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 OCN family is sending prayers and warmest wishes for a speedy recovery to Fr. Stavros following his surgery. We hope his recovery period finds him steadier, stronger, and healthier with each day.
We will now be including the daily reading of Epistle and Gospel with The Prayer Team.
The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:9
Good morning Prayer Team!
Christ is Risen!
I’ve always been a baseball fan. And when I was young, I was a baseball player. Unfortunately I was not a very good baseball player. And a large part of the problem was that I didn’t trust myself—I was always overthinking things. I was always worried that I would fail—in hitting, catching or throwing. The fact is that the more I worried about failing, the more I failed. Thinking more actually made me play worse than when I didn’t think much at all. If I had just used my God-given talent to throw the ball, or swing the bat, instead of overthinking everything, I might have had more success and more fun as a baseball player. I’ve often tell people, using a sports analogy, that if you play “not to lose,” you always lose. If you play to win, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, but when you play defensively, if you play not to lose, you pretty much always lose. Stick to the basics, I was told. And as one coach put it to me, “if everyone plays ordinary (meaning makes the routine plays), then no one has to be extraordinary.”
Everyone has some insecurity about something. While we may even demonstrate outward confidence, there are things in every person’s life that, inwardly anyway, cause anxiety. Sometimes that anxiety comes from overthinking, from worrying about failure, from fear of the unknown, or other reasons. What St. Paul is telling us in this verse is stick to the fundamentals that he has already pointed out in this chapter—be joyful in all things; let your gentleness be known to all, give things over to God, and meditate on the virtues of truth, nobility, justice, purity, love and good reports. If a person is doing these things, they won’t have insecurity about where they stand with other people, or with God. These are the “basic plays” of the Christian life—if we all learn how to make the basic plays, we’re well on our way to pleasing the Lord.
Here is the great irony—people spend a good part of their lives trying to achieve “security.” They stress out about tests and grades, then they stress out about getting a job, then about keeping the job, they stress out about their children, financial security, retirement, health and staying active. The irony is that the ONLY security we have is our faith. Our health, our family, our home and our jobs can be wiped out at any moment. If I get in an accident today and can’t walk, I don’t have my job. If a hurricane hits my town, there goes my house. The only thing guaranteed in life is our faith. That doesn’t mean don’t stress out about things, but keep those stresses in perspective. To gain the whole world but not have faith, what good is that? Because when you die, you can’t take the whole world with you. But if you have faith, even if you die a poor man, you will have treasure in heaven, you will indeed be eternally wealthy. And if you have faith, you indeed have security, and with that you will have peace. The only lasting peace, the only lasting security a person can have, is in Christ. And when you are not at peace, the place to turn to is Christ. When in doubt, pray it out. Have no fear, Christ is near—as near as a prayer.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of peace that You bestow so freely on everyone who asks for it. Please continue to give me confidence in Your words, please help me to trust in You, and allow You to be part of the decisions I make today. Please give me confidence in myself, take away my anxieties today, walk with me and comfort me with Your peace. Amen.
Have confidence today! Go with God! Have a great day!
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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