The Role of the Spirit in the Writing and Reading of Scripture (Mon., Feb 22)

The word of the day is “Spirit.”  Today’s reading of 2 Peter 1:20-2:19 explains why the apostle could say that the word of prophecy is a trustworthy lamp to guide us in our dark world (2 Peter 1:19).  He writes, “No prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (vs. 20).  Thus, the apostle confirms that the words of the prophets are wholly reliable.  But is our reading of the same words equally dependable? A Message Not from Human Persons The apostle points out that we can trust the prophets’ word because their message did not come…

Don’t Let Religious Imposters Fool You (Sun., Feb. 21)

The word of the day is “imposter.”  From his earliest letters onward, Paul had to include a warning against interlopers who would lead the faithful astray.  In our reading of 2 Timothy 3:10-15, Paul cautions his apprentice Timothy that these pretenders are bound to increase.  He writes, “But evil men and imposters will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (vs. 13).  In today’s study, we learn how to identify these charlatans and to guard against their deception. False Christs and False Prophets Will Keep Appearing The Lord warned that “false Christ’s” and “false prophets” would appear and attempt to lead many astray (Matthew 24:24).  His warning has applied to the Church throughout the ages.  They have ranged from…

Unchanging Faithfulness in a Changing World (Sat., Feb. 20)

The word of the day is “faithful.”  Change is the way of the universe, and no one in the world can stop it. The changing of the day and night, the seasons, the tides, the weather; the alterations of society, the generations, governments, economies, fashions, and fortunes; the relentless course of human life from infancy through old age–who of us can arrest the ebbing and flowing of any of these?  Yet among all that exists, 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…

“Partakers of the Divine Nature” (Fri. Feb. 19)

  The word of the day is “partakers.”  In various places in the New Testament, we hear that we are to become “like God.”  Our reading of 2 Peter 1:1-10 ties all these terms 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 of the 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…

Preparing for the Trials of Faith (Thurs. Feb. 18)

The word of the day is “strange.”  Most of us think that routine is a good thing.  If things do not change considerably, we can make plans and carry on with our lives without interruption.  Yet, the scriptures warn that we should prepare ourselves for the disruption of trials of our faith.  For instance, in today’s reading, Peter 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).  Our reading of 1 Peter 4:12-5:5 advises how we might endure suffering for the sake of Christ with serenity and even joy. You might notice that the New Testament writers often speak of the trials that…

The Forbearance of Fervent Love (Wed. Feb. 17)

The word of the day is “covers.”  Members of the Body of Christ are at different stages of their “growth in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).  If St. Paul could say, “I have not attained [my goal] or am already perfect” (Philippians 3:12), who of us could claim to be without fault?  But when it comes to our relationships in the church, our imperfections are bound to affect others.  Therefore, the members of the Body of Christ must have forbearance if the body is not to be torn apart with our frustrations with one another.  To this end, in the reading of 1 Peter 4:1-11, the apostle writes, “Above all things have…

What Can Man Do To Those Who Fear the Lord? (Tues. Feb. 16)

The world of the day is “threat.”  We pray daily for those who are persecuted.  But the thought that we also might suffer hostility for our faith may not occur to us. However, in today’s reading, James writes, “Always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you” (vs.15).  Put in this way, we can agree that even in our tolerant society, we are likely to confront challenges to our faith that express opposition.  Today’s reading of 1 Peter 3:10-22 teaches that we should boldly respond to these tests of our convictions without fear. Persecution was the norm for the early church, and stories of martyrdom and suffering for…

Answering Evil with Blessing (Mon. Feb. 15)

The word of the day is “blessing.”  The laws of the United States stipulate that offenders must compensate those injured by such wrongs as crimes, auto accidents, and slander. This demand for redress of grievance seems only fair and just.  However, in our reading of 1 Peter 2:21-3:4, the apostle writes that the faithful should not return “evil for evil but, on the contrary, return it with blessing…” (vs. 9). Should We Bless Only Within the Church? Such advice seems ideal but unrealistic in our society.  An answer to this objection might be that the apostle is speaking only of the faithful’s conduct within the Body of Christ.  For instance, Paul was upset when he learned that the Corinthians were…

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…