Wednesday, September 30, 2015

September 30, 2015

Dead or Alive!

Matthew 22:31-32

"But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living."

Personal Challenge

Do I really believe that God is the God of the living? If so, then why do I not live my life, every single breath of it, as if God is fully alive in me and around me? Why do I live my life just for me and not for Him? Why do I live my life loving me more than my neighbor? The answer to these questions lies in the state of my heart, which can sometimes revert to its old, temporal way and therefore, create withing me a death toward my God and my neighbor. What is the remedy for this death? To be constantly reminding myself that I am alive in Christ, and only in Christ, and let Him do the rest. Glory be to God!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

September 29, 2015

Falling down before the Icon of God!

Ezekiel 1:29

This was the vision of the likeness of the Lord's glory. I saw it, and I fell down on my face, and heard the voice of One speaking.

Encouraging Words

Who did Ezekiel see that caused him to fall down on his face in worship? He was blessed to be able to stand before the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ. Jesus is the living Icon of God the Father whom no man can see and still exist. Through Jesus, and Jesus alone, we can see God in all of His glory. And we, today, are blessed to have the Incarnate Son through whom we can see God. The real question that I must ask myself is, "Do I fall down on my face in His presence or do I just look at this Icon as if it is just another object in my temporal life?" Jesus is the Icon of God the Father. He is the window through whom we can get a glimpse of heaven. He is the door through whom we can enter into the kingdom of God. Glory be to God! Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner! I fall down before you and hide my face for I am not worthy to be in your presence.

Monday, September 28, 2015

September 28, 2015

There is more than what falls between the two covers...

Matthew 24:35

Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.

Encouraging Words

Our Lord is eternal. His Living Word is eternal. It is encouraging to know that even if the heavens and the earth should perish, and all of the printed versions of the scriptures should perish with them, that the Living Word will always be there. This is why I must not worship the physical representation of some of my Lord's words but worship Him. I must allow Him to be the Living Word written on my heart and carried with me wherever I go. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

September 27, 2015

God is Love!

Zechariah 9:9

"Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Proclaim it aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King comes to you; He is righteous and saving; He is gentle and mounted upon a donkey, even a young foal."

Encouraging Words

What kind of King rides into His kingdom on a donkey? An angry and wrathful King? No! What kind of King approaches His subjects as a lowly and humble human? An overpowering and vengeful King? No! Our Lord came to us as a humble baby in a manger, lived a humble, yet perfect life, made His mark on His society for 3 years, and then gave up His life for us. This is a King who loves His people! Thank You Lord Jesus!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Friday, September 25, 2015

September 25, 2015


Hebrews 12:28

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.

Personal Challenge

My humanness and the sin which I harbor in it leads me to that place where I believe that I am the center of the universe and everything revolves around me. However, the truth is that only God and His kingdom are the center of all and are the only things that are unshakable and worthy of praise. It is imperative then that I enter into His kingdom with fear and reverence and share God's grace with everyone that I come into contact with.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

September 24, 2015

Acknowledgment versus Knowledge

Titus 1:1

Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness,

Personal Challenge

I love the note in the Orthodox Study Bible that accompanies this verse:
Acknowledgment (Gr. epignosis) is deeper than mental knowledge; it is experiential, not theoretical. Knowledge (the truth) and action (godliness) are a unity; knowledge that does not change one's life does not save.
God does not care how much I know about Him, or the Church, or anything else if that knowledge is not being internalized and changing me. God wants me be an active Christian, not just an academic Christian. I must always be careful to not be prideful in the books, blogs, scriptures, or whatever other sources I use to gain knowledge, especially if they are not changing me to be more like Christ. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of god, have mercy on me, a sinner!

September 23, 2015

Letting go of my interpretations!

1 Timothy 6:20-21

O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge— by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith.

Grace be with you. Amen.

Personal Challenge

Paul challenges Timothy in this letter to remain true to that which has been passed down to him from the previous leaders of the church and that which can be traced back to the Apostles. For those of us who have converted from the practice of sola scriptura and being taught that we, individually, have the right and the authority to interpret the scriptures, there is the lifelong challenge of letting go of our self-gained knowledge and holding on to the teachings that have been handed down from the Fathers. It is my responsibility to apply these teachings and the scriptures to my own life and to have them change my behavior, but not my responsibility to expound on whatever earthly knowledge I have gained. In others words...stay true to the faith!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

September 22, 2015

Our God is so good!

Habakkuk 3:18-19

Yet I will glory in the Lord;
I will rejoice in God my Savior.
The Lord God is my strength;
He will direct my feet to the end;
He will set me upon high places,
So to conquer by His song.

Encouraging Words

Our God is so good! He loves His children so much and desires to be in constant fellowship with us. He gives us the strength that we need to make it through every moment of life and directs our footsteps along His path for our lives. He lifts us up to the high places so that we can proclaim Him to the world. Glory be to God!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

September 21, 2015

Checking the state of my heart.

Proverbs 21:3

To do righteous things and to speak the truth
Are more pleasing before God than the blood of sacrifices.

Personal Challenge

Does God really care about how closely we follow the traditions and practices of our church (fasting, reading the scriptures, praying, etc.)? While all of these are important to our development, He is much more interested in the state of our heart and how we let Him permeate our lives. As Paul reminds me in 1 Corinthians 13, it does not matter what spiritual gifts I have or how I use them if I do not do everything in love and in His truth. This is what I need to be working on every moment of my life...the state of my heart and how it drives what I do. Glory be to God.

Monday, September 21, 2015

September 20, 2015

Time to take out the garbage!

Proverbs 19:21

There are many thoughts in the heart of a man,
But the counsel of the Lord abides forever.

Personal Challenge

Once again, it is so easy to fill my heart with my own thoughts and desires and end up pressing the true wisdom of the Lord deep beneath my own stuff. What I must continue to do is flush my own thoughts and desires out of my heart and let the Holy Spirit wash over me and fill me with the Wisdom of God. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

September 19, 2015

Saint of the Week
St. Gregory of Sinai

September 18, 2015

Our upside down way of life.

Mark 10:43-45

Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.

Personal Challenge

God's economy always appears to be upside down compared to the economy of man. Here we are reminded that we must become servants to all if we desire to be first. We must put the needs of others before our own if we desire to have our needs and desires met. In reality, it is man's economy that is upside down. God created us in His image. He created us so that He could walk with us in the garden and be in a relationship with us. He is the one who chose to serve us first. When Adam and Eve chose to sin, this way of life was reversed and we started expecting everyone and everything else to be servants to us. Jesus has turned this back around by becoming man and becoming a servant to all of mankind, giving us the example to follow. Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

September 16, 2015

Am I being transformed by Christ?

Ephesians 4:31-32

Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

Personal Challenge

Can I truly claim to be a follower of Christ and not behave differently than the rest of the world? Can my language, whether verbal or on mediums such as social media, be filled with bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, sarcasm, and evil speaking, and still being saying that I follow Jesus and desire to be like Him? I don't believe so! If my behavior is not being changed from the inside out then I must truly question if I have Christ sitting on the throne of my heart. If He is, then being kind to one another, being tenderhearted and forgiving toward others will be a natural part of my behavior. Time for a self-assessment. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

September 15, 2015

Mercy and Love Abound

Psalm 109:21-22 (108:21-22 LXX)

And of those who speak evil things against my soul.
But You, O Lord, O Lord, deal mercifully with me for Your name's sake,
For Your mercy is good.
Save me, for I am poor and needy,
And my heart is troubled within me.

Encouraging Words

Why does my Lord, the creator and master of the universe and all of creation, deal mercifully with me, a fallen and broken sinner? It is not because of anything that I have done or could do. He does this because of who He is. He is all merciful! He is all love! He created me, and everything else throughout eternity so that He could pour out His mercy and love on us. And yes, just like everyone else and everything else in creation, I am poor and needy, living with a troubled heart. However, His relentless love and mercy makes me wealthy and without need. He heals my troubled heart. Thank You, O, Lord!

Monday, September 14, 2015

September 14, 2015

Acquiring true wisdom

Proverbs 17:28 (17:30 LXX)

Wisdom shall be imputed to a man without understanding who asks for wisdom,
And anyone who holds his peace will seem to have discernment.

Encouraging Words

Our Lord desires that we understand His mysteries with the wisdom that only He can give us. So many of us go through life with the quest to garnish as much knowledge that we can believing that we are gaining God's wisdom. Without doing this under the wing of our Lord, and regularly petitioning Him for it, then all tat we are gaining is knowledge. True wisdom is imputed to us from our Father through our asking Him for it and being prepared by Him to receive it. Glory be to God!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

September 13, 2015

Finding true knowledge

Proverbs 16:7 (16:4 LXX)

He who seeks the Lord will find knowledge with righteousness,
And those who seek Him rightly will find peace.

Encouraging Words

Our Lord rewards us with righteous knowledge and peace if we will seek Him. These virtues can only be found once we are in Him, and He is in us. Glory be to God!

September 12, 2015

Saint of the Week...
St. Nikolai Velimirovic

Saturday, September 12, 2015

September 11, 2015

Loving even while I suffer

1 Peter 2:19-20

For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God.

Personal Challenge

The life that Jesus calls me to live is so much different than what the world calls me to live. The world calls me to live my life with me as the center of the universe with everything revolving around me. Living this way sets me up to expect that everyone else treat me nicely, especially when I do nice things. Therefore, I do nice things so that I get rewarded and honored. Jesus, however, showed me that God and others should be the center of my universe and that I should live my life loving them. From this love will flow acts of love and kindness expecting nothing in return. But what if I suffer for doing these good things? Then I should take the suffering patiently as Jesus did knowing that this too is an act of love. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

September 10, 2015

For I know whom I have believed...

2 Timothy 1:12-14

For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.

Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.

Encouraging Words

I have found that if I am truly trying to live my life for Christ, and hopefully live it the way that I believe He would want me to, then there will be suffering. It may be from others oppressing me for my belief, or it may be from sacrificing things that this world has to offer, and sometimes it is from other believers challenging me because my faith practice is different than theirs. But no matter what form the suffering comes in, Jesus, the One in whom I have put my faith, is always there to keep me strong in Him and filled with His joy. Glory be to God!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

September 9, 2015

Blossoming where I am planted!

Romans 14:19

Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.

Personal Challenge

Paul was such an amazing man and clearly an example to follow. He lived in a day when one of the most ruthless governments was in control of the known world of his day, the Roman empire. On top of that he was under the jurisdiction of the local government and religious governing intstitutions in Jerusalem and Israel. Corruption was rampant. Persecution was at its height. And yet Paul did not rebel against the institutions of the world for he knew that his citizenship was in heaven. To the contrary, he worked within the government institutions in order to share the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout his world. What a valuable lesson for me today, to know and trust that God has placed me right where I am in time, in geography, and in social structure, so that He can use me to glorify Him and not magnify me.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

September 8, 2015

Silence is Golden

Romans 14:12-13

So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother's way.

Personal Challenge

How can I become a stumbling block or a cause to fall in my brother's life? One very easy way is to judge them for their beliefs or life practices. Another is to be so vocal about my beliefs or life practices so as to misrepresent my Lord. Whether it be my position on politics or the people in politics, the church or the people in the church, my opinions on our society or the people in our society, if my voice on these things is so loud and strong that it makes others believe that my personal opinion is what Jesus teaches, then I have professed a false gospel and caused my brother to stumble and to fall. The only message that both my words and my actions should be proclaiming is the love of God for His creation and the work of Christ to redeem us from our sin and death. Everything else should be kept silent and personal. No wonder so many early church fathers and saints of the desert encourage silence over speaking. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

September 6, 2015

Christ is in our Midst

Romans 14:7-10

For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living. But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

Personal Challenge

I am not alone in this world. I am connected to every other human being because we all carry the image of God within us. Because of this, no matter what I do, it is for the Lord, both the good and the bad. If I do good for my brother, or to him, then I am doing it for, or to Christ. If I treat my brother badly, then that too, I do to my Lord. Whether it be by my word or my deed then I must always see Christ in our midst.

September 5, 2015

Saint of the Week
St. Symeon the New Theologian

Friday, September 4, 2015

September 4, 2015

Who is Dwelling Within!

2 Timothy 2:11-13

This is a faithful saying:
For if we died with Him,
We shall also live with Him.
If we endure,
We shall also reign with Him.
If we deny Him,
He also will deny us.
If we are faithless,
He remains faithful;
He cannot deny Himself.

Encouraging Words

How come Jesus has more responsibilities in this relationship than we do? If we die to self and endure the battles of life for Him, then we can live with Him and even reign with Him. But if we become faithless, He remains faithful to us. This is because when we chose to follow Him and were baptized and chrismated into Him, then He took up His dwelling place within us. This is why He cannot deny Himself. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for Your commitment to us, and me!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

September 3, 2015

Practice What I Preach!

Isaiah 29:13

So the Lord said, "These people draw near to Me and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me, and they worship Me in vain, teaching the commandments and doctrines of men."

Personal Challenge...

Oh, how easy it is to slip into the mode of preaching and teaching about Christ and what we should be doing as His followers and yet not practice what we are saying in our own hearts and lives. God judges my heart and He knows what the truth is within me. This is why it is so important for me to worry about my own life in Christ and not about everyone else's. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

September 2, 2015

Christ, our Cornerstone

Isaiah 28:16

therefore, thus says the Lord: "Behold, I lay for the foundations of Zion a costly stone, a chosen and precious cornerstone for its foundations, and whoever believes in Him will not be put to shame."

Encouraging Words

From the beginning of eternity, God had chosen His Son to be the cornerstone that humanity would be built upn in order for us to be in relationship with Himself. Man was created through Christ in His image and likeness. Then after man exercised his free will and fell from the presence of God. Christ was once again built upon through the law and the prohets to teach us of our need for a Redeemer. Finally after the law and the prophets were rejected, once again Christ became the cornerstone through His incarnation, death, burial, and resurection. He once and for all laid Himself down to be the cornerstone for our eternal relationship with God. Glory be to Him!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

September 1, 2015

When time stands still...

2 Peter 3:9

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

Encouraging Words

What is time to the one Who is eternal? What is lovew in relationship to time? God, our creator, our sustainer, the lover of mankind, desires so much for us to be in relationship with Him that He suffers long waiting for us to turn to Him in repentance and become His child. Am I not asked to love others this way as well, so that they might experience the love of God?

August 31, 2015

Making God a Liar?

1 John 5:10-12

He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
Personal Challenge, I can make God a liar? That is what it says! My belief in the Son of God is an integral part of my salvation. Christ did all of the redemptive work. He broke the power of death on mankind and trampled it down. However, it is through my active, ongoing faith in Him that He then fills my life and makes me His witness. If I claim to be His and yet do not live in faith, then am I not making it look like God is a liar about His Son dwelling within me? As Abraham demonstrated so long ago, it was not his actions that made him righteous, but it was the God whom he put his faith in that made him righteous. So much to learn, and unlearn, and so little time to do it. Glory be to God!