Lift Up Your Heart: Attaining a Cheerful Spirit (Fri. April 16)

The word for today is “cheerful.”  As the present crisis continues, many people are frustrated and depressed.  Yet even amidst this pervasive dreariness of heart, there are some who raise our spirits.  These persons are bright lights in the darkness.  Of them, the wise sage of Proverbs writes in today’s readings of Proverbs 17:17-18:5, “A merry heart does good, like medicine” (NKJV vs. 17:22). Today we learn that we, the faithful, are called to “lift up our hearts” so that our cheerfulness can be medicine for others in a gloomy world. Nowadays, the word “merry” is associated with Christmas and its festivities.  However, the word in the Hebrew Bible means to be glad, joyful, and rejoicing (Strong’s Hebrew #8056, 284).…

How to Defeat the Mighty Power of Anger (Thurs. April 15)

The word of the day is “anger.”  One of the traits of maturity is self-mastery.  And one of the greatest tests of self-mastery is the ability to control one’s temper.  In our reading of Proverbs 16:17-17:17, the wise sage of Proverbs writes, “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city (NKJV vs. 16:32).  Anger is like a powerful army that storms a city and conquers it.  Accordingly, it takes an almost superhuman strength to resist its attacks.  Today we explore what it takes to defeat the might of anger in our soul. The Loss of Control More than any of the vices, anger exposes the loss of control…

No Worries: The Confidence of Committing Our Work to the Lord (Wed. April 14)

The word of the day is “commit.”  It is natural to worry about the success or failure of our work, our family life, and our every endeavor.  Yet, that anxiety is unnecessary.  Today in our reading of Proverbs 15:20-16:9,  the sage teaches that we can develop a calm  confidence in everything we do.  He writes, “Commit your work to the Lord and your plans will be established” (OAB vs. 16:3).   Today we consider the peace of heart and mind that comes from committing whatever we undertake to the Lord and His Glory. The Lord Made All for Himself The foundation for our comments today is found in the sage’s teaching:  “The Lord has made all for Himself, yes, even the…

Reason Freed From the Passions (Tues. April 13)

The word of the day is “better.”  Are the choices that people make in their lives based on reason?  The “Rational Choice Theory” claims that people choose the options they believe are in their best interest.  That is, they select the most reasonable choices among alternatives. Our reading of Proverb 15:7-19 rejects this presupposition.  The wise sage of Proverbs writes, “Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fatted calf with hatred” (NKJV vs. 17).  This saying suggests that the theory that people make reasonable choices fails to consider the role of the passions in human decisions.  Today we look at the basic choice between the freedom of wisdom and the folly of slavery to the passions. …

Wisdom Rests in a Tranquil Heart (Mon. April 12)

The word of the day is “heart.”  St. Theophan the Recluse taught that the heart is the innermost center of our being.  It is the seat of our thoughts, emotions, will, self-awareness, and conscience.  It follows that the state of the heart determines the condition of our bodies, minds, and souls.  In this vein, in our reading of Proverbs 14: 27-15:4, the wise sage of Proverbs says, “A sound heart is life to the body, but envy is rottenness to the bones” (NKJV vs. 30).  Today we consider what it means to possess a spiritually healthy heart. A Calm, Peaceful, and Tranquil Heart What does it mean to have a “sound” heart?  Various versions translate the adjective “sound” as “peaceful”…

How To Anchor Your Soul in Hope (Sun. April 11)

The word of the day is “anchor.”  So many people these days are drifting.  The currents of society are carrying them one way and then another.  Subtle and almost irresistible influences are assailing believers and unbelievers.  Our reading of Hebrews 6:13-20 offers us the only defense from manipulating these social forces.  The apostle writes, “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast…” (NKJV vs. 18).  Today our reading helps us to realize that nothing in this swirling world is unchanging.  But this passage teaches us to look to our hope in the Eternal God to keep the sweeping forces of worldliness from overwhelming us. The thing about drifting is that we don’t notice it. …

How to Renew Our Diligence in Our Spiritual Struggles (Sat. April 10)

The word of the day is “diligence.”  Time erodes zeal.  As the days go by, our original dedication to a cause tends to diminish. This observation is true of our spiritual intensity. We have passed the mid-point of Great Lent. Have your steps slowed on your Lenten journey to the house of our Heavenly Father?  That is likely unless you have found a way to overcome natural spiritual inertia. If we have become sluggish in our observance of Lent, we need the word of our reading of Hebrews 6:9-12.  The apostle speaks to all of us, saying, “And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end” (vs. 11).…

Charity That Is Wise as Well as Caring (Fri, April 9)

The word of the day is “devise.” Often those who promote acts of mercy make an emotional appeal. They show a malnourished child or an abused animal and in pleading tones ask us to care. But in today’s reading of Proverbs 14:15-20, the wise sage of Proverbs offers a different viewpoint.  He says, “Deceivers devise evil things, but good men devise mercy and truth” (OSB 14: 23). The word “devise” suggests that “good men” plan their acts of compassion just as evil men strategize their wicked deeds.. Today we will consider the sage’s suggestion that charitable giving involves the mind as well as our feelings. To Devise a Plan Both the Hebrew Bible and the Septuagint (LXX) agree that the…

How To Choose the Company We Keep (Thurs. April 8)

The word of the day is “company.”  “A man is known by the company he keeps.”  This adage is one of the most familiar of Aesop’s Fables.  But the  Scriptures often repeat the same thought.  For instance, in our reading of Proverbs 13:19-14:6, the wise sage of Proverbs writes, “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed (NKJV vs. 30). We learn from this humble saying that we should seek the best kind of companionship as followers of Christ.  Not every would-be friend is a suitable travel companion as we walk in the way of the Lord. We Become Like Our Friends A Spanish saying observes, “He that goes with wolves…

Anxiety Puts Us Down: A Good Word Lifts Us Up (Wed April 7)

The word of the day is “anxious.”  W. H. Auden published his Pulitzer-prize winning poem, “The Age of Anxiety,” in 1947.  That title is still an apt description of our time, especially during this present crisis.   Psychology Today reports that anxiety levels in America are three times higher now than they were before the Covid-19 pandemic.  But anxiety is a product of the human condition and has been a factor of our human experience since the Fall.   We are fragile and vulnerable creatures who have built-in survival mechanisms. These systems respond in body, mind, and soul to alarms of threats to our well-being, and we become anxious. In our reading of Proverbs 12:23-13:9, the wise sage of Proverbs makes a…