Aloha Friday Message – February 28, 2020 – First Friday of Lent

2009AFC022820 – First Friday of Lent 2020

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    Genesis 3:1-5Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Matthew 4:11 11 Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Grace and Peace to each of you from God our Father and our Lord, Jesus the Christ, in the Power of the Holy Spirit. Today we will take a little journey back to 2014 as we consider what it takes to be a liar. Hopefully no one reading this post will think of that as an objective toward achieving a goal! Let’s start with the first prevarications in the Bible. I chose that word because the episode we’re going to explore is more than just a fancy way to describe a lie. Prevarication includes, or goes beyond lying. It is fabrication, distortion, deception, deceitfulness, falsification, equivocation, misrepresentation, and/or exaggeration. It usually involves a mixture of fact and fiction, truth and treachery. A skillful liar can accomplish remarkable things that benefit the liar and harm the deceived. At times in our society, we might begrudgingly admire a really good liar – the salesperson, for example, who “could sell ice to Eskimos;” or the politician, who can “bamboozle a baboon into voting for him.”  In a way we expect those behaviors, and because we do, we tolerate them. Besides, all of us know that “everyone tells a lie sometimes.” After all we’re human, not perfect, and maybe lying isn’t so bad after all. And that’s a lie right there.

There are two lies in the opening Key Verse. The devil starts out by a twisty turn of words when he says “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” That’s a twisted form of this question: “Is there any tree from which God said you cannot eat?” Or it could also be read “Did God really say you shall not eat of every tree in the garden?” Eve knew – perhaps second-hand knowledge if Adam told her – that they could eat from any tree in the garden – EXCEPT the two trees God forbade. The way the devil said it, it sounds like God forbade eating from every tree – including two that were forbidden and all the others that were permitted.

Eve catches his drift and corrects him by saying, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden;” and then EVE tells a lie – she exaggerates with a little fabrication of her own as she says, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.’” You see where the lie came in, right? God said nothing about touching the trees in the middle of the garden. Hmmm, uh-huh, and who was standing right next to her? Adam was there – probably saying, “Yes, Dear” – and he didn’t correct her. So the devil jumps right back in and tells another incredible whopper of a lie: “You certainly will not die!” He uses a double negative to express this – another clever way to lie – and then appeals to the “benefits” of disobedience – “God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” They were already like God – having been made in the image and likeness of the Creator. Their eyes saw only Good because in the Garden, the abode of God and Humanity – only Good existed. The evil they would soon discern was the evil of these lies which were worsened by passing the buck – the devil said it was God’s fault to leave them out, Eve said the devil tricked her, Adam blamed God and said “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.” (See Genesis 3:12) Then they realized the presence of conscience, the presence of fear, and the absence of innocence. Human reasoning informed their decision – this tree is beautiful, and the fruit is pleasant to see just like all the other trees, so it must be “just another tree for food.” We’ve been trying to get out of that mess ever since. Let’s look at some Scripture passages that testify to God’s guidance in that quest.

Isaiah 5:20-2120 Ah, you who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! 21 Ah, you who are wise in your own eyes, and shrewd in your own sight!

Wisdom 2:23-24 23 for God created us for incorruption, and made us in the image of his own eternity,24 but through the devil’s envy death entered the world, and those who belong to his company experience it.

John 8:44 44 You are from your father the devil, and you choose to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

2 Corinthians 11:3 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by its cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

Ephesians 4:17-24 17 Now this I affirm and insist on in the Lord: you must no longer live as the Gentiles live, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance and hardness of heart. 19 They have lost all sensitivity and have abandoned themselves to licentiousness, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 That is not the way you learned Christ! 21 For surely you have heard about him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus. 22 You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Please consider the following (Originally posted under Aloha Friday Messages at http://www.aloha-friday.org – The Moon Beam Network 1410AFC070714 ) A socioeconomic consensual partnership between two or more persons of the same gender is not a marriage. A marriage is only one man sacramentally united to one woman. You can name it a marriage, but it is not. A family is a mother and a father and their children either by natural conception or adoption. Faith is more than just a personal spirituality. It must be based on something outside of us that is greater than us, truer than us, and eternal. Does that make all non-Christian faiths invalid? Personally, I don’t think so, but only because I believe that God knows everyone who seeks him with a sincere heart; the ability to do that comes to every living soul because of the Power of the Son of God. Does it make a difference at the Resurrection? God knows, but right now he’s not telling. But I do know this: You can’t grow watermelons on a persimmon tree. You will know them by their fruit. The fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil turned out to be Death. The devil lied about that; don’t you think he’d be willing to lie about anything and everything else?

He’s lied so that bad things like communism, socialism, hedonism, immorality, addiction, terrorism, and situational ethics look like virtues. We know people who sincerely believe it’s OK to blatantly and elaborately lie if it is for a good reason. Many of them are in politics. We know people who are wise in their own esteemed opinion and claim to be an agnostic or atheist. They try to intellectualize and rationalize their place “in the Universe” but their arguments cannot begin to approach the perspective of infinite wisdom and knowledge, infinite power and glory. God’s way was to transcend his omnipotence by laying it aside to become one of us. That would be a little like one of us laying aside our nature to become an amino acid chain. Even that comparison is inadequate, but it is not a lie. There is only one way out of this pile of lies: Repent.

Therefore, this Lent, do what God calls upon us to do: Repent. Believe. Sacrifice. Do the right thing. Rejoice with him at Easter. Bring others to the celebration. Together, we can have a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. And here’s a wee lit’le challenge for ye:  Instead of concentrating on what you’re going to give up for Lent (Be clear on whether it is a sacrifice – something to which you plan to return to after Easter – or a repentance – something which you choose to eliminate from your life as a means to come closer to God.), and concentrate of something positive and good you can ADD to your life! It is a wonderful way to discover the unlimited abundance of God’s boundless Grace. That is our Christian responsibility. Neither Adam nor Eve would take responsibility for what they had done; the first sin was disobedience with a nice dollop of lies for a topping. Also note that this first sin for earthlings was strikingly similar to Satan’s first sin – attempting to place himself equal to or above the God who had created him. Oh, Beloved! We still fall for this trick. And we still try to make excuses. What can we say about people who are supposed to be stewards of the earth and all its contents who will not take their stewardship responsibilities seriously? They have generated their own lies, believed their own lies, and resisted Truth. THAT’S NOT WHAT WE’RE SUPPOSED TO RESIST!

James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

That, of course, is the reason to include the verse we read at the end of Jesus’ temptation: Matthew 4:11 11 Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him. In the Gospel of Luke we read in Luke 4:13 13 When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time. ([kairou] {kah-ee-rou} fitting season, season, opportunity, occasion, opportune time, the right moment). Resist the devil, and he will flee; but he’ll be back! What are we supposed to do when he comes back? Resist the devil, and he will flee. Do we not believe that? Then can we believe that “the wages of sin is death? Look around. What do you see? Is there sin anywhere? “In this day and age,” is there really such a thing as SIN? I recently came across a review of John Corin’s book The Hope of Perfection: Unveiling the Book of Hebrews. The reviewer, Gavin W. Finley MD, gave me permission to use this quote from that review:

“These are days of theological relativism and moral decline. So there is a great need for sound doctrine, clear guidance, and the exhortation to go on with God that is to be found in Holy Scripture. We are also blessed to have the real-time personal guidance that comes from the abiding Presence of the Holy Spirit. This hope of perfection and promise that God to be with us right through to the completion of our pilgrimage in Christ is the very message we need right now. This Word of exhortation is so necessary in the dark days we are now entering. It is the word of the hour.”

The World belongs to the Prince of the Air, and The World lies as he lies.

Every time we sin, we are in the grip of Death; every time we repent, we are in the arms of Grace, born again through repentance and faith in the efficacy of the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Christ the Lord. We are alive again, we have faith again, and we are ready for Christ again. We have faith; we need only to use it. Ask for it, seek after it, open the door to it – keep doing that until Jesus comes, and he will find faith on the Earth. Look to him; he is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. (See Psalm 121) If “seeing is believing,” LOOK!” If you see sin, resist! Then, LOOK AGAIN!! You just might see angels coming to minister to you!

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever —

at your service, Belovéd!

Please pray with us here at Share-a-Prayer.

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

 

 

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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