Hearts Blameless at the Coming of Christ (Tues. Nov. 22)

The word of the day is “blameless.”  In our reading of 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13, St. Paul prays that God would enable his congregation at Thessalonica to grow in their love for one another.  He writes, “And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you” (vs. 12).  He adds the prayer that the result of this growth would be that God may “establish their hearts, blameless in holiness…” (vs. 13) . To be found without fault before God is the goal that our reading suggests as we begin our Nativity Fast.  We are setting our sights on the “coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all the…

The First and Second Appearing of the Lord (Mon. Nov. 21)

The word of the day is “coming.”  In our reading of 1 Thessalonians 2:20-3:8, St. Paul expresses his affection for his congregation at Thessalonica.  The Apostles writes, “For you are our glory and joy” (vs. 20).  However, Paul is concluding the thought of the preceding sentence, “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing?  Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?  For you are our glory and joy” (vs. 19-20). The Royal Visit of a King Paul is thinking of the “coming” of the Lord Jesus Christ, using the Greek word “parousia.”  This technical term refers to the royal visit of a king.  It is derived from the thought…

The Possibility of “Good Works” (Sun. Nov. 20)

The word of the day is “works.”  In today’s reading of Ephesians 2:4-10, St. Paul proclaims the works of God’s grace on behalf of those whom He has chosen for salvation.  The Apostle has already recounted the mighty works of God, who raised the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead and seated him at His right hand.  Paul has already revealed that the Almighty has put all things under the rule of Christ, who now is Head of His Body, the Church (Eph. 1:19-23). The Mighty Works of God for the Faithful But now St. Paul rejoices in the works of God that apply to the members of the Body of Christ.  We note that he describes them in terms…

Joy Overflowing in Generosity (Sat. Nov. 19)

The word of the day is “ joy.”  In our reading of 2 Corinthians 8:1-5, St. Paul holds up the Macedonians as examples of generous giving.  The Apostle boasts that despite their abject poverty, they begged Paul for the favor of receiving their gift for the poor in Jerusalem.  He states, “Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality” (vs. 1-2). Single-minded in Sharing Thus, Paul intends to impress his readers with the “liberality” of the Macedonians.  The word is derived from the thought of singleness of purpose.…

Overcoming Hindrances with Patience (Fri. Nov. 18)

The word of the day is “hindered.”  In our reading of 1 Thessalonians 2:14-19, St. Paul speaks of the hindrances that restrained Paul’s work among the Gentiles of this important port city.  Yet, despite these obstacles, Paul gives thanks to God for their enthusiastic reception of the Gospel.  And he assures them that they are with him in his heart and that he desires to see them face to face (vs. 17.) Hindered from Reach the Gentiles In our reading, Paul speaks of the frustrating roadblocks to his plans, both human and supernatural.  First, there was the opposition of the Judaizers who insisted on the circumcision of Gentile believers.  Paul writes that the Thessalonians had suffered persecution just as the…

Three Essential Elements of Gospel Proclamation (Thurs. Nov. 17)

The word of the day is “father.”  In our reading of 1 Thessalonians 2:9-16, St. Paul breaks down the task of Gospel proclamation into three categories.  The Apostles writes, “…you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children” (vs. 11).  By studying the original Greek terms for these activities, we can better understand what the preaching and hearing of the gospel entail. In our English OSB translation, Paul begins his profile of preaching by saying how he “exhorted” the Thessalonians.  The Greek term is derived from the idea of “calling near.”  The gospel proclamation thus “invites” and “intreats” its hearers to give heed to the message and respond to…

The Gospel Delivered With Affection (Wed. Nov. 16)

The word of the day is “ lives.”  In our reading of 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8, St. Paul discloses that he earnestly desired to give something more than the Gospel to the Thessalonians. He writes, “So affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you, not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us” (vs. 8). Motivations for Gospel Proclamation Paul refers to many motives for preaching the Gospel:  to please others (vs. 4); to satisfy covetousness, that is “greediness”(Strong/s #4124, 203); and to earn glory, that is, good opinion, praise, and honor (Strong’s #1392, 72).   Indeed, Paul recognizes that some proclaim Christ because they are envious of the…

Waiting with Eager Longing (Tues. Nov. 15)

The word of the day is “wait.”  In our reading of 1 Thessalonians 1: 6-10, St. Paul recalls that the Thessalonians had received the Gospel with joy as well as trials. The Apostle thanks God that the Thessalonians have turned from idolatry to the worship of God. And they have learned “to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead…” (vs. 10). The virtue of waiting is a predominant theme in this Epistle. Here at the beginning of his letter, the Apostle refers to the expectation of the return of Christ. And at the end of the Epistle, St. Paul prays that “your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our…

Five Marks of Effective Preaching (Mon. Nov. 14)

The word of the day is “power.”  Today we read 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5.  This passage begins the first epistle of Paul that is included in the New Testament.  Paul established the congregation at the important seaport of Thessalonica on his second missionary journey.  According to the Orthodox Study Bible, he wrote this letter from Corinth in 50 or 51 AD, about six months after he had organized the church. Paul indicates that the work of building the church in Thessalonica had been exceptionally successful.  He writes, “For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your…

What Matters Is a New Creation (Sun. Nov. 13)

The word of the day is “new.”  In our reading of Galatians 6:11-18, St. Paul dismisses both “circumcision” that would identify one as a Jew and “uncircumcision” that would identify one as a Gentile.  He writes, “ For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation” (vs. 15).  Various versions read that neither one of these marks of identity “avails for nothing” (NKJV), “means anything” (Berean Bible), “counts for anything” (NET Bible), or “is of any importance” (Weymouth New Testament) or “matters” (Good News Translation). What Matters Yet the Greek term assigns even less significance to these outward signs.  The original language says that neither “circumcision” nor “uncircumcision”  “is” anything (vs. 15).  The only thing…