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.