Tuesday, April 29, 2014

April 29, 2014

Unity does not come from division.

Luke 11:17

But He (Jesus), knowing their thoughts, said to them: "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and a house divided against a house falls."

Personal Challenge...

I have always wondered how the modern, Western church could justify all of its splits and variations in light of this verse. It would be one thing if the variations were due to things like ethnicity (so that services could be in a common language) or cultural, but most of them are over differences of opinion, or interpretations, or just plan disagreements. How can this be reconciled to the teaching of unity in the body by Christ? There is one church that does have roots that go back to the first century church...the Orthodox Church. Come and check us out...come and see.

Monday, April 28, 2014

April 28, 2014

There is nothing to fear.

2 Kings 6:16 (4 Kingdoms 6:16 LXX)

So he answered, "Do not fear, for those who are with us are greater in number than those who are with them."

Encouraging Words...

Life has a way of encroaching upon us and pressing us down. Sometimes this happens from the results of our own choices and sometimes it comes just from life itself. Last week was probably the ultimate week of this encroachment. We finally closed on the home that we were purchasing...after losing the opportunity on the first home that we had an offer on, and needing to cancel our loan options twice, not to mention selling our home the week before and finding that we only had two more days to vacate the premises. Add to that a new job that I was supposed to start on Monday, just to have it delayed by one day due to a hiccup in the background check process. Then top off the week by the loss of my father late Thursday evening. God is so good though. He is greater than those who are against us. He provided the funds we needed to finish the home purchase process in 14 hours...a miracle. He provided the much needed help to make the move...thanks Ray and Bobbi, Israel and Julie, and David and Tammy for the much needed end of move food. And most importantly He took dad home to a much better place...a place that dad has looked forward to for so long. Now comes the time for prayer for my mother and the rest of the family, time to unpack and put our nest in order, time to ramp up and perform for my employer as my father taught me to. And with all of this there is no need to fear, for I know who my Lord is and what He is capable of.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

April 22, 2014

Seeking guidance and direction...

1 Kings 22:5 (3 Kingdoms 22:5 LXX)

Also Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, "Ask the Lord today."

Personal Challenge...

Jehoshaphat demonstrated the proper way to be submissive to God. Before making a decision he chose to seek out God's direction. It is so easy to just jump into something without first seeking God's guidance and His blessing. How many painful experiences would we avoid in our lives if we chose to live this way? Glory be to God!

April 21, 2014

Am I a healer or a harmer?

Luke 6:41-42

And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye?

Personal Challenge...

In the great commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves we are compelled to love our neighbor and be there for them. Sometimes, however, we take that to mean that we have the right to insert ourselves into their lives and to point out all of their faults with the intention to fix them. However, truly loving our neighbor can be better accomplished by looking at ourselves and fixing our own faults, removing the plank from our own eyes. Only then can we begin to speak into someone else's life. And if we are to be godly at this we should be speaking words of healing, love, and encouragement and let God do the correcting of others' faults. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

April 16, 2014

Wisdom or knowledge...follow where humility leads.

Proverbs 11:2

Wherever arrogance enters, there also is dishonor,
But the mouth of the humble meditates on wisdom.

Personal Challenge...

Why is it that in the modern day church we spend so much time acquiring knowledge so that we can impress those around us with what we know? I have seen this as such a challenge for those of us who convert from Western forms of Christianity to Eastern Orthodoxy. We must remember that it is more important to meditate on Wisdom rather than acquire knowledge. In Eastern Orthodoxy Wisdom in the Proverbs is considered to be Christ, so in our humility we meditate on Him and avoid dishonor. If we focus on knowledge, which is man-center we become arrogant, which leads to dishonor.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

April 15, 2014

Staying the course...

Psalm 37:23-24 (36:22-24 LXX)

For those who bless Him shall inherit the earth,
But those who curse Him shall be utterly destroyed.
The steps of a man are guided aright by the Lord,
And he shall desire His way.
When he falls, he shall not be broken to pieces,
For the Lord supports him with His hand.

Encouraging Words...

As children of God our steps are guided in the right path of life and our desires begun to turn to Him. Even though we stumble and fall along the path our God is there to catch us, protect us, and to set us back on His path. We must always keep our hearts and minds focused on Him so that we can see His ways and reach out to Him when we veer off of His path. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Monday, April 14, 2014

April 14, 2014

Standing in the middle as ambassadors.

2 Corinthians 5:20-21

Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Personal Challenge...

How is it that the Lord God Almighty, the Creator God, would be pleading through us? It is because He uses us as His ambassadors to be light and salt wherever we go, and in whatever we do, to bring people to Him. We are no longer of this world but on assignment here to point people to Him. He is so serious about this that He sent His only Son to be the ultimate ambassador. How am I living my life in this role? Am I pointing people to Him or causing them to turn away? Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

April 13, 2014

Building our legacy...

Luke 1:50

And His mercy is on those who fear Him
From generation to generation.

Encouraging Words...

Our God is a merciful and loving God. His mercies do not only apply to those of us who have given our lives to Him, but to the generations that follow us. He uses our faith to reveal Himself to our children, or children's children, and on through the generations that follow. Is this not a good reason to live our lives in a way that glorifies and honors Him so that our legacy is established in our families. Glory be to God for His mercy, His love, and His grace.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

April 12, 2014

Our trust and hope is in Him...

Psalm 40:4-5 (39:5-6)

Blessed is the man whose hope is the name of the Lord,
And who did not look into vanities and false frenzies.
Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders You performed,
And in Your thoughts there is no one who shall be likened to You;
I declared and said, “They are multiplied beyond number."

Personal Challenge...

Who am I to believe that I can understand and articulate the ways of the Lord? Who is man that he believes he can put God into a box and define Him by manmade doctrines and commentary? God's ways are far beyond us and that is why we are blessed for putting our hope in Him and Him alone. Our pursuit in life must be God knowing full well that we will never fully understand Him, but that He will always fully love us.

Friday, April 11, 2014

April 11, 2014

Living a crucified life...

Galatians 2:20

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the live which I now live int he flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Encouraging Words...

If we have given our lives to Christ, been baptized and chrismated unto Him, then we are no longer a part of this world. We have been crucified with Christ into His royal family and called to do His good works all the days of our lives through eternity. This can be accomplished because of Christ living within us and being filled by Him and His Holy Spirit. Glory be to God!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

April 10, 2014

Moving forward...

Isaiah 43:18

"Do not remember the former things, nor reason about the things of old."

Encouraging Words...

Life with the Lord our god is always a forward looking life. The early Israelites looked forward to the promised land and their coming Messiah when Moses lead them out of Egypt. Those in captivity in Babylon looked forward to return to their home land as well as their coming Messiah. We, in the present day Church, look forward to the coming kingdom of our God and the return of our Messiah. Life is to be lived in a forward motion leaving behind the things of our past that come between us and God and bringing with us those things that glorify Him.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

April 9, 2014

The power of the word, spoken or written...

Proverbs 12:18 (12:20 LXX)

There are those who wound with a sword as they speak,
But the tongues of the wise heal.

Personal Challenge...

The words that come out of my mouth can either offer up healing and comfort or strike down like a sword. This is even move true today with the advent of the Internet because I am removed from the presence of the one that I am speaking to or about. That removal often gives me a sense that I am doing nothing wrong to another and therefore emboldens me to speak even more harshly and abruptly. So, I must not only guard my tongue in today's age, but also my fingertips as well. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

April 8, 2014

Knowing where our home and possessions really are...

Job 1:21

"Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away. As it seemed good to the Lord, so also it came to pass. Blessed be the name of the Lord."

Personal Challenge...

I often wonder if I could be as submissive to the Lord as Job was. He held on to his material possessions, even his health and his loved ones, lightly...knowing that his time here on earth was short and that his real home was where all that he held dear really was. He still grieved over his lose but he never gave up on His God. What a lesson for all of us to trust God completely and to always have our vision set on our true home and our true wealth. Glory be to God!

Monday, April 7, 2014

April 7, 2014

Avoiding temptations...

Matthew 26:41

Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Personal Challenge...

There is no opportunity for us to claim, "The devil made me do it!" We are responsible for our choices to sin. If we want to avoid and/or defeat temptations in our lives we must be diligent and on the guard against them. Once again, the Christian life is not a lackadaisical life, but a life of diligence, waiting, and prayer.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

April 6, 2014

Sharing the hope that is within...

1 Peter 3:13-17

And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.

Personal Challenge...

As followers of Christ we will be asked what we are putting out hope in and why. Sometimes this will come from genuinely interested people who desire the same peace that we have. Sometimes it will come from those who want to drive us away from our Lord. In all cases we are to be prepared to give a response in meekness and fear, yet truthful and informed. In order to do this we must spend time with our Lord, studying His teachings and preparing ourselves to give a good answer. We will also encounter times when those around us will want to persecute us for our beliefs and our hope. We still must be prepared to give a good response from a position of meekness and fear so that our accusers will be ashamed because there is not wrong found in our lives. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

April 5, 2014

Loving others...

Luke 6:32-36

But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.

Personal Challenge...

Living the Christian life is not for the faint of heart. We are called to be merciful and loving...to everyone. We are called to be giving...to everyone and expecting nothing in return. We are called to be merciful as our Father is merciful. There is no room for judgment and legalism in our Christian lives, just as our God is not judgmental and legalistic with us. This is part of the reason that we practice traditions like Great Lent and fasting...to develop the habit of giving up of ourselves so that we can give to others. It is a discipline to help us to become more like our Lord Jesus Christ. Lord have mercy! Lord have mercy! Lord have mercy!

Friday, April 4, 2014

April 4, 2014

Are we living in the land, but not of the land?

Leviticus 18:1-3

Now the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, 'I am the Lord your God. According to the way of life in the land of Egypt, where you dwelt, you shall not do; and according to the way of life in the land of Canaan, where I bring you, you shall not do; nor shall you walk in their ordinances.'"

Personal Challenge...

When we give our lives to Christ and choose to follow Him as a member of His body He plucks us out of this world and puts us into His world, His kingdom. These verses are an image of how we are to live our lives. We are not to go back to the old ways that we lived before, but are to live as new creations under His new covenant. That old life is now the Egypt that He has rescued us from and that we are to leave behind. And since His new kingdom still exists in the midst of the temporal world as it is today, Canaan typifies the physical world around us that we are living in now while being members of His royal family. We are commanded to not take on the practices and beliefs of this world, this Canaan, as well. We are called to be set aside, set apart, living our lives for Him and for His kingdom. If we as individuals, or collectively as churches and bodies of fellowship, do not act and look any different than the world around us (Canaan), then we are not living for Him. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

April 3, 2014

Rebuilding the wall...

Nehemiah 6:16

And it happened, when all our enemies heard of it, and all the nations around us saw these things, that they were very disheartened in their own eyes; for they perceived that this work was done by our God.

Personal Challenge...

When people look at my life do they become disheartened in their own eyes? Why? Just as in the day of Nehemiah and the rebuilding of the wall, God is active in our lives. He is performing miracles and great things in and through us. He has granted us eternal life. He has filled us with the Holy Spirit and bestowed upon us both the fruit of the Spirit as well as our own unique spiritual gifts. Am I living my life (rebuilding the wall) in a way that when people look at my life they only see the mighty hand of God at work and become disheartened because they don't see Him doing the same in their lives? Oh, how I pray for the ability to live my life this way, to manifest Him in everything that I do and say, to become nothing so that He can become everything. Is this not His desire for us as well? Glory be to God!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

April 2, 2014

Actively seeking Him...

1 Chronicles 28:9

"And now, my son Solomon, know the God of your fathers, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing soul; for the Lord searches all hearts and understands every thought. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you forever."

Personal Challenge...

David reminds us here that a Christian life, a godly life, is a life of action. We are to serve God completely and fully. We are to seek Him aggressively and purposefully if we expect to find Him. He expects us to be active in our relationship wit Him and therefore with those around us.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April 1, 2014

Accepting His will...

Prayer for the Acceptance of God’s Will

O Lord, I do not know what to ask of You.
You alone know what are my true needs.
You love me more than I myself know how to love.
Help me to see my real needs which are concealed from me.
I do not dare to ask either for a cross or for consolation.
I can only wait on You. My heart is open to You.
Visit and help me, for the sake of Your great mercy.
Strike me and heal me; cast me down and raise me up.
I worship in silence Your holy will and Your unsearchable ways.
I offer myself as a sacrifice to You.
I have no other desire than to fulfill Your will.
Teach me to pray. Pray You Yourself in me.
Personal Challenge...
Every day I pray this prayer as part of my personal prayer rule. It is so easy to slip into a mode of repeating something by rote and failing to really let the words sink into our hearts, minds, and souls. As I process this prayer today we are in the midst of a very unknown time, with basically every part of a critical decision taken out of our hands. All we can do is wait, and wait, and wait, all the time watching the clock tick down to another critical event that has been set in motion and will definitely come to fruition. It feels like standing between two giant dominoes as you see all the rest of the line falling in your direction. So as I read this prayer again today am I just reading the words on the page or am I lifting them up to my Lord as a sacrifice to Him? Am I willing to give up my life, my desires, to Him as a sacrifice and trust that He will do the best thing for us at the perfect time? He has never disappointed or failed me. He will not start now. Lord have mercy.