Daily devotional

Dr. David Jeremiah sends out a “Turning Point” daily devotional from from his website. Here’s the one for today:

In the book of Philippians, the apostle Paul said, “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord” (3:1). He also wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (4:4) These are the only times that phrase occurs in the New Testament. Paul, who loved his “books” and “parchments” was quoting from the prayer of an Old Testament hero—Hannah. In 1 Samuel 1, Hannah was distraught beyond comfort, being tormented by her circumstances. Going to the tabernacle in Shiloh, Hannah earnestly prayed over her situation, and God graciously answered. In chapter 2, she composed a rich hymn of thanksgiving, which began with the words Paul later used to encourage the Philippians: “Rejoice in the Lord.”

Hannah teaches us that our expressions of joyful thanksgiving reverberate through history. When we exhibit a thankful attitude, it’s transmitted to others; through them it reaches even more people. Our attitudes are passed down through the generations. If we’re angry or depressed or sullen or anxious, our children will absorb those attitudes. But when we approach life with a joyful spirit of thanksgiving, it leaves a lasting legacy.

So rejoice in the Lord always. And again I say: Rejoice!

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If you want to subscribe to Turning Point – go to David Jeremiah’s Website to sign up.

 

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Church and Disney

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Arroyo City News is on vacation at Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL.

Tomorrow is Sunday and we searched for a convenient church service we could attend. There is not a single service held anywhere on the Disney property. The 164,513 guests (2017 daily average) that will visit the parks tomorrow will be deprived of the choice to attend a service unless they look elsewhere. We conclude that if Disney could somehow charge for attending services, there would be numerous venues throughout the parks. Shame on you Disney.

In contrast, Holland America cruise line offers their passengers daily mass, non-denominational service on Sundays and Shabad on Friday night. Some companies do it right.

 

Pentecost

Tomorrow, May 27, is the Orthodox Feast of Holy Pentecost, celebrated each year on the fiftieth day after the Great and Holy Feast of Pascha (Easter) and ten days after the Feast of the Ascension of Christ.

The Feast commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles on the day of Pentecost. It also celebrates the establishment of the Church through the preaching of the Apostles and the baptism of the thousands who on that day believed in the Gospel message of salvation through Jesus Christ. The Feast is also seen as the culmination of the revelation of the Holy Trinity.

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Prayer of the Holy Spirit:

Heavenly King, Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, everywhere present and filling all things, Treasury of blessings and Giver of life: come and abide in us, cleanse us from every impurity and save our souls, O Good One.

Apolytikion:

Blessed are You, O Christ our God, who made fisherman all-wise, by sending down upon them the Holy Spirit, and through them, drawing all the world into Your net. O Loving One, glory be to You.

Kontakion:

When the Most High came down and confounded tongues of men at Babel, He divided the nations. When He dispensed the tongues of fire, He called all to unity, and with one voice we glorify the Most Holy Spirit.

The story of Pentecost is found in the book of The Acts of the Apostles. In Chapter two we are told that the Apostles of our Lord were gathered together in one place. Suddenly, a sound came from heaven like a rushing wind, filling the entire house where they were sitting. Then, tongues of fire appeared, and one sat upon each one of Apostles. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as directed by the Spirit (Acts 2:1-4).

This miraculous event occurred on the Jewish Feast of Pentecost, celebrated by the Jews on the fiftieth day after the Passover as the culmination of the Feast of Weeks (Exodus 34:22; Deuteronomy 16:10). The Feast of Weeks began on the third day after the Passover with the presentation of the first harvest sheaves to God, and it concluded on Pentecost with the offering of two loaves of unleavened bread, representing the first products of the harvest (Leviticus 23:17-20; Deuteronomy 16:9-10).

Since the Jewish Feast of Pentecost was a great pilgrimage feast, many people from throughout the Roman Empire were gathered in Jerusalem on this day. When the people in Jerusalem heard the sound, they came together and heard their own languages being spoken by the Apostles (Acts 2:5-6). The people were amazed, knowing that some of those speaking were Galileans, and not men who would normally speak many different languages. They wondered what this meant, and some even thought the Apostles were drunk (Acts 2:7-13).

Peter, hearing these remarks, stood up and addressed the crowd. He preached to the people regarding the Old Testament prophecies about the coming of the Holy Spirit. He spoke about Jesus Christ and His death and glorious Resurrection. Great conviction fell upon the people, and they asked the Apostles, “What shall we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38-39).

The Bible records that on that day about three thousand were baptized. Following, the book of Acts states that the newly baptized continued daily to hear the teaching of the Apostles, as the early Christians met together for fellowship, the breaking of bread, and for prayer. Many wonderful signs and miracles were done through the Apostles, and the Lord added to the Church daily those who were being saved (Acts 2:42-47).

Commemoration of the Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council at Nicaea

1stHOLYFATHERSToday Orthodox Christians around the world commemorate the Fathers of the Council of Nicaea. The Lord Jesus Christ left the Church a great promise, “I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Mt. 16:18). Although the Church will pass through difficult struggles, it will emerge victorious. The early persecution of Christians ceased during the fourth century, but heresies arose within the Church itself. One of the most pernicious of these heresies was Arianism. Arius, a native of Libya and a priest of Alexandria, was a man of immense pride and ambition. He denied the divine nature of Jesus Christ and His equality with God the Father and falsely taught that the Savior is not consubstantial with the Father, but is only a created being.

A local Council, convened with Patriarch Alexander of Alexandria presiding, condemned these false teachings. However, Arius would not submit to the authority of the Church. He wrote to many bishops, denouncing the decrees of the local Council. He spread his false teaching throughout the East, receiving support from certain Eastern bishops.

Investigating these dissentions, the holy emperor Constantine consulted Bishop Hosius of Cordova, who assured him that the heresy of Arius was directed against the most fundamental dogma of Christ’s Church. He decided to convene an Ecumenical Council in the year 325. 318 bishops representing Christian Churches from various lands gathered together at Nicaea in Bithynia. The emperor Constantine presided over the sessions of the Council. In his speech, responding to the welcome by Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea, he said, “God has helped me cast down the impious might of the persecutors, but more distressful for me than any blood spilled in battle is for a soldier, is the internal strife in the Church of God, for it is more ruinous.” Arius, with seventeen bishops among his supporters, remained arrogant, but his teaching was repudiated and he was excommunicated from the Church.

At the council, the Fathers affirmed the Orthodox Symbol of Faith (Creed). Saint Constantine asked the Council to insert into the text of the Symbol of Faith the word “consubstantial,” which he had heard in the speeches of the bishops. The Fathers of the Council unanimously accepted this suggestion. In the Nicaean Creed, the holy Fathers set forth and confirmed the Apostolic teachings about Christ’s divine nature. The heresy of Arius was exposed and repudiated. After resolving this chief dogmatic question, the Council also decided the date for the celebration of Holy Pascha (Easter). They decided Holy Pascha should not be celebrated by Christians on the same day with the Jewish Passover, but on the first Sunday after the first full moon of the vernal equinox (which occurred on March 22 in 325).

The Annunciation

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” 29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”            Luke 1:26-28

Today we in the Orthodox world celebrate the feast of the Annunciation of Mary the Mother of God. This is one of the major feasts in the church and is celebrated with akathists and a special divine liturgy. The Greek for Mary, the mother of Jesus, is “Theotokos” which is literally translated as “God bearer”. Mary is especially revered since she gave birth to God in the form of Jesus. From His conception He was destined to be crucified to die for us, taking all our sin with Him. In the “Hail Mary” Roman Catholics also give special reverence to Mary – “have mercy on us sinners now and the hour of our death”.

 

 

Billy Graham – RIP

Today the world lost one of the most influential modern Christians. Billy Graham moved to the eternal kingdom at the age of 99 after a lifetime of service to the Christian world. May his memory be eternal.

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“We are to pray in times of adversity,
lest we become faithless and unbelieving.
We are to pray in times of prosperity,
lest we become boastful and proud.
We are to pray in times of danger,
lest we become fearful and doubting.
We are to pray in times of security,
lest we become self-sufficient.”

Merry Christmas

No one knows the real birthday of Jesus. No date is given in the Bible and there is no definitive reason for celebrating His birthday on the 25th December. The early Christians had many arguments as to when it should be celebrated but the first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated on December 25th was in 336, during the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine (he was the first Christian Roman Emperor). A few years later, Pope Julius I officially declared that the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on the 25th December. We have kept the date ever since.

So, it being December 25th today, we wish everyone a merry Christmas and pray for blessings, peace and joy for all. May God guide us through the many evils that surround us in this world and lead us to salvation through His Son, Christ Jesus.

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