The Washing of Regeneration (Wed. Jan. 6)

Christ is baptized! The word of the day is “saved.”  On this Great Feast of Theophany, we note 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 verse 4 that the word “saved” is not a verb in the Greek text. It is a noun.  The passage reads that the Lord…

Bringing Others to Christ Across Cultural Divides (Tues. Jan. 5)

The word of the day is “became.”  What lengths would we go to bring others to Christ?   In our reading of 1 Corinthians 9:19-27, Paul says, “For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant of all that I might win the more” (vs. 19). Think of the distances that St. Paul traveled to bring the Gospel to the world of the Roman Empire. The apostle embarked on three great missionary journeys covering over ten thousand miles.  On these trips, he encountered constant hazards.  On land, he was vulnerable to robbers, hungry, thirsty, sleepless, weary, cold, and in danger of attack from both Jew and Gentiles (vs. 26-28).   And at sea, he was shipwrecked three…

Hope Motivates and Directs Our Lives (Mon. Jan 4)

The word of the day is “faith.”  In today’s reading of Hebrews 11:17-23, 27-31, we see the power of faith to bring our hope near to us so that it informs and shapes our lives.   In the preceding verse, we find that Paul speaks of the hope for a “better, that is, a heavenly country… a city prepared for the faithful (vs. Hebrews 11:16).  All the examples of faith that follow are instances that depend on and move that hope closer to its realization. Faith Moves Hope Forward For example, Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac (vs. 17)  looked forward to the sacrifices of God’s only Son.  The blessing of Jacob and Isaac concerned the “things to come’ (20).  The blessing of…

To Love His Appearing (Sun. Jan. 3)

The word of the day is “love.” Today’s reading allows us to consider what is our primary 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). 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 Paschal offering, and the Feast of Weeks offerings (Number…

All Physical Things are God’s Creation (Sat. Jan. 2)

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…

A Better and Heavenly Country (Fri., Jan.1)

Blessed Feast! The word of the day is “country.”  As we begin a new secular year, hardly anyone of us would like to go back to the difficulties of the past year.  We cling to the hope of a better year ahead.  This is in keeping with our reading of Hebrews 11:8, 11-16.   The apostle writes about those who spend their entire lives in hope. He says, “but now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them (vs. 16). Our reading begins with Abraham’s call to leave his homeland “to go out to the place where he would receive his inheritance”…

Hang Onto the Shield of Faith (Thurs. Dec. 31)

The word of the day is “confidence.”  In times of trial, what do we need to endure?  Our reading of Hebrews 10:35-11:17 answers, “Therefore, do not cast away your confidence which has a great reward” (vs. 35). The Greek word that is translated as “confidence” is derived from the term for outspoken speech. From this, we get the thought of “boldness” (Strong’s #3954, 194).  Such assurance will see us through the ordeals that we face until we receive the reward of our determination. Do Not Cast Away Our Shield By all means, the apostle teaches that we must never “cast away” our confidence.  The author may have been thinking of the shield that soldiers in Greece and Rome carried into…

The End of Sacrifices for Sin (Wed. Dec. 30)

The word of the day is “sacrifice.” In today’s reading of Hebrews 10:1-18, the apostle announces the end of sacrifices for sin. He writes, “For by one offering He [Christ]  has perfected forever those who are being sanctified” (vs. 14). Therefore, there is no longer any need for more offerings for sin.  All that is necessary for our redemption has been fulfilled. A One-Time Offering The apostle argues at length that the sacrifices of the Old Testament were ineffective because they had to be repeated again and again (vs. 11).  But Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was “once and for all” (10).  The proof of its efficacy was that Christ “sat down at the right hand of God” after He…

The Mediator of a New Covenant (Tues, Dec. 29)

The word of the day is “mediator.”  In our reading from Hebrews 9:8-10; 15-23, the apostle explains how Jesus Christ established the new covenant that promises our eternal inheritance.  Paul writes, “He is the Mediator of the new covenant by means of death…. That those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance” (vs. 15). St. John Chrysostom explains, “A mediator is not lord of the thing of which he is mediator, but the thing belongs to one person, and the mediator is another: for instance, the mediator of a marriage is not the bridegroom, but one who aids him who is about to be married” (NpFp1: 13). But what are the parties to the mediation of…

To Know Christ For Ourselves (Mon. Dec. 28)

Christ is born!  Glorify Him! The word of the day is “know.”  In our reading of Hebrews 8:7-15, the apostle refers to the new covenant that makes the old covenant between God and His Chosen People obsolete.   The people had broken the laws of the old covenant, which was written on stone.  But the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:31-34)   had promised that God would make a new covenant (vs. 9) that would be written on the heart (vs. 10).  In that new relationship with God, no one would need to be taught to know the Lord.  All would know him, from the youngest to the oldest (vs. 11).  And in knowing Him, everyone would know His will and ways.  His laws…