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…

To Soften the Heart (Mon. Jan. 3)

The word for today is “harden.”  In Hebrews 3:5-11, 17-19, we read of the apostle’s urgent plea that we should “hold fast our confidence” (3:6 and 3:14) and not “harden our hearts.”  We should not falter lest we should forfeit our heavenly calling (vs. 3:10). The apostle quotes the psalmist who recounts the rebellion of the Children of Israel in the wilderness (Psalm 95:8-11).  The psalm referred to the incident of “rebellion” when the Israelites “provoked” the Lord (Strong’s #4894, 191) and “tested” Him.  They “challenged him to prove Himself” (Strong’s #3986, 196).  Because of the people’s contempt and Moses’ disobedience, God vowed that Moses would not bring the people into the Promised Land (Numbers 20:12). Entering into God’s Rest…

To Love Christ’s Appearing (Sun, Jan 2)

The word of the day is “love.”  Today’s reading prompts us to consider what is our ultimate hope in life and death.  In 2 Timothy 4:5-9, St. Paul says, “Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (vs. 9). Poured Out as a Drink Offering Paul believes that his death is near.  “For I am already,” he says, “being poured out as a drink offering” (vs. 4:6).  The Mosaic Law required that “libations” (“drink offerings”) accompany the daily burnt offerings, the Sabbath offerings, the monthly offerings, the Passover offering, and the…

All Physical Things Are God’s Creation (Sat. Jan. 1)

The word of the day is “creature.”  As we begin a new secular year, we might consider the nature of the material world in which we live.  Yes, we live in the hope of a “better country,” our eternal inheritance.  But the material world, though subject to corruption, is not evil.  In our reading of 1 Timothy 3:14-4:5, St. Paul writes, “For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving.  For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer” (vs. 4). The Law of Moses divided food and drink into qualities of “clean” and “unclean” as if they were intrinsically good or bad.  But the Lord said, “Not…

The Cultivation of Virtue (Fri. Dec. 31, 2021)

The word of the day is “virtue.”  In today’s reading of Titus 1:15-2:10, St. Paul gives instructions about the virtues that Timothy should teach his flock.  Paul gives special counsel for different groups in the congregation: older men and older women, younger women and younger men, and bondservants. A Pattern of Good Works But the young Bishop himself should be “a pattern of good works in doctrine, showing integrity, reverence and incorruptibility” (vs. 2: 7) (Strong’s #5179, 254).  The Greek word that The Orthodox Study Bible translates as “pattern” comes from the idea of “stamping with a blow.”  What is struck by the die is a copy of the original (Strong’s #5179, 254).  As such a stamp, Timothy should “show…

To the Pure, All Things Are Pure (Thurs. Dec. 30)

The word of the day is “pure.”  Today with the reading of Titus 1:5-2:1, we begin the reading of Paul’s letter to one of his most trusted co-workers, Titus.  In about 63 AD, Paul had appointed this Gentle Christian to oversee the mission in Crete.  It was a challenging ministry because the church was young and susceptible to smooth talkers who were already deceiving whole households of church members (vs. 11). In our reading, Paul instructs Titus to censure these false teachers because they are “abominable,” that is, “detestable” (Strong’s #947, 53), “disobedient,” and “unqualified for every good work” (Strong’s #96, 6) (Titus 1:16).  Moreover, their motives are “dishonest,” that is “shameful” (Strong’s #150, 9) (Titus 1:11). The Commandments of…