Sunday, April 30, 2017

April 30. 2017


Psalms 62:6-7 (61:7-8 LXX)

For He is my God and my savior,
My protector; I shall never be moved.
In God is my salvation and my glory;
He is the God of my help, and my hope is in God.

Encouraging Words

God is God and I am not. This is an eternal truth that I must always keep repeating to myself to fend off the temptation to be my own god. God has promised to be our God, both to the Church and to each of us as individuals in His Church. As our God, He is our savior and protector. No matter how big the storms of life get or worse yet, the sirens of distraction call out to me in times of peace and calmness, because of His steadfastness we will never be moved if we keep Him as our God. He is my salvation, my glory, my help, and my hope. I choose no other to be my God! Glory be to Him!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Thursday, April 27, 2017

April 27, 2017


Tobit 13:3-4

Give thanks to Him before the nations,
O children of Israel,
For He scattered us among them.
Make known His greatness there;
Exalt Him in the presence of all the living,
For He is our Lord and God;
He is our Father unto all the ages.

Personal Challenge

Just as God had dispersed His chosen people, the nation of Israel, throughout the other nations, so too has He dispersed us, His followers throughout the world. He has done this so that we can be His emissaries, His ambassadors, to the people of this world and point them to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lord who loves them dearly. This means living our lives in a way that shines His light as beacons in the darkness. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

April 26, 2017


Luke 5:27-28

After these things He went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he left all, rose up, and followed Him.

Encouraging Words

We often focus on just the fact that Jesus was willing to call upon a tax collector to follow Him. Tax collectors were hated by their fellow Jews. Indeed, it is great news that Jesus would call someone like Levi (Matthew) to follow Him, for this gives me hope that He might be willing to call someone like me to follow Him as well. The other part of this story that is so powerful is Levi's response, He was most likely living a pretty lucrative life because tax collectors were wealthy people. They got their wealth by swindling everyone that the collected taxes from. What is so powerful about this is that Levi dropped everything, left his wealth behind, and followed Jesus, who had no temporal wealth. Would I be willing to do that? Would I be willing to trust, obey, and follow this nomadic Rabbi? Is Jesus that important to me? Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

April 25, 2017


Psalms 62:5 (61:6 LXX)

However, be submissive to God, O my soul,
For my patient endurance is from Him.

Encouraging Words

Life is full of things that will continually test us. Our endurance will be tested. Our patience will be tested. Our faith and commitment to our God will be tested. The journey of life is a roller coaster filled with ups and downs, many of which are of our own doing, many of which are because of the fallen world. Here the psalmist teaches us that through our submission to God we will receive the patience endurance that we need in life from Him. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

April 24, 2017


Tobit 12:8-9

Prayer is good with fasting, almsgiving, and righteousness. A few prayers with righteousness are better than many with wrongdoing. It is better to do almsgiving than to lay up gold. For almsgiving rescues one from death, and it will wash away every sin. Those who do almsgiving and are righteous will be full of life.

Personal Challenge

It is so easy for me to get focused on those things that are considered acts of worship and neglect the things that God asks me to do. Things like prayer time, bible reading and study time, sitting through liturgy, and the list goes on. Tobit reminds us that while these things are still good, they do not truly deepen our relationship with our Lord unless they are coupled with fasting, almsgiving, and righteousness. Our modern Christian faith practices have stripped our Christian journey of these acts because we fear that people will get hung up on works. We know and teach in our Orthodox faith practice that we will never earn favor with God by our works. We know that there is nothing that we can do to earn our way into His family. Actually, we believe that we deserve nothing from our God. However, if I want to experience God's grace, love, and mercy to the fullest extent then I must be fully investing of myself in His work, His labors. This is where fasting, almsgiving, and righteous acts give us our opportunities to grow in His image the most, Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Monday, April 24, 2017

April 23, 2017


Luke 4:18-19

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

Encouraging Words

Many years before our Lord Jesus Christ came as a man, Isaiah had prophesied of the coming of our Savior with this proclamation. Jesus used these very words to announce His ministry and the plans that our Heavenly Father had for Him. Jesus made it clear that He is a part of the Trinity, God the son, and that He had always, since the beginning of time, been anointed by the Holy Spirit to do the work of the salvation of mankind. Jesus did not become something special or different because of this proclamation. He had always been the Son of God. Before He was born of the Virgin Mary, He was the pre-incarnate Son of Man, and after His birth, He was now the Incarnate Son of Man, This is all a mystery that God knows the truth of. But for us this means that He has preached the gospel of truth to us for we are poor, He has brought healing to us for we are brokenhearted, He has set or free from the captivity of death. He has cured our blindness, and He has released us from oppression. Thank You, oh my Lord!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

April 22, 2017

Saint of the Week
St. Isaac the Syrian

April 21, 2017


Psalms 62:1-2 (61:2-3 LXX)

Shall not my soul be submissive to God?
For from Him is my salvation.
For He is my God and my savior,
My protector; I shall be shaken no more.

Personal Challenge

So, what is salvation? What are we being saved from? Some will say that we are being saved from God's wrathful judgment. But how can this be if we claim that He is all love and mercy? We are being saved from the sting of death that was given to us from sin. Jesus, our Lord, and Savior, became incarnate, lived a perfect and sinless life, then willingly let His life be taken from Him so that He could die in our place, Then, while in hell, He destroyed the gates that hold us in bondage to death and saved all of mankind, and creation, from death. It is because of this glorious truth that our soul is submissive to God and why we are shaken no more by the evils of this world that try to distract us from trusting in Him. Glory be to God.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

April 20, 2017


Tobit 12:6-7 LXX

Then Raphael secretly called the two of them, and said to them, "Bless God and give Him thanks. Ascribe greatness to Him and give thanks in the presence of all the living for what He has done for you. It is good to bless God and to exalt His name. Make known the words of God's works honorably and do not delay to give thanks to Him. It is noble to keep hidden the secret of a king, but glorious to unveil the works of God. Do good, and evil will not find you."

Encouraging Words

Just because someone might say that they do not believe in angels, or God, or Jesus as our Savior, does not make it so. As for me, I choose to believe in all of these and then to live my life accordingly. Throughout the book of Tobit, we find that Raphael, an angel sent by God, is active in the lives of both Tobit and his son, Tobias. Raphael is not controlling their lives or manipulating them because he cannot do that. We are all accountable for our own decisions and never coerced by God or His angels to do something against our will. After spending time with Tobit and Tobias, appearing as a human, he reveals who he is to them and gives them this powerful advice, advice that all of us can learn from. We should continually bless God and give Him thanks for what He does in our lives. We should freely ascribe greatness to Him in the presence of everyone in our lives. We should make known, from the rooftops, His words, His works, and His greatness in our lives and the lives of everyone.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

April 19, 2017


Luke 4:1

Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,

Encouraging Words

When we were baptized and chrismated with the holy oil, we were filled with the Holy Spirit just as Jesus was when He was baptized in the Jordan river. And just as Jesus followed that experience by being led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to begin His life as a worker for God, so too, do we get led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness of the world for the remainder of our days. At this point in our journey through life, we are no longer a citizen of this world, but we are citizens of heaven acting as ambassadors for God in this world. We can live each day, each moment, knowing that our true home is in heaven with our Lord. We can know that His heavenly kingdom was ushered into existence on the first Pascha when He destroyed the gates of hell and the hold that death had on us. We are no longer subject to the principalities of this earthly realm because we belong to the family of the living, and life-giving God. Glory be to God!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

April 18, 2017


Psalms 62:1-2 (63:2-3 LXX)

O God, my God, I rise early to be with You;
My soul thirsts for You.
How often my flesh thirsts for You
In a desolate, impassable, and waterless land.

Encouraging Words

Our world that we live in can quickly become a desolate, impassable, and waterless land. Life can be difficult. And sometimes this difficulty feels like it lasts forever. Praise God that we can turn to Him to provide for our needs at all times, whether in prosperity or desolation, in times where all paths seem to be smooth and straight or just plain impassable, whether they be lush and full of green pastures or barren and waterless. My God, our God, is there for as always. He is always ready to meet our needs, in ways that we can never imagine and in abundance that we cannot conceive of. So why would I not rise up early to be with Him? Why would I not keep Him ever present on my thoughts
and prayers throughout the day? Why would I choose to let the busyness of life come between Him and me? To break these obstructions I must develop a hunger and a thirst for Him that permeates my entire being. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

Friday, April 14, 2017

April 14, 2017


Today we participate in the death of our Lord. Today we see Him hang on the cross. Today we wept as our brothers and sisters before us, as we grieve over the humiliation of our God! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

April 13, 2017

Agony and Betrayal

Today, the Thursday before Pascha (Easter) we are reminded of Jesus' last full night alive. A night full of agony and betrayal. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

April 12, 2017


Tobit 4:16 (LXX)

From your bread, give to him who is hungry, and from your clothing, give to the naked. If you have more than you need, do almsgiving, and do not let your eye envy the almsgiving when you do it.

Personal Challenge

As we proceed through our final days of anticipation of our Lords' death, burial, and resurrection, I am reminded by this verse in Tobit that one of our primary missions in life should be almsgiving. Isn't this what Jesus did when He gave up His place is the heavenly realms to become man and give His life for us? Did He not come to us and feed our great hunger for a relationship with the living God? Did He not come to us and clothe us who were naked with His cloak of righteousness? This is what He asks us to do with the abundance that we have. He asks that we share with those in need and do it joyfully. Glory be to God!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

April 9, 2017


Luke 3:21-22

When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened. And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.”

Encouraging Words

Jesus was amongst us as fully man and fully God. However, as a human being, He did one significant thing that was different than all of the rest of us. He chose, by His own human free will to not sin. So, if He was sinless, then why was He baptized, which at that time represented repentance from sins committed? The early church fathers have a myriad of reasons why Jesus did this, but one that stands out to me is the one that Jesus entered into the waters in order to redeem them and make them holy again. God created all to be holy and righteous. But when Adam and Eve sinned, all of creation was corrupted. Water is our life blood, Nothing can survive without it. When Jesus entered into the waters of the Jordan to be baptized, we believe that He reclaimed both the water and all of creation that is nourished by it, once again as God's holy and righteous creation. He began the process of ushering Gods' kingdom of heaven back into existence. Glory be to God!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

April 8, 2017

Saint of the Week 
St. Seraphim of Sarov

April 7, 2017


Psalms 61:8 (60:9 LXX)

So I will sing praise to Your name unto ages of ages,
That I may pay my vows day to day.

Encouraging Words

Why would I consider a verse about singing praises to my God as encouraging words? It is because of the ages to ages part. As a child of the Living God, I believe that I will be blessed to spend eternity with Him. Throughout eternity I will have the privilege of being able to sing praises to Him unto ages of ages, or forever. Glory be to God.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

April 6, 2017


Tobit 4:5-7

My son, remember the Lord our God all your days, and do not desire to sin or to disobey His commandments. Do righteousness all the days of your life, and do not walk in the ways of wrongdoing. For if you walk in the truth, you will be successful in your works. Do almsgiving from your possessions to all who do righteousness. When you do almsgiving, do not let your eye be envious. Do not turn your face away from any poor man, so the face of God will not be turned away from you.

Personal Challenge

Here we find Tobit giving his son, Tobias, wonderful advice on how to grow into manhood. He is getting ready to send Tobias back to the land of his ancestors so that he can find a wife from amongst his kinspeople. This advice works just as well for all of us today if we desire to live godly and righteous lives. It all begins by remembering our God that we are alive and desiring Him more than the things of the world. With that as our foundation then we should avoid the pathways of the world and walk in the pathways of Gods truths. We follow this by constantly practicing almsgiving and taking care of those who are in more need than ourselves. We do all of this out of the gratefulness of our hearts for what the Lord has done for us and not begrudgingly. This is how we can live a life where we continually see the face of our God. Glory be to Him!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

April 5, 2017


Luke 2:52

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

Encouraging Words

There is so much about Jesus that is truly a mystery to mankind. I am so thankful that I belong to a church that is comfortable with these mysteries and that does not believe we need to be able to intellectually on scientifically explain everything away, We accept that there are mysteries that only God has the answer to and that is why He is God and we are not. This is one of those mysteries. Jesus is fully God and He is fully man. If God knows everything, then how could Jesus grow in wisdom? If He is all powerful, then how could He grow in stature? If He is God, then how could He grow in favor with Himself? Here is how my study Bible explains it...
That Jesus grew and became strong in spirit does not imply that He was lacking divine perfection at any time. Rather, it indicates that in emptying Himself and assuming human nature (Philippians 2:7), He freely subjected Himself to human development and expression.
Being fully human, Jesus had to be born, He had to grow up, He had to experience life as all of us do, in order to truly rescue us from death. He made it possible for us to follow in His footsteps and to live sinless lives as well. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

April 4, 2017


Psalms 61:1-4 (60:2-5 LXX)

Hear my supplication, O God;
Attend to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I cried out to You
When my heart was discouraged;
You lifted me high on a rock.
You guided me, for You became my hope,
A tower of strength from the face of the enemy.
I will dwell in Your tabernacle unto the ages;
I will be covered with the shelter of Your wings. (Pause)

Encouraging Words

Our God is everywhere present, all knowing, and all powerful. He is complete love, complete grace, complete mercy, and complete truth. He is the almighty creator of all and yet He humbled Himself to become one of us. He is my God and I am His child, a sheep in His flock, a member of His bride, the Church. So, when I have a need, He is there. When I am lonely, He is there. When I am living my life independently and selfishly, He is still there to catch me when I fall. He is not a God that can only be found in His churches when we go there, for He is everywhere. My God hears my supplications and attends to them. He lifts me up and sets me on solid ground when I cry to Him in the midst of my discouragements. He guides me, He is my hope, He is my tower of strength in the midst of the battles of life. He covers me with His wings of protection whether I recognize it or not. Thank you, my Lord! Glory be to You!

Monday, April 3, 2017

April 3, 2017


Tobit 1:6

But I alone traveled frequently to Jerusalem for the feast days, as it is written for all of Israel in an everlasting ordinance. I would carry the firstfruits and the tithes of my harvest and the first-shearing.

Personal Challenge

To bit is one of the apocryphal books of Old Testament that is included in the Septuagint but excluded in later texts. Tobit was amongst some of the Jews of his day that were captured and taken away into exile. He and his kinsmen lived far away from Jerusalem. In this verse, we learn that this distance did not prevent Tobit from sojourning back to Jerusalem on a regular basis to celebrate one of his annual religious events This would have been a long, hard and precarious trip. He would have been in much danger from marauders and thieves along the way because he was bringing with him a year's worth of tithes and offerings. And yet, year after year, be continued to make the journey. It always amazes me that so many people today, many of which who claim to be followers of Christ, find it too difficult to regularly attend worship because it is an inconvenience to get up on Sunday mornings, get the family ready to go and then drive 20 miles to church. Tobit reminds me that nothing should ever come between my Precious Lord and me! Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner and forgive me for those times that I just want to stay home.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

April 2, 2017


Luke 1:50

And His mercy is on those who fear Him
From generation to generation.

Encouraging Words

In the Old Testament, we are taught that the sins of the father affect at least three generations. We see this play out today as we observe families dealing with alcoholism and other forms of addiction. It also teaches that the righteousness of the father passes onto thousands of generations. Here in the New Testament, Jesus reminds us that our loving and merciful God will pour out His mercy upon those who fear and respect Him and also pour that mercy out upon generation after generation. The consequences of my choices do not just affect me and those around me, but they can affect many generations after me. That is part of the reason that I choose, daily, to love and strive to follow my Lord. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

April 1, 2017

Saint of the Week
St. Symeon the New Theologian