Sunday, August 30, 2015

August 30, 2015

Becoming a lover of step at a time.

Proverbs 12:1

He who loves instruction loves perception,
But he who hates correction is without discernment.

Personal Challenge

Why is it so difficult to take correction or instruction from another? For me, I believe it all boils down to pride. I want to be right. I want to believe that I know what is best for me and others. This, however, is as sinful and unrepentant attitude. For what is at the root of true repentance? Hearing correction, accepting it, and then changing my behavior. Oh, how many times have I hurt those around me by not practicing this teaching and being a lover of instruction. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!

August 29, 2015

Saint of the Week
St. Isaac of Syria

Friday, August 28, 2015

August 28, 2015

Taking Up His Cross...

Mark 8:34-35

When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever 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 and the gospel's will save it.

Personal Challenge

How is it that we are told that a Christian life is one of joy, peace, and love and yet we are commanded to take up the cross of Christ and live our lives as living sacrifices for Him? This is one of the great mysteries of God. If I fully give my life over to Christ then my life will become a life of servitude and submission to Him and to those whom I am called to love, which is everyone. This is the life in the physical, temporal realm that I live in this body. And yes, at times it will be tiring, it will be painful, it will be draining. However, this life is also being lived in the spiritual realm and it is here that God fills my life with joy in doing His work, with peace knowing that I am pleasing Him and drawing closer to Him, and love that He is pouring into me, abundant enough that it overflows through me to those around me that I am called to love. Thank You, Lord Jesus!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

August 27, 2015

Judge and Jury, Yet Being Found Guilty

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

If I judge another person for what they do, or say, or look like, or represent, or whatever, am I not putting myself in the place of God and then becoming self-righteous? Is this not just a grievous a sin as what I am judging? As a child of God, one of the commandments that I am to follow is to love my neighbor. Can I truly love them and judge them at the same time? No! Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

August 26, 2015

Living Life with Hope

1 Thessalonians 4:13-14

But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.

Encouraging Words

I have a hope! We, the members of the Church, have a hope! A hope that just as God rose Jesus from the dead, triumphant over death once and for all, He will raise those who die in Christ from the dead as well. This is not a hollow hope, for Christ has already gone before us in his resurrection. Glory be to God!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

August 25, 2015

Always more to learn

Proverbs 11:9 (11:10 LXX)

A man in need of discernment treats citizens with contempt,
But a man of discernment keeps quiet.

Personal Challenge

What a valuable life lesson to remember. My tongue can get me into trouble more often than anything else in my life. It is this kind of godly discernment that I desire from my Lord so that when I speak, and the words I speak, are His words and timing, not mine. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!

Monday, August 24, 2015

August 24, 2015

Loving is not optional

1 John 2:7

Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning.

Personal Challenge

What is this old commandment that John is referring to? It is the core of all of the laws of the Old Testament and the essence of the life of Christ...that we love as Christ loved us. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner, and teach me to love as You love!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

August 23, 2015

Let our actions do the speaking

2 Corinthians 3:1-3

Do we begin again to commend ourselves? Or do we need, as some others, epistles of commendation to you or letters of commendation from you? You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.

Encouraging Words

I was raised in a household, and an age in our society where I often heard truisms like: "Talk is cheap!" "Put your money where your mouth is!" "Actions speak louder than words!" Here Paul lashes out at those who are purporting to be better than him, more godly than him, because they have some letters, most likely forged, of commendation touting their authority. This phenomenon still continues today. We see all kinds of "personal" opinion on government, politics, Christianity, and every other aspect of life, often given because of some letter of commendation, whether it be a diploma or a list of books read and acting as if this proves that experience backs up this letter. Is there any wonder why the scriptures, and especially our Lord, tell us that we will be measured by the fruit of our labor and not our thoughts, words, and theories that come out of our mouths. Still, "Actions speak louder than words!" Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Friday, August 21, 2015

August 21, 2015

Answer the door!

Revelation 3:20

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

Encouraging Words

Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, stands at the doors of our heart and life pursuing us. He desires to be invited into our lives so that we can have fellowship and communion with Him. He desires to be invited into our hearts so that we can be in an intimate relationship with Him. And every time we shut Him out so that we can things our own way, He remains there, knocking, and seeking readmittance. Thank You, Lord Jesus!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

August 20, 2015

Looking forward to the future!

Revelation 21:3-4

And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."

Encouraging Words

What a blessing it is to be able to go through each day knowing that this is how it will all end up. Glory be to God!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

August 19, 2015

I am His!

Psalm 120:1-4 (119(1-4 LXX)

To the Lord in my affliction
I cried out, and He heard me.
O Lord, deliver my soul from unjust lips
And from a deceitful tongue.
What should be given You, and what added to You,
Against a deceitful tongue?
The arrows of the Mighty One are sharpened
With hot coals from the desert.

Encouraging Words

Our Lord is always there for us. He is able to withstand andy evil and deceitful tongue that should try to defame Him. And, as His child, He will surround me with His love and protection so that I too will be able to withstand any evil and deceitful tongue that should try to defame me...for I am His!

August 18, 2015

Training for the sport that I am in.

1 Corinthians 9:25-27

And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

Personal Challenge

My priest is always reminding us, his parishioners, that our lives as Christians is not a sprint, but a marathon. He knows that we can get burned out if we try to become the uber-Christian all at once and not spend the time building up our practices of faith and traditions. We fast so that we can learn to discipline and control our bodies and minds, but we take time learning to fast. We participate in the liturgy and other activities of the church, but not all at once. We learn to love our neighbors, take care of those in need, and give our wealth and other resources, but only after we have learned to be nurtured so that we can nurture others. Another aspect of all of this is that we learn, grow and exercise within the context of what our life is. I do not practice to run a marathon if the sport that I am engaged in is boxing or vice versa. So, if this is the case, then why would I spend most of my time learning and practicing all that a monastic would do if I am married, have a family, and will never be a monastic? I can learn from the saints and fathers that lived out their holiness in their marriages and with their children. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Monday, August 17, 2015

August 17, 2015

When two become one!

1 Corinthians 7:3-4

Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.

Encouraging Words

There is a practice that is followed in many Protestant faith practices that truly has no place in the body of Christ. It is dominionism, which includes within it the belief that the wife must be fully submissive to the husband and that he basically acts as the lord of his household. Paul and the early church fathers taught that the husband and wife are equally joined together as co-heads of their marriage and their household. Even in Genesis we are taught that the two have become one flesh and that the single unit is responsible for the marriage, the family, and everything else in life going forward. What a blessing to be a part of Christ's Church that believes this and fosters it in all aspects of its traditions. Glory be to God!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

August 16, 2015

Judge not, that you be not judged!

1 Corinthians 5:12-13

For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.”

Personal Challenge

Paul has just finished reminding the brothers and sisters in Corinth that it is their responsibility to discipline a member of their church for living an openly sinful life. He encourages them to do this in a loving, caring, way, but to do it so that the person may be brought back to Christ. He also warns them, and us, however, that they do not have the right to judge someone who is outside of the body of believers for the sins in their lives. To the contrary, we are to show them the love of Christ in order to win them to Christ. Today, with the advent of the internet and social media, so many in the church have determined that they have the right and authority to judge everyone in the world who does not conform to their beliefs. This, in and of itself, is a sin. Only god has the right and the authority to judge those outside of His church. My job, my charter is to love my neighbor, and to show them how much God loves them and desires them to become His children. I must always remember to judge not, that I might not be judged. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

August 15, 2015

Living through our choices.

Genesis 6:22

Thus Noah did according to all the Lord God commanded him, so he did.

Personal Challenge

Throughout the scriptures, both Old Testament and New, we read stories of great men and women of God and how much they pleased Him. It is so easy to slip into the mode of thinking that they were special because God had touched them in a certain way to make them special. And this is never the case. God gave them situations similar to what I can face every day. What made these people special is that in their humanness they chose to exercise their faith in their God and do what He asked. It was their response, their action, their faith that made them special. This gives me great hope that I too can live my life like a Noah, or a Moses, or a David, or a Peter, or a Paul. In order to this it means that I must choose to follow God, and obey Him, and step out on faith. Glory be to God!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Thursday, August 13, 2015

August 13, 2015

Saved and Healed in Community

Mark 2:5

When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven you."

Encouraging Words

So much for our salvation and walk in Christ being a personal thing. As Americans, we pride ourselves on being independent individuals. We talk about our "personal" relationship with Christ. Yes, Jesus does reach into each of our lives and leads us on our journey to Him, however, it requires the entire community of the faithful to help us along our journey. Here we see a young man healed of his physical malady because of the faith of his friends. This is the kind of friend that I want to be to those in my life and these are the kind of friends that I want in my life. Glory be to God!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

August 12, 2015

Footsteps that I can follow!

John 5:30

I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.

Encouraging Words

Wow! I don't think I have read any other verse that so clearly encapsulates the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Here He is saying that He is fully human because as a human the only way that He can be righteous is to conform His will to the divine will of God. As a human, He had to do this continually. As God in human form, He could have forced His humanity to do this, but then that would not have been Him exercising His human free will. Why is this important? Because if I am commanded to be like Christ and to grow into His image, then I must have a human model whose footsteps I can follow. I too can choose to conform my will to God's and become righteous. I too can choose to be like Christ. I must do this every moment of my life. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

August 11, 2015

Who is my Deliverer?

Psalm 97:10 (96:10 LXX)

You who love the Lord, hate evil;
The Lord keeps the souls of His saints;
He shall deliver them from the hand of sinners.

Encouraging Words

Sometimes it feels like the whole world has succumbed to the evils that the scriptures so clearly warn us about. Businesses have become so greedy and treat their employees like commodities and use deception to convince their customers to buy more. Debauchery is rampant across the entertainment industry. So many wars are being waged in the name of God, but in reality are against God. And the list goes on. So where are the encouraging words? If I love god and continue to strive to live my life His way, in the image of His son, then He will keep my soul. He will deliver me from the hand of sinners. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!

Monday, August 10, 2015

August 10, 2015

Created in His Image

Genesis 5:2-3

He made them male and female, and blessed them; and the day He made them He called his name Adam. Now Adam lived two hundred and thirty years, and begot a son according to his form and image, and named him Seth.

Encouraging Words

God purposely created mankind in His image and gave us the ability to walk with Him. Even though mankind fell from God's presence in the garden of Eden, God continued to bless us with the ability to have children and raise them to know Him. His presence never left us!

August 9, 2015

The Image of Christ

Genesis 4:25

Again Adam knew his wife Eve, and she conceived and bore a son, and he named him Seth, saying, “God has appointed another seed for me instead of Abel, whom Cain killed.”

Encouraging Words

Even at the beginning of the creation and development of mankind, our Lord weaves the portrayal of Christ into the fabric of life and the scriptures. Abel, who pleased God with his sacrifice, was ultimately killed out of jealousy and unwillingness to repent. And out of death God raises up a new son for Adam and Eve. A son whose lineage produces the very lineage of God. The early church fathers taught that Seth was a typification of Jesus who was also put to death out of jealousy and an unwillingness to repent. Jesus rose up from the dead giving mankind a new lineage to eternal life. Glory be to God.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

August 8, 2015

Saint of the Week...
St. Porphyrios the Kapsokalyvite

August 7, 2015

Hanging on to Wisdom

Proverbs 5:1-2

My son, hold fast to wisdom
And incline your ear to my words,
That you may guard good thinking;
And I command you with the perception of my lips.

Personal Challenge

My salvation through Christ and my justification and sanctification in Him is not a onetime event in my life. I am commanded to be diligent in my pursuit of Him and His wisdom and to be militant in protecting my thoughts and passions as I follow in His footsteps through the journey of life that He is leading me on. My salvation is a process that He and the Holy Spirit continually work out within me. Glory be to God!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

August 6, 2015

What is the real purpose of the Law?

Mark 2:27-28

And He said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath."

Encouraging Words

It is so easy to see how many beliefs get off on the wrong track to salvation and relationship with the living God by focusing on rules and laws. These are more tangible and, therefore, easier to claim as what we must obey in order to know God. However, the truth is that all of the rules and laws of the Old Testament were established to point us to Jesus and our need for Him. They are there to show us that we cannot be in a relationship with a righteous and holy god without a righteous and holy Savior leading the way. Glory be to God!

Friday, August 7, 2015

August 5, 2015

No Doubting Thomas Here

John 20:29

Jesus said to him, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

Encouraging Words

What a blessing and a privilege to be accounted amongst those who have believed without seeing. As my life has progressed through this believing without seeing, God has revealed Himself over and over again. That is where additional blessings are poured forth. Glory be to God!

August 4, 2015

He is Still Walking in the Garden Calling My Name

Genesis 3:8-9

Then they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden that afternoon, and Adam and his wife hid themselves within the tree in the middle of the garden from the presence of the Lord God. So the Lord God called Adam and said to him, “Adam, where are you?”

Encouraging Words...

This does not sound like the description of a wrathful, judgmental God to me. God knew that Adam and Eve had sinned. He knew that they had fallen out of their created state and were now living in a fallen, broken world. No! He walked in the garden as He did every other day, seeking to be in communion with them. It was Adam and Eve who had chosen to hide from God, just as I do when I know that I have transgressed against my relationship with Him. And yet, He continues to pursue me and seek to commune with me, His child. Thank You Lord Jesus for making this possible.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

August 3, 2015

Physically Blind or Spiritually Blind

Genesis 3:7

Then the eyes of the two were opened, and they knew they were naked. So they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.

Personal Challenge

So, were Adam and Eve blind, and now that they have sinned, been given sight? I don't think so. Is it not possible that at the beginning of their lives, before they sinned, they walked in the divine light of God and their eyes were not focused on the things of the earth such as their nakedness? When their eyes were opened to the things of this earth they became blind to the divine light of God and mankind has been seeking that again ever since. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, teach me to see as Adam and Eve first saw!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

August 2, 2015

Under the Refiner's Watchful Eye

Proverbs 3:11-12

My son, do not despise the instruction of the Lord,
Neither grow weary under His reproof.
For whom the Lord loves He instructs,
And chastises every son He receives.

Encouraging Words

So, why is it that I often feel like my life is under this constant thumb of correction and instruction? You would think that at age 62 it would be slowing down rather than ramping up. Here I am reminded that as an adopted son of God He will ramp up the instruction and reproof in my life. As I draw nearer to Him the more the dross that I have in my life becomes visible and must be eliminated. The pressure is on because He wants me closer to Him. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

July 31, 2015

Achieving Wisdom

Proverbs 1:20-21a

Wisdom sings in the streets;
She moves boldly in the squares.
She preaches on high city walls
And sits at the gates of lords.

Encouraging Words

Wisdom, which the early church fathers equated to Christ, is ever present, at all times and everywhere that we go. Christ was the incarnation of Wisdom and has made this Wisdom available to everyone. Although I can gain more knowledge by reading more and studying more, if I am to gain the Wisdom that I desire through this pursuit of knowledge, I will not find it unless I yield to the only source of Wisdom, Jesus Christ. This means setting my self aside and letting Him take over. Glory be to God!

Monday, August 3, 2015

July 29, 2015

All In the Master's Plan!

Genesis 1:5b

...and there was evening and morning, one day.

Encouraging Words

So, why would God, who is eternal and transcends time, make His creation so that it is bound by time? Because He loved His creation so deeply and knew that we would need cycles of work and rest. It is not so important here to get all wrapped up in the argument of whether or not this is one of our 24 hour days or a period of time chosen by God, time-sliced out of eternity. What is important is that God ordered His creation in such a way as to properly prepare it so that mankind, created in His image, could walk there and commune with Him. Glory be to God!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

July 28, 2015

Forgiveness! A Contributor to Salvation.

Matthew 6:14-15

For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Personal Challenge

Well, Lord, I guess you are trying to drive home your point. Contrary to what is often thought, there is more to being forgiven of my sins than just saying a prayer. God wants me to be active in bestowing forgiveness toward people who have offended me so that I can receive His forgiveness. How is this possible? If I am holding back on offering forgiveness then I am also choosing to distance myself from God. As this process continues my true requests for forgiveness become less and less, and therefore so does God's blessing of forgiveness. Definitely something to think about.

August 1, 2015

Saint of the Week

St. Justin Popovitch

Saturday, August 1, 2015

July 27, 2015

Who, Me! Lord? You Must Be Kidding!

Luke 23:34

Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”

Personal Challenge

Here I go again...God throwing down the gauntlet of faith and challenging me on whether or not I truly have given my life to Him and have the desire to be like my Lord and Savior, Jesus. If Jesus, being fully man, could ask His Father to forgive those who had crucified Him, then the expectation of me is that I will forgive those who have offended me or my loved ones. Talk about an "in your face" challenge. A challenge that I must not only accept, but must work through in prayer and fasting in order to practice. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner, and guide me through this process of forgiveness at all times.