Joy Overflowing in Generosity (Sat. Nov. 14)

The word of the day is “ joy.”  In our reading of 2 Corinthians 8:1-5, St. Paul holds up the Macedonians as examples of generous giving.  The Apostle boasts that despite their abject poverty, they begged Paul for the favor of receiving their gift for the poor in Jerusalem.  He states, “Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality” (vs. 1-2). Single-minded in Sharing Thus, Paul intends to impress his readers with the “liberality” of the Macedonians.  The word is derived from the thought of singleness of purpose. …

The Master of Hindrances (Friday, November 13)

The word of the day is “hindered.”  In our reading of 1 Thessalonians 2:14-19, St. Paul speaks of the hindrances that retrained Paul’s work among the Gentiles of this important port city.  Yet, despite these obstacles, Paul gives thanks to God for their enthusiastic reception of the Gospel.  And he assures them that they are with him in his heart and that he desires to see them face to face (vs. 17.) Hindered from Reaching the Gentiles In our reading, Paul speaks of the frustrating roadblocks to his plans, both human and supernatural. First, there was the opposition of the Judaizers who insisted on the circumcision of Gentile believers.  Paul writes that the Thessalonians had suffered persecution just as the…

Three Essential Characteristics of Gospel Proclamation (Thurs. Nov. 12)

The word of the day is “father.” In our reading of 1 Thessalonians 2:9-16, St. Paul breaks down the task of Gospel proclamation into three categories.  The Apostles writes, “…you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children” (vs. 11). By studying the original Greek terms for these activities, we can better understand what the preaching and hearing of the gospel entail. In our English OSB translation, Paul begins his profile of preaching by saying how he “exhorted” the Thessalonians.  The Greek term is derived from the idea of “calling near.”  The gospel proclamation thus “invites” and “intreats” its hearers to give heed to the message and respond to…

The Gospel Shared With Affection (Wed. Nov. 11)

The word of the day is “ lives.”  In our reading of 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8, St. Paul discloses that he earnestly desired to give something more than the Gospel to the Thessalonians.  He writes, “So affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you, not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us” (vs. 8). Motivations for Gospel Proclamation Paul refers to many motives for preaching the Gospel:  to please others (vs. 4); to satisfy covetousness, that is “greediness” (vs. 5);[1] and to earn glory, that is, good opinion, praise, and honor (vs. 6).[2] Indeed, Paul recognizes that some proclaim Christ because they are envious of the success…

Waiting with Eager Longing (Tues. Nov. 10)

The word of the day is “wait”  In our reading of 1 Thessalonians 1: 6-10, St. Paul recalls that the Thessalonians had received the Gospel with joy as well as trials.  The Apostle thanks God that the Thessalonians have turned from idolatry to the service of God.  And they have learned “to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead…” (vs. 10). The virtue of waiting is a predominant theme in this Epistle.  Here at the beginning of his letter, the Apostle refers to the expectation of the return of Christ.  And at the end of the Epistle, St. Paul prays that “your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our…

Five Marks of Effective Preaching (Mon. Nov. 9)

The word of the day is “power.”  Today we read 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5.  This passage begins the first epistle of Paul that is included in the New Testament.  Paul established the congregation at the important seaport of Thessalonica on his second missionary journey.  According to the Orthodox Study Bible, he wrote this letter from Corinth in 50 or 51 AD,  about six months after he had organized the church. Paul indicates that the work of building the church in Thessalonica had been exceptionally successful.  He writes, “For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among…

Nothing But a New Creation (Sun. Nov. 8)

The word of the day is “new.”  In our reading of Galatians 6:11-18, St. Paul dismisses both “circumcision” that would identify one as a Jew and “uncircumcision” that would identify one as a Gentile.  He writes, “ For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation” (vs. 15). Various versions say that neither one of these marks of identity “avails for nothing” (NKJV), “means anything” (Berean Bible), “counts for anything” (NET Bible), “is of any importance” (Weymouth New Testament) or “matters” (Good News Translation). What Matters Yet the Greek term assigns even less significance to these outward signs. The original language says that neither “circumcision” nor “uncircumcision”  “is” anything (vs. 15). The only thing that…

From Tent to Temple: the Resurrection of the Body (Sat. Nov. 7)

The word of the day is “resurrection”  In our reading of 2 Corinthians 5:1-10, St. Paul uses a metaphor to describe our hope of transformation from the corruptible physical body to the resurrection of the incorruptible body.  He states, “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens (vs. 1). Remember that in Plato’s Greek philosophy, the body is the “prison house of the soul.”  The body’s functions, such as five senses and the body’s sensations of pleasure and pain, are restraints to realizing the soul’s true nature.  Death is the release of the soul and its return to the…

Luke, the Beloved Physician and Paul’s Companion (Fri. Nov. 6)

The word of the day is “Luke.”  In our reading of Colossians 4:10-18, St. Paul ends his Epistle with greetings from his companions.   The Apostle mentions seven names, but the most important among them is Luke.  He writes, “Luke, the beloved physician… greets you” (vs. 14).  The Orthodox accepts church tradition that St. Paul is speaking of the writer of the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles.  Our reading confirms that this preeminent historian of the life of Jesus and the early church was with Paul in Rome.  We can imagine that he not only tended to Paul’s physical condition but also provided moral support to him in his imprisonment. And he was not only beloved but…

Vigorous Prayer (Thurs. Nov. 5)

The word of the day is “earnestly.”  In our reading of Colossians 4:2-9, St. Paul closes his letter with some parting counsel.  Before ending his Epistle with salutations, the Apostle writes, “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving” (vs. 2). With these words, Paul urges the believers in Colossae to continue to pray. That should go without saying.  Prayer, after all, is the breath of the soul. The body cannot survive for more than a few minutes without breathing. Likewise, the neglect of prayer deadens the soul. Strong Prayers Paul not only urges us to pray, but he teaches us how we should do it.  He writes that we should offer our petitions and supplications to God…