Friday, May 31, 2013

May 31, 2013

Psalm 119: 89 (118:89 LXX)

Forever, O Lord,
Your word continues in heaven.

Encouraging Words...

This verse makes me wonder...if God is never changing, always the same, and His word remains forever, then why is it that we have chosen to create so many variations of how we worship and follow Him? I know that we must adapt to fit our culture, but can't we do this without totally reinventing God and His Gospel? Even the old covenant as laid out in the Old Testament continually points to Christ and His new covenant. I believe that it is in our pride that we split off from each other and create our own doctrines and followings. I am blessed to be able to worship and grow in my faith in a practice of Christianity that strives to stay as close as possible to the way that it originally started over 2,000 years ago. Yes, I know that we too have adapted and adjusted but we have not really changed all that much. Glory be to God.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

May 30, 2013

Acts 10:34-35

Then Peter opened his mouth and said: In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.

Personal Challenge...

Our justification in Christ is not a one time event. It is an active, ongoing process. Through Christ and the work that He has done our faith in Him begins the process of justification. But God wants us to grow in our fear (respect and awe) of Him and our works of righteousness. As James also reminds us (v. 2:24) our justification comes through our faith in Christ and the works that we do flowing out of that faith. There are no couch potatoes in His household.

May 29, 2013

Hebrews 2:14-15

Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

Encouraging Words...

Why did Jesus become man? In order for Him to redeem man from the clutches of Satan He had to become a man and as a man defeat Satan on his terms. The only power that Satan had over mankind was death. Death entered God's creation through the sin of man, Adam and Eve. So why do we sin? The early church Fathers taught that it is because we fear death and its consequences. We want to get what we can out of life before we die. However, Jesus defeated death by living a sinless life and being put to death. He then confronted Satan and broke the bondage of death by coming back to life as the resurrected Christ. He has broken the power of death and therefore the power of sin for all mankind. Hence, I do not have to worry about death and I don't have to sin either. In Christ, through the Holy Spirit, I can choose to say no to sin. This is powerful and I need to hold on to this tightly.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

May 28, 2013

Romans 8:10

And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

Encouraging Words...

Because of the sin in my life my body, my mortal being, is dead and will someday be put into the grave. However, since I am a child of God, the Holy Spirit dwells within me and gives me life in the spirit...eternal life. This is the victory that Christ had over death.

Monday, May 27, 2013

May 27, 2013

John 6:68-69

But Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

Personal Challenge...

My desire is to come to this same place that Peter and the other Apostles were at in their lives...knowing that there is nothing else in life other than Jesus. I desire to believe and know Jesus to the point of abandoning all else in life for Him. This does not necessarily mean that I quit work and become a derelict for Him but it does mean that I do all of my work for His glory and give sacrificially for His kingdom. This does not necessarily mean that I become some recluse living in the desert pursuing Him, but it does mean that I pursue Him in every aspect of this life that He has placed me in. This is the die to self so that I can live for God and love others. Lord have mercy! Lord have mercy! Lord have mercy!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

May 26, 2013

Acts 3:19

Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,

Command with a Promise...

Salvation comes only through the work of our Lord Jesus Christ, but it does require action on our parts. We are commanded to believe, to repent of our sins and our sinful ways, and to be converted. Being a follower of Christ, a child of God, is an active life not a passive one. And some of the rewards of this active life is having my sins blotted out and having the Lord's refreshing presence in my life.

May 25, 2013

Psalm 139:23-24 (138:23-24 LXX)

Test me, O God, and know my heart;
Examine me, and know my paths,
And see if there is a lawless way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.

Personal Challenge...

What a bold request the psalmist offers up to our Lord. I know that I would not be able to ask my Lord to test my heart and examine my paths looking to see if there is any lawlessness within me. This is my desire to be found blameless, righteous, and free of sin by my Lord. I also know that this will only be accomplished by totally submitting to Him and letting Him reign supreme in my life.

Friday, May 24, 2013

May 24, 2013

Philippians 1:27-30

Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.

Personal Challenge...

Am I really a Christian? Am I really living my life in such a way that it speaks contrary to the ways of the world? Am I being persecuted by the world as Christ and the Apostles were because the life that I live screams against the atrocities and abominations in the world? It has nothing to do with my political views, because I must completely separate these from God's kingdom and His rule. It has nothing to do with my social views, because if I am following Christ's commandments then I am loving my neighbor, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and taking care of the widows and the orphans. It has nothing to do with my personal desires, agenda, or preferences, because I am commanded to live in the community, the family of Christ and to sacrifice myself for His body. So once again I must ask myself the question that cuts deep into my soul, "Am I really a Christian?"

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

May 23, 2013

Psalm 117 (116 LXX)

Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles;
Praise Him, all you peoples,
For His mercy rules over us;
And the truth of the Lord endures forever.

Encouraging Words...

Forever...a concept that is hard for a finite being such as me to comprehend. Regardless my God, our God, has always been, and always will be. And what comes with His eternal presence is eternal mercy and truth. Why wouldn't I praise my Lord? Why wouldn't I cherish the opportunity to live under His mercy and truth?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

May 22, 2013

John 6:35...

And Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst."

Command with a Promise...

Eternal life does not come without a price, a sacrifice. How wonderful it is to live a life without hungering and thirsting for those things that the temporal world can only provide temporarily. Peace, joy, fulfillment, love, satisfaction. These are some of the many fruits that are provided through the Holy Spirit. But there is a cost to receive these...we must come to Jesus and believe in who He is and what He has done The benefits definitely outweigh the costs.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

May 21, 2013

Isaiah 60:1-2

"Shine, shine, O Jerusalem, for your light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. Behold, darkness and gloom shall cover the earth upon the nations, but the Lord will shine on you; and His glory shall be seen upon you."

Encouraging Words...

No matter how dark and gloomy things in this world become, as a child of the living God, and through the work of our risen Jesus Christ, God will shine His light and glory upon me. He is my source of life and I can push through because of Him and His love for me.

Monday, May 20, 2013

May 20, 2013

Acts 6:8

And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.

Encouraging Words...

God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He is never changing. So why is it that Stephen and the Apostles could do so much more than we do today? They had faith, unfettered and unswerving faith in the Lord and what He could do through them. I want to have this amount of faith as well and I know that he wants to pour that out upon me. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.

May 19, 2013

Philippians 2:14-16

Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.

Personal Challenge...

Am I living my life in this way...not complaining or fighting? Is my light, Christ's light, shining into the world, or is it all about me? Am I investing in others' lives as Paul did so that some day I can look back and rejoice in the day of Christ rejoicing that my life, my race, was not in vain? Lord have mercy!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

May 18, 2013

1 Timothy 4:7-8

But reject profane and old wives fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.

Personal Challenge...

It is so easy for me to get caught up in those things that are temporal and of this world. In and of themselves many are not bad, but if I were to put as much time into seeking and pursuing godliness then I would be finding that which is profitable for both this world and God's kingdom. I believe God wants me to be balanced in my journey through life with Him.

May 17, 2013

Psalm 141:3 (140:3 LXX)

Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth,
A door of enclosure about my lips.

Personal Challenge...

Throughout the history of mankind the spoken word has been able to both build up and destroy. All through the scripture I am reminded to watch what comes out of my mouth and more importantly the state of my heart, which drives my thoughts and words. I believe this is even more critical today as I have social media available to me to speak out in a much more detached and anonymous way. Am I building others up? Am I speaking God's truth in love? Am I encouraging and supporting others? God have mercy on me a sinner.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

May 16, 2013

John 5:24

"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life."

Encouraging Words...

Jesus Christ, fully man and fully God, gave up His position in heaven to become man so that He could put an end to death. Through Adam death entered God's creation. Through Christ the grip of death upon creation was broken and destroyed. We are now called to believe in God through Jesus Christ so that we can become a part of this gift of life.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

May 15, 2013

Acts 4:13

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.

Encouraging Words...

It is not critical that I be highly educated or trained in doctrines or religious studies to be used by God. Although it is still good to always be learning more about my faith and the Church. Here we see Peter and John being recognized for their boldness to stand up to the religious elite. This religious elite even marveled at their abilities and boldness. To top this off they were able to realize that these men had been with Jesus. I too, through the power of the Holy Spirit, can be bold in my walk with Christ. He takes me as I am and uses me to build His kingdom. It is up to me to trust Him and say what He tells me to say, to go where He wants me to go, to do what He asks me to do...regardless of what others might think or say.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

May 14, 2013

Psalm 119:105 (118:105 LXX)

Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my paths.

Encouraging Words...

Living in today's world of modern conveniences and infrastructure we loose the power of this verse. Everywhere I go I have light to show the way...street lights, ambient city lights, whatever. I bet there are some people who have never experienced total darkness or total silence. Being a camper and a traveler to third world countries I have been in paces that are totally black when the sun goes down. It is in places like these that this verse comes to light (pun intended). In this dark and fallen world only God's word, the written word, the spoken word from our Fathers and Mothers, the traditions, that we get the light that we need to see our feet and to keep them on His path. We (I) must go through this journey of life with a total dependence upon Him.

Monday, May 13, 2013

May 13, 2013

John 2:9-10

When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom. And he said to him, Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!

Encouraging words...

One of the things that I love about Eastern Orthodoxy is how we see many of the things of God as mysteries. God is God and we are not. He does not need to reveal how He does what He does, or why, to His creation. Another thing I love is knowing that the scriptures are filled with symbology. How is it that so many Christians can believe that Jesus did indeed start His ministry in Cana by turning water into wine, but do not believe that He transforms the bread and wine of Holy Communion into His Body and Blood? The early Fathers, those who walked with Christ, saw this miracle as a prefiguring, or symbol, of what happens every time we take the Eucharist in Holy Communion. Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

May 12, 2013

Matthew 28:19-20

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.

Personal Challenge...

Once again I am reminded that I am not called to an easy chair life as a Christian. Look at all of the verbs in this short passage, "go", "make", "baptizing", "teaching". God wants me to be an active worker in the building of His kingdom and not just on Sunday mornings. Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

May 11, 2013

Matthew 5:16

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

Personal Challenge...

I am not being told here to let my light shine so that others can see my good works and congratulate me for what a good Christina I am. The purpose is so that they can see God through the works that I do. I should disappear in the process. This also implies that I am doing God's good works and not just mine. It is His kingdom that I have been adopted into and the works that I should be doing need to be of that kingdom.

Friday, May 10, 2013

May 10, 2013

Philippians 2:5-7

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.

Personal Challenge...

In these verses it is pointed out so clearly, yet so subtly, that we are to have the same mind as Christ Jesus, and that this mind is to make ourselves to be of no reputation, taking on the form of a bondservant, and submitting ourselves first to Him and then to the needs of others in love. Oh how far I have to go in my journey to live this way. Lord, have mercy!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

May 9, 2013

2 Timothy 1:8-9

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.

Personal Challenge...

Am I living my life as a prisoner of Christ? Am I living it so that I am not ashamed of Him or His message? Am I living it as one who has been saved from death and given a holy calling? Eternity is now and I am called to live eternally now.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

May 8, 2013

1 John 4:10-12

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.

Personal Challenge...

If Christianity could be boiled down to one word, if the manifestation of my life could be exhibited and summed up in one word, what would that word be? LOVE! Am I living my life in Christ in such a way that everyone sees God's love through my love? Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

May 7, 2013

Psalm 116:1-2 (114:1-2 LXX)

I have loved, because the Lord Shall hear the voice of my supplication;
For He inclined His ear to me,
And in my days I shall call upon Him.

Encouraging Words...

God the Almighty, the Lord of all creation, inclines His ear to me. He hears my supplications and responds to me. What an amazing thing this is that God loves me and the rest of His creation so much that He would send His Son to be born so that He could die. It was this death that allowed Jesus to arise victorious over death. And what does He ask of me? To die to myself for Him. It is through this personal death, and His power and grace, that I too can arise victorious over death. Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen!

Monday, May 6, 2013

May 6, 2013

John 20:25

The other disciples therefore said to him, "We have seen the Lord."
So he said to them, "Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe."

Personal Challenge...

The human will is a strong thing. Here we see Thomas, one who knew Christ well, walked with Him, saw Him perform His miracles, choosing to doubt His ability to defeat the hold of death. Our Lord loved us so much that He created us with the ability to believe and the ability to doubt.

I love how Olivier Clement puts it...


“As we read in the Prologue of John, there is light, but there is also darkness. God’s omnipotence is in love. And since love cannot be imposed without thereby denying it, this omnipotence—capable of creating beings that can reject it! - is also ultimate weakness. It can act only through human hearts that freely allow its light to shine through them. God respects human freedom as he respected that of the angels. But in order to keep that freedom from succumbing to the darkness, He becomes incarnate and descends into death, into hell, so that there could be a place where the will of man might unite itself to the divine will. That place is Christ. In Christ, the human will became painfully and joyously united to that of the Father. In the Risen One, seated at the right hand of the Father, the will of God is done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Olivier Clement, Three Prayers: The Lord’s Prayer, O Heavenly King, Prayers of St. Ephrem, pg. 24) (Thanks to Fr. Ted Bobosh and this entry in our parish bulletin.)

Sunday, May 5, 2013

May 5, 2013

John 1:12-13

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Encouraging Words...

Christ has offered to each and every person His light, His truth, and we have the choice to receive it as a gift from God or reject it. For those who choose to receive this precious gift we are given the right (not an inalienable right) or authority to become children of God through His adoption. This comes from believing in Him and trusting in Him. This receiving is an active ongoing relationship with Him. Our adoption does not come through our ethnic decent as with the Jews of old, nor by natural birth through our parents, nor by our own will, but by God's grace, through faith, and in the Holy Spirit. This adoption is manifested in the sacrament of Holy Baptism.

May 4, 2013

Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!

My dear friends and family. For those of us around the world who practice our Christian faith through the traditions of Eastern Orthodoxy tonight at the stroke of midnight we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Today we join our other brothers and sisters around the world, and from generation to generation, those who have already celebrated the resurrection of Christ on the Western calendar, and those of us who celebrate now on the Eastern calendar, to proclaim: Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen! He has come to this world to be the victor over death and to set the prisoner free. As the prophet Isaiah says...

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because of which He anointed Me. He sent Me to proclaim good news to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to preach liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind; to declare the acceptable year of the Lord, the day of recompense, and to comfort all who mourn; to give those who mourn in Zion glory instead of ashes, the oil of gladness to those who mourn; the garment of glory instead of a spirit of indifference. They shall be called generations of righteousness, the planting of the Lord for glory. They shall build the ancient deserts, raise up those formerly abandoned, and renew the desert cities that laid waste for generations." Isaiah 61:1-4.
May you be blessed by his living presence in your live and throughout the days of your journey toward eternity.

Paschal Greeting in languages
from around the world

English - Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!
Mandarin - Jidu fuhuo liao! zhende, ta fuhuo liao!
Tibetan - Yeshu kyarsön chesong! lakso chesong!
Serbian - Hristos váskrse! vaïstinu váskrse!
Haitian Creole - Kris la ki leve pami! Vreman vre LI LEVE VIVAN!
Thai - Pha Kristo Tiao klap pen kune m lèo! ting ting phra tong klap pén kune ma!

Greek – Christos Anesti! Aleithos Anesti!
Russian – Khristos Voskrese! Voistinu Voskrese!
Ethiopian – Christos Tenestaul! Awon Tenestaul!
Spanish - Cristo ha resucitado! Verdaderamente, ha resucitado! 
Latin - Christus resurrexit! Resurrexit vere!
German - Christus ist auferstanden! Er ist wahrhaftig auferstanden!
Romanian - Hristos a înviat! Adevărat a înviat!
Arabic - Al-Masih-Qam! Hakkan Qam!
Korean - Kristo Gesso Buhwal ha sho sumnida! Chamuro Buhwal ha sho sumnida!
Hawaiian - Ua ala hou ´o kristo! Ua ala ´i ´o no ´oia!
Eskimo Aleut - Kristus aq ungwektaq! Pichinuq ungwektaq!
Georgian - Kriste aghsdga! Cheshmaritad aghsdga!
Swahili - Kristo Amefufukka! Kweli Amefufukka!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

May 3, 2013

John 13:34-35

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

Encouraging Words...

Today is Great and Holy Friday (Good Friday) in the Eastern Orthodox Church. There are many readings in the scriptures for the day and these verses are in the first passage. What a special way to kick off the day that we observe to remember the passion of Christ...teaching us to love others as Christ has loved us. Is this not one of the main reasons that Christ came to earth as a man and walked the path to the cross...because of His love for His creation. He has shown us how to love and has given us a Helper to be able to love this way ourselves.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

May 2, 2013

Job 4:24

But hear me, O Lord, that I also may speak.
I will ask You, and please teach Me.

Encouraging Words...

By the grace of God, Job was able to go from hearing God to seeing God. Because of his righteousness God revealed Himself to Job. This is encouraging to me because I believe in the same God as Job did and He is never changing, therefore as I journey through my life desiring to be righteous, to be holy before God, He may someday reveal Himself to me as He did to Job.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May 1, 2013

Matthew 22:31-32

"But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living."

Encouraging Words...

Why in the world would I ever petition a saint? Here Jesus reminds us that those whom have gone before us are alive and in God's presence. Why wouldn't I reach out to them to speak to God on my behalf, to present my petitions to Him for me. I do not pray to the saints hoping that they can answer my prayers...only God deserves that honor and only He can answer my prayers. I reach out to the saints as if they are here and can pass my words on to God. It is only God that I worship, it is only Him that I fall down before in fear and trembling. Glory be to God!