Friday, February 28, 2014

February 28, 2014

Finding peace and patience...

Psalm 39:7 (38:8 LXX)

And now what is my patience?
Is it not the Lord?
And my support is from You.

Encouraging Words...

We can find peace and patience in the Lord. Not only is He the provider of our every need, but He also provides us the ability to wait upon Him patiently. If we submit to Him and His precepts, if we humble ourselves before Him, He will guide us through our trials and periods of waiting, patiently and lovingly. Glory be to God!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

February 27, 2014

A time of preparation...

Luke 6:27-31

"But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise."

Personal Challenge...

In the Orthodox church we are getting ready to enter into our season of Great Lent...40 days leading up to Pascha (Easter). This is a time of preparation for the greatness of the work that Christ did to free us all from death. So many people think that Lent is only a time for giving up. Indeed, part of what we do is to fast, but this is only a part of what we do in preparation for our remembrance of the resurrection of our Lord. This passage gives a glimpse into part of what our Lord wants from for our brother and sister. Come and see sometime and you will see so much more of what we do for this special season in the church. Glory be to God!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

February 26, 2014

We are not robots!

Genesis 24:8

"And if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you will be released from this oath; only do not take my son back there."

Encouraging Words...

At this point in the scriptures Abraham is sending one of his servants on a journey to find a wife for his son. It is clear through this verse and the ones that follow that Abraham, the servant, and Rebekah's family all honored and respected a person's free will. God created us with the ability to choose between right and wrong and then allows us to make that choice. He does not drive us as if we are robots. This is the depth of His love for us.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

February 25, 2014

Sparing nothing for God...

Genesis 22:10-12

Then Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham! Abraham!” So he said, “Here I am.” He then replied, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him, for now I know you fear God, since for My sake you have not spared your beloved son.”

Personal Challenge...

What does God want from us? He wants our all! He wants us to be willing to give up, to sacrifice, everything that is dear to us, even those things that He has miraculously given to us. If we are willing to do this it will keep us focused on worshipping Him alone and not these things. Abraham's faith in God was so strong and so deep that he was willing to sacrifice his son, a miracle given to him in his old age, because his Lord asked him to. Am I willing to do the same? Is it my comfortable home, or my regular paycheck, or my motorcycle or car, or my precious time, or what, that God is asking me to set aside for Him? In Abraham's case all God wanted was to know that he would be willing to give up his son. He did not want his son's life as a sacrifice, for He knew that through Isaac His own Son would be born and one day sacrificed for all of mankind and creation. Is our God more valuable than our stuff and ourselves? This is the question that He is asking us throughout our lives. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Monday, February 24, 2014

February 24, 2014

Never thirsty or hungry...

Jeremiah 31:25 (38:25 LXX)

For I have satiated every thirsty soul and filled every hungry soul.

Encouraging Words...

God is the source of all that we need. He meets the thirsts and hungers that are at the depths of our soul. Glory be to God!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

February 23, 2014

Journey through life...

Deuteronomy 5:29

Would they had such a heart in them so as to fear Me and guard My commandments all the time, that it might be well with them and their sons forever.

Personal Challenge...

After all that God had done for the people of Israel to lead them out of Egypt and to this point in their journey they were still attached to the things of the world and not able to look to the spiritual world, the kingdom of God, before them. Oh, how much we still do this today. We are also sojourners in a land that is not ours on our way to the promised land. Our Lord wants us to keep our hearts, minds, and desires focused on Him and that promise. We cannot that and also love, cherish, and worship the things of this world. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

February 22, 2014

Foolishness or wisdom?

1 Corinthians 1:25-29

Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.

Personal Challenge...

God's way of doing things is so much different than what we would expect. We look for the grandiose and the mighty to be the warriors and leaders for God. And yet He chooses a shepherd boy, the smallest and lowliest of of his family to build His kingdom and to be the forefather of our Lord. We would build His church by great leaders, orators, and influential men, bet He chose uneducated, calloused, and weather-worn fishermen, tax collectors, and other rabble to take His church from 12 scrabblers to what it is today. God continues to work that way today. He wants us to be humble and lowly before Him so that He can use us and so that glory of His great works magnify Him. Am I willing to bow low before Him so that He can use me for His glory? Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Friday, February 21, 2014

February 21, 2014

Fear not...

Isaiah 41:13

For I am your God who holds your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not.’

Encouraging Words...

We have nothing to fear in this temporal life except God alone. And the fear that we put in Him is that of loving respect and awe and not cowering, dread of judgment fear. We can live our lives this way because of who He is and the covenant that we are a part of. Glory be to God!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

February 20, 2014

Delighting in the Lord...

Psalm 37:3-5 (36:3-5 LXX)

Hope in the Lord, and work goodness;
Dwell in the land, and you shall be nurtured by its riches.
Delight in the Lord,
And He will give you the requests of your heart.
Reveal your way to the Lord,
And hope in Him; and He will do it.

Commands with Promises...

This passage gives us various commands of what we should do, or how we should live, and what the results will be. But before we apply some formula to God and expect Him to respond to us because we act a certain way, or do certain things, or speak the perfect prayer, we must understand how His promises work. We are called, above all, to love the Lord, our God, with all of our heart, soul, mind, and spirit. If we truly do this we begin on the path of humility and submission to Him and His will. As we grow in this humility and love for Him our hopes, our good works, our dwelling in the land, our delighting in Him, our ways that we reveal to Him will all shift to be more in alignment with Him and His will. Then the nurture that we will receive, the requests of our heart that He gives us, and the things He will do in our lives will be so much more different and fulfilling than if we seek our own desires.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

February 19, 2014

Wants or Needs?

Matthew 6:30

Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

Personal Challenge...

Why is it that we can trust our God to give us eternal live, to save us from the pits of hell, and yet not trust Him to meet our every need as He has promised us? Is it because deep down we do not really trust Him for anything and we just call out Him for "fire insurance"? Is it because we get too caught up in doing it all our way and relegating God to the back seat? Is it because we are focusing on our WANTS and not our NEEDS and angry at God for not giving us what we want? God does not lie. He has promised us in His scriptures and through the traditions of the church that He will take care of us. What we need to do is trust Him and ask Him to show us what our needs really are and to teach us to be thankful for that. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

February 18, 2014

Are we playing "Hide and go Seek?"

Jeremiah 32:27 (39:27 LXX)

“I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Shall anything be hidden from Me?"

Personal Challenge...

Why is it that we live our lives as if God does not know what we are thinking or doing? Is it because we have been able to master the ability to compartmentalize our lives and shut Him out (at least in our own thinking) from those areas we don't want Him in? Is it because we think we are greater than He is and that we can hide the dark recesses in our lives? Whatever the reason, it does not work. We can hide nothing from Him for He is God and we are not Shouldn't this give us the drive to live our lives basking in His light? Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

February 17, 2014


Psalm 27:13-14 (26:13-14 LXX)

I believe I shall see the Lord's goodness in the land of the living.
Wait on the Lord;
Be courageous, and strengthen your heart,
And wait on the Lord.

Personal Challenge...

Waiting on the Lord is never an easy thing to do. sometimes it is part of our theosis, growing in the image of God.

Monday, February 17, 2014

February 16, 2014

Never forsaken...

Deuteronomy 4:31

for the Lord your God is a merciful God. He will not forsake you nor annihilate you, nor forget the covenant of your fathers, which He swore to them.

Encouraging Words...

We so easily apply our limited and temporal perspective to the things of God, which are far beyond what we can comprehend and of the spiritual realm. When we hear of His mercy, His promise to never forsake us, His remembrance of the covenants that He has made with humankind we apply our experiences in our lives to this and look at it through the filter of the times that we have been abused or abandoned or mistreated or had love taken away from us. This is where faith steps in. Faith in the Almighty loving God. Faith in the work that Jesus did while being God in human form. Faith in His promises and covenants. Through this faith we begin to see God's mature and that He keeps His promises. Glory be to God!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

February 15, 2014

Believing is seeing...

Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Encouraging Words... is that core part of Christianity that sets it apart from other forms of religion. It is not about works, yet Christians perform great works as an outcome of our faith. It is not about all of the miracles and great things that have happened in the history of the church, but without faith we cannot accept these miracles for what they are, God acting in the midst of humanity. Faith is a core part of our created being. Even atheists, agnostics, and every other anti-God person is putting their innate faith in something, just not the Holy God that created them. Faith encourages us to press on.

The notes from the Orthodox Study Bible articulate this well:
This is not so much a definition of faith as it is a description of how faith works, especially during hard times. It encourages Jewish Christians discouraged by persecution. Things hoped for and not seen, a vision of the future, have encouraged the people of God throughout history: the invisible is often more real than the visible. In the past, mighty works of faith were done by those whose faith was unfulfilled. How much more should those persevere who have inherited the promise, knowing God under the new covenant (vv. 39, 40).

Friday, February 14, 2014

February 14, 2014

Drinking of the water of life...

Revelation 22:17

And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.

Encouraging Words...

What a wonderful way to end the written scriptures. The Holy Spirit and the bride of Christ pleading for His return and at the same time knowing that all of us who are tired and weary, broken and thirsty, can come to Him to drink in the water of life freely. We know that He delays so that more can find Him and know Him and His love for them. Glory be to God!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

February 13, 2014

Where is my light?

Luke 12:8-9

Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God. But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God.

Personal Challenge...

Am I living my life in a way that confesses/professes Jesus Christ as the Son of Man and Lord of creation? Or am I keeping it to myself out of fear of humiliation or retribution. To be confessed as a child of God's before the angels and God requires a life lived full of being out there with our love for Christ and professing everyone's need for Him. A light under a bushel quickly goes out. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

February 12, 2014

More than conquerors...

Romans 8:35-39

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written:
“For Your sake we are killed all day long;We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Encouraging Words...

In the Orthodox church we have entered into our pre-Lenten season. Right around the corner is Lent and our time to prepare for Pascha (Easter), the celebration of our Lord's victory over death by His own death. This will be my third Lent and each year the spiritualness of this season becomes more apparent. This is a time of repentance and mourning, looking back and looking forward, and a time that the enemy doesn't want us to partake in because it can draw us closer to our Lord. This passage by Paul is such a vivid reminder that no matter what is going on in our lives our Lord is always with us and that nothing can separate us from His love. Glory be to God!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

February 11, 2014

Our God is amongst us...

Isaiah 57:15

The Lord, the Most High who dwells on high forever, the Holy One among His saints, whose name is the Lord Most High, who rests among His saints, and who gives patience to the fainthearted and life to the broken-hearted...

Encouraging Words...

God is not some distant, uncaring, "man upstairs" nor is He a fickle, judgmental ogre that so many make Him out to be. He does dwell on high, far from where we mortals can reach, but at the same time He dwells amongst us, His saints. He encourages us, comforts us, gives patience to the fainthearted, and life to the broken-hearted. God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit loves and cares for His children, His creation. Glory be to God.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

February 9, 2014

Life under the Shepherd's care...

Psalm 23:6 (22:6 LXX)

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord to the end of my days.

Encouraging Words...

How do we define goodness and mercy? If we use the vocabulary of the world we will come with a list of blessings in our lives that are far different than if we use the vocabulary of God's heavenly kingdom. His goodness and mercy are eternal, they cannot be stolen from us or lost and they do not decay. It is important that we allow our mindset to be changed by the work of our Lord (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) so that it can be shifted from temporal desires and achievements to spiritual ones.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

February 8, 2014

Strength in meekness...

Numbers 12:3

(Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all men on the face of the earth.)

Personal Challenge...

Interesting that God would slip this parenthetical comment into the midst of all that was being written about what Moses was doing for the people of God. Our vision of Moses is often the Cecile B. DeMille character played by Charlton Heston...bold, virulent, and commanding. It is easy to slip into this mindset and expect that people who do great and mighty works for God are anything but meek. But isn't this the kind of person God wants us to be...meek and humble before our God and our fellow man. This does not mean that we are not strong when He needs us to be, but that strength must come from a heart filled with humility. If we live and operate this way, just as Moses did in his life, then any great and wonderful acts that God performs through us are His acts not our and therefore point to Him and not us. A hard lesson to take to heart when we live in a time that pushes us to look out for our own desires. Lord have mercy. Lord have mercy. Lord have mercy.

Friday, February 7, 2014

February 7, 2014

Resting in God...

Isaiah 30:15

For thus says the Lord, the Holy One of Israel:“When you return and groan, then you will be saved and know where you were. When you trusted in vain things, vain was your strength, and you did not will to listen.”

Personal Challenge...

When we go through our lives trusting in the things of the world (material wealth, recognition, knowledge gained, etc.) then all that we will achieve will be vain and will turn us further way from our God. However, when we return to Him in a spirit of repentance, seeking His forgiveness, He will save us from the vanities of temporal life and set us on His path of righteousness. Only then will our eyes be opened to see the vanity that we were entrapped in. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

February 6, 2014

In the pursuit of knowledge...

Proverbs 1:7

The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom,
And there is good understanding in all who practice it;

Encouraging Words...

Why is it that so many people make the pursuit of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding their god? Is it possible that it is because the true God is all wisdom, all knowledge, and all understanding and that if we pursue Him, first by fearing, respecting, and holding Him in awe, then we will receive His wisdom, His knowledge, and His understanding? The enemy, the prince of this earth, knows this and throws up the smoke screen of earthly intellectualism distracting us from the God and leading us down his path way from God. Let us stay the course by fearing God and receiving His wisdom and understanding.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

February 5, 2014

Pressing forward...

Psalm 9:10 (9:11 LXX)

And let those who know Your name put their hope in You;
For You, O Lord, do not forsake those who seek You.

Encouraging Words...

Our life here on earth is often portrayed as a journey. In a journey we are always pressing on forward toward our destination. The psalmist reminds us that the destination of our journey of life is our lord. We are to always be pressing on toward Him, seeking Him, and pursuing Him. The promise here from our god is that we will find Him, He will not forsake us, and that our hope can and should be placed in Him.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

February 4, 2014

Why do we eat the forbidden fruit?

Genesis 3:11-13

Thus He said, “Who said you were naked? Have you eaten from the one tree from which I commanded you not to eat?” Then Adam said, “The woman You gave me, gave me of the tree, and I ate.” So the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate."

Personal Challenge...

We were created in the image and likeness of God. Not only at the very beginning of mankind with the creation of Adam and Eve, but every time God knits together the fabric of a newly created child He creates that child in the image and likeness of Himself. We are not created with total depravity within us because that is not part of God's image. We are born into a broken and fallen world, and not the Garden of Eden, but nonetheless we are created in His image. Part of that image is the ability to chose between right and wrong, to sin or not to sin. It is possible to make the right choices and not sin. Jesus was fully human. He lived in this fallen world just like all of us. He dealt with trials and tribulations and temptations and desires like all of us. And yet, in all of His humanness He chose not to sin. He lived the perfect human life, the life that all of us were created to live. He is our example.

This passage fascinated me today and led me to consider the teaching of total depravity. Adam chose to eat the fruit that Eve gave him, and then when confronted with His sin blamed it on Eve. Eve blamed her choice on the serpent. Is this not also what the doctrine of total depravity does? Because of it I can say that I can't help myself because of Adam's sin, because of the belief that I am totally depraved. The truth of the matter is that I sin because I choose to, I see the fruit as more attractive than God. If I start here, then my confession and repentance is more real and genuine.

Monday, February 3, 2014

February 3, 2014

Traveling together...

Hebrews 10:23-25

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

Personal Challenge...

We are not on this journey of life alone. We have brothers and sisters in Christ that are a part of our journey and we are a part of theirs. There is no room for individualism in the kingdom of God. In fellowship we find unity. In unity we find the power to overcome difficulties. Through all of this we build each other up in our hope. Glory be to God!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

February 2, 2014

Having hope...

Romans 15:4

For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.

Encouraging Words...

The early church did not have the writings of the New Testament as we do today. Paul refers here to the Old Testament and that we can fined mankind's hope in the midst of them. They are full of promises and images of the coming of Christ and the hope that God's people held onto as they patiently waited for His coming. They taught of the patience of God's people as they waited for the fulfillment of His promises, but also of God who waited patiently for His children to return to Him. These are lessons from which we can learn today, even though we have Jesus in our presence and the fulfilled Scriptures to rely on. God still wants us to be patient and full of hope as we wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ, and He continues to be patient with us as we stray from Him. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

February 1, 2014

Living justified...

Romans 5:1-5

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Personal Challenge...

It is so difficult to truly understand the teachings presented in the scriptures when staying focused on using the modern and reformed ways of thinking that most of us have grown up with. These words were penned by Paul a century before the great schism between the church of the east and the church of the west, a century and a half before the western world went through the age of enlightenment and reason, and a century and a half before the church was reformed. But through all of this history there still remained and does to this day, a branch of the church that adheres to the eastern way of thinking...pre-schism, pre-enlightenment, and pre-reformed. What a joy it is to pursue Christ, to read His scriptures, to study the early church fathers (those who walked with Christ and passed on His teachings), and to practice the traditions as they did at the beginning of the church.

This passage speaks so differently through that filter, that mindset. Our faith in Christ makes us justified, which is an ongoing state of communion with Him. Being justified refers to an ongoing state of righteousness and not merely to a one-time event. This justification requires a redemption: a sacrificial offering capable of (1) setting us free from sin and death, and (2) uniting us eternally with righteousness and life. Christ is the sacrificial offering. Because of this ongoing communion, we have peace with God which is also ongoing. Faith is more than the conviction that something is true. Genuine faithfulness is continuous loyalty and obedience to God. Such faithfulness justifies a person through God's grace. (Notes taken from Orthodox Study Bible, pp 1528 & 1526.) Glory be to God!