Aloha Friday Message – March 23, 2012 – Fifth Friday in Lent

1212AFC032312 – Catholic Letter Series

Read it online here.

KJV 1 Peter 2:4 To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, 5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

NIV 1 Peter 2:4 As you come to him, the living Stone– rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him– 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

NAB 1 Peter 2:4 Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God, 5 and, like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Aloha nui loa, Beloved. Today we are going to look at a beautiful letter attributed to Peter, also called Cephas (KAY-phus) which means Rock in Aramaic and is also a Greek word for rock Κηφᾶς.

In this letter, Peter gives us many beautiful images, draws many examples from Old Testament writers, and presents a wide array of topics that address many aspect of life in the early Church. The one I chose for the open in this message is one of my very favorites. In this he makes a connection between Christ, “the stone which the builders rejected,” and believers who have become “living stones,” that is to say like Christ in that they are to be Holy, submissive to God, and to build a holy dwelling which will be a Holy Nation serving God. The word for “living” used here is ζῶντα zaonta {dzah’-on-tah} from za,w zao {dzah’-o}. za,w is the verb “to live,” and ζῶντα is “living.” But it carries a much deeper connotation that being “merely alive.” One example is in the term “living water.” This is water that has “vital power in itself and exerting the same upon the soul.” It is living that is fresh, strong, efficient, active, powerful, and efficacious. We come to Christ as living stones animated with the same capacity for holiness found in the Apostles because that holiness comes from and through Christ. What a mighty image that brings to mind!

Peter tells us Christ was “chosen by God and precious to him.” Christ, the Messiah is “called ‘elect,’ as appointed by God to the most exalted office conceivable.” And we are called to that same life as his servants. We are called the elect, the chosen because “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes” (Ephesians 1:4) This word is ἐκλεκτός eklektos {ek-lek-tos’} and it denotes the best of its kind or class.

As living stones, we are to be built into a “spiritual house,” a family for generations, offering up ” spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” WOW! That is such a powerful statement, because it describes not only our calling, but also the fulfillment of that calling.

In 1 Peter 1:8-9 Peter tells us, “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” What is that inexpressible joy and how do we feel it? How do we recognize it? It is the power of his love as delivered to us in and through the Holy Spirit that makes our hearts and minds leap for joy as we raise hearts and hands and voices to praise god for his generous love, unfailing promise, and awesome presence in our lives.

In 1 Peter 2:9 Peter tells us the reason God has fashioned us a living stone. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” God is Light. We are called to live in the Light, to let our Light shine, to be the Light shining in the darkness. In John 8:12, Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

There are dozens of power-packed images like that in this single short letter. Scholars generally agree that it was written by Peter, with help from Silas (who may have been a “professional writer,” helping Peter achieve a very polished Greek text which might have been a bit out of Peter’s reach normally). The letter is addressed to churches planted by Paul and his fellow sojourners in Asia Minor: Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. That may have been the order in which a courier might have delivered the letter to those churches.

The letter mentions persecutions, suffering with Christ as we daily take up our cross, even dying under persecutions for the Gospel and for the joy we have of being so close to our Savior and God. I looked at several analyses of how this letter is put together, and here is a listing based on those reviews:

 

  1. 1 Peter 1:112: The JOY we have in knowing God loves us so much he provided a Perfect Sacrifice for our salvation – his only begotten son.
  2. 1 Peter 1:132:3: God’s love should inspire us to v-be some much like him that we strive mightily to be holy as he is holy.
  3. 1 Peter 2:412: Israel, the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, was the People God chose to be distinctly his own, the People of the First Covenant. Despite the many times they ignored that, God honored his promises, and not only made Abraham the father of many nations, he also us part of Abraham’s descendants through Jesus sacrificial suffering.
  4. 1 Peter 2:13-23: We can share in, identify with, and submit to persecution and suffering with Jesus and for the Gospel. Whenever we do so, we die a bit to ourselves and to the world, but we also glorify God.
  5. 1 Peter 2:2425: Jesus’ expiation (The complete reconciliation of God and humans brought about by the redemptive life and death of Jesus) of our sins is a powerful, awesome, incomprehensibly valuable gift – it is a gift given through the Grace of God, and that brings us back to the “Shepherd and Overseer” of our souls – our Creator, God. How can we begin to measure how grateful that can make us feel?!?
  6. 1 Peter 3:17: God is community as the Trinity. He established family as a community through the sacrament of marriage. Husbands and wives can honor this sacred vocation by honoring one another, loving one another as God has loved them. Dishonoring one’s spouse is point-blank dishonoring God.
  7. 1 Peter 3:822: This passage begins, ” Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.” Peter goes on to say that under no circumstance or persecution and suffering should we seek to harm those who bring about that persecution and suffering. If we suffer for doing what is good, that is so much better than suffering for doing evil!
  8. 1 Peter 4:111: The World wants us to be like them, and constantly entices us to live “in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.” They make fun of us for being “religious nuts,” but when Judgment comes, they will have one hell of a time coming to them. As for us, we are to ” keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins (theirs and ours). Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another. Jesus blood cleansed you of your sins – the ways you have hurt yourself, your community, and your God; is blood also cleansed the sins of those who hurt you, hurt your community, and offend our God. His sacrifice covers all completely, permanently, eternally.
  9. 1 Peter 4:1219: “No matter how you struggle or strive, you’ll never get out of this world alive.” And struggle and strive as we might, we will always be facing situations where our suffering persists. Rather than wail and gnash or teeth, we can rejoice because are blessed, in that suffering when “the Spirit of glory and of God rests” upon us. ” Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.”
  10. 1 Peter 5:16: When the World sees us acting this way – joyous in serving, joyous in suffering – they will want to know more about our joy and more about our shepherd. Those who are chosen for servant- leadership through the gifts of God will serve gladly, equitably, humbly – as did Christ. I probably will never be easy, but Peter tells us ” after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”
  11. 1 Peter 5:714: God will do all these powerful and wonderful things to and for us because of his intense, eternal, infallible LOVE. No matter what Satan tries to do to us to destroy our relationship with God, that relationship is always restored when we reconfirm our alliance with God and rejoice in the wonder of his uncompromising love and care.

Share-A-Prayer

M&PC wrote to tell us, “We are praying for whole world for peace, safety, and wellbeing everywhere.” What an excellent prayer intention. Maybe you can add it to your list of intentions. So many places around the world are experiencing terrible weather, terrible acts of evil, terrible acts of violence. Pray that Peace will rule the planet, and let it begin with you.

Please continue to pray for the family of Baby Cheyanne. She lost her battle with multiple health problems. It has been so difficult for Mom and Dad, and for the whole family. They know Cheyanne has found 100% healing in the Light of His Glory and Love. The loss of that sweet child, however, was a hard blow. Pray for them to return to the joy they anticipated the moment she was born.

Pray for those who suffer for their faith. You would think that “in this day and age” religious persecution – even to the point of martyrdom – would be nonexistent. But it is not.

Pray for everyone who suffers poverty, injustice, hunger, loss of work or loss of income; for those who suffer through illnesses like cancer, mental illness, chronic disease, acute or chronic pain; pray for those whose family are falling apart and for those whose families are just beginning or just beginning to heal.

Finally beloved, pray for one another. You know there is a Daily Intercessory Prayer List. Whenever you pray the MBN prayer, that short prayer includes all of the intentions in the Intercessory prayer list – over 100 now.

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

chick

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Aloha Friday Message – HOSANNA! – Sixth Friday of Lent

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Happy Hosanna Friday, Beloved!

Today I am thinking about Jesus Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. What a wonderful story is there. We’ve heard it before, maybe seen it enacted in a movie or a play, and we have a pretty good idea of the events. I want to look at some of the characters and symbols in this story. In Matthew it goes like this:

Matthew 21:1 When they drew near Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find an ass tethered, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them here to me. 3 And if anyone should say anything to you, reply, ‘The master has need of them.’ Then he will send them at once.” 4 This happened so that what had been spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled: 5 “Say to daughter Zion, ‘Behold, your king comes to you, meek and riding on an ass, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.'” 6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had ordered them.

7 They brought the ass and the colt and laid their cloaks over them, and he sat upon them. 8 The very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and strewed them on the road. 9 The crowds preceding him and those following kept crying out and saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest.” 10 And when he entered Jerusalem the whole city was shaken and asked, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds replied, “This is Jesus the prophet, from Nazareth in Galilee.”

And in Luke 19 we have these details:

29 As he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples. 30 He said, “Go into the village opposite you, and as you enter it you will find a colt tethered on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it here. 31 And if anyone should ask you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you will answer, ‘The Master has need of it.'” 32 So those who had been sent went off and found everything just as he had told them. 33 And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying this colt?” 34 They answered, “The Master has need of it.” 35 So they brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks over the colt, and helped Jesus to mount. 36 As he rode along, the people were spreading their cloaks on the road; 37 and now as he was approaching the slope of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of his disciples began to praise God aloud with joy for all the mighty deeds they had seen. 38 They proclaimed: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest.” 39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 40 He said in reply, “I tell you, if they keep silent, the stones will cry out!”

In Zechariah 9:9 we read: Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. So the fact that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey was, in part, a fulfillment of scripture. But there’s more. In Jesus day, and in many Eastern cultures, a donkey is seen as symbol of peace. A king who rides in on a donkey is coming peacefully. A king who rides in on a horse is coming in war. It is also significant that the colt Jesus’ disciples borrow is one that has never been ridden. Here the King of Peace is so gentle and so humble that even a young colt never before ridden submits to Jesus’ presence. Instead of bucking him off, the colt meekly carries a full-grown man. It is interesting to me that the disciples who went to fetch it did so without question, and then they put their own cloaks on the back of the colt to make a more comfortable seat. I think it might have also been more comfortable for the colt! And you know, I think that colt’s mama walked next to him on that journey. Read it again and see if you think so, too. But how did this come about?

How did the owner know it was OK to lend his animal to Jesus’ Disciples? The gospels don’t say, but as often as Jesus traveled through that area, he sure must have had more friends than just Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Since this must have been shortly after Lazarus was raised, maybe the guy who owned the colt had told Jesus, “If you ever need anything at all just let me know. It’s yours!” Just speculating about that is kind of fun, but really, we don’t know exactly what happened in that part of the story.

Jesus was in Bethany, close to Bethphage (“Place of new – or unripe – figs”) somewhere perhaps around the Mount of Olives. He gets on the colt in Bethany – about 2 miles from Jerusalem, and heads into town. On the way people who have seen him, who know him – some intimately, some only be reputation – get excited about seeing him, and they begin to remember Zechariah 9:9. They start pulling down palm fronds and laying them on the path in front of him or waving them in the air. The palm was a symbol of victory – even Holy Victory. In addition people were laying their cloaks down in the road and letting the little donkey pass over them. A similar event is reported in 2 Kings 9. [They hurried and took their cloaks and spread them under him on the bare steps. Then they blew the trumpet and shouted, “Jehu is king!”] Elisha had just anointed Jehu (“Yahweh is He”) as King of Israel, and had ordered him to go avenge the murders committed by Jezebel’s forces when she had the prophets slaughtered. The king, Ahab, had permitted this, and Jehu was told to destroy Ahab as well.

Spreading cloaks or other object to “pave the way” was a common demonstration of respect for the dignity and power of a person – a King, a general, even a prophet. So now we have Jesus on a baby donkey (my mind keeps hearing the Christmas Carol “Little Donkey, Little Donkey, With a heavy load,”) and everyone is shouting and happy and cheering and dancing and running ahead and coming back and just going nuts over what Jesus is doing. He is finally defining himself as the Messiah, the Ruler of Israel, The Son of David! And, they surely thought he was about to kick the Romans out of town as the Rightful Ruler.

But, he was on a donkey, not a horse.

Can you imagine what’s going on in Jesus’ head? He’s going to Jerusalem in just six day to celebrate Passover for the last time. Then he will die a most horrible, terrifying, painful death. And he will be forsaken by his Father. On the way into town he looks out over Jerusalem and sheds tears because of what they have missed out on while he was with them, and then He just goes into town and busts up … Not the Romans! The Temple!!

Whoa! That was a surprise! And from there on, things sort of unfolded into The Last Supper, The Garden of Gethsemane, the pavement at Gabbatha, and finally Golgotha. In less than a week he went from “Hosanna” to “Crucify him!”

Now you know a little about the story. When you are holding your palm branches Sunday, think about that little donkey and what a privilege it was to carry Jesus. Beloved, you can carry him too; in your heart, not on your back. Spread out your best things for him and invite him to have a seat. Carry him wherever you go and once in a while, just for the sheer JOY of it, shout, I said SHOUT, “HOSANNA!!”

Share-A-Prayer

• A special request from WT to pray for J. Joseph who was admitted to the hospital in her continuing fight with cancer. Pray for hope, healing, and health.
• Our MBN friends I Haiti report that many of the children and the workers too are ill. Sounds like a virus is sweeping through their numbers. Pray for return to health, and that the many new infants they have with them can stay hydrated and be strong enough to recover.
• Thank you for your prayers over the past few weeks. Please go back and look at the prayer requests from the beginning of Lent. I believe as you take the time to look at them, God will move your heart to make a special effort to embrace one or more of those requests.
• Thanks for the family of EW for sharing the news that E had gone to meet his Lord. He was – and still is – a remarkable man. You might remember him here.
• Thanks also from KV who reports prayer has been working for her and she feels pretty darn good!

Thanks everyone. Next week the message will be about Good Friday – sort of. Please watch for it on a computer screen near you!

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

chick

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Aloha Friday, August 10, 2004 – The Fruits of the Holy Spirit

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Aloha, dear friend! Another week comes to an end. For so many people, this has been a week of severe testing – Florida, Iraq and Afghanistan, Sudan and Indonesia. For some it has been a struggle in their own homes, and for others a deeper struggle in their own bodies, or their hearts and minds. How are we supposed to respond to all of this? It is, in all honesty, overwhelming.

These difficulties are so prevalent that we can sometimes feel – and see – hope is defeated. Not so. If you look at the terrible and difficult things that are happening in the world and in our lives, it sort of follow that old Pareto rule, that 80/20 thing. Pareto’s rule states that a small number of causes is responsible for a large percentage of the effect, in a ratio of about 20:80. Expressed in a management context, 20% of a person’s effort generates 80% of the person’s results. The corollary to this is that 20% of one’s results absorb 80% of one’s resources or efforts. And we could extrapolate that to say that 80% of the things that try our spirits are caused by 20% of the things that happen. Or maybe even that 20% of the things that we view as catastrophic are natural physical events – like volcanoes, tornadoes, hurricanes, lung cancer, plagues of locusts, and the like. The other 80% might be spiritual like war, terrorism, pornography, crack and speed, infidelity, hopelessness, depraved indifference to human life from the moment of conception to the moment of death, and so many other things that often make being alive more difficult than it should be for so many millions of people.

What can we do about all this? Perhaps we can choose to live a spiritual life at home, at work, at school, at play, and even (incredible!) at church. Here’s a little quote from NIV Bible:

Galatians 5:22-23
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Well, at least there shouldn’t be. We find ourselves confronting those “unwritten laws” that say living a spiritual life is not acceptable; we are out of touch with reality if we believe such things really make a difference. In the world’s views, that is. In God’s view, these things ARE life. And they’re not so difficult to live with either. In a recent article that appeared in THE CATHOLIC HERALD the diocesan newspaper for the Diocese of Honolulu, Fr. William J. Byron, SJ, had this to say about these seven gifts of the spirit:

Love is service and sacrifice.
Joy is balance at the center of the soul.
Peace is good order.
Patience is the ability to endure whatever comes.
Kindness is attentive regard for the other.
Generosity is the habitual disposition to share.
Gentleness is courageous respect for other.
Self-control is a voluntary check on the appetite for success.

We are created in God’s image, and part of the heritage of that image is the gift of self-determination. If we choose to remember what these things actually mean, we can bring that choice, that spirituality into our lives, our world, our 80/20 mix. Here’s the thing: It’s also true that 80% of the good things in this world come from the 20% of our spiritual gifts we share with each other. Today I challenge you to go for 21%. Print out this note, or cut and paste Fr. Byron’s examples into another document you can print out and hang on your wall (I made a really pretty one with fancy lettering and images). It’s just a reminder, but it’s also just a way to change the world and maybe even the future population of heaven.

Love in Christ,

Chick

PS: Here’s a bonus just for you. http://m11.t3media.net/t/15274/8554348/694/0/

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Aloha Friday Message – December 6, 2019 – It’s the Same Old Story

1949AFC120619 – It’s the Same Old Story

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! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

   Romans 15:4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! May blessing always be with you and may God bless you, Belovéd! Can you believe it’s December already? It is often said that as we age life seems to go by faster and faster. When we were kids, summer was always too short (well, for most kids, but not for me – I wanted to be back in school). It seemed to take forever to have another birthday. Church service was lo-o-o-o-ong, and coffee-and-donuts after was short. We never wanted to go visit my parents’ friends, but when it was time to go home hours later, we threw a fit and wanted to stay. Does any of this sound like a familiar story? I’m sure we all have memories like these – memories of time dragging along, time spent with our chums – or later on with our romancer. As we get older, we find genuine pleasure and sometimes gales of laughter in the time spent retelling some of these memories with or about family, or perhaps with longtime friends, or new acquaintances. In our house – the Land of the Todd Tribe in Denver – a lot of those story-telling events occurred with people we knew at Corona Presbyterian Church. Mostly they were stories about things people had done, or places they had gone. Sometimes, though, they were about moments of trial or danger, or stories of faith, and even at times stories about the Bible and how it affected our lives.       My very first “public speaking experience” was one of telling a Bible story – the story of Jonah and the Whale. In the Old Testament, the word for story is מִדְרָשׁ (midrash) {mid-rawsh’}, so I told the midrash of Jonah in front of several hundred people while standing on the dais at Corona Presbyterian. You can find out more about that disaster here. I loved reading, and I especially loved telling and retelling the stories I read. Most people these days don’t know anything about Tanzy and Bobbles on Fable Island, or The Water Nix. I could recite Simple Simon top to bottom, knew the stories of Siegfried (I called him Sig-FRIED like French Fried), Beowulf, and Reynard the Fox. Gulliver and Sinbad were favorite stories along with Saggy-Baggy Elephant, Babar, The Little Train that Could, Bongo the Bear, Lassie, Aladdin, the Velveteen Rabbit, “Br’er Rabbit,” and on and on. I loved the stories of Jonah and The Great Fish, Moses and the Bush, Jacob and the Angel and the Ladder, David and Goliath, Jonathan and David, the Nativity Story, Jesus in the Temple, Psalm 138, and all the Gospel Parables and accounts of Jesus’ preaching, teaching, healing, dying, and rising. By now, all of you know that much of my past centered around the hymns and Gospel songs we sang at Corona. I’ve put bunches of those links in previous posts, so let’s talk about the story behind the posts and the stories about the stories.

These posts are the stories of my story with Jesus and his Church. It is a way for me to testify about how God has shaped my life – given me my life. Sometimes I get to share your stories – especially your prayer requests (which is one of the main reasons we have this outlet on the Internet). Music has always been a top activity in my story. From marching around the room to Big John and Sparky with Yehudi to the 12-inch 78 rpm records my Gramma gave me to the coral-colored transistor radio I got in the seventh grade to the Children’s Choir and Sunday School, and Concert Choir, the Folk Song Club, my guitar and dulcimer, always, always, always there is music, music, music. That strange little guy in the back right-hand corner of my brain is always playing something. If there is music coming from any source, I cannot help but listen to it. That is especially true if it is music in related in any form or fashion to His Story the story of Jesus. So, Belovéd, I’m going to risk sending you into the listening booth. If you’re at work, you might want to find your ear-buds; however, if you are at home or at the beach or in the mountains, go ahead and PUMP UP THE VOLUME.

Tell Me the Old, Old Story (↔ Music Link) From the Corona and Two-by-Two days

Tell Me the Stories of Jesus (↔ Music Link) I still sing this one when I need pepping up

I Love to Tell the Story (↔ Music Link) I like the traditional arrangement better than the contemporary, overly orchestrated versions

Tell Me The Story Of Jesus (↔ Music Link) A close relative of my pep-up song

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross (↔ Music Link) Gramma’s favorite was The Old Rugged Cross

Shadrach (↔ Music Link) I sang Armstrong’s version for years.

Blessed Assurance (↔ Music Link) This and Jesus Loves Me are great ways to start your day, remember?

I don’t want to take up much more of your time, but I do want to make a point related to today’s Key Verse:

His Story can be, should be, would be, could be part of our story if the Spirit of God is within us (See Romans 8:9). So what I write is because whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.   "Our Hope is in the Lord..."I’m not going to take up any more of your day because I want you to give as much of it as you can (and Belovéd that means 100% of it) to God. Play the music. Find more music. Send me links to your favorites. Let me know what you felt listening to this handful of my favorites. This is a short-short post with a long-long message. Tell the story for others to hear, hear the stories others tell, and make The Greatest Story the Story of Our Faith in God and each other. I love you, Jesus loves you more, and that should be good enough for everyone.

 

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever —

at your service, Belovéd!

Please pray with us here at Share-a-Prayer.

Aloha Friday Message Mercy Series

Mercy Series – Part 2 of 4

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

Creative Commons License
Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

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Aloha Friday Message – November 29, 2019 – Ready! Set! WAIT!

1948AFC112919 – Ready! Set! WAIT!

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! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

    Matthew 24:42, 44c – 42 Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day [or hour] your Lord is coming.44b for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! May Peace always be with you and may God bless you, Belovéd! This coming Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent. I was thinking back about the various series we have done over the years. It was tempting to go back to the Aloha Friday Message Mercy Series and reissue them in edited and updated form. That was contrary to the guidance already in heart and mind for this post – the idea of watchful waiting during Advent. Advent means coming, a beginning, a dawn, a start, an anticipated arrival of an important person, event, or object. For Christians, and especially Catholic Christians, it is the season of reflection, discernment, and anticipation for the birth of Jesus – Christmas.

“But everyone loves Christmas, and we all look forward to it. We know ‘Jesus IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON,’ but there is so much more to anticipate with joy!” Yes, that is certainly true. We all have more than one reason to look forward to Christmas; not all of us, though, are ready for the Season of Advent. This particular season of Advent is the beginning of Cycle A of the Liturgy.

Cycle A is essentially a process of preparing us for baptism and for understanding the principals behind our baptismal vows. Most of the Gospel readings are from the Gospel of Matthew. The first Sunday of Advent (which is the first Sunday of the liturgical year) uses Matthew’s account of Jesus’ warning to be vigilant because we will not know the day or hour of his return. Matthew’s Gospel covers Jesus’ ministry with emphasis on compassion and forgiveness – Mercy. Its focus is on the early Christian community among the Jews. Matthew portrays Jesus as “the New Moses,” leading his people out of the wilderness of sin and into the Promised Land of The Kingdom of God. Matthew makes sure they (and we) fully understand that Jesus is a man, a Jewish man, a son of Abraham and Israel who is the True Son of God. In this Gospel, Jesus’ followers frequently beg him for mercy. Jesus takes the Jewish leaders – the Scribes and Pharisees – to task for failing to show mercy. In the Beatitudes, Jesus tells us, his Disciples “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.” (See Matthew 5:7). Because of this theme of compassion and mercy leading to forgiveness, I’m going to include a link at the end of every Aloha Friday Message during this Advent season for Liturgical Year 2020, Cycle A (← Check it out!) that will take you to a previous lesson on Mercy that is posted on the Catholic 365 website.

There you have it, the background for the four Sundays of this Advent season. For each Sunday we will follow our customary practice of choosing a key verse from the readings, amplifying the meanings and background of that passage, and then – at the end of the message – there will be a “supplementary link” to allow us to reflect on the importance, the effects, and the reality of God’s Mercy in our own lives. We all know (or should know) that it is only the Mercy of Grace that makes it possible to be prepared for the return of Christ. As we prepare to welcome Christ the King coming as a baby during Advent, we also prepare – at least in our hearts – for the day or hour our Lord is coming, “for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.” For the past 2000 years we have been waiting. During the first century after Jesus established the Church, people really believed that his coming back was imminent – during their lifetimes. Hence, the Apostle Paul frequently warned the early Church to stay vigilant, to be faithful to the Apostolic Gospel, and to be ready … to WAIT. That is what we are told to do – to watch and wait. Let’s take a quick scriptural survey of WAIT.

Psalm 10:2-11 The Psalmist cries out to God about how evil people always seem to prosper and even though they say “there is no God,” God sees them and gives them ample time to repent and claim his Mercy. Take a moment this week to read that passage and see if it doesn’t sound like what we hear in the news almost every day.

Psalm 27:14 14 Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

Psalm 37:7 Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him; do not fret over those who prosper in their way, over those who carry out evil devices. (Follow up with that passage from Psalms 10)

Psalm 130:5 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;

Psalm 59:9 O my strength, I will watch for you; for you, O God, are my fortress.

Psalm 130:5-6 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning.

And finally, Psalm 123:2 As the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, until he has mercy upon us.

We wait with “constant vigilance” for the coming of Jesus first as a baby in a manger, then as the King of Kings ascending the Throne of the Cross, and now – today and until “as long as it takes” – we wait for the day and the hour he will return in Glory. Let the evil one prosper and scoff. WE know how to wait and why we’re waiting. Here’s why:

2 Peter 3:3-9 First of all you must understand this, that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and indulging their own lusts and saying, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since our ancestors died, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation!” They deliberately ignore this fact, that by the word of God heavens existed long ago and an earth was formed out of water and by means of water, through which the world of that time was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the present heavens and earth have been reserved for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the godless.
   But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you*, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. * Some translations read “on your account,” or “for your sake” and YES, he is coming back!

We can find that ability to wait patiently in watchful waiting by knowing he is coming back – not just returning – coming back – and bringing judgment with him: They should also be strengthened by the assurance of his foreordained parousia*, and by the fruits of faith that they have already enjoyed (Hebrews 10:19–39).

*This word is παρουσία. The word parousia is found in the following verses: Matthew 24:3, 27, 37, 39; 1 Corinthians 15:23; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 2:1, 8, 9; James 5:7, 8; 2 Peter 1:16; 3:4, 12; 1 John 2:2, Philippians 1:26

He’s not waiting for someone else. He’s not waiting for everyone else. He may be waiting for anyone else, but the bottom line is, he’s waiting for me, so I’d best get my act together, right? And here’s the thing: I know – really, really know it’s worthwhile and doable because Not one promise from God is empty of power, for nothing is impossible with God! (See Luke 1:37) Not even me, because I have a great reason to wait. Jesus is coming. You know, He just might be on that Slow Train Coming (↔ Music Link) ’cause This train (↔ Music Link) is bound for Glory, and Belovéd I got my ticket to ride! You’ll find me at the depot waiting, watching ’round the bend.

Here are the links for the Mercy Series I mentioned:

Aloha Friday Message Mercy Series

Mercy Series – Part 1 of 4

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

Please pray with us here at Share-a-Prayer.

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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Aloha Friday Message – November 22, 2019 – This Blood’s For You

1947AFC112219 – This Blood’s For 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! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

    Colossians 1:11-14 11 May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. 13 He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption [through his blood], the forgiveness of sins.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Grace and Peace to each of you from God our Father and our Lord, Jesus the Christ, in the Power of the Holy Spirit. Does the title of today’s post surprise you – sound a little too familiar? I was surprised to when it was given to me, but maybe the following passages will help us focus on what that title means.

Hebrews 9:14 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit[a] offered himself without blemish to God, purify our] conscience from dead works to worship the living God!

Ephesians 1:7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace

Colossians 1:20 20 and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.

Romans 5:9 Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God.

Romans 3:25 25 whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed

Proverbs 6:16-1916 There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that hurry to run to evil, 19 a lying witness who testifies falsely, and one who sows discord in a family.

1 John 1:5-10 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

This coming Sunday, November 24, 2019, is the end of the Liturgical Year – The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. The Gospel reading focuses on the Crucifixion, the taunting by the onlookers – including one of the crucified – and Jesus’ promise that the second man suffering with Jesus would be with him that day in paradise.

The Old Testament reading recounts the moment David – the chosen of God – became King over Israel. The Epistle from which our Key Verse is taken is from the letter to the Colossians, congregation at Colossae in the Lycus Valley in Asia Minor, east of Ephesus. Local “preachers” had adulterated the teachings of The Way so that it had become a cultic practice involving “spirituality” focused on angels and spirits rather than on the redemptive capacity of Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection and ascension into Heaven. These false doctrines seemed plausible to them, but he corrects that by lovingly explaining that “the cosmos” (these days the “spiritually enlightened” call it “The Universe”) has nothing at all to do with Salvation. The cosmos cannot hear, cannot act, cannot be placated, cannot even care. Only Christ and the Perfect Sacrifice he made has now reconciled [you] in his fleshly body through his death, to present you holy, without blemish, and irreproachable before him. (See Colossians 1:21-22) Nothing else matters beyond the fact that Jesus died for us – suffered greatly, shed his blood, died and was buried, and conquered Death by defeating it in his own flesh; his promise to us is that we shall share in that Blesséd (as opposed to curséd) Eternal Life. There is Power in The Blood (↔ Music Link). Did you hear him sing that phrase “in the Precious Blood of the Lamb?” That comes from someone who was there when that blood was shed. Let’s get out our Bibles and turn to 1 Peter 1:18-19 18 You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. That is why we also sing about “Precious Body, Precious Blood” (↔ Music Link) in the song “The Supper of The Lord” by Laurence Rosania.

Indeed, what could be more precious that The Bread of Life and the Cup of Salvation? That is why during Communion we don’t see or consume the bread and wine of this world, but instead take up the Cup of Salvation – the Precious Blood of Christ – (See Psalm 116:13 – in the rubrics a Priest says this silently as he prepares to drink from the Chalice) and the Precious Body of Christ – the Real Presence of the Lord. This is difficult for many to understand – including Catholics (and even some Catholic Priests!); nonetheless, all Christians know and believe that it is the purposeful and willingly-given shedding of blood by Jesus that secures our Salvation. In short his blood was shed for us (and one might also say by us) for the remission – reduction, forgiveness, expiation, reparation, recompense, however else you can come to understand it – for our sins. His blood is for US. Blood has been considered the source and symbol of life since Adam and Eve, and the shedding of blood has been the source and symbol of death. Jesus the Christ shed his blood for the sins I commit, the sins you commit, the sins we have committed. Why did he do that?

He did that because it pleased God to fashion for us redemption out of the very thing that brought us condemnation (See Isaiah 53:10, please). Because of our disobedience, he set the supreme obedience of his Son against that disobedience to eradicate Death forever. He did that out of Love for his Creation (which includes “the Universe” of which we recognize Christ as King). The Ruler is not the ruled. The Universe – the cosmos if you will – includes us but it does not rule us. The Earth, the Moon and Stars are subjects of the One who Rules. His blood is for you, for me, for us, and even for those who despise us, despise Jesus, and even those who despise the God who created them. We are called to accept that incredible Gift, the Gift of Life. It is ours to have and to hold, or to lose and cast away. It is useful to remember the words of Deuteronomy 30:19 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live. There is no other Life but HIM, no other Truth but HIM, no other Way but HIM, and no other Precious Body and Precious Blood but HIS that is given up for us. We should remember that THIS (← Check it out!) is important. It is Life, and it is ours. His Blood is for us.

Now, I want to just take a brief moment to thank those of you who were kind enough to remember that this week I turned 73. If you got last week’s post, I mentioned there that when I was a kid, seventy-three seemed ancient. Well, the good news is that now that I’m finally here, it still feels ancient! Of course when I was 19, then I was young and going on 45, so at 73 I’m old and going on 111 – which makes sense. I know some of you are saying “No, you’re only as old as you feel.” Well, in that case, you’re right; I’m 73 going on 118, so 111 sounds pretty good, yes? Well, if there’s any truth to the adage that “with age comes wisdom,” here is a suggestion to help you as you age. When you get up in the morning, sing this song (↔ Music Link), and I guarantee you will have a better day! (Try this one, too! (↔ Music Link)

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.

Please pray with us here at Share-a-Prayer

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Aloha Friday Message – November 15, 2019 – Here it comes!

1946AFC111519 – Here it comes! (Special Edition)

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! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

     Luke 21:17-19 17 You will be hated by all because of my name. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish*. 19 By your endurance you will gain your souls.

* ἀπόληται·(apolētai) {apo-let-ta-hee} from ἀπόλλυμι (apollumi) {ap-ol’-loo-mee} → to destroy, destroy utterly kill, destroy, lose,  as in “I am perishing” (the resultant death being viewed as certain) implies permanent (absolute) destruction, i.e. to cancel out (remove); “to die, with the implication of ruin and destruction;” to cause to be lost (utterly perish) by experiencing a miserable end.

That’s sounds terrible! BUT – “you will not perish – not even a hair on your head will be destroyed.”

I’ve been looking forward to this post for a long time. The index number for this post – 1946AFC111519 – contains the year of my birth which means that in just a few days (God willing) I will be 73. When I was a kid, seventy-three seemed ancient. Well, the good news is that now that I’m finally here, it still feels ancient! Of course when I was 19 and was young and going on 45, so at 73 I’m old and going on 111 – which makes sense. I know some of you are saying “No, you’re only as old as you feel.” Well, in that case, you’re right; I’m 73 going on 118, so 111 sounds pretty good, yes?

November 17 (this post will go up on the 15th) is the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time. The readings for that Sunday are a collection of my favorites, so I feel doubly blessed. This message also connects with other studies from the past. It is best known for the prophecy of the End Times – in Luke 21: 8-11 Jesus says “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.” All of that will come with the added Christian necessity of enduring persecution. Jesus tells us we should not fear these opportunities – opportunities to display our trust in him, as we said previously.

In 2016 we used Luke 21:13 13 This will give you an opportunity to testify.

GNT Luke 21:13 Ἀποβήσεται δὲ ὑμῖν εἰς μαρτύριον (marturion) {mar-too’-ree-on} → a testimony, a witness; witness, evidence, testimony, proof; “one who bears testimony to faith,” especially “one who willingly suffers death rather than surrender his or her religious faith,” specifically “one of the Christians who in former times were put to death because they would not renounce their beliefs,” late Old English martyr, from Late Latin martyr, (source also of Old French martir, Spanish martir, Italian martire, etc.), from Doric Greek martyr, earlier martys (genitive martyros), in Christian use “martyr,” literally “witness.” https://www.etymonline.com/word/martyr

Luke 21:8 And he said, “Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am *he!’ and, ‘The time is near!’ Do not go after them. (*or just I AM, i.e., YHWH.) That connection between “martyr” and “testify” in our English language usually draws up a mental image of someone being murdered – often in a horrible way – for their faith in Christ. I have often wondered what becomes of the souls who are martyred for a “not-Christ?” There’s the antichrist spoken of in the Epistles of John (See 1 John 2:18, 1 John 2:22, 1 John 4:3, and 2 John 1:7). There certainly are false messiahs at work on The World. There are also false Christians. Perhaps you’ve seen the coined-work RINO in the media. That stands for “Republican In Name Only.” I think we could coin a similar word – CINO for “Christian In Name Only” or even CCINO “Catholic Christian In Name Only.” These are souls who have heard and embraced the Truth, they have repented and believed the Gospel; but there is no evidence of “Christian living.” We also recall Jesus’ admonition “by their fruits you shall know them” (See Matthew 7:16-20). What becomes of these souls when the Day of Reward comes upon them unexpectedly? The Apostle Paul has some stark words for the CCINO that also apply to unbelievers and adversaries of God. Here are a couple of examples from his letter to the Hebrews:

Hebrews 10:26-31, 36 26 For if we willfully persist in sin after having received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful prospect of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has violated the law of Moses dies without mercy “on the testimony of two or three witnesses.” 29 How much worse punishment do you think will be deserved by those who have spurned the Son of God, profaned the blood of the covenant by which they were sanctified, and outraged the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know the one who said, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. … 36 For you need endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.

Hebrews 6:4-8 For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, since on their own they are crucifying again the Son of God and are holding him up to contempt. Ground that drinks up the rain falling on it repeatedly, and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God.But if it produces thorns and thistles, it is worthless and on the verge of being cursed; its end is to be burned over.

Do we get to line up with the sheep or the goats? That Day of Reward (often heartlessly called “Judgment Day”) is coming! Jesus himself said that we must be prepared and that some of us will have an unpleasant surprise when the roll is called up yonder. We are familiar with the account in Matthew 7 about superficial faith – CCINO faith. Matthew 7:21-23 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’ 23 Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.'”

What is the will of the Father? How can we know what to do? How can we be opened to the Grace that saves us if we do not know “the will of the Father?” We might think about the passage where Jesus told us the answer to that question: John 14:21 21 They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.  How do we get those commandments so we have those commandments and can love Jesus enough that God will be revealed to us? What is God’s will for us in that? The will of the Father is that we should listen to the Son: “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased. LISTEN TO HIM.” (See Matthew 17:5) As Katnip the Cat used to say, “That sounds logical.” (← Check it out!) Would it surprise you to know that there are 50+ commandments from Jesus in the Gospels? Here are just a few: Repent, believe, follow me, seek the Kingdom first, do not be afraid, do not worry, do unto others a you would have them do unto you, do not judge, love God, love your neighbor, Love one another as I have Loved you, do more than is expected of you, beware of false prophets, take care of orphans and widows – the poor and marginalized, honor your parents, keep your word, be generous, do not swear, let your yes be yes and your no be no, choose the narrow way, forgive your enemies, bless them that curse you, and a whole bunch more! Had enough? How can we ever do all of these things? Try these ideas.

Make these the rules of your life:

  • Chastity, Temperance, Charity, Diligence, Patience, Kindness & Humility
  • To instruct the ignorant. to counsel the doubtful, to admonish the sinner, to bear wrongs patiently, to forgive offenses willingly, to comfort the afflicted, to pray for the living and the dead.
  • To feed the hungry, to give water to the thirsty, to clothe the naked, to shelter the homeless, to visit the sick, to visit the imprisoned, or ransom the captive, to bury the dead.
  • And this: Romans 12:9-21 Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; 10 love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. 18 If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Yes, the World will hate us. Yes, the World will come after us with everything they can that will hurt us. Yes, the World will judge us a lunatics, and unfit, as delusional, deplorable, and worthless. God, therefore, will see to it that in the end, nothing will harm us because we were patient in our perseverance. Blesséd be God forever in his angels and his Saints (that’s gonna be us, folks!)

      Feast on the Word Belovéd, and you will be empowered and inspired to have Jesus’ commandments and keep them. Remember that everything we need to know about knowing and pleasing God is as close at hand as our Bibles.

To help make it easier for us to get started on that, I’ve put together a little Treasure Trove of Scripture. You can use this link – just click on the picture – and you’ll find it, or you can use this link as well. I’ve also relocated the Subscribe link to make it easier to sign up for mailing directly from the website. Of course, most subscribers just use the email-list method; send me an email address and I’ll add it to the list. This Treasure Trove page is a collection of passages that have nourished my soul, and many of them have been shared in other posts. As more of these nurturing Treasures are found, I’ll add them to the collection. Meanwhile, do dust off that Bible and look for a little “snack” – a treat you might share with the rest of us. It is a way to grow in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man (See Luke 2:52) – we will grow in Virtue by feeding on the Word. You know the word VIVO –  it means “in something alive.” Today I’ll also state that V.I.V.O. is short for Virtue In – Virtue Out.

Yes indeed, the Day of Reward is near; here it comes. As it grows closer, we will see wondrously terrifying moments and events, and yes indeed we will see increasing persecution; not to worry! We have the Word to sustain us so that not even a hair will be harmed.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever —

at your service, Belovéd!

Please pray with us here at Share-a-Prayer.

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

Creative Commons License
Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

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A Treasure Trove of Scripture for Your Use

A Treasury of Verses

Here is a little treasure trove of favorite Bible verses for your meditations. Each quotation from scripture is equipped with a link, so just click on the B00k-of-the-Bible name and see each verse in three different versions.

Peace – John 14:2727 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.

Power – Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

Comforter – John 14:26 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.

Protection – Acts 16:6 – They went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia.

Spiritual Values – Ephesians 2:3-7 All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else. But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved — and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

New Life – 2 Corinthians 3:5-6 Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of letter but of spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Spirit of Truth – John 16:13 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

Access to Abba – Ephesians 2:17-18 17 So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; 18 for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father

Hope – Romans 15:13 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Liberty – 2 Corinthians 3:17 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

Change – Acts 10:44-48 44 While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, 46 for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter said, 47 “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 So he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they invited him to stay for several days.

Love – John 15:10 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.

Life – John 3:16-18 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.

Courage – Isaiah 41:13 13 For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Do not fear, I will help you.”

Happiness – John 13:15-17 15 For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. 16 Very truly, I tell you, servants[a] are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. 17 If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

Healing – James 5:14-15 14 Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven.

Renewal – Revelation 21:1-2 1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

Rest – Matthew 11:28-30 28 “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Forgiveness – Colossians 3:13 13 Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

Cleansing – 1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Wisdom – James 1:5 If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you.

And

Wisdom – James 3:17 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy.

Calm – Philippians 4:6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Help – Isaiah 55:6 Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near

And

Help – Psalm 46:1 – God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Relationship – Ephesians 4:31-32 31 Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, 32 and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.

Worship – Ecclesiastes 5:1 1 Guard your steps when you go to the house of God; to draw near to listen is better than the sacrifice offered by fools; for they do not know how to keep from doing evil.

And

Worship – 1 Chronicles 16:29 29 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come before him. Worship the Lord in holy splendor

Discipline – Hebrews 12:7  Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?

Fatherhood – Proverbs 23:24 – The father of a righteous man has great joy; he who has a wise son delights in him.

Sonship – Proverbs 3:11-12 My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.

Freely Generous – 1 Chronicles 29:17 17 I know, my God, that you search the heart, and take pleasure in uprightness; in the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things, and now I have seen your people, who are present here, offering freely and joyously to you.

Courage! – Joshua 1:9I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Our Brilliant Treasure – 2 Corinthians 4:6-9For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed

First and Last Thing to do – Joel 2:12-14 12 Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; 13 rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing. 14 Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the Lord, your God?

Zechariah 1:3 Therefore say to them, Thus says the Lord of hosts: Return to me, says the Lord of hosts, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts.

Psalm 37 (By David, Contemporary English Version)

Trust the LORD

1 Don’t be annoyed by anyone who does wrong, and don’t envy them. 2 They will soon disappear like grass without rain. 3 Trust the LORD and live right! The land will be yours, and you will be safe. 4 Do what the LORD wants, and he will give you your heart’s desire. 5 Let the LORD lead you and trust him to help. 6 Then it will be as clear as the noonday sun that you were right. 7 Be patient and trust the LORD. Don’t let it bother you when all goes well for those who do sinful things. 8 Don’t be angry or furious. Anger can lead to sin. 9 All sinners will disappear, but if you trust the LORD, the land will be yours. 10 Sinners will soon disappear, never to be found, 11 but the poor will take the land and enjoy a big harvest. 12 Merciless people make plots against good people and snarl like animals, 13 but the Lord laughs and knows their time is coming soon. 14 The wicked kill with swords and shoot arrows to murder the poor and the needy and all who do right.  15 But they will be killed by their own swords, and their arrows will be broken. 16 It is better to live right and be poor than to be sinful and rich. 17 The wicked will lose all of their power, but the LORD gives strength to everyone who is good. 18 Those who obey the LORD are daily in his care, and what he has given them will be theirs forever. 19 They won’t be in trouble when times are bad, and they will have plenty when food is scarce. 20 Wicked people are enemies of the LORD and will vanish like smoke from a field on fire. 21 An evil person borrows and never pays back; a good person is generous and never stops giving. 22 Everyone the LORD blesses will receive the land; everyone the LORD curses will be destroyed. 23 If you do what the LORD wants, he will make certain each step you take is sure. 24 The LORD will hold your hand, and if you stumble, you still won’t fall. 25 As long as I can remember, good people have never been left helpless, and their children have never gone begging for food. 26 They gladly give and lend, and their children turn out good. 27 If you stop sinning and start doing right, you will keep living and be secure forever. 28 The LORD loves justice, and he won’t ever desert his faithful people. He always protects them, but destroys the children of the wicked. 29 God’s people will own the land and live here forever. 30 Words of wisdom come when good people speak for justice. 31 They remember God’s teachings, and they never take a wrong step. 32 The wicked try to trap and kill good people, 33 but the LORD is on their side, and he will defend them when they are on trial. 34 Trust the LORD and follow him. He will give you the land, and you will see the wicked destroyed. 35I have seen brutal people abuse others and grow strong like trees in rich soil. 36 Suddenly they disappeared! I looked, but they were gone and no longer there. 37 Think of the bright future waiting for all the families of honest and innocent and peace-loving people. 38 But not a trace will be left of the wicked or their families. 39 The LORD protects his people, and they can come to him in times of trouble. 40 The LORD helps them and saves them from the wicked because they run to him.

What does God want? – Micah 6:8 He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

What does God give? – John 3:13-19 13 No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

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.

And finally

How to get it done – Philippians 4:1313 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

“Let go and let God” is not merely a pleasant aphorism. It is the well-known secret of astoundingly successful people.

Be successful. Give it to God. Trust that HE can handle it because

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.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever —

at your service, Belovéd!

Please pray with us here at Share-a-Prayer.

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Aloha Friday Message – November 8, 2019 – ALL For Christ

1945AFC110819 – ALL For Christ

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! This one is loaded with surprise links, so you know what they say … “If you see a link, click it!”

2 Corinthians 12:10 Therefore, I accept weakness, mistreatment, hardship, persecution, and difficulties suffered for Christ. It’s clear that when I’m weak, I’m strong.

2 Corinthians 12:15But I cheerfully also shall spend and I would even give up my person for the sake of your souls, even though, the more I love you, the less you love me.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! May Peace always be with you and may God bless you, Belovéd!

Nowadays, people would say, “What’s wrong with this guy, Paul? How can he be strong when he is weak? Has he got a persecution complex or something?” I would answer, “Definitely no. A persecution complex is a delusional state and usually has no foundation in reality.” Paul was under no delusion when writing this second letter to the Corinthians. In the first letter he had admonished them to crack down on one of their members who was causing division within the church. Earlier in this letter he chides them for taking things too far and states he has forgiven the repentant man and certainly they should as well.

Paul’s statement should not be interpreted as fatalism, or as false humility, either. In his perspective there is a complementary and harmonizing connection between suffering and sanctity. When his mind, his spirit, and his body are at rest in Christ, he is “in the world but not of the world.” The verb translated “accept” in the first passage is εὐδοκέω (eudokéō) { yoo-dok-eh’-o} which carries connotations of to think well of, or to choose gladly, or willingly accept, or to think best. It is like our expression “It comes with the territory.” If someone had told Paul that his stance was heroic, Paul would reply much the same way suddenly-noticed heroes do: “I’m no hero. I was just doing my job.” And so, Beloved, we are called to look on our own actions when encumbered with weakness, mistreatment, hardship, persecution, and difficulties suffered for Christ. Do we become histrionic like the Pharisee in the temple, tooting our own horn about how deeply we suffer? Do we become tranquil and self-restrained like Paul? Not that Paul didn’t moan and groan a little about his suffering as a prisoner; he let others know he was hurting, but he also let others know that the hurt he experienced was gladly and fervently offered up for the sake of the Body of Christ. Belovéd: All who are of the Body of Christ are called to serve as Paul served – For the Sake of Christ. (↔ Music Link)

When we are troubled, we are often led to prayer, as in “There are no atheists in foxholes.” God always hears the prayers of faith we offer up, but his answers are sometimes – perhaps often – are not what we had on our wish-list. Sometimes when we ask for direction, instead of a push in the right direction we might receive a smack up alongside the head. Sometimes when we are asking for things that will harm us, he withholds them in love; and other times he grants them so the lesson we learn will be indelible. When we don’t get what we want, sometimes, childishly (different from “child-like”), we pout, and grumble, and cry out in the anguish of our suffering that God has abandoned us. If instead he covers us with his Grace we are easily led to believe our own strong faith has saved us. When, however, we accept everything – good or bad, sweet or bitter, bliss or pain – with equanimity, poise, and self-control, we are allowing that Grace to work in us.

    That Grace-at-work (↔ Music Link) fortifies, enlivens, and encourages us. Through this, we show others the centrality of Jesus in our lives and God is therein glorified. Though on the Road to Calvary, we are also climbing the road to Zion and God’s own Heaven. When we are humble enough to glorify God, we are strengthened in ways that overcome every trial, every false accusation, every painful torment our adversary imposes on us. In that way, also, the adversary is defeated and Christ is victorious. (←Hint: Right-Click on the picture and select Open hyperlink!)

In our own right we are weak, but he is strong (↔ Music Link – it’s a POWERFUL one!) . When we hold our peace, we are held in peace. Many years ago I wrote a song called “Man of Peace.” It was so long ago that I can no longer remember all of it. However, this little scrap has existed for well over fifty years, and it still speaks to me.

I am a man of Peace. I own no other name.
I stand before you, gird about with gifts of Love.
You ask me of my Peace, and how I hold it so.
Good listener, I do not hold my Peace.
I am held in Peace.

The Lord waits for us. Why does he do that? He does that so we will turn to him so he can be gracious (pleasant, friendly, generously gently) so that he can bestow on us the Light of his Glory and Grace (↔ Music Link) Whenever we begin to doubt his presence, we can be sure that it is not him who has moved away; it is us – always us. When we ponder how evil can penetrate even the most sacred things – innocent life, Servants of God in The Church, Matrimony, even the very Presence of Christ in the Sacraments – then we are putting our faith in an institution, and denying our confidence in HIS faithfulness. If evil men do evil things because they value their subjective selfish evil more than God’s objective generous Truth, that does not – indeed cannot – make my faith in God hopeless or inadequate. Abraham offered up Isaac because “He considered the fact that God is able even to raise someone from the dead.” (See Hebrews 11:19) What other earthlings do is important, but not essential to my belief that God is alive, God is here, and God loves us enough to give us all that is good; he will never give us anything that is bad, so whatever is bad is not from God, and not something for me to fret over. We can wait for the evil to be conquered while still trying not to get caught up in our own subjective selfish evil.

When we wait on God, God fulfills us. When we are quiet, he is pleasantly present and we hear and feel that presence. When we reason that God is trustworthy so that when he tells us that all will be well, we realize that whatever is happening to us is what God has desired and intended for us because of his Love for us. That is his promise (one of thousands) to us. We have only to claim it, then live it – forever because YOLOF. (In case you’ve forgotten, You Only Live Once – FOREVER.)

And how do we claim this promise? Behold!

Isaiah 30:15cIn quietness and in trust shall be your strength.

and

Exodus 14:14The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to keep still.”

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever —

at your service, Beloved.

I love you, but our El Shaddai-Olam* loves you infinitely more!

* All Mighty, Ever-Living God

Isaiah 30:15 (Read the whole verse here, especially the last line)

“The Lord is my Shepherd. That’s all I need to know.”

Why? Because, for the sake of Christ, and by the Grace of Christ, I am held in Peace flowing like a river. (↔ Music Link)

Please pray with us here at Share-a-Prayer.

Hebrews 12:14 14 Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

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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Aloha Friday Message – November 1, 2019 – Little by little

1944AFC110119 – Little by little

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! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

     Wisdom 11:23-12:2 23 But you are merciful to all, for you can do all things, and you overlook people’s sins, so that they may repent. 24 For you love all things that exist, and detest none of the things that you have made, for you would not have made anything if you had hated it.

1 For your immortal spirit is in all things. Therefore you correct little by little those who trespass, and you remind and warn them of the things through which they sin, so that they may be freed from wickedness and put their trust in you, O Lord.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Grace and Peace to each of you from God our Father and our Lord, Jesus the Christ, in the Power of the Holy Spirit. We are nearing the end of the Liturgical Year. The Last Sunday in November will be The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. The following Sunday will be the First Sunday of Advent. Between now and then our Sunday readings remind us of God’s Mercy. That Mercy is manifested in the birth of Jesus, and revealed in his resurrection.

Our God – the Almighty Ever-Living God El Shaddai-Olam – made everything according to HIS will and the testament to that is everywhere. Consider this familiar passage from Psalm 8:1-5 O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. 2 Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have founded a bulwark because of your foes, to silence the enemy and the avenger. When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? Yet you have made them a little lower than God, * and crowned them with glory and honor.

* מֵאֱלֹהִ֑ים (mê-’ĕ-lō-hîm) {meh-el-o-heem’}“less than divine” or less than supernatural beings such as angels, gods, mighty rulers, or judges. From אֱלהִים (elohim) {el-o-heem’}, plural of אֱלוֹהַּ (eloah) {el-o’-ah} God, gods. We are not gods, but we are created to be only a little less than the angels; little by little we advance toward that day when we shall be above even the angels because we will be restored to our status as children of the Lord God. The Apostle Paul tell us this in 1 Corinthians 6:2-3 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels—to say nothing of ordinary matters? God has given us so very much – dominion over the Earth; forgiveness, redemption, and Salvation; the privilege of adoption as sons and daughters of God; the very desires of our hearts; and even our very own guardian angels. These are among the uncountable treasures given to us. We who are faithful also obtain the blessing of persecutions. When we play that one in our heads we get that sound like dragging the needle over the LP phonograph record – ZZZHHRRRRIIIILKZX! Why is that part of our Grab Bag Gift?

Let’s scroll back up the page and take another look at one of those “I know that” verses (which we often do not know at all). Psalm 8:2 2 Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have founded a bulwark because of your foes, to silence the enemy and the avenger. The first part of this verse is often used as an adage to express the truth that sometimes the uncensored viewpoints of children point us to truths of staggering importance. In this case, the Wisdom of God is given to children – even nursing infants – who, in their innocence, speak about the Wonders of God. It was that challenge that will  defeat “the enemy” and “the avenger.” What’s that all about? It’s time for a Deep See Dive into the root Scriptures.

The enemy is (Tah-Dah) Satan. Now, I know you usually just skim past these little parts, but I put them in because I want us to see that the Bible is really real. The words there are to help us understand God better – little by little – so that we are more comfortable with him than with the Devil. With that in mind, here’s the skinny on “the enemy:” It is the word א֝וֹיֵ֗ב (’ō-w-yêḇ) {o-yabe’} → related to the word ayab, for hate → therefore a hater, an enemy. Next we have וּמִתְנַקֵּֽם׃ (ū-miṯ-naq-qêm) from נָקַם (naqam) {naw-kam’} → to avenge, take vengeance. Who will refuse to listen to the innocent words of children? Those among us who have not yet learned to recognize intellectually that God is in charge – and are therefore enemies of God, and mistakenly believe they have the power of revenging themselves upon him for condemning their choices of disobedience and sin. Who would do such a thing? Satan and his minions of course, and at times – little by little – we slip into that enemy camp … not as spies or insurgents, but as collaborators, as sinners, and as foolish agents of the evil we know we must avoid, but cannot, do not, and will not listen to what the innocent say. They speak so that we “grown-ups” may know shame because through such feeble and weak soldiers of God – innocent babes and sucklings – there is sufficient strength to defeat the enemy, the Foe, that Avenger against Righteousness; yet in us who know better, and should have the greater strength, the Liar’s deceits prevail so that little by little we, too, betray our God. What are we to do?!

REPENT AND BELIEVE THE GOSPEL:” (← Check it out!) We can definitely repent and believe the Good News: Mark 1:15 “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” See Also 2 Peter 3:9. When I read that, sometimes that weird little guy in the back of my head hits me with the “newspaper questions:” Who, what, when, where, why, how? Who will repent and believe? WE WILL. What will we repent and believe? OUR SIN and his GOSPEL. When will we repent and believe. TODAY AND ANY DAY THAT WE SIN. Where will we repent and believe? IN OUR HEARTS, IN OUR LIVES, IN OUR MINDS. (See Metanoia) Why will we repent and believe? WE WILL REPENT AND BELIEVE TO RETURN TO THE ARMS OF GOD THROUGH JESUS THE CHRIST. How will we repent and believe? LITTLE BY LITTLE EVERY SINGLE DAY. And lastly, what is the final question in this series? What changes when we repent and believe the Gospel? EVERYTHING – IT’S LIKE HITTING THE RESET BUTTON. How do we get to that point? Take a clue from God’s Good Buddy, the Psalmist.

Psalm 51:2-6 Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin.3 For I recognize my rebellion;  it haunts me day and night.Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just. For I was born a sinner — yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.But you desire honesty from the womb, teaching me wisdom even there. New Living Translation (NLT) Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

God is not distracted by anything in our lives. He is always aware of everything, and every moment of our existence. We continue to repent and believe the Gospel, continue to fight on so that little by little we defeat the enemy. I’m going to ask you to look at how God told Israel that Joshua should take over Canaan and all the Nations that lived there. Here is how God gave the Promised Land to Israel “little by little” as recorded in Exodus 23:20-33 (especially verse 30) and Deuteronomy 7:17-26 (especially verse 22). He told them that they must utterly destroy these enemies of God – not one soul should be alive, no silver or gold be taken, no son or daughter of Israel should marry among them (they’d all be dead anyway), no livestock should be taken home because everything owned by God’s enemies was “set apart for destruction.” God’s enemies will be destroyed by God’s chosen. I’m going to close with proof that – little by little – we have the Victory over the enemy (Satan), and the Avenger (Death):

Romans 8:35-39 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.” *

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 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. (*See Psalm 44:22) Little by little we fight the enemy as God sends his angels and Mighty Arm ahead of us to mow down Evil – not all at once, but in God’s measured Wisdom – so that all who are patient, obedient, and persevering will attain Everlasting Light and Glory in Christ Jesus. That’s a pretty good outcome, I’d say. And what are the Evils we combat? Pride, Envy, Gluttony, Sloth, Lust, Avarice, Wrath as expressed in lying, shedding innocent blood (abortions included), making wicked plans, sowing discord, and everything found in Galatians 5:19-21 19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, 20 idolatry,* sorcery,* enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. *These include horoscopes, witchcraft, rebellion, “The Force,” polytheistic religions based on “elementals” (earth, fire, air, water, Mother Nature, Gaia, Pachamama, Kū, and anyone or anything we place higher than God). Little by little God will deliver us from these sins, but we must suit up (See Ephesians 6:11-18) and fight against God’s enemies (which are therefore also our enemies). There is still time to repent. Let’s get on it; little by little we can win the war!

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

Please pray with us here at Share-a-Prayer.

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

Creative Commons License
Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

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Aloha Friday Message – October 25, 2019 – Pray for us sinners

1943AFC102519 – Pray for us sinners

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! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

     Luke 18:13 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Grace and Peace be to each of you from God our Father and our Lord, Jesus the Christ, in the Power of the Holy Spirit. Recently (← Check it out!) we shared a few common prayers that can be used in our Daily Offering. Today we will look in particular at one very special prayer and some variations on that prayer. It is most often known as “The Jesus Prayer.” One common format is “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” There is a popular musical setting written by Tom Booth The Jesus Song (↔ Music Link).

 

 

     How did this “Jesus Prayer” come into being? The Jesus Prayer combines three New Testament Scriptures: [1] The Messianic theological hymn of the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians  Philippians 2:6–11 (See verse 11: “Jesus Christ is Lord”), the Annunciation of Luke 1:31–35 (See verse 35: “Son of God”), and the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican (Tax Collector) of Luke 18:9–14, in which the Pharisee demonstrates the improper way to pray (See verse 11: “God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican”), whereas the Publican prays correctly in humility (See verse 13: “God be merciful to me a sinner”). Once again, it is useful to see what this looks like in Greek, so here is a little table showing the actual content:

Θεός ἱλάσθητί μοι τῷ ἁμαρτωλῷ
ho Theos hilasthēti moi hamartōlō
O God be merciful to me, the sinner

The combined scriptural excerpts give us this short and powerful prayer – I would call it a Prayer of Surrender – which is also a prayer of contrition. In it, we recognize Jesus Christ is Lord – which no one can say except through the Holy Spirit (See 1 Corinthians 12:3) – and also recognize that we cannot expiate our own sins, but rather depend on Grace. When I think about grace I consider it to be something like Justice tempered with Mercy that is gifted to all who will accept it. Who would not accept it? Persons like the Pharisee who cannot even fake humility in the presence of Almighty God. Jesus is the ultimate model of humility and the Apostle Paul shows us just how that happened in his letter to the Philippians.

We’ve mentioned Philippians 2:5-11 several times over the years, but I don’t recall spelling it out for you so, let’s have a go at it: Philippians 2:5-11 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, 8 he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

It does indeed take humility to pray The Jesus Prayer. It takes nothing of conscience or spirit to recite this prayer. Recitation of prayers is a convenient trap for the devil to get into our heads and hearts. Catholics are often criticized for using “vain and repetitious prayers” as referenced in Matthew 6:7 When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. (Take a look at the New Living Translation version of this verse.) The verb here for “heap up empty phrases” is βατταλογήσητε (battalogēsēte) which comes from Βάττος – battos (stutter, stammer, repeat without purpose) and λόγος – logos (word). A good literal translation is “Do not babble on and on …” (And I really do like the English near-pun babble on for Babylon!) Repetitive prayer is not babbling. It is a form of meditation when properly used. The scriptural basis for this practice is found in Matthew 6:6 But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Christian Hermits of the Eastern Orthodox Church have used this form of prayer by “withdrawing” from the present and praying without being attentive to their surroundings. It is another contemplative way to “open the heart” to make a “prayer of the heart” (Καρδιακή Προσευχή) which is considered to be a method for “unceasing prayer” as described by the Apostle Paul (See 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) – a way that a well-disposed earthling can be intimately united with our Trinitarian God through the Grace received and perceived in one’s heart. The repetition of The Jesus Prayer, for some, can open this pathway. That intensity of prayer, of course, does not make one any less of a sinner – although it surely might lessen the sins committed – and this means we still need that Mercy of God for without it, we are lost as was the Pharisee in the Gospel account. It is significant that both men were praying to God about themselves. That is also the effect of The Jesus Prayer – “be merciful to me.” What about praying on behalf of others? Is that a valid practice? Can we, should we, will we intercede for others?

The title today is “Pray for us sinners.” I love this phrase because it functions on multiple levels:

  • Sinners, pray for us (we ask other sinners to pray for us)
  • Sinners pray for us (sinners pray as we have asked)
  • Pray for us sinners (someone needs to pray for all the sinners)
  • Pray for us, sinners (same as “Sinners, pray for us)

We know for certain we can and do intercede for others – after all, what is “Church” all about? Do we pray that every living soul will perceive and receive (accept) the Mercy of God? Do we not have an Intercessor in Christ Jesus? Turn to Romans 8:26-27 26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. 27 And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Or Romans 8:34 34 Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us? Or Hebrews 7:25 25 Consequently he is able for all time to save [completely] those who approach God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. If God, in Christ, intercedes for us, shall we not intercede for others? May we also pray “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have Mercy on us.”? And if we were to pray that repetitively, what effect might we expect? MERCY! That’s what we expect when we intercede! We want the Gift of Mercy because the Perfect Justice of God allows Grace upon Grace (See John 1:16). Intercession is praying with, for, or about someone on behalf of others. Are there any others beside Jesus who will intercede for us? Let’s list a few:

  • The Church
  • The MBN
  • Our loved ones
  • The Saints in Heaven (and on Earth!)
  • Our angels in Heaven
  • You and I can also intercede

How do we know what intercession is? Praying is an action, a deed; intercession is how God guides us in the action of praying … so, when we pray we place our being in the presence of His Being. Get it? We connect with him so he can connect with us; and, being connected to God is the practical application of God’s Mercy: “Let the constant Hope I have in you be the Light that drives away the darkness and draws me and everyone I meet to your Perfect Integrity, Endless Mercy, and Eternal Salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Belovéd, we are called to Intercessory Prayer which means we must first put our very selves in the Presence of our Almighty Ever-Living God. This requires humility. Humility comes only through humiliation; as is said, “You can’t make this stuff (humility) up.” Who among us is not “Standing In The Need of Prayer?” (↔ Music Link) Pray for us, sinners! We need all the prayers we can get! Holy Mary, Mother of God, Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”  “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us, as sinners.”

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever —

at your service, Belovéd!

Please pray with us here at Share-a-Prayer

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 Message – October 18, 2019 – Use What We Know

1942AFC101819 – Use What We Know

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! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

     Exodus 17:11-12 11 Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed; and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. 12 But Moses’ hands grew weary; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; so his hands were steady until the sun set.

2 Timothy 3:14-17 14 But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. 15 You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is [also] useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. New Living Translation (NLT) Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Luke 18:7-8 And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! This coming Sunday, all three readings point toward one specific characteristic of a well-lived Christian life: Perseverance. Moses obeys God by holding up his hands and staff as Israel battle against Amalek. The effort is supported by Aaron and Hur who help him keep his posture of perseverance. In the second reading, the Apostle Paul counsels Timothy to persevere in his teaching and preaching – in living out his mission or spreading the Gospel – because he know that what he has learned is true and the people who taught him are trustworthy. Jesus gives us a parable about a corrupt judge who finally gives in and renders a just decision for a woman whose perseverance leave him little room to do anything else. Jesus tells us that God, who alone is the Just Judge, will surely grant justice for those who persevere in crying out to him. In Ephesians 6:18, the Apostle Paul tells us further, “18 Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.

“Persevere” is one of those interesting words that we hear often, usually in the context of difficulties impeding our efforts. We have other ways to say the same thing – Stay the course, keep on track, persist always, keep going, never give in, don’t take no for an answer, stand your ground, go the distance, leave no stone unturned, eyes on the prize, stick to your guns, and these days the ever-popular “hang in there.” All of these carry with them the implication that we will continue to pursue a goal or path under arduous circumstances regardless of any opposition, danger, difficulty, or doubt. For those who deem themselves “self-reliant,” this is a formidable challenge. For those who know the power of Scripture and prayer – especially prayer in and through Scripture – this is almost second-nature because we remember that God speaks to us through his word and listens to us through our prayers. We have learned to use what we know.

Why is this important for Christians to remember? We’ve touched on this before in Mark 10:28-30 28 Peter began to say to him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” 29 Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.” Jesus told us in John 16:33 33 I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world! In the Letter of James we read, “My brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing. (See James 1:2-4) James follows up in his letter on ethical conduct for Christians with this in James 5:7-11 Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. Beloved, do not grumble against one another, so that you may not be judged. See, the Judge is standing at the doors! 10 As an example of suffering and patience, beloved, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 Indeed we call blessed those who showed endurance. You have heard of the endurance of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. 

     Let’s look at the three Key Verses presented above and see what they tell us. Let’s begin with the Gospel selection. That last sentence is kind of a shocker: “And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” We earthlings have a bad reputation for giving up hope when our expectations of deliverance are long delayed. It seems in God’s economy that his swift and complete action arrives just when we have foolishly given up hope. Jesus, while in the flesh, told us not even he knew when the day of deliverance or justice would come. Are we still waiting with perseverance? When the relief we seek finally does come, it seems almost too good to be true – after 70 years in Babylon, Israel suddenly learned they were going home! It was like a dream: Psalm 126:1-2 When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” We know this is true and trustworthy because we have a record of all that in Scripture. It is Scripture that God uses to teach us, and Scripture is the best Authority because it is inspired by God.

The Apostle Paul clearly told Timothy, “  All Scripture is inspired by God and is [also] useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” If we know the Truth, perseverance is easier to accomplish because we know we can trust it – we can use what we know to give us hope, strength, perseverance, quietness, and – above all – FAITH (Fully Aware I Trust Him). We see this expressed in Lamentations 3:22-26 22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” 25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. And what about Deuteronomy 8:3? He humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna, with which neither you nor your ancestors were acquainted, in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord [by anything the Lord decrees]. And again in Psalm 119:9 (a memory verse from “long-time-ago”) – How can young people keep their way pure? By guarding it according to your word. And Psalm 119:11 11 I treasure your word in my heart, so that I may not sin against you. All of these Timothy knew in his heart, and that gave him – and his flock – greater perseverance, enough perseverance to overcome evil and publicize the Gospel.

In our Key Verse excerpt from Exodus, we see one of the Heroic Men of the Old Testament, Moses, doing the hard work of persevering – and he accepted the help of his brethren Aaron and Hur. Oh, Belovéd, how often we fail at that small but important commitment to perseverance! So often we tell ourselves, our loved ones, and even or God like a two-year-old child, “NO! I do it myself!” Now there’s a case for God’s perseverance! It is indeed a good thing that “his mercy endures forever,” and that “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.” With that to hold onto, perseverance is basically a matter of remembering, and as Catholics, we’re pretty good at that.

We Remember How You Loved Us.” (↔ Music Link) “Do this in memory of me.” “Remember your love and your faithfulness O God.” “Remember your Saints …”Remember your servants who have gone before us …” ” … and in communion with those whose memory we venerate, especially the glorious ever-Virgin Mary, Mother of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ” We can choose to remember, to pray, to feed on The Word, to speak to and listen for God. We can recall how the many who have gone before us have cried out, “How long O Lord, how long?” (See for example Psalm 13) When it gets to be too difficult, which others of the earthlings around us will stand with us in prayer, or even at our bedside as we wait?

To persevere is to bring to bear the power of Love. Even the greatest of sinners will find Peace and Perseverance in Christ Jesus. We’ll close with this testimony from the Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 1:12-14 – 12 I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service, 13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.  As well as Psalm 46:10a10 Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.”  This we know because we know The Word and the Lord. What we know, we use to enrich our lives and the lives of others by testifying to the Truth no matter what.

 

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever —

at your service, Belovéd!

Please pray with us here at Share-a-Prayer. You already know how, but just in case – How: Romans 8:26-27 26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. 27 And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

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 Message – October 11, 2019 – Give Thanks …

1941AFC101119 – Give thanks … 

     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! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

Luke 17:15-16 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. 16 He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Leviticus 22:29 29 When you sacrifice a thanksgiving offering to the Lord, you shall sacrifice it so that it may be acceptable in your behalf.

1 Chronicles 16:8 O give thanks to the Lord, call on his name, make known his deeds among the peoples.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! May blessing always be with you and may God bless you, Belovéd! Earlier this week, the Lord sent me a suggestion about this post. He hinted that I should look at the word for. That’s kind of a funny word – for – because we use it so often without really thinking about what it does. It is a preposition that serves as a “function word.” It connects an action with an intended purpose or goal, and also as a word that connects with a perception or suitability (it’s for your own good). It can also stand in for the word because – “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good.” If we look it up on one of those online dictionaries, we can see many more ways for is a handy little word indeed. For further information you can type “define for” in your browser and see other usages. For today, we are going to look at how it connects with the nouns thanks and thanksgiving, and the verb thank.

The title of this post is Give thanks …. Usually that phrase is followed by a preposition like for, in, with, upon, or with words that are used as prepositions or adverbs like by, through, over, or before; Give thanks is often followed as well by adverbs like always, around, or above. This little word for can lead us to dozens of combinations with thank-* (where * = -s, -giving, -ful, -ing, and so on).

In today’s Key Verse, the emphasis of the story is that only one out of ten lepers returned to Jesus to say thanks for healing him. Jesus adds that this singular man was a Samaritan – so many people in Jesus’ audience would have assumed the Samaritan would not or could not be thankful in Jesus’ presence. This man, this Samaritan, gave thanks to Jesus for healing with joy and reverent homage. He did that loudly, publicly, humbly kneeling at Jesus’ feet, and uniquely. Jesus added to that man’s blessing of healing the blessing of forgiveness. Jesus told him “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.” It was not the act of returning to thank Jesus that made him well. Instead it was the act of obeying Jesus – to go and show himself to the Priests. This instruction is from Leviticus 14:2-9 which gives specific directions for the purification of someone afflicted with leprosy. Lepers were forbidden to have contact with others while still “unclean,” i.e., affected with a skin disease described as leprosy.

     The Samaritan in this story reminds us of other stories of Samaritans who encountered Jesus. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus sends The Twelve out to preach to “the lost sheep of Israel,” and commands them not to go to any Samaritan village. (See Matthew 10:5)

In Luke 9:52-56, Jesus is beginning his resolute journey to Jerusalem and comes to a Samaritan town. They will not receive him because of his destination, so Jesus and his disciples go to another village. Then again in Luke 10:25-37, it is a Samaritan who has compassion on the man attacked and injured by robbers – the Good Samaritan. This weekend’s Gospel reading is from Luke 17:11-19. We only know that one of the ten was a Samaritan, but because he returned to give thanks and homage, he is remembered.

In John 4:1-45, we have the marvelous account of The Samaritan Woman at the Well. It was through that woman than many in her village came to believe Jesus was indeed the Messiah. In John 8:39-59, the authorities even accuse him of being a Samaritan possessed by a demon. Their self-righteous status as “sons of Abraham” blinds them to “the Hope of Abraham and all the prophets.”

Lastly, in Acts 8:9-24, we have the account of Simon Magus – Simon the Sorcerer from Samaria – who was astonished at the miracles performed through the Apostle Phillip – and was baptized. Simon had become famous for his “magic,” and was even referred to by audiences as “Simon the Great.” But, when traveling with Phillip, he coveted the coming of the Holy Spirit to others after the laying on of hands by Peter and John and offered to buy the power to confer the Holy Spirit from the Apostles. Peter admonished him severely. Scripture states Simon asked for prayers so that “nothing of what you have said may happen to me.” Tradition relates that later he perpetuated the heresy of Gnosticism – a “way to salvation” that was based on “secret knowledge” known only to the perpetrators of that fraud.

All of these stories of Samaritans are told by Jesus for instruction of his Disciples – and that means they are for us, too. Most of these stories lead to a conversion – repentance followed by belief, which is in turn followed by blessing and thanksgiving. When we recognize that God is blessing us, we usually (hopefully) take time to follow the example of the Samaritan leper and give him thanks and praise. This combination occurs frequently in Scripture – so frequently that we cannot help but be aware that it’s “the right thing to do.” (As in “doing right things better and better things right.”) We give thanks for blessings to God with praise because “his steadfast love [mercy] endures forever.” That phrase – “his mercy endures forever” – occurs at least 300 times in the Bible! My favorite example of that is Psalm 136 which contains that phrase in every verse. Check it out. It’s the ultimate responsorial Psalm.

     Belovéd, there really are so many wonderful parts of our lives for which we can give thanks to our Almighty-Everliving God – our El Shaddai-Olam. Up there in the title, where you see the ellipse ( … ), start with one of the “functional words” I listed and then follow that with a blessing you yourself have experienced “so that it may be acceptable in your behalf.” Perhaps you are already tired of hearing about the importance of that “attitude of gratitude.” It is my experience that there is no greater joy in life than the joy found in gratitude. Think about it: When you are grateful, is that not a joyful moment that you can share with God and neighbor? Give thanks … because when we do, it affects the people around us. We can see that in 2 Corinthians 4:13-15 1But just as we have the same spirit of faith that is in accordance with scripture—“I believed, and so I spoke”*—we also believe, and so we speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will bring us with you into his presence. 15 Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.* (See Psalm 116:10)

We’ve been over the whole concept of “Count Your Blessings,” several times, but until we actually STOP and make time to do that, it is easy for us to rattle past our blessings as if they are in no way connected by that lovely little word for. Here’s a bit of what came up when I tried that: Give thanks …

  • To the Lord for he is good
  • For everything
  • In all things
  • Always and everywhere
  • In the morning
  • In the noon time
  • In the evening
  • At bedside in the night
  • For salvation
  • For Jesus
  • So that others will know this joy
  • For food, shelter, and meaningful work
  • For our family given to us by God
  • For friends, the family we choose
  • With all the assembly
  • In the presence of the Angels
  • Among the heathen and pagan
  • To make God’s deeds known
  • That we may give God glory and praise

One of the phrases I often use is “adoration, thanksgiving, and praise.” Adore and adoration are not in the Bible per se, but the concept is. In Exodus 3:5 and Joshua 5:15 it is removing one’s sandals. In other places, it is making a profound bow with one’s face toward – or even on – the ground as in Genesis 17:3, Ruth 2:10, and Daniel 3:3-6. In this posture one of the most beautiful biblical prayers is found in Revelation 7:11-12 11 And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 singing, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” 

I give you thanks and praise

     And in like manner let all of our prayers of thanks and praise begin and end with AMEN! – for his mercy and steadfast kindness are from everlasting to everlasting and we exult with the Psalmist and pray, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.” For what shall we give thanks today, Belovéd? I shall give thanks for you, with you, and about you so that” it extends to more and more people, [and] may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.” Thanks for tuning in! See ya next week as we return to Jesus – same time, same station – to thank and praise our God with a LOUD voice to make known his deeds among the peoples. AMEN!!

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever —

at your service, Belovéd!

Please pray with us here at Share-a-Prayer.

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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