Tuesday, April 30, 2013

April 30, 2013

Ezekiel 1:29

This was the vision of the likeness of the Lord's glory. I saw it, and I fell down on my face, and heard the voice of One speaking.

Personal Challenge...

Since I have converted to Eastern Orthodoxy I have found that my favorite service is the Canon of St. Andrew. We use this service during Lent and it is full of prostrations. My first time of going through this service I found myself being proud and not willing to bow down that way. Then it struck me that every occurrence in the scriptures of God revealing Himself into the lives of our patriarchs and prophets resulted in faces being planted on the floor before the Holy of Holies. Who am I to stand up tall in the presence of my King? I am a sinner, impure and unworthy to be in His presence, and I must bow before Him in awe and respect for He is so glorious. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.

Monday, April 29, 2013

April 29, 2013

Matthew 24:35

Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.

Encouraging Words...

I grew up in a practice of the Christian faith where much was focused on looking for the end times. So many people were so focused on the belief that Jesus is coming any moment that many opportunities to serve Him were passed up. He promises here that no matter what happens to this earth, His creation, He and His word will remain forever. I should be focusing on doing what I can for Him in the here and now knowing that time is limited. I should be loving my neighbor as He has loved me.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

April 28, 2013

Zechariah 9:9

"Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Proclaim it aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King comes to you; He is righteous and saving; He is gentle and mounted upon a donkey, even a young foal."

Personal Challenge...

Throughout the scriptures I am reminded, actually commanded, to love my neighbor as myself, to be humble and to do all that I do in love. God is not asking me to do something that He Himself does not already do. Jesus, the Son of God, God incarnate in human form, the co-creator of all creation, chose to give up all that He had in heaven to be born as an infant in a lowly manger. He grew up dealing with the same issues in His life as I have, but the difference was that He chose not to sin. He did this to restore mankind, and me, to that state we were in before the fall and to defeat the power of death. He also did this to show me that I too can chose to not sin. This verse foretold that when He made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem the week before He would be crucified He again chose to do this in a humble way. He could have summoned all of the angels of heaven to escort Him in. He chose humility over pomp and circumstance and once again presents to me the example of how I am to live my life loving my neighbor...humbly, putting their needs first, speaking kindly but truthfully, magnifying Him. Glory be to God.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

April 27, 2013

Hebrews 12:27

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.

Encouraging Words...

This earth and all that is within it will pass away. However, God's kingdom, which has already begun through the work of Christ is and will be steadfast and unshaken. As a child of God I am now a citizen in this new kingdom and through the grace of God I can live a life that is unshaken, I too, however must live my life with grace to those around me serving my God with due reverence and respect for He is the one that is unshaken.

Friday, April 26, 2013

April 26, 2013

Habakkuk 3:18-19

Yet I will glory in the Lord;
I will rejoice in God my Savior.
The Lord God is my strength;
He will direct my feet to the end;
He will set me upon high places,
So to conquer by His song.

Encouraging Words...

Once again I am reminded that I am not going through this journey of life alone. By choice I have given my life to Christ and He is the one who leads me, gives me strength, and sets me on high places. And even though I still choose at times to ignore Him or to do things my way...He still speaks steadfastly into my heart and mind drawing me back to Him. O God forgive me a sinner.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

April 25, 2013

James 1:22-25

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

Personal Challenge...

God's expectation of me in this life is so clear...actively love Him with all of my heart, soul, spirit, and body and then apply that same love to my neighbor in word and action. I need to listen to His teachings and apply them. I must be willing to give up my own good for those in need around me. He wants me to be like His Son who gave all that He had for mankind.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

April 24, 2013

Isaiah 58:4-8

If you fast for condemnations and quarrels, and strike a humble man with your fists, why do you fast to Me as you do today, so your voice may be heard in crying? I did not choose this fast, and such a day for a man to humble his soul; nor if you should bow your neck like a ring and spread sackcloth and ashes under yourself, could you thus call such a fast acceptable. I did not choose such a fast, says the Lord; rather, loose every bond of wrongdoing; untie the knots of violent dealings; cancel the debts of the oppressed; and tear apart every unjust contract. Break your bread for the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house. If you see a naked man, clothe him, nor shall you disregard your offspring in your own household. Then your light shall break forth as the morning, and your healing shall spring forth quickly. Your righteousness shall go before you, and the glory of God shall cover you.

Personal Challenge...

Being a Christian is a verb, not a noun. God does not want me to be a Christian in name only, but to be one in action. He wants me to be active in His world reaching out and helping those in need. And this does not just mean writing a check so that someone else can do it. All the things that I do to practice my Christianity, i.e. studying my Bible, going to church regularly, serving on committees, whatever, are good for nothing if I am not going God's work in His world. This is a very sobering thought.

April 23, 2013

Proverbs 21:3

To do righteous things and to speak the truth
Are more pleasing before God than the blood of sacrifices.

Personal Challenge...

God does not want all kinds of worship activities, or Bible studies, or evangelism activities from me. He wants me to live a righteous life and to speak the truth. He wants me to live a life that reflects Him and not one that distracts from Him. My actions and the words coming out of my mouth should be indicative of my heart. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Monday, April 22, 2013

April 22, 2013

Proverbs 19:21

There are many thoughts in the heart of a man,
But the counsel of the Lord abides forever.

Encouraging Words...

God has blessed me along with the rest of mankind to be able to think and to entertain many deep thoughts. What a blessing this is, however, if I live there on my own, without the wise counsel of God I am destined to think errantly. The real blessing here is that the God of all wisdom, our Creator, is there to counsel and guide me in my thoughts and actions.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

April 21, 2013

Mark 10:43-45

"Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."

Personal Challenge...

It is so easy to forget that the true role of a leader is to server others, especially when our society rewards leaders for whipping their organizations, their subordinates into shape and delivering more for less. It is time that those of us who desire to serve our Lord, to represent Him in our daily lives, to start leading like Christ did, by loving our coworkers, respecting our customers and management, being truthful, and working as if our true boss is Christ...which He is.

April 20, 2013

Psalm 109:21-22 (LXX 108:21-22)

But You, O Lord, O Lord, deal mercifully with me for Your name's sake,
For Your mercy is good.
Save me, for I am poor and needy,
And my heart is troubled within me.

Encouraging Words...

As an adopted child of God He will deal mercifully with me. His mercy is good and complete. He will save me and protect me for without Him I am nothing.

April 19, 2013

Proverbs 17:29 (17:30 LXX)

Wisdom shall be imputed to a man without understanding who asks for wisdom,
And anyone who holds his peace will seem to have discernment.

Encouraging Words...

If I go to Christ, the source of all wisdom, seeking the wisdom that only He can give, I will receive it. Wisdom such as this will enable me to know when to speak and when to hold my peace. It will enable me to speak in love and not to lose my temper. Oh, how sorely do I need this wisdom.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

April 18, 2013

Proverbs 16:20 (16:18 LXX)

A man wise in his deeds is a discoverer of good things,
But he who trusts in God is the most blessed.

Personal Challenge...

If I try to live a life of wisdom, godly wisdom, I will discover, experience, good things. But if I add to this living a life of trust in God, then I will see His blessings in my life and be a blessing in other's lives.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

April 17, 2013

Proverbs 16:7 (16:4 LXX)

He who seeks the Lord will find knowledge with righteousness,
And those who seek Him rightly will find peace.

Encouraging Words...

How can I find true peace in my life? By rightly seeking the Lord. The Lord is the Author of the virtues of knowledge and righteousness. I cannot have the Lord in my life without these virtues and since He is the Author of these virtues I cannot have them without Him. If I seek Him, earnestly and rightly (knowing and believing these truths), then I will find Him and receive these virtues as well as the peace that He also Authors.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

April 16, 2013

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...

I love it how God does this...in the midst of the craziness of life, the challenges and difficulties that have begun to wear me down, the weariness...He presents this, my favorite passage, as part of the daily Orthodox readings. Chance...no way! Coincidence...they don't exist in His realm! Purposed and planned...YES! Thank You, Abba Father, for reminding me that You will renew my strength, that You will mount me up on wings of eagles, that You will sustain me at all times, through all seasons.

Monday, April 15, 2013

April 15, 2013

1 Peter 2:19-20

For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God.

Personal Challenge...

As a Christian I am asked, actually commanded, to endure hardship gracefully and patiently, especially if the hardship is aimed at me for not doing anything wrong. This is another way of saying that I am to love my neighbor even when my neighbor is persecuting me. All I know is that I cannot do this on my own. I do not have the power or the ability to live this way on my own...but I do in Christ.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

April 14, 2013

2 Timothy 1:12-14

For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.

Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.

Encouraging Words...

Paul reminds us through his letter to Timothy that even though he has gone through many ordeals for his Lord his belief has not waned. He has been able to keep his commitment to his Lord going steadfastly. He also makes it clear here that he is able to stay steadfast because of both the written and the oral traditions that had been handed down to him and that he was passing on to Timothy. What a rich past we have in our church through these traditions.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

April 13, 2013

2 Timothy 2:11-13
This is a faithful saying:
For if we died with Him,We shall also live with Him.
If we endure,
We shall also reign with Him.
If we deny Him,
He also will deny us.
If we are faithless,
He remains faithful;
He cannot deny Himself.

Encouraging Words...

Unless I deny Christ He will be with me through thick and thin. He always remains faithful even in those times when I become faithless. He is life, abundant life. Glory be to God!

Friday, April 12, 2013

April 12, 2013

Isaiah 29:13

So the Lord said, These people draw near to Me and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me, and they worship Me in vain, teaching the commandments and doctrines of men.

Personal Challenge...

Who is my practice of worship truly for? Is it for God or is it for me? Am I participating in my weekly "worship" service looking to be "moved" so that I can experience something "special" or am I entering into worship to submit to my God, to enter into His presence and join the host of angels worshiping His majesty? Am I continually looking for that special sermon, that wonderful oratory, which enlightens, blesses, and entertains me, or am I content stepping into the presence of my living God willing to give my all and desiring to receive nothing? The doctrines of man, the great oratory feats, the warm, fuzzy feelings from entertaining music and lyrics will all pass away...but the love of God, His peace, His kingdom will remain forever. What or Whom am I really worshiping?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

April 11, 2013

Isaiah 28:16

therefore, thus says the Lord: Behold, I lay for the foundations of Zion a costly stone, a chosen and precious cornerstone for its foundations, and whoever believes in Him will not be put to shame.

Encouraging Words...

The early church fathers viewed this cornerstone as a symbol of Jesus and the work that He would do. As the cornerstone in the foundation of His new church He would join two walls, the Jews and the Gentiles into a unified and glorious building, His church. In Jesus we have a chosen and precious foundation.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

April 10, 2013

2 Peter 3:9

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

Encouraging Words...

I grew up hearing the phrase, "Patience is s virtue!" on a regular basis. This verse reminds me tht this is not a virtue just for me to lear, but a description of one of the virtues of God. He is waiting to take me, His child, home so that I can continue to grow in His image, so that I can be used to spread His love into the world around me. If I am to live my life in a way to become more like Him (theosis) then one area that I will need to be growing in is patience.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

April 9, 2013

1 John 5:10-12

He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

Encouraging Words...

It all comes down to life versus death. Jesus came to earth as a man to defeat death. This testimony had been clearly seen by the people of His day, documented throughout history, and evidenced for the last 2,000 years. What more is needed? And the results of a person not choosing to accept this testimony is calling God a liar and a future of death. Jesus defeated death and I choose to rest in His victory. I believe that He is the Son of God.

Monday, April 8, 2013

April 8, 2013

Proverbs 12:1 (12:1 LXX)

He who loves instruction loves perception,
But he who hates correction is without discernment.

Personal Challenge...

I an never too old to learn something new. On this journey through life I am constantly presented with new learning opportunities, some secular and some God generated. I must embrace these opportunities for through them God can equip me better for the tasks that He has planned for me. Some of these learning opportunities come in the form of correction or discipline. I must learn to embface these as well.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

April 7, 2013

Mark 8:34-35

When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, "Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it."

Personal Challenge...

If my desire is to follow Christ then there is a price to pay. Taking up the cross of Christ means turning away from myself, my needs, my desires, and taking on the life that He has in store for me. The cross gives life, but living for myself takes life away.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

April 6, 2013

1 Thessalonians 4:13-14

But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.

Encouraging Words...

"Hope!" What a wonderful gift to be able to possess. With hope I can deal with the issues and challenges that life throws at me every day. With hope I can stand up for the truth even when my management or someone in authority expects me to bend it. With hope I can stand up for the underdog, those in need, those hurting when everyone else is berating them or ignoring them. With hope I can look to the future knowing Who holds it it in His hands. And for me, my hope is synonymous with Jesus Christ, because He is the source of my hope.

Friday, April 5, 2013

April 5, 2013

Proverbs 11:12 (11:10 LXX)

A man in need of discernment treats citizens with contempt,
But a man of discernment keeps quiet.

Personal Challenge...

This verse is a strong reminder that I should guard my tongue and only speak those things that build others up. If I cannot speak this way then the best alternative is to remain quiet.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

April 4, 2013

1 John 2:7

Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning.

Encouraging Words...

God's love for His creation has never changed. When John wrote this letter to the early church he was reminding them that the command that Jesus gave to love God and one's neighbor He was reiterating the commands that God gave many generations before. His command for us to live Him and our neighbor is our opportunity to become more like Him.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

April 3, 2013

Revelation 3:20

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

Encouraging Words...

As I have studied other religions in my life they all seem to boil down to man pursing their god. Their whole life is wrapped around trying to achieve or acquire something. Christianity is the only one where it is evident throughout the entire scriptures, through the incarnation of Jesus, and through His teachings that God is pursuing us, all of us, and all of His creation. What a powerful thought this is to dwell upon.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

April 2, 2013

Revelation 21:3-4

And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."

Encouraging Words...

For most of my Christian life I have been taught that this promise will come true in the future. I am now learning and understanding that this promise started to come true when Christ did come to dwell amongst us as incarnate man. I have that part of the promise to hold on to as the truth which gives me the ability to look forward to the fulfillment of the rest of the promise. Christ is alive and He has conquered death.

Monday, April 1, 2013

April 1, 2013

Genesis 6:22

Thus Noah did according to all the Lord God commanded him, so he did.

Personal Challenge...

As I read through the story of Noah it is so apparent that his righteousness is what saved him and set him apart to be used in a great way by God. This verse gives me an understanding of one aspect of righteousness...doing all that God commands me to do. Noah heard God and obeyed Him. Why should I think that I can achieve righteousness doing any less?