Tuesday, March 31, 2015

March 27, 2015

Honor and reverence

Malachi 1:6a

"A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then, I am the Father, where is My honor? And if I am a Master, where is the reverence due to me?" says the Lord Almighty.

Personal Challenge

What a personally convicting verse this is today. The whole first chapter of Malachi challenges the people of God who had gotten sloppy in their liturgical worship services. They had made them more honoring to man and less honoring to God. They are complaining about the length and calling them boring. The liturgical services of the Church are not for me and my desires. They are for worshipping our Lord. Do I give my all as a living sacrifice when I participate in these services or do I check out and just go through the motions? This is my opportunity to focus my entire being on my God in worship and adoration. It is not about me. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Monday, March 30, 2015

March 26, 2015

Building the house the right way.

Psalm 127:1 (126:1 LXX)

Unless the Lord builds the house,
Those who build it labor in vain;
Unless the Lord guard the city,
Those who guard it stay awake in vain.

Encouraging Words

I have so often heard this verse applied to the raising up of a family and the need to follow this principle. This is so true, but this also applies to how I should live my own life. There is a house of faith, hope, and love that I should be building in my own heart and mind. If I try to build it on my own accord, without letting the Lord be the Masterbuilder then I am building it in vain. If I am trying to protect this house by my own strength then I am I am also doing this in vain. It is encouraging to know hat my Lord is the Masterbuilder and Protector of the house of faith, hope, and love in my heart and mind. Glory be to God!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

March 25, 2015

Synergy with our fellow believer and God.

Nehemiah 4:7-8

Therefore I positioned men behind the lower parts of the wall in the sheltered areas, and I positioned the people by families with their swords, their spears, and their bows. And I looked and arose and said to the nobles, to the leaders, and to the rest of the people, "Do not be afraid of them. Remember our God, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses."

Personal Challenge…

Living the life of a Christian is not for the faint of heart. Just as Nehemiah set is heart and mind, not to mention all of his physical ability and possessions, on the task of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, so are we too called to build walls of protection around the temples of our hearts and the Christian community that we live in. And just as Nehemiah was attacked from both outside of his community as well as from inside of his community, so too will we be attacked for obeying our Lord’s command to shore up our hearts for Him and to help our brothers and sisters to do the same. Nehemiah provides for us here a great example of how to resist these attacks. We are to work together, covering each other’s back while at the same time focusing on doing God’s work. And while we are doing this we are to be looking to God, working in partnership with Him and one another, and trusting that together we will synergistically accomplish the task of rebuilding these walls. Living this way takes work. Sometimes it means confronting those who are focused on tearing down the walls being built. But in the end we will be co-workers in bringing the kingdom of God to fruition amongst us. Glory be to God in all things!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

March 24, 2015

Letting the right information in.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Encouraging Words

We live in an age when the information that is available is unlimited. And to top that off it is all at our fingertips. It is not jus information that is important for me. If I am not careful, not discerning, then I will be letting garbage into my life and distract me. It is encouraging to know that God inspires Scripture and provides it to me so that I can be reproved, corrected, instructed in righteousness, and ultimately equipped for every good work. These Scriptures surround me in the written text of the Bible and other writings of the Church, in the traditions of the Church, and the teachings of the Saints and Fathers. As the character Luther in the Jesse Stone series often states, "Information is out there. All you have to do is let it in." By the grace of God the Father, the work of Jesus, and the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, I am blessed to have a filter to run this information through. Glory be to God!

Monday, March 23, 2015

March 23, 2015

Mordecai or Haman; there can be a fine line.

2 Timothy 2:22-26

Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.

Encouraging Words and Personal Challenge

Wow! Just wow! God's timing is so impeccable. I have just finished the book of Esther (read the LXX version with much more in it) and the story of Mordecai, Haman, and Esther is ever so present in my mind and heart. And what should transpire over the weekend but a Haman-Mordecai moment. Then to top it all off, my random selection of this verse of the day brings me to this passage...a reminder that there are Haman's in our lives, our churches, and our places of work. My first thought, before I read this passage was to exercise justifiable retribution. But that would fall into the category of "youthful lusts", getting even, settling the score, or whatever else you want to call it. Would this not also make me a Haman in someone else's life? Now I am convicted to deal with this event differently. Correction is still needed, for letting it slip would continue to encourage the wrong behavior. The correction must come from a pursuit of righteousness, faith, love, and peace. Why? So that I do not become a Haman in my response. Why? So that hopefully by the grace of God, my brother might be granted repentance, the ability to know the truth, and come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil. Why? So that the Body of Christ is healed and edified. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!

March 22, 2015

The battle is at hand!

Ephesians 6:10-18

And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—

Personal Challenge

As a child of God, living in this temporal world I have no opportunity to live in peace. I can be at peace in who I am in Christ. I can have peace with all that He has done to save mankind, including me. However, if I am truly trying to live my life for Him, growing in His image, then I will constantly be at war with the enemy in the spiritual realm. Christ has come to save the world, and me as a part of that world. However, until He comes again to set up His new kingdom the enemy is still roaming throughout this world trying to turn people away from God. As a redeemed and saved child of God I have been conscripted into His spiritual army and now in constant battle with the enemy and striving to take back that which he has stolen from my commander. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

March 21, 2015

Saint of the Week
St. John Climacus

Friday, March 20, 2015

March 20, 2015

Understanding as a child

Psalm 119:130 (118:130 LXX)

The revelation of Your words gives light,
And it causes children to understand.

Encouraging Words...

Having converted to Eastern Orthodoxy 3 1/2 years ago, I was set on a new journey. Part of this journey is attempting to see life, and everything in it, through the Eastern mindset, a mindset that is more similar to the way that the Apostles thought before the "Age of Enlightenment". It has been and continues to be, an exciting journey. Reading through the scriptures and looking at them the way the early Church Fathers did is wonderful. Today's verse is another one of the nuggets that have been jumping off of the pages in my latest pass through them. Do I really want to understand God's living Word, both in written format and in the traditions and teachings of the Church? Then I must approach my journey to theosis as a child, just as Jesus told us to! Glory be to God!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

March 19, 2015

Contentment in a Discontented Culture

1 Timothy 6:6

Now godliness with contentment is great gain.

Personal Challenge

As followers of Christ, we should all be desiring and striving for godliness, or put another way, Christlikeness. It does no good, however, to do this if we are not living our lives in a spirit of contentment. God has His own timeline and it is far better than ours. If we learn to be content in His timing, in His ways, in His definition of godliness, then that contentment will be great gain in our lives. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

March 18, 2015

Our occupation in Christ

Hebrews 13:15-16

Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

Personal Challenge

As children of God, we are commanded to take up our crosses and follow Christ and to live sacrificial lives for Him. We are told here that we do this by continually praising God as the fruit of our lips and not forgetting to do good and share with those around us. Our occupation in Christ leaves no room for doubt about what He wants from us. Glory be to God!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

March 17, 2015

Transformed Thinking

Philippians 4:19

And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Encouraging Words

Once again, God is not fickle in His promise to us. If we live our lives in Him, being submissive to Him, and loving Him and our neighbor as He has commanded us to do, then our every need will be met. The important part of to understand here is that if we live our lives His way our needs will be much more different than what we and the world, think our needs are. We become transformed into His likeness and our needs become transformed accordingly. Glory be to God!

Monday, March 16, 2015

March 16, 2015

Choosing to live in the Light

Ephesians 5:8-10

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.

Personal Challenge

As followers of Christ, we have been removed from the dark of this world and made to be children of light through the fruit of the Spirit. However, this does not mean that we can absolve ourselves from our responsibilities to walk as children of light exercising good judgment and doing that which is right and acceptable to the Lord. We still have our freedom to exercise our free will. The righteous choice is to do what God desires. Glory be to God!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

March 15, 2015

Not my power, or my strength, but the Spirit's

Zechariah 4:6

And he answered and spoke to me, saying, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel, saying, ‘Not by mighty power nor by strength, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.

Personal Challenge...

What makes us think that we can fight the battles of our life on our own accord? Pride! Arrogance! Ignorance! Vainglory! In the days before Christ, the people had to wait for the Spirit of God to join them in their battles against the principalities of this world. That is why they so often attempted to do everything on their own accord, in their own strength and power. However, for us, who are blessed by the new covenant, we have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us and always present to fight our battles for us. However, we still get caught up in our pride, arrogance, ignorance, and vainglory, and try to fight these battles on our own. Is it no wonder that we never win? We must heed this call to humble ourselves before the cross of Christ and submit ourselves, entirely, to our Lord and Savior, and the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. Glory be to God!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Friday, March 13, 2015

March 13, 2015

Love poured out...

1 Peter 4:7-9

But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. And above all things have fervent love for one another, for "love will cover a multitude of sins." Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.

Personal Challenge

All Christians would agree that God poured out the ultimate love on all of us when His Son became incarnate and gave up His life for us. Then it is no wonder that he desires that we follow in His footsteps and pour out our love on all who are in our lives, especially our Christian brothers and sisters. There is no room in the body of Christ for holding on to another's sins when ours is always more grievous. If we are to love our neighbor, If I am to love my neighbor, then this love must start with those closest to us; our brothers and sisters in Christ. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

March 12, 2015

Living a life of repentance.

Acts 2:38

Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

Personal Challenge...

Our journey into the body of Christ begins with repentance and renouncement of the world. This is not just a one-time event in our lives. We must live our lives in constant repentance for our sins, regularly renouncing the world, and running into the protective arms of our Lord and Savior. As long as we are on this earth, living in a fallen world we will sin and need to repent. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

March 11, 2015

The Sign of the Cross...

Matthew 16:24-28

Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.

Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom."

Personal Challenge...

This passage is so full of rich jewels that it would take many days to fully unpack. The first piece to look at is the command to deny ourselves and to take up our cross and follow Jesus. In the Orthodox Church, we cross ourselves with the sign of the cross regularly. Making the sign of the cross is a physical reminder to take up the cross of Christ and to live our lives for Him. We invocate it on the pronouncement of the members of the Holy Trinity and at other times which refer to the sovereignty of our Lord Jesus Christ and the celebration of His communion elements and written gospels.In all cases, it is the reminder that is what counts. The reminder that if I am to be a true disciple of my Lord I will regularly set myself aside and take up His cross. Glory be to God!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

March 10, 2015

Following His example...

2 Corinthians 8:9

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.

Personal Challenge...

Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the co-creator of Heaven and earth, gave up His place in Heaven so that He might become man. He lived amongst us as a man, fasting from the glories of Heaven for us, for our sakes that we might become rich in Him. What a wonderful example for us to follow. To fast from the things of this world so that we might have more to give to those around us, whether it be of our resources or our time. We do this fasting so that our minds and hearts will be focused on our Lord and our new home. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!

Monday, March 9, 2015

March 9, 2015

Enduring as a good soldier.

2 Timothy 2:3-4

You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.

Personal Challenge...

So much of the scriptures are filled with metaphors. Without living in the society where these metaphors are based on everyday occurrences, then their meaning sometimes gets lost, if not at least watered down. If I had been enlisted into an army such as the one that the Romans had then this verse would have meant a lot to me. In order to survive, especially in times of war, I would have to commit 100% of my energy and focus on the affairs at hand and totally ignore the rest of the world around me. In doing this, I would not only survive, but would also please my commanding officer. Being that I am no longer a citizen of this world, and that I have been enlisted in the army of the kingdom of heaven, then it is imperative that my heart, soul, and mind be focused on that kingdom and the defense against the warfare that would attack it. This would mean that I must endure the hardship of the battles for the goal is exceedingly more priceless than where I am today. What a great verse to help us press through Great Lent toward the goal of Pascha (Easter).

Sunday, March 8, 2015

March 8, 2015

Finding God's will in our lives.

Psalm 16:3 (15:3 LXX)

To the saints on His earth,
In them He magnified all His will.

Personal Challenge...

We often hear the plea for our God to reveal His will in our lives. Here we see one way that He does that. When men and women live their lives fully committed to God they live saintly lives. We even recognize them as saints in our Church. God will reveal His will in our lives through the lives of those saints. If we study their lives, emulate their godly behaviors, love God the way that they did then we will begin to see God's will magnified in our lives as well. Glory be to God!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Friday, March 6, 2015

March 6, 2015

Learn from the Teacher!

Psalm 119:133 (118:133 LXX)

Direct my steps according to Your teaching
And let no lawlessness rule over me.

Encouraging Words...

So, what is this teaching that the Psalmist is requesting to be directed in? Contrary to modern belief it is not just the published Bible that so many of us have in our homes. The teachings of God are indeed found in the Bible, but also in the teachings of His saints, confirmed and validated over 2,000 years in the boundaries of His Church, in the traditions of the Church, in our hymns, and in our community. God even teaches through His creation. If we submit ourselves to Him and His way of teaching us we will be able to live righteous and holy lives filled with His wisdom.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

March 5, 2015

Living with the Right Perspective

Luke 10:19-20

"Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven."

Personal Challenge...

Indeed it is awesome to know that because of the work of Jesus Christ and the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, that we can be triumphant over the demonic hosts of this world and all they throw at us. However, what is more important than this, is that we rejoice in the promise that we are permanent citizens in heaven. Why is this so much more important? Because the world and all of the demonic host that is ruling it will some day pass away and we will dwell in the heavenly realm forever. This is where our hearts and minds should be today and every day.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

March 4, 2015

Covered and Protected

2 Thessalonians 3:3

But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one.

Encouraging Words...

Our God is faithful, He will never leave us nor forsake us, He will establish us in His kingdom and protect us from the evil one. This is not some way off in the future kind of promise, but an ever-present active presence in our lives by the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. We can deal with each day and every event within it with confidence that our Lord is there with us. Glory be to God!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

March 3, 2015

Living life guiltless...

Daniel 6:5-6

The administrators and governors sought to find some charge against Daniel, but they could find no charge or wrongdoing or fault against him because he was faithful. Then the administrators said, "We will find nothing against Daniel unless we find it in the laws of his God."

Personal Challenge...

What an awesome compliment to pay to a person who serves his God. Daniel's live is on that we can all strive for...to live our lives in a way that no one around us can find fault in what we say or do. I know it is too late for this to occur in my life in relationship to my past, however, it is never too late to start living the rest of my life in a way that people could not find any fault in my ways from this day forward. It is clear that I will not be able to do this on my own accord, but by the grace of God and through the indwelling Spirit, I believe it is possible to strive for this for the remainder of my life. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner! Be Lord and Master of my life precious Jesus!

Monday, March 2, 2015

March 2, 2015

Being a living sacrifice...

Daniel 3:40 (LXX addition)

So let this be our sacrifice before You today,
And may it be accomplished for those who follow You;
For there is no shame for those who trust in You.

Personal Challenge...

God does want us to offer sacrifices to Him. He does not want stuff offered, or even our labors, but what He wants is our hearts. There is nothing that we can do to merit God's grace, but because of God's grace poured out on us we should be willing to give our all as a living sacrifice for Him...freely, willingly, and with joy. Glory be to God!