Wednesday, December 30, 2015

December 29, 2015

Doing all for His glory!

1 Corinthians 10:31

Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Personal Challenge

Every moment of my life, every thought, every action, every inaction, can be used to glorify God. Or it can be used to distract from Him and His glory. the choice is mine. It is a choice that I must constantly be making. Thank You Lord for giving me the Holy Spirit so that I can have help in these choices.

Monday, December 28, 2015

December 28, 2015

Bearing one another's burdens!

Romans 15:1-3

We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.”

Personal Challenge

Do I truly love my Lord? Am I willing to do whatever He asks me out of that love? Or, is my love for Him in word only so that I can reap some benefit by claiming that I am His? Then, if I do love Him I will bear with my brother in his times of need. This does not mean that I just put up with him. It means that I share in his burden as Jesus did in mine. It means that I put his needs before mine. Am I really ready to live my Christian life this way? Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

December 27, 2015

Taking up our cross!

Matthew 10:38-39

And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.

Personal Challenge
One of the things that I am beginning to learn, especially in times of fasting such as Lent, is that if my Christian walk is all smooth and easy then I have drifted away from my Lord. The truth is that the closer that I am to my Lord, the more at odds I will be with the world. This is taking up my cross. To do this, I must turn my back on the world and all that it has to offer me and pursue my Lord. Only then will I find true life. Glory be to God!

December 26, 2015

Saint of the Week
St. Porphyrios

Friday, December 25, 2015

December 24, 2015

Striving to be real!

Matthew 15:7-9

Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:
‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth,And honor Me with their lips,But their heart is far from Me.And in vain they worship Me.'
Personal Challenge

It is so easy to slip into the mode of telling others to practice what I preach but to not do what I do. This is something that I must fight off so that my actions reflect what my desire is for following Christ. But in order to do this effectively and genuinely, I must bring my heart into alignment with the heart of my Lord. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

December 23, 2015

I am no longer what I was!

1 Corinthians 6:11

And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

Personal Challenge

So, what were we before Jesus got hold of us? We did wrong and cheated. We were fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, sexual deviants of all sorts, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, extortioners, and the list goes on. And I am sure that we all, for I know that I do, will say that we were never as bad as this list. But then, I must remember that I only need to some of this in thought and it is as bad as doing the whole thing. In other words, I was (and still am) totally unworthy of God's love, mercy, and grace. But Jesus has come along and become my living sacrifice and benefactor. Through Him, and Him alone do I experience salvation from that which I truly deserve. In Him, I was washed through my baptism. In Him, I was sanctified through the giving of the Holy Spirit in the oil of chrismation. In Him, I am justified through my faith. Glory be to Jesus, my Lord and Savior.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

December 22, 2015

Selective faith?

Matthew 9:24

He said to them, “Make room, for the girl is not dead, but sleeping.” And they ridiculed Him.

Personal Challenge

What a sober challenge this is to us. These throngs of people had been following Jesus, pressing Him to perform one of His miracles in their lives. But look how quickly their tone changes when He steps into a situation that they do not believe He can handle. Not only do the not believe He can do nothing, but they also ridicule Him. How much am I like these crowds? As long as Jesus is doing the things that I expect Him to do my faith is strong and my actions commensurate with that faith. But as soon as He begins to take me into a situation where my faith will be tested and I will be stretched then I forget everything else that He has done and ridicule Him by turning away. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

December 20, 2015

Gaining wisdom through being a fool!

1 Corinthians 3:18

Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.

Personal Challenge

The more I strive to know my God and the more I learn about Him, the more I realize just how much I do not know Him. God's ways are so far removed from the ways of man that I could acquire all of the knowledge and wisdom of mankind and be farther from God than I have ever been. This is where I continually deceive myself. My pursuit of God should not be based on pursuing the wisdom of men about God, but should be based on becoming a fool in the ways and knowledge of man so that God can fill me with His wisdom. I must become humble before Him and my fellow man if I am to begin the journey of truly knowing God. This is so contrary to the teachings of man. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

December 19, 2015

Saint of the Week
St. Dorotheos of Gaza

December 18, 2015

Being a part of the Body of Christ

Romans 12:4-5

For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.

Personal Challenge

Paul seems to be pretty clear here that the body of Christ, the Church, is comprised of many members, many of which exercise their faith differently than I do. He doesn't tell me to disown them. He doesn't tell me to go out there and convert them to my way of thinking. He tells me to accept that God has a much bigger plan for saving His creation and that He will be using other Christians in that plan the way that He chooses to. My job is to be available for Him to use me. Glory be to God!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

December 17, 2015

Being a part of the family, not apart from the family!

Romans 8:14-15

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”

Encouraging Words

Consider two different scenarios. One is where I am a slave to a master and one is where I have been adopted into the family and household of the same master. Would my behavior be different in these two scenarios? Absolutely! In one, I would live in fear and apprehension that I could be punished or sold off. I would do things to beat out the other slaves so that I would appear the best. In the other I would know that I was loved and cared for. I would not have worries of loosing my place in the family or the household and I would do my best to get along with the rest of the family. As a Christian, I am in the second scenario because my God has adopted me into His family. Glory be to God!

Friday, December 18, 2015

December 16, 2015

What is my responsibility?

Romans 12:14-18

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.

Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.

Personal Challenge

So, what is more important? To give my all for the way of life that I have been blessed with or to give my all to follow teaching such as this from Paul? My way of life as a wealthy, pampered American is not what Jesus died for. Therefore, it should not be what I live for. Jesus commanded me to take care of the orphan and the widow, to feed the hungry, and to clothe the poor. He commanded me to not fear or hate my enemy but to love them and to not retaliate against them. So how do I reconcile this with all of the rhetoric from those who claim Christ and call for acts of hatred, violence, vengeance, and judgment? Honestly, it is not my responsibility to reconcile this. For in doing that I end up doing the same thing and the enemy (Satan) has gained more ground. My responsibility is to love even more and to let my God do the reconciliation. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

December 15, 2015

It is not faith if it is not exercised!

Matthew 8:13

Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed that same hour.

Personal Challenge

So many of the miracles that Jesus performed were dependent upon the faith of the recipient of His blessing. This does not mean that He does not have the power to heal or do other miracles without our faith. God created us with free will. He did not create us to be robots or toys that He controls or manipulates. And just as we have the ability to choose to follow or reject Him, or be obedient to Him or reject His commands, we have the ability to choose whether or not His touching us miraculously takes affect or not. I must ask myself how much do I really believe that He is my Lord and at the same time Lord of all creation? How much do I believe that He will meet my every need and help me to know the difference between needs and wants? How much do I believe that He should be everything in my life and that I should be nothing? This is part of my journey to theosis, learning to shift my dependence from being placed on me and the things of this world to being place on Him. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

December 14, 2015

Choosing Who to serve!

Romans 6:11-12

Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.

Personal Challenge

How do I reckon myself to be dead to sins and alive to God? I cannot do this on my own accord. This process starts by being given over to Christ and letting Him be the Lord of my life. Through Him, or in Him, I cam begin the journey of being victorious over sin in my life. This is why we believe there are three phases of salvation: I have been saved, I am saved, and I will continue to be saved. My life must be a constant journey whereby I strive to be more in the image of Christ. I must decrease and He must increase. A critical part of this journey is striving to give more and more of my will over to Christ so that I choose not to sin as often. This begins by recognizing and controlling my passions, which are gluttony, lust, greed, anger, sadness, acedia, vanity, and pride. Just like every journey that we take in our temporal life, there will be bumps, breakdowns, and detours along the way, but even these are important parts of the journey. Glory be to God!

Monday, December 14, 2015

December 13, 2015

Being Loved!

Romans 11:33-36

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!
“For who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has become His counselor?”
“Or who has first given to Him
And it shall be repaid to him?”
For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.
Encouraging Words

I am so finite and know so little. God is so infinite and not only knows all but is the creator and source of all. Even in this great difference, He chooses to seek me out and be in a relationship with me. He gave His Son even unto death so that I might enter into a relationship with Him that will continue on into eternity. Why? Love! I know that I am so unworthy to be loved this way. I do not deserve to be in a relationship with God and yet He continues to pour out His grace and mercy upon me. Why? Love! Oh, how blessed I am to be a recipient of this unmeasurable love. Glory be to God!

December 12, 2015

We said goodbye to a good friend today!
You were and awesome companion Brody!
Have fun chasing those tennis balls buddy!

Friday, December 11, 2015

December 11, 2015

Tested in the Crucible of Time

Matthew 3:36

He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.

Encouraging Words

How is it that we could get to a place in some Christian faith practices where we begin to qualify who does or does not constitute as being saved by our own parameters? How do we get to that place where we put God in a box and say that He has already selected who is saved and who is not based on our own definitions. This comes from adopting teachings that are new or different from what has been taught for centuries and applying our own rationalizations and thoughts so as to create new doctrines. This is how heresies enter into the Church. Sometimes they start with small, seemingly harmless changes that take on a life of their own. Sometimes they are blatant departures from the teachings of our Fathers. Either way, they are still heresies. It is our responsibility to remain true to those truths that have been taught from the beginning and trusted for millennia within the crucible of the Church. Glory be to God!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

December 10, 2015

Unity in Community!

Matthew 18:15-18

"Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that 'by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.' And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector."

"Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."

Encouraging Words

Much of what we get from the western version of Christianity is that I have all that I need to personally have a relationship with God, interpret His teachings, and apply guidelines such as this one about correcting a brother or sister who has offended me so that I am "unoffended". However, the eastern version of Christianity, and therefore, the one that these verses were originally written to and interpreted by, would argue that Christianity is not a personal thing, but a collective thing. We are Christians in the fellowship and community of our church, the Church. Therefore, this process of discipline must happen in the community. It is done for the edification of the community and not just for me. It will also involve my willingness to be forgiving and loving. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

December 9, 2015

Life, what a precious gift!

Romans 6:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Encouraging Words

What are wages? That which I receive for my labors. What is a gift? That which I receive without doing or being anything. The gift is often unmerited and yet in itself can be full of merit. Even though I continue to sin and stack up wages that are due to me, which is death, my God still has in store for me a gift that fully and completely counteracts those wages. This is the gift of eternal life. What an awesome, loving, and merciful God He is!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

December 8, 2015

Oh, the conundrum of living in a fallen world.

Romans 7:17 & 20

But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. ... Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.

Personal Challenge

Paul presents to us the dilemma that we all face every day of our lives We have been created in the image of God. He has breathed His life into us by giving us a soul. And we live in a fallen and sinful world. Since I have chosen to sin in my life I now have that sin dwelling within me and my entire life will be filled with the struggle of fighting against that sin and how it wants me to stray from my God. Jesus, by living the life of a human being, and living it pure and sinless, has conquered sin and provided the way for me to be victorious over sin as well. Glory be to God!

Monday, December 7, 2015

December 7, 2015

There is a diamond in there somewhere!

Romans 3:10-12
As it is written:

“There is none righteous, no, not one;
There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God.
They have all turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable;
There is none who does good, no, not one.”

Encouraging Words

It is always interesting to see how the grid that we perceive life through, the paradigm, the perspective, or whatever else you want to call it, informs us of what we think the scriptures and teachings of our Lord says. If I view this passage through the belief system that all of mankind is totally and hopelessly depraved then I will see these verses, and those surrounding them as saying that we are worthless heaps of dung and that there is no hope for us in the eyes of God. However, if I read these from the perspective that God loves us, created us in His image, and views us as diamonds covered in the muck of our sins, then I see a God who made His creation so that it would point to Him, a God who entered into a covenant with the Jewish people so that He could give them the Law and the prophets so that they could be a beacon to the lost world, and a God who sent His Son so that He could be a redeemer. these verses then become reminders of how much I need the love of God and the work of Jesus for my salvation and that He has offered this to me and to everyone else. He does not exclude anyone from this offering. Glory be to God!

December 6, 2015

Judge, Jury, and Executioner: I do not want to be!

Romans 2:1

Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.

Personal Challenge

There is only one who has the right authority to pass judgment upon another and that is God. On top of that, who am I to say how God will pass His judgment? If I expect that He will judge some harshly and with anger should I not expect the same for myself since I too am a sinner? If I desire that He show me grace and hope that His love will cover me should I not have that same hope for every other human being, because I know my own sin and how great it is? If I choose to play the role of God and judge others for their sins and their choices then I must be ready to be judged accordingly for my own sins and choices. I prefer to try my best to live my life loving my neighbor and loving my enemy and saying "No!" to being their judge. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Friday, December 4, 2015

December 4, 2015

Growing in His image!

Romans 3:23

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Personal Challenge

None of us will ever be able to measure up to God's glory. He is God and I am not. My goal, my desire, in life is to live my life in the image of God. I know that I will never be able to achieve this in my life, but I do know that Jesus has as a human and that through Him I can grow every day closer to the image of God, provided that I listen to Him, hear what He says, and act upon this. It must be me that changes and not His image that changes. Glory be to God!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

December 3, 2015

Knowing the will of God!

Matthew 7:21

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.

Personal Challenge

Can I know the will of God? Many will say that I cannot. However, if this were true then that would make Jesus a liar and that cannot be so. So how do I know the will of God? Jesus made this clear when He told the young ruler that the will of God, the law of God, can be summed up in two expectations. They are to love the Lord my God with all of my heart, soul, spirit, mind, and body and to love my neighbor as myself. If I strive to live my life by these commandments I will see God's will for me. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

December 2, 2015

Faith is a verb, not a noun!

Matthew 6:31-34

"Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

Personal Challenge

What do I have to be fearful of? Nothing! What do I have to worry about? Nothing! What am I lacking in my life? nothing! My loving Lord provides for my every need, even before I know that I have the need. So what else can I do with my life but seek after Him and His things, serve Him and be a blessing to His creation, live out my faith in Him in action and deed, and be thankful that I am His child. Glory be to God!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

December 1, 2015

Becoming a fool for Christ!

1 Corinthians 4:10

We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonored!

Personal Challenge

Paul reminds us here that to be a follower of Christ is to be different from those in the world around us. If we blend into the world and become comfortable with its wisdom, strength, and honor then we have moved away from our Lord and His provision. Am I willing to live my life so in love with my Lord and so on fire for Him that those around me call me a fool? Am I willing to become weak and relinquish all that would make me strong in this world so that the strength of Christ is what sustains and protects me? Am I willing to be dishonored in the eyes and minds of those in my life so that my Lord may be the one that is distinguished above all? This is the life that I am called to live as a Christian. This is the life that the Apostles and the saints that have gone before me chose to live. This is where the love of God can be magnified in my life. Glory be to God!

Monday, November 30, 2015

November 30, 2015

Reconciliation before worship

Matthew 5:23-24

Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

Personal Challenge

It can be so easy to slip into a state of worship and forget that no worship, actually none of our life is strictly personal. We worship our Lord in community, within a community. And by doing this my worship cannot be full and complete if there is an unreconciled issue between my brother or sister and me. Reconciliation must be at the center of my life so that I can truly love my neighbor and love my Lord. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

November 28, 2015

God does not play hide and go seek!

Romans 1:20-21

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Encouraging Words

God never hid Himself from His creation. By putting Himself into all of His creation, He made it possible for all of us to see Him and to know Him, whether or not we ever hear a sermon about Him or read a word that describes Him. Isn't this an awesome picture of how much God loves each and every one of us? Glory be to God!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

November 27, 2015

Loving the lost!

Matthew 18:12-14

What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety- nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety- nine that did not go astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

Encouraging Words

It still amazes me that there is such a wide group of people that claim that our God is a wrathful and judgmental God who rejoices in condemning lost souls to hell and damnation while at the same time proclaiming the love of Christ. How can this be when God is love, not just the God of love. Jesus so effectively uses a parable here to demonstrate to all that His Father, our Father, loves His cration so much that He will do whatever is needed and take as long as needed to rescue that last, lone sheep who has gone astray. That is the epitome of love. Shouldn't I then, if I claim to be His child, be pursuing every lost sheep around me with His love? Should I not do this no matter what they believe, or don't believe, because that is what He does? Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me the sinner!

November 26, 2015

Saint of the Week
Ancient Patericon

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

November 25, 2015

Ending the race strong!

Acts 28:30-31

Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him.

Personal Challenge

Paul lived through some very difficult and oppressive situations. And all of these came his way because he consistently proclaimed Jesus as his Lord and Savior of the world. I often wonder if I will run my race as strongly as Paul. Will I be willing to give up everything so that others might be saved? Will someone write about me in my last days saying that I proclaimed the kingdom of God and the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with confidence? Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

November 24, 2015

Living, loving, and serving in unity!

John 17:20-21

"I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me."

Encouraging Words

Jesus my Lord and Savior, prayed for me and that I might be in unity with my other brothers and sisters of His family. He desired that through the teachings that He gave to His direct followers, the Apostles, that His teachings would be passed on until He returned. This is what we call Apostolic succession and why it is important to the unity of our Church. This brings unity to His followers, which in turn brings the lost to a saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. The question that I must constantly be asking myself is whether or not I am truly loving my brothers and sisters in Christ, even if they may have departed some from the full teaching of our Holy Fathers so that together we may in our unity show the love of God to the lost world? Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

Monday, November 23, 2015

November 23, 2015

Seeking Christ!

John 16:23-24

“And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full."

Encouraging Words

One of the things that I have grown to love in the Orthodox church is our ramp up to Easter or Pascha as we call it. During Lent, the days of fasting and preparation before Pascha, everything changes in our liturgical practices. The tones become more somber, the rhythm slows down, everything becomes darker, including the vestments and the lights. In many of our services, we even stop reading the gospels and read more Old Testament passages. The purpose of all of this is to remind us of those times before the light of Christ was with us. This verse reminds me of this, that for Jesus' followers, they went through a dark time when they did not know where Jesus was and whether or not He was alive. How dark that must have felt. Maybe that is why He encouraged them, and us, to ask of Him what we need, especially in these dark and lonely times. Glory be to God!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

November 21, 2015

Saint of the Week
St. John Climacus

November 20, 2015

Being built up in my community!

Matthew 18:20

For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.

Personal Challenge

Having grown up in the teachings of Western Christianity, I had embraced the concept of personal faith and salvation, that it is me and my Lord and nothing else is needed. Eastern Christianity, however, teaches that my faith is built in my community, my fellowship, my church and that my salvation is worked out there. Reading this verse through that Eastern grid confirms for me that I must be actively involved with my brothers and sisters in the name of Christ to fully appreciate His presence. Again, it is not about me, but us. Glory be to God!

Friday, November 20, 2015

November 19, 2015

Our peace can only come from Him!

John 14:27

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Encouraging Words

Jesus does not ask us to live our lives free of fear and troubled hearts without first giving us His peace. How else can so many martyrs in the life of the Church give up their lives for Christ? The peace that He gives to us is not earthly peace found in possessions, positions, or political powers, but it is from a heavenly source. That source is our God, the Father of life and love. Glory be to God!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

November 18, 2015

Time to get out of the boat!

John 21:7

Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea.

Personal Challenge

Am I willing to live my life radically for Jesus as Peter and the other Apostles did? Am I willing to jump out of my boat of comfort and swim to the feet of Jesus so that I can be with Him? Am I willing to take the insults and abuses that will be thrown at me because I choose to stand up for christ? Standing up for Christ means showing His love to my neighbor and even my enemy. It means taking into my life those who are in need, feeding them, clothing them, loving them whether they accept my Lord or not. Thew was no caveat in Jesus' command to Peter to feed His sheep. It is time that Christians live radical lives for God and show His love everywhere in this world, to put our faith in Him and not be fearful that someone we love for Him might strike us. If so, we turn our other cheek and love even more. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

November 17, 2015

Where do we really put our faith?

John 14:12

"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father."

Personal Challenge

What works did Jesus do that I can exceed? He gave up the glories of heaven to become a lowly and despised person in the Roman empire. An empire that was both one of the most affluent societies in the history of mankind and at the same time the one of the most corrupt. He lived a life of a human in the midst of this affluence and corruption. He spoke and taught of loving our neighbor and even our enemy...even to the point of giving up His life for them. He healed the sick, fed the hungry, and spent His time with the outcast and the downtrodden. He was rejected by His society. And He has the audacity to say that if we believe in Him we will do greater works than Him? Actually the audacity resides within us modern people who claim to believe in Him and yet scream out in fear that we must close our borders to the downtrodden, to those who have lost their all, and who have been persecuted by evil. Shame on us for claiming to be a Christian nation and for turning our backs on those in need. My Jesus, my God, weeps when one of His created children perishes without knowing Him or seeing His love for them. Should I not weep as well? Should I not be willing to help a brother or sister in need because I have the ability, the abundance and the blessings to help them? Jesus died so that all of His creation might be saved. Who are we, the "Christians" of the modern, western world, to deny others safe haven and loving open arms? And yes, I know that we take the risk of letting a bad person in as well. Then I must put my trust in God that His love will prevail.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

November 15, 2015

Saint of the Week...
St. Silouan the Athonite

November 13, 2015

Giving His love away!

Acts 1:9-11

Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”

Personal Challenge

So…how much time do I waste “looking up into heaven” waiting for the return of my King when there is so much work that needs to be done for Him? Am I willing to give up my place in heaven so that every lost soul around me might go there in my place? Am I willing to be sacrificed for everyone else that God loves? I cannot cherish the truth that I will someday be with my Lord in heaven while at the same time taking joy in the fact that those around me may not. To be a Christian is to be one that actively shares the love of Christ hoping that all will be saved. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

November 12, 2015

Never shrinking back in the midst of the storm!

Habakkuk 2:4

If any man should shrink back, My soul will not be well pleased in him; but the righteous shall live by My faith.

Personal Challenge

Being a follower of Christ is not a part-time thing. I cannot claim Hm as my Lord on Sundays and then live like I do not know who He is the rest of the week. If I desire for Him to be well pleased with me as His child then I will never shrink back from in front of my peers or in the midst of pressure. What helps me to stay strong this way? He does! His faith! His power! His love! For I can do nothing apart from Him. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

November 11, 2015

Turning the world upside down!

Acts 17:6

But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, "These who have turned the world upside down have come here too."

Personal Challenge

How awesome it would be to be accused of turning the world upside down for Christ. In order to do this, I would have to be living a life that is so radically different than those around me that they would be shaken. Only a person living fully in Christ can have this kind of impact, for it is not the person that is being seen, but Christ. I cannot live this kind of life if I am enamored by the world and pursuing the things of the world. I cannot live this way if all that I care about is me and what I want. I cannot make this kind of difference if I am the same as everyone else around me. Making a radical impact on the world, turning it upside down, requires me to allow Jesus to have a radical impact on me and having my life turned upside down. Lord Jesus christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

November 10, 2015

Looking for God in all things.

Acts 16:25

But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.

Personal Challenge

Life happens! Sometimes it is glorious and uplifting. Sometimes it is just plain mundane and ordinary. And sometimes it is downright painful and shakes our belief in God. In many of these events, we may begin to question God or more critically, our faith in God, and wonder what His will is. In all cases, I believe God's will always boil down to one thing, that all might know Him and how much He loves us and desires for us to be His children. If I can hold on to this then going through life and dealing with the things that happen in this broken and fallen world begin to have more meaning. I can look for the love of God in every event, good or bad. I can look for how God is reaching out to everyone in the situation, good or bad. I can find God's mercy and grace for me and everyone, everywhere and at all times. What is God's will? That we turn to Him and seek refuge in His unmeasurable love. Glory be to God!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

November 8, 2015

Pursuing holiness!

Psalm 138:4-6 (137:4-6 LXX)

O Lord, let all the kings of the earth give thanks to You,
For they heard all the words of Your mouth;
And let them sing in the ways of the Lord,
For the glory of the Lord is great;
For the Lord is high, and He watches over the lowly things;
But the high things He knows from afar.

Encouraging Words

Our God, the Father, is so holy that we, as humans, will never be able to come into His presence on our own without being destroyed. Our God, the Son, became human and lived a holy and righteous life thereby becoming our one and only High Priest that stands before the Father for us, therefore providing the means by which we can enter into the holy of holies and live eternally in the presence of the Father. Our god, the Holy Spirit, was given to us to lead us through our lives here on earth so that we can be more holy and righteous for our God. Glory be to God!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Friday, November 6, 2015

November 6, 2015

Always in His hands!

Psalm 139:4-6 (138:4-6)

For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether,
The last things and the first things;
You fashioned me, and placed Your hands on me.
Your knowledge has become too wondrous for me;
It has become too overwhelming; I am unable to grasp it.

Encouraging Words

My God is not just an object or a principle to be worshipped. He is real and He knows me far better than even I know myself. He fashioned me from before time and has placed His hands upon me. Is it no wonder that I will never be able to grasp Him and His wisdom? Glory be to God!

November 5, 2015

Finding joy and completeness!

Psalm 121:1-4 (120:1-4 LXX)

I lifted my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
Let not your foot be moved;
Neither let Him who keeps you slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.

Encouraging Words

The things of this world will never fully satisfy my needs and desires. I can look to them all I can, but they are only temporary. My help, my joy, my completeness can only come from the Lord. And in my Lord I can find joy and completeness in the things of this earth that He has blessed me with. Glory be to God!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

November 4, 2015

Missing what is happening in our lives.

John 6:14

Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.”

Personal Challenge

It is one thing to proclaim Jesus as the "Prophet" of Lord when we have seen Him do mighty and glorious works, like in this case of feeding 5,000 with a few loaves and fishes. It is entirely a different thing to proclaim Him as our Lord when we do not see great and glorious things happening in our lives. Jesus is always the "Prophet". He is always our Lord. He is always doing great and glorious things in our lives, we just don't recognize them most of the time. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

November 3, 2015

I am not my own!

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.

Personal Challenge

So, if I start thinking that because I have been born into the land of the free and that I have the right to pursue happiness and self-gratification, then I am in for a rude awakening. When I was baptized into Christ and sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit I gave over my life, all of it, to God. I am no longer my own. He owns me! Yes, I am His bondservant! He dictates to me what I should think and do! My political preferences, my work preferences, my hobbies, my relationships, my desires and expectations of those around me, everything, must be submitted to Him! I am His, He is not mine. Am I living this way? Lord, have mercy! Am I willing to live this way? Lord, have mercy! Will He lead me and bless me in living this way? Lord, have mercy! It is time to let go...