Being of One Mind (Mon. Jan. 30)

The word of the day is “mind.”  According to our modern idea of individualism, everyone has their own ideas and opinions.  And most likely, these differing outlooks will not agree.  Thus, our media is more interested in uncovering our disagreements with one another than our agreements. But note the different spirit in today’s reading of 1 Peter 2:21-3:9.  In this passage, the apostle concludes his practical instructions with a summary of how we should regard one another.  He writes, “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous…” (OSB vs. 8). How Can Individuals Be of One Mind? Much of what Peter advises has to do with our feelings for…

Practice What You Preach, Teach What You Practice (Sun. Jan. 29)

The word for the day is “yourself.”  ­­It is easy to give other people advice.  But it is harder to follow our own counsel.  Today in our reading of 1 Timothy 4:9-15, the apostle urges the young Bishop Timothy, “These things command and teach” (OSB 4:11).  Yet if we read closely, we find a secondary theme to Paul’s words.  Timothy must practice what he preaches.  Today we learn the importance of paying attention to our own spiritual growth and life before, during, and after we try to guide others in their faith and life. The Context of Paul’s Advice to Timothy Our reading begins, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance” (OSB vs. 9).  However, we are…

The Psychology of the Human Person: Body, Soul, and Spirit (Sat. Jan. 28)

The word of the day is “whole.”  We sometimes think of the person as divided into  “soul” and “body.”  But today we find that this familiar psychology is incomplete. In our reading of 1 Thessalonians 5:14-23, Paul teaches a more comprehensive scriptural psychology. The apostle writes the concluding prayer:  “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (vs. 23). In other letters, Paul divides the person into two parts. These are “body and spirit,” never into “body and soul” (e.g., 1 Cor. 6:20; 1 Cor. 7:34). But in our reading, the apostle notes that human nature has three parts:…

The Voluntary Self-Offering of the Lord (Fri. Jan. 27)

The word of the day is “offered.”  In our reading of Hebrews 7:26-8:2, the apostle compares the sacrifices of the Levitical high priesthood with the High Priesthood of Jesus Christ. The apostle notes that both high priesthoods “offered up” sacrifices. The Greek word “offered up” is derived from the thought of carrying or leading something (Strong’s #399 ) as a lamb is led up to the altar for sacrifice. But the high priestly sacrifice of the Lord was different than the Levitical  High Priesthood that goes back to Aaron. First, the Levitical high priests had to offer sacrifices daily. But the Lord offered up the perfect, “once-for-all” sacrifice. Second, the Levitical high priests made sacrifices “first for his own sins…

On the Pursuit of Riches (Thurs. Jan. 26)

The word for today is “riches.”  In our reading of James 4:7-5:9, we hear a shocking condemnation of the rich.  We may think of the rich as prosperous and those who have wealth to be admired.  But for the apostle, it is the opposite.  The rich may think they have a good and happy life now.  But James writes, “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you” (James 5:1). If the Rich Knew Their Fate The rich may be comfortable now.  But the apostle teaches that if they knew their fate, they would sob and wail.  The rich will be overtaken in “miseries,” a word that comes from the idea of trouble, and…

The Things That Make for Peace (Wed. Jan. 25)

The word of the day is “peace.”  Of all the blessings of God, peace is one of the most sought-after.  We begin our litanies in the Liturgy with the invitation, “In peace let us pray to the Lord” (St-Tikhon’s 1984, 29).  And we follow with the petition for “peace from above.”  However, we pray not only for heavenly peace but for peace in our world.  So we pray for “peaceful times” (St-Tikhon’s 1984, 30).  And later we pray for those in government that they enjoy “peaceful times.”  Thus in their “tranquility,” we may live a “calm and peaceful life” (St-Tikhon’s 1984, 71). Peace is necessary for good order, cooperation, and happiness in our communities, work, families, and our churches.  Without it, nothing constructive may be…

The Signs of True and False Teachers (Tues, Jan. 24)

The word of the day is “teachers.”  To grow in the faith and life of Christ, we need teachers to nurture and guide us.  But the scriptures repeatedly warn of false teachers that are like wolves among us, the sheep.  How do we know that we have genuine teachers who will nourish us with the word of life? In today’s reading of James 3:1-10, the apostle writes, “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment” (OSB vs. 1).  From this short apostolic counsel, we will derive some signs of dependable instructors. True Teachers Are Not Self-Appointed First, we learn from our reading that authentic instructors should not be self-appointed.  James writes, “Let not many of you…” (OSB vs. 1).…

The Difference Between Works and Good Works (Mon. Jan. 23)

The word of the day is “by.”  The controversy over faith and works since the Reformation era of the Western Church makes many uncertain about how faith relates to good works.  Today’s reading of James 2:14-26 argues that “good works” are necessary to faith.  The apostle writes, “Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works” (vs. 18).  In the Orthodox view, the phrase “by my works” suggests an answer to the question of faith’s relationship to good works.  However, a discussion of this phrase shows that faith is not only essential to good works.  But it determines the difference between works and good works (vs. 18). The Source of Good Works The word translated…

Paul, the Foremost Sinner and Greatest Example (Sun. Jan. 22)

The word of the day is “pattern.”  St. Paul presented himself as a positive example of life in Christ.   Yet he also admitted that he was a great sinner for whom the promise of eternal life depended on the grace of God.  In our reading of 1 Timothy 3:15-17, Paul writes, ”I  received mercy so that in me as the foremost {sinner] Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example…” (vs. 16 OAB). In 1 Corinthians, Paul directed that the  Corinthians consider him their father “through the Gospel” (1 Cor. 4:15).  As their father in faith, he instructed his flock to “imitate him” (vs.1 Cor. 16), following his example in all that he said and did. Paul…

Holiness in Body, Mind, and Soul (Sat. Jan. 21)

The word of the day is “sanctify.”  In our reading of 1 Thessalonians 5:14-23, St. Paul closes his first letter to the Thessalonians with a prayer.  The apostle writes, “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (vs. 23).  There is no greater blessing to ask for than to be sanctified.  Paul’s prayer is that God Himself would bestow that grace and “consecrate” the faithful to Himself (Strong’s# 37, 3). Sharing in the Holiness of God Peter writes, “Be holy, for I [the Lord] am holy” (1 Peter 1:16).  This instruction is a quotation from Leviticus, “For I am the LORD your God.…