The Bible A to Z Part 1 Letters A-H

A. Annunciation
The announcement by the archangel, Gabriel to St. Mary of the conception and birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ (Lk 1:28-35)

B. Bishop
Originally this was a general term for a church leader (an overseer). St. Paul said to St. Tulius, “A Bishop must be a kind, honorable person.” (1 Ti 3:1-7)

C. Christ
Our Lord Jesus Christ (anointed one) the title of promised savior. (Mk 1:14-15)

D. Demon
An evil spirit or the devil, and described throughout scripture as, “unclean” they are shuddered at the name of God (Luke 9:42)

E. Elohim
Elohim, “The Mighty” is an ancient name for a deity. It was used in the old testament 2,500 times to indicate the one true God (Isa 45:18-25) 

F. Fornication
A generalized term for sexual intercourse outside of marriage; (such as seduction, rape, sodomy, prostitution or homosexuality). (1 Cor 5:11)

G. Golgotha
Three of the four gospels name Golgotha as the site of Jesus’ crucifixion. (MT 27:33. Mk15:22. Jn 19:17)

H. Halleluiah
A Hebrew exclamation used at the beginning of psalms to call people to praise God.  The word was adopted to Christian faith as a call to worship. (Rev 19:1-18)

By: Fr. Mikhail E. Mikhail, D. Min.

The Area to be Tested

There are many areas which Our Lord Jesus Christ will test us in on His Judgement Day.

How faithful we are to the Word of God: “I charge you, therefore, before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and with teaching.” (2 Timothy 4:1-2)

How much we suffer for Our Lord Jesus Christ: “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets before you.” (Matthew 5: 11-12)

How we react to temptation: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” (James 1:2-3)

How effectively we control the old nature: “And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself become disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:25-27)

How many souls we witness and win to Christ: “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For you are our glory and joy.” (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20)

How we spend our time: “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16)

How we treat other believers: “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet receives a prophet’s reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.” (Matthew 10:40-42)

How we use our money: “But this I say: he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7)

How we exercise our authority over others: “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgement.” (James 3:1)

How we run that particular race which God has chosen for us: “Holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.” (Philippians 2:16)

By: Fr. Mikhail E. Mikhail, D. Min.

Fasting

In our Coptic Orthodox Church, we observe fasting periods according to the Coptic calendar. There are eight fasts in the Coptic Orthodox Church:

1. The Fast of the Advent
2. The Fast of Ninevah
3. The Fast of Great Lent
4. The Fast of Holy Week
5. The Fast of the Apostles
6. The Fast of St. Mary
7. Wednesday and Friday Fasts
8. The Paramon Fasts

Let us discuss the Fast of the Advent since that is the one we are currently fasting.The Fast of the Advent lasts 43 days, beginning November 25 and ending January 7. The 40 days correspond to the 40 days that Moses the Prophet fasted before he received the 10 Commandments from God. So we fast 40 days before we receive Our Lord Jesus Christ in His Incarnation.

The three days added at the beginning of the 40 days is to remember the blessing of fasting as it happened when the Church fasted three days and God moved the Mokattem Mountain.

St. John Chrysostom said about fasting:
“Fasting is the change of every part of our life, because the sacrifice of the fast is not the abstinence but the distancing from sins. Therefore, whoever limits the fast to the deprivation of food, he is the one who, in reality, abhors and ridicules the fast.

Are you fasting? Show me your fast with your works. Which works? If you see someone who is poor, show him mercy. If you see an enemy, reconcile with him. If you see a friend who is becoming successful, do not be jealous of him! If you see a beautiful woman on the street, pass her by.”

By: Fr. Mikhail E. Mikhail, D. Min.

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day is a holiday in the United States on the fourth Thursday of November. It is traditionally a day for families and friends to get together for a special meal. The meal often includes a turkey, stuffing, potatoes, cranberry sauce, gravy, pumpkin pie, and vegetables (if it is not during a time of fasting, as this year will be on November 28).

Let me share with you some of what the Bible says about the life of thanksgiving:

“The living, the living, he thanks you, as I do this day, the father makes known to the children Your faithfulness.” (Isaiah 38:19)

“Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High.” (Psalm 50:14)

“I will give to the Lord the thanks due to His righteousness, and I will sing praise to the Name of the Lord, the Most High.” (Psalm 7:17)

“Giving thanks always, and for everything to God the Father in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 5:20)

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanks giving, let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 3:15)

“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.”  (Colossians 3:15)

“I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance, and all knowledge.” (1 Corinthians 1:4-5)

“For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is sanctified by the Word of God and prayer.” (1 Timothy 4:4-5)

“I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers.” (Ephesians 1:16)

By: Fr. Mikhail E. Mikhail, D. Min.

Sayings of St. Augustine Part II

The double aspect of man and sinner: “There is, as it were, a double aspect: man and sinner. To be a man is God’s work, to be a sinner is our doing. Blot out what you have done, so that God may restore what He has done; hate your own work in yourself and love what He has done in you.”


Neighbors: “My brothers, do not think you must speak the truth to a Christian but can lie to a pagan. You are speaking to your brother, born like you from Adam and Eve. Realize that each man is your neighbor even before he is a Christian; you have no idea how God sees him.”

Either God or the world: “One can love the world or love God. If we love the world, there is no room in our heart for the love of God. We cannot love God and the world, which passes away with its loves.”

Is it worth it?: “Remember what will be said to those whom He places at the right hand, ‘Come you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom,’ but to those on His left, ‘Depart you cursed into everlasting fire.’ If you do not as yet long for His promises, at least be afraid of His threats.”

Believe and then you will know: “We believe, not because we know, but so that we may come to know. For what we shall know, no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor has man’s heart imagined.”

With one voice: “We read, ‘Praise the Lord with me, let us exalt His Name together.’ To whom is the Psalmist speaking? To every member of Christ’s body. And what kind of praise does he mean? That which is not jealous of another’s love.”

St. Augustine’s prayer: “Guiding my mind by the rule of faith, I have sought you with all my heart, with all the power you have given me. I have longed to understand that which I believe.”

By: Fr. Mikhail E. Mikhail, D. Min.

Sayings of St. Augustine Part I

Works of mercy: “Two works of mercy set a man free: forgive, and you will be forgiven; and, give, and you will receive.”

The imitation of Christ: “Because of this great sin of pride, God humbled Himself, taking the nature of a servant, bearing insults and hanging on a cross. To heal us, He became humble, shall we not be ashamed to be proud?”

The two commandments: “Keep this always before you: that you are to love God and your neighbor. The love of God is the first to be commanded, but the love of your neighbor us the first to be fulfilled.”

The Body of Christ: “The fullness of Christ is head and members: Christ and the Church. He did not wish to separate Himself from us, but deigned to attach Himself to us becoming, “God with us,” that we might be with Him.

A sacrifice: “What sacrifice can I offer to God that is worthy of His mercy? Shall I look for a victim from among my herds? No, I will freely offer a sacrifice of praise. Freely, for His sake alone, not for any other reason…”

The alternatives: “There are two births: one of earth and the other of Heaven, one of mortality and the other of eternity, one of human parents, the other of God and the Church.”

The devil: “Before the coming of Christ, the devil roamed about. Then the Lord came andbound him. Someone may say, ‘If he is bound, why does he so often prevail?’ It is perfectly true, brethren, he does often prevail, but it is the tepid and careless and those who do not really fear God that he overcomes.

By: Fr. Mikhail E. Mikhail, D. Min.

Prayer

Prayer is communication with, talking with, God. It is a great bond with both God and other members of the Church. 

There is no spiritual life without prayer. The soul of the Christian consists in the gift of prayer. Prayer is essential, and it is the test of everything. If your prayer is perfect, everything else will be perfect and right. 

To pray means to stand before God and talk to Him with all your mind and thought. Prayer is what motivated the thought of the church fathers, so let us see what some of the church fathers say about prayer: 

St. Hippolytus of Rome: “All believers, men and women alike, upon rising in the morning, are to wash their hands and pray to God before they go to work…Pray again when you retire.”

St. Augustine: “Prayer rises to heaven and immediately God’s mercy descends upon the earth.”

St. Macarius of Egypt: “How easy it is to say, ‘My Lord Jesus, have mercy on me! I bless You, my Lord Jesus, help me!’”

St. Ambrose: “In prayer…let your door stand open to receive Him, unlock your soul to Him, offer Him a welcome in your mind, and then you will see the riches of simplicity, the treasures of peace, joy, and grace.”

St. Cyril of Jerusalem: “Take courage, toil, and strive zealously, for nothing will be lost. Every prayer you make, every Psalm you sing is recorded, every aim, every fast is recorded.”

By: Fr. Mikhail E. Mikhail, D. Min.

The Cost of Following Our Lord Jesus Christ

Read the Gospel according to St. Luke 14:25-33.

It is a great privilege to follow Our Lord Jesus Christ, but it is very costly.

1.       To follow Jesus, you must serve Him before all others. This is the cost of service: “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:26)

2.       To follow Jesus, you mush subordinate your own interests to the interests of Christ. This is the cost of sacrifice: “Whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:27)

3.       To follow Jesus, you must be fully in touch with who you are and how Christ has equipped and empowered you to do what He asks. This is the cost of self-assessment: “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it—lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’?” (Luke 14:28-30)

4.       To follow Jesus, you must think through the issues and have the courage to act in the face of uncertainty. This is the cost of strategy: “Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:31-33)

By: Fr. Mikhail E. Mikhail, D. Min.

Angels

Angel means “messenger.” This is the main purpose God created the angels, to send them as messengers to serve the human race.

Since the beginning of the creation, angels have appeared to people to tell them about the will of God. Adam and Eve were banished by an angel with a flaming sword: “So He drove out the man; and He cherubim at the east of the Garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.” (Genesis 3:24)

Angels are intelligent; they serve God and glorify Him day and night. They are active spirits, and they let us know the will of God. As St. John of Damascus said: “An angel is an intelligent essence in perpetual motion, with free will, without a body, ministering to God, having obtained by grace an immortal nature.

Angels are countless in number, and of many different kinds. As St. Cyril of Jerusalem said, “We make mention of the angels, archangels, virtues, dominions, principalities, powers, and thrones…of the many faced cherubim. We make mention of the seraphim with two of their wings veiling their face, with two wings covering their feet, and with two wings flying while they exclaim: ‘Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Sabaoath.” We may be participants with the superterrestrial armies in the singing of their hymn.

We have to learn from the angels to glorify God, and do His will as St. Clement of Rome said: “Let our glorifying and our confidence be in Christ. Let us be subject to His will. Let us consider the whole multitude of His angels, and how they stand waiting to minister to His will.”

Scriptural references about angels:
a.      Genesis 3:24, 24:7, 28:12
b.      Job 38:7
c.      Psalms 90:11, 148:2
d.      Matthew 18:10
e.      Luke 1:11-20, 1:26-38, 2:13
f.      Acts 5:19, 10:3-7, 12:7-15, 27:23-24
g.      1 Thessalonians 4:16
h.      Colossians 1:16
i.      Hebrews 1:14
j.      Ephesians 1:21
k.      Jude 9

By: Fr. Mikhail E. Mikhail, D. Min.

The Feast of the Cross

We celebrate the Feast of the Cross twice a year in our church: the first, on September 27, commemorates the discovery of the Holy Cross by the Empress Helen, the mother of Emperor Constantine; and the second, on March 19, commemorates the manifestation of the Holy Cross in the seventh century during the reign of Roman emperor Heraclius.

St. Athanasius the Apostolic wrote in his Festal Letters, 22.1 in the year 350 A.D.:

When Our Lord Jesus Christ, who took it upon Himself to die for all, stretched forth His
hands not somewhere on the earth beneath, but in the air itself, in destroying the devil
who was working in the air; and that He might consecrate our road up to heaven and
make it free.”

St. Paul writes in his first epistle to the Corinthians, “Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” (1 Corinthians 5:8)

St. John Chrysostom comments on this saying that, “St. Paul desires for us to celebrate the cross because ‘Christ is the Passover, and has been sacrificed for us.’ (1 Corinthians 5:7) The cross is the altar on which the Son was sacrificed for the forgiveness of sins. This is the sacrifice whose aroma the Father has accepted on behalf of humanity. The sins of humanity have indeed been forgiven through the sacrifice of the cross.”

May the blessings of the Holy Cross be with us all. Amen. 

By: Fr. Mikhail E. Mikhail, D. Min.

The Feast of El Nayrouz

The Coptic Orthodox Church decided to start the Coptic year from the year Emperor Diocletian came to the Roman throne in 284 A.D. The calendar became known as the calendar of the martyrs, as Diocletian was the last emperor to lead the largest persecution of Christians in the empire. So the feast of Nayrouz became the feast, and the commemoration of, the martyrs. We celebrate it every year on September 11 or 12.

The word Nayrouz is a Persian word meaning, “The beginning of the year.” On this day, we declare our eagerness to share with the martyrs a new day which they attain in Paradise. They have the experience of brightness, through which the brightness of the glory of Christ shines on them.

The martyrs are those who believe in what the Lord said, “A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.” (John 15:20)

So the martyrs offer their blood for the sake of Christ, who offered His blood for the salvation of mankind. The book of Revelation describes them, “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” (Revelation 12:11)

So let us follow their steps, and celebrate this feast day full of purity and chastity and remember what St. Paul said, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-18) 

May the Lord guide, bless, and protect us, and may all the martyrs intercede on our behalf.

By: Fr. Mikhail E. Mikhail, D. Min.

St. Mary as the Mother of God

The church commemorates the assumption of St. Mary’s body into heaven through St. Mary’s fast, celebrated every year August 7-21. The early Church Fathers had no problem referring to St. Mary as the Mother of God. They saw it as a natural consequence of the Incarnation. 

1) St Irenaeus said, “The virgin Mary, being obedient to His word, received from an angel the glad tidings that she would bear God.” (Against Heresies 5:19:1 [A.D. 189]) 


2) St. Peter of Alexandria said, “They came to the church of the most blessed Mother of God, and ever-virgin Mary, which, as we began to say, he had constructed in the western quarter, in a suburb, for a cemetery of martyrs.” (The Genuine Acts of Peter of Alexandria [A.D. 305])


3) St. Cyril of Alexandria said, “I have been amazed that some are utterly in doubt as to whether or not the holy virgin is able to be called the Mother of God. For if our Lord Christ is God, how should the holy virgin who bore him not be the Mother of God?” (Letter to the Monks of Egypt [A.D. 427])

By: Fr. Mikhail E. Mikhail, D. Min.

The Feast of the Transfiguration

The Feast of the Transfiguration celebrates the day when our Lord Jesus Christ took Peter, John, and James, and went up onto a mountain to pray. “And He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.” Matthew 17:2

St. Cyril of Alexandria explains, saying, “We say there is a Transfiguration, note that the human body changes to another body, but a glorious light enveloped it, the form of the body stays the same, but its aspect is penetrated by a radiant light.”

“And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.” (Matthew 17:3)

St. Cyril of Alexandria also explains this: “Moses and Elijah stood beside Him, and talked with him, so as to declare that the Law and the prophets serve our Lord Jesus Christ, and prove evidently that He is the Lord of the Law and the prophets, and together, they spoke of Him.”

May the blessings of this feast be with us all.

By: Fr. Mikhail E. Mikhail, D. Min.

Christmas

I. Christmas Bible verses:

Read what the Bible tells us about the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ


II. The Need for the Incarnation:

The birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ has become a turning point in the history of mankind. For in the Nativity was the Incarnation, and in the Incarnation was Salvation; and through Salvation we received adoption becoming heirs to the Kingdom.


III. The Blessing of the Incarnation:


IV. St. Cyril of Alexandria said about the Incarnation:

“Behold a virgin shall conceive in the womb, and bear a Son and they shall call His Name Immanuel. How then (tell me) is that which is born of the holy virgin called Immanuel? Immanuel signifying, that the Word of God which is in truth God was made by reason of the flesh in nature as we. For He emptied Himself having undergone a generation like to ours, and so had His conversation with us. Hence He is God in flesh and she is truly the Mother of God who bore Him carnally or after the flesh.”





By: Fr. Mikhail E. Mikhail

The Area to be Tested

There are many areas which Our Lord Jesus Christ will test us in on His Judgement Day.






By: Fr. Mikhail E. Mikhail