Wednesday, November 15, 2017

November 12, 2017

INSTRUCTION AND WISDOM


Proverbs 15:32-33 (15:37-38 LXX)

He who rejects instruction hates himself,
But he who gives heed to reproofs loves his soul.
The fear of God is instruction and wisdom,
And the beginning of glory will respond to it.

Personal Challenge

Instruction, discipline, correction, reproof and other similar terms are all used in the Proverbs to teach us that we must joyfully accept these things in our lives if we desire to grow in the image of Christ. Since we live in a fallen and broken world it is so easy to turn away from our God and to embrace the things of this world, In doing so, we sin. God desires that we be in constant communion with Him, so He corrects our sinfulness in order to bring us back to Him, just as a parent corrects their child to teach them the right way to behave. We are so blessed that our God loves us so much and that His corrections are always from that love, As we heed the discipline of our Father we begin to see and understand His wisdom and the wisdom that He desires us to have. This is part of our journey towards His glory. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

November 11, 2017

Saint of the Week
St. Mark the Ascetic

November 9, 2017

HEARING, BELIEVING, LIVING


John 5:24

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.

Encouraging Words

Jesus makes it clear to us in this verse that He and His Father are inseparable. The gift of everlasting life comes from hearing the word of Jesus and through that word believing in the Father. Our salvation is not in Jesus alone, or the Father alone, or the Holy Spirit alone, but in all three of them, the Trinity. Jesus also makes it clear that our everlasting life, our passing from death to life, begins that very moment that we believe in the Father who sent Him. We do not have to wait for our death to enter everlasting life. This is why our sinning after we become children of God is something that needs to be dealt with and repented of. Sin pulls is away from the presence of God and the blessings of eternal life that He wants to pour out upon us as we continue our journey through this temporal world. This is where the Holy Spirit comes into the picture, He is part of our lives to lead us in paths of righteousness and to turn our head and heart away from the temptations of the world. But we must listen to Him as well. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

Monday, November 13, 2017

November 8, 2017

GOD'S LIGHT


Psalms 119:105 (118:105 LXX)


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

Encouraging Words


Why spend time reading God's scriptures and the teachings of the Saints? Because they are provided by God to give us His uncreated light to illumine our journey through life and to help us to become more like His Son. We are not alone on this journey. Glory be to God!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

November 7, 2017

SPEAKING HUMBLY


Proverbs 15:1

Wrath destroys even men of discernment;
But a humble answer turns away anger,
And a grievous word stirs up wrath.

Personal Challenge

The time to practice humility and speaking humbly to others is never in the midst of an argument. If we practice living this way in the calm times, the times that we are at peace with those around us, then we develop the ability and the way of speaking and being that will come forth in the stressful situations. It never helps the situation to respond to a wrathful person with wrath for it only adds more fuel to the fire. Is this an easy characteristic to develop in our lives? It is not, but the results of doing so have great benefit. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

November 6, 2017

LIVING WATER


John 4:13-14

Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”

Encouraging Words

Living Water! Jesus is our source of a water that gives us eternal life. The one core essence that every creature needs to survive is water. That is one of the reasons that water is such important part of so many of our activities in the Orthodox church. We believe that when Jesus was baptized in the Jordan river He restored water to its state before the fall. Today, through Jesus, we can partake of this Living Water. Glory be to God!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

November 5, 2017

FOREVER...


Psalms 119:89 (118:89 LXX)


Forever, O Lord,
Your word continues in heaven.

Encouraging Words


Our God is not temporary or fleeting. He is not changing or changeable by the whims of this temporary world. There are great solace and comfort in this truth for it gives us, whose lives are temporary and fleeting, something, rather Someone, to hold onto as everything around us changes and passes on. Glory be to God!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

November 4, 2017

Saint of the Week
St. Theophan the Recluse

November 3, 2017

HEALING THE HEART


Proverbs 14:30 (14:31 LXX)

A man with a gentle spirit is a healer of the heart,
But a sensual heart is the moth of the bones.

Personal Challenge

The first half of this verse is pretty clear, be nice to others, give them the treatment of a gentle spirit, and their hearts will be healed. But the second part of this translation is a little harder to understand. Let's try a different translation...
Proverbs 14:30 (NIV)A heart at peace gives life to the body,but envy rots the bones.
A sensual heart is a heart full of passion. If that passion is envy or lust or anger or any other negative passion then it will eat us from the inside out. Once again we are being taught that what is in our hearts determines what we do with our lives. Our ongoing personal challenge in our journey of life is to protect our heart from the things of this World and to let our Lord fell it with Himself. Glory be to God!

Monday, November 6, 2017

November 2, 2017

BELIEVING BY ACTING


John 3:36

He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.

Command with a Promise

The early church fathers (and by this, we mean first and second-century saints) taught that our salvation comes from our faith in Christ and our subsequent actions of working out that faith in our lives. We cannot just say some simple prayer and then go on living our lives the way we always have, A true faith in Christ begins to change us from the inside to the outside and our actions begin to demonstrate that faith in God. He facilitates these changes in us, but we must be willing and active participants in the change process which works out the salvation process within us. St. John Chrysostom said,
“We do not from this assert that faith alone is sufficient for salvation; the directions for living that are given in many places in the Gospels show this.”
St. John makes it clear that our salvation is a process that is managed and controlled by God. This requires us to follow and act upon His commandments, expectations, and precepts. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

Friday, November 3, 2017

November 1, 2017

GOD'S COMPASSIONS POURED OUT ON US


Psalms 118:77

Let Your compassions come to me, and I shall live;
For Your law is my meditation.

Encouraging Words

God loves His creation so dearly. He loves us even to the point of His own death. In that love, He chooses to pour out His compassions upon us and gives us life, both an abundant temporal life and eternal life. Our part in this exchange is to receive that which He is giving us as a free, no strings attached gift and to meditate upon Him and follow Him. He gives so much more to the relationship than we can ever return. Lord, have Mercy!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

October 31, 2017

DISCERNMENT...


Proverbs 14:17

A quick-tempered man acts with recklessness,
But a man with discernment bears many things.

Personal Challenge

There is definitely a benefit to learning to hold one's tongue in the middle of a heated discussion or argument. Being quick-tempered can get a person into a lot of trouble and cause a lot of pain to others. It takes time, effort, and a commitment to our Lord to learn how to manage our tempers and to become people that bear many things. Discernment, the crown of the virtues is a worthy goal in life, for with it we will act supernaturally. Glory be to God!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

October 30, 2017

DECREASING


John 3:30

He must increase, but I must decrease.

Personal challenge

John the Baptist sets the standard for how each of us who claim to be followers of Jesus should live our lives. If we desire to grow in the image of Christ, to become more like Him, then we must decrease and He must increase. This is such an indictment of the so-called prosperity gospel that is so prevalent today. Sometimes God does choose to bless His children with earthly blessings, however, these blessings are not for our own good, but for the prudent use to help build His kingdom. If we are given financial wealth, then we have more to give to our churches or other Christian ministries that need our support. If we are given talents that we use in our occupation, then we can give them to His organizations who need these talents and cannot afford the going rate. He gives us time, which we can all use to teach Sunday School, or hold a crying baby during the church service, or vacuuming the sanctuary, or whatever else needs to be done. This is all part of decreasing so that He can increase. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

October 28, 2017

Saint of the Week
St. Ambrose of Optina


Monday, October 30, 2017

October 27, 2017

GODLY HELP


Psalms 119:37 (118:37 LXX)

Turn away my eyes that I may not see vanity;
Give me life in Your way.

Encouraging Words

This is a powerful prayer that we can all say on a regular basis. Asking God to protect our eyes, ears, and minds from those things that will draw us away from Him can help us to stay on His straight and narrow path, His way. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

October 26, 2017

TEMPTATION: SIN OR RIGHTEOUSNESS


Proverbs 13:10

Deceitful souls are led astray in sins,
But the righteous have compassion and are merciful.

Personal Challenge

Temptations that show up in our lives are not sins. It is what we do with these temptations that end up in sin or righteousness. If our hearts are not right with our Lord or focussed on Him and what He would desire of us, then the temptations will lead us to sin. We choose to give in to the sin. But if we are trying to live our lives to honor God and keep our hearts and minds focused on Him, then we will flee from the temptations and move closer to righteousness. Again, it is a choice. Lord, have mercy? Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Friday, October 27, 2017

October 25, 2017

LOVE AND FORGIVENESS


John 3:16-17

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

Encouraging Words

John 3:16! This is probably one of the most memorized verses of the Bible. This is the verse, when I fully came to understand its meaning, lead me to the point of asking Jesus to be the center of my life, over half a century ago. This verse sums up the whole gospel of why God sent His Son to be incarnated as one of us and let Him die on the cross, because of love. It was not until later in my life that I also noticed that verse 17 was needed to complete the story of Gods' love. God does not judge us like some angry judge wielding the heavy gavel of justice. God has created all of His creation with a right and a wrong. There is an order that is in place that either draws us closer to Him or pushes us farther away from Him. The thing in our lives that pushes us away from Him is our sin. God does not force us to sin. God does not set us up to sin. God created us with a free will, the ability to choose between right and wrong. When I choose wrong or sin, then I am choosing the condemnation, or separation from God, as the consequences. Then verse 16 kicks in and through Jesus, I can repent of this and be forgiven. Glory be to God! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

October 24, 2017

WHAT IS IN MY HEART?


Psalms 119:11 (118:11 LXX)

I hid Your teachings in my heart
So as not to sin against You.

Personal Challenge

The truth found in this psalm is that if I am continuing to sin, then I have not hidden enough Gods' teachings in my heart. The more that I fill up my heart with Him, the less room there is for the things of this world that draw me to sin, Jesus told the prostitute to go and ah no more after He forgave her. This means we do have the ability, through Him, to live a sinless life. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

October 23, 2017

SWORD OR BALM


Proverbs 12:18 (12:20 LXX)

There are those who wound with a sword as they speak,
But the tongues of the wise heal.

Personal Challenge

Throughout the scriptures, both old and new, we are warned that the smallest part of our body, the tongue, can be either the most lethal part of our body or the most healing. We each have the choice to use our tongue to strike as lethally as a sword or to apply healing balm to those around us. The choice is driven by what is in our hearts. Today, I choose to be a healer. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

Monday, October 23, 2017

October 22, 2017

TURNING THE ORDINARY INTO THE EXTRAORDINARY


John 2:9-10

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

Encouraging Words


Jesus had not yet started His ministry here on earth when He and His mother were participating in a wedding. Most likely this would have been the wedding of a family member or a close friend since Mary was so actively involved in the affairs of the host. What is so powerful about this is that Jesus chose this opportunity to perform His first miracle and also chose to take something everyday and ordinary such as water and turn it into the best wine that anyone there had ever tasted. This is how Jesus works in our lives as His children. We are ordinary human beings and He turns us into saints. He takes the ordinary things that we do and turns them into miracles, He takes the ordinary things in our lives, like the tithes and offerings that we give to our churches and ministries and turns them into resources that build the kingdom of God. What a glorious opportunity for each of us to be used by God. Glory be to Him!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

October 21, 2017

Saint of the Week
The Ladder of Divine Ascent


October 20, 2017

REFOCUSING


Psalms 119:2 (118:2 LXX)


Blessed are those who search out His testimonies;
They shall search for Him with their whole heart.

Encouraging Words

Doesn't everyone want to receive blessings? We are told here by the Psalmist that if we search out the teachings and testimonies of our Lord with our whole heart then we will receive blessings. This is not some kind of prosperity gospel. The Psalmist knows that the more time that we spend seeking God and the more that we get to know Him, the more that we realize that the only blessings from God that mean anything are those that relate to Him and our spiritual lives. The things of this world such as temporal wealth, fancy toys, big houses, etc., become nothing to us as we embrace the spiritual blessings that God pours out on us. What are those spiritual blessings? Immortality and living in God's Kingdom. His grace and mercy poured out upon us. Peace and love for those around us. Our attention shifts from being focused on ourselves to focus on Him. Glory be to God!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

October 19, 2017

GODLY PERCEPTION


Proverbs 12:1

He who loves instruction loves perception,
But he who hates correction is without discernment.

Personal Challenge

The early church fathers believed that Godly perception or discernment was the crown of the virtues. We are informed by the writer of the Proverbs that perception comes through instruction. Instruction is not always learning something from a teacher. More often than not instruction comes through correction and discipline. It does not always feel good, but it does produce good results. The sign of a person growing in their relationship with God is a person who cherishes the challenges that life brings them and perceives them as opportunities for growth, opportunities to develop our theosis. No parent enjoys disciplining their child, but we do enjoy immensely seeing our children learn from their mistakes and their bad choices. God is no different in His relationship with His children, which is why He gives us correction and discipline when we sin. So, the moral of this proverb is not that we should be out doing things that are sinful so that we can receive Gods' discipline, but that we should cherish the discipline that we do receive, knowing that it is coming from our loving Father. Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

Friday, October 20, 2017

October 18, 2017

RECEIVING CHRIST


John 1:12-13

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Encouraging Words

John makes it so clear that for those who receive the gift of salvation given to them by God through the incarnation of Jesus, they become children of God. Through Jesus and His work on the cross, we can be adopted into the family of God and take on the nature of Jesus. This act of receiving Jesus is so much more than just saying some prayer or walking up to the front of the church for an altar call. When we truly receive Jesus and choose to live our lives for Him, everything begins to change in our lives. We begin to feel uncomfortable in this world because it is no longer our home. We begin to feel ill at ease with the way the world functions and the expectations that the world has for us to participate in its ways. We begin to yearn for being in the presence of our God. However, just as Satan, in the form of the serpent was bent on causing Adam and Eve to sin and to fall away from their relationship with God, so too does he do everything in his power to pull us away from our relationship with God. We must choose, over and over again, consistently and persistently, to receive Christ and live for Him. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

October 17, 2017

REJOICE IN EVERY NEW DAY


Psalms 118:24 (117:24 LXX)

This is the day the Lord made;
Let us greatly rejoice, and be glad therein.

Encouraging Words


Every day, every breath, every beat of the heart is indeed a blessing from our living and loving God. This is indeed something to greatly rejoice about and to be glad therein. He has chosen us to be His blessed children. All we need to do is accept that and live under His loving wings. Glory be to God!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

October 16, 2017

CONTROLLING OUR TONGUE



Proverbs 11:9 (11:10 LXX)

A man in need of discernment treats citizens with contempt,
But a man of discernment keeps quiet.

Personal Challenge

Once again the writer of the proverbs reminds us just how powerful the tongue can be. We are also reminded that the need for discernment and how the application of the proper discernment can make a major difference in our lives and the lives of those around us. In this case, that discernment informs us to keep our mouths shut so that we treat those around us with grace, even when there might be cause to call people out. We must always remember to think before we speak, or tweet, or instant message, or Facebook, and then act on that thinking by being quiet more often than we speak. Lord have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Monday, October 16, 2017

October 15, 2017

A BURNING HEART?


Luke 24:32

And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?”

Personal challenge

Here is a question that I know that I must ask myself regularly. "Does my heart burn within me when I hear the Scriptures read taught to me?" Regretfully, I must say that this does not happen often enough. The Scriptures are God's Word captured in writing for me to cherish and fill my heart with. The teachings of His saints and the leaders of my church today are His spoken Words for me to meditate on and fill my heart and mind with. And as with so many other aspects of my life, actually all aspects of my life, this is my choice. I must choose to put Gods written and spoken Word first and foremost in my life so that my heart burns for Him. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

October 14, 2017

Saint of the Week
St. Mark the Ascetic

October 13, 2017

TRUST


Psalms 118:8-9 (117:8-9 LXX)

It is good to trust in the Lord
Rather than to trust in man;
It is good to hope in the Lord
Rather than to hope in rulers.

Encouraging Words


In this day of political uncertainty and a divided country, it is good to know that our God transcends all that is of this world and that we can put our trust and hope in Him rather than in the men and women who are of this world. It is God who gave them their positions of authority, to begin with. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have Mercy! Lord, have Mercy!

Friday, October 13, 2017

October 12, 2017

A HUMBLE MOUTH


Proverbs 11:2

Wherever arrogance enters, there also is dishonor,
But the mouth of the humble meditates on wisdom.

Personal Challenge

There is such a delicate balance in living your life in confidence that your Lord has you in the palm of His hand and coming across as arrogant. Maybe that is why the writer of this proverb put the trait of being humble and having a mouth that meditates on wisdom as the alternative to being arrogant and treading into disaster. As a humble person, one would speak less and put others first. Having a mouth that meditates on wisdom, that person would speak less and when they did the speech would be seasoned with the love of Jesus. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

October 11, 2017

FORGIVENESS OR JUDGMENT


Luke 23:34

Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”

And they divided His garments and cast lots.

Encouraging Words

It still amazes me how much of our Western Christianity views God as a mean, judgmental, hateful God. What flows out of this doctrine is a tendency to become mean, judgmental, hateful people that call ourselves Christians. We divide over petty things in our churches. We cast aspersions on people or groups that don't hold to our defined beliefs or desires. We damn people to hell when we do not have that right or the authority to do that. Here we have Jesus Christ, God Incarnate. God and man in one body who has never committed a sin in His life. He healed the blind, the lame, the deaf and those with all forms of illness, never expecting anything in return. He raised people from the dead and fed the hungry. He loved His creation unconditionally. And when they beat Him, spit on Him, and hung Him on the cross, did He call down God's judgment on them? No! He asked the Father to forgive them. That is unconditional love, Our Eastern practice of Christianity focuses on the love of God and the fact that none of us deserves it, which is why we pray regularly... Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

October 10, 2017

HIS MERCY ENDURES FOREVER


Psalms 118:1-4 (117:1-4 LXX)

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
For His mercy endures forever.
Let the house of Israel say that He is good,
For His mercy endures forever.
Let the house of Aaron say that He is good,
For His mercy endures forever.
Let all who fear the Lord say that He is good,
For His mercy endures forever.

Encouraging Words

The Lord is good! His mercy does endure forever! May I and my household give thanks to Him, forever. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

October 9, 2017

DISTILLING WISDOM


Proverbs 10:31 (10:32 LXX)


The mouth of a righteous man distills wisdom,
But the tongue of an unrighteous man utterly destroys.

Personal Challenge

Have you ever had one of those moments when the words that came out of your mouth utterly destroyed someone? I have. More times than I would like to remember. It has been at those times that I can look back on and see just how unrighteous I was. Definitely not something to be proud of. Having a tongue that distills wisdom and that encourages and edifies those around us is another reason to pursue righteousness in Christ. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have Mercy on me, the sinner!

Monday, October 9, 2017

October 8, 2017

GIVING BY CHOICE


Luke 21:1-4

And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.”

Personal challenge

Giving to the church has sometimes been a reason that some people have given to me as to why they did not go to a church. The claim was that all the church did was ask for money. That is a funny excuse because that has not been my experience. And how is that any different than every single advertisement that we are bombarded with throughout our day. Granted, the church needs the giving from its membership in order to function in the world. But in most cases, the church desires our giving to be our choice. There is no required amount, like membership dues. Most importantly, what God desires is that we give with the right condition of our heart. We give out of our love for our God and a desire to give back a portion of that which He has blessed us with so that others can be blessed. The amount does not matter, but the intent does. The widow in this story pointed out by Jesus only gave a very small amount, maybe a penny or two, but Jesus indicated that she gave more than all of the wealthy contributors who gave large amounts. Why? Because she gave an abundance out of her pittance rather than a pittance out of her abundance She gave because she loved her God and not the attention that people would pay about her giving. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Land, have mercy!

October 7, 2017

Saint of the Week
St. Porphyrios


Saturday, October 7, 2017

October 5, 2017

PRAISING GOD


Psalm 117 (116 LXX)

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

Encouraging Words

For centuries, even millennia, God's chosen people of the Old Testament believed that only they could lay claim to God as their God. However, the prophets and teachers throughout the Old Testament proclaimed that God was the God of all mankind. This was a significant part of the ministry and teaching of Christ, to proclaim that all peoples had access to God through Him. Thank You, Lord Jesus Christ!

Friday, October 6, 2017

October 4, 2017

JOYFUL LIVING


Proverbs 10:22 (10:23 LXX)

The blessing of the Lord is upon the head of a righteous man;
It enriches him, and grief of heart will not be added to it.

Encouraging Words

No one can be righteous on his own accord. We can, and should, strive to be righteous and godly in our lives, but it is God, through the work of Christ that bestows righteousness upon us. However, this does not stop us from pursuing righteousness and trying to be like Christ. And by doing this we are promised to be blessed by Him and that our hearts will be protected from grief. This is how we can truly live lives filled with joy. Glory be to God!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

October 3, 2017

CLEARING THE TEMPLE


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
So why was it so important for Jesus to clear out the courts of the temple? People needed animals to bring in for sacrifices. They needed to exchange their Roman money that had the graven image of Caesar on it for Jewish money that was "clean" for temple use. The message that Jesus was sending to everyone, including us today, is that the temple of God, our churches, and our own bodies, is no place for the business of the world to be conducted. We must strive to keep the ways of the world outside of our churches and keep them set apart for God so that they can do His work, His way, and be beacons of light to the lost world. We must strive to keep the world out of our hearts because they are the temple of God where Jesus lives. We too are supposed to be set apart for God. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Land, have mercy!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

October 2, 2017

MY VOICE IS HEARD


Psalms 116:1-2 (114:1–2 LXX)

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

Encouraging Words

God does hear our voices, each and every one of them. He does incline His ear to us, listening for us to call His name, waiting for us to reach out to Him. I believe this! I have seen Him respond to my petitions and those of others. I know that His answers can be "Yes!" or "No!" or "Be Patient?", but He answers. And it is because of His responses, His presence, and His love that I love Him and shall call upon Him all of my days. Glory be to God!

October 1, 2017

MINIMIZING WORDS


Proverbs 10:18 (10:20 LXX)

You will not escape sin by a multitude of words,
But you of discreet lips will be forbearing.

Personal Challenge

One of the parts of our bodies that gets us in more trouble than all of the other parts is our tongue. Any time that we say something to someone, those words become permanent and cannot be taken back. It is not a problem if the words spoken are loving, encouraging, and uplifting. Sometimes, however, even these words can be perceived by the recipient as mean-spirited depending on their own heart. Throughout the scriptures, both old and new, as well as many of the teachings of the Church fathers, we are instructed that minimizing the words that come out of our mouths can help to minimize arguments and upsets. This does not mean that we stop communicating altogether. It means that we develop discreet lips, lips that control what comes out of our mouths, lips that filter our thoughts so that we speak that which becomes more forbearing. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.

Monday, October 2, 2017

September 28, 2017

WHAT DO WE WANT FROM GOD?


Luke 18:40-41

So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be brought to Him. And when he had come near, He asked him, saying, “What do you want Me to do for you?”

He said, “Lord, that I may receive my sight.”

Personal Challenge

Reading this passage out of the context of knowing who Jesus is could lead someone to think that Jesus did not know everything. Why would Jesus have to ask an obviously blind man what he wanted Jesus to do for him? What this passage reveals is that Jesus wants us to come to Him with our issues and tell Him what we are seeking from Him. He wants us to understand what our true needs are and to address those more than our desires and wants. Jesus is not some genie in a bottle. Jesus always knows what is best for us, but He also wants us to exercise our own free will in our relationship with Him and choose those things that He would choose for us. The more time that we spend with Him, listening to Him, obeying Him, doing His work, the easier it becomes to know what He desires for us. This is all part of our journey through life. This is what we call theosis, or growing in the image of Christ. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner and help me to choose You and Your ways over myself and the ways of the flesh.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

September 30, 2017

Saint of the Week
St. Justin Popovich


September 27, 2017

PRAISING GOD


Psalms 112:3

From the rising of the sun to its setting,
Praise the name of the Lord.

Personal Challenge

This verse can easily be viewed as a rigid commandment that we must follow. When we stop viewing our God as an angry and judgmental God our whole perspective about life and our relationship with Him changes. We do not do the things that we do for Him out of fear of retribution or the desire for recognition. We choose as a response to His great love and compassion for us to do those things that we know will please Him. We respond to His love in like manner, in love. This makes it much

easier, even in the midst of tough and challenging times, to praise the name of the Lord from the rising of the sun to its setting, When we find ourselves doing the work of God, saying our prayers, studying His teachings, being kind to our neighbor, feeding the poor, clothing the naked, helping the widow and the fatherless, out of a sense of compulsion or obligation, then we must stop and check the state of our heart and our relationship with our blessed Lord. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

September 26, 2017

PATH OF WISDOM AND RIGHTEOUSNESS


Proverbs 9:9-12

Give the opportunity to a wise man, and he will be wiser;
Instruct a righteous man, and he shall continue to receive it.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
And the counsel of saints is understanding;
For to know the law is characteristic of a good mind.
For in this manner you will live a long time,
And the years of your life shall be increased.
My son, if you become wise in yourself,
you shall also be wise toward your neighbor;
But if you prove to be evil, you alone will go through troubles.

Personal Challenge

Wisdom and righteousness are both worthy aspects of life to pursue, however, we cannot achieve these on our own. We need our Lord to provide these to us or we will always come up short. How does God get these into our lives? When we give our lives over to Him as our Lord and submit our wills to Him, He fills us with His Son and Holy Spirit which begins the process of gaining godly wisdom. He has provided to us centuries of saints that have gone before us that we can learn from. He has given us His living Word, both in the incarnation of His Son and the canonization by the Church of the written word, so that we can know His precepts. He has given as our neighbor to love and meet the needs of giving us humility. He remains active in our lives leading us in the path of wisdom and righteousness. Glory be to God!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

September 25, 2017

POSSIBLE IMPOSSIBILITIES


Luke 18:27

But He said, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.”

Encouraging Words

What kinds of things are impossible for men to accomplish on their own? Being healed of an incurable disease? Being spared in the midst of a significant natural disaster? Having someone anonymously meet your financial need when there is nothing left to pay even buy food? We often think of these big things as miracles and neglect the small things that God does over and over again in our lives. What kind of small things does God make possible in our lives? How about every breath

that we are able to take in? Every beat of our heart? The miracle of modern medicine that provides us medications or treatments for things like cancer? The miracle of birth? And this list goes on and on. God is in every aspect of our lives, whether big or small. His ability to make the impossible possible in our life is there all the time. So, how does this affect my life? By living my life, moment by moment looking for Gods' active participation in my life, I am blessed to see His hand at work, time and time again. By doing this I find myself looking for ways to submit myself to Him. Glory be to God!

Monday, September 25, 2017

September 20, 2017

OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD


Psalms 111:10 (110:10 LXX)

The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord;
A good understanding is in all who practice it.
His praise continues unto ages of ages.

Encouraging Words

Since Jesus is who the word wisdom in the Psalms refers to, then this verse is telling us that the beginning of our relationship with Him comes from fearing our Lord. The concept of fearing someone in our modern day language and culture has become a bad thing. The true nature of this kind of fear is to view our God with a great sense of awe and respect, knowing that He holds the universe, and therefore our very existence, in the palm of His hand. This kind of fear drives us to live our lives in a way that honors and adores Him, not that we are afraid He will angrily punish is, but because we desire to please Him as a child does for his parent. Fearing God this way sets our minds and hearts into a state where we can receive His good understanding, apply it in our lives, and praise Him all the more. In a sense, this creates a symbiotic relationship with our Lord, especially since He dwells within our hearts. Glory be to God!

Friday, September 22, 2017

September 19, 2017

HEARKENING TO GOD'S VOICE


Proverbs 8:32-34

Now therefore, my son, hear me:
Blessed is the man who shall hearken to me
And the man who shall guard my ways;
Who watches daily at my doors,
Who keeps watch at the doors of my entryways;
For my issues are the issues of life,
And grace is prepared from the Lord.

Command with a Promise


We are told that if we listen to our God, hearken to His voice, guard the ways of our God, and keep watch daily at His doors and entryways, then His grace will be prepared for us. What does this mean? Our Lord has told us that His kingdom has arrived. Jesus established God's kingdom in our hearts when He came to dwell amongst us. So, doesn't it make sense that the doors and the entryways that we are being told to keep watch over are the doors of our hearts? It is so easy to get distracted by the things of this world and drop our guard allowing the world to creep into our hearts and lead us into sin. That is why the ability to effectively watch over our heart is to keep listening for His voice and hearkening to His instruction. This is the beginning of receiving His grace and blessings. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

September 18, 2017

LIKE A CHILD


Luke 18:15-17

Then they also brought infants to Him that He might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”

Personal Challenge

Why is it that we, as adults, always make things so much more complicated than they need to be? I think a lot of it has to do with pride. Jesus made it clear to His disciples, multiple times, that in order to inherit the Kingdom of God, we need to become as little children. What are the characteristics of a child? Humility. Sincerity. Trusting. Honesty. Simplistic. Theophylaet of Bulgaria said in respect to this verse,
“A little child is not arrogant, he does not despise anyone, he is innocent and guileless. He does not inflate himself in the presence of important people, nor withdraw from those in sorrows. Instead, he lives in complete simplicity”
This sums up what Jesus desires from us as we choose to follow Him as our Lord and Savior. Our life must become other focused in order to enter into His Kingdom. He desires that we set aside everything that we think we know so that He can teach us what He wants us to know. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy' Lord, have mercy!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

September 17, 2017

NOT MISSING OUT


Psalms 110:4 (111:4 LXX)

For the upright, light springs up in darkness,
For he is merciful, compassionate, and righteous.

Encouraging Words

One of the excuses that I have heard as to why a person chooses to not live a Christian life was that they felt that they would miss out on all of the fun things in life. Besides, it was said that we only live once so we might as well make the most of it. I am sorry some people think that way, for it has no truth in it. I have never missed out on having a fun and full life. I have chosen to forgo many of the things that the world deems as fun and I have no regrets. Besides, by trying to live an upright life, I have seen the light of my God spring up in the darkness of this world. I have seen His mercy, compassion, and righteousness poured out so many times, on so many people, and in so many diverse places. God is good! God is loving! And most importantly, those times that I stumble and fall in my journey of life, those times when I turn my mind or heart away from God, He is there shining His light even so much more brightly to bring me back home like the prodigal son so that He can lavish all the more mercy, compassion, and righteousness upon me. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

Monday, September 18, 2017