Thursday, July 31, 2014

July 31, 2014

In the end...what really matters?


Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

Hear the conclusion of the whole matter:
Fear GodAnd keep His commandments,For this is the whole man.For God will bring every work into judgment,Including everything that has been overlooked,Whether it be good or evil.
Personal Challenge...

Here we have the author of Ecclesiastes, Solomon, looking back on his life of great wealth and diverse experiences, articulating that which is truly important. Fearing God, loving and respecting Him, and obeying His commandments. In his opinion these are the most important things that we can do in our lives. The commandments that we are to follow are to love our God and to love our neighbor. All life, all righteous behavior, can be found in these two commandments. But one of the important aspects that this passage points out is that we are not only held accountable for how we loved our neighbor, but also for the times that we overlooked as loving our neighbor. This is just as bad as doing or saying bad things to others. Have I neglected to say a kind word to someone in my life? Have I looked the other way when someone was in need? Have I kept more for myself when I could have shared with another? These sins of omission are just as bad as sins of commission. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

July 30, 2014

Watching our tongues...


Proverbs 10:19 (10:20 LXX)

You will not escape sin by a multitude of words,
But you of discreet lips will be forbearing.

Personal Challenge...

Throughout the scriptures we are reminded that loose lips cause all kinds of trouble. Here we are reminded that the more that I talk the more likely I will sin. We must be very diligent in refraining from overusing our mouths and underusing our ears. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

July 29, 2014

Filling our lives with good things...


Psalm 34:12-15 (33:13-16)

Come, you children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Who is the man who desires life,
Who loves to see good days?
Keep your tongue from evil,
And your lips from speaking deceit.
Shun evil and do good;
Seek peace and pursue it.
The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous,
And His ears are open to their supplications.

Command with a Promise...

Who amongst us does not desire a life filled with good days? I think it is safe to say that everyone does. Here the Psalmist encourages us on how we can live a full life comprised of good days. This is a gift from God, but one that He expects us to be active in. Active by watching our tongue and not speaking deceitfully. Active by running from evil and doing good things. And by this he means God's definition of evil and good...not our definition. Active by seeking out peace and pursuing it...at all costs. By doing all of this He will set His eyes upon us and hear our prayers. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Monday, July 28, 2014

July 28, 2014

No compromise...


Psalm 11:7 (10:7 LXX)

The righteous Lord loves righteousness;
His face beholds the upright.

Personal Challenge...

Even though our God is a loving, caring, merciful God, He is not a comprising God. It is our responsibility to strive for His levels of righteousness and uprightness. We cannot compromise our walk with Him and expect Him to do the same just because that is what the world around us wants. God wants us to love our neighbor and demonstrate to them His living gospel and we cannot do tis by watering down, and therefore compromising, His truths to make others "happy". This is difficult but nonetheless our calling to be salt and light in the world.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

July 27, 2014

Are we living our lives set apart?


Psalm 106:1-5 (105:1-5 LXX)

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good,
For His mercy endures forever.
Who shall tell the mighty deeds of the Lord,
Who shall make all His praises heard?
Blessed are those who keep His judgment,
And do righteousness at all times.
Remember us, O Lord, because of the goodwill of Your people;
Visit us with Your salvation,
So as to see it in the goodness of Your chosen ones;
So as to be glad with the joy of Your nation,
So as to praise You in the midst of Your inheritance.

Personal Challenge...

The purpose that God had for setting apart a people, His chosen ones, was to have someone to proclaim His love for mankind, to be the salt of the earth and the light of life. Are we not also set aside as followers of Christ to do the same? Who will proclaim His mighty deeds and make His praises known if not us? Our calling is to live our lives in ways that draw others out of darkness and into His light. We do not so this by being the same as those around us. We do this by loving our neighbor, proclaiming the truths of God, and being different than the world because we are no longer of the world. We live for the glory of God.

July 26, 2014

Help along the path of life...


Psalm 25:8-11 (24:8-11 LXX)

Good and upright is the Lord;
Therefore He will instruct sinners in His way.
He will guide the gentle in judgment;
He will teach the gentle His ways.
All the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth
For those who seek His covenant and His testimonies.
For Your name's sake, O Lord,
Pardon my sin, for it is great.

Encouraging Words…

We are not alone on our journey through life. Our Lord is there with us, instructing us in His ways, guiding us with His judgment, giving us mercy and truth. He cares that we grow in His image and become beacons to those around us. Glory be to God!

Friday, July 25, 2014

July 25, 2014

Drawing near to our Father...


James 4:8-9

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double- minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.

Personal Challenge...

Once again we find scripture that is filled with active verbs that describe what we are to be doing for our God if we are going to proclaim that we are Christians. Draw near to God, cleanse our hands of sin, purify our hearts, lament, mourn, and weep for the sin in our lives and for the lost in the world. Our Father wants us to be active in His kingdom and His world. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

July 24, 2014

Living free from the law...


1 Corinthians 6:12

All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.

Personal Challenge...

Because of the work of Christ we have been set free from the law and the grasp that sin and death had upon us. With this freedom comes the responsibility to live our lives with diligence and focus on the things of God. When we stumble along the way and sin before our God we are now under His grace and can have those sons forgiven. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

July 23, 2014

Balancing the ledger in life...


2 Corinthians 9:7-8

So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.

Command with a Promise...

We are commanded to give and we are promised to receive. This is not some earthly prosperity gospel. God's economy is different than our economy. First of all...Paul, and God, do not care what we give or how much we give. The focus is on how we give and the state of our heart in the giving. Second...what we receive back is not for our use or consumption but provided so that we have more to give back to God. Thy to put that one in the world's ledger books. Glory be to God!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

July 22, 2014

Getting on the right path and staying there.


Isaiah 26:7

The way of the godly is straight; and the way of the godly is prepared.

Encouraging Words...

As we strive to be more like Christ, spend more time with Him, love our God and our neighbor like Him, listen to and follow the guidance and promptings of the Holy Spirit, then we begin to see how He is making our paths straight and preparing them for us. Our walk in Christ on our journey to theosis is a synergistic walk. We must be pursuing Him, doing His will, in order to be on the straight and prepared path. And we must continue this process for there is no stopping and resting on our laurels. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Monday, July 21, 2014

July 21, 2014

Life in the flock...


Psalm 103:10-14 (102:10-14 LXX)

He did not deal with us according to our sins,
Nor reward us according to our transgressions;
For according to the height of heaven from earth,
So the Lord reigns in mercy over those who fear Him;
As far as the east is from the west,
So He removes our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him,
For He knows how He formed us;
He remembers we are dust.

Encouraging words...

Does this sound like the description of an angry, wrathful, judgmental Father? Not to me! God loves us too much to be anything but compassionate and merciful toward us. That doesn't mean that we don't have consequences for our wrong behavior, but even then, the consequences are part of His loving discipline to nurture us back into His ways.We are His sheep and He loves us and desires us to walk intimately with Him. Glory be to God!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

July 19, 2014

Bless the Lord, O my soul...


Psalm 103:1-6 (102:1-6 LXX)

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And everything within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His rewards:
Who is merciful to all your transgressions,
Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from corruption,
Who crowns you with mercy and compassion,
Who satisfies your desire with good things;
And your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
The Lord shows mercies
And judgment to all who are wronged

Encouraging Words...

Our God is so awesome. Even though we continually reject Him and pursue the things of the world He continues to pour out His love, grace, and mercy upon us. So many faith practices are based on a god, or a leader, that is angry, judgmental, and unforgiving. Even some of the faith practices that call themselves Christians actually portray God this way. But this is not who God is. He loves mankind, His creation, His children so much that He did whatever it took to redeem us from the grip of death. That is true, unconditional love. That is our heavenly Father. Glory be to God!

Friday, July 18, 2014

July 18, 2014

Where do we really abide?


John 8:31-32

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

Personal Challenge...

Our Lord expects us to spend time with Him, in prayer, in practice, and in study. We cannot abide in Him unless we take the time and do it. This becomes the life of a disciple. Through spending time with Him we can truly come to know the perfect Truth...Him, and experience the true freedom that He gives.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

July 17, 2014

Growing in the image of Christ...


Proverbs 17:27 (17:29 LXX)

He who refrains from uttering a harsh word is intelligent,
And a long-suffering man has discernment.

Personal Challenge...

Do we truly want to grow in the image of Christ? Then here is one step in that process...to refrain from using harsh words to, or about, those whom God has put into our lives. Also, by being long-suffering. Not easy virtues to pursue, yet nonetheless virtues that will move us closer to the image of Christ. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

July 16, 2014

He is our Hope...


Psalm 33:22 (32:22 LXX)

Let Your mercy, O Lord, be upon us,
As we hope in You.

Encouraging Words...

Oh what a blessing it is that we can put our hope in the Living God! He is our rock and our salvation. He is always the same and all powerful. He is the source of all life and He is our Lord! Glory be to God!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

July 15, 2014

Glorious gifts from God...


James 1:17

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

Encouraging Words...

God is the creator and owner of everything in existence. Therefore everything that I have, even down to every beat of my heart is a gift from Him. This alone should be enough to cause me to fall upon my face before Him in humility and thankfulness. He deserves my love and adoration because He pours His perfect love and adoration out on me every day. Glory be to God!

Monday, July 14, 2014

July 14, 2014

Deliverance...


2 Corinthians 1:10

(God),who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us,

Encouraging Words...

Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen! The work that Jesus did on the cross, His death, burial, time in hell, and resurrection were all done to break the bonds that death had on us. Jesus is the victor over death, both physical and spiritual, and through Him we too are delivered from this death. Glory be to God!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

July 13, 2014

Faithfulness in our blessings...


Luke 16:10

He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.

Personal Challenge...

All of life is a test...an opportunity for us to grow more in the image of Christ through situations where we can follow Him and discipline received when we don't. One of these tests comes in the form of stewardship and how we use that which God has given us. This is often thought of as money, or wealth, but can also be time, experiences, our knowledge or wisdom given by God, basically everything that we have or are. As for the money part, here is what the commentary in the Orthodox Study Bible says...
"The test as to whether God will bestow heavenly blessings (true riches) on a person is directly related to how that person spends his money. The money we consider our own is actually another man's, that is, belonging to God, or at least to the poor. The Fathers universally see a person's failure to give money to God's work as stealing: 'nothing less than embezzlement of money belonging to someone else' (Theophylact of Bulgaria)"

These can be sobering words or words that can encourage us to hold on to our wealth differently. Glory be to God!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

July 12, 2014

What am I doing with my blessings?


Jeremiah 9:23-24

Thus says the Lord: "Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, nor let the mighty man boast in his might, nor let the rich man boast in his riches." Instead, let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows that I am the Lord, who shows mercy, judgment, and righteousness on earth, for in these is My will," says the Lord. "Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, "that I will visit upon all the circumcised their uncircumcision."

Personal Challenge...

We live in such a blessed and prosperous time and part of the world. It becomes so easy for us to boast in the stuff that we have accumulated...that new car or motorcycle, that new home or second one by the lake or in the mountains, that new boat or other toy, that new promotion at work or position that we serve in...and chalk it all up to being blessed by God. Indeed God does bless us this way at times and sometimes, actually most of the time, it is the outcome of the blessing of when and where we live. Are those people who don't have any of this stuff above any less blessed? What about the 99% of the world that do not have our blessings? Are they any less blessed by God? What do we boast about? What do we put our hope in? What do we value more than God and our neighbor? These are the things that show to God how uncircumcised our circumcision (being set apart) really is. To whom much is given, much is expected. Am I using the blessings that God has given me to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to take care of the widow, the orphan, the poor, and those in need around me? Some day I will stand before my Lord and be expected to answer these questions. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Friday, July 11, 2014

July 11, 2014

That voice in my head...it is mine!


Galatians 5:1

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

Personal Challenge...

Why is it that those of us who are set free from the bondage of sin continue to sin? It is not because of Adam, or because of our nature, or that the devil makes us do it. It is because we choose the things of this world and the temporary pleasures that they give us over the things of God and the eternal rewards that they lay up for us. It is our choice that betrays us. However, by the grace of God, the work of Christ, and the gift of the Holy Spirit, we can choose to say, "No!" to sin and live a righteous and holy life. This takes work and persistence, but the results are far better than the other option. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!

July 10, 2014

What is the condition of my heart?


Luke 18:13

And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!'

Personal Challenge...

Am I living my life as the pharisee or as the tax collector? it is not that important what kind of life these two men lived up to this point. What was important was the condition of their heart and their perspective on who they were in comparison to the glory of God! We do not deserve His love and mercy, and yet He still pours it out upon us. We do not deserve to be in His presence and yet He invites us in. The tax collector had the right position in his heart...humility, and the right perspective on who he was in the presence of God...an impure and soiled sinner. This is where we should always start as we approach our Lord for He is so great, so pure, and so holy. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

July 9, 2014

Guidelines for daily living...


Psalm 15 (14 LXX)

O Lord, who shall dwell in Your tabernacle?
Who shall live in Your holy mountain?
He who walks blamelessly, and works righteousness,
And speaks truth in his heart,
Who does not deceive with his tongue,
Neither does evil to his neighbor;
And does not find fault with those nearest him.
He disdains those who do evil in his presence,
But he holds in honor those who fear the Lord;
He swears an oath to his neighbor and does not set it aside.
He does not lend his money at interest,
And he does not take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things shall never be shaken.

Personal Challenge...

I have often heard the question, "How does God want me to live my life?" Jesus set the standard by telling us to love God and our neighbor. But for some that is too vague. Here is one of those great nougats of information that tells us ways that we can love out this standard. Clearly, living this way does not give us our salvation and rescue us form the grip of death. Only the glorious and merciful work of Jesus can do this. But once we are redeemed this can be clear marching orders for how we should live our lives. Glory be to God!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

July 8, 2014

It is not about what I can give or do,
but about how I can be.


Isaiah 66:1-2

Thus says the Lord: "Heaven is My throne, and earth is the footstool of My feet. What kind of house will you build for Me? Or what kind is the place of My rest? For My hand made all these things, and all these things are Mine," says the Lord; "and upon whom will I show respect, but to the humble and the peaceful and to him who trembles at My words.

Personal Challenge...

There is nothing that I can do for the Lord, or give to Him, that exceeds what He already has. He doesn't want my stuff, which already belongs to Him anyway. He doesn't want my actions, which usually become tainted by my pride and sinfulness. He wants my heart. He wants my humility before Him and my neighbor. He wants the core of me and not my peripherals. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Monday, July 7, 2014

July 7, 2014

What is the real threat?


Acts 20:29

For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.

Personal Challenge...

We must always be diligent to keep our flock, the church, guarded and protected from those who would destroy it. Sometimes that destruction comes in the form of false teachers. More often it comes in out own behaviors, dividing over non-important things, backbiting or gossiping about one another, disagreeing with the leaders of our body because they don't tickle our ears, and the list goes on. If we focus on the unity of the body that both Jesus and Paul prayed for it is easier to spot those behaviors that attack this unity and deal with it. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

July 6, 2014

What form is our confession?


Matthew 10:32-33

"Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven."

Personal Challenge...

I have always read this passage to be focused on my profession of faith, my willingness to proclaim Jesus as my Lord. But could it not also be describing my behavior as I go through life and how it either confesses Christ as my Lord or denies Him? If I do things that are contrary to how God wants me to live (ignore the needs of my neighbor, gossip about others, lie, cheat, you name it) am I not denying that Christ is my Lord to those around me? This is a sobering thought. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

July 5, 2014

He is not playing hide and seek...


Proverbs 8:17

I love those who love me,
And those who seek me shall find me.

Encouraging Words...

Jesus is not some unattainable, elusive mystery. He is real. He lived on this earth fully as a human being. He laughed, He cried, He died. But He was also fully God. He did not sin; He allowed His life to be taken from Him as the Sacrificial Lamb. And then He rose again from that death breaking the bonds of death on every person who ever lived and ever will live. And He promises us that if we love Him He will love us and that if we seek Him we will find Him. Glory be to God!

Friday, July 4, 2014

July 4, 2014

Celebrating His freedom...


Psalm 18:46 (17:47 LXX)

The Lord lives, and blessed is my God.
Let the salvation of my God be exalted,

Encouraging Words...

As we celebrate this day of freedom in the United States we must remember that our true freedom, our eternal freedom, comes from our Lord Jesus Christ and His victory over death.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

July 3, 2014

Living a life of tension...


2 Corinthians 5:6-8

So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.

Personal Challenge...

There is always this tension in the life of the Christian...to be fully present here on this earth in this temporal body versus the desire to be in our new bodies with our Lord. In His wisdom He still has us here in this world and we should live our lives confidently for Him, knowing through our faith in Him, that He will be with us until that day we leave this physical realm. We can choose to live for Him in ways that bring us closer to that future reality. This is easier said than done, but indeed a part of our journey to theosis.

July 2, 2014

Which one are you?


Luke 10:2

Then He said to them, "The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.

Personal Challenge...

There are basically three ways that we can get involved in God's harvest...His mission field. First, we can all be "pray-ers" and pray for the laborers as well as those being witnessed to. Second, we can be "senders" giving of our resources so that more laborers can go out to do God's work. Finally, we can be "go-ers" and be those laborers in the harvest for God. In our prayers for laborers and the harvest we must listen carefully for the voice of our Lord for we never know when He might start telling us to "send" or to "go".

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

July 1, 2014

Living outside of the world, while inside of it...


Isaiah 33:13-16

"Those afar off will hear what I have done; and those near will know My strength." The lawless in Zion departed; trembling will seize the ungodly. Who will tell you a fire is burning? Who will tell you about the eternal place? He who walks in righteousness and speaks uprightly, he who hates lawlessness and wrongdoing, who gestures with his hands, refusing bribes, he who stops his ears from hearing the judgment of blood, and he who shuts his eyes from seeing wrongdoing. He will dwell in a high cave of a mighty rock. Bread will be given him, and his water will be plentiful.

Personal Challenge...

We are called as followers of Christ to live pure and righteous lives in the midst of a fallen, lawless, and ungodly world. God does not expect us to live this way without His help, but He does expect action on our part. We must choose this life and then continue to make choices that lead us to Him and protect us from the influences around us. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

June 30, 2014

Where are we focusing our hearts?


Psalm 86:12 (25:12 LXX)

I will give thanks to You, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,
And I shall glorify Your name forever;

Personal Challenge...

No matter what is going on in our lives, whether good or bad, we still have so much to be thankful for. Here the Psalmist reminds us to pour our whole heart, our whole being into thanks for what the Lord has done, and continues to do in our lives. We are to glorify Him at all times. This helps to take our minds and hearts off of us and our circumstances and put them on Him. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!