Aloha Friday Message – February 1, 2019 – Anchored in Love

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   Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

   1 Corinthians 13:4-6 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.

   Hebrews 10:24-25 24 And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Much LOVE to you, Belovéd! Can you believe it? One month of 2019 is already gone! It’s getting difficult to keep track of things when time is just a blur. We hope that those of you who are enduring extreme weather are finding comfort in the warmth of the love shared among all your loved-ones near and far. Love does indeed warm the heart and soul and at times even the body. Love is … well, let’s look a little more closely at some ideas about Love.

   The key verse today is from the Old Testament reading for this coming Sunday. The Lord is telling Jeremiah that he received from God, before he was even conceived, the blessing of the Gift of Prophecy. God had a plan for Jeremiah and that plan was part of the same plan we looked into last week: A Saviour will restore us into the presence of God. And why did God make such a beautifully Perfect Promise that required such brilliant plan? His plan is Anchored in Love – love for all of his Creation – and he wants to restore the Love we had together with him before sin shattered that perfection. Belovéd, we are also part of that plan, that covenant of Love, and that means God has given us gifts to use to help complete that restoration of Perfect Love.

We sometimes don’t want to know about those gifts because when we acknowledge them we also have to acknowledge that they are given to us to be used.

God made us as part of his plan; we have to do our part. Still, it’s often not easy, especially when working with those who are familiar to us. God sent Elijah to a gentile woman and her son in Zarephath to provide for their future and sent Elisha to instruct Naaman the Syrian, another gentile, on how God wanted him to be healed. Two questions might be asked about these accounts. The first would be “why gentiles?” In retrospect, the answer is easy to discover: God wants everyone to be anchored in his love. In fact, he chose the Nation of Israel to be an exemplar of God’s Love and Blessing.

Let’s take a look at verse 8 in this passage from Deuteronomy 7:6-11 It was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath that he swore to your ancestors, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. In this passage God tells Israel he did not choose them because they were a large nation, or a strong nation, or a wise nation. He chose them because he loved them. Belovéd that is why God has chosen you and me – all of us; HE LOVES US.

The second question that might come up is, “why not his own people?” Even people who have never really explored the Bible in depth know that Israel had a special relationship with God, so why did God give blessings and advantages to the peoples of other nations? I believe God blessed others to show Israel that they too could be blessed if they would only keep their part of the Covenant: To love and obey the Lord their God. Israel had been given so many advantages – fertile land; physical, military, and spiritual strength; just and clear laws; and – greatest of all – the mercy of Salvation was to come through them. They failed over and over to do that, and God showed them over and over that he could still be merciful if and when they could be obedient. Let’s look at a verse from Sunday’s Gospel to get an idea about how the stories of these gentiles were a lesson to all of God’s people.

Luke 4:25-28 25 But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; 26 yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. 27 There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” 28 When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage.*

* Rage in Greek in this verse is θυμοῦ (thymou) {thoo-mo} from θυμός (thymos) {thoo-mos’} → venting of rage, wrath, intense emotional outburst. If we look into these stories with the eyes that Jesus’ audience may have had, we see a common thread. Both the widow and Naaman resisted the instructions given them by the prophets Elijah and Elisha – but – they [1] repented and [2] obeyed and were thereby blessed. Nothing else would work – only repentance and obedience. God’s chosen people did not always choose repentance and obedience; instead, they tried the DIY approach. Rather than relying on God, they believed The Law was all they needed. But without Love, which was the foundation of the Law, the law was useless. Remember what the Apostle Paul said in “The Love Chapter.”

1 Corinthians 13:4-6 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.

The truth is, we cannot do it on our own. We need God, and that requires Love – love for him and for each other. Consider the following passages about loving God and each other:

Hebrews 10:24-25 24 And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

We are experiencing such a wave of deliberate discouragement! There is so much conflict, so much rage and fury (θυμοῦ), that loving one another seems nearly impossible; indeed, for some, it seems completely undesirable and objectionable. We are created and commanded to live and love as community. Like Israel, we are not keeping that commandment as well as we should!

James 4:1-5 Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures. Adulterers! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you suppose that it is for nothing that the scripture says, “God yearns jealously for the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?

What is “friendship with the world?” It is espousing whatever is contrary to God. That doesn’t sound like much of a big deal until you really think about it. God designed the Universe to work in one certain way – HIS way. When we decide to do it OUR way, we are telling God he doesn’t know what he’s doing. Is that really what you want to tell God while you struggle through your life on Earth? I should hope NOT! That is not what God’s Law – and the Promise that goes with it – commands. God shall judge, we shall not.

Romans 2:1-5 Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things. You say, “We know that God’s judgment on those who do such things is in accordance with truth.” Do you imagine, whoever you are, that when you judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself, you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you despise the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not realize that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

Romans 2:11-15 11 For God shows no partiality. 12 All who have sinned apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14 When Gentiles, who do not possess* the law, do instinctively what the law requires, these, though not having the law, are a law to themselves. 15 They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, to which their own conscience also bears witness; and their conflicting thoughts will accuse or perhaps excuse them

*ἔχοντα (echonta) from ἔχω (echó) {ekh’-o} to have, to possess, to hold e.g., in one’s hand,  grasp.

This is a good definition of “natural law” which everyone has. We all know that wrong is wrong, but we still do it because we feel justified in and of ourselves to do wrong; but, we also know in and of ourselves what is right and still we choose to do wrong. How can we possibly believe – or even imagine – that we, sinful as we are, we can deliver just judgments against our neighbor? Think about it; does our righteousness “exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees?”

There is a storm in our nation, in our world, and – Belovéd, if we will but confess it – in our own hearts and minds. There is an anchor to hold us in the storm. Make fast the anchor line by joining hands together rather than raising fists against.  Repent of anger and conflict and be obedient to Love.

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.

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com

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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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