Monday, February 29, 2016

February 29, 2016


Wisdom of Sirach 5:10-11 LXX

Be established in your understanding
And let your word be consistent.
Be quick to listen
And give your answer with patience.

Personal Challenge

It is so easy to get wrapped up in our own, personal knowledge and understanding and believe that we are doing things God's way. If we are not focusing on God's Wisdom (Christ) and God's understanding then we are destined to make decisions that are inconsistent with Him. Once we start yielding our lives to Him and desire His way and His Wisdom, then we must strive to keep our words consistent with His. Part of this comes from being quick to listen and slow to speak. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

February 28, 2016


Wisdom of Sirach 3:18-19

The greater you are, the more humble you must be,
And you will find grace before the Lord;
Because great is the power of the Lord,
And He is honored by the humble.

Encouraging Words

I remember the day so well when my father had a mystical experience with our Lord Jesus Christ. From that day on my father was a living miracle. To see the transformation that God could do in a man's life has been an inspiration in my life ever since and was a beacon to so many lives that knew my father. Because of this mystical experience my father began his journey of becoming humble, and it is so fitting that this passage would be the one that fell upon today, the day that would have been his 89th birthday. Now he is celebrating it with the heavenly host. Glory be to God. Happy birthday, Dad! You are loved and missed!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Friday, February 26, 2016

February 26, 2016


Wisdom of Sirach 1:20-21 LXX

A patient man will hold fast until the proper time,
Then afterwards gladness shall burst forth for him.
He shall conceal his words until the proper time,
And the lips of many will tell of his understanding.

Personal Challenge

Our God is so patient. He has waited for over 2,000 years so that more of His creation may come to know Him and we have no idea how much longer He will wait. If my desire is to be like Him and to grow in the image of my Lord Jesus Christ, then this is one area of my life that I can work on, being patient. By learning to be patient I will be exercising love for my neighbor. This practice will also play out in learning how to conceal my words and hold my tongue. This too is showing love for my neighbor and putting them before myself. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

February 25, 2016


Wisdom of Sirach 1:16 LXX

The fear of the Lord is the crown of wisdom,
Making peace and soundness of health to flourish.

Personal Challenge

Don't we all want peace and soundness of health? I know that I do. Unfortunately, we so often chase the things of this world such as wealth, or the things that wealth buys, or prestige thinking that these things will give us peace and health. In truth, all that they do is begin us on that spiral of wanting more and more and falling farther and farther from the crown of wisdom. Only true, deep, and purposeful fear of the Lord can free us to this peace and soundness of health. Glory be to God!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

February 24, 2016


Wisdom of Sirach 1:10-11 LXX

The fear of the Lord will cheer the heart
And will give gladness, joy, and long life.
For those who fear the Lord, it shall be well to the utmost,
And on the day of his death, he will be blessed.

Encouraging Words

What do we mean when we say that we fear our God? This concept has been misconstrued in our modern language and experience. Today, we perceive this as a frightful and cowering response to someone, or something, that is mean and can do us great harm. In the Christian perspective, it means to show great reverence, love, and respect to our God who is awesome and mighty, yet loving and merciful. This kind of fear brings us to a place of great awe and respect for our God who we do not deserve to know, yet desires to know us. Is it any wonder then that through this fear He will cheer our heart, give us gladness, joy, and long life, and bless us both in this life and the life to come? Once again, I am reminded that this is all about our God and who He is and what He does, and nothing about me except that I am the blessed recipient of His love. Glory be to God!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

February 23, 2016


Wisdom of Solomon 19:22 LXX

For in everything, O Lord, You have exalted and glorified Your people,
And have not neglected to be present with them in every time and place.

Encouraging Words

My God is not some distant, disconnected, wrathful, and judgmental god. He is active in the lives of those who love Him and pursue Him. He does not have unrealistic expectations of me because He loves me unconditionally and without end. What an awesome God He is.

Monday, February 22, 2016

February 22, 2106


Wisdom of Solomon 15:1-3 LXX

But You, our God, are kind, true, patient,
And govern all things in mercy.
For even if we sin, we belong to You and know Your might;
But we will not sin,
Because we know that we are counted as belonging to You.
For to know You is complete righteousness,
And to know Your might is the root of immortality.

Encouraging Words

It is our God that is the only thing that is constant in the history of eternity. In that never-ending presence only He is fully kind, true, patient, and merciful. Only He can embrace me with true and complete love, even when I turn away from Him in sin. So in this knowledge, this experience of His love poured into my life, I can strive to not sin so that I might know Him better and live my life so that I might be able to enter into His righteousness. This is the desire that He places within my heart and which I mus constantly hold no to as the flesh fights for its own way. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

February 21, 2016


Wisdom of Solomon 12:1-2

For Your immortal Spirit is in all things.
For this reason You correct little by little those who fall away,
And You remind and warn them of the sins they commit
So they may be freed from evil and believe in You, O Lord.

Encouraging Words

Not only am I created in the image of God, but He is the one who breathed life in me. This breath is His Immortal Spirit that is within me. Because of this He guides and directs me in my life so that I might be corrected when I get off track and encouraged when I stay on track. God does this because He loves me. He does this gently so that I might be corrected but not broken. He gives me so many chances to follow Him and yet lets me choose for myself. Glory be to God!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

February 20, 2016

Saint of the Week
St. Isaac the Syrian

February 19, 2016


Wisdom of Solomon 8:7 LXX

If anyone loves righteousness,
The products of righteousness are the virtues.
For wisdom teaches self- control, discernment, righteousness and courage,
Concerning which things there is nothing more valuable in the life of man.

Encouraging Words

What are some of the consequences of pursuing righteousness? There are so many, but this passage presents some very valuable ones. These virtues can be such wonedrful additions to our lives. Self-control, discernment, additional righteousness, and courage are virtues that can enhance the journey through life and on to theosis. Glory be to God.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

February 18, 2016


Wisdom of Solomon 8:5-6 LXX

Now if riches are a possession to be desired in life,
What is richer than wisdom, who works all things?
And if discernment shows itself in action,
Who more than wisdom is its craftsman?

Personal Challenge

I believe that part of our being created in the image of God is that part of us desires to possess riches. What was broken by the fall of mankind was what we define as riches. If the riches that we desire are the things of this earth such as material wealth and personal gain and recognition, then we have bought the lie of our enemy and succumb to the fall. However, if the riches that we desire are those outside of this world such as loving God, loving our neighbor, knowing Wisdom personally, and all of those things that are of our Father, then we have started our journey to righteousness and the breaking of the fetters and shackles that this earth has bound us with. Glory be to God!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

February 17, 2016


Wisdom of Solomon 7:22-23 LXX

So in herself, wisdom is a spirit that is rational,
Holy, only- begotten, manifold, subtle, easily moved, clear,
Undefiled, manifest, invulnerable, loving what is good, keen,
Unhindered, beneficent, man- loving, steadfast, unfailing,
Free from worry, all- powerful, all- surveying,
And penetrating all spirits that are rational, pure, and most subtle

Personal Challenge

Reading through this passage, we find many of the characteristics of our Lord, Jesus Christ. If my goal in life, my desire, is to be like Him, then I can pull from a list such as this, some of the things that I must strive for in my life. Here are some that stand out to me: holy (set apart), subtle (humble), clear, undefiled, loving what is good, keen, unhindered (in my love for Him and my neighbor), beneficent, man-loving, steadfast, unfailing, free from worry, and pure. This is quite a list to strive for, but if I am to grow in my journey to theosis it is a good place to start. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

February 16, 2016


Wisdom of Solomon 6:12-16 LXX

Wisdom is radiant and unfading
And is easily perceived by those who love her;
For she is found by those who seek her.
She comes upon those who long to know her beforehand.
He who rises early in the morning to seek her
Will not grow weary,
For he will find her sitting at his gates.
For to think deeply about her
Is the perfection of discernment,
And he who keeps watch for her
Will soon be free from worry;
Because she goes about seeking those worthy of her,
And she appears to them favorably in their paths
And meets them in every thought.

Encouraging Words

Our early Church Fathers taught that the Wisdom referred to in the Old Testament is none other than our Lord Jesus Christ. If you read this passage and replace every occurrence of "Wisdom" with "Jesus" and every occurrence of "her/she" with "Him/He", then you will see the profound power in what results. Glory be to God!

     Jesus is radiant and unfading
     And is easily perceived by those who love Him;
     For He is found by those who seek Him.
     He comes upon those who long to know Him beforehand.
     He who rises early in the morning to seek Him
     Will not grow weary,
     For he will find Him sitting at his gates.
     For to think deeply about Him
     Is the perfection of discernment,
     And he who keeps watch for Him
     Will soon be free from worry;
     Because He goes about seeking those worthy of Him,
     And He appears to them favorably in their paths
     And meets them in every thought.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

February 13, 2016

Saint of the Week
St. Issac the Syrian

February 12, 2016


Wisdom of Solomon 5:15-16 LXX

But the righteous live forever,
And their reward is with the Lord;
And their care is by the Most High.
Therefore they shall receive a kingly dwelling of dignity
And a crown of beauty from the hand of the Lord,
Because He will shelter them with His right hand
And protect them with His arm.

Encouraging Words

Why do we who choose to be followers of Christ live our lives the way that we do? Why do we pursue righteousness when all around us appears to be the opposite of this virtue? Why do we attempt to do good deeds, love our neighbor, give of our time and possessions, and be contrary to the ways of the world? First, and foremost, it is because we love our Lord and are grateful for His love for us and his saving grace and mercy. It is out of this gratitude that we feel compelled to serve and honor Him. He is our salvation! He is our fortress! He is our help and hope. But we also pursue righteousness and do good deeds for Him because we know, and hope, that we are investing in our future live with Him throughout eternity. We will live forever. Our reward is in Him and He will give us His care. He is preparing a place in His heavenly mansion for us. He holds our crown in His hands. We are faithful with that which we have in this life knowing that He will be faithful in the life to come. Glory be to God!

Friday, February 12, 2016

February 11, 2016


Wisdom of Solomon 4:2 LXX
When virtue is present, people imitate it,
And when it goes away, they long for it.
Throughout one's lifetime,
Virtue leads the struggle for undefiled prizes,
Wearing a crown and conquering.

Personal Challenge

There are two ways for me to apply this verse to my life. First, who am I trying to imitate? Is he, or she, virtuous and showing me the right way to live my life? Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, admonishes them to imitate him because he is imitating Christ. This is why we who practice Orthodoxy are always remembering the Saints so that we can imitate them. The second, is who is imitating me? Is it my children or other family members. Is it my coworkers? How about the youth in my Sunday school class or others at my church? Is my life worthy of being imitated? Is it virtuous? Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

February 10, 2016


Wisdom of Solomon 1:1-2 LLX

Love righteousness, you who judge on the earth.
Think about the Lord in goodness
And seek Him with sincerity of heart;
Because He is found by those who do not tempt Him,
And He is manifest to those who do not disbelieve Him.

Encouraging Words

Can we truly find God in our lives? The answer is a resounding, "Yes!" Unfortunately, we often seek Him on our terms, expecting Him to show up in our lives the way that we want. Here we are reminded that we must approach our God from a heart and mind focused on goodness and sincerity. What this means is that I come to Him, seeking Him, on His conditions. I am the one who is lost and unclean, not Him. I am the one who must desire Him and pursue Him. And the result? He will always be there. He will always pour out His love and mercy. Glory be to God!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

February 9, 2016


3 Maccabees 3:3-5

The Jews, though, maintained their goodwill and unswerving faith toward the throne. But because they worshiped God and lived by His precepts, they kept themselves separate from others with regard to food, and therefore appeared hateful to some. But they adorned their way of life with the good deeds of righteous people, and thus established themselves as honorable to all men.

Personal Challenge

Some things in history never change. In the days of the Maccabees, they were looked down upon and often hated because they had strong values and beliefs that they were unwilling to compromise. Even though their faith also drove them to do good deeds and to be righteous people, they were looked upon as being intolerant and exclusive. Does this not still happen to Christians today? We have a standard by which we choose to measure our own lives. We choose to give up the things of the world for the things of heaven. And we too are driven by our faith to be charitable to others and to strive for righteousness. And because of this we are labeled as intolerant and exclusive. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

February 8, 2016


2 Maccabees 8:18 LXX

"For they trust in arms and bold acts," he said, "but we trust in Almighty God, who with only one nod is able to overthrow both those who come against us and the entire world."

Encouraging Words

People often wonder how can a person have the ability to give up their lives, whether physical or literal, for the God that we believe in. The truth is that we do not have the power to do this on our own power. They do it by the power of Who we believe in, the Almighty God. It is this belief, and more importantly, the object in which we put our belief, that gives us our strength.

Monday, February 8, 2016

February 7, 2016


2 Maccabees 6:24-28 LXX

“For to pretend such things,” he said, “is not worthy of our time of life, lest many of the young should suppose that Eleazar in his ninetieth year has gone over to a foreign religion, and because of my pretense for the sake of living a brief moment longer, they should be led astray through me, while I earn only pollution and defilement in my old age. For even if for the present I should avoid the punishment of men, yet whether I live or die, I shall not escape the hands of the Almighty. Therefore by manfully giving up my life now, I will show myself worthy of my old age, and leave to the young a noble example of how to die a good death willingly and bravely for the venerable and holy laws.”

After he said this, he went straight to the rack,

Personal Challenge

How important is my integrity to me? Would I be as strong as Eleazar in the face of death to stand firm on my convictions and profess my commitment to my Lord? It is easy to say, "Yes!" to this question when I am not really being threatened with the loss of my life or that of a loved one. Maybe the real way to determine the answer to this question is to observe how I behave every moment of every day. Do I put Christ first and do all that I do I order to magnify Him? Do I show unconditional love to my neighbor, starting with my wife, children, grandchildren, and other family members and then proceeding out to all others, especially the unlovable? Do I practice what I preach about being a Christian? Giving up my life for Christ does not always, if ever, happen in a life threatening situation where I live. It happens every moment I am alive.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

February 6, 2016


1 Maccabees 3:59-60

For it is better for us to die in war than to look upon the evils the Gentiles would bring to us and the sanctuary. But as God's will is in heaven, so He will do.

Personal Challenge

The Maccabees were faced with a dilemma in their day that is not a whole lot different than what we face today. The world around them, those forces that wanted to destroy that which their faith was in, was pressing in on them and merging into their culture. They had a choice. Let their world, their traditions, their beliefs, be watered down and eventually erased by the world or stand firm and fight for their God. This is no different than what is going on in our day and has for centuries. The Christian Church is expected to conform to the world, to be transformed by the world, and to forsake our beliefs and traditions for the "good" of mankind. This is what we are militant against. We should be willing to defend our Church and her beliefs and traditions to our death. This is taking up our cross and following Christ. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.

February 5, 2016

Saint of the Week
St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco

Thursday, February 4, 2016

February 4, 2016


1 Maccabee 2:50-51 LXX

Therefore, children, be zealous for the law, and offer your lives for the covenant of our fathers; and remember the deeds our fathers did in their generations, and receive great honor and an everlasting name.

Encouraging Words

One of the things that I have thoroughly enjoyed in my conversion to Orthodoxy is the deep heritage that we celebrate that goes all the way back to the Apostles who learned directly from the Lord Jesus Christ. So many of our modern day churches can follow their roots to someone who chose to splinter off from another branch of the tree of the Church and claim that as their heritage. But as Maccabees reminds us, we must be willing to offer our lives up for the heritage that the fathers passed down to us through the ages of time. My Christian heritage traces back to the men who walked with Christ, they dined with Him, they listened to the Him as the living Word and not some translated or interpreted distant copy, they observed His miracles and participated in His humanness and divinity. This is a heritage worth dying for.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

February 3, 2016


Judith 9:11 LXX

For Your might is not in numbers, nor Your power in men who are strong, but You are the God of the lowly; You are the helper of the oppressed, the defender of the weak, the protector of those who are forsaken, the savior of those without hope.

Personal Challenge

God's true nature seems to have been forgotten by those of us who claim Him as our Lord today. We look to Him to raise us up, to put our "Christian" leader into a position of authority, to rescue our country, to wield His sword of justice and righteousness and eliminate "our enemies, and to be at our beck and call. But as I read this verse and the text around it, as well as recall the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ, I become more deeply aware that my God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is a humble God. He is a loving God. He is a merciful God. And in that humility, love, and mercy He is the God of the lowly, the helper of the oppressed, the defender of the weak, the protector of those who are forsaken, and the savior of those without hope. So, based on this, if I desire God to be active in my life should I not become humble, lowly, oppressed for Him and my neighbor, weak, and hopeless in anything but Him? Glory be to God!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

February 2, 2016


Judith 8:24-25

Now my brothers, let us set an example for our people, for their very lives depend upon us. Furthermore, the sanctuary, the temple, and the altar rest upon us. Besides all this, let us be thankful to the Lord our God, who is testing us just as He did our fathers.

Personal Challenge

One of the problems with modern Christianity is how much we have made it out to be an individual thing. It is not! Christianity started out as a community focused faith practice. We need each other to work out our salvation. We need each other to process and walk through our sins and the healing of forgiveness. We need each other to share the Good News of Jesus Christ and the love of God. In this life of the community, we then need to live our lives knowing that we will be examples that others will follow. The question that I must ask myself is whether or not the life that I am living is worthy enough to be followed by another. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Monday, February 1, 2016

February 1, 2016

Pray! Without ceasing!

Judith 8:17 LXX

Therefore, while we await His deliverance, let us call upon Him to help us, and if it pleases Him He will hear our voice.

Personal Challenge

It is one thing to lift up a prayer when a troubling situation happens and hope that the Lord will intervene, but it is an entirely different thing to get into a state of prayer where we are continually praying throughout the situation seeking God's guidance, mercy, and love. All to often I send off that first prayer and then immediately set off on resolving the situation on my own accord. This never works out the way that it would if I would be in constant communication with my Lord. All the more reason to develop a habit and a practice of praying without ceasing. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of god, have mercy on me, the sinner!