Tuesday, December 30, 2014

December 30, 2014

The seed has been planted...

Isaiah 45:25

All the seed of the children of Israel shall be made righteous by the Lord, and glorified in God.

Encouraging Words...

We, the seed of the King of Israel, who is Christ our Lord, will be made righteous by Him and His work. We cannot do this on our own, but in Him, and through Him, and within the community of His Bride, the Church. Glory be to Him!

Monday, December 29, 2014

December 29, 2014

The End of our quest...

John 14:6

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."

Encouraging Words...

We have all been created with a desire, a yearning, to be connected with our creator. When mankind fell from the presence of God in the garden of Eden we still had in our beings the image of God and the experience of walking with Him in that garden. when Jesus came to us as both God and man He opened the door for us to once again experience life and the ability to walk with the Father again. Glory be to Him!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Saturday, December 27, 2014

December 27, 2014

Our Humble Judge...

Isaiah 42:1-4

"Jacob is My Servant; I will help Him. Israel is My chosen; My soul accepts Him. I put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He will not cry out, nor raise His voice, nor cause His voice to be heard outside. A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench; but He will bring forth judgment in truth. He will shine forth and not be broken until He establishes judgment in the earth; and in his name the Gentiles will hope."

Encouraging Words...

What a blessing our Lord Jesus Christ is He was fully within His right to come to earth as a conquering King to destroy all that was against Him and yet He came as a humble baby and lived a humble life so that mankind would be redeemed and all of creation would be freed from death. He suffered a horrendous death having committed no sin or wrong in His life and even went into the depths of hell for us. He is our Lord! He is our King! He is our Savior and Redeemer! Glory be to Him!

Friday, December 26, 2014

December 26, 2014

Clinging to the vine...

John 15:5

I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

Personal Challenge...

We often wonder why we stumble and fall in our Christian walk and sin. Part of the answer is that it is because we freely choose to do those things that we know we should not do. Another reason is that we pull away from our source of life, the true Vine, and loose our nourishment that gives us the strength and power to stay true to our Lord. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

December 25, 2014

Christ is born! Glorify Him!

Merry Christmas to all of my family and friends here on the Internet. May you have a very blessed year.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

December 24, 2014

Resting assured...

Jeremiah 15:16

Make an end to them, and Your word shall be the gladness and joy of my heart; for I am called by Your name, O Lord, the Almighty.

Encouraging Words...

Our Almighty Lord will put an end to those who persecute His Church. He is our gladness and joy and we can rest assured in His almighty hands. Glory be to God!

December 23, 2014

Living in the Light...

John 12:46

I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.

Encouraging Words...

No matter how dark things become we always have the source of all light as our Lord and Savior. No matter how bad things get He is there to shed His light and love on us and those around us. What a blessing He is on not only us, but the entire world.

Monday, December 22, 2014

December 22, 2014

Politically Correct versus Spiritually Correct

Acts 5:29

But Peter and the other apostles answered and said:“We ought to obey God rather than men.

Personal Challenge...

We live in a day when the overarching rule is to live our lives being politically correct. What does this really mean? We are expected to follow the social norms and expectations. This is contrary to what our living and loving scriptures and teachings of the church tells us to do. Jesus told us that we must live our live under two laws...love our God and love our neighbor. We cannot do this and also adopt as acceptable the ways of the world. This can be a conundrum on a regular basis. How do I live a godly life amongst my neighbors and at the same time deny the practices of the world? How do I live in the world and at the same time not be of the world? How do I love my neighbor and at the same time show him, or her, by my actions how much they need Christ? I cannot do any of this on my own accord. I must do it all by allowing the Holy Spirt to do His work fully within me. I do it by striving to be humble, submissive, loving, and obedient. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

December 21, 2014

True repentance...

2 Chronicles 33:12-13

Now when he was in affliction, he sought the face of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed to Him. And the Lord received his entreaty, heard his cry, and brought him back to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God.

Encouraging Words...

When we truly confess our sins with a contrite, broken, and repentant heart our God hears us and forgives us. He restores us to fellowship with Him. But our work does not stop here. Full repentance includes turning away from our sin and pursuing righteousness. Through this our restoration becomes complete. Glory be to God!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Friday, December 19, 2014

December 19, 2014

Ready for battle?

2 Chronicles 32:7-8

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid of the king of Assyria, nor before all the nation with him, for there are more with us than with him. With him are arms of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God, to save us and to fight our battles." And the people were strengthened by the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.

Encouraging Words...

Who is our Lord? The creator of everything! The Lord of Lords! The ruler of the heavenly hosts! The Almighty! Knowing and believing this empowers us to take on the strongest enemies and worst situations with confidence and assurance that we will prevail. It does no good, however,to just believe this. We must act on this belief and walk through life with the assurance that we have more on our side than the opposition in any situation. Glory be to God!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

December 18, 2014

Whose side am I really on?

Luke 11:23

He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters.

Personal Challenge...

Am I living my life in such a way so as to show people who Jesus is and that He loves them? Am I setting aside my personal agenda, my political agenda, my ethnic agenda, and just pushing out His agenda? If I am doing anything, saying anything, that takes someone's eyes off of Jesus then I am working against Him. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!

December 17, 2014

Do you believe this?

John 11:25-26

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?"

Encouraging Words...

It is taught in the Orthodox church that we sin because we are afraid to die. If we go back to the first sin, it was all wrapped around death. If I am afraid that someday I will die then I will do whatever I can to get as much out of life as I possible can. And in doing this I feed my passions, turn my back on God, and trample on my neighbor. However, Jesus tells us that He came to destroy death, which He did in His incarnation, sinless life, death, and resurrection. Because of His work we too can seize this promise that He made to Martha...we shall never die. Through Christ we will live forever! Through Christ we can choose to sin no more...and when we do He will be there to cleanse us and forgive us. Glory be to God!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

December 16, 2014

Living sacrificially...

Daniel 3:28 (3:95 LXX)

So King Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, "Blessed is the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who sent His Angel and saved His servants who trusted in Him; for they altered the word of the king and handed over their bodies to be burned, so as not to serve and worship any god other than their God.

Personal Challenge...

Oh to be able, and willing, to live a life like these three young men were willing to live. They were willing to respectfully refuse to follow the decree of the most powerful man in their world. They did not do civil disobedience, or rebel aggressively, or anything of that sort. They willingly submitted to the consequences of saying, "No!" to this ungodly law and willingly walked into the fiery furnace. Do I trust my God that much? Do I love those around me that much? Am I willing to stand firm on the teachings of Christ and those who have gone before us even at the cost of my own life? To not be rebellious and resistant, but submissive in love for my God and my neighbor? Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Monday, December 15, 2014

December 15, 2014

Getting our prayers heard...

Isaiah 58:9-10

Then you shall cry out, and God will hear you. While you are still speaking, He will say, 'Behold, I am here. ' If you take away your fetter and the pointing of the finger, and the word of grumbling, and if you give bread to the hungry from your soul, and satisfy the humble soul, then your light shall rise up in the darkness, and your darkness shall be as midday.

Encouraging Words...

When we live righteous lives, or at least strive to, we are promised that God will hear our prayers immediately. Makes sense because the more we live our lives God's way the closer we are to Him. What does it take to live our lives this way? To love the Lord our God with all of our being and to love our neighbor as ourselves. And, to take care of the needs of our neighbor above our own. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner and help me to grow in your image.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Saturday, December 13, 2014

December 13, 2014

Deliverance..God's way!

Daniel 3:16-18

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to King Nebuchadnezzar, "We have no need to answer you in regard to this thing. For there is a God in the heavens, whom we serve, and He is able to save us from the burning fiery furnace; and He will deliver us from your hands, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods, nor worship the golden image you set up."

Personal Challenge...

We can hold on to the truth that our God will always deliver us from the challenges here in this earthly life. Sometimes it is a miraculous deliverance such as with these three young men and the fiery furnace. Sometimes it is by taking us home to Himself as the church has seen with so many martyrs through the ages. But in all cases, no matter how big or how small the challenge, the situation, or the enemy, what always comes through as most important is our willingness, our commitment, to stand firm on that hope that we have within us. The hope that no matter what is going on in our lives God is with us. The hope that no matter how big or how powerful the obstacle is that God is bigger and more powerful. He is the all knowing, ever present, loving, merciful God and that He holds us in the palm of His hand. Glory be to God!

Friday, December 12, 2014

December 12, 2014

Judge or Redeemer?

Matthew 5:17

Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.

Encouraging Words...

So...is it not the law by which we are judge? Is it not the prophets that kept pointing out to us how far we were missing the mark...God's mark? Then if Jesus declared that He fulfilled the Law and the Prophets is it not possible to conclude that the judgment that so many Christian faith practices say we fall under have been fulfilled by Christ? Jesus claimed that He came that we might have abundant life, that He was victorious over death. Maybe we should stop looking at God as some angry, judgmental Father and see His true character...Love. Glory be to God!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

December 11, 2014

Out of this world!

John 15:19

If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

Personal Challenge...

Part of dying to the world is recognizing that as soon as we do this we will become enemies of the world. The world does not want to let us go. The world does not want us attracting others away from it. This means that when we choose to separate ourselves from the world things will heat up and we will begin to see just how much the world hates us. If we are not feeling this heat then maybe we have not really left this world behind.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

December 10, 2014

A proper perspective on life...

John 12:25-26

He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.

Personal Challenge...

Do we really love our Lord and desire to serve Him fully? Then the best way to do this, the only way to do it fully, is to give up our life fully and completely for Him. We need to die to ourselves and this world in order to be able to give our all to Him. This is certainly not easy, but more and more possible each time we allow the Holy Spirit to do His work within us. Glory be to God!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

December 9, 2014

To be like a child...

Matthew 18:1-6

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"

Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me."

"Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea."

Personal Challenge...

Why is it that so many of us who convert from western Christianity to eastern Christianity spend so much time trying to amass great volumes of knowledge about eastern Christianity? Is it because in the west we pride ourselves in the church on how much we know about God, the church, and our history, and that we have brought that baggage into our eastern practice of our faith. Jesus Himself tells us that we must be like a child if we are to truly be great in the kingdom of heaven. This means focusing on, and living out, the virtues of a child, humility, dependence, lowliness, simplicity, obedience, and a willingness to love and be loved. It is difficult to have these virtues growing and developing in our lives if we are constantly pursuing knowledge. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Monday, December 8, 2014

December 8, 2014

Exalted or humbled...which do we prefer?

Luke 14:11

For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

Personal Challenge...

We are reminded over and over and over again in the scriptures during our liturgy, and through the teachings of our church fathers, that desires us to approach Him with a humble heart. He promises us that if we humble ourselves before Him and our fellow man, or neighbor, that He will exalt us. As with everything else in life we must pay the price, or the clues, to get the benefits. Our humility in this earthly life will be rewarded throughout eternity, however if we choose the path of exaltation throughout this life our reward throughout eternity will be humility. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

December 7, 2014

Saint of the Week...
Elder Amphilochios Makris

December 6, 2014

Prayers on our behalf!

Colossians 1:9-12

For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.

Encouraging Words...

As Orthodox we believe that the saints who have gone before us are standing in the courts of our Lord petitioning on our behalf? I can see Paul there repeating this prayer over and over on our behalf that we too might be equipped to do the work of our God. Glory be to Him!

Friday, December 5, 2014

December 5, 2014

Oh, to be content...

Philippians 4:11-13

Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Personal Challenge...

Here we find the key to contentment, the pearl buried in the heart of the oyster of life. Whether life is dealing us a winning hand or pulling the rug out from under us we can choose to acknowledge that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. If we try to do it on our own, or to take all the credit for the good things that do come about, we are choosing to unplug from the only source of power that can support us. Jesus is our power! Jesus is our protection! Jesus is our provider! Jesus is our Lord! All glory goes to God!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

December 4, 2014

Giving grace and peace to others...

Philippians 1:2

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Encouraging Words...

Paul's salutation is a great reminder of the mindset that we should always be in with relationship to those in our lives. We should always be offering God's grace and peace to everyone. We should be living our own lives under God's grace and peace for we are truly blessed as we are also blessings to others. Glory be to God!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

December 3, 2014

There is that word humility again...

Proverbs 16:1

All the works of the humble are evident before the Lord,
But the ungodly will be destroyed in the evil day.

Personal Challenge...

Our salvation begins and ends with humility, our willingness to submit our will and our desires to our Lord. And what comes between the bookends of life will be measured on that scale of humility and how much we have been willing to put God and others before ourselves. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!

December 2, 2014

Do not go gentle into that good night

Dylan Thomas, 1914 - 1953

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Encouraging Words...

My favorite poem has long been "A Bag of Tools" by R. L. Sharpe. This one is now added as a close second place. We watched the movie Interstellar (very good by the way) last night and this poem was used throughout the movie and is an awesome reminder to live out our lives fully and completely. I am sure that this is what our Lord wants us to do as we approach the end of our days here on earth. Glory be to God!

Monday, December 1, 2014

December 1, 2014

Living life as seasoning...

Colossians 4:6

Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.

Personal Challenge...

We have been given such a blessing...life eternal through Jesus Christ our Lord. It is our responsibility as well as our privilege to share this blessing with those whom we come into contact with. We should always be ready to give out God's word with grace and love for the other. Glory be to God!