Aloha Friday Message – October 16, 2020 – Chosen for greatness

2042AFC101620 – Chosen for greatness

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    Isaiah 45:5a I am the Lord, and there is no other; besides me there is no god. 

    Isaiah 44:28a [It is I, the Lord] who says of Cyrus, “He is my shepherd, and he shall carry out all my purpose” 

    Matthew 22:20-21 20 Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” 21 They answered, “The emperor’s.” Then he said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. Today is Friday, October 16, 2020. It is the 290th day of the year. There are 76 days left in 2020. I think all of us will agree this has been an extraordinary year so far, and it’s likely to get even more extraordinary before 2021 opens up before us. Many of us have had a difficult year. Some of us have had a horrible year. A few of us have had a great year. ALL of us have memories of 2020 that will last us for the rest of our lives, memories we will end up sharing with our grandchildren who will pass them on to their grandchildren. In my heart of hearts I hold the hope that somehow all this chaos will be resolved; but, that little man in the right-rear quadrant of my brain keeps saying, “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”

     Recently we’ve mentioned the “birth pangs” Jesus spoke of when describing the “end times.” If, indeed, what we are seeing now is just the birth pangs, then the pandemonium lurking just outside the door (see Genesis 4:7) is something I don’t want to see or endure. That’s kinda crazy, because if these days are the birth pangs, and if the next item on the program is The Tribulation (with or without the Parousia), then – as a person of Faith – I should be jumping for joy because everything is going as planned, and the Day of Resurrection is in sight. The World would judge me as just plain crazy, another religious nut. You’ve probably seen this little meme before, so you’ll understand why it is very important that we do not pay attention to the World’s judgments.

We know the way God works – he does everything perfectly! We don’t do that because we can’t do that. That’s why he’s God and we’re not (despite what certain Hollywood nuts say). This Sunday, we’re going to talk about one of the guys God stirred up to do what God had planned. It’s a pretty good story. We’ll hear about Cyrus, ruler of the Medes and Persians – the same guy who defeated Babylon and returned the Jews to Jerusalem after 70 years of exile there. Here’s the back-story on that.

One of our Key Verses today is from the book of the Prophet Isaiah. Isaiah’s prophesies were made the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, all of which ruled in the closing years of the eighth century B.C. (ca. 740 – 701 B.C.). What’s really cool about this prophecy is that Isaiah specifically names Cyrus, who wasn’t even born yet! Cyrus was born around 585 ± 5 BC, around 150 years later! He was not a Jew, but rather a gentile. God refers to him as “his anointed” in Isaiah 45:1 – 1 Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped to subdue nations before him and strip kings of their robes, to open doors before him — and the gates shall not be closed. ALL the kings of Israel were anointed, and Cyrus was a Gentile whom God himself anointed with his Spirit. (See 2012AFC032020 – Anointed for Good for more information). After being whupped by just about every empire in history and carted off to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar, I imagine the Jews looked at this new, young military leader as just another oppressor. “Here we go again. Now what?” They seem to have forgotten that God himself had chosen Cyrus and told them “Cyrus will do what I tell him to do. Jerusalem will be rebuilt and all of you will go there.” From Genesis to Malachi, God tells his people I am the Lord over 160 times. You’d think they’d remember! Another of our Key Verses says I am the Lord, and there is no other; besides me there is no god. So, what are we supposed to do with that?

(This is where I’m supposed to insert Micah 6:8 again. We should all have that memorized by now.) We should also be thinking about the two greatest commandments – love God completely and love our neighbors (including our enemies) the same way Jesus loves us. That’s God’s plan for us. It’s a pretty simple plan if you really think about it. Trouble is it seems to be “too simple for our complex minds and hearts.” The folks who manage to figure out how it works and get’r done are the folks we name as Saints. Now, of course, all of the people saved by Grace are “the Saints of God,” but the exemplary ones are those who “do small things with great love.” We are all called to that kind of greatness. We who are baptized are also anointed Priest, Prophet, and King. If we think it was amazing that God would have Cyrus named as “his anointed” 150 years before it happened, then how great is it that millennia before we came on the scene, God named us – each and every person reading this – as his anointed? If God has prepared that for us, what ought we to prepare for him? I am not a Priest like Saint Pope John Paul II, I am not a Prophet like Isaiah, and I am not a King like Cyrus; but, I am chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. (See Ephesians 1:4) I am, you are, we are chosen and anointed by God, in God, and for God. As we hear in the Eucharistic Doxology, it is our call to live this proclamation as a core value in our lives: “Through him, and with him, and in him, O God, almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, forever and ever. Amen.”)

Everyone in our lives is affected by our anointing. For most of us, though, that’s no big whoop; that is, unless we are counting our burdens instead of our blessings. That sort of focused awareness is pretty depressing because we concentrate too much on what we don’t have and overlook everything we do have. If we are living in accordance with Christ’s Law of Love, we know, see, and understand how God’s Grace gifts us with extraordinary treasures. That kind of focused awareness gives us a predisposition to value God’s Love deeply and also inspires us to make a return on that love. God invests us – clothes us in Christ – so that when we return the love of Christ to God and to neighbor our blessings are increased. If we give whatever belongs to God to someone or something else in the World, we should not be surprised that our investing in the World does not produce spiritual blessings. Those investments only satisfy our liabilities to the law. Investing in the World is about the same thing as paying our taxes. That’s the lesson Jesus was teaching when the Pharisees plotted to entrap him by asking, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” (See Matthew 24:17).Jesus told them, “Show me the coin used for the tax.” Now we recently said something about this particular coin. It was a Denarius showing the image of Tiberius Caesar, Emperor in Jesus’ day. It was a tribute tax, a way of paying Caesar for his “protection” (under his thumb!). Jesus held the coin so the Disciples of the Pharisees could see it and said, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” 21 They answered, “The emperor’s.” Then he said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Sometimes we earthlings have trouble sorting that out. Just what does belong to God? Let’s take a look at what Scripture says:

Psalm 24:1-2 1 The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.

1 Chronicles 29:11 11 Yours, O Lord, are the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heavens and on the earth is yours; yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all.

Deuteronomy 8:17-18 17 Do not say to yourself, “My power and the might of my own hand have gotten me this wealth.” 18 But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, so that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your ancestors, as he is doing today.

Job 41:1111 I am in command of the world and in debt to no one. Contemporary English Version (CEV)

The short answer, then, is that everything belongs to God. He made it, and it’s his to do with as he pleases. If you’ve ever received a gift that was far beyond anything you could have imagined, that’s what God’s Grace is like. He gives us more than we can comprehend or repay, so he just asks us to share a little of it with him and with our neighbors. It may look like we have a house, a car, a deed to property, a bank account, but all of those things come from God, and if they are his, we should use them as best befits their purpose – to give God the glory, the praise, the thanks, the adoration, and all the Good that flows from his generosity. We can use God’s car to take a friend to work. We can use God’s groceries to feed a grieving family. We can use God’s living room in our home to host a prayer meeting or Bible study. Whatever we have, we can use it for something greater in the Kingdom than what it is in the World. In fact, whatever we do in the Kingdom, whatever we add to the Kingdom, whatever share to the Kingdom has come to us from and through God. (See John 1:3-4) Even so, we can “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” The reason is simple: Everything belongs to God, ultimately even the things that belong to Caesar.

If everything belongs to God, then it follows that everyone belongs to God. Our life, our love, our worshiping, and honoring of God and neighbor belong to God. If we offer all that we have – body, mind, and spirit – to God and neighbor, what becomes of us and of our gifts? I believe the answer is in John 15:13 13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. All Good things come from God, so whatever is Good in our lives comes from him, but who can repay him – and how? If we give him All That We Have (↔ Music Link), could it ever be enough? Could we give God and each other All That I am (↔ Music Link), and still come up short? We want to Love God for the Greatness of his Love, but in the Light of his Love ours is Only a Shadow (↔ Music Link). Still, I am certain you have felt moments in your life when you and God are very much in sync and you know firsthand that Great Things Happen (↔ Music Link) when God mixes with us!

Belovéd, we are chosen for greatness in and through Love. Isn’t that great?

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.

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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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