Delivered from This Age: Living in the Age to Come (July 29)

The word for today is “age.”  In video games, the gamer explores different worlds.  The potential for the creation of such alternative universes is endless.  But these possibilities pose a question.  In what “world” do we live?  In our reading of 1 Corinthians 3:18-23, Paul speaks of “being wise in this age” (OSB vs. 18).  Again, he speaks of the “wisdom of this world” (OSB vs. 19).  Today we explore the thought that the Lord has called us to live in a higher reality than “this age” or “this world.” In his comments on our reading, St. John Chrysostom says, “For all with us goes by contraries” (NfPF1:12, 54).  The opposites that the famous preacher has in mind are summed up in…

Natural Knowledge and Spiritual Wisdom (Wed. July 28)

The word of the day is “knowledge.”  Socrates said that the only thing I know is that I know nothing.  Western civilization pays homage to Socrates, yet the claims to knowledge in our society are thousands of times more abundant than authentic learning.  It is the same for religious understanding. In today’s reading of 1 Corinthians 2:9-3:8, Paul addresses the claims of spiritual knowledge that are dividing the Corinthian congregation.  He writes “But the natural man does not receive the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them because they are spiritually discerned” (OSB vs. 14).  In this way, he challenges the bitter disputes in the fellowship over who has the…

The Chosen, the Called, the Set Apart, the Summoned for a Sacred Purpose (Tues. July 27)

The word for the day is “called.”  As we go about our daily life, our attention often must be givall to the details of our work.  So we might forget for the moment that we have a divine calling.  That vocation is not separated from our daily routine but gives it meaning. In today’s reading of 1 Corinthians 1:1-9, Paul speaks of his calling and the calling of his readers.  He states, “Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ…” (OSB vs. 1) and again, “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus called to be saints…” (OSB 1:2).  Today our study will remind us of the summons of the Lord to serve Him. In our reading of…

When Good and Evil Appear to be Mixed Together (Mon. July 26)

The word of the day is “simple.”  In this world, some things are obviously wicked.  But the unrighteousness of other things is not so easily identified.  Evil comes wrapped in attractive packages and desirable wrappings.  Vices are mixed with virtues, and goodness is mingled with immorality.   In our reading of Romans 16:17-24, St Paul concludes his letter with a warning about divisions caused by troublemakers.  He charges that they use “smooth words and flattering speech to deceive the simple” (Romans 16:18.)  Thus, St. Paul cautions that his readers should be “wise in what is good and simple concerning evil” (Romans 16:19).  “Simple” Fails to Get at the Meaning Today we will learn how to separate the good from the bad…

The Sound of Proclamation Is Meant to Go Out to All the Earth (Sun. July 25)

The word of the day is “proclamation.”  Those who have spent their lives in the church have heard so many sermons, both inspired and uninspired, that they not longer expect to be stirred by any preacher.  Yet in our reading of Romans 10:11-11:2, we find a provocative statement:  “Their sound has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the end of the universe” (Romans 10:18).  This declaration of the power of preaching applies to the preaching of the apostles (OSB footnote on Psalm 19:4).  And so, in the Orthodox Church we hear this hymn on Pentecost, the Feast of SS Peter and Paul, as well as today on the “Synaxis of the Twelve Holy Apostles.” Today we…

Why We Dare to Call God “Father” (Sat. July 24)

The word of the day is “Father.”  In the Orthodox Divine Liturgy, the priest introduces the Lord’s Prayer with a statement that echoes today’s reading of Romans 8:14-21.  He exclaims, “And make us worthy, O Master, that with boldness and without condemnation we may call on thee, the heavenly God as Father and to say…” (St-Tikhon’s 1984).  In today’s reading, Paul explains, “But you received the Spirit of adoption by which we cry out ‘Abba, Father’” (St-Tikhon’s 1984, 75).  How is it that we dare to call the Almighty God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, as “Father”?  Today we will find the reasons for the way we address God.  We will find these justifications in Jesus’ teaching and the…

Paul Did Not Work Alone: Evidence of Paul’s Co-Workers (Fri. July 23)

The word of the day is “fellow.”  We might get the impression that all the credit for Paul’s work among the Gentiles was his alone.  Likewise, when we think of the lives of the saints, we do not consider those with whom they lived and worked.  But today, in our reading of Romans 16:1-16, we find that St. Paul closes his letter by sending greetings to a surprising number of associates and friends.  If we take the beginnings and endings of Paul’s letters into account, we find that he labored with a large network of fellow helpers and supporters.  In fact, he was the head of a missionary team of faithful leaders and helpers.  Today we will talk about two…

Our Fallible Plans and God’s Almighty Providence (Thurs. July 22)

The word of the day is “shall.”  Often, changing circumstances get in the way of the fulfillment of our intentions.  When that happens, we find that we are not in control of the course of our lives.  In our reading of Romans 15:17-29, Paul reveals his ambitious plans for his outreach to the Gentiles.  He writes, “Whenever I journey to Spain, I shall come to you.  For I hope to see you on my journey, and to be helped on my way there by you” (OSB vs. 24).  Today we will find that Paul’s life did not turn out as he had projected.  The apostle did get to Rome but as a prisoner.  And we do not know if he…

Hope Is Not Empty Fantasy: It is Founded on the Substantial Belief in Christ (Wed. July 21)

The word of the day is ”hope.”  We live in an age whose cynicism borders on hopelessness.  Many are skeptical of everything.  They question everything but their own opinions, notions based on their own self-interest.  In this ocean of doubt, some treat our hope in Christ as a wish that we cast into the future like a message-in-a-bottle is thrown into the sea. But in today’s reading of Romans 15:7-16, Paul closes the body of his letter with a benediction.  In this beautiful sentence, Paul prays for the greatest of  blessings—that the believers in Rome would “abound in peace.”  He writes, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound…

How to Overcome the Temptation to Judge Others (Tues. July 20)

The word of the day is “judge.”  Judging others is one of the most common and harmful types of pride.  Unless we are constantly watchful, our fleshly nature will condemn others for their faults, even if we only do it mentally.  In today’s reading of Romans 14:9-18, Paul poses a question that we might ask ourselves when tempted to criticize others.  He writes, “why do you judge your brother?” (Romans 14:10).  In today’s reading, we will answer that question.  More than that, we will find ways to counter the tendency to pass judgment on our fellow humans. In Greek, the term “to judge” comes from the idea of distinguishing ourselves from others.  We separate ourselves from others either in our…