Aloha Friday Message – August 8, 2014 – Topics from the Tropics

1432ACF080814 – Topics from the Tropics

Read it online here, please. (And also, please share this with others – forward, post, or copy and send the link.)

As most of you are aware, our beautiful state of Hawaiʽi is in for an unusual weekend starting today. We have Iselle smacking into the Big Island – Hawaiʽi Island – as of Thursday morning, and today or tomorrow – perhaps even momentarily – we’ll be hosting Isellle’s twin brother Julio. Both of them have strengthened on their way to our neighborhood; original forecasts said they would weaken, so we’re sort of in hyper-drive here. Many folks on Kauaʽi have strong memories of hurricane Iniki which hit September 11, 1992 – the last major hurricane to hit the islands, so it’s been 22 years. Still, it literally reduced Kauaʽi to rubble, but the strong-hearted citizens of Kauaʽi worked long and hard – for around 10 years – to rebuild. It’s no wonder some folks are mindful that “hurricanes that begin with ‘I’ are real trouble.” Crucita and I – and everyone we know – have made good preparations (we even have our P dried Palm Sunday palm leaves ready just in case), so we’re thinking it’s going to be messy, but not massive; lots and lots of rain, several hours for winds in the 40-60 mile range, and certainly heavy local flooding. The floods disrupt our homes and lives, but they are seriously damaging to our reef (already in serious trouble!) by piling even more silt and trash on them. All in all, though, we plan on coming out of the other side of this double-whammy with thanks and praise to God for his protection, and appreciation for our communities’ leaders who have helped us be well-prepared. We’re listening to what they – God and our officials – say about this danger. We thank you all in advance for your prayerful concerns.

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. This is the scene at the cave:

1 KINGS 19:11-13He [the LORD] said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

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, “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.

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. 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] Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have speaking up for me other than Jesus! 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. 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 recent movie called God is not Dead – the moviethat did well in theaters and is now out on DVD. Crucita and I watched that recently, 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. Right after watching the movie, I saw a C. S. Lewis quote that really grabbed my attention. Try this out. C. S. Lewis – “The safest road to Hell is the gradual one — the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.” That reminded me of something one of the characters in the movie said: From “God 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. Till 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), 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? Think about last week’s message (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 you doing here? I dearly hope you are listening to God asking you in your heart, “Who shall we send,” and you 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 – 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. Were you listening?

How then shall we hear THE VOICE OF GOD? Once again I refer you to this link: HEARING THE VOICE OF GOD by Brendan Case. In addition, here is another invitation from The Companions of the Holy Spirit for you to consider this weekend:

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? With this in mind, I want to encourage you to watch the movie available at the link below. It will be online for 24 hours this Saturday, August 9th.  The cost is $5.00 (such a deal!) The film will be available for 24 short hours starting August 9th at Noon Central Time, after which you won’t be able to see it until September 6th! Check out the trailer here, and purchase it to stream for only five bucks.

http://holyghost.vhx.tv

Please get this out to others.

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

 

 

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About Chick Todd

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

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