Friday, September 30, 2016

September 29, 2016


Matthew 7:7-8

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

Personal Challenge

I do not understand Greek, so I have to rely on the experts when it comes to the analysis of what was meant when Greek was used as the original language. In these verses, we are told that the verbs ask, seek, and knock are present progressives. In common language that basically means; "be asking," "be seeking." and "be knocking." It means that I should be in a constant state of prayer asking, seeking, and knocking. This is another reminder that my relationship with God is synergetic and that I must be engaging with Him in order to expect anything from Him. This also implies that what I am asking for is in alignment with God would deem best for me, not all of the cool stuff that I want in this world. If I am living my life this way I will be seeking God by trying to learn His truths and His will. And if I am knocking, then I will be knocking on God's door seeking to know what His will is for me as His child. Living my life this way makes the whole concept of asking, seeking, and knocking totally different and totally God-centered. Glory be to God!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

September 28, 2016


Psalms 13:5-6 (12:6 LXX)

But I hope in Your mercy;
My heart shall greatly rejoice in Your salvation;
I will sing to the Lord, who shows kindness to me;

I will sing to the name of the Lord Most High.

Encouraging Words
According to Websters, here is the definition of this word:
1) kind or forgiving treatment of someone who could be treated harshly
2) kindness or help given to people who are in a very bad or desperate situation
Am I a person who could be treated harshly or part of a group of people who are in a very bad or desperate situation? If I answer these questions in light of who I am in relationship to my Lord and my level of righteousness, then I would have to answer, "Yes?" But as the psalmist reminds us here, because of who God is, I can hope in His mercy! And because of that hope, I can rejoice in His salvation and sing out to Him knowing that He constantly shows kindness to me. God, through the incarnation and work of His Son, is definitely giving me kind and forgiving treatment. I am receiving kindness and being given help, even though I definitely do not deserve it. And as I consider this and who I truly am, all I can do is call out, "Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!"

September 27, 2016


Exodus 15:2

The Lord became my helper and the shield of my salvation;
He is my God, and I will glorify Him;
My father's God, and I will exalt Him.

Encouraging Words

Moses, in his wisdom, and because of his relationship with God, was able to prophesy of the incarnation of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He was not looking forward to a man that would someday be born that would grow up to be a man that could just rescue his people here on earth. He was looking forward to that day when God Himself would become a man and become our helper and our shield who could rescue us from the hold that death had upon us. Moses lived his life with that hope, that prophecy, at the core of his essence, and through that lived a holy and righteous life. We, today, are blessed that we live in the age where this prophecy has been fulfilled and we too must put our hope in the living God and not the institutions of man to take care of us. God is our supreme leader, not the soon to be president of the United States. God is our shield and protector, not the military or our police forces. God loves us and tells us to love our neighbor, His way, not the way of Black lives Matter or White Lives Matter (or whatever the counter group is). He should be the center of our universe and not us. Glory be to God!

Monday, September 26, 2016

September 26, 2016


Matthew 6:31-34

"Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

Command With a Promise

Once again we are told what to do, how to live our as Christians, and we are given the promise to go along with the command. So, what is the command? To go through our life, day by day, not worrying about how on basic needs will be met and to set our hearts and minds on the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. And, what is the promise? Our heavenly Father knows what we need to live our lives and He will provide for those needs. Now once again, this interaction requires my action, my involvement. This does not mean that I can lay around all day and expect God to send everything that I need my way, I must engage in life as a productive person in my society. If I am keeping my heart and mind on God then I will be doing things with a focus on quality and diligence that will generate that which is needed to sustain me. The key here is to not act or worry about how my needs will be met, I trust in my God to take care of me, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and in all other aspects of life. To God be the glory, not me!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

September 25, 2016


Psalms 11:7 (10:7 LXX)

The righteous Lord loves righteousness;
His face beholds the upright.

Encouraging Words

Have you ever had one of those days where you ended up wondering if it was all worth it? Trying to live a good life, loving those around you, making difficult choices with others in mind, giving in to the needs of others, and just trying to do what you know deep down is the good and godly thing to do is not easy. When you live your life this way you feel like a fish swimming against the flow. But there is one promise that we can hold onto. Whether or not we ever get an acknowledgement about trying to live our lives this way from another doesn't matter. What does matter is that God sees all and loves us and our attempts to glorify Him through our attempts to be upright and righteous. Thank you, Father. Glory be to You?

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Friday, September 23, 2016

September 23, 2016


Exodus 8:11

But when Pharaoh saw there was relief, his heart was hardened; and he did not heed them, as the Lord said.

Personal Challenge

Using today's logic and English language we record the story of Moses and Pharaoh as God hardening Pharaoh's heart and not giving him a chance. This is not how God operates. God created us with free will and gives us the ability to choose how we want to respond to everything in our lives. So how do we reconcile this interpretation? We go back in time to where those who were closer to the original writings of the texts that have been handed down to us. John of Damascus (675-749 CE) shared in one of his commentaries on this passage that "It is customary for Holy Scripture to call Gods' permission His action" (taken from the Orthodox Study Bible). Pharaoh consistently chose to harden his heart, even though God, working through Moses, gave him multiple opportunities to change his mind. And because God cannot violate His own creation, His own laws that He has put in place, He allowed Pharaoh to harden his own heart. The lesson in this for me is to continually ask the question, "Am I hardening my heart?" Do I consistently ignore the warnings that God lovingly gives me so that I can have my own way? Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner?

Thursday, September 22, 2016

September 22, 2016


Matthew 6:30

Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

Personal Challenge

Faith is so much more than just believing in who Jesus is. We have come to a place in our Christian practices that all that I have to do to be a Christian is to say that I believe that Jesus existed. There is so much more to being a Christian than this. Practicing a living, working faith in our lives is one of those things. Here we are told by Jesus that I must trust God in every aspect of my life, every minute detail. God promises to take care of me and to meet my every need. Do I truly believe that or do I strive on my own to meet all of my needs? Do I give of my abundance to those who need it more than I do or do I save it for a rainy day? Do I tithe and give back to God first or hold out until I have done everything that I want to do and give what is left over to God. Faith of this sort means being willing to take risks, to go on that short-term mission trip, to be loving and friendly to that offensive neighbor, to stand out in the crowd because I am willing to proclaim my Lord's name. Faith is a verb, not a noun! To God be the glory.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

September 21, 2016


Psalms 10:17-18 (9:38-39 LXX)

The Lord hears the desire of the poor;
Your ear heeds the readiness of their heart,
To judge the orphan and the humble,
That man may no longer increase his great boasting upon the earth.

Encouraging Words

Have you ever wondered why people always seem to gravitate to the underdog and root for those who are in a place of desperation? Well, we are erected in the image of God and this is where His heart and His attention is constantly focused. Even though He is the God of all and holds all of His creation in the palm of His hand, He still hears the desire of the poor and heeds the readiness of their heart. And as the beatitudes teach us, this poorness is not just poorness in physical wealth and possessions, but also poorness in spirit. This poorness in spirit reminds us that we are nothing without Christ. It teaches us that even though we have great physical wealth in this temporal world, if we do not have the living Son in our lives, then we are truly poor. His desire is for us to replace that poorness with His eternal wealth and then to share that abundantly. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

September 20, 2016


Exodus 3:5

So He said, "Do not come any closer. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground."

Encouraging Words

I have always perceived this verse as calling out how holy God is and the need for me to humble myself when I come into His presence. In this case, this is done be Moses removing His shoes so that he can stand on holy ground. But there is another aspect to this action as well, Here is the note on this verse from the Orthodox Study Bible:
3:5 Moses was to remove his sandals. This indicates that nothing dead is to stand between God and man, for He is the God of the living (AmbM).
This note comes from the teachings of Ambrose of Milan, one of our early church fathers. Here I am being taught that my relationship with God can be so intimate that He wants nothing to come between Him and me. In this case, He is asking Mose to remove his sandals, which are from a dead animal, so that he can stand on the holy ground, touching it with his flesh. This could also apply to the need to take off other items that are dead in order to be fully in God's presence. Sin is one of those garments that I wear that must be taken off and discarded through the blood of Christ so that I can stand in the presence of God. Glory be to God!

Monday, September 19, 2016

September 19, 2016


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

So reading this passage brings to my mind the question, "ls God's love conditional?" Clearly, the answer to this question is a resounding, "No!". God's love is not conditional. Throughout the scriptures and the teachings of our church fathers, it is very clear that God loves us unconditionally, without a doubt and without any limitations. However, what this passage teaches, as well as others, is that God's forgiveness of my sins is conditional. What? ls this heresy? It is not. Jesus teaches us that forgiveness is cooperative. I must go to God, confess my sin, seek forgiveness, and repent in order to receive His forgiveness. And, as this passage teaches, if I am unwilling to give my neighbor forgiveness when they have offended me, then the forgiveness that I am seeking from God will be hindered. How can this be? God is all powerful, isn't we? He can overrule my unforgiveness, can't He? Yes, in both cases, but if I am holding out on forgiving another, most likely my heart has become hardened and I am not really going to God to seek forgiveness of my own sins. Here is where that cooperative part kicks in. I must be willing to love my neighbor enough to forgive them, otherwise, I am not loving God enough to seek His forgiveness. If I cannot humble myself before another enough to forgive them, then I will not be willing to humble myself before God to seek, and receive, His forgiveness, Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

September 15, 2016


Psalms 10:14 (9:35 LXX)

But You do see, You do perceive the suffering and pain,
That You might deliver them into Your hands;
Therefore, the poor man will be left to You;
You give help to the orphan.

Encouraging Words

What a blessing it is to know that our God does see us and the issues that We are going through. He also knows that the issues that we are going through in our lives can bring us to Him. He is always there for us when we need Him most. Unfortunately, we so often reject His offers to support and encourage us, which typically drives us further into the suffering and pain. And yet as the poor man and the orphan are taken care of by God, so too, does the continue to take care of us. Glory be to God!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

September 13, 2016


Genesis 24:8

And if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you will be released from this oath; only do not take my son back there.”

Encouraging Words

One of the teachings of the Orthodox Church that I have come to thoroughly appreciate is that of free will. From the very beginning of creation, God created us with the ability to choose freely. He does not set up things around us to force us to choose Him or His ways. He does not make up our minds for us because He wants us to choose Him. We are not destined to be sinners because Adam and Eve chose to sin. Sin entered the world because of their choice. therefore creating an environment where it is easier to sin. But because I have free will, I can choose whether or not to sin, and believe me, I usually choose wrongly more often than not. But God is still there loving me through the consequences. In this verse, we are clearly shown that Rebekah had a choice that she could make. She could refuse to accept the offer to marry Isaac and return to his homeland, This is shown throughout the scriptures even up to Mary having the choice of whether on not to be the mother of our Lord. We still have the right and the ability to choose. Glory be to God!

Monday, September 12, 2016

September 12, 2016


Matthew 5:37

But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.

Personal Challenge
The concept of relativity has worked its way into every aspect of our lives in this generation. Even in the broader, modern church, there is a great departure from absolutes, from right and wrong, sin and behavior that is accepted. Truth as an absolute is not tolerated by those who tell everyone around them to be tolerable. Jesus told us to be people of our word, to speak truthfully and boldly, and to stand by what we say. In this age that is more driven by the sarcasm of Jerry Seinfeld or the Simpsons we have come to accept demeaning, snarky remarks and putdowns followed with the flippant, "Just kidding!" as the normal way to talk to, or about people. This is really not acceptable in the kingdom of God. We are commanded to love our neighbor, to put them before ourselves, and to edify them in our thoughts, words, and actions. These two lifestyles do not work together. We must take back the concept of civility with our tongues, or the keyboards in today's "Social Media" world, by speaking the truth in love and respect for our fellow human. Especially when we claim to be followers of Christ. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God have mercy on me, the sinner!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

September 11, 2016


Psalms 9:10 (9:11 LXX)

And let those who know Your name put their hope in You;
For You, O Lord, do not forsake those who seek You.

Encouraging Words

There we go again... the random choice of my Verse of the Day brought up Psalm 9:11 (LXX) on the 15th anniversary of September 11, 2001. And what a verse this is for today. Our Living God is surely the one whom we can put our hope in, our entire hope. For He will never forsake us. Even if the events in this physical, temporal world entirely consume us, our God will never forsake us and will be with us to the end of eternity. Memory Eternal!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Friday, September 9, 2016

September 9, 2016


Genesis 22:10-12

Then Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham! Abraham!” So he said, “Here I am.” He then replied, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him, for now I know you fear God, since for My sake you have not spared your beloved son.”

Encouraging Words

So, why in the world would a loving God tell an old man like Abraham to kill his only son? That doesn't sound too loving, does it? Was he just testing Abraham? Maybe, but that also doesn't sound very loving. I am sure that there are many reasons why God took Abraham down this path. I do not understand the mysteries of God and know that I never will unless He chooses to share them with me. One thing that is clear though, when one studies the life of Abraham. He was a godly and righteous man. He was saved by his belief in God even before the Law was given and before Jesus was incarnated. But his faith looked to that day when mankind would be redeemed by God and given passage back into a promised land. Is it not possible that God gave Abraham this opportunity to demonstrate not only to himself but to all of mankind after him, that God would someday send us His only begotten Son, and that He would bind His Son's hands and feet to the cross, and sacrifice Him so that death could be put death? Abraham was able to see the fulfilment of his faith in this prefiguration of the death and resurrection of God's son. Glory be to God!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

September 8, 2016


Matthew 5:23-24

Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

Personal Challenge

The Church was created to be the Bride of Christ and to be a community that lived in unity. Christ prayed that we would live together in harmony and unity. Paul did the same. They both knew that the propensity of our fallen state would push us to division and disunity. in my recent readings about Polycarp, one of our early church fathers who was discipled by the Apostle John, he wrote about how much differently the dioceses of his day practiced fasting. He articulated that it was imperative to respect the customs of each other that was passed down by the different leaders of the church and that unity was most important. In this passage, Jesus puts the burden on me to recognize if there is a division between me and a brother or sister. If I find one, no matter how small or large, then I must go and initiate reconciliation and unity... no matter who is in the right. Without doing this I cannot truly worship. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

September 7, 2016


Psalms 9:1-2 (9:2-3 LXX)

For the End; concerning the hidden things of the Son; a psalm of David.
I will give thanks to You, O Lord, with my whole heart;
I will tell of all Your wondrous things;
I will be glad and rejoice in You;
I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.

Encouraging Words

Psalm 9 was written to account for the judgment of our Lord that is to come in the last days. What is so powerful about these verses that start off this psalm on judgment is the praise that the psalmist lifts up to our Lord. Even though God has the right to condemn us all because none of us has ever measured up to His righteous, He still chose to give us a way to cover up our sins and to be wiped clean of on transgressions. He has given us an eternal ark that will carry us through the tempest of life. He has given us His Son who broke down the gates of eternal judgments which is hell and eternal separation from God and freed us from the death that would have held us there. Jesus is our salvation. He is the coat around us that saves us from the judgment that the psalmist saw coming. Jesus is our Lord, our Savior our Helper, and our protector. Glory be to God!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

September 6, 2016


Genesis 6:22

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

Personal Challenge

Wait a minute! I am a modern American! I am free and I have inalienable rights to pursue happiness and whatever I want! But, is this really true if I choose to claim that I am a follower of Christ? Part of being a true follower of someone is that you go where they go and you do what they do and ask you to do. Jesus not only loved those around Him and put their needs first, but He also let those same people put Him to death on the cross. Surely He doesn't want me to follow Him there. Noah was Chosen out of all of the people of his day because God knew his heart. God knew that Noah would listen to His commands and do them. Would God choose me today if He needed someone to do a task for Him? I would have to reluctantly say, "No!" I have at my fingertips so many different versions of God's living Word. I have heard His teachings for most of my life. Do I do what He has commanded me? Seldom! Do I practice what my leader shows me to do? Seldom! Do I follow Him where He leads me? Nope! Then maybe it is time to truly assess my life using His measuring stick and see what I must do to be His follower. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

September 4, 2016


Matthew 5:17

"Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill."

Encouraging Words

Sometimes it feels like many of us who claim to be followers of Christ believe it is our responsibility to destroy the beliefs of others so that they will believe what we believe. Even Jesus did not do this with His fellow Jews and their practices and beliefs. He confronted them when they were in error, but even in that He did that in love for their lostness, Jesus wants us to be loving and caring to those around us so that as we demonstrate His love to all, all may come to know Him. This can be much more difficult, but is so much more fulfilling. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

September 3, 2016

Saint of the Week
St. John Chrysostom

September 2, 2016


Psalms 5:11-12 (5:12-13 LXX)

But let all who hope in You be glad;
They will greatly rejoice forever,
For You will dwell in them;
And all who love Your name will boast in You.
For You will bless the righteous;
O Lord, You crowned us with the shield of Your goodwill.

Encouraging Words

Contrary to what a lot of people may think, God does truly exist and He does love us, His creation. That is why the psalmist, and those of who believe as he did, know that we can put our hope in our God and greatly rejoice forever. We believe that not only does He dwell amongst us, but thanks to the incarnation of His Son, He also dwells within us. We do not boast on any of things in our lives as if we are responsible for them, but because we know that all glory and honor belong to Him. It is through Him, and His work within our lives that we can ever hope to be righteous, and through that righteousness receive His blessings. He and He alone has crowned us with His shield of goodwill and guards and protects us throughout our lives. This is who I put my hope in! Glory be to God!

Friday, September 2, 2016

September 1, 2016


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

The scripture is clear that mankind was, and is created in the image of God. This is always thought of as meaning our form. But according to the teachings of the Orthodox Church, this image goes all the way to the image of the Holy Trinity. Check out this note from the Orthodox study Bible...
Seth was begotten from Adam and Eve. This threefold relationship illustrates, to a certain extent, the Holy Trinity. Adam had no human father. He was begotten by no one. Thus, he was unbegotten. Seth was begotten from Adam. Eve was neither unbegotten nor begotten. Instead she proceeded from Adam (2:21). Therefore, Eve and Seth were related to the unbegotten Adam, but each in a unique manner—Eve proceeded from Adam, but Seth was begotten from him. Each person had his or her own distinct and unique properties—unbegotten, begotten, and proceeding—but all three possessed the same human nature.Similarly, the manner in which these three existed images the Holy Trinity. God the Father is Unbegotten; God the Son is Begotten from the Father; and God the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father. These distinct and unique properties—unbegotten, begotten, and proceeding—distinguish each of the individual Persons of the Holy Trinity from each other; yet, They are one in nature (St. John of Damascus).
This is so exciting to me because it shows that God goes to every extent to show us His love for us. Glory be to God?