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” and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.”
Listen Now. We will now be including the daily reading of Epistle and Gospel with The Prayer Team.
ENGAGED: The Call to Be Disciples
Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. Matthew 28:19-20
The Benefits of Being a Disciple—Rewards You Can Reap Today—Part Sixteen
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14
Good morning Prayer Team!
Christ is Risen!
Goals without plans are fantasies. They don’t happen.
Suppose someone who is 45 says “My goal is to retire at age 65.” And then they are asked “are you putting away money retirement, what is your plan?” If they answer “I’m not putting anything away for retirement,” then their goal is a fantasy, it’s not going to happen.
Not only must one make plans in order to achieve goals, those plans must be goal-appropriate. Suppose another person says “My goal is to lose weight. My plan involves sitting on my couch all day watching TV and eating ice cream.” That plan isn’t going to lead towards their goal.
In the last reflection, we discussed how one of the benefits of being a disciple is that it gives life purpose, because there is an overarching goal to life. That goal is to glorify God and to reach His Kingdom. Another benefit of being a disciple is that if one has the goal of salvation, then directions, plans, focus and order in life get right in line to support the overall goal.
If we have an overall goal of salvation, then our plans for today should be appropriate for our overall goal. There are plenty of people who have the goal of salvation but who in reality are carrying out a plan that will not lead there. For instance if a person says “I believe in God and I want to go to heaven. However my plan involves not going to church, not praying, not being obedient to the commandments, etc.” Of course, no one is going to actually SAY this last sentence, but if a person’s life reflects this last sentence, it is hard to conceive of how their plan will lead to their stated goal of eternal life.
If our overarching goal is salvation, then our daily “plan” should include steps that push us towards that goal. In fact, a good question to check ourselves with at the beginning of each day is “What do I have planned in my life today that will glorify God and allow me to take steps towards His Kingdom today?” And a great question on which to end each day is “What steps did I take towards His Kingdom today?”
I’ve read that each day we make about seventy five different decisions. Some of those decisions are inconsequential. For instance, do I order chicken or beef on my burrito for lunch? There is nothing of consequence with that decision. However, there are many decisions we make each day that have a consequence. A good “check” for ourselves is whether the decision we are contemplating is in line with our overall goal and our plans for attaining it.
Related to the word “plan” is the word “direction.” My plans for each day are supposed to carry me in God’s direction. Also related is the word “focus.” When I focus my plans around God and his direction, I can more easily stay on the right path. And finally, the word “order” is related to our plans. When we set our dinner table for a family dinner, we neatly put the silverware in its place, and the napkins in their place, everything is in good order. No one is going to set the table and leave a fork on a chair—that disrupts the order. It would obviously be out of place. In our lives, we should set our tables, our daily schedules, so that they are in good order also, with our activities, our thoughts and our actions focused on God, and aimed at the direction of glorifying Him and taking steps towards His Kingdom.
I wash my hands in innocence, and go about Thy altar, O Lord, singing aloud a song of thanksgiving, and telling all Thy wondrous deeds. O Lord, I love the habitation of Thy house, and the place where Thy glory dwells. Sweep me not away with sinners, nor my life with bloodthirsty men, men in whose hands are evil devices, and whose right hands are full of bribes. But as for me, I walk in my integrity; redeem me, and be gracious to me. My foot stands on level ground; in the great congregation I will bless the Lord. Psalm 26: 6-12
What are your plans for today? In whose direction are you heading? Where is your focus? Is there good spiritual order to what you are doing today? Make God-centered plans. Walk in His direction. Focus on serving Him by serving others. Let everything you do today be done with good spiritual order.
With Roger Hunt providing today’s Daily Reading: Listen Now.
These readings are under copyright and is used by permission. All rights reserved. These works may not be further reproduced, in print or on other websites or in any other form, without the prior written authorization of the copyright holder: Reading © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA, Apolytikion of Abbot Marcellus © Narthex Press, Kontakion of Abbot Marcellus © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA.
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyrighted 1946, 1952, 1971, and 1973 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and used by permission. From the Online Chapel of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
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