Tuesday, September 30, 2014

September 30, 2014

Giving praise and thanksgiving where it is due...

Psalm 100 (99 LXX)

Shout aloud to the Lord, all the earth;
Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before Him with great joy.
Know this:the Lord, He is God;
He made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving
And into His courts with hymns;
Give thanks to Him; praise His name;
For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth is from generation to generation.

Encouraging Words...

Since the early church fathers determined that the Wisdom that the Psalms and Proverbs speak of is Jesus Christ then this entire Psalm is ins praise and thanksgiving of Jesus Christ and who He is. He is our Creator. He made us in His image. He is God. He is our Shepherd. We are to shout aloud to Him in thanksgiving. We are to serve Him with gladness and great joy. We are His people, His sheep, and we are to enter the gates of His kingdom with thanksgiving and praise and the singing of hymns. He is good and merciful for all generations. Glory be to Him!

Monday, September 29, 2014

September 29, 2014

Plugging in to the true source of power...

Psalm 18:32 (17:33 LXX)

It is God who girds me with power,
And He made my way blameless;

Encouraging Words...

My power in this life here on earth, my position in eternity, has nothing to do with the position or title that I hold at work, or the rank or standing that I have in society, but everything to do with who I am in Christ. All of these worldly things are just that...worldly. The desires of my heart, the goals of my mind, should all be focused on my Lord for it is He who girds me with the power to make it through each day and lays out the path to righteousness before me. Glory be to God!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

September 28, 2014

Being heard from heaven...

2 Chronicles 7:14

if My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will be merciful to their sins and heal their land.

Encouraging Words...

So...does this verse say that if all of us who claim Christ as our King were to humble ourselves, pray, seek the face of God, and turn from our wicked ways that He will heal our country...America. Maybe! Maybe not! Maybe the land that will be healed is that of His kingdom here on earth. Maybe it is that spiritual realm that we coexist in. I am not sure. But I am sure that we are called to live this life for Him in whatever land we live in. We are called to be in unity and not the many divisions that we have today. We are called to put Him first, others second, and ourselves last. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Friday, September 26, 2014

September 26, 2014

Abiding in God and God abiding in us!

1 John 4:12-16

No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

Encouraging Words...

One of the many wonderful truths of Christianity is that God abides within us. We do not have to strive to become something different, or do some prescribed tasks or rituals, or wait until we die and hope that we are reincarnated at a higher level. How can we know God lives in us? John gives a fourfold answer: (1) if we love one another (v. 12); (2) if we have been given His Spirit (v. 13); (3) if we can confess Jesus is the Son of God (v. 15); and (4) if we abide in the love of God (v. 16). Jesus is our Lord and He will dwell within us and lead us through our journey of life to be like Him. Glory be to God!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

September 25, 2014

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death!

Romans 5:12-13

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned— (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.)

Encouraging Words...

The early church fathers taught that because of Adam's sin death became a regular part of every man's life. Because of sin...we die. They also taught that we sin because of the death, because when death entered the world we became mortal and in that mortality we sin. They did not teach that Adam's sin was imputed to us. We are responsible and accountable for our own sin. But the good part of this is that when Jesus was incarnated as a man, taking on fully our human nature, lived a sinless life, was crucified as an innocent man, and rose again the third day, He defeated death and therefore the sin that death brings into our lives. Through Christ our sins are forgiven and we can begin the process of living sinless lives. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

September 24, 2014

The journey through brokenness...

Psalm 147:3 (146:3 LXX)

He heals the brokenhearted
And He binds up all their wounds.

Encouraging Words...

Only in our brokenness can we truly receive the healing power of our Lord. This is why David and so many of the godly, righteous saints that have gone before us so often ask God for a broken and contrite heart and spirit. The hold that the flesh has upon us must be broken. That is the first stop in our journey and starts with confession and repentance. But what comes next is the most important step...letting our Lord heal that which is broken and bind it all back together in His way, in His likeness. He is the great Physician. We are His patients. Gory be to God!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

September 23, 2014

The gift for all time...and all mankind...

1 Timothy 2:1-4

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Encouraging Words...

We are exhorted to pray for others at all times, especially those in civic authority. I love how we pray multiple times throughout our liturgy for the people in our lives...those who love us and those who hate us, those in civil authority and those traveling, those who have departed this life and for the faithful members of the community. By praying for others we take our eyes off of ourselves and put them on others and their needs. Part and parcel with this is how clear this passage makes it that God loves all of mankind and desires that all come to Him. He has not pre-determined who will be saved and who will not. He does not have this big list of who will get His gift this "Christmas", for His gift is for all of creation...past, present, and future. Glory be to God!

Monday, September 22, 2014

September 22, 2014

The journey through life...

Proverbs 19:20

Hear, my son, the instruction of your father,
That you may become wise in your last days.

Encouraging Words...

We do not make it through this journey of life on our own. Our guidance and direction begins with our parents and eventually continues on to other teachers in our lives. But no matter how young or how old we are there is always someone that has something that we can be taught. Part of our responsibility in this journey is to be humble and listen to the instruction of others. Glory be to God!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

September 21, 2014

The abundance of grace...

Romans 5:20-21

Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Encouraging Words...

If God knew that someday His Son, Jesus, would be born a man in order to cancel out the law then why give us the law to begin with? Because through the law we could see just how much we need God because we choose to break the law. If God was a judgmental law enforcer then why send His Son to cancel out the law? Because God so loves His creation that He can't stand to see it perish. Now that is love! That is mercy! That is grace! This the God that I choose to love and serve, along with Abraham, Isaac, David, and all of the other patriarchs and fathers and mothers of the church. Glory be to God!

Friday, September 19, 2014

September 19, 2014

Covered by the love of a merciful God!

Micah 7:18

Who is a God like You, removing wrongdoings and passing over the ungodliness of the remnant of His inheritance? He does not keep His anger as a witness, for He delights in mercy.

Encouraging Words...

Once again we are reminded that our Lord is a loving and merciful God. Even though we sin and often live unrighteous lives He removes our wrongdoings from us and passes over our ungodliness. Glory be to God!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

September 18, 2014

Watching the company that we keep...

Psalm 37:16-19 (36:16-19)

Better the little with the just man
Than the great riches of sinners;
For the arms of sinners shall be shattered,
But the Lord supports the righteous.
The Lord knows the ways of the blameless,
And their inheritance shall be forever.
They shall not be ashamed in an evil time,
And in days of famine they shall be filled.

Personal Challenge...

We should be careful with the company that we keep. Our world tells us that we should hobnob and rub elbows with the rich and famous in hopes that some of it might rub off on us. However, the Psalmist reminds us that it is much more prudent to spend time with those who live just and righteous lives for we can gain so much more from them. Glory be to God!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

September 17, 2014

Who are we listening to...

Proverbs 22:17-19 (20-22 LXX)

Incline your ear to the words of the wise and hear my word,
And establish your heart, that you may know they are good.
And if you apply them to your heart,
They will gladden you and at the same time be upon your lips;
That your hope might be in the Lord,
And His way might be known to you.

Personal Challenge...

The desire of our heart should be to walk with Wisdom at all times. We do this by leaning in toward Him, listening to His word, and listening to those whom He has made wise. By doing this we too will grow in His wisdom and be able to follow the straight paths that He lays before us. Glory be to God!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

September 16, 2014

Living in community...

James 5:16

Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

Personal Challenge...

One of the travesties of our modern, Western practice of Christianity is the concept of a personal faith and personal walk with Christ. Granted, Jesus' work on the cross was for each and every individual in the world and time, but our salvation must be worked out in our community of believers. "No man is an island" as John Donne stated. The idea of confessing my sins to God by myself is not a biblical concept. Confessing our sins to one another in our Christian community is. We need each other. We need to be active in each other's life. It is through this living community that God brings healing to each of us individually and collectively. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Monday, September 15, 2014

September 15, 2014

Exercising our "choice" muscle...

Galatians 5:16

I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

Personal Challenge...

We have a choice that we must make in our lives. Follow the passions of our earthly life or follow in the footsteps of the Holy Spirit. This is a choice that we must make over and over since the world keeps presenting opportunities to sin. But like any other muscle, the more we exercise our will to follow God the easier it gets to do so. This is feeding the good nature that God has built within us. Glory be to God!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

September 12, 2014

The fruit of discernment...

Proverbs 14:17

A quick-tempered man acts with recklessness,
But a man with discernment bears many things.

Personal Challenge...

Discernment is the crown of virtues, which are given to us by Wisdom, our Lord, when we choose to follow Him and to reject the vices that are in our lives. The early church fathers taught that man is good by nature, because this is how God created us...in His image. However, by our own choice, our own free will, we reject Him and that nature that He built within us so that we can sin. The anger that a quick-tempered man acts upon is him choosing to submit his will to sin. Through Christ we can choose to reject sinful vices and be discerning, and in this case be patient. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Friday, September 12, 2014

September 11, 2014

Walking with our Lord...

Micah 6:8

He has shown you, O man, what is good. Or what does the Lord seek from you but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to be ready to walk with the Lord your God?

Personal Challenge...

Here Micah sums up the classical definition of true religion in one verse: living lives of righteousness (doing justly to our neighbor), steadfast love (loving mercy), and humility and faith (be ready to walk with your God). We often ask, "What must I do to be a godly person?" Well here is one clear answer. Glory be to God!

September 10, 2014

The formula for turning away anger...

Proverbs 15:1

Wrath destroys even men of discernment;
But a humble answer turns away anger,
And a grievous word stirs up wrath.

Personal Challenge...

Living life with a truly humble spirit goes so far. When discord, arguments, or disagreements arise in our lives we can either respond in anger and cause the situation to explode or with humility and defuse the situation. How important it is to have a constant attitude and demeanor of humility. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

September 9, 2014

Ah, sleep and rest in peace...

Psalm 4:8 (4:9 LXX)

I will both sleep and rest in peace,
For You alone, O Lord, cause me to dwell in hope.

Encouraging Words...

How is it possible to live a life that is peaceful and restful? By living lives that are committed to our Lord for He is our hope. Glory be to God!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

September 8, 2014

Permeated by faith...


Hebrews 11:6

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Personal Challenge...

Do we really want to serve our God with all of our heart, soul, and body? If so, then our faith in Him must permeate our entire being. All doubt, all concern, all fear, must be replaced by our trust in Him. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Monday, September 8, 2014

September 7, 2014

Living by faith...producing good works.

Ephesians 2:8-10

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Encouraging Words...

Why do we do good works? Because God, in His grace, poured out His love and salvation upon us. We need grace, faith, and works, unified by God in our lives to live righteous and holy lives. Grace is uncreated and infinite and can only come from God. Faith is limited and can grow. Good works flow out of authentic faith manifested in our lives. Our works are the evidence of this grace and faith in our lives. Glory be to God. *Adapted from the Orthodox Study Bible, p. 1600.

September 5, 2014

Living by the Word of our God...

Isaiah 40:8 (40:7-8 LXX)

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God abides forever.

Encouraging Words...

We, the people of the generations that follow the incarnation of Christ, are blessed to have many of the teachings of Christ and the early church in written format. However, the Word of God that endures forever is far more than this published text. God has also dispersed His wisdom to us through the traditions of the church, through the teachings of His saints and early fathers, and through His Holy Spirit. The ultimate dispersion was in His Living Word, the Lord Jesus Christ. We must embrace Him and seek His truths as our way, truth, and life.

September 6, 2014

What does God really want from us?

Hosea 6:6

For I desire mercy and not sacrifice,
And the knowledge of God
More than whole burnt offerings.

Encouraging Words...

If our God is a judgmental, angry, legalistic God then why does He remind us throughout His scriptures that He desires mercy and our broken and contrite hearts more than our sacrifices and offerings? He is love! He is mercy! He desires that we live our lives in love and mercy. These are what please Him and not what we do or say. Glory be to God!

Friday, September 5, 2014

September 4, 2014

Choose your path wisely.

Proverbs 29:23

Arrogance humbles a man,
But the Lord supports the humble-minded with glory.

Personal Challenge...

What a good and timely reminder that I am nothing without my Lord. All that I have accomplished, all that I have acquired, everything, in both this life and my life in eternity, have come from God. He is the one that deserves all of the credit. He is the one that deserves all of the glory. If I try to do things, go places, step ahead of others, because I think I deserve it, then I am asking to be humbled and put into my proper place. If I approach all from a true state of humility then God will use me the way He sees fit.

September 3, 2014

Great joy in the morning...

Psalm 30:5 (29:6 LXX)

For there is wrath in His anger,
But life in His will;
Weeping will lodge at evening,
But great joy in the morning.

Encouraging Words...

The early church fathers viewed this Psalm as a prophecy of the resurrection of Christ. If we choose to reject God and His love for us then an eternity of separation from Him will feel like anger and wrath even when His will is for us to have life. In Christ's death and burial there was great weeping for all seemed lost, but upon the breaking of morning, when He was no longer in the tomb there was great joy and celebration. Glory be to God!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

September 2, 2014

Seeking the right gifts...

1 Chronicles 10:10-12

"Give me wisdom and understanding, so that I may go out and come in before this people, for who can judge this great people of Yours?"

And God said to Solomon, "Because this was in your heart and you did not ask for riches or wealth or honor or the life of your enemies, nor did you ask for long life, but you asked for wisdom and understanding for yourself, that you might judge My people over whom I made you king, now I will give you this wisdom and understanding. I will also give you riches and wealth and honor, such as none of the kings before you possessed, nor shall any after you possess."
Personal Challenge...
God wants our heart first and foremost, and then He wants our minds and our wills. Solomon had the opportunity to ask for anything that He desired and yet he assessed his position in life and chose to ask for wisdom and understanding so that he could effectively serve the people of God. His heart was focused on God and others rather than on himself. He also did not ask for knowledge, which today is one of those riches and wealth that so many in the church pursue. For knowledge can give one riches or wealth and honor as well as victory over our enemies. However, wisdom and understanding tempers knowledge so that it builds up and edifies. May our hearts be so hungry after God so as to seek His wisdom and understanding.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

September 1, 2014

Are we not recipients of longsuffering and mercy?

Numbers 14:18

'The Lord is longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth, taking away lawlessness, wrongdoings, and sins; but He would not cleanse the guilty by repaying the sins of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation.'

Encouraging Words...

Moses reminds us here that even though God could uphold His covenant with the early fathers by holding them accountable for their sins, even to their future generations, He did not. Why? Because God is love, and in His love He chooses to be longsuffering and abundant in mercy toward us. He forgives us and is not the judgmental, legalistic God that so many make Him out to be. Glory be to God!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

August 31, 2014

What if...

Luke 11:9-10

So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

Encouraging Words...

What if our prayers and petitions were to shift from asking God for things "out there" to those important things that we need "within" us? A new and clean heart. A broken and contrite spirit. A life of humility and repentance. If we were to focus our desire on these would we not be a better child of God and more able to be used by Him to bring about those things needed around us? Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Monday, September 1, 2014

August 30, 2014

Girding up the loins of our minds...

1 Peter 1:13-16

Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

Personal Challenge...

Is it possible to live a holy and righteous life? Some would say "No", because we are viewed as depraved and bad. But our Lord would not challenge us to be holy as He is holy of we could not do this. We cannot live this way on our own. We need the Holy Spirit working in our lives. We need the community of believers that our fellowship brings to us. We need the traditions of the church to keep us focused. But we also need to be proactive, girding up the loins of our minds so that we can take every thought captive and turn it over to God. We need to turn from this world toward God's kingdom.