No Rules But Discernment (Sat. Oct. 1)

The word of the day is “lawful.”  In today’s reading of 1 Corinthians 10:23-28, St. Paul answers the question of eating meat once sacrificed to idols.  The apostle writes, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful” (vs. 23).  “All things are lawful…”?  Yes.  “For freedom, Christ has set us free” (Romans 13:9 CSB).  He has liberated us from the accusations, guilt, condemnation, and futile works of earning righteousness.  We are free of its control. And No.  The baptized have one overarching and all-encompassing commandment.  The Orthodox Study Bible comments, “Christians are obligated to obey only one law: the law of Christ, the law of love” (OSB fn. 1 Cor. 10:23-24).  It is just as the apostle says…

The Disclosure of the Mystery of God’s Purpose (Fri. Sept. 30)

  The word of the day is “mystery.”  In our reading of Ephesians 1:7-17, Paul lifts his eyes from his present concerns to see the vision of our hope in Christ. What he beholds is  the “mystery of His [God’s] will,” the revelation of what God the Father  has “purposed in Himself according to His good pleasure” (vs. 9). The Greek word for “mystery” comes from the sense of stopping the mouth or being silenced. Accordingly, a  mystery is a secret kept until the proper time.  Even then, it can only be disclosed by revelation and known only by those whom the Spirit enlightens (Strong’s #3466 168).  You see, the mind of the Almighty is inscrutable.  His judgments and “ways are past finding out”…

Chosen in Christ Before the Foundation of the World (Thurs. Sept. 29)

The word of the day is “chose.”  Today we begin reading Paul’s letter to the Ephesians with Ephesians 1:1-9.  Ephesus was the capital of the Roman province of Asia.  It was the residence of the proconsul and the seat of the courts of justice for the whole region.  According to tradition, Paul wrote to this vital center of ancient Christianity while imprisoned in Rome from 61-63 AD (OSB “Introduction to Ephesians”).  At the mouth of its harbor stood one of the “Seven Wonders of the World,” the Temple of Artemis (the fertility goddess Diana) (OSB fn. Acts 19:27).  Paul spent almost two and half years there, the longest he would stay in one place in his missionary journeys. In today’s…

A Word of Wisdom Used in Two Senses (Wed. Sept. 28)

The word of the day is “bear.”  Words must be understood in context.  A single word can have different meanings depending on the situation in which it is used.  Today in our reading of Galatians 6:2-10, St. Paul seems to contradict himself.  He writes, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (OSB vs. 2).  But then he writes, “For each will have to bear his own load” (OSB vs. 5). We learn from our study that these verses are not opposed to each other.  They refer to different points that Paul is making. Bear One Another’s Burdens The first statement is that we should “bear each other’s burdens” (OSB vs. 2).  The word, “burdens” here refers to what is “heavy,”…

Controlled Not By Law But By the Spirit (Tues. Sept. 27)

The Word of the Day is “fulfill”’ as in to “fulfill desire.”  In our reading of Galatians 5:11-21, St. Paul urges his flock to “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (OSB Galatians 5:16).  Today we consider Paul’s warning not to use our freedom in Christ as a pretext for indulging in our sinful desires. Paul qualifies that Christian liberty does not mean license. His congregations in Galatia are being torn apart by bitter and hateful controversy.  But it is not merely a theological argument over circumcision.  Paul sees that the deeper problem is a misunderstanding of his teaching of believers’ liberty in Christ. A False Choice It seems that the Galatians are…
Love Puts Faith to Work (Mon. Oct. 4) The word of the day is “work.”  A popular slogan is that we are justified “by faith alone.”  But this familiar translation of Romans 3:28 adds the word “alone” to the Greek text.  Today in our reading of Galatians 4:28-5:10,  Paul does not isolate faith.  But he says, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6).  Today we will consider how true faith does not exist by itself, but love makes faith “active,” that is, effective. When we separate faith from everything else, we transform it into belief.  It becomes the assent to the truth of something that cannot be proven by empirical…

How Our Endurance Makes Grace Spread and Thanksgiving Abound (Sun. Sept. 25)

The word of the day is “abound.”  Our relationships with others reflect the state of our souls.  If we have peace in our hearts, we will relate to others in peace.  But if anger, worry, or confusion churn in our hearts, we will project this turmoil on others.  In today’s reading of 2 Corinthians 4:6-15, Paul writes, “For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God” (OSB vs. 15).  Do grace and thanksgiving abound in our hearts?  Today we consider that we might become a haven of abounding grace and thanksgiving for those around us.  In this way, they will spread to all those we meet and know. The…

Under the Law or In Freedom (Fri. Sept. 23)

Correction:  this is the right passage for Friday, Sept. 23. The word of the day is “under.”  At the end of our first reading (Galatians 4:8-21), Paul asks the pivotal question, “Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law?” (Gal 4:21). Today, we consider Paul’s teaching of what it means  to be under the Law or under freedom. In Paul’s day, the “Judaizers” had insisted that the Gentiles had to be circumcised to become “real” Christians. The great Jewish teacher Gamaliel had trained Paul, and the apostle knew that circumcision was the rite of binding one to the Law of Moses. So if the Gentiles were circumcised, they would be bound to…

The Cross: The Unconquerable Power of the Kingdom (Sat. Sept. 24)

The word of the day is “cross.” What one thing in this world is the most desirable? The answer must be power, for when one has enough power, one can gain whatever else one desires. But in today’s reading, Paul writes, “For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power” (OSB vs. 20). Today we learn what the power of the kingdom is. In our reading of 1 Corinthians 4:17-5:5, Paul warns his congregation that he intends to visit them to deal with their disobedience. Some are puffed up with pride and seeming to boast that Paul will not come to confront them. But Paul insists that he will come (God willing), and he “will know, not the word of those who are puffed…

Free to Serve One Another in Love (Fri, Sept. 23)

The word of the day is “freedom.” What do people have in mind when they seek freedom? They seek release from whatever controls or threatens to restrain them. And yet, in the name of freedom, many let themselves be dominated by all sorts of indulgences: the pursuit of fame, wealth, adventure, comfort, lust, and power. In today’s reading of Galatians 5:11-21, Paul writes, “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (OSB vs. 13). Today we will learn what should control us as those who are free in Christ. Imagine that a group of children are in a candy shop. The storekeeper announces that she will be stepping…