Friday, March 31, 2017

March 31, 2017


Psalms 59:16-17 (58:17-18 LXX)

But I will sing of Your power,
And greatly rejoice in Your mercy in the morning;
For You are my protector,
And my refuge in the day of my affliction.
You are my helper; I will sing to You;
For You, O God, are my protector;
You are my mercy, O my God.

Encouraging Words

I absolutely love the depth of the love that the psalmist has for his God and the breadth of his relationship. In some passages such as this one it is so clear how much He sees God actively and intimately involved in his life and in others we see him crying out to God in anger, frustration, and confession because he cannot see or feel God's presence in his life. This kind of relationship is only possible after many years of intimacy with another, working together through the good times as well as the bad. My desire is to live my life in such a way that I too can be this close to my Lord. I know that if there is any kind of distance between Him and me it is there because I have pulled away for He is always pouring out His power, money, and grace upon me. He is always my protector, refuge, and helper. Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

March 30, 2017


Nehemiah 6:16

And it happened, when all our enemies heard of it, and all the nations around us saw these things, that they were very disheartened in their own eyes; for they perceived that this work was done by our God.

Encouraging Words

Once again, we see the power of living our lives in submission to God, Nehemiah took on the task of rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem. This was a daunting task, to say the least, especially with all of the opposition from their enemies. And yet, Nehemiah lead his people to be humble before the Lord and focus on the task at hand. They worked with mason's trowels in one hand and a sword or a spear in the other, constantly at the ready for any opposition from their enemies. The wall was fully rebuilt in 52 days, clearly a miracle from their God. This miracle was so obvious that all the people around them, including their enemies, proclaimed that this could have only been done by their God, God will do these things in our lives if we will just submit to Him and focus on His work. Glory be to God!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

March 29, 2017


Luke 1:37

For with God nothing will be impossible.

Encouraging Words

Imagine, if you can, that you are a young woman that has spent most of your life living in the Jewish temple with the priests. You were dedicated to God as an infant and when you were old enough to walk your mother and father, who was also a priest, presented you to the priests of the temple and the older women serving there to raise you as a godly woman. Then when you entered into your teenage years your body began to change and you began to transition into womanhood. You can no longer remain in the temple because your monthly issue will defile it. But this is the only life that you have ever known. Then somewhere around the age of 13-16, the priests make arrangements for you to be betrothed to a Godly man in the community. He is an older man whose wife has passed away and his children are older than you. This betrothal is not one of a sexual nature, but one to give you a safe home to live in the rest of your life. Then, before your wedding has taken place, an angel appears and tells you that you are going to have a child, a son. Now can this be, you have never had a relationship with a man? And this verse is what He tells you. Thank you, Holy Theotokos (God Bearer) for saying "Yes!", when you could have said "No!", and for being the gateway for the incarnation of our God. Holy Theotokos, full of grace, we magnify You!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

March 28, 2017


Psalms 57:1-3 (56:2-4 LXX)

Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me,
For my soul trusts in You;
And in the shadow of Your wings I will hope,
Until lawlessness shall pass away.
I will cry out to God most High;
My God who is my benefactor.
He sent from heaven and saved me;
He gave over to disgrace those who trample me down.
God sent out His mercy and His truth,

Encouraging Words

Oh, how wonderful it is to live under the wings of God's mercy. There are so many people nowadays that are beaten down and oppressed by acts and teachings of judgment, whether they be from religious institutions, governmental systems, or the myriad of bullies around us. But as a child of the Living God, I can live my life under His wings. He will have mercy on me because He loves me so dearly. I can cry out to Him in my times of need and He will answer me. And as my life unfolds, the more that I run to Him, worship Him, seek to be obedient to Him, the more that I change to fit into the image of His Son. As this progression continues, He teaches me how to love others and share His mercy and grace with them. I also find that the closer I try to get to Him, the more realize that I do not deserve His great love and mercy.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

March 26, 2017


Nehemiah 4:7-8

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

Personal Challenge

Even though those of us who follow our Lord and desire to be like His Son acknowledge that He is the one that is always there for us and that as the Creator holds everything in the palm of His hand, we also acknowledge that we must work together with Him. Our relationship with God is a synergistic relationship. We can do nothing without Him and He will never force us to do anything against our free will. As Nehemiah pursues building the walls of the temple he makes it clear that God's work can only be completed as the people work together with Him to do His work. Our lives are made complete as we work in synergy with our Father in heaven. Glory be to God!

March 25, 2017

Saint of the Week
St. Isaac the Syrian

Thursday, March 23, 2017

March 23, 2017


Mark 14:72

A second time the rooster crowed. Then Peter called to mind the word that Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” And when he thought about it, he wept.

Personal Challenge

So many of us are familiar with the story of Peter and his denial of his beloved Lord, but how many of us recognize the times that we too have betrayed our beloved Lord. I must confess that all too often I do this throughout my life. It may come in the form of refusing to be a witness for Him when the opportunity arises. It may be in those times that I respond to a loved one or even a stranger in a harsh or angry tone. It may be when I do not do all that I do for the glory of God but for my own good. It always happens when I choose to submit to my fleshly will and sin against my loving Lord. But as Paul Harvey used to always say, "Now for the rest of the story." Just as Jesus later approached Peter on the beach after His resurrection and gave him the opportunity to proclaim his love for his Lord three times, once for each denial, so too does He provide me chance after chance to return to Him and have my denials forgiven. Glory be to God!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

March 22, 2017


Psalms 56:3-4 (55:4-5 LXX)

I will not fear by day,
But I will hope in You.
I will praise God with my words all day long;
In God I hope; I will not be afraid; what will flesh do to me?

Encouraging Wands

Hope! What a powerful word and an even more powerful aspect of life. There are so many things that people put their hope into nowadays. As we become more and more affluent in our lives and our culture, the more things that we end up putting our hope in. Unfortunately, these things are fleeting and our hope is betrayed. However, as the Psalmist proclaims here that his hope is in the Lord, so too do I choose to put my hope in my Lord and not in the things of this world, The more that I live my life with this hope in my Lord, the more I realise that nothing in this world can overpower my Lord and the love that He has for me and my loved ones. Glory be to God!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

March 21, 2017


Ezra 9:54-55 (1 Esdras 9:54-55 LXX)

Then everyone went on their way to eat and drink, to gladden themselves, to give gifts to those who were lacking, and to heartily rejoice. For they were inspired by the words which were taught to them, and they gathered together.

Personal Challenge

So often, in our modern churches, the practice of worship has become more of a form of entertainment than a form of worship and adoration of our God. Many times it is not any different than going to the movies or to a play where we walk out afterward happy that we were entertained by robust singing or articulate oratories. However, before we know it we are back into our everyday lives waiting for the next entertainment to consume. However, as this passage in Esdras (Ezra) points out we should always walk away from our times of worship of our living God changed. We should be reminded of how undeserving we are of His love, filled with love for those around us, eager to give to those in need, and inspired to the point that we do not want to leave the presence of our Lord and our fellow celebrants. Worship is of God and for God. It is not for my personal edification, but His. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner?

Sunday, March 19, 2017

March 19, 2017


Mark 13:31

Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.

Encouraging Words

Given that we believe that Jesus Christ is the living Word of God, the Logos, then this verse makes all the more sense. No matter what happens to this physical world, whether it someday be destroyed by fire or flood, Jesus, as the living Word, transcends this physical world, since He is eternal. This is why we put our hope in Him and not just some physical collection of some of His words that are bound between to covers. The Church has given us the written text of the scriptures in order to help us to grow in the image of Christ and to build His body of believers. However, we should never substitute this for Him. The Church has also established that the interpretation and understanding of God's Word come from within the context of the community of the Church and I do not have the authority to interpret it on my own. We are not individuals in Christ but individual parts of the body of Christ. Glory be to God!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

March 18, 2017

Saint of the Week
St. Seraphim of Sarov

March 17, 2017


Psalms 55:22-23 (54:23-24 LXX)

Cast your care upon the Lord,
And He shall support you;
He will never allow the righteous to be moved.
But You, O God, will bring them down into the pit of decay;
Men of blood and deceit
Shall not live even half their days.
But I will hope in You, O Lord.

Encouraging Words

No matter what happens in my life. whether it be bad choices on my part or bad choices of other people perpetrated against me, I can always cast my cares and concerns upon my Lord and He will support me. He is my rock. He is my refuge. He is my solace. His love for me endures forever and is strong enough, all-encompassing enough, and complete enough to carry me through everything that can, and will, transpire in my life. I chose to put my hope in Him regardless of what others might think or what the world would have me do. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner?

Friday, March 17, 2017

March 16, 2017


Psalms 55:16-17 (54:17-18 LXX)

But I cried out to God,
And the Lord heard me.
Evening and morning and midday, I shall tell;
I shall proclaim, and He will hear my voice.

Encouraging Words

What more can be said than what the Psalmist proclaims here? We can cry out to our God anytime, I can cry out to Him. When we cry out to Him, He hears us. No matter when we cry out to Him, He is there. Glory be to God!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

March 15, 2017


Ezra 4:59-60 (1 Esdras 4:59-60 LXX)

“The victory and the wisdom are from You, the glory is Yours, and I am Your servant. Blessed are You who granted me wisdom, and I give thanks to You, O Lord of our fathers.”

Personal Challenge

It can be very easy to forget Who is really responsible for our successes in our lives. We usually claim all the glory for ourselves and chalk it up to hand work or diligent studies. Every once in a while we might give some credit to someone who has invested in our lives. Maybe a spouse, or a parent, or a coworker, or a teacher. But all too often we forget to give the credit to Whom it is really owed. It is always our Lord, working in and through us that deserves the recognition for our successes and victories. Everything that we have and everything that we are comes from Him. Glory be to God!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

March 14, 2017


Mark 12:29-31

Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Encouraging Words

Can Christianity be condensed down into something as simple as one word? The answer to this question is, "Yes!" It can be defined in its entirety with the word, "Love!", however, a person that is pursuing God, seeking to be like Christ, will spend their entire life trying to understand how to practice this love and always be reminded that we can never master it. God is love? Throughout the history of mankind, He has never stopped demonstrating His love for Us. Jesus is love! He gave up His position in the heavenly realms to become man and to live a sinless life leading the way for us to do the same. He willingly gave His life for us so that we might be freed from the prison of death. The Holy Spirit is love! He dwells within us to guide us and direct us. God desires that we too strive to live lives of love so that not only do we become like Him, but that through that life we lead others to Him. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have Mercy! Teach me to love as You do, oh Lord!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

March 13, 2017


Psalms 51:17 (50:19 LXX)

A sacrifice to God is a broken spirit,
A broken and humbled heart God will not despise.

Personal Challenge

Oh, how many times in my life have I gotten caught up in doing things in the name of my Lord believing that I was pleasing and honoring Him. In reality, all that I was doing was pleasing and honoring myself and fulfilling my desires. God doesn't want the fruits of my labors or any of the things that consume me and my time as much as He desires my heart, a heart that is broken and humble before Him. The sacrifices that the world claims are so special and believe to be so valuable are also of limited value to our Father. As a practicing Orthodox, there are many things that we do in our faith that we believe is for our personal growth and development. We participate in our liturgies, we fast, we give alms and help to the poor, and many other things. It can be easy to get distracted by these things and forget that we are doing them because we love our Lord and desire to serve and honor Him. This is why the sacrifice that our precious Lord desires from us is a broken and contrite heart, a heart that is totally sold out for Him. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have Mercy on me, the sinner and teach me Your ways?

Monday, March 13, 2017

March 12, 2017


Ezra 4:38-40 (1 Esdras 4:38-40 LXX)

“But the truth abides and is strong forever. The truth lives and rules unto ages of ages. There is no partiality or prejudice with the truth, but it does righteous things, distinct from all wrongdoings and evil. All are pleased with its deeds, and there is nothing unjust in its judgment. For strength, dominion, authority, and majesty belong to it unto all ages, and blessed is the God of truth.”

Encouraging Words

We live in an age where there is no such thing as absolute truth. At least that is what the general culture wants us to believe. Because if we can make everything relative then we have unlimited freedom to do whatever we want without worrying about retribution. However, just because our society says that there is no absolute truth, it does not make it so. Our Heavenly Father, the Creator of all is pure Truth, He is the absolute Truth that He imparted to mankind through the incarnation of His Son, Jesus Christ. If you proclaim a lie loudly enough, articulate enough, and strongly enough that everyone around you believes it to be the is still a lie! God's truth abides forever, whether we embrace it or not. As for me and my household, we choose to embrace the Living Truth!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

March 11, 2017

Saint of the Week
St. John Popovich

March 10, 2017


Mark 12:27

He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living. You are therefore greatly mistaken.

Encouraging Words

Praise God that He is the God of the living and not the dead. Sometimes it seems that all the world cares for is death and not life. Knowing that God cares for the living, both in this life and the next, makes it easier to go through each day. Jesus became a human, led a sinless life, died on the cross, and was resurrected from that death so that He could be victorious over death and the grip that it had over each of us. Glory be to God!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

March 8, 2017


Psalms 51:1-4 (50:2-6 LXX)

Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your great mercy;
And according to the abundance of Your compassion, blot out my transgression.
Wash me thoroughly from my lawlessness
And cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my lawlessness,
And my sin is always before me.
Against You only have I sinned
And done evil in Your sight;
That You may be justified in Your words,
And overcome when You are judged.

Personal Challenge

This is probably one of the most powerful passages in the Old Testament. David has recently committed his grievous sin of adultery and murder. Nathan, the prophet, has confronted him and pointed out the errors of his ways. This entire Psalm is David's confession and repentance for these sins. Isn't it fitting that every one of our liturgies starts out with this Psalm being read by the priest or the deacon as the sanctuary is being censed? Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me the sinner!!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

March 7, 2017


Ezra 2:2 (1 Esdras 2:2 LXX)

"Thus says Cyrus the king of the Persians: Israel's Lord, the Most High, revealed and indicated to me, the king of the inhabited world, that I should build a house for Him at Jerusalem in Judea."

Encouraging Words

This is an interesting turn of events. Here we have Cyrus who is the king of the Persians. These are the same Persians that have captured the nation of Israel. And here we have God, Israel's Lord, the Lord Most High moving him to build a temple for Him. Many would consider Cyrus a pagan and yet God worked through him to do His work. So, God not only works through those who follow Him, but also those who oppose Him. Glory be to God?

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

March 6, 2017


Mark 10:43-45

Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Personal Challenge

Jesus always seems to challenge the norms of our society. If I want to be great I must become a servant. And if I want to be first then I must become a slave to all. And even deeper than this, if I desire to be like Christ and follow in His footsteps, then I shouldn't even want to be great or try to be first. Wow! What it all boils down to is that my desire should always be to be last, to be humble before my Lord and my fellow man, and to love my neighbor above myself. Again, Wow! Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, THE sinner and help me to be transformed into Your child.

Monday, March 6, 2017

March 5, 2017


Psalms 46:11 (45:12 LXX)

The Lord of hosts is with us,
The God of Jacob is our protector.

Personal Challenge

Our God is so awesome! His love for us, His creation, has no limits. His patience with us has no bounds. As the psalmist points out here, He is with us and is our protector. Knowing this and believing it deeply, I often get so frustrated with the vendor-style approach that I so often see exhibited in our World, especially in the social media world. "Post this prayer and God will reward you?" "Like this picture of Jesus and you will have something good happen to you in 30 minutes!" Really!! Is God a vending machine where we put in a coin and He pops out a miracle? And yet, because He loves His creation so much, He remains with us and is our protector. God is with us all the time and He desires that we be in communion with Him all the time. I doubt if any one of us would walk up to a total stranger and share with them our crisis of the moment and ask them to help us out. However, we so often go through on entire life totally ignoring God until we have a crisis and then expect Him to step up. I can never be so bold as to judge the state of another person's heart. but I can judge my own. And in doing this I must recognize that all too often I do this as well. My prayer life gets drowned out by the busyness of life and then I find that my thoughts about Him are few and far between. Then a crisis happens and I am expecting Him to fix it. He has become that stranger that I am expecting something from. God, please forgive me.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

March 4, 2017

Saint of the Week
St. Maximus the Confessor

March 3, 2017


2 Chronicles 33:12-13

Now when he was in affliction, he sought the face of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed to Him. And the Lord received his entreaty, heard his cry, and brought him back to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God.

Encouraging Words

So many times throughout the scriptures we see the story of redemption. As a matter of fact, the story of redemption is so deeply woven into our fabric of existence by our Father the Creator that virtually every book written, every movie filmed, and every song sung has buried in it a fragment or the complete story of redemption. Why is this? Because our God is a redeeming God. From Adam and Eve's first sin, all through the history of mankind, up to our Lord Jesus dying on the cross, and up through today, God is striving to redeem us all and put us back into the Garden of Eden, Here we have Manasseh, the King of Judah, who had departed from his relationship with God. He had committed many horrible atrocities against mankind. And God, in His loving, merciful way, brought Manasseh into captivity under his enemies. While there Manasseh recognized his sins and humbled himself before the God of his fathers. And what did God do? He recognized the sincerity of Manasseh's plea for forgiveness and restored him to his role as king. In this season of Great Lent, this is such a great reminder that our God loves us. He loves us so much that He became one of us, lived a pure and sinless life and then submitted to our angry cries to crucify Him. Through this love, He destroyed the hold that death had on us since the day of Adam and opened the gates to heaven. But like Manasseh, if he had never humbled himself before his God he would have never received redemption, then we too must humble ourselves before our God, confess our sins, and flee from repeating them so that He can redeem us. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

Friday, March 3, 2017

March 2, 2017


Mark 10:27

But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.”

Encouraging Words

How wonderful it is to be able to go through life knowing that I can put all of my trust and hope in my God. When Jesus told His disciples that God can make all things possible He was also telling us today this as well. The challenge for many is being able to put their trust into something or someone that they cannot see, touch, feel, or hear. However, one of the things that I have learned in my life is that God is in everything. He is often most recognizable in the little things. The beat of the heart, the chirp of the birds as spring weather comes out, the laugh of a baby, the warmth in my heart when I hold hands with my wife. If all that I ever look at to see God are the big things, the miracles, or the spectacular, then I will most likely go my whole life missing Him. Maybe this is what Jesus meant when He told us to have the faith of a mustard seed. We need to start small and we will see God in bigger and bigger ways over time. This is how He turns our impossibilities into possibilities. Glory be to God?

Thursday, March 2, 2017

March 1, 2017


Psalms 46:10 (45:11 LXX)

Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations;
I will be exalted in the earth.

Encouraging Words

God is God and I am not. Neither is my leadership at work, at my church, in my community, or in my country. It is the living, eternal God, the Creator and Benefactor of all, that I will be still before so that I may know Him. He will be exalted above all, so, therefore, I will fear no man or institution, for they too are subject to Him. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have Mercy! Lord, have mercy? Glory be to our God.