Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015, has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24
Good morning Prayer Team!
Are you a glass half full person, or a glass half empty person? Do you approach things with an optimistic view or a pessimistic view? Do you see the good in people, or their shortcomings? Are you easy to forgive, or do you hold grudges? And how do you think God would answer these questions?
I believe that God created us for good. Genesis 1:27 tells us “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him.” And James 1:17 tells us “Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from Above, coming down from the Father of Lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” So, if God made us like Him, and every good and perfect gift is from Him, then God, as a loving God, is also a positive God. If He tells us to forgive even to seventy times seven, then He is seeing the good in us, the possibility of reconciliation even after a lot has gone wrong in a relationship. I would think that God sees the glass half-full in us, rather than half-empty. He created us with an optimistic and hopeful view for us. Even when we disobeyed His commandments, He still sent Jesus Christ to save us-that’s optimism. When we read in John 3:16 that “God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life,” He was counting, optimistically, that people WOULD believe. And if He is telling us to forgive one another, then He is seeing the good in people. The word “forgive” appears well over 100 times in the Bible. Nowhere does the Bible tell us to hold a grudge.
In the Psalm quoted above, that verse is sung at the Orthros (or morning prayer service) every day. It is a reminder that today is a gift from God-He made the day. He made the sun to rise. He extended our life by one more day. And so we should rejoice and be glad for the day, we should rejoice in its possibilities. We should be thankful for its opportunities. We should be joyful and grateful to God for every day that He gives us. For the days are not trophies to be earned, or entitlements to be received. They are gifts to be enjoyed, and to be enjoyed with a grateful heart.
So, as you begin your day today, think joyful thoughts, think grateful thoughts. Rejoice in the day and its possibilities. If you know you are going to have a long and difficult day, begin the day by thanking God for the day itself. And ask Him to walk with you throughout this day, to guide your decisions, to give you patience, wisdom and peace. Embrace the day, and everyone you encounter in it, with gladness. Make sure that you thank God for the day today, and make it a point to say thank you to at least one person today for what they mean in your life. And think optimistically about yourself and your life, your talents and your possibilities. If the professional baseball player thinks when he throws the ball that it might not get to where it is supposed to go, it most likely won’t get to that place. When he thinks negatively, then what he thinks becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. But when he thinks optimistically, usually he is successful. When you play not to lose, you always lose. But when you play to win, you generally win more than you lose, though you still lose sometimes. So, play to win today, but do so with humility and with gratitude. Allow your confidence and strength to come from the Lord, and let Him guide you, work with Him to have a winning day today.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of today. Help me to embrace all the people and all the possibilities that I will meet this day. Give me confidence. Allow me to labor for Your glory. May my successes bring glory to You. And may I learn through whatever things I may fail at, so that I may continue to grow is wisdom and in stature, but most importantly, may I continue to grow in my faith in some small way today. Thank You for the people who surround me and who support me. Help me be a good support to them as well. Amen.
Have a winning day!
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The Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) is an official agency of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops. OCN offers videos, podcasts, blogs and music, to enhance Orthodox Christian life. The Prayer Team is a daily devotion written by Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis, the parish priest at St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, Florida. Devotions include a verse from scripture, a commentary from Fr. Stavros, and a short prayer that he writes to match the topic.
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