Saturday, October 31, 2015

October 31, 2015

Saint of the Week
St. Mark the Ascetic

October 29, 2015

Singing out to my God!

Psalm 101:2 (100:2 LXX)

I will sing and understand in a blameless way;
When will You come to me?
I walked in the innocence of my heart in the midst of my house.

Encouraging Words

What better way to start the day than singing out to our God and beginning the day with a clean and innocent heart. We can call upon our God to be with us throughout the day and strive to be blameless as we bathe in His glory, love, mercy, and grace.

Friday, October 30, 2015

October 28, 2015

Glory be to God!

Psalm 119:89 (118:89 LXX)

And I shall keep the testimonies of Your mouth.
Forever, O Lord,
Your word continues in heaven.

Encouraging Words

Nothing about our God is temporary or fleeting. He is eternal, and therefore, His precepts and His love for us is eternal. I will never be out from under His wing. Glory be to God!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

October 27, 2015

To Whom Shall I Go?

John 6:68-69

But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Encouraging words

I love how Peter makes it so clear that now that he has truly met Jesus there is nowhere else that he can go. His life will never be the same again. I have found that the more I grow in my relationship with my precious Lord the farther from this world I am drawn, the less the cares and concerns of this world mean to me. There is nowhere else to go except to the fee of Jesus. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God have mercy on me the sinner!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

October 26, 2015

Jesus...Our Doorway to Life!

Hebrews 2:14-15

Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

Encouraging Words

Jesus becoming a man, living an earthly life, and dying on the cross as a sinless human was not God's Plan B. God is divine, uncreated, and always separate from mankind because no man can survive in His presence. So, how is it that we can ever hope to enter into His eternal home of heaven? Through Jesus! Jesus is God incarnate in human form. We can be in the presence of Jesus who is our doorway to heaven. And on top of this, by becoming a man, living a sinless life, being put to death, and rising from that death, He broke the bondage that satan had on us through death. We are free to live forever and to live sinless lives because of Jesus. Glory be to God!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

October 25, 2015

Dead or Alive!

Romans 8:10

And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

Encouraging Words

Is it possible to be both dead and alive at the same time? Yes, through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within me because I am a child of God. My body, my physical and mortal shell is in a constate state of dying due to the fallen and sinful state of the world. However, the Holy Spirit fills me with spiritual life that will keep me alive through the remainder of eternity. Glory be to God!

October 24, 2015

Saint of the Week
St. Anatoly of Optiva

Friday, October 23, 2015

October 23, 2015

Converted or converting?

Acts 3:19

Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,

Personal Challenge

Why is it that we talk of becoming a Christian as being converted? It is because in order for me to truly be a follower of Christ I must repent of my natural, temporal self and convert to a spiritually focused, Christ-centered way of being. I must act different, look different, think different, be different. This difference, this conversion, happens throughout the rest of my life as I pursue the likeness of Christ and grow in His image. If I am not different than the world around me then I have stalled on m journey and need to repent and start the conversion process back up. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

October 22, 2015

The realization of my unworthiness!

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

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.

Personal Challenge

The closer I get to God, the more I realize how far I am from Him. The more I get to know Him, and about Him, the more I realize that I do not know Him. This is the Christian journey. We pursue our Lord, to know Him, to experience Him, to hold onto Him, and in this journey, as we accomplish all of this in our pursuit, we realize that we will never know the immensity of our God, the depth of His love for us, or the riches of His wisdom. I reality, the closer that I draw toward Him, the more I realize that I am truly unworthy of Him and His love for me, and like Peter, I cry out and ask Him to leave me. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

October 21, 2015

Living worthy of the Gospel

Philippians 1:27-30

Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.

Personal Challenge

How is it possible to live up to the first phrase of this passage, "Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ"? On my own power, this is not possible. Through the love of the Father, the work of the Son, and the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life, this can become the focus of my life journey. How does the gospel of Christ play out in the conduct of my life? By loving God and my neighbor, by not being judgmental and lifting others up, and by becoming transparent so that others do not see me, but see God. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

October 20, 2015

To bloom where I am planted!

Acts 6:8

And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.

Personal Challenge

What a great witness Stephen was for Christ and an example for me. It is so easy to get wrapped up in desiring something other than what I have and miss the opportunity to be performing great wonders and signs where God has planted me. Even if what I desire is good, like being in a place where I could do God's work rather than man's work. If the desire becomes so strong that it hinders me from being full of faith and power in my current place then I am not fulfilling God's purpose in my glorify Him. God knows that I am unworthy to be His witness, His emissary, His child, and yet He pours out His love and mercy, upon me anyway. Glory be to God, not me! Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

October 19, 2015

Surrounded by His love!

Psalm 117 (116 LXX)

Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles;
Praise Him, all you peoples,
For His mercy rules over us;
And the truth of the Lord endures forever.

Encouraging Words

God alone is worthy of my praise and worship for He has ruled over me, a Gentile, with His great and divine mercy. He pours out His love upon me when I do not now, and never will deserve it. His love and truth embrace me and hold me near to His heart. Glory be to God!

Monday, October 19, 2015

October 18, 2015

To love relentlessly!

1 John 4:7-9

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.

Personal Challenge

If all of Christianity had to be summed up in one word, that word would be, "Love!". God loved us so much that He gave us His Son. Jesus loved us so much that He became a man and gave up His life for us. I am commanded to do only two things with my life; love God and love my neighbor. Without this love, I am not His. The challenge is to love relentlessly, expecting nothing in return, just as God does. Lord have mercy on me, the sinner!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

October 17, 2015

Saint of the Week
St. Paisios of Mt. Athos

October 16, 2015

Becoming a living icon!

Philippians 2:14-16

Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.

Personal Challenge

So, what light is it that shines through me to those around me when I am living my life for God? It is not me! It is not my good works! Could it be that the light others see when I am living a life that glorifies God is His uncreated, glorious light? If I am living for Him, loving others for Him, caring for others through Him, then I am becoming an icon, a portal, through which others can see God. I become transparent and therefore, disappear so that He can become apparent and appear before others. I must decrease so that He can increase.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

October 15, 2015

Running the Marathon well!

1 Timothy 4:7-8

But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.

Personal Challenge

So much of the Christian walk comes down to balance. Balancing what we do in our lives so that we are not over-focusing on any one area. Just as the athlete cannot just focus on one form of exercise or practice, but must have a suite of exercises to develop his whole body, so too must the Christian develop all aspects of his walk with Christ to be able to grow in godliness. This included reading and studying the scriptures and teachings of the saints, participating in the worship and liturgical traditions of the church, being a part of the church body through fellowship, cleansing ourselves of the toxins of our actions in the world through confession and repentance, and exercising our faith through prayer, fasting, serving, giving alms and tithes, and whatever else our Lord asks of us. The Christian walk is a marathon and requires diligent and persistent work.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

October 14, 2015

How is my prayer life going?

Psalm 143:1 (142:1 LXX)

O Lord, hear my prayer; Give ear to my supplication in Your truth;
Answer me in Your righteousness;

Personal Challenge

Does God answer my prayers? Always! Do I recognize these answers? Not as often as I should! There is a very valuable truth about proper prayer in this little nugget, "my supplication in Your truth". I can pray and pray for all the things that I want from God. Any many of these things may be good and proper things. But if I am truly walking in Christ, living my life close to Him, being obedient and submissive to Him, then He will reveal to me those things that I should be praying for. I will then be praying in His truth. This is when I truly see His answers in righteousness. This is when I accept His "No" answers as readily as His "Yes" answers. A true Christian life is lived within Him, for Him, by Him, with all abandonment of self and love of this world. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

October 13, 2015

Participating in THE Wedding Feast!

John 2:9-10

When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom. And he said to him, "Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now."

Encouraging Words

Jesus constantly invites us to partake in His special wedding feast. We get to this every time that we partake of the Eucharist. He is the Groom, ad were are both the bride and the guests. He takes that which is plain and bland, our earthly and unrepentent selves, and turns us into new creatures that taste sweet and are aromatic to the lost world. I cannot do this by myself, but only He can. glory be to God!

Monday, October 12, 2015

October 12, 2015

What I know never measures up to Who I know!

Acts 4:13

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.

Personal Challenge

If I have truly "been with Jesus", if I am in an intimate relationship with Him, then I do not have to brag about my educational or occupational accomplishments to be recognized as a bold follower of Him. I have been given the Holy Spirit so that He can impart to me the divine knowledge and wisdom that I need to live for Him, to proclaim Him, and to die for Him. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!

October 10, 2015

Saint of the Week

St. Nicolai Velimirovic

October 9, 2015

My Deliverer!

2 Timothy 4:18

And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!

Encouraging Words

I am my Father's child. As His child, I am always under His protective wing. There is nothing that can take place in my life, either in this current age or the age to come, that He cannot deliver me from. He demonstrated this over and over again with the children of His old covenant and has consistently demonstrated this throughout His new covenant. His deliverance may not always come in the way that I expect it to, but then I am human and only have a finite view of what options of deliverance I think are best. He is infinite, all-knowing, and all-powerful. He always knows the deliverance that is best for me. Glory be to God!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

October 8, 2015

Living in the Light!

Psalm 119:105 (118:105 LXX)

Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my paths.

Encouraging Words

What a blessing it is to know that God's word, whether it be the written scriptures, the teachings of the fathers, or the traditions, hymns, icons, and sacraments of te Church, will always be the light that guides me through the journey of my life. This is a light that will never go out and never lead me astray. Glory be to God!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

October 7, 2015

The Master Planner needs no Plan B!

Philippians 2:5-7

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.

Encouraging Words

Jesus did not become man and die on the cross to fulfill the anger and wrath of His Father. God is love, mercy, and grace! He did not come in order to correct the sin of Adam and the rest of mankind as some kind of Plan B. He was incarnate before the beginning of creation! Jesus came so that by taking on the form of humankind, we might be able to be joined to our Father. He lived a sinless life so that we can strive to do the same. He died because we all die. He rose from the dead, conquering death and the hold that it had on us so that we too will one day be raised up victorious over death. This was God's plan all along. Someday, we will once again walk with God in His garden. Glory be to God!

Monday, October 5, 2015

October 5, 2015

Radical living for God!

2 Timothy 1:8-9

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began,

Personal Challenge

By God's grace and mercy, we have each been given a holy calling for His purpose. We have not been coerced, programmed, or pre-destined, but called, which means that I have a choice to accept or reject His calling. Some of us are called to do radical things for God, such as Paul was, who became a prisoner for Christ. We are all asked to be supportive of our brothers and sisters in Christ and to not be ashamed of the consequences of their answering God's calling in their lives. To the contrary, we are asked to enter into their sufferings with them. In reality, aren't we all being given holy callings to do radical things for God? If I answer His calling, no matter how "normal" it may appear, such as serving in the nursery at my church, or vacuuming the sanctuary after the service, or tending the grounds, should I not be doing it with a radical love for my God and a desire to bless Him and others through my actions. Living our lives fully committed to our Christ in the world, a world that is opposed to Him will be radical. If it is not then maybe I am just pretending. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

October 4, 2015

Loved by my ever-present Father.

Psalm 114:1-2 (116:1-2 LXX)

I have loved, because the Lord Shall hear the voice of my supplication;
For He inclined His ear to me,
And in my days I shall call upon Him.

Encouraging Words

My God is not some distant, disconnected, disinterested being that only sees me as a pawn in His greater game of eternity. My God loves me so deeply that He came to my temporal world to become human like me, to live a life like mine...only sinless, and to die for me. He died just as every other human dies, only He rose again, victorious over death making it possible for me to be raised from the dead by Him when He comes again. He also hears my voice as I call out to Him and answers my prayers and supplications. Sometimes the answer is in the form of my heart, and therefore, my request, changing to be in alignment with His will. Sometimes He gives me what I ask for. In all cases, he hears me and responds knowing what is best for me. That is how much He loves me as His child. Glory be to God!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Friday, October 2, 2015

October 2, 2015

No room for doubt.

John 20:25

The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”

So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”

Encouraging Words

How much does my Lord Jesus Christ love me? He shows that depth of His love with Thomas. A love deep enough to appear before Him after Hs resurrection and to let him touch His hands, feet, and side. He has revealed Himself to me enough throughout my life that I have no shadow of a doubt that He is my Lord and that I am His child. Thank You, Lord Jesus!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

October 1, 2015

Learning from the Master!

Job 42:4

But hear me, O Lord, that I also may speak.
I will ask You, and please teach Me.

Encouraging Words

True knowledge and Wisdom does not come from the things I do in this temporal world, but by earnestly petitioning my Lord to hear my plea for Him to teach me his truths and His mysteries. When I submit myself to Him and His teaching He will hear my prayers and fill me with His Wisdom. Then I will gain His knowledge as I read the scriptures, study the fathers, practice the traditions of the Church, and follow Him. Praise You Lord Jesus, my Shepherd, and Rabbi.