, martyred, persecuted, and minimalized. Am I willing to do the same? Am I willing to count all that I have, all that I am, all that I desire as loss so that I can gain the excellence of the knowledge of Christ? When I can truly begin to answer "Yes!" to these questions then I will be on the path of truly knowing Christ.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

October 17, 2012

Proverbs 17:1

Better is a morsel with enjoyment in peace
Than a house full of many good things and unrighteous sacrifices with quarreling.

Personal Challenge...

As a society we have become so focused on collecting stuff. Many times we find ourselves asking, "Why do I have this?" just to end up with no answer. We hear our politicians and often our religious leaders telling us that we deserve the best, we have a right to the pursuit of happiness, which usually comes in the form of more stuff. I have spent much time in Haiti, Thailand, Mexico, and China and have learned that more stuff does not provide happiness, it becomes a burden, a master over us. If we cannot be content and at peace with the small morsel then we definitely will not with the house full of many things. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Monday, October 15, 2012

October 15, 2012

Philippians 2:12-13

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

Personal Challenge...

Christ gave His life for mine. It is His work that makes salvation possible for me. But there is an obligation that goes with the receipt of this free gift; the obligation to work out by salvation. I can no longer just be a consumer of His grace and mercy, going to church each Sunday looking to be fed, entertained and taken care of, without being willing to contribute to the building of His kingdom with my time, my resources, my sacrifices. Salvation becomes a cooperative relationship with my Lord.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

October 14, 2012

John 17:3

And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

Personal Challenge...

Eternal life in Christ is not a single event but an ongoing work of Christ in our lives. It is not enough to just know Christ, but it is imperative that Christ dwell in our hearts and permeate every aspect of our lives.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

October 13, 2012

1 Corinthians 15:58

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

Command with a Promise...

The life of a Christian is supposed to be both static and dynamic. Static in that we are commanded to be steadfast and immovable in the teachings and ways of our God.We are not to allow the ever changing ways of the world cause us to falter on our commitment to our Lord. We must always remain strong and true to Him.

Dynamic in that we are not to sit on the laurels of our salvation but to be abounding in the works of the Lord. We should be helping in our family, church, and community. We should be proclaiming His word, feeding those who are hungry, clothing those who are in need, loving our family, friends, neighbors, and enemies. It is our responsibility to enter into the presence of our Lord tired and worn out from doing His work, not all rested up from waiting for that day to arrive.

Friday, October 12, 2012

October 12, 2012

Psalm 145:8-9 (144:8-9 LXX)
The Lord is gracious and merciful,
Longsuffering and abundant in mercy.
The Lord is good to all,
And His mercies are upon all His works.

Encouraging Words...

What a blessing it is to go through life as a Christian knowing that my God is gracious, merciful, longsuffering, and good to all. He loves His creation ..all of it, and desires that all will be renewed by choosing His Son. He is the God of love, of grace, of mercy...and I am His.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

October 11, 2012

Philippians 1:21

For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Personal Challenge...

This is probably one of the greatest tensions in a Christian's life...the Holy Scriptures and traditions of the Church give us so much to look forward to after we have left this temporal life. It is no wonder that those saints that have gone before us had such a deep yearning to be in eternity with Christ. Yes indeed, that will be much gain. However, we can have that glorious eternity in our lives today, and every day, if we live our lives for Christ, in Christ, by Christ's power and authority. And why do we remain here in this temporal confinement? So that we can proclaim Christ , glorify God, and share this Good News with all whom we come into contact with.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

October 10, 2012

Philippians 1:15-18

Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.

Personal Challenge...

We need more Pauls in the church today. He stayed focused on his calling to share and defend the gospel of Christ. But he was also able to look around and see that those who were trying to better him, one-up him, in their preaching of the gospel, were still preaching the gospel. Even if they did not quite have it right, or if they were doing it with the wrong motives, it did not matter because the gospel was still being preached. It is God who germinates and causes the seed to grow, not us. We need to stop bickering amongst ourselves in the family of God and start working together if we are to seize the world fo Him.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

October 9, 2012

Psalm 143:10 (142:10 LXX)
Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God;
Your good Spirit shall guide me in the land of uprightness.

Encouraging Words...

I have a Helper to guide me through this life and lead me to a righteous life. All I need to do is reach out to Him, follow Him, obey Him and life will be glorious. Hmmm, why do I keep doing it my way?

Monday, October 8, 2012

October 8, 2012

Philippians 1:6

being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;

Encouraging Words...

Once again I am reminded that I am not on this journey through life as a Christian alone. My Lord is active in my life. I may have not yet reached the righteousness that I desire, but I am promised that God is not done with me yet. He will be working in me, and through me, the remainder of eternity.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

October 7, 2012

2 Corinthians 9:6

But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

Command with a Promise...

Sometimes I am so abruptly reminded just how simple the laws of the new covenant really are. Basically they are to love the Lord my God with all of my soul, spirit, mind and heart and to love my neighbor as myself. From these basic commands flow everything including giving bountifully to my Lord and my God. And giving is not just from my wealth and abundance, but everything that God has blessed me with: money, resources, time, love for my neighbor...in other words, everything.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

October 6, 2012

Luke 5:31-32

Jesus answered and said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

Encouraging Words...

The work of Christ was to put an end to death, and in that work He provided healing for our ultimate sickness that leads to death. He came to lead us, His creation, into repentance and on to a live of righteousness.

Friday, October 5, 2012

October 5, 2012

Psalm 139:1-3 (138:1-3 LXX)

O Lord, You test me and know me;
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thoughts from afar;
You search out my path and my portion,
And You foresee all my ways.

Encouraging Words...

It is so encouraging to go through life knowing that my Lord is there with me, observing my ways, hearing my thoughts, guiding and protecting me all the while allowing me to exercise my freedom of choice. He does not force me to do anything, but He does allow me to experience the consequences of my choices...both good and bad. What a blessing!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

October 4, 2012

Ephesians 6:4

And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

Personal Challenge...

As a parent of adult children, especially children that are spread across the country and around the world, I often ask myself, "How did I do as a father?" Did I love my children in a way that showed them the love of God? Did I demonstrate to them a godly and righteous life so that they would desire to love that way themselves? Do I have any outstanding apologies that I owe them for the wrongs that I did in their lives? I love my children deeply. I miss them because of the miles. And I am extremely proud of each one of them and whom they have become as adults. May my God and my Savior be a blessing in their lives as He has been in mine.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

October 3, 2012

Ephesians 5:14-16

Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

Personal Challenge...

The quote in this passage is an early (first century) baptismal hymn, which reminds us that before Christ, before our baptism into Him, we are dead. It also commands us to be light in the dead world, to be an active part of God's redemption of His creation. We cannot do this by abandoning the world, or living like the rest of the world, but by living like the rest of the world, but living our lives in Christ, seeking Him, trying to be like Him, and being at the work of salvaging as much of the world as possible from the evil that exists.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

October 2, 2012

Luke 6:45

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Personal Challenge...

How is my heart? Is it truly focused on God and reflecting on Him or is it focused on the world? If I observe my actions, my thoughts, the words that come out of my mouth, I will have a good indicator of the state of my heart. And my response is...Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Monday, October 1, 2012

October 1, 2012

Ephesians 4:26-27

“Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.

Personal Challenge...

The Bible does not tell us that we cannot be angry, but it does tell us to not let anger rule us. We are given anger in order to respond to injustices, to the wrongs generated by the enemy of God, so that others can be turned to Him. However, we cannot allow this anger to take us over and therefore lead us to sin.