Friday, July 29, 2016

July 29, 2016


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

As part of our modern day, "Me and my Bible!" approach to Christianity where I am an individual and I have the power to interpret the Scriptures the way that I want, we have become a religion that is filled with judges rather than nurses and doctors. We are consistently warned in these very same Scriptures to not judge and that we will be judged by the same measure that we judge and that it will be shown that our sins are always greater than the others. We are also admonished to love our neighbor and to be an active part of their healing in Christ. So why have we become so avid judges? As we have humanized God's teaching and begun to believe that we contol what they mean, then we take the words out of the context of God's love and put them in the context of sinful pride and selfrighteousness. This is why the Church, throughout its 2,000 year history has taught that the Church interprets the Scriptures and not the individual. The further one gets removed from the historical and catholic (not the denomination) Church the further one gets removed from the truth. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

July 28, 2016


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.

Personal Challenge

Usually, I see this passage used to show how each one of us who follow Christ as tablets of flesh that His love is written upon so He can be shown to those around us. This is true, however, today I saw something else in this passage. Just as the Apostle Paul staked his claim of who he was on the fruit of his labor by how his teachings were written on the heart of those whom he had served, so too do my actions, my words, my behaviors and attitudes written on the hearts of those in my life, whether permanent or transient people. The question for me here is, "What kind of message am I leaving behind?" Am I being loving to those around me or harsh and bitter? Am I encouraging and building up or am I discouraging and tearing down? Do people walk away from me with a small piece of the love of God on their heart or have I treated them in a way that their heart is hardened just a little bit more? These are tough and sobering questions. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

July 27, 2016


John 8:7-9

So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first." And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

Personal Challenge

Jesus reminds us that we must certainly explore the depths of our own hearts and purge our lives of ALL sin before we can call out someone else for their sins. I don't know about anyone else, but for me, this means that I will never be able to judge another for their sins because mine sins are ever present. What He would rather that I do is to love that sinner in the midst of their sin because that is what He does. Love is at the core of the incarnation of Christ. Love is at the core of all of the healings, teachings, and miracles that He did while incarnate. Love is at the core of His death, burial, and resurrection. His expectation of me is that love will be at the core of everything that I think, say, and do. Glory be to God!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

July 26, 2016


Luke 19:45-46

Then He went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in it, saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house is a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves. ’”

Personal Challenge

Since Paul in one of his letters describes our hearts as the temple of God, I must examine my heart and ask if I have turned it into a 'den of thieves'? Is my heart more concerned about the cares and concerns of the world than it is the cares and concerns of the kingdom of God? Can those around me look at the fruit of my life and see someone that reflects Christ or someone that is no different than everyone else in the world? Is my heart a 'house of prayer' or just my own, personal, self-centered house? Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

Monday, July 25, 2016

July 25, 2016


Luke 7:31-35

And the Lord said, “To what then shall I liken the men of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another, saying:
‘We played the flute for you,And you did not dance;We mourned to you,And you did not weep.’
For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is justified by all her children.”

Personal Challenge

Just as the Pharisees in the day of Jesus were fickle in their religiousness to recognize either John the Baptist or Jesus for who they were because neither of them fit their vision of a prophet or the Messiah, so too do so many of us in the church today fail to recognize the hand of God around us or in our everyday life. We hold on so tightly to our own opinions, our own rights to do what we want to do, that we neglect the commands of our Lord to love God and our neighbor above ourselves. we claim that because we are free by modern American standards then we can do what want in our lives and that God, just like everyone else, must adjust their standards to fit ours. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

July 23, 2016

Saint of the Week
St. John Climacus

Saturday, July 23, 2016

July 22, 2016


Matthew 11:25

At that time Jesus answered and said, "I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes."

Encouraging Words

We are told to come to our Lord Jesus Christ as a little child. How does a child behave in situations like this? In humility. In truthfulness. Without guile or contempt. With excitement and awe. And the list goes on. The problem with the wise and the prudent is that they let what they think they know, get in the way of what they don't know. God wants us to come to Him with a childlike heart and mind, full of humility, love, trust, faith, and acceptance. It is when we approach Him this way that He reveals to us the truths that He wants us to know. Glory be to God!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

July 21, 2016


Matthew 9:36-38

But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest."

Personal Challenge

We are not only admonished to pray for the sheep that need to be harvested and for God to provide more workers, but we are also expected to be ready to hear His call and act upon it if He chooses us to be one of the workers. It is never too late to be called to enter into His workforce. Glory be to God!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

July 20, 2016


Matthew 9:2

Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, "Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you."

Personal Challenge

Faith is really a collective thing. We see here that Christ heals a paralytic man because of the faith of his friends. We have become such an individualistically focused society that we neglect to be there for each other, to lift each other up, or to seek the best in each other. It has become easier for us to tear others down rather than to build them up. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

July 19, 2016


Matthew 8:23-27

Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him. And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep. Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, "Lord, save us! We are perishing!"

But He said to them, "Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?" Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. So the men marveled, saying, "Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?"

Personal Challenge

So, what kind of faith do I really have? Jesus told us that if we follow Him then our lives will be filled with turmoil and strife because the world does not like Him or His followers. Do I trust Him enough to believe that as long as I stay in His boat the seas around me can be in whatever tempest that gets stirred up, but I will be safe and sound? We are told by the presumptive leaders of our nation that we should trust in them and that they will carry us through the storms facing us and our country today. We are told by the media who we should trust in. The world tells us to trust in it, in wealth, in stuff, in everything but God. And yet, with all of these proclamations of who to trust in, the tempest continues to rail on. It is Jesus who I chose to put my trust in. Just as in the story of Noah, Jesus is my ark. Or in the story of the parting of the Red Sea, Jesus is my straight and dry path forward through the tempest. Glory be to God!

Monday, July 18, 2016

July 18, 2016


Wisdom of Sirach 36:1-4 LXX

Have mercy on us, O Lord, the God of all, and look upon us,
And put Your fear on all the nations.
Raise Your hand against foreign nations
And let them see Your power.
As in us You have been sanctified before them,
So in them may You be made great before us.
Let them know You as we also have known You,
For there is no God but You, O Lord.

Personal Challenge

If we read this passage through the filter that we, God's children, are not citizens of the earthly kingdoms that we live in, but ambassadors of the kingdom of God, then we come away with a very interesting perspective. This passage does not say anything about God making this earthly kingdom great and godly. In other words, as Christians, we should not spend our time praying that God makes America a nation that is all Christian. We should be praying that He will raise up His people, His nation, where we live, and help us to be beacons of light of His love, mercy, grace, and salvation. This is how we bring people to Him. America is an earthly nation that will always be comprised of Christians, Muslims, Hindus, atheists, agnostics, pagans, and everything in between. We, as members of God's heavenly kingdom should live our lives so that those who do not know Him, want to know Him because of how we live our lives. Glory be to God!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

July 17, 2016


Wisdom of Sirach 27:4-7 LXX

When a sieve is shaken, the refuse remains;
So a man's filth remains in the way he reasons.
As a furnace tests a potter's vessels,
So the test of a man is in the way he reasons.
As fruit reveals how a tree is cultivated,
So a man's reasoning process reveals his heart.
Do not praise a man before he reveals the way he reasons,
For this is the way a man is tested.

Personal Challenge

How do I truly reason through things in life? I have never really thought about this until now as I read and meditate on these verses. Do I take the time to examine the situation through the lens of the teaching of the Church or do I just use my own best judgment? What would Jesus say about it? Do I apply that judgement through the lens of loving God and loving my neighbor? I have not really thought that much upon the process of my reasoning, which no one else can see, and how that reflects my relationship with God. One thing is very clear, though, and that is that the root of my reasoning should always be in my Lord. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

July 16, 2016

Saint of the Week
St. Isaac the Syrian

Saturday, July 16, 2016

July 15, 2016


Wisdom of Sirach 7:32-36 LXX

Stretch forth your hand to the poor,
That your blessing may be complete.
Let the kindness of giving be shown
In the presence of all the living,
And do not withhold kindness from the dead.
Do not withdraw yourself from those who weep,
And mourn with those who mourn.
Do not hesitate to visit a sick man,
For by such visits you will be loved.
With all your words, remember the time you will die,
And you will never sin.

Personal Challenge

Another issue with our modern approach to being independent of the church and believing that we have the ability and authority to interpret the Scriptures is that we end up with everyone thinking that they don't need the church or God. It is the church, the community of believers that we fellowship with that our salvation is worked out. As John Donne wrote so many years ago, "No man is an island." To be a viable, productive, growing Christian we must be investing in the lives of others. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

Friday, July 15, 2016

July 14, 2016


Wisdom of Sirach 7:29-31 LXX

Fear the Lord with all your soul
And honor His priests.
Love Him who made you
And do not forsake His ministers.
Fear the Lord and honor His priests,
And give them their portion as commanded:
The firstfruits, the trespass offering,
The gift of the shoulder offering,
The sacrifice of sanctification,
And the firstfruits of the holy things.

Personal Challenge

One of the outcomes of the western approach to Christianity where we are given the authority to interpret the scriptures is that we have diminished the role of the priesthood in the church. God ordained an order to the church, both in the Jewish nation and the new covenant church ushered in by our Lord Jesus Christ. Just as the people were admonished in the day of Sirach to honor and respect those who had been called and ordained into priestly roles, so too are we to do the same in our church today. It is not up to me to declare this structure as invalid because it is God's structure and not mine. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

July 13, 2016


Wisdom of Sirach 2:1-6

My son, if you draw near to serve the Lord,
Prepare your soul for temptation.
Set your heart right and be steadfast,
And do not strive anxiously in distress.
Cleave to Him and do not fall away,
That you may be honored at the end of your life.
Accept whatever is brought upon you,
And in exchange for your humiliation, be patient;
Because gold is tested in fire
And acceptable men in the furnace of abasement.
Believe in Him, and He will help you;
Make your ways straight and hope in Him.

Personal Challenge

In the gospels we see that when Jesus began His ministry He was immediately tempted by our enemy. Is it any different for the rest of us? When we get ready to do our Father's work we too will be tempted and beaten upon. Sometimes we give in to the temptation. That is all the more the time to run back to our Lord, confess our sin, and receive His forgiveness, mercy, and love. He will not beat us down, He will lift us up. He will not say, "Look at you, you worthless sinner." He will hold us in His arms and show us how much He love us. He wants us to keep getting up when we fall and rely on Him to bring us through to the end. Glory be to God!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

July 12, 2016


1 Maccabees 3:18-19

Then Judas said, "It is easy to hem in many at the hands of a few, and it makes no difference before heaven to save with many or with few. For victory in battle does not come from the size of the army, but from the might of heaven.

Personal Challenge

When I was growing up, I remember that we often sang the song, "Onward Christian Soldiers". I also remember when it started becoming taboo to sing a song like this in our churches. It wasn't really socially correct anymore. Let's face it. We are in a war. This world is still separate from God and under the governance of His enemy. As Christians we are not of this world. We are always counter-cultural. We are always at war with the enemy of God. And as the Maccabees points out, we cannot fight this war on our own using our own means. Only God can win the war and I am either on His side or the enemy's. There is no neutral ground. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Monday, July 11, 2016

July 11, 2016


Malachi 1:6a

"A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then, I am the Father, where is My honor? And if I am a Master, where is the reverence due to me?" says the Lord Almighty.

Personal Challenge

It often amazes me when I see professing Christians all up in arms about how upset they are that our nation has taken God out of everything and yet their lives are lived as Malachi calls out here, without honoring and reverencing God. When as I write this I am reminded that I, all too often, do this as well in my own life. We have come to a place in our independence and belief that we can determine what the Scriptures say on our own that we have confined God to some little box that we store in the closet Monday through Saturday and then bring out for an hour or so on Sunday. God should define us, not us define Him.The Scriptures should inform and transform us, not us forming the Scriptures into what we want. I am supposed to live my life as His child and His servant and submit myself to Him, not the other way around. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

July 10, 2016


Psalm 127:1 (126:1 LXX)

Unless the Lord builds the house,
Those who build it labor in vain;
Unless the Lord guard the city,
Those who guard it stay awake in vain.

Personal Challenge

There has been so much commotion lately about Black Lives Matter, Police Lives Matter, and everything in between. But really, which lives matter? As the psalmist so clearly points out in this verse, unless our Lord is in the middle of all of our endeavors for unity, peace, and the building up of our community,then ALL of our labor is in vain. We have taken God out of our lives. Yes, we have taken Him out of our schools, our government, and our society. In many cases, we have taken Him out of our churches. When we teach that we were not created in the image of God, but evolved from primordial ooze, then what do we end up with? When we choose to take innocent lives of unborn children in the name of choice, then what do we end up with? When we elevate the almighty dollar and the stuff that it can buy above everything and everyone else and make it our God, then what do we end up with? When we destroy marriage and the family by redefining what marriage is, creating and encouraging fatherless homes, and treating marriage as something that can be easily thrown away, then what to we end up with? We end up with the chaos and anarchy that we are seeing rampant today. Now I know that I must admit that I too am guilty of being a part of this situation so I am pointing my finger at me here.

So, what is the answer? We have been reminded in the scriptures and the teachings of our church fathers that we are not of this world but in this world. If all of us who claim to be Christians would stop jumping on all of the social, political, and cultural wagons and started living our lives as Christ expects us to, then our world would change. If I truly give my life to Christ and follow Him, then I am no longer an American. I am no longer a Democrat or a Republican. I am not pro-Black Lives Matters or Police Lives Matters. Pick your thing of this world and I am not a part of it anymore. If I am truly a Christian as Jesus described it, then I must become a person that loves the Lord my God with all of my heart, soul, and spirit and my neighbor as myself. In other words. ALL LIVES MATTER, and the matter more than my own. It is no longer about whether or not God has been taken out of the institutions of this world as much as it is about whether or not I have taken God out of my life. Have I made the things of this world more important than Him? If I truly live my life the way that Jesus wants me to, then I will not only begin to see my world change, but I will be a part of that change.

Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

July 9, 2016

Saint of the Week
St. Isaac the Syrian

Friday, July 8, 2016

July 8, 2016


Nehemiah 4:7-8

Therefore I positioned men behind the lower parts of the wall in the sheltered areas, and I positioned the people by families with their swords, their spears, and their bows. And I looked and arose and said to the nobles, to the leaders, and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember our God, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses."

Personal Challenge

God calls us regularly to step up and do His work for Him. As we heed this call we will be met by resistance because the world does not want God's work to be accomplished. Sometimes we must be willing to stand up for our God and our fellow brothers and sisters and fight for His kingdom. In all cases, we are once again called to work with God in unity and synergy to build His kingdom. The life of a Christian is not a sedate, non-active life. Glory be to God!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

July 7, 2016


Zechariah 4:6

And he answered and spoke to me, saying, "This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel, saying, 'Not by mighty power nor by strength, but by My Spirit,' says the Lord Almighty."

Personal Challenge

If I desire to see God's handiwork in my life and the lives around me, then I must work in a synergistic relationship with Him. God does supernatural things in this world. Sometimes they come in the form of miracles. Usually, however, they come in the form of someone just like me, yielding to the Holy Spirit and allowing themselves to be used by God for His edification. I can do nothing on my own that amounts to very much. But if I yield to God, trust Him, obey Him, and let Him be the one that gets the glory, then I can be a part of the great works that He does. Glory be to God!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

July 6, 2016


Daniel 6:5-6

The administrators and governors sought to find some charge against Daniel, but they could find no charge or wrongdoing or fault against him because he was faithful. Then the administrators said, "We will find nothing against Daniel unless we find it in the laws of his God."

Personal Challenge

I look at Daniel and the life that he lived for his God and then examine mine to see if no fault could be found. Unfortunately, I find that there are many holes in my life both past and present that would make it easy for an accuser to discredit my relationship with my God. Fortunately, I have the grace of my Lord Jesus Christ to cover my sins, but it is not too late to start living the rest of my life where no fault could be found in my faithfulness to my God. Will this be easy? No way! But I do have the Holy Spirit to help me on that journey. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

July 5, 2016


Daniel 3:40

So let this be our sacrifice before You today,
And may it be accomplished for those who follow You;
For there is no shame for those who trust in You.

Encouraging Words

No matter what I do, whether good or bad. No matter whether I sin throughout the day or make it through living a godly life. No matter what, my God still loves me beyond any level of love that I can imagine. And in that love, He is not ashamed of me. So too, can I try to live my life for Him, loving Him, honoring Him, and not being ashamed to proclaim Him as my Lord.