Daily Devotional for May 17-23
James 1:17 Dearly beloved: Every good gift: and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
Prayer: O Gentle Light of the holy glory of the immortal, heavenly, holy, blessed Father, O Jesus Christ: Having come to the setting of the sun, having beheld the evening light, we praise the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit: God. Meet it is for Thee at all times to be hymned with reverent voices, O Son of God, Giver of life. Wherefore, the world doth glorify Thee.
*Eastern Vesper Hymn
Summary of Job’s life: **this week from the Prologue of St Nikolai
Job was a descendant of Esau the grandson of Abraham and lived in Arabia about two thousand years before Christ. His father’s name was Zareth, and his mother’s name was Bosora. However, his full name was Jobab. Job was an honorable, God-fearing man and very wealthy. In the seventy-ninth year of his life, God permitted difficult temptations to befall him through Satan, as is written in detail in the Book of Job. In one day, Job lost all his enormous estates, his sons and his daughters. After that, a terrible disease befell him, and his entire body was covered with sores from head to foot. He lay on the rubbish heap outside the town and with a potsherd scraped away the pus from his wounds. Job did not murmur against God, but patiently endured all his sufferings to the end. That is why God restored his health, gave him greater riches than before, and bestowed upon him seven sons and three daughters, as many as he had previously had. He lived for a total of 248 years, always glorifying and praising God. Job is considered the model of patient endurance of every suffering that God sends upon us, and a type of the suffering of the Lord Jesus.
Prayer: Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
Abba Isaiah said of himself: “I see myself resembling a horse wandering around without a rider. Whoever finds him, sits on him and rides him to his content. When one rider dismounts the horse, another saddles him and does the same, likewise the third and so on.” This great ascetic, about whom everyone said with amazement that he had attained perfection, spoke this of himself either out of humility or from remembrance of his time of imperfection. The main thing is that these words are true in relation to every Christian who walks spiritually unbridled and unrestrained. Just as soon as one passion dismounts, another mounts him. Just as soon as one wearies him and leaves him in despair, another mounts him with the deluded hope that it will make him happy. Such a man does not have a rider who would direct him to the true path without digressing to the left or to the right. The only friendly rider that should be greeted with a welcome is the holy and powerful Christian spirit.
Prayer: Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world: have mercy upon us. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world: have mercy upon us. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, grant us peace.
You see, brethren, that the effect of the word of God is different according to different people. The word of God is like fire in which the righteous one rejoices as one frozen in the cold of this world; and the word of God is like fire that burns the unrighteous one whom this material world has overly warmed. The experienced spiritual fathers have left us proof that only the name of Jesus—bringing power, joy and refreshment to the faithful—consumes evil spirits as a living fire. That is the way with every word of God. For some it creates comfort, for others irritation; for some it quiets anger, for others it increases anger; for some it causes deep respect, and for others scorn. To the healthy it is honey; to the unhealthy it is the honey of wormwood. But why should the people be as wood that will be consumed? Are the people to be blamed if the godless elders and false prophets lead them astray? The people are not to blame to as great a degree as their elders and false prophets, but nevertheless they are to blame to a certain extent. For God also gave the people to know the right path through conscience and through the preaching of God’s word. Thus, the people should not have blindly followed their blind leaders when they led them on false paths and distanced them from God and God’s law. Brethren, God is just and He knows the measure of everyone’s faults, and He will not permit the ignorant and the least to suffer as much as the learned and the great.
Prayer: O Lord, save Thy people and bless Thine inheritance. Grant victory over their enemies to Orthodox Christians, and protect Thy people with Thy Cross.
Commemoration of the Appearance of the Honorable Cross over Jerusalem During the time of St. Constantine’s son, Emperor Constantius, and Patriarch Cyril of Jerusalem, the Honorable Cross appeared about 9:00 a.m. (on May 7) , stretching from Golgotha to above the Mount of Olives. This Cross was brighter than the sun and more beautiful than the most beautiful rainbow. All the people, both believing and unbelieving, left their work and observed this heavenly sign in fear and amazement. Many unbelievers converted to the Christian Faith, and many Arian heretics abandoned their evil heresy and returned to Orthodoxy. About this sign, Patriarch Cyril wrote a letter to Emperor Constantius, who had inclinations toward Arianism. This occurred on May 7, 357. Thus, even on this occasion it was demonstrated that the Christian Faith is not worldly theorizing, according to the sensual understanding of man. Rather it is God’s power, demonstrated through numerous miracles and signs.
Prayer: O my God relying on Thy infinite goodness and promises, I hope to obtain pardon of my sins, the help of Thy grace, and life everlasting, through the merits of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Redeemer.
*Act of Hope
If you do not possess good in abundance, O people, that means you have sin in abundance. Your sins have turned your good from you. O people, if you wish good for yourselves, reject sin and sin no more. Then you will move toward good, good will come to you, and good will not depart from you. O man, if you do not have good, it means that you have sin. Good cannot dwell in the same house with sin, just as light and darkness cannot exist in the same place at the same time. When light departs, darkness settles in, and when the darkness departs, the light shines. Thus, sin and good can be interchanged, but they cannot dwell together. O my brethren, your sins have turned back these blessings from you. These words were not
spoken by just one prophet to just one nation; rather, every true prophet spoke these words to his people. False prophets flatter their people with sins, and thus they assist even more in turning back good from their people. The true prophets oppose the sins of the people, for they consort with good and cry out against sin, so as to introduce the good from God into their people’s souls. If the beehive begins to stink, will the honey-bees enter and deposit their honey in it? No! And when irrational bees refuse to enter a putrid and smoke-ridden beehive, then how will the rational Spirit of God enter a soul that is putrid and smoke-ridden from sin? And the Spirit of God is the possessor and the dispenser of all good gifts.
Prayer: O my God I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, who art all-good and worthy of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life.
*Act of Contrition
A monk complained to St. Arsenius that while reading Holy Scripture he felt neither the power of the words he read nor gentleness in his heart. The great saint replied to him: “My child, just read! I heard that when snake-charmers cast a spell upon serpents, these sorcerers utter words which they themselves do not understand, but the serpents, hearing the words spoken, sense their power and are tamed. And so it is with us, when the words of Holy Scripture are continually continually on our lips, although we do not feel the power of the words, evil spirits tremble and flee for they are unable to endure the words of the Holy Spirit.” My child, just read! The Holy Spirit, Who wrote these divine words through inspired men, will hear, understand and hasten to your assistance. Likewise, the demons will hear and understand, and will flee from you. That is: He to Whom you are calling for help will understand, and those whom you wish to drive away from yourself will understand. And both goals will be achieved.
Prayer: O my God I love Thee above all things, with my whole heart and soul, because Thou art all-good and worthy of all love. I love my neighbor as myself for the love of Thee. I forgive all who have injured me, and ask pardon of all whom I have injured. (Act of Charity)