Sunday, June 29, 2014

June 29, 2014

Keep on keeping on...

Hebrews 10:35-36

Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:

Encouraging Words...

Living the Christian life is not for the weak of heart or those satisfied with the status quo. It is a marathon, an iron man, a climb up Mount Everest just to find another taller mountain on the other side. Why do we press through all of this? Because God promises us that there will be a reward in the life to come. And how do we press on? By holding on to the confidence, the faith, that He is Who He says He is, the "I AM!", and that He holds the future in His hands. Glory be to God!

Friday, June 27, 2014

June 27, 2014

What does our future hold?

1 Corinthians 2:9

But as it is written:
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

Encouraging Words...

In our modern day culture we spend so much of our time, energy, and resources putting away for that future dream. And if we are not careful our whole life passes and we are either gone or too frail to enjoy that which we saved for. We also miss so much of what God has put in our lives...especially our loved ones. Here we are reminded that our true "retirement", the true rewards for our labors of life, is held in the hand of our God and it exceedingly surpasses anything that we will ever be able to achieve or acquire in this earthly realm. Glory be to God!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

June 26, 2014 what cost?

Psalm 133 (132 LXX)

Behold now, what is so good or so pleasant
As for brothers to dwell together in unity?
It is like fragrant oil running down upon the beard,
The beard of Aaron,
Running down upon the border of his garment;
It is like the dew of Hermon, running down upon the mountains of Zion;
For there the Lord commanded the blessing
And life forever.

Personal Challenge...

Unity! What a blessing to strive for. It is so important to pursue unity in the life of a Christian that Christ and Paul both prayed that we would have it. We should be seeking it, building it, and protecting it in our homes, in our churches, where we work, in our communities, and throughout our world. We must be the initiators and sustainers of it as followers of Christ. And in order to do this we will most likely have to live sacrificial lives, putting others first. Glory be to God!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

June 25, 2014

What is the mold we let form us?

Philippians 4:8-9

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

Encouraging Words...

Paul makes it clear here that we are to be observant of the practices and traditions of our Church and to follow them. This command was given before the written Bible was collected and therefore reminds us that our walk in Christ is not only to be formed and informed by the Scriptures but also the traditions and teachings established and handed down farom those Godly saints that have gone before us.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

June 24, 2014

Is your life unraveling?

Proverbs 3:1-2

My son, do not forget my laws,
But let your heart keep my words;
For length of days, and years of life and peace
They will add to you.

Personal Challenge...

Our Lord wants so much more for us than we ourselves do. He wants us to have lives filled with peace, joy, and even abundance (His kind of abundance). But we must live our lives in such a way that He is the center of them and in so doing we will receive these blessings from Him. But as we choose to live more and more for ourselves we forget His laws and His commands and our lives begin to unravel.

June 23, 2014

The pursuit of knowledge can lead us astray.

Job 28:28

He said to man, 'behold, the fear of God is wisdom,
And to abstain from evils is understanding.'

Personal Challenge...

Why do we spend so much time pursing knowledge about God and His ways when the scriptures reminds us over and over again that wisdom comes from fearing, or respecting our Lord with awe, and doing what He commands live our lives in love? We try so hard to earn or acquire that which He so freely gives us when we live His way. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Monday, June 23, 2014

June 22, 2014

Faith without works...

James 2:19-20

You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?

Personal Challenge...

It is so easy to slip into the couch potato Christian mode and just base our salvation on our belief, our faith. But James makes it clear that if we are not exercising our faith by regularly doing God's work then that belief begins to die on the vine. Jesus made it clear that if branches of the vine do not produce fruit they will be cut off of the vine. We really do not want to join the ranks of the demons and just stop at belief.

June 21, 2014

Following in the footsteps of our Lord...

1 Samuel 15:22

Then Samuel said, "If only the desired whole burnt offerings and desired sacrifices were equal to the Lord, as compared to one who heeds the voice of the Lord! Behold! Hearing is better than a good sacrifice and obedience than the fat of rams.

Personal Challenge...

God wants so much more than our profession of faith or our practice of rubrics such as attending church, fasting, or doing things like studies and prayers. He wants us to hear Him, to obey Him, and to live lives of love. What does this obedience look like? Loving Him and loving our neighbor. All proper behavior, robust and accepted sacrifices, come from these two commands. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

June 20, 2014

Making it through the day...

1 Peter 5:6-7

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

Encouraging Words...

Wow! Couple this verse with the yesterday's verse of the day (John 16:33) and you have a powerful approach to living through each day of your life. To top this off, these daily verses are actually selected fairly randomly. God has a way of doing things like this, which is a way that He shows us that he cares for us. Glory be to God!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

June 19, 2014

The world has been overcome.

John 16:33

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.

Encouraging Words...

In the Orthodox Church we often discuss the fact that we live in two realms at the same time...the physical, earthly realm and the spiritual, heavenly realm. This verse seems to allude to this by telling us that as we live out our days in this temporal body, in this physical world we will have trials and tribulations...predominantly because we no longer belong to this world. Jesus affirms for us though that He has brought the spiritual world into this physical one and defeated it. Glory be to God!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

June 18, 2014

Obedience or disobedience?

Isaiah 1:16-20

"Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean. Put away the evils from your souls before My eyes. Cease from your evils. Learn to do good. Seek judgment and redeem the wronged. Defend the orphan and justify the widow. Come now, and let us reason together," says the Lord, "although your sins are like crimson, I shall make them white like snow, and although they are as scarlet, I shall make them white like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good things of the land. But if you are unwilling and disobedient, you shall be devoured by the sword," for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

Personal Challenge...

Am I willing and obedient or unwilling and disobedient? Do I take God's love for me for granted and live my life for me or do I receive it as a precious gift and share that love with those around me? My salvation is not all wrapped up in just saying some special prayer or proclaiming that I am a follower of Christ. It is to be an active salvation filled with action for my Lord, because of my Lord and His love for me.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

June 17, 2014

Can you smile at your enemies?

1 Samuel 2:1-2

And she (Hannah) said:
"My heart is strengthened in the Lord;
My horn is exalted in my God.
I smile at my enemies;
I rejoice in Your salvation.
Because no one is holy like the Lord,
No one is righteous like our God,
No one is holy but You."

Encouraging Words...

Our everything is found in the Lord. It is He who meets our every need and walks before us through our journey of life. He holds all creation in the palm of His hand and yet cares for us intimately. What a powerful thing to know and to believe as we head out the door to start our day. Glory be to God.

June 16, 2014

Living life confidently...

Proverbs 3:23-26 (26-29 LXX)

That you may walk confidently in peace in all your ways,
And your foot may not stumble.
For if you sit down, you will be without fear,
And if you lie down, your sleep will be pleasant.
And do not be afraid of intimidation when it comes upon you,
Nor of the attack of the ungodly when it comes at you;
For the Lord will be over all your ways,
And He will plant your feet firmly, that you may not be shaken.

Encouraging Words...

Shouldn’t this be the foundation of our entire life experience? Our Lord has promised us that He will never leave us or forsake us. He has promised that He will meet our needs, not necessarily our wants, but our needs. He has promised that He will be our Protector and send us a Comforter. If I confess Him as my Lord and believe in Him then if I truly want to fully experience Him and His presence in my life then I must live my life this way. In doing this it frees me up to focus on changing my behavior so that I live more like Christ, so that I purposely battle against the sinful nature that haunts me. It allows me to live my life in a way that glorifies Him and edifies others. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!

Monday, June 16, 2014

June 15, 2014

Go and do likewise...

Psalm 10:14 (9:35 LXX)

But You do see, You do perceive the suffering and pain,
That You might deliver them into Your hands;
Therefore, the poor man will be left to You;
You give help to the orphan.

Encouraging Words…

When God commands us to take care of the poor, the orphan, and the widow, He is not asking us to do something that He is not already doing. Throughout the Scriptures and the history of mankind God has taken care of those who could not take care of themselves. We should do the same.

Friday, June 13, 2014

June 13, 2014

Remembering the source of our strength...

Deuteronomy 8:18

Then you shall remember the Lord your God, for He it is who gives you strength, that you may gain power, and He may establish His covenant the Lord swore to your fathers, as it is today.

Encouraging Words...

Sometimes we get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of life or get pressed down under the burdens of all that we have on our to do list that we forget to take time out for our Lord. He is the source of our strength. He is the one that gives us the power to make it through the day. He is the one who established His covenant of peace and joy with us. Glory be to God!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

June 12, 2014

Saying "No!" before it is too late.

Judges 16:20

And Delilah said, "Samson, the Philistines are upon you!" So he awoke from his sleep and said, "I will go out as before, and shake myself free." But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him.

Personal Challenge...

The story of Sampson and Delilah is such a clear reminder of what happens in our lives when we flirt with sin. We start down a slippery slope and before we know it we have slipped so far from God that we are no longer empowered by His Holy Spirit. These actions always come from our choices. Whether it be that we choose to lie, or dabble in an addictive behavior, or gossip about others, or take something that is not ours, or...fill in the blank.. If we keep dabbling in this area we soon fall in love with it and switch our focus off of God and on to it. The result will always be painful and difficult. Just as Samson had to struggle to make it back to his former position we have to do the same and will suffer the consequences of our choice to sin. How much better it is to say "No!" the first time that little voice in our head tells us to do something that we know is wrong. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

June 11, 2014

Running to the true source of power.

Proverbs 18:10

The name of the Lord is of great strength,
And when the righteous run to it, they are exalted.

Encouraging Words...

It is not our righteousness or our running to the Lord that lifts us up, but it is the Lord and His strength. He is our shelter and our source of strength. It is only in Him that we can be lifted up from the drudgery and challenges of this earthly life and realm into His eternal life and heavenly realm. Glory be to God!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

June 10, 2014

You want me to be patient?

Psalm 62:5 (61:6 LXX)

However, be submissive to God, O my soul,
For my patient endurance is from Him.

Personal Challenge...

I have sometimes , actually often, wondered why I have such a hard time patiently enduring a situation. Well, here is a good hint to the core of the problem...not being submissive to God first. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

June 9, 2014

Keeping promises...

Deuteronomy 7:9-10

Therefore know, the Lord your God, this God, is a faithful God, who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments; and He repays those who hate Him to their face, to destroy them. He will not be slack with those who hate Him; He will repay them to their face.

Personal Challenge...

Our God is constant. He is never changing. He is faithful to those who love Him, even when we are not faithful to Him. He is also consistent with those who actively reject Him and hate Him.Thoughts that are both encouraging and challenging at the same time.

Monday, June 9, 2014

June 8, 2014

Walking as He walked...

1 John 2:4-6

He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

Personal Challenge...

These are pretty tough words to read. We are being called liars if we do not keep His commandments. And what are these commandments? They are to love God and to love our neighbors; basically to do everything in love. Do I get angry and short with the people in my life? Do I get involved in gossip about other people? Do I put down others so that I look better? Do I lift myself up and call attention to myself? If I do any of this then I am not walking as Jesus walked and I am a liar about being His follower. God doesn't look at how many books I have read, or how many creeds I can quote, or how articulate I can be about His teachings, but He does care about how much I am willing to love Him and others and then follow that love with loving, Christ-centered actions. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

June 7, 2014

Preparation for battle...

Judges 7:9-11

On that same night the Lord said to him, "Arise, go down against the camp, for I have delivered it into your hand. But if you are afraid to go down, go down to the camp with Purah your servant. Listen to what they shall say, and afterward your hands shall be strong and you shall then go down into the camp." And he went down with Purah his servant to the edge of the camp of the fifty.

Encouraging Words....

God knows us. He knows our hearts. He knows our fears. And He is willing to guide us through our endeavors, our battles, our challenges, gently and effectively to victory. He does not just demand that we go out and fight without first preparing us and the way before us. However, winning the battle is a joint effort. We must act. We must prepare for the fight. We must trust God and that He is our Protector. The early church fathers taught that the battles recorded in the old testament were metaphors for the battles that we fight in our lives against the passions of our flesh that lead to sin. What an interesting way to be reminded to prepare for the battle, to be equipped for the battle, and then to fight the battle with all the energy we can muster until the victory is won...theosis.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

June 6, 21014

Asking in faith...

James 1:5-6

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.

Encouraging Words...

We are promised that if we ask of God in faith that He will provide. The key here is not the asking and the providing, but the faith without doubt. If we are living out our faith in Christ then we will only be asking for those things that God wants us to have. This promise is not about God being at our beck and call, but about us trusting in Him so much that we don't desire things that are apart from Him.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

June 5, 2014

Being transformed...

Romans 12:1-2

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

Personal Challenge...

Our lives as Christians are to be transformed from worldly centered lives to Christ centered lives. This requires a transformation of our minds, which can only be accomplished through God's grace. We cannot do this on our own. Living this way will begin to draw us away from the ways of the world and toward the ways of God. Living this way will take work on our part, but it will result in knowing and living out God's good, acceptable, and perfect will in all that we do. Glory be to God.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

June 4, 2014

Making the impossible possible...

Luke 18:27

But He said, "The things which are impossible with men are possible with God."

Encouraging Words...

Oh what a curse it is to live in this modern age of "enlightenment". We treat everything that is around, us and that which happens in our lives, with reason and logic. In living this way we miss the opportunity to see God at work in His spiritual realm, which is all around us. God is the Creator of all and He has set everything in order and governed by laws of physics such as gravity, etc. And yet, as the Creator, He can bend the rules if He so chooses. This is what we would call miracles. In Jesus' time it was walking on water, healing the sick, bringing the dead back to life, turning water into wine, and so many other manifestations of the impossible becoming possible. Why do we not see this today? Because we apply logic and reason to the impossible and say that it cannot be. Oh how much of God's presence and work in our lives are we missing because of this. Father, open my eyes so that I might see, my ears so that I might hear, and my heart and mind so that I might believe in You, the doer of the impossible.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

June 3, 2014

It is Who we put our trust in that truly counts.

Proverbs 16:18 (16:16 LXX)

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

Encouraging Words...

It is a good thing to strive to live our lives in wisdom, to avoid and refrain from foolish things of this world. For living this way will lead us to the good things that God has in store for us. However, what is even more important than this is to put our trust in God as we choose to live wise lives and then we will receive His blessing as well. Glory be to God!

June 2, 2014

The true ladder of success...

2 Peter 1:5-7

But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self- control, to self- control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.

Personal Challenge...

Faith is just the beginning of our journey of theosis, or being in the image of Christ. We are to be striving to grow, to do good works that take us up the rungs of this ladder of spiritual growth. As we look at these verses we find that those things so often lifted up as the ultimate in godliness, faith and knowledge, are only the beginning steps of our journey. There is so much that must be done with these two virtues to be living in the image of Christ.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

June 1, 2014

A time to work leading to a time for rest.

Hebrews 4:9-10

There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.

Encouraging Words...

We have a promise here, a promise that if we remain in Christ we will someday enter into His place of rest, His kingdom. This implies that our days here on earth are to be days of work. Work for Him, work for our fellow humankind, work that draws others to Him and addresses the needs of our neighbor. What a glorious promise to look forward to.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

May 31, 2014

Fighting the good fight...

1 Timothy 6:11-12

But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Personal Challenge...

Living a godly, Christian life is a never ending battle. A battle of fleeing from the passions and pursuing the virtues as presented in these verses. As long as I am present in this body and living in this fallen world I will be fighting these passions. But by the grace of God we have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us to help us through these struggles.