Glorified in the Saints and In Us (Tues. Dec. 7)

Once again, the word of the day is “glorified.”  In our reading of 2 Thessalonians 1:10-2:2, St. Paul writes that he prays constantly for his congregation as they face nameless trials.  His  concern is not on what the Thessalonians should do to prevail in their troubles.  His focus is on God’s work in the faithful.  Thus, he prays “that the name of Christ may be glorified in you and you in Him according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (vs. 12). Note that in yesterday’s reading Paul has just promised that when Christ returns in glory, he will be “glorified in his saints” (vs. 10).  But now the apostle applies that thought to those all…

Subtlety and Simplicity: a Study of Two Eves (Sat. Dec. 4)

The word for the day is “simplicity.”  In our reading of 2 Cor. 11:1-6, St. Paul expresses his concern about the false preachers in Corinth.  He worries that their subtle arguments will deceive his flock.  He writes, “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ (vs. 3). Paul here is contrasting two states of mind, the condition of being deceived versus the state of simplicity.  He refers to Eve who is the prime example of one the devil deceives by trickery.  But as Orthodox, we recall a counterexample in the Virgin Mary.  The book of Genesis says that Adam named his wife,…

Hearts Blameless at the Coming of Christ (Tues. Nov. 30)

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 saints” …

Religiosity: False and True (Tues. Nov. 16)

The word of the day is “false.”  In our reading of Colossians 2:20-3:3, Paul continues to warn against the false religiosity of teachers who are leading the congregation at Colossae away from the freedom of the Gospel. In today’s passage, we read, “Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourself to regulations…”  (vs. 20). “Very Religious” With False Piety In their ignorance of God, humans have devised all sorts of false piety .  Speaking to the philosophers in Athens, Paul noted the variety of altars to the gods on the Areopagus.”  To him, these shrines were signs that the Athenians were “very religious” (Acts 17:22).…

Walking Not According to the Flesh but in the Freedom of the Spirit (Wed. July 7)

The word of the day is “free.”  Yesterday’s comment left Paul in a spiritual impasse.  In our reading, St. Paul described two contending inclinations.  These seemed to cancel each other out.  Indeed,  for those who strive to be “accounted righteous” by their own powers, they do nullify each other.  In this state of spiritual paralysis between these two impulses, Paul cried out, “Who will deliver me from this body of death” (OSB Romans 7:24),  this state of the natural inclination to sin? Today, in our reading of Romans 8:2-13, we hear the answer of grace.  The apostle writes, “For the law of the Spirit of life has set me free from the law of sin and death” (OSB vs. 2).…

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…

Contentment: a Form of Faith (Wed. Dec. 9)

The word of the day is “contentment.”  In our reading of 1 Timothy 5:22-6:11, St. Paul continues to instruct the young Bishop Timothy on establishing order in his congregation.  Paul especially denounces the troublemakers who think they can earn material benefit from their godliness.  Paul says that indeed, “Godliness with contentment is great gain” (vs. 6:5).  But it is not the profit that the agitators in Ephesus think it is. The word “gain” in the original Greek comes from the thought of providing for oneself.  (Strong’s #4200). Thus, it refers to the means of acquiring or gaining possession of something, such as money.  Paul charges that the congregation’s troublemakers believe that they can profit from their godliness, supposed piety, and…

Glorified in the Saints and In Us (Tues. Nov. 24)

Once again, the word of the day is “glorified.”  In our reading of 2 Thessalonians 1:10-2:2, St. Paul writes that he prays constantly for his congregation as they face certain trials that he does not name.  His  concern is not on what the Thessalonians should do to prevail in their troubles. His focus is on God’s work in them.  Thus, he prays “that the name of Christ may be glorified in you and you in Him according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (vs. 12). Paul has just promised that when Christ returns in glory, he will be “glorified in his saints” (vs. 10).  But now he applies that thought to those all who believe…

Hearts Blameless at the Coming of Christ (Tues. Nov. 17)

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 saints”…

To Gain Christ (Fri. Oct. 23)

The word of the day is “gain.”   In our reading of Philippians 3:8-19, St. Paul states, “Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ…” (3:8). But this lofty statement begins in the middle of the Apostle’s thought. Paul has railed against the Judaizers who are promoting circumcision to bind believers to the Mosaic Law.  Like them, he says he once entrusted his salvation to his circumcision and obedience to the Law of Moses. He lists his credentials as a “Hebrew of the Hebrews,” a Pharisee who excelled in the…