Aloha Friday Message – January 2, 2015 – Watch Out!

1501AFC010215 – Watch out!

Read it online here, please.

Matthew 2:1-2 In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising,and have come to pay him homage.”

Hau’oli Makahiki Hou! Happy New Year!

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!)

We are finished with 2014. Think of it like this: Go out into deepest space and build a 12X12X4 wall. Everything on that side of the wall is the Past and beyond your reach. Everything on this side of the wall is the future … and beyond your reach. Don’t look back unless you want to go back. Stand on the top of the wall and look forward with eagerness to everything that will come your way for all of it will be a blessing to you if you accept it as a gift from God who gives you only the Good Gifts which you need so that you will know him better, love him more, and serve him well – all through HIS Eternal Power.

If, however, you try to use your own power to bless your own life, 2015 could turn out to be uncomfortable at best and even disastrous. This is a mistake we earthlings very often make. I’d like to show you a few examples today about how seemingly simple things can be very harmful.

We all know that “too much of a good thing” can be damaging – the sun for example. For some silly reason we seem to think that toasting our hide like a marshmallow so that it’s all brown and crispy is a good idea; I’ve done that! We all know that UV exposure damages skin cells and raises the risk of skin cancer. Then, somewhere along the line, we notice that our skin is aging faster, and filled with hard little bumps called actinic karatoses – scaly, crusty growths (lesions) caused by damage from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. At that point – hopefully – sunscreen sounds like a better idea. Some of us find that inhaling noxious fumes, gases, and ashes is pleasing; I’ve done that! Then we find out that our lung tissues are chock-full of gooey gunk, the air sacs that exchange oxygen are dissolving, and it’s harder and harder to breathe. That knowledge – late in acceptance – causes us to rethink the whole idea of smoking whatever it was we inhaled (you know what else I’m thinking of here!). And of course, some of us can recall moments when the recognition that alcohol was slowly killing us and our relationships with others, or that sexual appetites were damaging us in body, mind, and spirit. Perhaps we realize that the way we eat – or don’t eat – is treading on the very borders of death. When we wake up and realize we are denying the presence of things that are killing us, we may – though not always – try to make a change in our lives. At this time of year we often do that with “Resolutions.”

Magi&StarSo what do New Year’s Resolutions have in common with the Wise Men – the Magi – visiting the Holy Family? It’s the Magi – the magicians “from the East,” the astronomers who relied on astronomy. They became part of the Nativity Narrative as a demonstration that Jesus the Christ came for all earthlings – Jew and gentile, holy and profane, rich and poor – as the angels heralded Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Now this was said to the shepherds on the night of Jesus’ birth – and we must not forget that the Magi showed up at least two years later – so also, I believe, it applies to these astronomers who came to honor a Divine King despite not being subject to his Kingship yet nonetheless subject to his Divinity. I have wondered many times if their encounter with that Divinity affected them spiritually. It certainly affected the shepherds who left the stable glorifying God; but of the Magi we only know that “being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.” (Matthew 2:12) My conclusion is that they arrived as sorcerers and departed as sorcerers, unchanged by choice. Like our “little bad habits,” which we cling to so dearly, they chose to stick with the status quo.

Beloved, we often err in much the same way. I’m not going to head off on a diatribe about Harry Potter and Hogwarts; read those fantasies with a wary mind and stand firm in the Truth. They will not harm you. Nor will I repeat my warning about the practice of yoga and other occult practices. I do want you to think about other little things that subtly maneuver us away from God, and that’s where this post connects with the Magi – magicians, sorcerers, astrologers, “dividers of the sky.” God is very explicit about trusting in our own powers, or – worse still – in the powers of our ancient enemy Satan. Check this out: Isaiah 47:12-15Keep up, now, your spells and your many sorceries; perhaps you can make them avail, perhaps you can strike terror! You wearied yourself with many consultations, at which you toiled from your youth. Let the astrologers [literally “dividers of the sky”] stand forth to save you, the stargazers who forecast at each new moon what would happen to you. Lo, they are like stubble, fire consumes them; they cannot save themselves from the spreading flames. This is no warming ember, no fire to sit before. Thus do your wizards serve you with whom you have toiled from your youth; each wanders his own way, with none to save you. Astrology, numerology, witchcraft, mediums (Tarot and palm readers for example), amulets and lucky-pieces are quick traps to life-threatening habits.

It comes up in the New Testament, too. Here’s a little excerpt from the travels of Paul and Barnabas. Acts 13:6-12 When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they met a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet, named Bar-Jesus. He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and wanted to hear the word of God. But the magician Elymas (for that is the translation of his name) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul away from the faith. But Saul, also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him  and said, “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? And now listen—the hand of the Lord is against you, and you will be blind for a while, unable to see the sun.” Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he went about groping for someone to lead him by the hand. When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was astonished at the teaching about the Lord.

Notice it doesn’t say that Bar-Jesus the Elymas (which means sorcerer) was converted! Sometimes the conversion we need comes at the cost of our lives. Here I am thinking about Samson. Note there is no letter P in that name; it’s not Sampson – it is Samson שִׁמְשׁוֹן (Shimshon) {shim-shone’} which means “like the sun.” Samson knew he was set apart by God for God’s service, but he thought he was so powerful in his own right that he could get away with fudging the lines. His troubles started when he moved close to the border of an area under control of the Philistines near Timnath. He spotted a good-looking woman named Delilah, went home and told his parents to get her for his wife. We know how that turned out. Later, he went to Gaza, shacked up with a harlot, and then lay in wait outside the city. In the middle of the night he tore that city gates off their hinges and put them on top of a hill. He kept doing things that were right on the border of temptation; he desired to be tempted, and gave in to that desire one time too often. Samson here was deliberately exposing himself to the danger of temptation instead of fleeing from it and as a result he gets trapped in sin. That eventually cost him his pride, his vision, and finally his life. When we constantly place ourselves in the path of temptation – you may recall the phrase “the near occasion of sin” – we are essentially risking our souls for the thrill of confronting God’s law. We open ourselves to spirits other than God’s, spirits who are real and truly seek our destruction – eternal destruction. “But it was only a little bit, only a little sin, only a little rebellion.” We are deliberately disobeying God and putting our trust in something (or better, someone) other than Him.

CAn'tSeeMeBeloved, watch out! Satan is always on the prowl for “silly little, harmless mistakes,” our flirtations with evil, and one by one these little easy betrayals of God build up until – like Samson – we are captured by the very sins we dared to try. That is when we realize that what Paul said about the wages of sin is true. It is death. Better to put the temptation to death by knowing the purpose of the Devil’s deceptions. Remember, his “little mistake” was the sin of rebellion. Read what God says about that in this passage from 1 Samuel as he prophesies against Saul. And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obedience to the voice of the Lord? Surely, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is no less a sin than divination, and stubbornness is like iniquity and idolatry. Trusting in occult practices is rebellion.

 

Don’t.

 

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

 

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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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