Thursday, January 31, 2013

January 31, 2013

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...

"And I shall be glad in the Lord." Joy...that elusive state of life that so many are pursuing. Joy does not come from the stuff I own, for if that is where I am seeking our joy I will be coveting what everyone else has because I think that what they have gives them joy. Joy does not come from my position in life, for if I look closely enough I will find that there are many in higher positions than me who have no joy and many more below me that have much more joy. True joy that is saturated with peace and contentment does not come from anything in this world that I can acquire or attain. It comes from the pursuit of the heart of God, living a life of humility and sacrifice, putting others around us first. True joy can only come from the One True God and not the god that I have created in His image. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

January 30, 2013

Psalm 102:17-18 (103:17-18 LXX)

But the mercy of the Lord is from age to age upon those who fear Him,
And His righteousness upon children's children,
To such as keep His covenant
And remember His commandments, to do them.

Personal Challenge...

Being a child of God does not come from praying some special prayer, or just saying that you are His child, or from buying it by giving to your church or favorite ministry. It comes from an ongoing, active life of seeking His heart and striving to be like Him. He wants me to fear Him, respect Him, obey Him, living out my salvation in my everyday life His way, not mine.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

January 29, 2013

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...

The Lord our God, the creator of all, loves His creation. That love is so deep and so wide that He was willing to give up His Son as a sacrifice so that His creation could be redeemed and restored. I cannot praise God enough for the mercies that He pours out on His creation and me.

Monday, January 28, 2013

January 28, 2013

Mark 8:11-12

Then the Pharisees came out and began to dispute with Him, seeking from Him a sign from heaven, testing Him. But He sighed deeply in His spirit, and said, Why does this generation seek a sign? Assuredly, I say to you, no sign shall be given to this generation.

Personal Challenge...

We are a part of 'this generation' that Jesus was talking about. We go to our church services looking for God to do something miraculous in our lives so that we can 'feel' His presence. We go to conferences, retreats, monasteries, even mission trips looking for that 'sign' from heaven. And what we fail to recognize is that 2,000 years ago we were given the Sign of all signs. God became man, lived amongst us, faced temptations and rejected them for holiness, gave up His life for all mankind and creation, and rose again to rule in eternity with His Father in heaven.

So why do we still seek a sign from heaven? Because we have not yet fully accepted and received the final sign given to us by God Himself. In my church we celebrate the entire liturgy as if we are standing in the presence of God. We are inviting the hosts of heaven to celebrate our God with us just as we desire to enter into the heavenly realm and celebrate our God with the hosts in heaven. We become a part of the one true Sign from heaven and go away with the ability to shine as His sign to those around us. Praise be to the Living God.

January 27, 2013

Matthew 22:37:40

Jesus said to him, 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. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.

Personal Challenge...

As humans we always are looking for the rules...the rules of the game, the rules of the group, the rules of life. Here Jesus gives us the simplest set of rules that you could ever find: Love your God and love your neighbor. Simple rules to understand and yet very complicated to master. Isn't this what our journey to theosis is comprised of? Learning to give up ourselves and to put God and our neighbor before love.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

January 26, 2013

Psalm 59:16-17 (58:17-18 LXX)

But I will sing of Your power,
And greatly rejoice in Your mercy in the morning;
For You are my protector,
And my refuge in the day of my affliction.
You are my helper; I will sing to You;
For You, O God, are my protector;
You are my mercy, O my God.

Encouraging Words...

What more could I add to this proclamation from the psalmist? Nothing, except that after living 48 years under the wing of my Lord, the psalmist definitely captured the truth about my God.

Friday, January 25, 2013

January 25, 2013

1 Corinthians 12:7

But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:

Encouraging words...

Throughout the letters of the New Testament we are informed of the spiritual gifts that are bestowed on those of us who follow Christ and have been baptized into Him. We are also told that these gifts are not for us, but for the building up of the body of Christ. This verse highlights that the Holy Spirit is manifested in my life through the gift(s) that He bestows upon me. This is powerful and makes it all the more important for me to discern these gifts and live within them...using them for His body.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

January 24, 2013

Psalm 119:37 (118:37 LXX)
Turn away my eyes that I may not see vanity;
Give me life in Your way.

Personal Challenge...

As the psalmist prays so should I. My desire should be that God will help me to look away from those things in my life that would tempt me to turn away from my pursuit of righteousness in my Lord. My prayer should be for His blessing of a life that is founded in His ways.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

January 22, 2013

Hebrews 4:13

And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

Personal Challenge...

Why is it that it is so easy for me to forget that my Lord is ever present? He knows my every thought, my every action. And yet I still do things that I know are wrong, whether in thought or deed, as if no one is watching me. Oh how fortunate I am that He is so loving and merciful. Lord Jesus Chris, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Monday, January 21, 2013

January 21, 2013

Psalm 63:8 (62:9 LXX)
My soul follows close behind You;
Your right hand takes hold of me.

Encouraging Words...

There is a reason to follow closely in the steps of my Lord...the closer that I am to Him the sooner I will be held by Him when He takes hold of me.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

January 20, 2013

Luke 18:40-41

So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be brought to Him. And when he had come near, He asked him, saying, What do you want Me to do for you?

He said, Lord, that I may receive my sight.

Personal Challenge...

Jesus knows our every need. He knew that this man was blind and yet He still asked him what he wanted. Jesus wants us to tell Him our needs, to reach out to Him in prayer. He wants us to have a dynamic, interactive relationship with Him. It is then that He answers our prayers.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

January 19, 2013

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...

This verse does not say that it is wrong to have "stuff" in our lives. It speaks to how I look upon this stuff, how I hold on to it. If my stuff, my motorcycle, my computer, my..., becomes my god then what I do with this stuff becomes unrighteousness and discontent and the environment of quarrelsomeness follows shortly. If I can be content with the small things and learn to hold on to them lightly, as if they are loaned to me to be a caretaker of them, then contentment and the environment of peace and enjoyment follows. Glory be to God for entrusting me to be His steward of His possessions.

Friday, January 18, 2013

January 18, 2013

Titus 2:9-10

Exhort bondservants to be obedient to their own masters, to be well pleasing in all things, not answering back, not pilfering, but showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things.

Personal Challenge...

We don't live in a day and age of bondservants, but we do live in a day and age of employer/employee arrangements. This passage so clearly applies to me and the work ethic that I must have with my employer, managers, and coworkers. I must regretfully admit that this is an area of my life where I do not always "adorn the doctrine of God my Savior in all things." Lord have mercy on me a sinner. Time to behave like a bondservant of Christ.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

January 16, 2013

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...

As long as I am living in this temporal I will stumble and fall. However, the God of my heart is my protector. He will always catch me and heal me as I run back to Him.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

January 15, 2013

2 Timothy 4:1-4

I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.

Personal Challenge...

In many of the Christian research circles today the term "consumerism" has been applied to those people that attend their church to be entertained, served, delivered what they want to hear the way that they want to hear it. They are consumers. Who would have known that Paul was exhorting Timothy to be prepared for this 2,000 years ago. One of the things that I have come to appreciate in the Orthodox Church is that our liturgy is the same one that has been delivered for nearly 1,600 years. It is not up to me to want something that tickles my itching ears or makes me feel good all over, but it is up to me to step into the traditions of my Church and meet God there. That is where true worship is found. This passage reminds us, actually commands us, very boldly to stand firm in the truth of the Church and to be ready to share it at any time.

Monday, January 14, 2013

January 14, 2013

Psalm 73:24 (72:24 LXX)

With Your counsel You guide me,
And with glory You take hold of me.

Encouraging Words...

As the psalmist so clearly reminds the God will guide me through life with His counsel. That counsel comes through His written word, through the traditions of the Church, through the wise advice of those whom He has placed in my life...past, present, and future, through the guidance of the indwelling Holy Spirit. He holds me with His glory and by His grace. What more could I ask for?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

January 13, 2013

Psalm 143:1 (142:1 LXX)

O Lord, hear my prayer;
Give ear to my supplication in Your truth;
Answer me in Your righteousness;

Encouraging Words...

Why do I pray...because my Lord hears my supplications. He is Truth and He will answer my prayers in His righteousness. He knows me and what is best for me and therefore His answers are always the right ones.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

January 12, 2013

Matthew 4:4, 7, 10

But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'"

Jesus said to him, "It is written again, 'You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'"

Then Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.'"

Encouraging Words...

Jesus was fully God, but He was also fully man...just like you and me. He was a man when the Spirit took Him out int the wilderness. He was a man as He fasted for 40 days. He felt the pangs of hunger and was truly tempted in His flesh by the greatest tempter of all. However, He denied the temptations, He exercised His free will to withstand the tempter, He used His training in the scriptures to defend His stand. And in doing this He gave us all the example to follow. We too are being lead by the Holy Spirit so we can rely on Him to help us be strong in times of temptation. We too have the power and authority to tell the tempter to go away. We too have the opportunity to practice fasting so that we can develop the power we need over our flesh and free will. Glory be to God.

Friday, January 11, 2013

January 11, 2013

2 Corinthians 4:7-10

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard- pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.

Encouraging Words...

With the grace of God being poured into us we have the poer of Christ in our physical lives where we are dying regularly to the flesh and being made alive in the Spirit. It is because of this living grace that we can press on through the things that the world throws at us.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

January 10, 2013

James 4:6-7

But He gives more grace. Therefore He says:

   "God resists the proud,
     But gives grace to the humble."

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

Encouraging Words...

All true grace comes from God, however, we need to submit ourselves to Him, humble ourselves before Him, so that His grace will flow more freely into our lives. Once we do this not only will we receive His grace but also we will be able to resist the enemy better.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

January 9, 2013

James 3:14-16

But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self- seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.

Personal Challenge...

Once again I am reminded that I must constantly be checking the state of my heart. I must purge all bitter envy and self-seeking thoughts, attitudes, and desires or my actions will be skewed in an ungodly way.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

January 8, 2013

Psalm 61:8 (60:9 LXX)

So I will sing praise to Your name unto ages of ages,
That I may pay my vows day to day.

Personal Challenge...

It is good to have a reminder once in a while from the psalmist to remember to sing praises unto our God for all that He does in my life.

Monday, January 7, 2013

January 7, 2013

James 2:26

For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

Personal Challenge...

God is the source of our salvation, not our faith or our works. But just putting our faith in God is not enough, that faith must be followed by works for Him.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

January 6, 2013

Titus 2:11-14

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

Personal Challenge...

I was purchased for a very expensive price...God in the form of man being sacrificed to redeem me form the grip of hell. God's grace, pored out through His Son Jesus Christ brings me my salvation. What should my response to this be? To live my life in such a way that I deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present, physical life, and look for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of Jesus Christ. He has redeemed me and purified me for Himself as one of His special people and I should be zealous to do good works for Him and through Him.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

January 5, 2012

Isaiah 55:10-11

For as rain comes down, or snow from heaven, and does not return until it saturates the earth, and it brings forth and produces, and gives seed to the sower and bread for food, so shall My word be, whatever proceeds from My mouth. It shall not return until it accomplishes whatever I willed, and I shall prosper your ways and My commandments.

Personal Challenge...

It is up to God what purpose His Word serves and when. Just as it is His decision as to what benefit the rain and snow will have upon His creation. It is up to me though, His follower, as to what I will do with His Word when He pours it out upon me. I can choose to use it for His glory, to build up His kingdom and those whom He has placed in my life or I can choose to use it for my own good, my own edification. Not only does God pour out His blessings upon me, but He also gives me the freedom to choose what I do with it. I must learn to choose wisely.

Friday, January 4, 2013

January 4, 2012

James 1:13

For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Personal Challenge...

Throughout the scriptures and the traditions of the Church we are reminded that there is only One that has the right to judge mankind, and it is not us. My role as a follower of Christ is to show mercy and reserve any passing of judgement to Him.

January 3, 2012

James 1:19-20

So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

Personal Challenge... a recent heated exchange with someone dear to me I explained away my behavior as being passionate and therefore tried to justify my method of response. When is one person's passion interpreted by another as wrath? This verse is a timely reminder, actually a command, for me to behave differently in my relationships with those in my life. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

January 2, 2013

James 1:12

Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

Personal Challenge...

Even though Christ has come to redeem His creation from death we still live in a fallen world. It is in this fallenness that temptations arise. Part of my growth in Christ is to develop the strength to endure the temptations that well up from the flesh or from the evil one. It may be difficult, but the end results will make all the difficulty worthwhile.

I love how Yogi Berra enlightens us on the difference between theory and practice in this quote: "In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is." This could easily be applied to how we deal with temptations in our lives.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

January 1, 2013

Psalm 55:22-23 (54:23-24 LXX)

Cast your care upon the Lord,
And He shall support you;
He will never allow the righteous to be moved.
But You, O God, will bring them down into the pit of decay;
Men of blood and deceit
Shall not live even half their days.
But I will hope in You, O Lord.

Personal Challenge...

How do I ever know if I am doing the right things for God? Am I truly living my life in a way that honors Him or is it for my own sake? Am I treating those whom He has brought into my life in a godly, righteous way, or am I treating them in a similar way to those called out in the second half of this passage? I have come to learn in my few years of life that the answers to these questions do not typically come in the instance or situation where I am asking the question. I must look across a span of time and try to assess how am I doing at trying to live for my Lord. If I look at a single point in time the results will be skewed...either a good way or a bad way. If I look at multiple points then I will be able to better see what is my pattern, my propensity. And with all this said, the beginning and the end of this passage I am clearly told what to do..."Cast my care upon the Lord...I will hope in You, O Lord." Thank You Lord Jesus that You are my Rock and my Salvation, and that I can hide in You.