The Slavery of License and the Freedom of Being God’s Own (Tues. August 3)

The word of the day is “God’s.”  In our study of Romans, we learned that Paul proclaimed freedom from the Mosaic Law.  But does that freedom mean license to do whatever one pleases?  Today in our reading of 1 Corinthians 6:20-7:12, St. Paul discusses various cases of sexual relations.  Upholding the principle of genuine freedom, the apostle states, “For you were bought at a price; therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s (OSB 1 Cor. 6:20).  Today, we will explore the difference between the slavery of license and the freedom of Christian liberty. The Roman statesman Cicero (+43 BC) wrote, “Maritime cities also suffer a certain corruption and degeneration of morals; for they receive a mixture…

What Belongs in the Church and What Must be Kept Outside (Mon. August 2)

The word for the day is “outside.”  Today’s society presents us with a choice:  either prejudice or toleration.  To avoid prejudice, is our only option to accept anything or anyone as part of our fellowship?  In our reading of 1 Corinthians 5:9-6:11, Paul teaches that we must draw a line between who and what are “inside” and “outside the church.”  Paul says, “I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people.  Yet I certainly did not mean sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters since then you would need to go out of this world” (OSB vs. 9-10). Today we will review the cases that reveal the…

How We Use the Gifts of the Spirit Is as Important as What We Do (Sun. August 1)

The word for the day is “with.”  As long as the job is done, does it matter how we do it?  Does our attitude make a difference?  If we give to someone hungry but do it with condescension, doesn’t the person still get fed?  And if we provide an offering grudgingly, doesn’t the church still use the money for good? In today’s reading of Romans 12:6-14, Paul lists the “grace-gifts” the Holy Spirit distributes among church members.  He states, “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given us, let us use them” (Romans 12:6).  Today we will discover that the apostle does not only urge that the faithful put the Holy Spirit’s gifts to work for ministry.  But he…

Loving God and Our Neighbor to the Limit (Sat. July 31)

The word for the day is “sorrow.”  How far can love go?  What are its limits? St. Porphyrios wrote, “He who loves little, gives little.  He who loves more gives more, and he who loves beyond measure what has he to give? He gives himself” (Porphyrios 2005, 96). In our reading of Romans 9:1-5, Paul expresses the extent of his love for his fellow Jews.  He says, “I have great sorry and continual grief in my heart.  For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh” (OSB vs. 2-3).  Today we probe into this depth of love for others, and it inspires us also to seek to love to…

Replacing Pride with Humility and Gratitude (Fri. July 30)

The word of the day is “received.”  It takes the spiritual gift of discernment to recognize the difference between what comes from our own ego and what comes from the Spirit of Christ.  What originates in our ego comes from our own pride.  But we receive what is of Christ.  We can only accept it with humility and gratitude as a gift.  In today’s study, we will learn that this attitude will enable us to set aside the pride that is so divisive and attain the peace of contentment with what God gives. In our reading of 1 Cor. 4:5-8, St. Paul sternly rebukes the boasting of the Corinthians.  Their judgments of each other are driving a wedge between them.…

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…