Hang Onto the Shield of Faith (Thurs. Jan. 13)

The word of the day is “confidence.”  In times of trial, what do we need to endure?  Our reading of Hebrews 10:35-11:17 answers, “Therefore, do not cast away your confidence which has a great reward” (vs. 35). The Greek word that is translated as “confidence” is derived from the term for outspoken speech. From this, we get the thought of “boldness” (Strong’s #3954, 194).  Such assurance will see us through the ordeals that we face until we receive the reward of our determination. Do Not Cast Away Our Shield By all means, the apostle teaches that we must never “cast away” our confidence.  The author may have been thinking of the shield that soldiers in Greece and Rome carried into…

The End of Sacrifices for Sin (Wed. Jan. 12)

The word of the day is “sacrifice.”  In today’s reading of Hebrews 10:1-18, the apostle announces the end of sacrifices for sin.  He writes, “For by one offering He [Christ] has perfected forever those who are being sanctified” (vs. 14).  Consequently there is no longer a need for any more offerings for sin.  All that is necessary for our redemption has been fulfilled. A One-Time Offering The apostle argues at length that the sacrifices of the Old Testament were ineffective because they had to be repeated again and again (vs. 11).  But Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was “once and for all” (10).  The proof of its efficacy was that Christ “sat down at the right hand of God” after He had finished His mission…

The Mediator of a New Covenant (Tues. Jan. 11)

The word of the day is “mediator.”  In our reading from Hebrews 9:8-10; 15-23, the apostle explains how Jesus Christ established the new covenant that promises our eternal inheritance.  Paul writes, “He is the Mediator of the new covenant by means of death….  That those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance” (vs. 15). St. John Chrysostom explains, “A mediator is not lord of the thing of which he is mediator, but the thing belongs to one person, and the mediator is another: for instance, the mediator of a marriage is not the bridegroom, but one who aids him who is about to be married” (NpFp1: 13). But what are the parties to the mediation of…

To Know Christ for Ourselves (Mon. Jan. 10)

The word of the day is “know.”  In our reading of Hebrews 8:7-15, the apostle refers to the new covenant that makes the old covenant between God and His Chosen People obsolete.  The People of God had broken the laws of the old covenant, which was written on stone.  But the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:31-34) had promised that God would make a new covenant (vs. 9) that would be written on the heart (vs. 10).  In that new relationship with God, no one would need to be taught to know the Lord.  All would know him, from the youngest to the oldest (vs. 11).  And in knowing Him, everyone would know His will and ways.  His laws would be etched…

Each of Us Has A Different Gift, Yet All of Us are One in Christ

The word of the day is “measure.” The Body of Christ is one and yet its members are many.  The church is a community of faith that is united in love and yet it is composed of a diversity of people with different talents, roles, and callings. Why are some given impressive talents while others seem to have little ability at all?  Why are some called to important roles while others seem to be unimportant and unnoticed?  Why are some endowed with exceptional authority while the rest are expected to follow them.  Doesn’t such diversity divide the church’s membership and cause jealousy and resentment?  Why can’t all of us be the same not only in faith but in God’s gifts,…

Near to God or Far Away? (Sat. Jan. 8)

The word of the day is “near.”  What does it mean to be close to God and what does it mean to be far away from Him?  In today’s reading from Ephesian’s 2:11-13, Paul gives a succinct answer “At that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world” (vs. 12). Either Near to or Far Away From God Paul suggests that when it comes to our relationship with our Creator and Redeemer, there is no halfway.  We are either “near” location (Strong’s #1451) or “far away” (Strong’s #3112).  But what does it mean to be “far off” from God? The…

Why the Priesthood of Christ Matters to Us (Fri. Jan. 7)

The Feast of the Nativity has come to an end.  The shepherds have returned to their flocks. The Wise Men have gone home “another way.”  The Holy Child has been saved from King Herod. He has grown up in Nazareth, and the Prophet and Forerunner John has baptized Him in the Jordan. Has our celebration of the incarnation of the Son of God any lasting effect on us?  Has our observance of His baptism meant anything to us?  Or are we resuming our daily routine with nothing but pleasant memories of yet another Christmas and another Theophany? Who is Jesus Christ to us?  He is known by various titles: Messiah, King, Shepherd, Master, Prophet, and Savior.  But in today’s reading…

Christ Blessed the Waters and So We Are Saved by Water and the Spirit (Jan. 6)

Christ is baptized! The word of the day is “saved.” On this Great Feast of Theophany, we reflect on the connection between the Baptism of Christ and our baptism.  In our reading of Titus 2:11-14; 3:4-7, the apostle writes, “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (vs. 4-6). Note in the Greek text in verse 4 that the word “saved” is not in the form of a verb. It is a noun.  The passage…

Spiritual Growth Requires Solid Food (Wed. Jan. 5)

The word of the day is “solid.”  Today, our reading of Hebrews 5:11-6:8 emphasizes the necessity that everyone should continue to grow in faith and the knowledge of the faith.  The apostle writes, “Therefore leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation…” (vs. 6:1). As this passage begins, the apostle notes that there is much more to say about the High Priest Melchizedek.  Yet, he gives up trying to explain it because he complains that his readers have become “dull of hearing” (vs. 11).  The Greek word that the apostle uses means sluggish (Strong’s #3576, 174).  Note that they have become slothful in their comprehension of the teachings of…

To Enter Into the Heavenly Rest (Tues. Jan. 4)

The word of the is day is “rest.”  In our reading of Hebrews 4:1-13, we hear that the doors of God’s offer of “heavenly rest” remain open to us.  Therefore, we should not pass by the opportunity.  But we should mix the hearing of the Gospel of hope with faith in its promise lest we lose that heavenly calling. Think what our Heavenly Father offers us in the proclamation of the apostle.  It is the rest of divine help in trial and temptation now and the greater rest of glory and relief from our labors in the age to come.  It is the precious “heavenly calling” (vs. 3:1) that as the Creator rested from his works on the first Sabbath, so we may have repose in the completion…