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
THE ENCOURAGEMENT PROJECT
May the God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. I Thessalonians 5:23
Good morning Prayer Team!
Earlier in these reflections on Encouragement, I mentioned a sermon I heard from an Orthodox priest which posed four existential questions: a) Where did I come from? b) What is my purpose? c) Why is there a difference between good and evil? and d) What is my destiny?
The word “existential” refers to things that are critical to our existence. Our answers to these four questions are critical to our experience as human beings. If we have a divine origin and a divine destiny, we will look at life much differently than if we believe our origin is random and if we believe there is nothing after death. Life has no value if it has no purpose. And if there is no difference between good and evil, then we live in a world of moral relativism which leads to chaos. As a side comment, our society has continued to slip down the slope that leads to moral relativism which is why we collectively continue lose our sense of integrity, authenticity and basic respect.
Today’s scripture verse, the last verse of this section on encouragement that St. Paul writes about in I Thessalonians, beautifully encapsulates all four of them.
The God of peace is our origin. We all have a divine origin. Without God, none of us have our existence.
I will skip to the last question, the one concerning our destiny. Our destiny is to stand before our Lord Jesus Christ at His second coming. At that time, every human being will be judged worthy of everlasting joy or everlasting sorrow. One will either enter the Kingdom of Heaven or the fire of hell.
Our purpose is to attain salvation, to enter into the Kingdom of God, and this is accomplished by being sanctified wholly. Sanctification is a process. It starts with hearing the message, believing it, and working at it. We are each in the process of sanctification.
Keeping our souls and bodies sound and blameless is directly affected by our understanding of the difference between good and evil. Again, moral relativism blurs the difference between good and evil and is what is principally responsible for souls and bodies that are unhealthy and confused.
This verse of scripture reads as a prayer that we should offer frequently, as we seek to answer these four important questions that affect our existence as human beings. Knowing where you come from, where you are going, what your purpose is, and how to achieve that, knowing these things is very encouraging.
Lord, thank You for the gift of my very life. Thank You for creating me. Thank You for all the blessings I enjoy. Thank You for the gift of salvation. Thank You that I have the potential for an eternally happy destiny. Help me today to work toward salvation. May I glorify You in my work today. Help me to discern between what is good and what is evil, according to how You define good and evil. And give me the discipline and the strength to resist the evil and to choose the good. Allow my spirit and body to be sound and blameless today, and most especially may they be found sound and blameless at Your second coming. Amen.
Work on keeping your soul and body sound and blameless today!
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