Monday, September 18, 2017

September 16, 2017

Saint of the Week
St. Athanasius of Alexandria



September 15, 2017

FINDING GOD THROUGH THE FOG


Proverbs 8:17

I love those who love me,
And those who seek me shall find me.

Encouraging Words

How awesome it is to know that our God is not allusive. He desires to be in a loving, caring relationship so much more than we do. If we love Him with all of our hearts and souls then we will see how much He loves us in return. It is not that His love is in response to ours. His perfect, unconditional love is always there. It is that the more that I turn my attention toward Him and my love toward Him, the more I see of His love that is always there for me. I can never out love Him. He promises this. He also promises that if I seek Him, I will find Him. Again, this is not because He is lost or hiding. It is because I have to find my way out of the fog of sin and self that I have created around myself. Actually, what I am actually finding is just how far from Him I am.

Friday, September 15, 2017

September 14, 2017

SEEKING MERCY


Luke 18:13

And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’

Personal Challenge

The scripture is full of reminders that if we desire to be close to our God, we must start by recognizing how far from Him we really are and begin our journey towards Him by humbling ourselves. This accounting in Luke of the tax collector and the Pharisee shows us that no matter how much knowledge we have about God or what position we hold in the church, if we do not have humble hearts, then we will never be able to truly know God. The tax collector knows that he is a sinner and that he has no right to expect anything from God. He humbles himself and recognizes that he cannot begin to approach God in all of His glory, and yet, with this humble heart, He still knows that he needs his God. The Pharisee, however, approaches the altar of God with pride and arrogance acting as if God owes him everything for his piety, even to the point where he demeans the tax collector in his prayer. So, what is the state of my heart? Do I come to my Lord on my knees knowing that God owes me nothing? Am I humble toward my God and my neighbor? Not nearly as much as I should. I too, need to pray the prayer of this man. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

September 13, 2017

MERCY


Psalms 109:21-22 (108:21-22 LXX)

But You, O Lord, O Lord, deal mercifully with me for Your name's sake,
For Your mercy is good.
Save me, for I am poor and needy,
And my heart is troubled within me.

Encouraging Words
Mercy: compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender on to one subject to one's power.
Isn't this something that we all desire and ultimately what we all need. As humans, we often live our lives as if we are gods and that every­thing and everyone is subject to us and our whims. But whether we want to admit it or not, there is a God, our Creator, and Sustainer and we are subject to Him. It is Him that we have offended with our sin and continue to offend on a regular basis. The Psalmist reminds us that our Lord is merciful, not just for our sake, but for His own sake because He is mercy in essence and that mercy is good. He knows that we are all poor and needy, that our hearts are troubled within us because we have betrayed Him, and that we need His salvation. What a blessing it is to be able to call my God, Father, knowing that His mercy will cover me throughout the remainder of eternity. Thank You, my Lord.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

September 12, 2017

HOLDING FAST TO WISDOM


Proverbs 5:1-2

My son, hold fast to wisdom
And incline your ear to my words,
That you may guard good thinking;
And I command you with the perception of my lips.

Personal Challenge

Contrary to modern, popular belief, salvation is not a one-time event in our lives when we say some canned prayer or answer a call to come up to an altar. Salvation is a process that works out through our entire life. It is a process that requires us to be active in a community of believers because no one is saved alone. Most importantly, as the writer here reminds us we are active participants and workers in our own salvation. We must spend our entire lives holding fast to Wisdom, which is our Lord Jesus Christ. When we take our eyes off of Him we will fall away from Him. We need to listen intently to Him and His teachings so that our own personal thoughts and desires are washed over with His thoughts and desires. This is why we call our life with Christ a journey. It never ends and we must keep moving forward toward Him if we are to fully experience His glory and grace in our lives. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me the sinner!

Monday, September 11, 2017

September 11, 2017

THE KINGDOM OF GOD


Luke 17:20-21

Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”

Encouraging Words

One of the things that we are hearing about today is thoughts that the end of our days are near. Two Hurricanes back to back, a major typhoon in the process, fires all across the west of our country, a major earthquake by Mexico and Guatemala, and North Korea testing nuclear bombs. For 2,000 years people in the new covenant church have been looking for the return of Jesus and the establishment of His new world. But what we often forget is that for 4,000 years before that, the people of God were looking for their Messiah. We keep missing the point that Jesus made to the Pharisees. When Jesus became incarnate as a human like the rest of us, lived a sinless life, died an innocent death, and rose again, He established His kingdom, the Kingdom of God within the hearts of those who believe in Him. Sure, He also talked about when He would return to set up His new kingdom in a tangible way, but He made it clear that His spiritual kingdom was established 2,000 years ago. Isn't it time that those of us who claim Him as Lord, start living as members of the kingdom of God! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

September 10, 2017

SINGING TO OUR LORD



Psalms 104:33-34 (103:33-34 LXX)

I will sing to the Lord all my life;
I will sing to my God as long as I exist;
May my words be pleasing to Him,
And I shall be glad in the Lord.

Encouraging Words

How is it that we can sing to our Lord all the days of our lives and speak words that are pleasing to Him? It is because we are so thankful for all that He has done for us in our lives and for what we know that He will continue to do in our lives. But more important than this, we can do this because of the nature of our God that we are singing to. So many religions are based on angry and vindictive gods or on leaders who strive to bring fear and trepidation into their followers' lives so that they feel compelled, out of fear, to follow their leader. Our God, the only true and righteous God, is a God of love, pure love. His entire creation sings out to us so that we may know Him, fall in love with Him, and be in a relationship with Him. For those of us who have heard these songs of creation and chosen to follow Him, we find that we cannot do anything but sing to Him every moment of our lives, speak words that are pleasing to Him, and be glad in Him. We still stumble and fall on our journey of life. We still sin, but when we turn back to Him, His love covers us. Glory be to God!

September 9, 2017

Saint of the Week
St. Thalassios the Libyan

Saturday, September 9, 2017

September 8, 2017

FROM OUR HEARTS TO OUR MOUTHS


Proverbs 4:23 (4:22 LXX)

Keep your heart with all watchfulness,
For from these words are the issues of life.

Personal Challenge

In this age of abundant access to information, a preponderance of "social" media tools, and a mindset of self-centeredness and open expression, this proverb becomes extremely important to adhere to. It still amazes me how harsh people have become at expressing what they feel they have the right to express. The concept of being gracious to those around us is quickly becoming a relic of the past. The understanding that what proceeds from out of our mouths is what is in our hearts has all but disappeared from society. Even the church and her members have fallen prey to this trend. I am sure this grieves our Lord as He watches His creation devour one another with words, opinions, and sarcasm. It is my own personal responsibility to make sure that I do not go done this path even if I must go against the flow and be rejected for this choice. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

September 5, 2017

UNLIMITED MERCY


Psalms 103:17-18 (102:17-18 LXX)

But the mercy of the Lord is from age to age upon those who fear Him,
And His righteousness upon children's children,
To such as keep His covenant
And remember His commandments, to do them.

Encouraging Words


God's memory is infinite. There is no beginning to it nor end to it. Since He is ever present, throughout all time, He is in the midst of every moment at every instance of time. How does this work? We do not, nor will we ever know, for it is a mystery. But what this means to those of us who choose to put our lives into His hands is that there will never be a moment in our finite lives that God is not lavishly pouring out His mercy upon us. He is also anointing us with His righteousness. He not only does this to us but to the generations that follow us as a reward for our commit­ment to Him. God loves us this much. God loves me this much. So, if I truly believe this and choose to put all of my faith and trust in Him, and Him alone, then why would I not fear and respect Him? Why would I not strive to keep His covenant with His bride, the church? Why would I not try to keep His commandments and live my life His way and not my way? Glory be to God. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

September 3, 2017

LIVING CONFIDENTLY IN OUR LORD


Proverbs 3:23-26 (3:26-29 LXX)

That you may walk confidently in peace in all your ways,
And your foot may not stumble.
For if you sit down, you will be without fear,
And if you lie down, your sleep will be pleasant.
And do not be afraid of intimidation when it comes upon you,
Nor of the attack of the ungodly when it comes at you;
For the Lord will be over all your ways,
And He will plant your feet firmly, that you may not be shaken.

Encouraging Words

Continuing with the teaching that the Lord will make our paths straight if we trust in Him, the writer of Proverbs eloquently reminds us of all that God will do in our lives if we keep our minds and hearts focused on Him. He will help us to walk confidently in peace, even if the world around us is in chaos, we will not stumble. We can sit down without fear and lie down in pleasant sleep. We do not need to be afraid of intimidation when the world pours it out upon us or of the attack of the ungodly. Why can we live our lives this way? Because the Lord will be over our ways and He will plant our feet firmly. It is only in Him that our ways will not be shaken. Glory be to God!

September 6, 2017

GIVING THANKS


Luke 17:15-16

And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan.

Personal Challenge

This accounting of Jesus healing ten lepers is so telling of the state of so many of our hearts. Jesus encountered ten lepers and standing off in the distance they called out to Him for His Mercy and possibly healing. Jesus told them to go to the local priest and show him that their leprosy was gone. They were not healed immediately, but while on the way to the priest their leprosy was healed. Out of the ten of them, only one felt that it was appropriate, or necessary to run back to Jesus, fall at His feet in humility, and thank Him for His act of kindness and mercy. And on top of it all, he was a Samaritan, an outcast in the society in the day of Jesus. How often has my Lord performed a miraculous event in my life, and I just went on as if it was a given that He would be doing this for me? How often have I neglected to abandon what I am doing, that which is important to me, to run to Him, fall at His feet, and thank Him for His love, kindness, and mercy? Jesus loves me! He cares for me more than even I do. He is constantly performing miracles in my life. I cannot thank Him enough for all of this. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord have mercy!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

September 2, 2017

Saint of the Week
St. Maria of Paris


September 1, 2017

BEING FAITHFUL


Luke 16:10

He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.

Personal Challenge

God cares about what we do with what He gives us. Whether it be wealth or health or time or our talents, we are ultimately measured by what we do with them. The more that we do for Him, with what He has given us then the more that He gives us in order to use for Him. It all belongs to Him anyway. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me the sinner and please use my feeble attempts to serve you for your good.

Friday, September 1, 2017

August 31, 2017

AS FAR AS THE EAST IS FROM THE WEST


Psalms 103:10-13 (102:10-13 LXX)

He did not deal with us according to our sins,
Nor reward us according to our transgressions;
For according to the height of heaven from earth,
So the Lord reigns in mercy over those who fear Him;
As far as the east is from the west,
So He removes our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him,

Encouraging Words

I am so thankful and so blessed that my God does not deal with according to who I am and what I have done in my life. If He did, then I would be doomed for sure. As this passage tells us, our God is a God of mercy and love. He pours out that unlimited mercy and love on me every moment of every day. Glory be to God!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

August 30, 2017

APPLYING THE ROD OF CORRECTION


Proverbs 3:11-12


My son, do not despise the instruction of the Lord,
Neither grow weary under His reproof.
For whom the Lord loves He instructs,
And chastises every son He receives.

Personal Challenge

I remember that while I was a child my parents would discipline me when I got out of line and needed my course corrected. Many times they would say that this hurt them more than it hurt me. As a child, I always felt they said that to make themselves feel better. How could that switch to my bottom be hurting them more than me? Then, as I became an adult and had children of my own, it was my turn to start applying the rod of correction to my own children. That is when I learned what my parents meant. When you love someone as much as you do your child, then having to correct and discipline them at times can be very painful. We correct and discipline out of our love for that child knowing that in the long run, they will be better people because of it. As a child of God, I must expect Him to correct me when I stray from the path that He has me on. Sometimes it is gentle nudges but sometimes it is a serious reproof because I have chosen to go way off course. I do not despise His correction and instruction for I know it hurts Him more than me. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

August 29, 2017

THE OTHER PRODIGAL SON


Luke 15:31-32

“And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’ ”

Encouraging Words

One of the consistent things that all of us humans do is to look for the happy ending to the stories that unfold in our lives. I am sure that this is part of our being created in the image of God. God has such a deep love for His creation that He too always provides that opportunity for a happy ending. The twist is that He also gives us the ability to choose that ending by giving us free will. The parable of the prodigal son is no different. The younger son takes all of his inher­itance, squanders it, and ends up destitute, He then returns home and finds his father waiting there with open arms and thankful to have him home again. That is a happy ending. But the story does not end there. The older brother throws a fit because he has not been recognized as his brother was. He chooses to not let this story end happily. Isn't this also the story of so many of us? God created us all in His image. Many times we have a friend or a loved one that rejects God and chooses to live a worldly life while we strive to live the life of the good son who stayed home. Then when they realize their errors and sins, they come home to God and we throw a fit because God lets them back into the family. Our resistance sometimes even takes us to the point of rejecting God's wonderful gift of His Son. But God always has other plans and builds His  Church through love. Glory be to God!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

August 28,2017

GOD IS LOVE!


Psalms 102:8

The Lord is compassionate and merciful,
Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.

Encouraging Words

In the early days of the modern church, what has become known as the Catholic and the Protestant branches of the tree of Christianity, there was a significant change in the direction of the theology of the original church. The teachings of Augustine were embraced and the concept of a judicial God became the core to the doctrine that so many people are familiar with today. This doctrine defines God as being an angry and judgmental God. Following this path of logic and the judicial way of thinking, then the only thing that God could do was substitute His Son for our sins, other­wise He could not save us. Someone had to pay the price to avoid His anger. Now, I am very far from being a theologian or an expert in any of this, but I have learnt enough from my studies of the early church and from the practices of Eastern Orthodoxy, which the Western church split away from, that our early church fathers believed and taught that our God is a loving God, a merciful God and that Jesus' incarnation and subsequent death was to defeat the hold that death had on His creation. God is love. God does everything He does, in love. And no matter what I do, He never stops loving me. Thank you, God! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Monday, August 28, 2017

August 27, 2017

WHO'S DISCERNMENT?


Proverbs 3:7-8

Do not rely on your own discernment,
But fear God, and turn away from every evil.
Then there shall be healing for your body
And care for your bones.

Personal challenge

So, right after the writer of Proverbs tells us that if we trust in God that He will make our paths straight, he tells us to not rely on our own discernment but to fear God and to turn away from evil. Doing things our own way, on our own power, pulls us away from our dependency on God and leads us to evil. It is one thing to trust in God so that He will make our paths straight, but we must also humble ourselves on a constant basis and release our earthly discernment unto God so that He can give us His discernment, His Wisdom. Living this way not only keeps us on the straight path of life that He has laid out for us, but it will also bring healing to our bodies, both physical and spiritual, and care and rest for our bones, Glory be to God!

August 26, 2017

Saint of the Week
St. John Climacus

Friday, August 25, 2017

August 25, 2017

HUMILITY VERSUS BEING HUMBLED


Luke 14:11

For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

Personal Challenge

This is such a valuable rule to learn in life. Jesus taught us when we pump ourselves up with pride and try to raise ourselves above those around us, then we set ourselves up to be greatly humbled. This kind of humility is always painful. When we choose the path of humility on our own accord, to put God and the people that we encounter throughout our day above ourselves, then we will avoid those times of being knocked off of our false pedestals. Humility, like so many aspects of our lives, is a choice. It is a choice that we must make over and over again. We must also be careful to not project false humility, for this form of humility is only projected to draw attention to ourselves. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

August 24, 2017

BLESSING MY LORD


Psalms 103:1-6 (102:1-6 LXX)

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And everything within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His rewards:
Who is merciful to all your transgressions,
Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from corruption,
Who crowns you with mercy and compassion,
Who satisfies your desire with good things;
And your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
The Lord shows mercies
And judgment to all who are wronged.

Encouraging Words

Bless the Lord, O my soul and all that is within me. I choose to praise His holy name and His greatness, for He is my God, my Father, my protector, and my Provider and I am His adopted child. Thank you, oh my Lord!

August 23, 2017

STRAIGHT PATHS


Proverbs 3:5-6


Trust in God with all your heart,
And do not exalt your own wisdom.
In all your ways know wisdom,
That she may cut a straight path for you;
And your foot will not stumble.

Encouraging Words

This has long been one of my favorite passages. Like many of the proverbs, it is presented as a command followed by a promise. If we live our lives trusting God, setting aside our own worldly wisdom, and pursuing the wisdom of Jesus, then He will cut a straight path through life for us and help us not to stumble. This verse does not promise that all of the obstacles in life will be removed. It is these obstacles that teach us to be more like Jesus. This it what the Orthodox teachers call, theosis, or growing in the image of Jesus. Glory be to God!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

August 20, 2017

RESPONSIBILITY


Luke 12:48b

For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.

Personal Challenge

Every single one of us has been given so much from our God. We are given talents in order to do the many different works of God that need to be accomplished here on earth. We are given material wealth that we can use in order to help with the building up of the Church Some of us are given positions of leadership or authority in the church in order that it can be led in the path of righteousness for our God. As we live our lives and attempt to grow in the image of Christ, God may give us more responsibilities in His body, the Church. He does not do this lightly. He expects us to use what He has given us to build up and to grow the Church, to be lamps unto the world and encouragers to our fellow Christians. The more that He gives us, the more that He expects from us in how we use our gifts. This is why we must always question our motives and intents when others come to us and ask us to take on leadership roles in the Church. We should not take this lightly for as we lead more people we become more responsible for the welfare of the Church. Much more is expected of us as we become more responsible for others. Lord Jesus Chris, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

August 19, 2017

Saint of the Week
St. John Climacus


August 18, 2017

SPENDING TIME WITH OUR LORD


Psalms 101:2 (100:2 LXX)

I will sing and understand in a blameless way;
When will You come to me?
I walked in the innocence of my heart in the midst of my house.

Personal Challenge


It is clear to me that our enemy does not want us to spend time with our Lord. Whether it be in the middle of our worship service on Sunday or the times in our lives that we try to have quiet time or when we are reading His scriptures, it is so easy to be distracted by things around us and within our Hearts and minds. Sometimes this is just me letting my mind wander and sometimes it is the enemy trying to take our focus off of our God. One way to win out over these distractions is to come back to the place of innocence and blamelessness that Jesus gave us when He entered our hearts. This begins by humbling ourselves before Him and resting in the fact that He loves us so much and desires so much more for us than we will ever know. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

August 17, 2017

ALMSGIVING AND FAITHFULNESS


Proverbs 3:3-4

Do not let almsgiving and faithfulness forsake you,
But hang them upon your neck;
And you will find grace
And provide good things before the Lord and men.

Command with a Promise

In the New Testament, Jesus ushered in a new covenant between God and mankind. The Old Testament covenant was based on the law and was given so that mankind would know how much we needed God and how far from Him we really are. When Jesus became the incarnation of God, He taught that He fulfilled the fullness of the law and summed the law up for us in two commands, which are to love God and love our neighbor. He never taught that the Old Testament law was no longer valid, but actually made it contingent upon His followers to live by even stricter expectations. So, when we read the commandments and laws of the Old Testament we should still apply them to our lives in the context of loving God and loving our neighbor. In this passage, we are reminded that almsgiving and faithfulness should always be present in our minds and hearts. Almsgiving targets our neighbor and meeting their needs above our own needs. Almsgiving means going above and beyond that which is normally expected. Faithfulness targets our God and reminds us to constantly be living our lives so that He is the center of our focus. The promise comes in where we are told that living our lives this way will bring grace and good things in our lives that God provides for us. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

August 16, 2017

WHERE IS OUR TREASURE?


Luke 12:34

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Personal challenge

It is not very difficult to see why the modern world has become such a distracter for the growth of the Church. We have so much wealth, so many toys purchased with that wealth, and such busy lives that we keep our hearts and minds focused on everything but our Lord. It really is not possible to build a deep and lasting relationship with our Lord only once a week for about an hour and a half while we spend much of that time being entertained because we believe that worship is for our edification. God desires that we hold Him in our hearts as our treasure, If we treasure God and His majesty, if we put Him before all the stuff of this world, then our heart will be focused on Him and all that we say and do will be to glorify Him. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner?

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

August 15, 2017

PRAISING GOD


Psalm 100 (99 LXX)


Shout aloud to the Lord, all the earth;
Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before Him with great joy.
Know this: the Lord, He is God;
He made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving
And into His courts with hymns;
Give thanks to Him; praise His name;
For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth is from generation to generation.

Encouraging Words

I love reading the Psalms. The Psalmist had such an awesome relationship with his Heavenly Father. At times he comes across as if he is arguing with God and chastising Him for His ways, and yet he always ends up acknow­ledging that God is God and that he is not and begins to praise God for who He is. At times, such as in this psalm he spends all of his time praising God and extolling His greatness. The obvious truth is that the Psalmist spent a lot of time with his Lord, which is the only way to get to know someone. Our God is good! His mercy is everlasting! His truth does go from generation to generation. Our role, my role, is to give thanks to Him, to praise Han, and to worship and adore Him, every day and every moment of my life. Glory be to God!

August 14, 2017

CREATED IN THE IMAGE OF GOD


Proverbs 3:1-2

My son, do not forget my laws,
But let your heart keep my words;
For length of days, and years of life and peace
They will add to you.

Personal Challenge

Since we are all created in the image of God, He has put enough of Himself into every one of us that our nature knows the difference between right and wrong. Our nature knows that we need to be in a relationship with God because that is the only way that we will be complete. However, due to the fallen state of this temporal world, the busy-ness of life, and our own, stubborn. free will, we begin to forget God and His laws and the ways that He wants us to live. The writer is reminding us here, that the answer to this problem in our lives is our heart. It is our heart where Jesus can dwell, once we give our lives to Him. It is our hearts that can draw us back to a point where we listen to God's Wisdom (Jesus) and begin to be obedient again. And as we strive to keep doing this, to keep yielding our free will to God's will, listen to His teachings, participate in His Church, then God promises to add length of days, and years of life and peace to our very existence, We can experience this during the remainder of our life here on earth and into eternity with Him. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

Monday, August 14, 2017

August 13, 2017

LIVING IN THE PRESENT


Luke 12:29-31

And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.

Personal Challenge

It is so easy to follow the lead of the world and begin to worry about how we are going to be able to live the lifestyle that we desire in our future days. So, we work longer hours hoping that we will earn more and be seen worthy to keep our jobs. We stop spending time and money on our families so that we can have a nest egg for that one day when we might need it. We postpone trips, vacations, and fun times with our loved ones because we might need that money for some future, unforeseen event. We should not be wasteful with the blessings that God has given us, but we also should not hoard it because we do not believe God will take care of us. Seeking God and His kingdom first, means loving Him and our neighbor. It means doing things in the present because that future that we are saving for may never come. God will take care of us, today, tomorrow, and through the rest of eternity. Glory be to God!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

August 12, 2017

Saint of the Week
St. Theophan the Recluse


August 11, 2017

HATE EVIL, LOVE OUR NEIGHBOR


Psalms 96:10

You who love the Lord, hate evil;
The Lord keeps the souls of His saints;
He shall deliver them from the hand of sinners.

Personal Challenge

This is why those who love the Lord their God with all of their heart, soul, and body do not fit into the world. If we truly love our God we will come to a place where we hate all evil. Since the world is fallen, it is filled with evil. The difficult part of this is to balance the hate of the evil with the command by Jesus to love our neighbor. Our neighbor who might be caught up in the evil of this world is loved so deeply by Jesus that He died for them. So, if we love our neighbor as Jesus would, we become a reflection of the image of Christ in their lives. This does not mean, however, that we condone or encourage the evil in their life, we just love them. sometimes this may end up in having to apply tough love to those around us. Living our lives this way sets us at odds with the world, especially those who do not want to have anything to do with God. But as this verse confirms, our Lord will be there with us as we live our lives, keeping us in His hands and delivering us from evil. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have, mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

August 10, 2017

GROWING IN GOD


Proverbs 2:1-6

My son, if you receive the words of my commandment
And hide them within yourself,
Your ear will be obedient to wisdom,
And you will incline your heart to understanding;
You will entrust it to your son as an admonition.
For if he calls upon wisdom,
And you utter your voice for understanding;
If you seek perception with a strong voice,
If you seek her as silver
And search for her as treasure,
Then you will understand the fear of the Lord
And find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom,
And from His face come knowledge and understanding;

Command With a Promise

This passage is full of commands, which tells us what to do, followed by promises of what will happen if we do the commands. The scriptures are full of these. Our God is a God of covenants, which always have two participants in them. Both participants must be willing to execute their part of the covenant in order to receive the other party's contribution. Our God never lays down a bunch of rules for His children to follow so that He gets what He wants. He does not manipulate us into obedience. He tells us what He wants us to do and then tells us what we will get for doing it. This points to the truth of how much He loves us, cares for us, and desires the best for us. Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

Friday, August 11, 2017

August 9, 2017

CONFESSING CHRIST


Luke 12:8-9

Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God. But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God.

Encouraging Words


I am not ashamed to share with people that I am a follower of Jesus Christ. I am happy to bring Him into every discussion and every situation because He is the Lord and Master of my life. Jesus asks that we be willing to always confess Him before our fellow man. He does not need this for Himself. He is God! He does not need our proclamation of Him to feel better. He wants us to be willing to proclaim Him and what He has done for mankind so that those who do not know Him may be drawn to Him. Jesus died so that all might be Saeed. AS one of His followers it is up to me to proclaim this Good News, the Gospel, to everyone and everywhere that I go. This will not always be easy. The world and the demons of this world do not want His message shared. This means that the more that I stand up for Him then the more resistance I will encounter. But by the grace of God and the assistance of His angels that He confesses us to, we shall be able to overcome this world until that day that we are with Him in eternity. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

August 8, 2017

ENCOURAGED BY GOD


Psalms 94:19 (93:19 LXX)

O Lord, according to the abundance of grief in my heart,
Your encouragements consoled my soul.

Encouraging Words

No matter what state of feeling I am in, the Lord's grace and love will certainly outweigh it. If I have great grief in my life, my Lord is there with consolation and love to help me to overcome the grief. If life has dealt me a tough blow and I have become discouraged or despondent, He is there with His encouragement and blessings. Nothing in this world, or that happens in this world, can ever outweigh what God can do. I have seen Him respond to people, as well as myself, in the midst of devastating earthquakes, catastrophic tsunamis, fires, loss of loved ones, loss of health, loss of jobs, times of depression, and many other natural and temporal things in the lives of His beloved children. His response is always loving and caring, full of grace and mercy because we are the apple of His eye. So, we should not lose heart in the midst of our trials. To the contrary, we should strengthen our heart's dependency on our living Lord and relish His encouragements that will give us true joy and peace. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

August 7, 2017

WISDOM


Proverbs 1:20-21a
Wisdom sings in the streets;
She moves boldly in the squares.
She preaches on high city walls
And sits at the gates of lords.

Encouraging Words

Wisdom in the book of Proverbs is a reference to our Lord Jesus Christ. This was taught by the early church fathers and continues to be taught through to today. It is a powerful exercise to read through the proverbs substituting Jesus for Wisdom. When this is done, it becomes very clear that Jesus is our only source of true knowledge and wisdom and that without Him being the Lord and Master of our lives that it does not matter how much education or information that we have accumulated. Wisdom, Jesus, is a person that we can enter into a relationship with. He is someone that we trust and respect. He is someone that we can turn to in times of need or in times of abundance. He is our guide and protector through this journey of life. He is also the one that is singing out in the streets, moving boldly throughout the city squares, preaching from the city walls, and sitting at the gates of the city, trying to call in the lost sheep into His loving arms. Glory be to God.

Monday, August 7, 2017

August 6, 2017

KEEPING THE WORD OF GOD


Luke 11:28

But He said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

Personal Challenge

Wait a minute! Do you mean that all of this stuff that I hear about God in the sermons that I sit through, all of the things that I read about in my Bible studies, all the things the Jesus talked about in the Gospels, are things that I am supposed to do? Do you mean that when Jesus told us to love God and love our neighbor, that it applied to me? When He said that if I look at a woman with lustful eyes it was the same as going to bed with her or when I was angry with my brother it is the same as murder? How have we come to this place in our Christian faith practice that we spend all this time learning about God and yet do nothing with it? Jesus does not want us to just be pupils, He wants us to apply His teachings in our lives all of the time. Being a follower of Christ means putting our own lives and our own ways behind us. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me the sinner!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

August 5, 2017

Saint of the Week
St. Isaac the Syrian

August 4, 2017

ONLY GOD IS GOD


Psalms 92:15 (91:16 LXX)

So as to proclaim, “The Lord my God is upright,
And there is no wrongdoing in Him.”

Encouraging Words

One of the consistent errors that is often made is perceiving and describing our God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy spirit, in human terms and constructs. Humans are not perfect. We are not omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, all loving, all merciful, or any of the other myriad of descriptors that we apply to God. So as we begin to ascribe our human characteristics to God we begin to cross a line where we can begin to think that God also thinks and acts like humans. This is not the truth. God is upright and there is no wrongdoing or sin in Him. Jesus became fully a human being so that God could join with His creation, but as a human He never sinned, which opened the door for us to live sinless lives. Unlike so many other religious beliefs that are based on the works and teachings of sinful, broken men, Christianity is based on the only human who ever walked the face of this earth without sinning or wrongdoing. That is what sets Christianity apart from all other belief systems the strive to fill the void in us that was created when Adam and Eve sinned. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

August 3, 2017

THE PATH TO WISDOM


Proverbs 1:7

The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom,
And there is good understanding in all who practice it;

Personal Challenge

It is not what I know, but Who I know that gives me wisdom and good understanding. Fearing, trusting, respecting, submitting to, and loving my God, is what sets me on the path of the wisdom.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

August 2, 2017

HEART CHECKUP


Luke 11:23

He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters.

Personal Challenge

I must always be checking the state of my heart and the fruit of my labors to make sure that all is for my Lord and none is for me, As we live immersed in the fallen world, it is a constant challenge to resist becoming a part of the world and living for the world. Jesus makes it very clear that if I am not doing my acts of work and service for Him, then I am doing them against Him. A heart check every once in a while is a good thing to do. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

August 1, 2017

MY GOD HAS BLESSED ME!



Psalms 91:14-16 (90:14-16 LXX)

“For he hoped in Me, and I will deliver him;
I will shelter him, because he knew My name.
He shall call upon Me, and I will hear him;
I am with him in affliction,
And I will deliver and glorify him.
With length of days I will satisfy him,
And show him My salvation.”

Encouraging Words

I am not alone on this journey called life. My God has blessed me with wonderful loved ones to be on this journey as well as many friends and acquaintances. But He has not stopped there. My God is intimately involved in the lives of everyone, especially those who choose to claim Him as Lord. If I put my hope in Him, He will deliver me through whatever storm comes my way. If I strive to know Him, He will shelter me. When I call upon His name, He will hear me. When I am in the midst of affliction because I still live in a fallen world, He will deliver me and even glorify me. For as long as I live He will satisfy me and meet my needs, and most importantly show me His salvation. So, why would I not put my hope in Him? Why would I ever want to turn my back on Him and choose the world to be my satisfaction and salvation when it never will? I choose to love my God, to put my hope in Him, and to follow Him as He leads me on that journey through life. Glory be to God!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

July 30, 2017

SILENT BEFORE GOD


Job 42:4

But hear me, O Lord, that I also may speak.
I will ask You, and please teach Me.

Personal Challenge

To truly know God, and to understand Him, we need to come to this place where Job was in our own lives. We need to realize that we are nothing compared to the majesty of God and yet we are everything in His eyes. We need to cry out to God asking Him to be the only voice in our lives, teaching us, leading us, loving us. We can only come to this place in our lives when we realize that there is nothing in this temporal world that can substitute for God, that there is no one in this world that can provide for us other than God, and that we need to be silent in His presence, which is always, and listen for His voice. To be righteous and godly we must abandon all of this world for Him. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Sunday, July 30, 2017

July 28, 2017

A HOUSE DIVIDED


Luke 11:17

But He, knowing their thoughts, said to them: "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and a house divided against a house falls."

Personal challenge

Jesus responded to those who were accusing Him of being a demon who was using miracles as a way to pull people from their belief in Yahweh and the practices of the Jewish people. He made it clear that this was not the case because it would have caused more disruption to the demonic kingdom than value. This teaching could apply to many other areas of our lives as well. One of these is how the modern, Western church has become such a divided house. This was such a concern for Jesus that He prayed for us to have unity. Is this possibly the reason that the church today is having such a difficult time drawing in the lost and keeping them there? Jesus also promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against His one true church. So, we can never lose hope that the church will always be alive as the Bride of Christ. What is necessary for all of us to do is to seek that place of worship where God's presence, power, authority, love, and mercy still reigns. Glory be to God!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

July 27, 2017

COVERED BY GOD


Psalms 91:4 (90:4 LXX)

He shall overshadow you with His shoulders,
And under His wings you shall hope;
His truth shall encircle you with a shield.

Encouraging Words


There have been times throughout my life, not that many, but enough, where people have laughed at me for being a Christian. I have been asked how an educated person could believe in a God and all of the archaic superstitions that revolves around Him. These times have always made for some very interesting and sometimes heated discussions. Nothing can take away from me my belief in a loving, caring, merciful God. I have seen His hand at work in my life and the lives of others far too many times. It does not take an education to know or define God and an education does not interfere with knowing Him. It all comes down to faith, believing that He is who He says He is, and then letting your eyes, ears, and all other senses be open to observing His presence in everything. When a person gets to this place in his, or her, life then you can clearly see His shoulders overshadowing you to provide protection. You can find true peace and hope under His wings as a newly hatched eaglet does under his mother's. You will know the power and freedom of having His truth shield you at all times and in all situations. This is true life. Glory be to God!

Friday, July 28, 2017

July 26, 2017

FOCUSING ON GOD


Job 28:28

He said to man, ‘behold, the fear of God is wisdom,
And to abstain from evils is understanding.’

Personal Challenge
So often, in our lives as Christians, we get caught up in the pursuit of the knowledge of God and we end up knowing Him even less. There is nothing wrong with learning more, more about our faith, more about the history of our faith, more about those who have gone before us as the pillars of our faith, but here we have God telling us what we must do to gain true wisdom and understanding. God's wisdom comes from living a life focusing on Him, respecting Him and who He is, fearing Him as the awesome God that He is, but knowing that He loves us so much that we have nothing to be afraid of. This does not come from books, or lectures, or seminars, but from living a life of submission to, and trust in our Living God. The understanding that what we receive from God comes from living our lives in ways where we strive to abstain from evil ways and attempt to live pure and righteous lives. To grow in wisdom and understanding, we need to be active in living our lives Gods' ways. Glory be to God!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

July 25, 2017

ASKING - SEEKING - KNOCKING


Luke 11:9-10


So I say to you, 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

Jesus was not proclaiming to be our vending machine who responds to our every whim like a genie in a bottle, The Greek language has so much more depth to it than our English language. These words, ask, seek, and knock are active verbs in the Greek language. They are telling us to keep asking, keep seeking, and keep knocking throughout our lives. Jesus was telling His disciples, and us, that our lives are not static, one time events. We must spend our entire lives pursuing Him, and in so doing, our desires, our wills, those things that we ask, seek and knock on doors for will begin to align with that which our Lord would desire for us. If we keep at it long enough, pursuing Him with our whole heart, soul, spirit, and body, then we begin to change and the things of this world are no longer important to us. This verse is not about getting what we want but is about becoming what He wants. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

July 23, 2017

DWELLING IN HEAVEN


Psalms 91:1 (90:1 LXX)

He who dwells in the help of the Most High
Shall lodge in the shelter of the God of heaven.

Encouraging Words

This is a very interesting explanation of what we need to do in order to lodge in the shelter of God in heaven, which is basically the desire of every Christian. All we have to do is dwell in the help of the Most High, our heavenly Father. What does this mean? It does not mean that I can do a lot of things, or just the right things, in order to make it to heaven. There is nothing that I can "Do?" in order to earn this right. It has nothing to do with being a part of the right church, or the right denomination. What it means is that I live my life giving it over to my Lord and trusting Him for everything. It means submitting my will and my passions to Him and being obedient to Him. It means taking up my cross daily for Him. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!