Aloha Friday Message – August 7, 2020 – Power, Proximity, and Permanence of God’s Providence

2032AFC080720 – Power, Proximity, and Permanence of God’s Providence

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1 KINGS 19:11-13 [The Lord said] 11 “Go out and stand before me on top of the mountain,” the Lord said to him. Then the Lord passed by and sent a furious wind that split the hills and shattered the rocks—but the Lord was not in the wind. The wind stopped blowing, and then there was an earthquake—but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake there was a fire—but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the soft whisper of a voice.

13 When Elijah heard it, he covered his face with his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. A voice said to him, “Elijah, what are you doing here?” (Scripture taken from the Good News Translation in Today’s English Version- Second Edition Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society. Used by Permission.)

With The Voice of God in mind, today’s message comes from the story of Elijah’s fearful flight from Ahab and Jezebel. In this passage – part of Sunday’s readings – Elijah has put to death all of the prophets of Baal after God sent down fire on Elijah’s sacrifice. Now Ahab and Jezebel are out to kill him. Elijah tells God he’d rather be dead than wait for them to find him, so God tells him to go to Mount Horeb and to find a certain cave and wait for Him there. Elijah obeys. Our Key Verse passage for today is what happened in that cave. Elijah had some very powerful enemies, and God told him to flee from them. He did that so he could demonstrate his mighty Power by emphasizing his gentleness.

Now, there are many things here from which we can learn about God’s communications with us. The first is that Elijah was always in communication with God. As a prophet, he could not help but hear God speak, nor could he help but obey God’s command to convey His words; it’s what prophets do. We may not think of ourselves as prophets, but we are called upon to witness to others about what God has said and done, and in that way we fulfill one component of our threefold-purpose in life to be Priest, Prophet, and King. God has made his way known to us. He has written His Word into our hearts (see Jeremiah 31:33), and – like a prophet – we feel it bubble up in us at times and we have to share it. That’s a good habit to have, and not that difficult to develop. You just have to say with Isaiah (← Check it out!), “Here I am. Send me.” When we dialog with God, great things happen!

   Another lesson drawn from Elijah is that we need to do what God tells us. Recently I reread the story about Jonah. You’ll remember he bristled at the idea of God expecting him to do something, and it ended up in some troubled days for him. When he finally did as God asked, the results were spectacular. We often complain that it’s hard for us to know what God wants us to do. Really? I mean we’ve got the best Instruction Manual in the world – the Bible. Probably one of the easiest passages to remember is Micah 6:8 (you probably have this memorized by now because I cite it all the time). Another is the passage in Matthew where the lawyer asked Jesus, “Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the law?” Jesus’ reply was that we must love God completely and love our neighbors as ourselves. So, you see, it’s not so hard to know what God wants us to do because he’s constantly telling us! Even our conscience, our internal moral compass, tells us that we can’t live life only for our own pleasure; others have to be part of our life. Even the people who trouble us can be part of God’s plan for Salvation for all, even those who trouble us.

Elijah was certainly troubled by Ahab and Jezebel! Remember he thought he’d be better off dead – but was not in a rush to have Jezebel do that. God spoke to him with very specific instructions about where to go, and even provided him with provisions to make the journey (read all of 1 Kings 19 for that story; it will take about 8 minutes.) God gave Elijah the strength to carry on, not only to survive, but to also to prevail against his enemies. This is because Elijah was always and all ways in close proximity to God – God was with him. We are all familiar with what the Apostle Paul said about getting strength from God: Philippians 4:13I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Many of us are nodding in agreement while recalling that memory verse.

Paul had that certainty of strength because he, too, listened to what God said. He knew what he did was risky, but for him the risk was nothing compared to the reward! He knew full well that being a “testimony for Jesus Christ” was the job of a martyr – one who testifies. Perhaps he had heard accounts of Jesus telling the Twelve before sending them out to preach the Good news, Matthew 10:32[Jesus said] 32 Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; 33 but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven. 34 Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have speaking up for me other than Jesus! That happens only when we speak up for him, for then he will speak up for us. Elijah knew that God spoke up for him by speaking through him; he will do the same for us.

“But it’s so hard! I’m no good at that; it’s too much to ask, too big of a job.” OK, then just do the little things – those are the ones that really count. Remember this passage: Luke 16:10 Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. You’ll remember St. Mother Teresa said, Do not think that love in order to be genuine has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired. Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.” Just do a good job with the little stuff. Preach the Gospel every day, and if absolutely necessary, use words (tip of the hat to St. Francis there!) There is an interesting example of that second method in a movie called God is not Dead – the moviethat did well in theaters and also came  out on DVD. Crucita and I watched that some time ago, and one of the topics touched on was “Why is there evil?” Of course the answer was that ultimately God’s gift to us was Free Will. The dialog in the movie supported the conclusion that evil is temporary because it comes from the Devil, but free will is permanent because it is a gift from God. The Permanence of God’s Gifts of Grace are living proof that he is with us whenever we are with him. Here is an excerpt fromGod is not Dead – the movie” – Sometimes the devil allows people to live a life free of trouble because he doesn’t want people turning to God. Their sin is like a jail cell, except it is all nice and comfy and there doesn’t seem to be any reason to leave. The door’s wide open. ‘Til one day time runs out and the door slams shut and suddenly it’s too late to get out.

However, we have the key to the jail cell! The parts of that key – the shank, the setting or bitting (teeth cut into the key’s blade), all “little things” that turn the tumblers in that lock are … the Bible verses in this message! And that’s only one possible key out of gazillions! We have the Key, we have the Life, and we have the Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth (B.I.B.L.E.). What is stopping us from using them? (See Romans 8:35-39). What’s the answer? NOTHING! God is the God of the living, we are alive, and we can do all the little stuff in Christ who strengthens us, and we know all this because – even at this very moment – we hear God’s tiny whisper saying, “What are you doing here?”

What are we doing here? I dearly hope we are listening to God asking us in our hearts, “Who shall we send,” and we are ready to say, “Here I am LORD, Send ME!” Back to the movie for just a second: God is not dead, but I am, and there are actually two ways that can be true! I can be dead in sin, or dead to sin. If only the Spirit of God lives in me, in you, in us, we are ALIVE in God! And living in Christ Jesus I am alive because, like him, I have a resurrection to a new-and-eternal life. He told us so in the Voice of the Holy Spirit. “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!” (See Luke 14:35 for example).

We want to see God move, but even more, God longs for us to see Him move with His presence and power. Wouldn’t you agree that we need to do all we can to help others to stand in awe of the Person and work of the Holy Spirit, even our enemies? It seems our Nation has many “enemies, foreign and domestic” and especially spiritual enemies. Here are some thoughts on enemies:

“Our worst enemies here are not the ignorant and simple, however cruel; our worst enemies are the intelligent and corrupt.” ~~ Graham Greene

“No war is over until the enemy says it’s over. We may think it over, we may declare it over, but in fact, the enemy gets a vote.” ~~ General James Mattis

Psalm 23:5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

Matthew 5:43-45 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.

Luke 10:19 19 See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you.

Never doubt that Satan is intelligent and corrupt, and that he corrupts all who indulge him. Our war is against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (See Ephesians 6:10-20) so we must  “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power.” God’s eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made.” (See Romans 1:20-26) We just need to “do the right thing,” and God will take care of the rest!

Psalm 41:11 11 By this I know that you are pleased with me;
because my enemy has not triumphed over me.

And how is that possible? It is possible because of the Power, the Proximity, and the Permanence of God’s Providence. Great Things Happen (↔ Music Link) when God mixes with us! We need only wait through the tumult surrounding us until we are centered in the sheer silence of the presence of God and perhaps we, too, will hear him whisper, “What are you doing here, Belovéd?”

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.

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

And here’s a photo of our Mimi-girl – Lady Miriam – who passed away Wednesday around 2 PM. She was 16 years old – that’s 112 in cat years – and age finally caught up with her.

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About Chick Todd

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

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