Archive for 2011

Daily Advent Reflections

December 23rd, 2011    |    No Comments »

“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his.” —Hebrews 4: 9-10

In the creation story described in the book of Genesis, the Sabbath is identified as the day of rest. After creating earth and all living beings and creatures for six days, God rested on the seventh, naming it the Holy Sabbath – for Christians, Sunday. This passage not only reminds us that God is the creator of all of life, but asks us to be true people of God by resting in him on Sunday. Just as God rested for one day, we too should take the time to enter into a day of rest, rejuvenating our mind, body, and soul through prayer and worship.

Does your behavior on Sunday’s honor God?

Activity: Devote your Sunday to a day of rest. Your work and responsibilities during the week should be put on hold until the next day.

Daily Advent Reflections

December 22nd, 2011    |    No Comments »

“This is my command: Love one another.” — John 15: 17

This past July, the world bore witness to an evil act of terror within the country of Norway. Setting off a bomb in government offices in the heart of Norway’s capital followed by a shooting spree at a summer camp on Utoya Island, a 23 year-old man ended the lives of almost 90 young men and women. This self-described “Christian” justified his murders by claiming he was ridding Europe of non-Christians. He disgraced God and the entire fellowship of believers by giving himself that name. Hatred and murder could never find a place in a Christian heart.

This short but powerful verse from the Gospel of John declares God’s command for every human being to love others. Despite the many differences we may have, finding the compassion to love and understand one another is God’s first and most important rule. In fact, in many places in the Gospels, Jesus reminds us that all of faith in him can be summarized in this simple word. Love.

Are you living by God’s greatest command?

Activity: Think of how you treat others. Pray to God for forgiveness for any hatred you have felt towards anyone and ask for the strength to embrace others with love.

Daily Advent Reflections

December 21st, 2011    |    No Comments »

“We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.” —Hebrews 2:1

Since being in college, I have found it difficult to maintain my relationship with God. I am no longer home to attend church every Sunday and with all of the distractions college brings it is hard to stay connected with the Lord. This verse is a good reminder, however, that as long as I keep God’s teachings close to heart, I will not drift from him even if I cannot attend church.

In this very secularized world, it is easy for individuals to stray from the path God wants us to follow. However, if we think often of what we have learned and heard, we can override temptation and remain close to Him.

Is there something in your life that makes you more vulnerable to drifting from God?

Activity: The next time you feel yourself drifting from God, read attentively for 15 minutes from one of the Gospels and reflect on the reading.

Daily Advent Reflections

December 20th, 2011    |    No Comments »

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” —Hebrews 12:1-2

Maintaining faith in our Lord is a matter of persistence and can be compared to a marathon race. Marathons are not about how fast an individual can run, but the endurance one possesses to travel an extended distance. Faith calls for the same kind of endurance.

Throughout our life journey, as in a marathon, there will be moments where we will feel like giving up; but looking to Jesus will help us persevere. The cloud of witnesses refers to all the saints who have already completed the race and are vivid examples of what we, too, can achieve. What is the goal of this “faith” marathon? Jesus! And fixing our eyes on the goal can help us reach it.

What does perseverance in faith mean to you?

Activity: Google St. Nicholas, the “real” Santa Claus. What qualities of his would you want to emulate?

Daily Advent Reflections

December 19th, 2011    |    No Comments »

“Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls…” —Jeremiah 6: 16

Sometimes in life we find ourselves standing at a crossroads not knowing which direction to take. The options are extensive and choosing the correct path may seem next to impossible because there are so many unknowns lying ahead. This passage asks us to reflect on “the ancient paths” – the guidance of tradition, the church, and respected elders. At such times, we’re advised to embrace God for insight into the good ways. We do not have to pick blindly, but let God help us to see where he is guiding us.

When in your life have you turned to God for guidance?

Activity: Before making the next important decision in you life, take some time to not only think with your head, but with your Christian heart, and God will surely lead you in the right direction.

Daily Advent Reflections

December 18th, 2011    |    No Comments »

“He replied, ‘If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you’.” —Luke 17: 6

Having faith means believing and trusting in something you cannot physically see. As a Christian, I have faith in God and the mission he has for all of us here on earth even though he is not physically present. These verses tell us how powerful faith can be, no matter the amount. Having faith, even as small as a mustard seed, can help make the impossible possible.

How has your faith surprised you?

Activity: Think of something that is troubling you right now. Let your faith in God lead you to a solution, even if it simply letting go of something you cannot control.

Daily Advent Reflections

December 17th, 2011    |    No Comments »

“Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” —Hebrews 13:17

The clergy in the Armenian Church have been a great source of guidance for me throughout life’s journey. Observing their strong faith, love for God, and paths through life have made me a better Christian by following their example, and I believe this passage really speaks to what I have experienced.

At a young age we are always very impressionable and look to those older than we are for guidance and direction. When it comes to faith and learning the Word of God, the leaders of the Armenian Church are a great resource – whether it’s a Sunday School teacher, pastor, a parish lay leader, or Diocesan bishop. These are the people who are committed to living out their faith daily and challenge all of us to do the same.

Do you study and learn from the spiritual leaders in your life?

Activity: Think of specific people in the church who stand out as examples of deep faith and service.. Give thanks for them and keep them in your prayers.

Daily Advent Reflections

December 16th, 2011    |    No Comments »

“I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” — Luke 15: 7

Although as Christians we try to live according to God’s will, imperfection lies within each of us. We share an unfortunate tendency to sin, as symbolized by Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden. Jesus tells us in these verses that, even so, God will joyously celebrate when sinners ask him to forgive their sins. When we act righteously, we are already doing the right thing. But when we do sinful things and repent, God rejoices because we have understood that what we did was wrong and needs to be set right.

Do you sincerely repent after committing a sin?

Activity: Own up to the mistakes you make in any area of your life. Learn from them, make amends where possible, and move on.

Daily Advent Reflections

December 15th, 2011    |    No Comments »

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”  —Romans 5: 3-4

When my father lost his older brother several years ago, my heart filled with anguish not only for my father, but for my grandparents who had to witness the passing of their child. It was a time filled with tears, frustration, anger, and sadness, and at the time it seemed impossible for hearts to mend from the loss of my uncle. It was a challenge for everyone in my family to deal with, but as time went on the pain started to dissolve and the experience strengthened each one of us. This Romans passage reminds me of my family’s suffering and how much stronger we all came out on the other side.

Although life will be filled with exciting and joyous moments, suffering will also be part of the journey. When immersed in painful experiences, whatever they may be, it is hard to see the end of grief, but it is those moments of suffering which truly shape our character and allow us to emerge on the other side as stronger individuals.

Have you ever felt stronger after a period of suffering?

Activity: Think of some tough times you have been through, and instead of wishing they didn’t happen, embrace the experiences and reflect on what you have learned from them.

Daily Advent Reflections

December 14th, 2011    |    No Comments »

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” — Luke 14:26-27

Making Christ a priority above all else is the first step towards being his true disciple. We might worship him on Sunday and read the Bible and learn about him, but it is only by taking up his cross that we can follow in his path. In this passage, Christ emphasizes this point with an extreme example: that all those we love – even ourselves! -  come second to discipleship. It’s a matter of giving him our all; when we do, we discover life’s deepest meaning.

Following Christ requires a great deal of sacrifice and if we do not give him everything we are and everything we have — attitudes, motivations, decisions, actions — then we fall short of being a disciple.

In what ways do you carry a cross?

Activity: List specific behaviors that mark you as Jesus’ disciple. If you can’t think of any, list five you can begin to practice.