Aloha Friday Message – Steadfast in All – August 1, 2014

1431AFC080114 – Steadfast in All

 Read it online here, please.

 Romans 8:35-39 (NRSVCE) – Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 E pili mau na pomaika‘i ia ‘oe a me ke akua ho’omaika’i ‘oe, ʻōmea! (May blessing always be with you and may God bless you, Beloved!)  Last week our message was based on Isaiah 55:3 – Incline your ear and come to me heedfully, listen, that you may have life. I will renew with you the everlasting covenant, the benefits assured to David. That is the last verse of the first reading (the Old Testament Reading) for August 3, 2014. Today’s message is based on the second reading for August 3, the Epistle of Paul to the Romans. Let’s begin with a little background.

 Based on the chronologies in the Acts of the Apostles, it appears Paul wrote this letter to the Romans from Corinth, most likely around the end of 56 AD through the early part of 57 AD. By this time, there was already serious persecution by the Romans perhaps as early as the reign of Claudius, and through the time of Caligula and later Nero. The persecutions became increasingly severe over the next 300 or so years. It is that escalating persecution about which Paul is writing, assuring the Romans that no matter what happens, the love of God for them will always be greater than the evils the World of Rome can inflict on them. In this passage from Romans, Paul quotes from Psalm 44 (around vv. 22-23) Yet for your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered. Understanding this quote helps us to understand better what Paul is talking about, so let’s look at it in context.

 This Psalm has three parts. The first part, vv. 1-8, describes how God won the victories for them when they entered Canaan and despoiled the nations living there. They acknowledge it was God’s hand that sustained them, fought for them, and made their nation great. In vv. 9-22, the account changes; something is terribly wrong, because others are persecuting them – not because they are evil or in the wrong, but because they are loyal to their God and have discredited the false and useless “no-gods” of their enemies. The surrounding pagan nations are persecuting Israel for their faith, not for their lack of faith (or lack of loyalty to God). That is a bit different from what we usually hear when Israel is being persecuted.

 Throughout Old Testament history, when the Hebrews – Israel, the Jews – failed to honor and serve God, there were subjected to conquest, humiliation, and defeat by other nations. This happened over and over, and Israel repeatedly repented, was restored, and relapsed into sin again. In this instance, though, the claim is that “we didn’t do anything wrong.” In fact, the Psalmist here points out that the People have been loyal to the covenant, have not stretched out their hands in supplication to false gods; indeed, it is their loyalty and faithfulness that is the cause of their persecution. Thus they claim they are under constant threat of death at the hands of their enemies because they have chosen to honor God. This is the image Paul is passing on to the Jewish believers in Rome. A Jewish community of Christians in Rome was a doubly-dangerous place to be. In 49 AD it is believed the Emperor Claudius Caesar expelled all the Jews from Rome, so those who were still around – even as part of a nascent Christian community – were risking their lives to stay there. Paul is assuring them that no persecutor can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. This is because of their faithfulness. God had certainly punished Israel in the past for their infidelity. I invite you to read a fascinating passage of scripture in Deuteronomy chapter 32. Pay particular attention to verse 21 in which God says, They provoked me with “no-gods,” aggravated me with their pieces of junk. So I am going to provoke them with “No-People,” aggravate them with a nation of fools. (Deuteronomy 32:21) God always calls sinners to repentance so that he can show them the power of his mercy. Some he calls to faith so that others can see his mercy and power. The persecutions they were enduring were a living example of the steadfastness of God’s love as shown to us in Christ Jesus. What is repentance and from what or of what must we repent?

 In Ezekiel 33:11 God says, Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but prefer that the wicked change his behavior and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil deeds! Why should you die, O house of Israel?'” There is the key: that the wicked change his behavior and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil deeds! Repentance is to turn around and go away from evil. ) Jesus and John the Baptist used the word μετάνοια, – metanoia. It is a change of heart, a change of mind, or a change of direction as in a one-eighty turn. A closely-related word is μετανοέω – metanoéō. Both come from the same root meanings meta – above, beyond, higher; and noein to think from nuos – mind. So, metanoia is to move beyond where our hearts and minds are to a new paradigm, a new way of thinking and feeling and seeing everything in life. When we repent, we have a change of mind – not a renewing of mind (See Romans 1:12). Another way to think of it is we quash, break, nullify, defeat, or conquer a temptation that is repeatedly before us; we break a bad habit; we realign our values-system so that it aligns more closely with God’s values. WE make an effort to sin less even though we know we can never be sinless. Not even sin can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 “Now, wait a minute!” you say. “That’s not the way I learned it.” Let me show you what I mean. Sin certainly separates us from God. We refuse to accept the grace and love of God when we sin. And as soon as we do that, God says what? “For that you go directly to Hell.” NO! God says, “Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.” (Isaiah 45:22) And he also says, “Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. Who knows? He may turn and relent and leave behind a blessing – grain offerings and drink offerings for the Lord your God. (Joel 2:12-14)

 Beloved, there is nothing that will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. NOTHING! Especially nothing of flesh – humankind, governments, wicked rulers, terrorists, haters, deeply evil people, nor anything else in all creation; they cannot keep us from the Love of God in Christ Jesus. When we are in Christ, we are in God and the Holy Spirit is in us. Just a few verses before today’s selected text we read, But you are not in the flesh; on the contrary, you are in the spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells in you. Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. (NAB – Romans 8:9)

 Now, knowing that, I want to ask you for a very special Share-a-Prayer WEEK. I want you to pray for the Christians being persecuted in Somalia, Nigeria, Rhodesia, Sudan – especially Darfur – and in Ethiopia, Zambia, Zaire, Libya, Mali, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Just pray for the Christians in those countries in that list at least once a day every day. They are suffering severe persecutions. Pray that they will be immersed in the Faith that comes to us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Not only can nothing separate us from his love, but also nothing can separate us from our love of HIM!

 

Romans_8_38-39

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

chick

 

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

 

1431AFC080114 – Steadfast in All

Read it online here, please.

Romans 8:35-39 (NRSVCE) – Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

E pili mau na pomaika‘i ia ‘oe a me ke akua ho’omaika’i ‘oe, ʻōmea! (May blessing always be with you and may God bless you, Beloved!)  Last week our message was based on Isaiah 55:3 – Incline your ear and come to me heedfully, listen, that you may have life. I will renew with you the everlasting covenant, the benefits assured to David. That is the last verse of the first reading (the Old Testament Reading) for August 3, 2014. Today’s message is based on the second reading for August 3, the Epistle of Paul to the Romans. Let’s begin with a little background.

Based on the chronologies in the Acts of the Apostles, it appears Paul wrote this letter to the Romans from Corinth, most likely around the end of 56 AD through the early part of 57 AD. By this time, there was already serious persecution by the Romans perhaps as early as the reign of Claudius, and through the time of Caligula and later Nero. The persecutions became increasingly severe over the next 300 or so years. It is that escalating persecution about which Paul is writing, assuring the Romans that no matter what happens, the love of God for them will always be greater than the evils the World of Rome can inflict on them. In this passage from Romans, Paul quotes from Psalm 44 (around vv. 22-23) Yet for your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered. Understanding this quote helps us to understand better what Paul is talking about, so let’s look at it in context.

This Psalm has three parts. The first part, vv. 1-8, describes how God won the victories for them when they entered Canaan and despoiled the nations living there. They acknowledge it was God’s hand that sustained them, fought for them, and made their nation great. In vv. 9-22, the account changes; something is terribly wrong, because others are persecuting them – not because they are evil or in the wrong, but because they are loyal to their God and have discredited the false and useless “no-gods” of their enemies. The surrounding pagan nations are persecuting Israel for their faith, not for their lack of faith (or lack of loyalty to God). That is a bit different from what we usually hear when Israel is being persecuted.

Throughout Old Testament history, when the Hebrews – Israel, the Jews – failed to honor and serve God, there were subjected to conquest, humiliation, and defeat by other nations. This happened over and over, and Israel repeatedly repented, was restored, and relapsed into sin again. In this instance, though, the claim is that “we didn’t do anything wrong.” In fact, the Psalmist here points out that the People have been loyal to the covenant, have not stretched out their hands in supplication to false gods; indeed, it is their loyalty and faithfulness that is the cause of their persecution. Thus they claim they are under constant threat of death at the hands of their enemies because they have chosen to honor God. This is the image Paul is passing on to the Jewish believers in Rome. A Jewish community of Christians in Rome was a doubly-dangerous place to be. In 49 AD it is believed the Emperor Claudius Caesar expelled all the Jews from Rome, so those who were still around – even as part of a nascent Christian community – were risking their lives to stay there. Paul is assuring them that no persecutor can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. This is because of their faithfulness. God had certainly punished Israel in the past for their infidelity. I invite you to read a fascinating passage of scripture in Deuteronomy chapter 32. Pay particular attention to verse 21 in which God says, They provoked me with “no-gods,” aggravated me with their pieces of junk. So I am going to provoke them with “No-People,” aggravate them with a nation of fools. (Deuteronomy 32:21) God always calls sinners to repentance so that he can show them the power of his mercy. Some he calls to faith so that others can see his mercy and power. The persecutions they were enduring were a living example of the steadfastness of God’s love as shown to us in Christ Jesus. What is repentance and from what or of what must we repent?

In Ezekiel 33:11 God says, Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but prefer that the wicked change his behavior and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil deeds! Why should you die, O house of Israel?'” There is the key: that the wicked change his behavior and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil deeds! Repentance is to turn around and go away from evil. ) Jesus and John the Baptist used the word μετάνοια, – metanoia. It is a change of heart, a change of mind, or a change of direction as in a one-eighty turn. A closely-related word is μετανοέω – metanoéō. Both come from the same root meanings meta – above, beyond, higher; and noein to think from nuos – mind. So, metanoia is to move beyond where our hearts and minds are to a new paradigm, a new way of thinking and feeling and seeing everything in life. When we repent, we have a change of mind – not a renewing of mind (See Romans 1:12). Another way to think of it is we quash, break, nullify, defeat, or conquer a temptation that is repeatedly before us; we break a bad habit; we realign our values-system so that it aligns more closely with God’s values. WE make an effort to sin less even though we know we can never be sinless. Not even sin can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

“Now, wait a minute!” you say. “That’s not the way I learned it.” Let me show you what I mean. Sin certainly separates us from God. We refuse to accept the grace and love of God when we sin. And as soon as we do that, God says what? “For that you go directly to Hell.” NO! God says, “Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.” (Isaiah 45:22) And he also says, “Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. Who knows? He may turn and relent and leave behind a blessing – grain offerings and drink offerings for the Lord your God. (Joel 2:12-14)

 

Beloved, there is nothing that will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. NOTHING! Especially nothing of flesh – humankind, governments, wicked rulers, terrorists, haters, deeply evil people, nor anything else in all creation; they cannot keep us from the Love of God in Christ Jesus. When we are in Christ, we are in God and the Holy Spirit is in us. Just a few verses before today’s selected text we read, But you are not in the flesh; on the contrary, you are in the spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells in you. Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. (NAB – Romans 8:9)

Now, knowing that, I want to ask you for a very special Share-a-Prayer WEEK. I want you to pray for the Christians being persecuted in Somalia, Nigeria, Rhodesia, Sudan – especially Darfur – and in Ethiopia, Zambia, Zaire, Libya, Mali, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Just pray for the Christians in those countries in that list at least once a day every day. They are suffering severe persecutions. Pray that they will be immersed in the Faith that comes to us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Not only can nothing separate us from his love, but also nothing can separate us from our love of HIM!

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About Chick Todd

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

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