Saturday, December 31, 2016

Friday, December 30, 2016

December 30, 2016

LIVING SACRIFICIALLY VERSUS DOING SACRIFICES


1 Kingdoms 15:22 (1 Samuel 15:22 LXX)

Then Samuel said, "If only the desired whole burnt offerings and desired sacrifices were equal to the Lord, as compared to one who heeds the voice of the Lord! Behold! Hearing is better than a good sacrifice and obedience than the fat of rams."

Personal Challenge

One of the things that we must always watch out for as we live our lives as Christians is becoming legalistic and works based. Samuel reminds us here, as does other writers in the Old Testament, that God is not nearly as interested in what we do externally, such as burnt offerings in his day as He is in our hearts and our willingness to serve Him. In Eastern Orthodoxy, we have many opportunities to participate in activities that from the outside look like works. One of these is fasting. It is so easy to start acting legalistic and judgemental of others on whether or not they fast, or how well they fast. This is not how this is supposed to work. We do not fast to earn favor with God. We do not fast to look good in front of everyone else. We quietly fast to learn how to discipline our minds and bodies. The church fathers consistently taught that we are not to look at our brother's plate and only consider how we are doing on our journey toward being like Christ. They also taught that loving our neighbor was more important than any rule that we follow so if they offer us something to eat that might cause us to break our fast, then we take it out of love for our neighbor. Love is above all. This way of thinking applies to all of our attempts to be disciplined whether it be fasting, tithing, attending liturgy, praying, or a myriad of other things we do in our Christian life. What is in our heart is much more important than what we say or do. When we live this way what we do will clearly show our love for our God and for our neighbor. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

December 29, 2016

MOUNTAIN MOVING FAITH


Matthew 21:21-22

So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

Encouraging Words

As presented by the psalmist, we put our hope in God looking to be recipients of His mercy. Here, Jesus is telling His disciples, and us, that if we have faith in Him and do not let doubt creep in, then that faith will produce miraculous results. Now there is a bit of a caveat here. If I am living a life that is truly focused on Christ, striving to be like Him, communing with Him, and seeking to be submissive to Him and humble before Him, then I will only be exercising this kind of faith to glorify Him and to extend His Kingdom. This kind of faith will never be self-serving. It will always seek to magnify God. This kind of faith not only produces mountain moving miracles but it also changes those who have it. They will no longer see many of the things that bother so many of us as hindrances and therefore not use this faith to deal with them. As I spend more time reading the writings of the first and second-century church fathers and about the lives that they lived, the more I see the truth of this promise. Glory be to God!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

December 28, 2016

HOPE AND MERCY


Psalms 33:22 (32:22 LXX)

Let Your mercy, O Lord, be upon us,
As we hope in You.

Encouraging Words

Hope and mercy, what two powerful aspects of living a Christian life. We put our hope in the loving God. We put our hope in 2,000 years of evidence that God loves us and cares for us and that the Son, Jesus Christ, altered the course of eternity by His incarnation and the life He led leading up to His death, burial, and resurrection. we put our hope in the additional thousands of years that God worked in the lives of His people, continually providing images of the forthcoming Christ. We do not believe that our hope is ever in vain because of Who we put our hope in. And the wonderful and precious result of that hope is the mercy that our Lord pours out upon us. As the psalmist reminds us elsewhere in his writings, "His Mercy end ours forever." God's mercy is complete. God's mercy is all-encompassing, neglecting no one. God's money is undeserved, yet poured out lavishly. God's mercy is sourced from His love, which is the source of all love within us. So, as the psalmist says here, Lord God Almighty we put our hope in You and seek Your mercy.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

December 27, 2016

GROWING INTO ADULTHOOD


1 Samuel 2:1-2 (1 Kings 2:1-2)

Now the days of David drew near to death, and he charged Solomon his son, saying, "I am going the way of all the earth, but you must be strong and become a man."

Personal Challenge

We all reach that point in our lives where we must cross that chasm into adulthood and begin to live responsible and accountable lives. For some, this starts when they move away from the nest and go to college. For some, it comes when they leave their home to get married and start their family. There are many other events in our lives that start this process of becoming an adult. It also can happen at many different ages dependent on the circumstances of one's life. But for all, there is a critical time in life when one decides to lay down the former ways of being a child and living a childish life and choosing to live life as a man or a woman. In Solomon's case, this transition came to fruition as his father David approached his own death. David challenged his son to take up where he would be leaving off and step up to the task of becoming a man. David encouraged Solomon to be strong in this process. Unfortunately, in today's society, we have far too many people that are unwilling to adopt their role as an adult and try to continue to live childish lives. We can each use this time of year to review our lives and see where we can step up to being the man or woman that God intends us to live. Glory be to God!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

December 25, 2016

MERRY CHRISTMAS


Matthew 19:21

Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

Encouraging Words

So, what does this verse have to do with Christmas some may ask? Jesus was not asking just the rich young man to sell all of his possessions and follow Him. He was asking us all to be willing to give up everything that comes between us and Him in order to truly see the treasure of Heaven. Once again Jesus was not asking us to do something that He was not willing to do Himself. Jesus is God. He is a part of the Trinity. He has been this since the beginning of time when the Father begat Him. He was there when all of His creation was spoken into being. He is the pattern that the human race was made from. He owns the treasures in heaven, and on the earth, and everywhere else. Then on a day over 2,000 years ago He became incarnate through the willingness of some pure, young virgin. He was born in a lowly manger, during a time when the Jewish people were oppressed by the Romans. He grew up a poor man, poured out His love and healing upon the multitudes, and ultimately gave His life for us, all of us. That is truly giving all to the poor. So, it is up to us to do the same... for Him. Glory be to God!

December 24, 2016

Saints of the Week, The Holy Fathers
Merry Christmas. Christ is born! Glorify Him!


Friday, December 23, 2016

December 23, 2016

AWE AND HOPE


Psalms 33:18 (32:18 LXX)

Behold, the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him,
On those who hope in His mercy,

Encouraging Words


How can the terms fear and hope be used in the same sentence and still be considered encouraging? One of the unfortunate things about our English language is how we have singular terms that mean multiple things. Take the word love for example. In the Greek, you would find love as agape, philio, eros, or storge, which are all different types of love. The word fear has similar variations. In many of the Old Testament renditions of the word fear, what was originally intended was great awe and respect. This is what I believe the psalmist was referring to. God keeps His careful, loving, merciful watch on those who hold Him in great awe or respect, those who have placed Him at the Center of their lives. It is this God, the loving, merciful God that we put our hope in. We hope for His great mercy to be applied to us even though we never do deserve it. Glory be to God!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

December 22, 2016

THE LORD HAS DEPARTED FROM ME?


Judges 16:20

And Delilah said, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!” So he awoke from his sleep and said, “I will go out as before, and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him.

Personal Challenge

I am sure that many remember the story of Samson and Delilah. Samson, as a young child, was set apart by his parts so that he would grow up being a servant of God. In this being set apart, he lived the life of a Nazarite. Part of this way of life meant that he was trained in the ways of the synagogue, he never cut his hair or partook in alcohol or other debaucheries of the world. As he grew up God touched him in a way that gave him great strength and he performed many great feats against the Philistines who were oppressing his people. All of this is in chapters 13-15 of Judges. Then here in chapter 16, we pick up with Samson falling in love with Delilah, a Philistine harlot. She is persuaded by the Philistines to find out the source of his strength so that they can defeat him and go back to oppressing the Jews. She ultimately seduces him into revealing that the strength is in his hair and after wooing him to sleep cuts it all off leading up to this verse. Not only had his strength left him but so had his Lord. I often write of how my God will never leave His children or forsake them, so how can this be in Samson's case. If we read the entire story, starting in chapter 13, we find that it was never God that had left Samson but Samson who had left God. How often do the temptations of this world turn my focus off of God and onto myself or the ways of the world? It happens all of the time. I then have a choice that I must make. I can turn away from the temptation and remain close to God or I can entertain the temptation and start moving a little bit away from God. Here is where the spiral into sin takes me and pulls me farther and farther from God until it looks like He is no longer with me. He is still there. It is only I who can no longer see Him through all of the mud and mire of sin that I have covered myself with. What is the answer to this dilemma? Call out to my Lord, repent of my ways, and run back into His arms. As the parable of the Prodigal Son tells us, He will be right there with open, loving arms. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

December 21, 2016

COMMUNITY


Matthew 18:20

For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.

Personal Challenge

We are reminded here, by Jesus, that our journey through life as a Christian is not a solo journey. If I desire Christ to be in the midst of my life then I must be in fellowship with other Christians. The Eastern Orthodox teach that I am saved in Christ, but my salvation is worked out in the community of believers who are also saved in Christ. The Western way of Christianity teaches that it is me and my Bible. As long as I have my Bible (and of course the version that I choose) I can determine how God is speaking to me and then act on it accordingly. What is the result of this kind of thinking? A myriad of churches and denominations that cater to individual preferences, Men, and women, who never go to a church because they claim to be in their own, personal church. People who claim to be Christians and reject others who claim to be Christians because of minute differences in their creeds. This is not the way that our Lord wanted His Church to be. He prayed for unity. He told us that we must come together in order for Him to be in our midst. We were created in the image of God, and God, by His very nature, is relational. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

December 20, 2016

UNDER THE WATCHFUL FATHER'S EYE


Psalms 32:8 (31:8 LXX)

I will give you understanding, and I will teach you in the way you should walk;
I will fix My eyes on you.

Encouraging Words

I am never alone! My God, the creator of all thing visible and invisible, has promised to keep His eyes fixed on me. He does not do this like some grand inquisitor watching my every move and waiting to punish me for every mistake that I make. He is watching me as a loving parent watches his, or her, child, delighting in every move they make, hesitating at every trepidatious thing that they attempt, knowing that this is their beloved child who carries their image in everything that they do. This is my God, my heavenly Father that I know watches over me. And He doesn't stop there, He nurtures me. He gives me understanding. He teaches me in the way that I should walk. He does all of this out of His nature of love. What should be my response to this? A life that tries to emulate Him! A life that glorifies Him! This is only possible by knowing Him. To know Him can only be accomplished by knowing His Son, who is the physical representation, the Icon, of His Father. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

Monday, December 19, 2016

December 19, 2016

GROWING TRUST


Judges 7:9-11

On that same night the Lord said to him, “Arise, go down against the camp, for I have delivered it into your hand. But if you are afraid to go down, go down to the camp with Purah your servant. Listen to what they shall say, and afterward your hands shall be strong and you shall then go down into the camp.” And he went down with Purah his servant to the edge of the camp of the fifty.

Encouraging Words

Once again, we see Gideon, that guy who was called out as mighty one of the armies, cowering before the odds that he has before him. This time the Lord tells him to sneak down to the enemy's camp and see for himself what the situation looks like. And as the rest of the story plays out he finds out that the majority of the enemy camp is scared out of their wits about the mighty things that the God of Israel has done through the commander of their armies, Gideon. So, what does this have to do with me and why is it encouraging. My God does not expect me to just blindly trust Him and do whatever He asks of me. He desires that of me, but since He is relational He is willing to let me experience His involvement to the point where I choose to follow Him with full, blind trust. That is how much He loves me and even trusts me. That, to me, is extremely encouraging. God loves me so much and so deeply that He will not force me to do anything against my free will. What a blessing. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have Mercy on me, the sinner!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

December 18, 2016

RECONCILIATION


Matthew 18:15-17

Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.

Personal Challenge

Once again, the way that we are expected to live as Christians is so much different than the way that the world wants us to live. If we are offended by someone the world expects us to lash back at them, call them names and make them regret what they did. And if that doesn't work, and even sometimes if it does, then the world expects us to tell everyone that we know, and that they know, how much they offended us. The world even gives us permission to embellish the story if it helps to enhance the offense. In our desire to live in the spiritual realm and not the temporal one, we are expected to behave so much differently as Christians. If someone offends us then it is expected that in the spirit of love for that person we go to them privately and lovingly let them know of their offense. We are also expected to assess the situation first and if our brother or sister is not able to accept this correction then we consider waiting until they are able or depending on the magnitude of the offense consider forgiveness without confrontation. All of this takes humility on our part and love for both our Lord and our neighbor. Glory be to God.

December 17, 2016

Saint of the Week
St. Paisios of Mount Athos


Friday, December 16, 2016

December 16, 2016

HUMBLING OURSELVES


Psalms 31:23-24 (30:24-25 LXX)

Love the Lord, all you His saints,
For the Lord seeks out truth,
And He repays those who act with great arrogance.
Be courageous, and let your heart be strengthened,
All who hope in the Lord.

Command with a Promise

We are told here to love our Lord and to be courageous and He will strengthen our heart. We are also told to let our heart be strengthened, which implies that the reception of the blessings bestowed on us by our Lord are interactive and not just forced upon us. We are also told in this passage that we cannot expect to receive these blessings from our Lord if we live and act with arrogance. Our Lord desires that we live our lives in humility with Him and with those whom He has placed in our lives. If we choose to continue to live arrogant self-centered lives then our Lord, who knows and seeks out the truth will give us our just rewards. In this case, those rewards often force us into a state of humility. Forgive me, O Lord, for claiming to be Your child and yet living my life arrogantly for myself.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

December 15, 2016

MIGHTY ONE OF THE ARMIES


Judges 6:12

And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, mighty one of the armies!”

Encouraging Words

In the story leading up to this proclamation by the Angel of the Lord, we find Gideon threshing wheat in a winepress. This doesn't make any sense until you read the rest of the story. Gideon is an Israelite and his people have been under the oppression of the Midianites for seven years. The Midianites have been destroying their crops and decimating their livestock in order to break them down. Gideon had found some stalks of wheat and had found a place where he could hide from the Midianites and thresh the wheat for some food. He was actually being kind of cowardly in what he was doing. I can just imagine what he thought when he was told that he was a mighty one of the armies. What armies? Who, me? Why do you think that I am hiding out here? I am sure it was quite amusing. As the story continues we see that the Lord is indeed with Gideon and that he does indeed become a mighty warrior for his people, We too have our Lord with us. He has promised to never leave us or forsake us, even if we are hiding out someplace from the challenges in our lives that are closing in on us. He will lead us into the battles of this world as mighty ones of His army if we will just let Him. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

December 14, 2016

SAVING THE LOST ONE


Matthew 18:12-14

"What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish."

Encouraging Words

Once again we see that God's way of doing things is so much different than ours as we succumb to the ways of our fallen world, In our way of thinking we would look at this situation and choose to cut our loses. We would think it better to lose the one and not risk the other ninety-nine. In God's mind, the lost one is just as important as all of the others and He will pursue that one in order to bring him home to the fold. Now that is true, unconditional love. Many of the early church fathers felt that the ninety-nine represented the angels in heaven and that the one lost sheep was fallen mankind. Jesus left His faithful flock and came to earth, giving His all so that we would be redeemed. This is such a great love that none of us can fully understand it. What we can know, though, is that God loves us so very much that He sent His son to redeem us and has waited patiently for over 2,000 years so that more will be redeemed before He returns. To God be the glory!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

December 13, 2016

INTO HIS HANDS


Psalms 31:1-5 (30:1-6 LXX)
In You, O Lord, I hope; may I not be ashamed forever;
In Your righteousness deliver and rescue me.
Incline Your ear to me;
Rescue me speedily;
Be to me a God who protects me,
And a house of refuge to save me.
For You are my strength and my refuge,
And for Your name's sake You will guide and sustain me;
For You will bring me out from the snare they hid for me;
For You are my protector.
Into Your hands I shall entrust my spirit;
You redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.

Encouraging Words

We often forget that King David, the man who slew the giant Goliath as a young shepherd boy with a sling and a stone, was also a prophet. As a prophet, he was blessed to have the Holy Spirit speak through him regarding future events. This passage, as well as the rest of this chapter in Psalms, points to the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ as he approaches and ultimate hangs on the cross. Read this passage as if it were Jesus speaking these words and you will see the prophecy, even to the line, "Into Your hands I shall entrust my spirit;" which Jesus spoke as His final words from the cross. We too, as children of the loving God, can speak these words in our lives as we strive to become like Christ and take up His cross daily. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

Monday, December 12, 2016

December 12, 2016

STRENGTH AND COURAGE


Joshua 1:6-9

“Be strong and courageous, for you will divide this land which I swore to your fathers to give them. Be strong, therefore, and courageous to guard yourself and to do as Moses My servant commanded you; then you will not turn away from them, to the right nor to the left. In this way, you will have understanding in whatever you do. The book of this law shall not depart from your mouth, and you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may have the understanding to do all the things written therein. Then you will both prosper, make your ways prosperous, and have understanding. Behold, I have commanded you. Be strong and courageous. Do not be cowardly or fearful, for the Lord your God is with you in all things, wherever you go.”

Encouraging Words

The early church fathers taught that the person of God that was speaking to Joshua here was the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ. Jesus is telling Joshua to be strong and courageous in the face of pending wars and battles because God was with him. Several thousand years later, Jesus, as a human being, would stand before Pilate and His own death sentence and would Himself demonstrate strength and courage, Jesus never asks of us something that He has not already faced when He walked on this earth in a human body like ours. He will give us the strength and courage that we will need to face any challenge. Glory be to God?

December 11, 2016

Saint of the Week
St. Maximos the Confessor


Friday, December 9, 2016

December 9, 2016

DESIRING GREATNESS?


Matthew 18:1-6

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.

Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

Personal Challenge

Greatness! Let's face it, Whether we want to admit it or not we all desire to be great. Sometimes it is at work as we jockey for that next promotion. Sometimes it is in our home as we try to be the one who is always right or who gets to make all the decisions. Sometimes it is in our church or other community of people where we compete with others to show how much we know or to get the position at the head of the table. Here Jesus tells His disciples, and us, that none of these things will give us greatness. Actually, He tells us that greatness is the last thing that we should desire if we want to be like Him. What should we desire then? To be like a child sitting at the feet of his Father. We should desire humility and the ability to put others before ourselves. We should desire God above all else. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

December 7, 2016

SONGS OF PRAISE


Psalms 30:11-12 (29:12-13 LXX)

You turned my lamentation into dancing for me;
You tore up my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,
That my glory may sing praise to You,
And not be pierced with sadness;
O Lord my God, I shall give thanks to You forever.

Encouraging Words

We so often confuse consequences with punishment in our relationship with our Lord. We still live in a physical world, even though the hearts and minds of those who follow Christ have been transformed to try to live in the spiritual world, And since we are still living in a fallen state and a fallen world we still choose to sin. It is the sin that we commit that brings consequences into our lives. Every action taken, or not taken, still has its results. It is these consequences that wake us up to the fact that we have transgressed against our Lord and if we are striving to be close to Him that drive us to a state of lamenting over our sin and mourning for the rift that we have created between God and ourselves. However, as the psalmist proclaims, our loving and merciful Father is there to turn our lamenting into dancing, our sackcloth of mourning into gladness, and our piercing sadness into songs of praise. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have Mercy on me, the sinner?

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

December 6, 2016

NEVER FORSAKEN


Joshua 1:5

No man shall be able to oppose you all the days of your life, and as I was with Moses, thus I will be also with you. I will not forsake you nor disregard you.

Encouraging Words

Here we have Joshua, preparing to take over the leadership of the nation of Israel. He had followed Moses as he led the people out of Egypt. He had watched the people rebel against God and Moses over, and over, and over again. He was one of only two spies that had gone into the promised land to scope it out who claimed that they could truly possess this wonderful land while all the others scared the people to not more forward. And now, Moses is stepping down and passing the baton to Joshua. What must have been going through his mind? And now, God speaks into his mind and heart these words of encouragement that still ring true to us who give our lives over to Christ day after day. We are promised that no one will ever be able to oppose us in our commitment to Christ. Even if they take our physical life from us, they cannot touch our spiritual life. God promises to always be with is, to never forsake us, and to never disregard us. Now that is the ultimate promise, Glory be to God!

Monday, December 5, 2016

December 5, 2016

SURELY, NOT ME!


Matthew 16:24-28

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.

Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”

Personal Challenge

Wait a minute! You can't make me do that! I am an American! I am a modern, enlightened Christian! Do you mean to tell me that I must participate in that class before I can teach it? Are you telling me that I need to vacuum the carpets after the service or clean the tables after fellowship before I can be recognized as a leader in my church? Jesus, as usual, does not mince any words here. If we want to be counted as one of His disciples then we have to deny ourselves and do what He asks while following Him. Surely, He must be talking to everyone but me? Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me the sinner!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

December 4, 2016

JOY IN THE MORNING


Psalms 30:5 (29:6 LXX)

For there is wrath in His anger,
But life in His will;
Weeping will lodge at evening,
But great joy in the morning.

Encouraging Words

Our God is not capricious or judgmental but He does get angry with evil and wrongdoing. It is the kind of anger that is encouraging and directing to lead us to be obedient to His will. When we live in His will we find true life, a life that is abundant and pure. And as we strive to live our lives we will encounter those days when the evil of the world presses in upon us and cause us to end our day with weeping. Sometimes that weeping is for our own pain and suffering as we press on against the negative flow of the world, but as we grow closer to Christ our weeping becomes more for those who do not know our Lord, And as we continue to press on this weeping turns into great joy every morning as we begin a new day.

December 3, 2016

Saint of the Week

St. John of Kronstadt



Friday, December 2, 2016

December 2, 2016

STRAIGHT PATH AHEAD


Deuteronomy 31:8

But the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not be afraid, nor be terrified.

Encouraging Word

Deuteronomy finishes out with the transition of the leadership of the nation of Israel from Moses to Joshua, In this transition, Moses encourages Joshua multiple times on who God is and how God will be always present and always active in the lives of the people who follow Him. In this verse, we are reminded that God goes before us and paves the path of our lives. The psalmist repeated this in Proverbs 3:5-6 when he said, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." My God is not some fickle, big man in the sky, distant, judgmental, dictator that has given me all kinds of rules to follow and who never gets involved in my life. He is compassionate and merciful. So much so that He sent His only begotten Son to be born of a virgin, to live His life as a human being, to die a vicious death after living a sinless life, and then come back to life destroying death. Jesus makes my path straight. He goes before me. He is with me. He never leaves or forsakes me. So I am never afraid or terrified. Thank You, God!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

December 1, 2016

HYPOCRISY?


Matthew 15:7-9

Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:
‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth,
And honor Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.
And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’

Personal Challenge


It can be so easy to slip into the mode of being a hypocrite. I know that I must constantly watch how I live my life so that what I do matches what I say. And believe me, I miss the mark more than I hit it. Jesus asks that we be different than the world around us. He asks that we love one another, even those who are our enemies. He asks that we put Him first and that we give of ourselves and our abundance to those in need, such as the widow, the orphan, the poor, and the destitute. It is easy to say that I am a follower of Christ and then go on living my life as if I am the king sitting on the throne of my heart. This is what He was challenging in this passage. This is the ultimate of hypocrisy. It is an entirely different thing to live my life in such a way that I never have to say that I am a follower of Christ, but that everyone I meet in my life recognizes by my actions that Jesus is the King sitting on the throne of my heart. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!