Thursday, July 30, 2015

July 26, 2015

My Hope is in the One Who has Always Known Me!

Psalm 91:14-16 (90:14-16 LXX)

"For he hoped in Me, and I will deliver him;
I will shelter him, because he knew My name.
He shall call upon Me, and I will hear him;
I am with him in affliction,
And I will deliver and glorify him.
With length of days I will satisfy him,
And show him My salvation."

Encouraging Words

Even before the beginning of time, God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, knew me and loved me. I can read this passage and replace all of the "him's" with my name and know that this is all true for me. He is my deliver! He is my salvation! He is my listener! He is my Lord! I can call upon Him and He will always be there. Glory be to God!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

July 24, 2015

Heading Toward the New Jerusalem

Zechariah 8:7-8

Thus says the Lord Almighty: "Behold, I shall deliver My people from the land of the east and from the land of the west. I shall bring them in and settle them in the midst of Jerusalem. They shall be to Me a people and I will be to them a God in truth and in righteousness."

Encouraging Words

When Christ performed His great and wondrous works of sacrifice and redemption on the cross, His resurrection, and His ascension into heaven, He sent a shock wave throughout eternity. He set in motion the promise of this prophecy. And now He is reaching out to the people of his creation, as far as the east is from the west and bringing them in as citizens of His new and glorious Jerusalem. Glory be to God!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 21, 2015

Standing Between the Porch and the Altar

Joel 2:17

Between the porch and the altar, the priests of the altar, ministering to the Lord, will each be weeping and will say, "O Lord, spare Your people; do not give Your inheritance to reproach, that the Gentiles should rule over them, lest they should say among the Gentiles, 'Where is their God?'"

Personal Challenge

In many ways, each of us who claim to be followers of Christ has the opportunity to perform this role of the priesthood. I may be the only person that stands as the conduit between someone who does not know God and God Himself. How am I living my life in this role? Am I blocking this conduit or keeping it open so that God's love can flow to those around me? Am I a stumbling block on their journey through life or a stepping stone? It is my responsibility to live my life in such a way that everyone I come into contact with says, "There is his God!"

Monday, July 27, 2015

July 20, 2015

Choosing to Push Away from the Table

1 Corinthians 8:8

But food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse.

Encouraging Words

One of the practices of our Orthodox faith is fasting. We fast from meat and dairy on most Wednesdays and Fridays. We fast during Lent and throughout other times of the year. It is interesting how many times I am told by non-Orthodox friends that fasting is not spiritual and it is a form of works. This saddens me because we do not fast for legalistic reasons. We also know that salvation only comes through the works of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, why do we fast? First, it is because our Lord told us to fast. He fasted as well. Secondly, it is so that we can develop discipline in our lives. If I can control what I eat at certain times, and the desires that drive me to eat, then I can learn to control other aspects of my life as well. Third, it is so easy to develop a passion around eating and fasting helps me to learn how to control this passion as well as others. And this list goes on. What is important is that we are taught to do all that we do out of love for God and our neighbor. Glory be to God!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

July 19, 2015

Letting Go of This World

1 John 2:17

And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

Personal Challenge

If the world as I know it, the broken, fallen, sinful world is someday passing away, to be replaced by a new heaven and earth, then why do I hang on so tightly to the things of this world? It is because I am choosing to and that God still needs to refine my heart and mind. Praise God for never giving up on teaching me, loving me, and pursuing me. Praise God for showing me through the life of His Son and the gift of the Holy Spirit what I must do to let go of this world...LOVE!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

July 17, 2015

Living Life as a Conduit

2 John 1:6

This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it.

Personal Challenge

So what is this one commandment that I have heard from the beginning and that my entire walk with Jesus hinges upon? It is to love one another. God does not demand that I follow some long list of rules in order to be His child. All that He wants from me is to be His conduit of love!

Monday, July 20, 2015

July 16, 2015

Are You Talking to Me John?

1 John 4:20

If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?

Personal Challenge

What are some ways that I hate my brother? By talking about them when they are not present. By shunning them when they are present. By looking down on them because they are different than me. And this list goes on and on. I sometimes find myself pointing my finger at others and accusing them of doing these things just to be reminded by my Lord that I am doing the same thing by judging them. By calling someone else out as being judgmental, I am being judgmental myself. Lord, have mercy! So, as this passage reminds me, if I am to be truly loving God, then I must be loving those whom He has placed in and around my matter how much they might offend me. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

July 15, 2015

Responding When the Rooster Crows!

Mark 14:72

A second time the rooster crowed. Then Peter called to mind the word that Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” And when he thought about it, he wept.

Personal Challenge

We are told in the scriptures and traditions of the church that God makes us strong in our weaknesses and uses us when we are broken. It is in these times that we recognize that by ourselves we can do nothing. Peter denied Christ when he was needed the most...not just once, but three times. But what Peter did after this betrayal is what set him apart from Judas who betrayed Christ. He pondered his actions and wept. He did not become despondent or belligerent in his sin but sought the Lord for forgiveness and healing. God uses us when we turn to Him in our weakness and in our repentance. Glory be to God!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

July 13, 2015

Rejecting the Prodigal

Luke 15:31-32

“And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’”

Personal Challenge

It is so easy for me to get caught up in all of the things that I am doing for my Lord, and ultimately for what I think is for my salvation, and become like the elder brother of the prodigal son. I spend time studying the scriptures, praying, going to church, taking classes, amassing more knowledge, and yet, when a lost soul comes to the Father, I get jealous and try to lay on them the burdens that I have chosen to take upon myself. So by doing this, even though I am not the prodigal and have not left the presence of my Father, my heart is not focused on Him as my returning brother's is. My actions, my thoughts, have clouded my love for my Father and my brother. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Friday, July 17, 2015

July 14, 2015

Being Called Children of God

1 John 3:1

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.

Encouraging Words

What an amazing thing...we are set apart from the world, not because of what we do or say, but because we are loved so deeply by our Lord. In our world today we see so many acts of violence and hatred being performed on a way of proclaiming allegiance to their god. How can this be when God is pure love? Glory be to God!

July 10, 2015

The Example of the Two Mites

Luke 21:1-4

And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. So He said, "Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had."

Personal Challenge

Oh Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, give me the heart of this wealthy, poor widow!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

July 8, 2015

Forgiveness, Oh How Sweet

1 John 1:9

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Encouraging Words

The first time that I selected this verse to be added to my ongoing list of verses was on my father's birthday. I just now noticed this. My father epitomized this verse. I fondly remember the day that he renounced his alcoholism, repented and never went back to that way of life. He demonstrated to all who would listen to his story that his Jesus was a lover of mankind, our redeemer, and a forgetter of our sins. I love you Dad and thank you for showing me what a living saint looks like. Glory be to God!

July 7, 2015

The Process of Distillation

Proverbs 10:31 (10:32 LXX)

The mouth of a righteous man distills wisdom,
But the tongue of an unrighteous man utterly destroys.

Personal Challenge

What is the indicator of the state, or nature, of my heart? It is that which comes out of my mouth. How I speak to others, or more importantly about others, reveals the righteousness or unrighteousness of my heart and core essence. May it be determined to be a distiller of wisdom.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

July 6, 2015

Jesus...the Incarnation of life!

Psalm 119:117 (118:117)

Help me, and I shall be saved;
And I shall meditate always in Your ordinances

Encouraging words

Jesus is the full compassion of our God and He came to us in the incarnation. Through Him we do live. Glory be to God!