Aloha Friday Message – August 4, 2017 – Abundance Revisited

1731AFC080417 – Abundance Revisited

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Peace be with you! Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you!

On Sunday August 6, 2017 we mark the celebration of the Transfiguration of The Lord. We covered that event earlier this year (Please see 1710AFC031017 – Belovéd – Second Friday of Lent), so today I will share with you something else. I encourage you to go read that message again as preparation for this Sunday. Thank you.

Today, instead, we will look at the “usual readings” for the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. These include Isaiah 55:1-3, Psalm 145, Romans 8:35-39, and the Gospel is from Matthew 14:13-21 – the feeding of the 5,000. We begin with Isaiah’s description of The Abundant Life. He’s speaking to a Nation that is dead.

Isaiah 55:1-3 – The Abundant Life

1 Ho, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and you that have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
listen, so that you may live.
I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
my steadfast, sure love for 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 also 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, “Take 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 Words of Abundant 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 hear it 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 that abundance.”

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. It is the Rich Abundance of HIS Righteousness.

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, honest; all these are commodities which could be used to buy worldly products, goods, services, and comforts. Instead, they accumulate that which is unrighteous and ultimately useless because “you can’t take it with you.” 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 think 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, especially when they make claims that their depravity is a service to their deity. 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 me, calling you, calling many to the Table. The banquet is ready. The table is set. We have been invited to feast with our friends. If we are dissatisfied with The World’s pointless passion, let that disappointment cause us to listen intently to God’s invitation, and then take Him up on it. If the vanities of our lives are so mundane that we are given over to addiction, infidelity, or indifference; if our lives are filled with the pain of abandonment, the anxiety of confusion, or the pointless acquisition of emptiness; then we must answer the call. Why should we have to pay for it when it is more than we want, more than we need, and more that we can comprehend? Why work and work and work at filling our lives with The World when we can have that Abundant Everything which our 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 us to this eternal banquet? Check out the last sentence in our scripture today: I will renew with you the everlasting covenant, the benefits assured 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. Share what you know, answer the call, take the invitation, and invite others. That which we are promised is not the abundance of worldly things that leave us unfulfilled. We are promised the Eternal Banquet of Righteousness and Love. That is why we open The Word and learn about what plans God has for us. (See Jeremiah 29:11!)

It is important that we learn – and share our learningwith others. Why? Someone has to tell them! You probably remember this one from the Apostle Paul: Romans 10:17 17 So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ. Christ IS The Word! Let the Word be heard! And who will speak the word? Those who believe, of course. Knowing and believing in Jesus is not just a Sunday School lesson; it is the way to eternal life which is only available through and in Jesus. I’ll bet you know what’s coming next!

John 3:16-21 16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. 17 “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. 20 For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. 21 But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”

Belovéd, come to the Light and share in the Feast. Come to the Table of Plenty (↔ Music Link). God will provide for all that you need. Do not let that old liar and thief break in and steal your Joy! Come to the Table and live The Abundant Life. God promised it to David, and God’s intention is that we – you and me and all we invite – will get everything promised to David, to Israel, and to those who love The LORD. Remember this:

John 10:10 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

It is ours for the taking, and we will not be denied if we just answer, just accept, just fall back into the arms of Jesus and say, “Lord, I believe. Help me with my unbelief.” (See Mark 9:22b-24) And if we accept that invitation – either directly from God or from our neighbor or loved one – then we cannot be separated from that abundant life promised by God through Jesus, the Christ of God:

Romans 8:38-39 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 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.

When do we answer the invitation? As soon as we hear it! (In other words we answer NOW!) Please take a quick look at Isaiah 55:6-8. I’m inviting you to come with me. Let’s do this – together!

 

Image result for heavenly banquet

 

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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