Aloha Friday Message – July 29, 2011 – Listen to this

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Read it online here.

Today’s Bible verse is Isaiah 55:3
(NAB) Come to me heedfully, listen, that you may have life. I will renew with you the everlasting covenant, the benefits assured to David.

(NLT) Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen, and you will find life. I will make an everlasting covenant with you. I will give you all the unfailing love I promised to David.

Dead men don’t tell tales. Dead men don’t die. Dead men don’t wear plaid. Dead men don’t tell Charlie Chan. Dead men don’t cry. Dead men don’t eat. And certainly, dead men don’t listen.

Isaiah is speaking to Israel in this passage. He is announcing that God is going to bless them with such abundance that that it can never be depleted. Not only that, but the blessings of His abundance are so magnificent that no price can be set for them, but it does not matter because they have already been paid for by Someone else. These abundant blessings are far beyond our expectations. We answer the call of God hoping for the simplest things to sustain our lives – bread-and-water things – and instead He gives us rich and luxurious food and drink, wine and milk, honey and finest flour, the richest meats and the sweetest fruits. He says, “Takes this. It is for you. It will answer all your wants and satisfy all your needs. Just listen to what I AM telling you. These are the Word of Life. If you believe, then you shall live. Come and eat and all of this will become part of you for you to enjoy with Me forever.”

Can you hear that? Israel did not because Israel was dead – exiled to Babylon and cut off from the Promised Land. Israel was a captive nation, and they had no way to meet their needs, much less their wants. God said he would restore them to the Promised Land – and then some – and that instead of crossing a barren desert to get there – as they had done in the Exodus – this new exodus would be across a paradise where the mountains would be lowered and the valleys raised, the road traveled would be level, and instead of the barely-adequate water in the desert, their journey would be blessed with pools and streams of fresh, life-sustaining water … FOREVER! Nothing at all would be lacking because God was restoring the Land and restoring the People to the Land. He is calling them to begin this Journey, this New Exodus, by just saying “Yes, I’ll take it.”

And what is this Abundance? What is this promise God is making? Is it all the material, physical, momentary, temporary, short-lived things we work so hard all our lives to acquire? Of course not! It is The Kingdom of God present in and through Christ Jesus. Christ and Heaven are ours without any indebtedness. We owe God nothing for this abundant Grace, this gift of absolute satisfaction and contentment that satisfies our hunger and quenches our thirst far, far beyond our expectations.

Those who are satisfied with what The World has to offer do not respond to this call from God. They neither hunger nor thirst for righteousness – virtues, morality, decency, honesty; all these are commodities used to buy worldly products, goods, services, and comforts. They have no expectation of anything greater than what they can possess. Even love itself becomes a possession that can be bought and sold, withheld, decorated, abused, and discarded. Everything is disposable. Only what they want next has value. Everything they have has been bought with a price. And they fail to realize that they, too, have been bought with a price. Thus inclined, they reject God’s offer of abundance, joy, and everlasting happiness. They have what they need because they have taken what they want.

We know these people. Some of them are the agnostics, the atheists, the hypocrites, and the unfulfilled. They may do good deeds in their lives. Some may choose to be kind, generous, and even pious; yet these characteristics are part of their bartering system for the enhancement of their worldly prestige. Even so, we all tend to embrace, or to like, or merely to tolerate them. There are still others who are the criminals and depraved people who cause immense suffering out of greed and evil; the general public has a low tolerance for these individuals. Collectively, these are the earthlings who choose not to hear and therefore not to answer God’s call to the abundant life He promises. They hear only their own music, see only their own finery, taste only their own pleasures, touch only their own world, and smell only their own death.

God is calling you to the Table. The banquet is ready. The table is set. You have been invited to feast with your friends. If you are dissatisfied with The World’s pointless passion, let that disappointment cause you to listen intently to God’s invitation, and then take Him up on it. If the vanities of your life are so mundane that you are given over to addiction, infidelity, or indifference; if your life is filled with the pain of abandonment, the anxiety of confusion, or the pointless acquisition of emptiness; then answer the call. Why should you have to pay for it when it is more than you want, more than you need, and more that you can comprehend? Why work and work and work at filling your life with The World when you can have Everything God has promised – every single Blessing and Grace promised to Israel through King David – free? That is F – R – E – E FREE!

And why does God call you to this eternal banquet? Check out the last sentence in our scripture today: I will give you all the unfailing love I promised to David.

So, now you are telling me you’re already at the Banquet Table, everything’s fine, and you’re just on the verge of getting second-helpings? Excellent! One question though: Is that empty chair next to you for your neighbor? Not sure how to invite him/her? Maybe you can share what you heard in this message, or send them to aloha-friday.org.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved.

Share-A-Prayer
You have all heard of the tragedy in Sweden. Pray for those who grieve, those who fear, and that those who died will enjoy the Heavenly Banquet. Pray that they will find Peace, and then bless them.

You have all heard of the tragedy in Somalia. Pray for those who are hungry, those who feel terror, and that they will share in the wealth the world can offer to alleviate their suffering. Pray that they will find safety, and then ensure it lasts.

You have all heard of the thousands of earthlings, many of them children, in our own country who are hungry. Pray for those who may not eat tonight, those who did not eat last night, and that never again will they go to bed hungry. Pray that their hunger will be satisfied, and then feed them.

You have all heard of the billions of earthlings who scorn the Banquet, including those who live pious lives. Pray for those who are deluded, those who are demented, and those who are determined to save themselves from the hole they keep digging.

You have all heard of domestic violence and gender-based violence. Pray for the perpetrators, the direct and indirect victims, and support the shelters and agencies who care for those who are abused.

+++++ This may be the beginning of a series. Many of you will hear this verse, Isaiah 55:3, in your church services this coming Sunday. For the next 3-4 weeks we’ll try that out. If you don’t hear this verse Sunday because your pastor spoke on a different passage, that’s OK because then this message is like all the previous messages. If you do hear this passage this Sunday, add what you learn from your pastor to this message, and then share it with someone else. If you don’t hear this verse this coming Sunday because you’re not going to go to church, well, there’s still time to change your mind.+++++

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About Chick Todd

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

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