Holiness in Body, Mind, and Soul (Sun. Feb. 14)

  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…

Let It Burn! On Renewing the Spirit Within (Sat. Feb. 13)

The word of the day is “quench.”  There is a fire burning in our hearts, the same fire that came down in flames of fire on the Day of Pentecost.  It is the burning of the Holy Spirit given to us in our baptism. But how fiercely does that fire blaze within us?  In today’s reading, Paul urges us, “Do not quench the Spirit” (vs. 19).  In 1 Thessalonians 5:4-23, Paul advises ways that we can avoid quenching the Spirit and let it burn more brightly within us. The Holy Spirt Cannot Be Smothered In the broadest sense, we cannot squelch the activity of the Holy Spirit in the world. In the Trisagion Prayers, we pray that the Holy Spirit…

Chosen to Be Peculiar (Friday, Feb. 12)

The word of the day is “peculiar.”  Nations and societies generally expect that those who live in them conform to their ways.  But the faithful do not ultimately belong to any particular state or culture.  The writer of 1 Peter proclaims, “You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people (KJV vs. 2:9). Our reading of 1 Peter 1:1-2; 10-12; 2: 6:10 teaches that we who have received the mercy of God should not try to fit in to the social order in which we live. Rather, we should live as God’s own peculiar people called to “proclaim the works of God” and shine His light in the darkness of this world. Today we begin…

Walking in Faith Without a Limp (Thurs. Feb. 11)

The word for today is “double-minded.”  Most of us have times when our faith wavers, periods when we are unsteady in our life in Christ, moments when we walk with a limp.  In our reading of James 4:7-5:9, James offers the wisdom of how we can regain an unwavering, steady, and unhindered faith.  In 1:7, the apostle writes that one who doubts is double-minded, unstable in all his ways. Therefore, in our reading, the apostle writes, “purify your hearts, you double-minded (vs. 8). To be “double-minded” is to be of two contending minds. Those who are double-minded have a divided opinion. Yet, they are reluctant to give up either one.  So, they vacillate between the two.  In the middle between…

The Profile of a Peacemaker (Wed. Feb. 10)

The word of the day is “peace.”  Strife and contention are predominant in human society.  But in contrast to this way of the world, the Lord said, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children on God (Matt.5:9).  Our reading of James  3:11-4:6 speaks about the work of peacemakers saying, “the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace (3:18).  Today’s commentary will sketch a profile of the peacemaker based on the apostle’s analysis of the source of human discord. The Source of Human Discord To outline the characteristics of peacemakers, we begin with the apostle’s question, “Where do wars and fights come from among you” (4:1)?  The Orthodox Study Bible translates “wars”…

How to Control the Tongue (Feb. 9, Tues.)

The word of the day is “tongue.”  In our reading of James 3:1-10, we hear about the peril of an uncontrolled tongue.  But how do we tame it?  James doubts we can.  He writes, “for every kind of beast and bird… has been tamed by mankind, but no man can tame the tongue” (vs. 7).  The apostle’s words are a warning to us.  Yet we find in the verses that follow today’s reading and in other wisdom literature some wise advice about getting control of our tongue. Indeed, the unrestrained tongue is more hazardous than a raging forest fire (vs. 5-6) or a torrential flood.  We cannot contain what is said once it spews out its folly, profanity, or rancor. …

The Difference between Works and Good Works (Feb. 8, Mon.)

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 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…

Two Kinds of Patterns: God’s Mercy and the Godly Life (Feb. 7, Sun.)

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…

The Dynamic Power of a Living Hope (Feb. 6, Sat.)

The word for today is “hope.”  The storms of life often threaten to throw us off course.  How can we keep our bearing when the wind and waves of trials and tribulations toss us to and fro?  In our reading of Colossians 1:3-6, the apostle suggests an answer:  “We give thanks…. because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven…” (vs. 4). In the Word of the Gospel, we hear of the hope reserved for us in the heavens (Strong’s #606, 36).  The Greek word translated as “laid up” expresses the sense of a store of blessings that awaits us.  They are “stored up” as a treasure kept under guard until its owner comes to claim it.…

One Body Without Favoritism (Feb. 5, Fri.)

The word for today is “partiality.”  Favoritism is the way of the world.  Human society is so ordered that some are more advantaged, favored, and honored than others. However, the Gospel opposes and reverses this preferential treatment of the privileged.  In our reading of James 2:1-13, we read, “My Brethren, do not hold the faith our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of Glory, with partiality” (vs. 10). The Greek word translated as “partiality” means the “respect of persons” (Strong’s #4372, 2160). But the word has the connotation that this regard for others is based on outer appearance, not on inner character.  We hear this undertone in the flattery that the Herodians used in their attempt to trick Jesus: “You do…