The Unchanging Faithfulness of God in a Changing World (Sat. Feb. 4)

The word of the day is “faithful.”  Change is the way of the universe, and no one in the world can stop it.  Day and night, the seasons, the years, the tides, the weather, the social order, the generations– all these change. Governments, economies, fashions, and fortunes may also change, but there is One who does not change, the eternal God. And because He was, is, and always will be the same (Hebrews 13:8; James 1:17), He is faithful. In our reading of 2 Timothy 2:11-19, Paul testifies to this faithfulness.  The Everlasting God remains faithful whether or not we are faithful or unfaithful.  Accordingly, the apostle affirms, “If we endure, we shall also reign with Him.  If we deny Him He also will deny us. …

Partakers of the Divine Nature (Fri. Feb. 3)

The word of the day is “partakers.”  In various places in the New Testament, we hear that we are called to become “like God” by grace.  Our reading of 2 Peter 1:1-10 ties all these references together in the concept of “deification.”  At the core of today’s passage, the apostle writes, “… that you may be partakers of the divine nature…” (vs. 4). Our discussion will explore the background of this thought. A startling statement by Athanasius summarizes the topic of today’s study.  In 318 A.D., the theologian wrote a seminal book entitled On the Incarnation.  To explain why the Son of God came down from heaven to “become man,” the church father wrote, “God became man so that man might…

When Fiery Trials Come (Thurs, Feb. 2)

The word of the day is “strange.”  Routine is a good thing for most of us.  If things do not change significantly, we can make plans and carry on with our lives without interruption. Yet, the scriptures warn that the faithful should be prepared for a change of routine, for the suffering of trials. For instance, in today’s reading, the apostle writes, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to happen to you as though some strange thing happened to you” (vs. 12). Indeed, today we celebrate the “Meeting of the Lord in the Temple.” Though she had no need for purification, Mary submitted in humility to the Law and gave offerings for the infant Jesus and herself in the…

The Urgency of Preparing for the Imminent Return of Christ (Wed. Feb.1)

The word of the day is “end.”  The days and weeks, and years go by.  Last Sunday, like Zacchaeus, we climbed a tree to catch sight of Jesus.  Now we are preparing to follow Him as He makes His way to Jerusalem.  Everything that is happening in our world:  the wars, the famines, the weather catastrophes, the lawbreaking and competition for power, the competition for wealth, and fame seems to keep going on and on.  But in our reading of 1 Peter 4:1-11, we hear the apostle declare, “The end of all things at hand” (OSB vs. 7).  Today we reflect on this Word and the urgency of our response to it. Do We Really Believe the Peter’s Words? The end is near?  How…

Who Can Harm Us if We Do Good? (Tues, Jan. 31)

The word of the day is “harm.”  Many passages of scripture give the impression that the Almighty will guard and protect those who follow His ways.  Indeed, in today’s reading of 1 Peter 3:10-22 we are reassured, “Who would love life And seek good days…let him turn from evil and do good…for the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers, But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil (OSB vs. 3-12). Today we will explore the apostle’s teaching that the Lord gives security and relief to the righteous.  But we will find that in this passage, Peter provides us with insights much deeper that the simple equation…

Being of One Mind (Mon. Jan. 30)

The word of the day is “mind.”  According to our modern idea of individualism, everyone has their own ideas and opinions.  And most likely, these differing outlooks will not agree.  Thus, our media is more interested in uncovering our disagreements with one another than our agreements. But note the different spirit in today’s reading of 1 Peter 2:21-3:9.  In this passage, the apostle concludes his practical instructions with a summary of how we should regard one another.  He writes, “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous…” (OSB vs. 8). How Can Individuals Be of One Mind? Much of what Peter advises has to do with our feelings for…

Practice What You Preach, Teach What You Practice (Sun. Jan. 29)

The word for the day is “yourself.”  ­­It is easy to give other people advice.  But it is harder to follow our own counsel.  Today in our reading of 1 Timothy 4:9-15, the apostle urges the young Bishop Timothy, “These things command and teach” (OSB 4:11).  Yet if we read closely, we find a secondary theme to Paul’s words.  Timothy must practice what he preaches.  Today we learn the importance of paying attention to our own spiritual growth and life before, during, and after we try to guide others in their faith and life. The Context of Paul’s Advice to Timothy Our reading begins, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance” (OSB vs. 9).  However, we are…

The Psychology of the Human Person: Body, Soul, and Spirit (Sat. Jan. 28)

The word of the day is “whole.”  We sometimes think of the person as divided into  “soul” and “body.”  But today we find that this familiar psychology is incomplete. In our reading of 1 Thessalonians 5:14-23, Paul teaches a more comprehensive scriptural psychology. The apostle writes the concluding prayer:  “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). In other letters, Paul divides the person into two parts. These are “body and spirit,” never into “body and soul” (e.g., 1 Cor. 6:20; 1 Cor. 7:34). But in our reading, the apostle notes that human nature has three parts:…

The Voluntary Self-Offering of the Lord (Fri. Jan. 27)

The word of the day is “offered.”  In our reading of Hebrews 7:26-8:2, the apostle compares the sacrifices of the Levitical high priesthood with the High Priesthood of Jesus Christ. The apostle notes that both high priesthoods “offered up” sacrifices. The Greek word “offered up” is derived from the thought of carrying or leading something (Strong’s #399 ) as a lamb is led up to the altar for sacrifice. But the high priestly sacrifice of the Lord was different than the Levitical  High Priesthood that goes back to Aaron. First, the Levitical high priests had to offer sacrifices daily. But the Lord offered up the perfect, “once-for-all” sacrifice. Second, the Levitical high priests made sacrifices “first for his own sins…

On the Pursuit of Riches (Thurs. Jan. 26)

The word for today is “riches.”  In our reading of James 4:7-5:9, we hear a shocking condemnation of the rich.  We may think of the rich as prosperous and those who have wealth to be admired.  But for the apostle, it is the opposite.  The rich may think they have a good and happy life now.  But James writes, “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you” (James 5:1). If the Rich Knew Their Fate The rich may be comfortable now.  But the apostle teaches that if they knew their fate, they would sob and wail.  The rich will be overtaken in “miseries,” a word that comes from the idea of trouble, and…