Aloha Friday Message – February 24, 2017 – Unforgettable

1708AFC022417 – Unforgettable

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Isaiah 49:14-15 14 But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me,
my Lord has forgotten me.”
15 Can a woman forget her nursing child,
or show no compassion for the child of her womb?
Even these may forget,
yet I will not forget you.

1 Corinthians 4:5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive commendation from God.

Matthew 6:33 33 But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Aloha pumehana ʻŌmea. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. I encourage you to use the links again today so that you can see in context the scriptures presented. All of the links listed above come from the readings for the Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time. And so we begin.

In the passage from Isaiah, the prophet writes that Zion claims to be forgotten and deserted by God. Who and/or what is Zion? Zion is a specific mountain in Israel – it refers to Mount Zion, also called The Temple Mount. It is also often used in the Bible as a synonym for the nation of Israel – both its physical location and its people. In this passage, then, Isaiah personifies the nation and characterizes them as complaining that God has abandoned them. Isaiah uses this long poem to show that God has prepared a Servant who will set right all the persecution and injury done to Zion. You probably can recall other images from this beautiful prophecy contained in Isaiah 49 – I will make you a light to the nations; I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; and today’s passage, I will not forget you. The Servant whom God sends will undo everything the enemy has done. It will be cause for rejoicing and praise. God’s purpose for his chosen one will be fulfilled. There are four of these “Servant Songs,” and although the name of the Servant is not revealed, these passages are applied to the mission and ministry of Jesus. In this particular song, the Servant is called upon to restore not only Israel, but also to make God known to the entire world – the gentiles included. Israel will be a light to the nations. The Servant conquers all but not through war or political maneuvering, but rather through showing all of humanity that God is powerful, just, merciful, and loving. Israel was chosen by God to show “the nations” the goodness and glory of God; they failed in that mission repeatedly, and – while they suffered the consequences of those failures – they were always reminded that God would protect them, rescue them, and restore them.

In the midst of their oppression by Assyria, the Israelites felt they were no longer God’s chosen People. Isaiah reminded them that the Lord was calling them to repentance on their own volition; he wanted them to choose obedience. He assures them of God’s unfailing love and forgiveness by calling on the image of a mother’s tender love for her own child. Can a mother truly forget the child she has carried in her womb, or ignore the child she holds in her arms for feeding? The Lord says through Isaiah that yes, even a mother might forget; nonetheless, he will never forget his children. His love for his people is stronger than a mother’s love. He will forget their sins, but he will not forget them. There will be a time for judgment, but before that time comes, there will be a time for deliverance through the actions of God’s Servant. The joy of that deliverance will be universal.

This time of judgment is reserved for “the Day of The Lord.” It is the end of every place and time. It is the day when justice comes and mercy is called to testify. Everything that has been obscured in error and sin, every dark moment and place, all that is hidden will be revealed in the Light. The Apostle Paul counsels the Corinthians that they – and by extension we – do not have the wisdom required for that judgment. It is better to wait for the Lord to reveal what is true, just, and deserved. We often see something along those lines on the Internet – don’t judge others because you don’t know what kind of struggles they are going through. This does not mean, however, that we simply ignore evil. I’m going to use two passages from Paul’s letters to illustrate what kinds of things we are to guard against when we are dealing with others.

Romans 1:28-32 28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done. 29 They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 They know God’s decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die – yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them.

2 Timothy 3:1-9 1 You must understand this, that in the last days distressing times will come. For people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, brutes, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the outward form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid them! For among them are those who make their way into households and captivate silly women, overwhelmed by their sins and swayed by all kinds of desires, who are always being instructed and can never arrive at a knowledge of the truth. As Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these people, of corrupt mind and counterfeit faith, also oppose the truth. But they will not make much progress, because, as in the case of those two men, their folly will become plain to everyone.

As we were taught in Ecclesiastes 1:9, this list is nothing new – not then, not now – and we see this kind of sinful rebellion against God everywhere all the time. Those who promote and perform such actions do so by choice and are unrepentant about their choices. Can a mother forget her child? Yes, even to the point of contempt for the child’s life. Will God forget that child or that mother? No, he will not; however, he can and will forget the slaying of the child when those who permitted and performed the deed repent. I am convinced that there are billions of souls racing each other toward eternal separation from God in the hope of gaining for themselves some advantage of pleasure by denying it to another in that race. “You only live once” is the excuse for pointless self-indulgence and self-imposed ignorance. Paul mentions Jannes and Jambres whose folly was exposed to all when they lost everything – including their lives. These two men, who are not named in the Bible, are believed to be the infamous court magicians to Pharaoh whose illusions appeared to match the miracles of Moses’ actions. They offered disobedience and obstruction when confronted with evidence of the power of God. I fear that many such choices are made in these times, and the consequences will be the same as for Jannes and Jambres. Why do we earthlings so often choose whatever is opposite of God’s will? Why do we desire anything that is not what God provides for us?

Does God really give us the desires of our heart? If our heart’s desire is God, then yes, he does. I invite you to reread Psalm 37, particularly verses 4 and 16. We want attention, affection affiliation, approval, satisfaction for all our hungers, advantage over others, recognition, food, clothing, “stuff.” We spend our lives pursuing these things. We spend what we have been given trying to obtain what we don’t need but absolutely want. There is a more excellent way. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul describes the spiritual gifts God provides for his faithful. Immediately following his teaching on these gifts, he directs us to “still more excellent way.” God provides everything we need for happiness. We can chose his Gifts or ignore them. If we accept the Gifts, we honor the Giver of all good things. As Jesus himself said, But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. God has not forgotten us, but he has allowed some of the consequences of our disobedience to be felt here and now; we can choose to acknowledge those consequences and to repent of the evil we have done. We can examine our own hearts to see if we desire God above all else. If that examination is carried out in the Light of the Word, then we can embrace the Light and abhor the darkness. As we love the Lord more and more, the desires of our hearts change to the actions of our wills. Remember the power in these words: Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done. Do not forget the Lord your God who made heaven and earth, and even you and me.

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

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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