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 – October 13, 2017 – Sí, se puede!

1741AFC101317 – ¡Sí, se puede!

¡Que la bendición esté siempre con ustedes y que Dios los bendiga, Amados! (May blessing always be with you and may God bless you, Belovéd!) Whew! I don’t know about Lake Woebegone, but I do know it’s been a long week in Kapahi! I want to begin by thanking all of you who so graciously offered your prayerful support during my recent illness. I still have a lo-o-o-o-ng way to go, but I am making incremental steps toward recovery. As new sequellae develop I’ll keep you posted. We also appreciate the prayers for my Dearest Darling Wife, Crucita. She, too, is making progress. That bug that caught us was one vicious little brute! I also want you to know that our son, Timothy – who moved here to take on the role of caregiver – has been a wonderful help to Crucita and me. He got here in the nick of time! So, again, thank you everyone. Now, let’s get into The Word.

Today I’d like to make my launching point from one of the readings for the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time which you can find here.

Philippians 4:19-20 19 And my God will fully satisfy [supply] every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20 To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

I love these two verses. In fact the letter to the Philippians is one I often turn to when I have questions that need answers or situations where encouragement is needed. Just a few verses above these two (next Sunday’s readings) is the favorite of many a troubled soul: Philippians 4:13I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. In the Authorized King James version it reads I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (A little more on that later.) Truly, Beloved, it is in Christ that we find awesome strength, and it is indeed He who gives us that strength we need and in such perfect proportions as to always meet our needs and then still have some strength left over. It is that thought which often comes to mind when I read the KJV version “which strengtheneth me.” Just the knowledge that Jesus gives me strength – in and of itself – gives me strength! I have strength from Jesus, and knowing that makes me – and the effect of Jesus’ strength – even stronger. It’s like forging a sword out of iron and another of bright steel. The one is strong; the other is stronger; yet both are stronger than I alone can be.

It is something like that for Philippians 4:19. We all know to whom Paul is referring when he says “My God.” Paul is consistently reminding us of the Holy Trinity – “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the holy Spirit be with all of you.” (2 Corinthians 13:13 2 – Cor 13:14 AKJV) – in his Epistles. The Trinity is an indivisible Community comprised of three distinct personages, and all of them act in accord with one another, yet separately. The fact that this is an impenetrable mystery does not faze Paul in the least. In that respect, I think of him in the same way I think of Abram.

God chose Abram over many others and assigned him to a task of God’s choosing. Abram means “exalted father.” He was renamed by God at the beginning of the first covenant – he became Abraham “father of many nations.” Saul of Tarsus was renamed by God at the beginning of the Second Covenant. Saul was the name of Israel’s first king, and the popular meaning of the name was “prayed for.” Saul of Tarsus assumed a task whereby he meant to choose God and exterminate The Way – as Jesus-followers first called their faith. Saul became Paul; Paul is rooted in a Latin word which means “small” or “humble.” You remember Simon was renamed Peter, and sometimes in the Gospels we hear both together – Simon Peter. But you never hear Abram Abraham or Saul Paul in any scripture. That is how total the change was – more than just a name, it was the designation of an entirely new person refashioned by God on the spot.

Abraham went on to do many astounding things, but none was as astounding as his willingness to sacrifice Isaac, and we know Paul also did many astounding things including healings and resurrections. Both of them had been prepared by God to do those things; that is why God changed them. He had a plan, and a job, and needed the right person for that job. He did what only God can do. He created a job and then created a person to do that job. Paul and Abraham both had that figured out way before their contemporaries did.

Now, let’s look at “fully supply.” This word “supply” in Greek is an interesting word – `πληρόϖ pleroo {play-ro’-o}. Among other concepts related to completion, it is used as: to make complete in every particular, to render perfect; to carry through to the end, to accomplish, carry out, to make full, to fill up, i.e. to fill to the fullest; to cause to abound, to furnish or supply liberally. Paul’s meaning here is that God can completely repay – with more left over – all of Paul’s debt to the church in Corinth. There is where our eyes often go first. “God chooses to be generous with me, and I accept his generosity.” Then we pass him a list of what we want from him.

DING-DING-DING-DING! WRONG!! God is ABSOLUTELY – in the most literal sense of that word – ABSOLUTELY-Generous Will DOES fully supply all our needs. And so, while we want to focus on the thought of his generosity, we know “God gives us all we need, not all we want.” This leads to those silly prayers where we tell God, “I really need this | promotion | new house | personal renewal | sense of forgiveness | anything-else-I-usually-want to put in this sentence when I pray | … BUT (we so righteously add) Thy will be done. I don’t want to be greedy.” (Can you get that here before Tuesday, please? Thank you God!)” “Fully supply” in this passage is like we read about in Luke 6:3838 “give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”

WHOA! Back UP!! Curve ball!! We were talking about God being generous and giving us what we need, not about giving others what they need. Think again. Read the passage in context. Go ahead. I’ll wait (you really should click on the link you know. It will take less than 60 seconds to read this, and it’s really good information.)

Do you see? The Church in Philippi had gone to extraordinary measures to help Paul in times of great need and great danger. They had given of their own temporal and spiritual riches to support Paul. Paul has absolutely no way to repay their kindness, but he knows God has seen their generosity and will answer it with his own version of GENEROSITY. He is saying, “I cannot repay the debt, but I am confident God will repay you out of his own riches.”

God has already been incredibly generous with us. How are we using the riches of his generosity? Use them well, and there is a better likelihood that he will fully supply all our needs in the way of generosity only he can provide. This cycle of receiving, giving, and receiving more is what enables us to “… do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” It doesn’t make me superhuman – if one of the things I want to do is climb a building like Spiderman or lasso a jet like Wonder Woman – but, whatever God asks of me can be done through the strength I have in Christ Jesus. Even my old friend Abraham was able to do extraordinary things because he reasoned that God’s Word is true; if God said Abraham would be the Father of Many Nations, then somehow – no matter what – Isaac would be alive to carry on that Covenant. We can do all needful (requisite, necessary, required) things in the strength of Christ’s Glory, Grace, And Love. ¡Sí, se puede! How and why does that work? OUR “God will fully satisfy [supply] every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

How about a practical example? We have MBN members who are evangelizing, witnessing, preaching, teaching, prophesying, and giving the Devil Hell. Pray that those who want to go to Hell with Satan will instead ask you about going to Heaven with you instead. Go ahead! You can handle it (Philippians 4:13, remember?) Also, please remember Psalm 23:1 The LORD is my shepherd; I have all that I need. (←New Living Translation). What a GOOD & GENEROUS God we have! Look at what he’s given us:

Jesus loves me. This I know. All Creation tells me so.
It’s so easy to belong. Just believe and sing this song!
(↔ NOT a Music Link, but a decent read from a 2008 post.)

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

Share-A-Prayer
IDC – A treasure since we first met her as a child. Got smacked hard by her latest treatment with Adriamycin – a real wrecking ball for cancer but also poisons bone marrow (and everything else), thus putting her capability to fight off infection very low. Please pray for the miracle of remission through combining faith and medicine.

ALG – A much-loved friend, wife, mother of three, coworker, and also – diagnosed last week – with breast cancer. She lost her QUEST healthcare protection not long ago. If you would like the address for her Go-Fund-Me link, please message me back and I’ll email it to you. For all of us in the MBN, especially our other cancer patients or cancer survivors – you know the power of prayer is what is most needed.

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 – September 29, 2017 – Aloha ʻoe …

1739AFC092917 – Aloha ʻoe …

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Peace be with you. Read this online here, please.

Today I’m going to have to do something a little different. I’ve been laid low all week by a vicious virus that’s really knocked me for a loop. I haven’t had the wherewithal to do the research and writing for this coming Sunday, October 1, 2017. Instead I am going to give you two links.

The first is for the readings for this weekend. You can find them here.

The second is for a post back in 2013 that continues in the same vein of last week’s message with a connection to Philippians 2. Please look for the 2013 post here. Near the end, there is a link to Romans 10:1-21. Please do follow that link. That will be my message for this weekend. It’s a rerun, I know, but it’s also about 20% shorter than my usual posts! 😉 All of the passages are in the Bible Hub site, so those will be interesting links for you to follow. Please remember that we now have Reader View available. On iOS and Android devices, use the built in reader view button in the upper left of the screen. On Windows devices look for the button below the post-header and just above the title of the post. Thanks. And please also use the Share this button.

I hope to be fully functional within the coming week. I already have the Terrific Tuesday ready for next week, so that won’t be omitted.

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

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Aloha Friday Message – September 22, 2017 – BHLJ!

1738AFC092217 – BHLJ!

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Matthew 20:16 16 So the last will be first, and the first will be last.

Matthew 22:14 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.

Revelation 3:2020 Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.

This painting was part of my life as a child. I remember seeing it in my Sunday School classroom. I think it was also in the office of our Pastor, Rev. Robert Lutz. It was in one of the Bibles I owned sometime around Jr High. And that Bible verse was part of the Sword Drill. “Sword Drill” was a program of memorizing Bible Verses. Then we’d have contests to see who could recall a verse quickest. Seeing Jesus at the door and knowing why He was there seems to have always been a part of me; it is unforgettable.

In later years I have wondered how many times I have left him standing there while I went on with my life. This passage comes from the letter to the Church at Laodicea. They were enjoying the good life with plenty of worldly things to their credit. But Jesus scolds them for being lukewarm, neither hot nor cold. No fervor in their faith, no fire in their prayers. In the verses just before today’s Bible verse, He tells them, 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, ‘I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.’ You do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich; and white robes to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen; and salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. 19 I reprove and discipline those whom I love. Be earnest, therefore, and repent.  And there it is again: Repent. Will we? Have we? Can we? Shall we? Who’s knocking at your door? Is that Jesus calling you? Isaiah 55:6 6 Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near. How near is he if he’s knocking at your door?

He stands at the door of your heart and my heart and asks to come in, to share Fellowship with us, to be family with us. He waits patiently to be invited in. “Oh, I don’t need that junk about church! It’s just a bunch of hog-wash!” “Organized religion is just a crutch. I can worship God any way I want and he’ll understand.” “God is me and in me and I am God and in Him. It’s all good.”

Hmmm. Jesus might be able to say that, but it just doesn’t ring true for us to say that. The church a Laodicea was thinking they could live their faith according to their own standards, do their own thing, take the middle road to worldly comfort so as not to bother anyone, to be politically-correct Christians. They were complacent in their self-sufficiency. And they left Jesus standing at the door.

I’m asking you, urging you, even begging you not to do that. Here’s an example of how easy it is to forget the Fellowship of having Christ in your heart:

A Christian and a Quarter

Several years ago, a preacher from out-of-state accepted a call to a church in Houston, Texas. Some weeks after he arrived, he took ride on the bus from his home to the downtown area. When he sat down, he discovered that the driver had given him a quarter too much change. As he considered what to do, he thought to himself, “You’d better give the quarter back. It would be wrong to keep it.” Then he thought, “Oh, forget it, it’s only a quarter. Who would worry about this little amount? Anyway, the bus company gets too much fare; they will never miss it. Accept it as a ‘gift from God’ and keep quiet.”

When his stop came, he paused momentarily at the door, and then he handed the quarter to the driver and said, “Here, you gave me too much change.”

The driver, with a smile, replied, “Aren’t you the new preacher in town?”

 “Yes” he replied.

“Well, I have been thinking a lot lately about finding somewhere to worship. I just wanted to see what you would do if I gave you too much change. I’ll see you at church on Sunday.”

When the preacher stepped off of the bus, he literally grabbed the nearest light pole, held on, and said, “Oh God, I almost sold your Son for a quarter.”

Our lives are the only Bible some people will ever read. This is a really clear example of how much people watch us as Christians, and will put us to the test! Always be on guard – and remember – you carry the name of Christ on your shoulders when you call yourself “Christian.” How can we avoid making the mistake of forgetting our calling to be Christians?

 Philippians 2:5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus. I’ll bet you remember this: “What Would Jesus Do?”

Talk about a loaded question! It seems that in our lives it boils down to something more like, “What would Jesus NOT do?” He probably wouldn’t do a lot of the things that churn up our consciences. Make that things which should churn up our consciences. I envision that idea of conscience as “that little old man in the back-right corner of my brain.” If he is a pest at times, it is only because I am so often a fool at times, and either argue with him or ignore him. That pretty much always turns out to be a mistake. As St. Paul rightly pointed out so often, it comes down to attitude.

That’s a word I’ve always had trouble with in my personal and public life. “Drop the attitude!” I certainly heard that often while growing up in Denver. Think of “attitude” and the outcome of a judgment of someone or something (most noun-forms would fit here – person, place, animal, thing, or idea) a judgment that is rife with emotion. It can be a positive or negative thing. “He’s got a great attitude!” “You’ve got a really bad attitude young man!” A friend who performed comedy often says, “He’s suffering from a bad altitude.” While obviously a punny malaprop, it really gets at the core idea of attitude in a very graphic way.

After looking at that, what can we deduce or infer about what Paul is recommending to the Philippians and to us? He wants our attitude to be the same as Jesus’ attitude. If I pray, “Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto your heart,” I am asking to have “the attitude that is also in Christ Jesus.” In the verses immediately previous to this passage, Paul is once again sounding a very familiar theme: “Stop being divisive, and be united in love and humility as Christ has commanded and as we have taught you.” (See Philippians 2:1-4)

As an example, as this passage in Philippians continues, Paul asserts that Jesus’ example was to set aside his own (considerable) importance and to take up the “form of a slave.” This was something he did out of obedience to his Father; his obedience was so profound that he voluntarily submitted to death, even the most shameful and horrific death of the cross. He became for the entire World – literally for Heaven and Earth and All Time – the lowest of the low. Because of this, God acclaimed and extolled him, lavishing on him the greatest name and honor. So magnificent was this blessing of God on Jesus that simply at the mention of the name JESUS, every created thing from angels to rocks would truthfully acknowledge his power, dominion, and glory.

Paul understood this, and he also understood how far from that Ideal his own life stood. Think back to the opening of The Love Chapter, 1 Corinthians 13:1-3:If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Paul consistently tells us that we need to model our lives in the image and form of the life of Christ. There is an interesting preposition in this passage that conveyed that quite clearly to the Philippians – and to us if we are attentive: also in Christ Jesus. The preposition there is έν [en]. The connotation is of something that is permanently and naturally (uncontrived) unchanging in place, time, or condition, something that is an integral part of the location or entity. Jesus’ attitude of love, ἀγάπη, was and is a permanent, natural, integral aspect of Jesus as Lord. That’s the kind of LOVE Paul is reminding us Jesus commanded us to cultivate and share.

To me the verse, “Have in you the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus” now comes out as “Ensure that your disposition toward all things is identical to the predominant and fundamental disposition of Christ: Perfectly modest, humble, and unselfish and utterly consecrated to the service of God and one another. Paul has an uncanny way of packing 10 pounds of meaning into a 3 pound jar!

Going back to the imagery in 1st Corinthians and transposing it here: “You should be a symphony of loving kindness rather than the loud noise of selfish conceits.” My life should ring like a crystal bell; instead it sounds like an empty garbage can kicked down a very long staircase. Dan Seaborn is  credited for coming up with the catchphrase “What Would Jesus Do.” It was a pretty popular motto back in the 90’s and lots of people had bracelets, T-shirts, badges, and bumper stickers reading W.W.J.D.? Finally after a few years the popularity faded, and the world moved on to something else. Paul’s message, however, has been true, reflected upon, preached, analyzed, memorized, and applied to daily living for over 1900 years. It’s not a catchphrase; it’s a formidable challenge.

Paul tells us that Christ Jesus required, and submitted to, humility before all other things. It took humility to obey. It took humility to empty himself and become an earthling. It took humility to direct his life and our hearts to God. It takes Love to be humble. “Be Humble Like Jesus.”B.H.L.J.” I guess if I really want to do that, I should have in me the same attitude as Christ. Maybe it would be wise to just listen to that little old guy in the back of my head, zip my lip, and light up my heart so I can clearly see all the things I do that Jesus wouldn’t do.

He’s inviting me to dinner at my place. That’s where he can be found. I’m invited to dine with him. He’s knocking and calling, and I’m choosing to open that door without letting the Devil sneak in. (Go ahead, check it out!) If I remain in Fellowship with him until the last moment of my life, the first moment of my New Life will be in Fellowship with him. That last will be the first.

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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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 – September 15, 2017 – Did you repent yet?

1737AFC091517 – Did you repent yet?

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.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Today we continue with the ministry of Jesus as presented in the Gospel of Matthew. Last week we looked into the responsibility of “fraternal correction.” Jesus told the Apostles that they had the responsibility and the authority to approach their brothers and sisters – fellow Disciples considered members of the church – and help them to understand in what ways their actions had a negative impact on the community. You may recall that we touched on something the Apostle Paul said in Romans 13:10 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law. Fraternal correction is to be given lovingly. In today’s readings, we will examine Jesus’ teaching about forgiveness. I’m going to recommend that you consider reviewing a previous post from August 22, 2008 for more information on forgiveness (and you can use the Reader View for that one, too). There are some excerpts from that post in this one. Let’s look at our key verse for today:

Psalm 103:11-12 11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us.

We often recall that God has created us in his image, and that we are to be like him as much as possible. We are called to be holy – that is, wholly whole, complete, and prepared for every good work – as God is Holy. He forgives our sins. He removes them so far from us that we cannot grasp how far; he not only forgives, but he also forgets. (See Isaiah 43:25) Can you forget your sins? I cannot forget mine, and often that’s because I have forgotten they are forgiven by God. Perhaps, though, they have not been forgiven by me or by those against whom I have sinned. That’s not what God intends, and Jesus very carefully explains it to the Apostles.

Immediately following the passage in Matthew on fraternal correction we read in Matthew 18:21-22 21 Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times. There is a similar admonition in Luke 17:3-4 Be on your guard! If another disciple sins, you must rebuke the offender, and if there is repentance, you must forgive. And if the same person sins against you seven times a day, and turns back to you seven times and says, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive.” Please note what is being said here; to whom does this command apply? We see in Matthew “ another member of the church,” and in Luke “another disciple .” These passages are continuations of Jesus’ teachings about the formation of the church the community of believers. Are you not a believer or know someone who isn’t? Jesus’ instructions to you are found in Mark 1:15 “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” (See also Acts 2:38)

In the Gospel of Luke, the two verses immediately preceding these (Luke 17:1-2) say 1 Jesus said to his disciples, “Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come! It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble. We are held responsible for the ways we may mislead others. If what we show them in our lives leads them to sin, that is charged to us. How can this be? We have enough trouble managing our own holiness and our own sinfulness. How is it we can be held accountable for something someone else does? The “why” of it is simple: That is God’s plan. It is the law of love. If we know love we know God and if we love God we must love one another. If we love one another we must not sin against them – that is also a sin against God – but if they sin against us we must forgive them. That is, as God forgives us, we forgive others. What is the requisite step to forgiveness from God? It is repentance, and repentance includes the intention of reforming one’s life so as to avoid sin and the desire to be tempted. What did Jesus say about forgiving others? He said, “And if the same person sins against you seven times a day, and turns back to you seven times and says, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive.

“But s/he made me so angry! I just want to make them suffer for what they did to me! I cannot and will not forgive them, ever!” That is God’s option; it is not our option. In the Old Testament reading this Sunday we hear Sirach 27:30 – 28:1 30 Anger and wrath, these also are abominations, yet a sinner holds on to them. 28 1The vengeful will face the Lord’s vengeance, for he keeps a strict account of their sins. We all know about that Bible verse that says “Vengeance is mine.” (See Deuteronomy 32:35 and Romans 12:19). God’s vengeance comes only after whopping-long periods of Grace and divine correction. Being forgiven, therefore, is something that we desperately need and hope for; it also causes us to rejoice when it happens: Psalm 32:1 Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. That joy comes to us not only when we are forgiven, but also when we forgive generously (as does God) and not begrudgingly.

Leviticus 19:18 18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord. So why do we keep grudges? Is that not what God abhors? We cling to our anger and nurture it. (←Here’s where you want to look at the post from 2008.) Do you really need to carry that burden? How is that grudge helping you? Grudges are heavy, difficult to carry because they have no handles, and dangerous because they can suddenly grow teeth and claws and tear us to shreds. They are the most fearsome and deadly form of self-awareness and the cause of much suffering. Forgiveness is the anti-grudge, the “grudge-icide” if you will, and it is something that all of us have within us because all of us need it. It is part of the Image of God which resides in our souls. When we remember to live as that image, we realize we are not here in the World for our own gratification (which is a surprise to many these days); no, indeed we are here for the sake of others. It’s not so much what we are to receive as we live on, but rather what we are to give.

As the Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 14:7-8 We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves.If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. And if we are the Lord’s, then we forgive, and forgive again, and again, and again. In Jesus’ response to Peter, the quote above says “seventy-seven times.” Other sources translate that as “seventy times seven.” Whether it’s 77 times or 490 times, the point is that if you’re “keeping score” and counting up the times you’ve claimed to give forgiveness, you’re missing the point: Colossians 3:12-15  12 As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. 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. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.

The point most often missed is this: Be forgiving and become forgiven. Ask and offer. Always seek, and expect to receive, the greater gift: The gift of giving. Peace and Joy are the result: John 16:24 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete. In other words, “Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” In fraternal correction we love our fellow Disciples enough to help them meld with the community. In the Love of Christ, we forgive one another as he forgives us – as meaning “in the same way as” not “while.”

This is what Jesus taught to the Apostles on that day in his journey to Jerusalem (and of course to us as well). We know that they learned that lesson because of what the Apostle Peter later wrote in 1 Peter 4:8 Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. The hardships of forgiveness are minor compared to the blessings we have in Christ Jesus. There is such great happiness in those blessings that we can understand what is meant when we read 2 Corinthians 12:10 10 Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong. For the sake of Christ, (↔ Music Link) we can bear all things in Love, for indeed, his Grace is enough for us to be forgiving and forgiven. Let’s help one another repent? We should all read and remember the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant. (Please use this link. Thank you.)

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

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Aloha Friday Message – September 8, 2017 – Fully Filling Love

Aloha Friday Message – September 8, 2017 – Fully Filling Love

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 guess what! Now we have a READER VIEW AVAILABLE button!

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Today’s post is #600 – this is the six-hundredth post to the Moon Beam Network at aloha-friday.org and it’s time for something new!! Go ahead and click on the link above – the one that says here – and then look in the upper-left corner of the post for this button:

Just click on the READER VIEW button, and you will see a black-&-white-text representation of the page! This super-duper bit of Internet magic was set up by our friends at Kukui Corporation, the premier web-building agent for business-development applications – the All-In-One Success Platform ®. I can tell you I am astonished at their kindness and delighted with their superlative skills. Thank you from the depths of my soul, Ryan and Kate Wilmot, for all the amazing things with which you have helped the MBN.

Let’s take a look at what’s coming up this Sunday. Part of the Gospel is often misunderstood or applied incorrectly, we will look at it in the context of Christ’s message and what God intends overall for us.  Let’s begin with an excerpt from the Old Testament prophet, Ezekiel (Yechezqel – “God Strengthens”)

Ezekiel 33:9 But if you warn the wicked to turn from their ways, and they do not turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but you will have saved your life.

Perhaps you will recall why God chose Israel to be “his people.” I invite you to follow a link to this passage where God is telling Israel what he had in mind when he made them his people. Take a moment to read Deuteronomy 7:7-10. You can see that God chose Israel, not because they were numerous and mighty (indeed they were few and enslaved!). Instead, he chose them so that they would go out to all other nations exemplifying good and destroying evil. Through their example, they were to demonstrate to others God’s mercy, power, and goodness. Israel was anointed to live as a nation of priests, prophets, and kings – a shining light to the entire world. God’s intention was for Israel to be a conspicuous and “peculiar” (special, distinctive) people, showing others the path to God and his promised provision of Redemption through his anointed Messiah, a Savior for all earthlings. For the most part, Israel failed to live up to God’s expectations. Nonetheless, God’s penultimate mission for Israel, the Advent of the Messiah, was made perfectly and fully complete in the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus, the Christ of God.

It is for this reason that God caused Ezekiel to speak out against the sinful persons in Israel. The righteous are held responsible for the unrighteous because they too are to be righteous Israelites who seek to convert their neighbors regardless of nationality. This is demanded of them as an act of Love – Love for God and Love for neighbor. In Sunday’s second reading from the Epistles, the Apostle Paul says in Romans 13:10 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law. Israel had The Law, and the Prophets, and it was their God-given duty to share the precepts of righteousness everywhere and always. There are many instances in the Epistles where Paul warned against living in a “Worldly Way,” that is, living outside Christ’s Law of Love. Paul echoed Christ, Christ echoed God, and God consistently said “all you need is Love.” Most of you will have heard and perhaps still remember the “Chapter of Love,” 1 Corinthians 13. Toward the end of that chapter, Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13:10 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly*, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. Being fully known, and therefore fully filled, is one outcome of Love.

* αἰνίγματι (ainigmati) from αἴνιγμα (ainigma) {ah’-ee-nig-ma} – a riddle, an enigma, a mystery, a puzzle.

Love is the vessel, the vehicle, and the vision through which God reveals himself to us. If we know love, we know God. Let’s take a quick review of three verses from the First Letter of John:

1 John 3:2 Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.

1 John 4:7-8 Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.

How are we to conquer the world’s unrighteousness souls with God’s Righteous Love if we do not know Love? How can we fulfill the mission God has given his chosen people – which, through adoption, includes everyone who believes in Jesus – if we do not live Love? And what are we to do about sharing that love if fellow believers are failing to know and live Love? There are pretty straight-forward instructions in the Gospel for the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – September 10, 2017 – and they go like this: Matthew 18:19 Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. Now, this is the verse I mentioned that is often misunderstood or misapplied, so I’m going to dissect it a bit. But first, think of it in the context of what Jesus is saying. He’s talking about the Church. He’s saying that, in keeping with the commandment given by God that we are to live in his paradigm, we are commanded to assist a fellow Christian who does not know or live love – which correction is to be given not judgmentally, but lovingly. First we are to speak to that person one-to-one. If that doesn’t bring conversion, then we get some others, two or three, to “do an intervention.” That 2-3 (or more) might not all be Christians, but they should be people with good moral standards. If that doesn’t work, then we take it to the church for their input; BUT, not necessarily the whole church. Let’s see what we have in the Greek in Matthew 18:19 Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. Matthew 18:20 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them. First we look at the phrase “agree on earth.”

The Greek here is the root work for our idea of “symphony.” It is an instance of harmonious accord. Such harmony is pleasing to God who created all things in harmony. What Paul is talking about is a person who obstinately refuses to know and to live Love. Such folk are to be excluded from the church. He is telling the Apostles, who have the authority to bind or loose on earth and in Heaven, that they are granted the power to include or exclude members as they conduct the organizing of the church under Jesus’ leadership. However, the whole of the church is not required to authorize such a decision because two or three in harmonious accord can make that decision and Christ will honor it. The key is in the Greek work for “agree.” That is the word from which we get “symphony:” συμφωνήσωσιν (symphōnēsōsin) from συμφωνέω (sumphóneó) {soom-fo-neh’-o}. Often this verse is applied to the idea of praying as intercessors for each other – and that is certainly a good thing and something which Christ commends elsewhere. But here, Jesus is telling the Apostles that they have authority to build the church in his name. There is something to be said also about the idea of “gathered together.” The connotation is that of a hospitable gathering with an agreed-upon purpose. That, of course, is the basis for the phrase “agree upon.” To be clear, I am not saying that Jesus did not tell us to come to him in prayer for each other. I am just saying that this passage – in context – is not addressing that. It is addressing how to build the church. For Jesus’ and the Apostles’ commands to pray for others (in order to build the church) see Matthew 5:44, Luke 6:28, Acts 7:38-60, Hebrews 7:25, 1 Timothy 2:1-2, and many others.

These passages show us that, in the same way Israel was to be a “light to the nations” (See Isaiah 49:6), we are to be a light set upon a lampstand to give light to all (See Matthew 5:14-15). This is because many within the church as well as outside the church have lives such as the Apostle Paul described in Philippians 3:18-19 18 For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. 19 Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things. “Earthly things” are things that are not based in God’s Love; they are based in selfishness and unrighteousness, and therefore cannot fully fill. Only Love fulfills God’s command to  be light and salt, goodness and joy, and only Love can give us a life that is fully filling – up to the brim and running over – with all of God’s very best stuff, the stuff of Love.

Belovéd, Love one another. Do no harm to our enemies, but pray for them that they might become our adopted brothers and sisters in Christ. Be witnesses to all the world – especially to those who err when following Jesus; but do so as Christ commanded: Gently, together, with harmony and purpose, bring them back into the Symphony of the Ages. Help the wicked turn from their ways, and you shall live.

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

Share-A-Prayer
The fully filling life is accessible to everyone who speaks with and about our Triune God. You are invited to share these recommendations for prayer topics. After the short list, there is a video I want you to see. No one speaks, and there are only teenagers holding hand-lettered signs, but the message they have for us is POWERFUL. After you watch the video, come back to these prayer topics and speak to the World about and with God. We desperately need him back. It will take Love, but we have more than enough and some to spare if we but Love God and neighbor.

Watch the video HERE.

  • Pray ceaselessly for the parts of the world – NOT JUST IN America – suffering from humongous fires
  • Pray ceaselessly for the parts of the world suffering from humongous floods – NOT JUST IN America
  • Pray ceaselessly for the people of the world suffering from humongous anger and sin – NOT JUST IN America
  • Pray ceaselessly for the people of the world suffering from humongous hatred and separation – NOT JUST IN America
  • Pray for hope, healing, and health for the chronically ill – EVERYONE EVERYWHERE
  • Pray for all national leaders that they might govern with morality, compassion, integrity, wisdom, and justice – ALL OF THEM
  • Pray for each other. I am praying for you. (Check the link?)

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

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 – September 1, 2017 – A Transforming Life

Let’s begin by asking for prayers, gifts, assistance, whatever you can for all the folks suffering from natural disasters this week. We have HUGE fires in Montana, Utah, Washington,  Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, California. See below. Huge areas area affected. Smoke is terrible. Livestock and wild critters suffering greatly. Many structures and vehicles destroyed.

Then there’s the South and Harvey’s path of destruction. My brother in Lake Charles had plenty of damage and my nephews – his sons – in Orange lost everything except their lives. My niece Amanda led rescuers from “The Cajun Navy” to get her brothers out of danger.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flooding in:

WHARTON, Alvin, Liverpool, Friendswood, Pearland, Danbury, League City, Dickinson, Rosharon, Angleton, Santa Fe, Lumberton, Beaumont, Vidor, Hull, Daisetta, Raywood, Dayton, Batson, Saratoga, Rye, Thicket, Votaw, Cleveland, New Caney, Porter, Splendora, Humble, Huffman, Livingston, Tarkington, Beaumont, Lafayette, Galveston, Cypress, Woodlands, Conroe, Liberty, Hardin, Shepherd, Crosby, Baytown, Mauriceville, Nederland, Port Arthur, Port Neches, Port Acres, Fannett, Labelle, Hampshire, ORANGE, Bridge City, Orangefield, Groves, Colmesneil, Woodville, Warren, Chester, HOUSTON, Spurger, Fred, Lake Charles, Cameron, Sulphur, Hackberry, Grand Lake, Big Lake, Longville, Ragley, Gillis, Moss Bluff, Westlake, Iowa, Le Bleu Settlement AND MANY, MANY, MANY MORE. More than 43,000 structures were destroyed or damaged in Harris County alone.

Please pray for, and offer, help in any and every way you can. Recovery will take months. And praise God for all the wonderful people who have headed into danger to help the persons in these terrible disasters! And now, our message for today.

1735AFC090117 – A Transforming Life

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!

Romans 12:1-2 1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Today we are looking at one of my favorite passages in Romans 12. It is so important that we understand how dangerous it is to be “conformed to this world.” There’s a lot to understand about being “ a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God” as well. And then there is that admonition to “be transformed by the renewing of your minds.” More on that later. Let’s look at what the Apostle Paul might have meant in instructing us not to be conformed to this world. That’s really pretty easily understood in the general context of being a Christian. A careful reading of John 17:14-19 gives us the background for the oft-quoted (but “not-in-the-Bible”) phrase, Be in the world but not of the world. Jesus is telling his Father that he’s sending his Disciples into the world but they are not going to belong to the world because Jesus does not belong to the world; Jesus and his Disciples belong to the Kingdom. Jesus ask that they be protected from the Evil One as they do the work of the Kingdom. Paul amplifies that a bit by drawing the distinction that Disciples should not be confo9rmed to the world. There’s another level of seeing this as well.

Recall, please, that the word translated as “transformed” is metamorphosis, not metanoia. Paul is talking about changing our bodies from vessels of carnality to offerings of service to God; that’s a tall order in these days of instant gratification for just about anything and everything imaginable (and thankfully some of it is unimaginable!) Metanoia is a word Jesus used – and appears over 20 times in the New Testament – that means “repent.” It is a change of mind, a switch in direction – we stop going away from God in sin and start going toward God in service. You can see how Jesus used it in places like Luke 5:32, Luke 15:7, and Paul in 2 Corinthians 7:10 (this is an important one to read!). The idea, then, in Roman 1:12 is that we are changed by transformation; that transformation leads us closer to God.

In the preceding context in Romans in chapters 6-11, Paul is talking about the history of Israel and blood-sacrifice; animals and grain were at least partially destroyed as ritual sacrifices for atonement. He is showing the Church that God has a better way – the Way of Love. It is a new approach to loving and serving God. Instead of giving way to our personal cravings as humans, we are to remember that our body is a Temple of the Holy Spirit, and we must live accordingly. There is also the historical fact that many Christians were killed – even in the earliest days of the church – and they were quite literally living sacrifices for the Faith. But what Paul is driving at is that the interior live of a Christian steadily changes our lives from the inside – our hearts, our habits, our hopes, our happiness – and we are transformed into believers who are citizens of the Kingdom of God. There is no longer any need for external sacrifices of bulls and sheep and grain and libations; we are no longer slaves to sin but friends of Jesus. We can make every moment of every day an offering of adoration, thanksgiving, and praise to God as we live in, for, and through Jesus. That is truly living a transformed life. But not like the Transformers in the movies. There’s a different process involved, and it’s helpful to look at the science in electricity to understand it better.

When I was in the eighth grade, I had to take some “shop” classes. I was not very handy with tools and my shop projects were usually pretty shabby. I did learn a lot about tools and using tools way back then, but I’m still no prize-winner when it comes to building things and making things. I find it interesting, though, that I can remember some of the details of what was taught back in 1959. One of the things I can remember building was a small, hand-wound, step-up transformer. The image you see above is a transformer. It is the kind that is found in gas-discharge lighting – fluorescent lights and neon lights for example. The image comes from an on-line electrician’s course at http://www.ibiblio.org/kuphaldt/electricCircuits/AC/AC_9.html

Transformers are pretty amazing things. If you try reading the Wikipedia article at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transformer you’ll get a lot of really technical information, mathematical formulas, the information about Faraday and electric induction theory. Great stuff. Hard to read and understand, but great stuff. Way more than I needed to know to make my little shop project, that’s for sure, so maybe it was good that we didn’t have the Internet back then!

To make the transformer we took a piece of flat iron bar and bent it into a square, then we wrapped a whole bunch of varnish-coated, really thin copper wire around one side. Next we wrapped an even BIGGER bunch of the same wire on the other side. Finally we attached a 6 Volt dry cell battery to the input side and a Voltmeter to the output side. The voltage coming out the output side was higher than the voltage going in; hence, the voltage was “transformed” by something called mutual induction. So what?

So, that’s an electrical transformer, and it work by something called “mutual induction.” One thing changes another. I used to have a nice transformer on my Lionel train set, and it also had a rheostat (don’t even bother to look that one up!). Cranking the lever to the right made the train go faster. So, transformers take an input and step it up or down so that the output is different from the input. What makes it work even better is that, instead of a single layer of iron, you have multiple, equally-sized plated that are laminated. The combined layers reduce the magnetic fluctuation and increase the stability of the currents produced. You can see an example of a laminated iron core in the photo above. This helps transform the current from lower to higher (in a “step-up transformer).

“Transform” is also a word that is synonymous with the kinds of change we call metamorphosis, and that’s what got me thinking about transformers. The word Paul used here was μεταμφοώ metamorpho’o {met-am-or-fo’-o} to change into another form, to transform, to transfigure. He’s talking about changing our bodies from vessels of carnality to earthen vessels for offerings of service to God. I used to think Paul used the work Metanoia there (that one you should look up), but he did not. So when I heard that passage in Sunday’s readings, my mind locked onto the idea of transformer, transformation, transforming – not the silly toys or goofy movie about machines changing into “living” things – and about the whole mutual induction thing.

This could go on for pages and pages, but let me just shorten it all up by saying that it dawned on me that Christ is part of my transformer, my transformation, my transforming. How well a transformer works depends on the content of the core, the number of windings on each side of the core, how tightly the windings are wound, how much current is on the input side, and a whole bunch of other things that also apply to living The Transformed Life.

So, beloved, how tightly are you wound? And are you a step-up or step-down transformer? Christ is the input. How much resistance do you put up against the inbound current? Is your core solid so that the current of the Gospel eddies around and leaks away, or is your core laminated – made of hundreds of faith experiences – so that nothing is lost as the power of Christ’s love courses through you and into the output junction to which you’re attached? Are you transformed? Are you transforming others? Think about that for me, will you?

Oh dear! I almost forgot! Living with Jesus is another form of mutual induction – very transforming indeed! See the information at this link.

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

Step-Up Transformer

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

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 – August 25, 2017 – Solid!

1734AFC082517 – Solid!

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!

 

 

Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV))

Isaiah 22:22-23 22 I will place on his* shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and no one shall shut; he shall shut, and no one shall open. 23 I will fasten him like a peg in a secure place, and he will become a throne of honor to his ancestral house.

*=Eliakim (God has raised up) son of Hilkiah (My Portion is Jehovah) and he alone has power to open and shut which is historically symbolic of his absolute authority as the king’s representative called by such titles as Chamberlain, or Steward, or Treasurer.  (Isaiah 22:22).

Revelation 3:7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens:

Matthew 16:18-19 18 And I tell you, you are Peter [Petros] and on this rock [petra] I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! I pray that those of you who have seen violent weather in the past week pulled through with minimal side-effects. It is patently apparent here on our tiny little rock in the middle of the Big Pacific that our weather patterns are shifting. What used to be a remarkably stable pattern has gotten to be remarkably unstable. We know that that’s the way it is with most of the temporal things that make up our lives. That is why it is useful and important to ensure that our lives are well-connected to the stable things in life. And what are those stable things? They are the things that are Eternal, the things that are established by, in, and for God. They are the persons, places, and things that endure because they are fixed solid like a nail, established on a solid foundation, or protected as a bird in the cleft of the rock.

In this passage from Isaiah, the prophet declares that the Head Steward of King Hezekiah, a man named Shebna, will be replaced because his is a self-seeking corrupt official whose corruption betrays the purpose of his office. Isaiah tells Shebna that he will be “hurled away violently” and whirled round and round, and then thrown like a ball into a wide, empty space. His fancy chariots will be wrecked, and – stripped of the official powers of his office – he will die disgraced. God tells the prophet Isaiah to establish Eliakim, the person he has chosen to replace Shebna, and to place on Eliakim’s shoulder the badge of office: The Key of David. Eliakim’s authority – which comes from God – will be placed firmly in the kingdom so that Eliakim’s actions all carry the authority of Hezekiah. If Eliakim speaks, it is as if the King himself is speaking. Whatever he opens, no one can shut; whatever he prohibits, no one can permit; whatever he permits, no one can disallow. As declared by God, he has full authority in the Kingdom.

This image would have resonated with the Israelites. In their houses, rows of large, thick nails were placed into the walls and used to hang various household necessities. In the messianic prophecy about Jesus in Isaiah 9, Jesus is described as having “the government upon his shoulder.” The Hebrew word used here is misrah {mis-raw’} and it means rule, dominion, government. We see this concept similarly in Isaiah 22:20-21 20 On that day I will call my servant Eliakim son of Hilkiah, 21 and will clothe him with your robe and bind your sash on him. I will commit your authority* to his hand, and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. * memshalah {mem-shaw-law’}

Jesus is also “a peg in a secure place.” All things, all souls, all prayers hung on that secure peg of Christ in sincere faith cannot be lost or fall to destruction. Whatever door is opened by Christ is the door in which the believer can place unquestionable trust, and a door through which the believer can pass safely. Whatever door is closed by Christ cannot be opened by any other for any reason. Jesus opens to us the door of eternal salvation for soul and body, but to those who refuse to enter by that door, the door will be shut as surely as God closed the door on the Ark (See Genesis 7:16) Christ has this authority from God. It is his to use, or to share, as pleases him. He himself stated this unequivocally.

You can see several passages such as these that show how he described his own authority: Matthew 11:27, Matthew 28:18-20, John 3:35, John 17, Daniel 7:13-14. I want to give you the text of Matthew 28:18 as it represents the other passages well. It says, 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” This is part of “The Great Commission”  where Jesus gave his authority to all Disciples (including us) to spread the Gospel. It is Scripture that is the framework for the Church, and the foundation of the Church is the teaching of the Apostles, especially Peter.

Why do we say, “especially Peter?” We say that because Peter who received the “badge of authority,” the Keys of the Kingdom, the very Kingdom that God promised through David. Only Jesus had the authority to elevate Peter to this position of authority, and that designation was made “in accordance with the Scriptures.” Just as Eliakim was give authority over the post vacated by Shebna, in the same way that Isaiah prophesied that the government would be on the shoulders of the coming Messiah, in the same way that Christ himself addresses the church in Philadelphia and in the same way as in Daniel 7, the Kingdom of the Son of Man, the Messiah, is an everlasting kingdom with authority over all of creation because he is the “God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great God mighty and awesome,” (See Deuteronomy 10:17-18) who reigns forever and ever (See Exodus 15:18). That is our God! He is indeed an Awesome God In Three Persons who reign from Heaven above (↔ Music Link sung by the composer Rich Mullins!) and it is that Awesome God that gives us the Rock of Ages called The Church which is built upon the Rock of the Apostle Peter. Our Holy Triune God – who is the Rock of our Salvation – has used his authority to commission a sure and safe place in the tradition of the Psalms. You perhaps will recall this gem in Psalm 18:2 The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. That is such an inspiring image!

When we think of inspirations, we often think of images like this one. For those of us who have music constantly playing in our heads, we might hear certain tunes going off: Here’s a great tune by Stewart Townend and Keith Getty and performed by Mercy Me: .In Christ Alone (↔ Music Link) And here is an old Gospel standard called On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand.

Belovéd, in every aspect of life we have a safe place to stand and be sheltered from everything that can harm us. We stand in the cleft of the rock, and as God passes by, we feel the Glory of the Lord around us and know that our foundation is solid! Christ has passed the badge of authority to The Church, and through that foundation, all who live in Christ are standing on solid ground.

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

  • Share-A-Prayer
    Pray for our nation and its citizens
  • Pray for leaders throughout the world and all of those in authority that they might govern with compassion, morality, integrity, wisdom, and justice so that we can all live together in peace.
  • Pray for the sick
  • Pray for the dying
  • Pray for the suffering souls in Yemen and all other places of oppression, disease, and famine
  • Pray for the souls tormented by addiction
  • Pray for those suffering religious or social persecution
  • Pray for each other
  • Pray for me as I pray for you

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.

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

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 – August 18, 2017 – What do you want to do?

1733AFC081817 – What do you want to do?

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!

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! We are already at the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time. It’s flying by so fast! With the hectic pace of our lives these days, it can be difficult to slow down and contemplate the Lord and his goodness. I’d like to do that with you today, so let’s look at a few gems from the Sunday readings.

Isaiah 56:1 1 Thus says the Lord: Maintain justice, and do what is right, for soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance be revealed.

Isaiah 56:6-7 … my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.

My heart is deeply grieving for the people who have suffered at the hands of violent men and women. From the murder of innocents around the world – infants through elderly – to the persecution of humans in the name of a god, and the destruction of property – from churches and arts to the very planet we live on – out of greed and arrogance … I mourn for those who endure this suffering as well as for those who cause it. This is not what God created us to be, and somewhere inside every violent person knows that. Our opening verse says “Maintain justice, and do what is right” and that is good advice for every earthling then, now, and always. Where we seem to get hung up is knowing what is right. Let’s look into that.

When our children were in grade school, we put up two banners on opposite walls in their room. On one side the banner read, What do you want to do? The banner on the other wall read, The right thing. It was an easy object lesson to use because when guidance and/or correction were necessary, we’d just point to the first banner. They learned to point to the second banner. That opened up the opportunity to decide on what the right thing would be. They were learning how to make those decisions. Regrettably, it appears that not everyone has had that kind of upbringing, and even those who may have learned that lesson have set it aside for whatever reason and chosen a different path. The do not know or do not remember – or do not choose to maintain justice; and yet they “justify” their violence by claiming to be “restoring justice.” The method they chose for that restoration is known in biblical terms as vengeance.” People who know how to do the right thing know that vengeance in human hands is always the wrong thing. It is not the way of Peace; it is the way of destruction. That is not God’s plan for any of us. We see a glimmer of his plan a little farther down the page in Isaiah.

Isaiah 56:6-7 … my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. Just who are “all peoples” as described here? The Hebrew word used is hā-‘am-mîm {hayamim’}, and it carries the connotation of nations, groups of people, who share among themselves language and culture. One can also look at the word house here and see that it refers not only to a structure, a human abode or even a temple, but also a family as “of the house and lineage of David.” Along with many other verses that express this promise of God with regard to his plan for salvation, this verse characterizes God’s family (house) as widely diverse and wisely obedient – a house of prayer. As the news of the past few weeks has unfolded, I do not see a house of prayer for all peoples; I see houses of cursing from many peoples. This simply cannot be the right thing.

In Sunday’s responsorial Psalm, we will pray together: Psalm 67:1-3 May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah  that your way may be known upon earth, your saving power among all nations.Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you. If you watch the news, you may possibly agree that many of the things you saw certainly in no way praised the Lord. How, then, can those instigating and committing such violence – whatever their motivation – believe that they are doing the right thing? What is the right thing? Once again for the umpteenth time we return to 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? If you ask some of those demonstrating, they will tell you they are restoring justice because of the injustices done to them or to others with whom they “identify.” Unfortunately, with regard to this Scripture, they stop there. The rest of it is and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God. There was very little kindness in many of the actions we have seen lately – although of course those acts of kindness, or humbly walking with God – are not often what gets broadcast. But one wonders, “How can so many people believe they are so right when they are truly so wrong?”

I think perhaps it is because we earthlings – generally speaking – have forgotten what the Apostle Paul told us in 1 Thessalonians 5:15 15 See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all. So many people these days – all around the world – go out of their way to curse, to violate, to denigrate, and to discriminate against everyone who doesn’t think like them. We ignore instructions such as those in 1 Peter 3:8 and 1 Corinthians 1:10 to have (as St. Peter puts it) unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind. “Ah!” you say, “you forget, not everyone is Christian. Non-Christians will never accept that.” Actually, only the most evil persons cannot accept that. ALL major religions at their core preach and teach respect for each other and encourage peace as the preferred way of life. Hate is definitely a perversion of God’s intent for human nature. God wishes to bless everyone, even the unjust, and he does so in many ways. That is because God is infinitely Just which allows him to be infinitely Merciful. His mercy endures forever – for those who trust in his ways. For those who do not trust in his ways, his justice falls upon those who will not accept the Power of his Grace. That Grace has an amazing effect when we can do some very simple things such as these:

James 4:17 17 Anyone, then, who knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, commits sin.

Hosea 10:12 12 Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.

There it is. “Do the right thing.” We “hunger and thirst for righteousness”  if we are doing the right thing. Rather than oppress others – violently or passively, personally or institutionally, willingly or ignorantly – we are to uplift and care for others; ALL others, not just the ones who share our personal proclivities for evil. How does one find a list, or an instruction, or some guidelines or boundaries to at least get started on such a mission of mercy and peace with our fellow earthlings? Virtually the whole Bible gives us that instruction, but there are a few passages like those here in this post that help clarify our To-Do list. Here’s one I find particularly clear; read the underlined part carefully: Isaiah 58:6-11 Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin? Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rearguard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am. If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, 10 if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday. 11 The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. If I use that as my checklist, I still have a lot of work to do! I choose, therefore, to begin with blessings rather than curses, with understanding rather than resentment, and with the resolve to work even harder to do the right thing. I thank the Lord for his blessings on me (↔ Music Link) and counting them (↔ Music Link) is far better than worrying about what life would be like without them. There is something in the Book of Numbers that often comes to my mind. I have adapted it for use as my own personal blessing on some occasions. You’ll find it in Numbers 6:24-26, and it goes like this: 24 The Lord bless you and keep you; 25 the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; 26 the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace. To that I add, “May Almighty God bless you, and I bless you, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit” as I trace a cross on a person’s forehead. It’s a small thing, but it also is a right thing. Let’s take a moment to look at the “a” part of today’s verse for additional guidance:

The foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, ministering to him, loving the name of the LORD, and becoming his servants — all who keep the Sabbath free from profanation and hold to my covenant, them I will bring to my holy mountain and make joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be acceptable on my altar, (for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.) In my heart and mind, I find I must confess that it is difficult for me to accept that “all peoples” belong in the house – the family – of God. What I have often failed to realize is that it is not I who gets to make that decision; I am not the one to discern between us and them, this and that, you and me. God alone is our judge, and he always judges with fairness and rules with equity. If I truly want to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with … God, then I have to do the right thing. It’s what I want; it’s not always what I get; it is always what I need.

What about you, Belovéd? What do you want to do? Because, as he says in Isaiah 56:1 Thus says the Lord: Maintain justice, and do what is right, for soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance be revealed, we have good things coming to us when we do the right thing.

Share-A-Prayer (continued)

  • NAS – Acute stage 4 liver failure caused by Hep-C infection after Harrington-rod surgery in the late 80’s. Palliative care while waiting for a transplant. This after a lifetime of serious chronic health issues. (But still an amazing Christian!)
  • AD – Working her way through breast-cancer recovery in a remarkably positive way despite the fatigue associated with treatments.
  • IDC – Continuing with aggressive chemo for breast cancer. Experiencing some of the unpleasant side-effects already (six down, about 10 weeks of therapy left), but hanging on to a positive outlook, and looking beautiful.
  • BC – Eager to get back to work as a Catholic Lay Missionary. Access is limited by gastrointestinal health issues and insufficient financing.
  • RB – Chronic illnesses; IVIG infusions (please no side effects), dental issues
  • RB – (NOT RELATED) Recovery from chronic domestic abuse
  • RV – Advanced metastatic cancer. Recently admitted to ICU for septicemia. Now requiring frequent surgeries for debridement of leg infections
  • DP – Husband with advancing Alzheimer’s and she needs a broader support base for respite-time.
  • EP – Peripheral polyneuropathies which make mobility difficult and painful.
  • VLC – Needs to sell the house; facing foreclosure

 

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.

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

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 – August 11, 2017 – Stepping out

1732AFC081117 – Stepping Out

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!

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Today we will look at a famous story about Jesus and the Sea of Galilee. Here is the Key Verse for today:

Matthew 14:28 28 Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”

This is from the Gospel for Sunday, August 13. The Old Testament reading is from 1 Kings, and describes Elijah in a cave on Mount Horeb. He is waiting there for God to give him a task to perform: 1 Kings 19:11-15 11 He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14 He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.” 15 Then the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram.

In the Gospel of Matthew, we have the account of Jesus walking across the water to a boat in which several of the Disciples were struggling as they tried to cross the water to another destination. There are three accounts of this event in the gospels.

Matthew 14:22-33 Early in the morning Jesus walks across the Sea of Galilee toward the Disciples. When they see him they are terrified because they think they see a ghost. Jesus tells them not to be afraid, “Look! It’s me!” Only in this Gospel do we have an account of Peter trying to walk out across the water to meet Jesus. In verse 29 we read, “So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus.”

Mark 6:45-52 In this account, there is no mention of Peter trying to step out onto the water. Instead, Jesus calms the Disciples by stating “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” He steps into the boat, and immediately the winds stop. Their astonishment over the miracle of the Loaves and Fishes is intensified by this incomprehensible event.

John 6:16-21 In this account, the Apostle John states that the boat was about 3-4 miles from the shore, it was evening, and the wind was whipping up the Sea. They see Jesus walking toward them across the water and are terrified. As in the other gospels, Jesus comforts them by identifying himself. They are relieved to recognize him, and (using the New Living Translation (NLT)) in verse 21 – 21 Then they were eager to let him in the boat, and immediately they arrived at their destination!

Following this event, we have accounts of healings at the village of Genessaret. In the Gospel of Mark, this is the second account of Jesus calming the sea. In Mark 4:35-41 35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 37 A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

This probably took place on the Sea of Galilee. That’s the largest freshwater lake in Israel – about 33 miles around – and is about 21 miles long and 13 miles wide. It is also the lowest freshwater lake on earth in that it is in some places over 700 feet below sea level. It is also referred to in scripture as the Kinneret (see Numbers 34:11), the Lake of Genessaret (Luke 5:1), the Sea of Ginosar (in the Babylonian Talmud), Sea of Minya (Persian and Arabic name). In the Gospels it is called Sea of Galilee, Sea of Tiberias, and Lake Tiberias (See John 6:1 for example).

We don’t know for sure the point of departure nor do we know what the destination was; however, you can see that it would be quite a trip given the size of the water they were crossing. In addition, the crossing would be at least partially at night as it was already evening when they left. The passage contains an interesting comment – they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. This signifies that he made no additional preparation for the journey. He was already in the little boat, so they just hauled anchor and left the crowd behind – although a few other boats did follow along. Jesus may have been sitting or perhaps even reclining a bit on the cushion in the stern as he taught. When he decided to leave, he stayed where he was and asked the owners or users of the boat to take him to the “other side” – perhaps Capernaum. The trip started out well enough, but soon there was trouble in the weather. A storm interrupted their journey.

Because of the surrounding geography, the Sea of Galilee is especially susceptible to storms. There are large temperature and humidity differences between the sea’s coast and the surrounding mountains some of which are up to 2000 feet above sea level. The cool, drier air in the heights collides with the moist, warm air at the level of the lake and generates a convection pressure which can generate terrific wind and rain – squalls – in a very short time. Everything can be A-OK one moment, and then in a jiffy a small craft out on the lake can be violently tossed about with a good chance of capsizing. The winds are compressed as they come through the valleys between the hills and when they break out across the surface of the water they can be surprisingly disorienting and very dangerous in mere moments.  The kinds of boats in use at that time were between 20 to 30 feet long and around 8 feet wide. Such small craft would be really dangerous in bad weather.

Given the ferocity of the wind and waves, we may find it remarkable that Peter attempted to walk across the water to Jesus. Let’s dissect that verse a bit:

  • Peter looks out across the water and speaks to Jesus, “Lord, if it is you.” Jesus has just told them, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter’s shaky faith is struggling with this mystery of Jesus doing the impossible. He’s willing to step out of the boat to go to Jesus if only Jesus will tell him it is permitted.
  • Jesus simply replies, “Come.”
  • As mentioned above, Peter does exit the boat and actually begins to walk across the water. But then he panics and begins to sink in the waves.
  • Immediately Jesus reaches out for him and pulls him to safety.
  • Jesus expresses disappointment in the strength of faith displayed.
  • The second that Jesus and Peter step into the boat, the wind stops. The disciples worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

When we think about this story, it is important to remember that Jesus took time to rest and pray after a full day of teaching – and feeding 5,000 people! As he retires to reflect and revitalize, he sends the Disciples forward to the next part of their mission, a destination across the Sea of Galilee. They were expecting him to meet them at that destination. Instead, he comes to them – in a storm – and miraculously walking across the billowing waves. As soon as the see him they are terribly frightened – terrified – because of course this is something they have never seen or even imagined before. Even though the weather was stormy, Jesus answered Peter’s request to go to where Jesus was. Peter – for whatever reason – stepped out of the boat and actually walked toward his Lord and Master. When his fear overcame his faith, he faltered and fell – as do we all – and immediately called out IN FAITH for Jesus to save him. In every part of this account, we learn about the Power, the Proximity, and the Permanence of God’s Providence in Christ Jesus.

Why did Peter step out of the boat? Did he expect he would be a participant in a miracle? Was he hoping Jesus would give him approval and praise? Did he imagine that a fisherman that could walk on water could corner the market? Did he just want to show his love for Jesus? Did he know that if Jesus permitted him, he could not only imitate Jesus but be just like him? We won’t know until we can ask Peter face-to-face, but it is good to know these things:

  • Sometimes it’s important to take the risk of getting out of the boat.
  • Even in a storm, we can count on Jesus to be an ever-present help nearby.
  • No matter how powerful the storm is, God IS ALWAYS STRONGER – and often quieter – than the storm or the damages that follow it.
  • Satan tries to use our lack of faith to weaken our strength to withstand the storm, but a Prayer Warrior knows to tell him, “I am the storm.”
  • Going through a storm not only changes you, it also confounds your enemies.
  • Sometimes God’s answers are as quiet as a whisper or even sheer silence, yet even in that, we can recognize his will.

If God is everywhere, then God is in the storm with you:

Isaiah 43:2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.

Psalm 107:23-32, especially verse 28-30 – 28 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out from their distress; 29 he made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. 30 Then they were glad because they had quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven.

Step out in faith, and let The Master handle the storm. Keep your eyes on Jesus and, though the storm rages and at times even prevails, you will be at Peace in the arms of Him who says to you, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”

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

Share-A-Prayer

  • NAS – Acute stage 4 liver failure caused by Hep-C infection after Harrington-rod surgery in the late 80’s. Palliative care while waiting for a transplant. This after a lifetime of serious chronic health issues. (But still an amazing Christian!)
  • IDC – Continuing with aggressive chemo for breast cancer. Experiencing some of the unpleasant side-effects already (about 10 weeks of therapy left), but hanging on to a positive outlook.
  • BC – Eager to get back to work as a Catholic Lay Missionary. Access is limited by gastrointestinal health issues and insufficient financing.
  • RB – Chronic illnesses; pending surgery recovery
  • RB – (NOT RELATED) Recovery from chronic domestic abuse
  • RV – Advanced metastatic cancer. Recently admitted to ICU for septicemia. Improving some, but friends and family are asking for a complete healing.

 

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.

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 – August 4, 2017 – Abundance Revisited

1731AFC080417 – Abundance Revisited

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

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

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

Isaiah 55:1-3 – The Abundant Life

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

Dead men don’t tell tales. Dead men don’t die. Dead men don’t wear plaid. Dead men don’t tell Charlie Chan. Dead men don’t cry. Dead men don’t eat. And certainly, dead men don’t listen.

Isaiah is speaking to Israel in this passage. He is announcing that God is going to bless them with such abundance that that it can never be depleted. Not only that, but also the blessings of His abundance are so magnificent that no price can be set for them, but it does not matter because they have already been paid for by Someone else. These abundant blessings are far beyond our expectations. We answer the call of God hoping for the simplest things to sustain our lives – bread-and-water things – and instead He gives us rich and luxurious food and drink, wine and milk, honey and finest flour, the richest meats and the sweetest fruits. He says, “Take this. It is for you. It will answer all your wants and satisfy all your needs. Just listen to what I AM telling you. These are the Words of Abundant Life. If you believe, then you shall live. Come and eat and all of this will become part of you for you to enjoy with Me forever.”

Can you hear that? Israel did not hear it because Israel was dead – exiled to Babylon and cut off from the Promised Land. Israel was a captive nation, and they had no way to meet their needs, much less their wants. God said he would restore them to the Promised Land – and then some – and that instead of crossing a barren desert to get there – as they had done in the Exodus – this new exodus would be across a paradise where the mountains would be lowered and the valleys raised, the road traveled would be level, and instead of the barely-adequate water in the desert, their journey would be blessed with pools and streams of fresh, life-sustaining water … FOREVER! Nothing at all would be lacking because God was restoring the Land and restoring the People to the Land. He is calling them to begin this Journey, this New Exodus, by just saying “Yes, I’ll take that abundance.”

And what is this Abundance? What is this promise God is making? Is it all the material, physical, momentary, temporary, short-lived things we work so hard all our lives to acquire? Of course not! It is The Kingdom of God present in and through Christ Jesus. Christ and Heaven are ours without any indebtedness. We owe God nothing for this abundant Grace, this gift of absolute satisfaction and contentment that satisfies our hunger and quenches our thirst far, far beyond our expectations. It is the Rich Abundance of HIS Righteousness.

Those who are satisfied with what The World has to offer do not respond to this call from God. They neither hunger nor thirst for righteousness – virtues, morality, decency, honest; all these are commodities which could be used to buy worldly products, goods, services, and comforts. Instead, they accumulate that which is unrighteous and ultimately useless because “you can’t take it with you.” They have no expectation of anything greater than what they can possess. Even love itself becomes a possession that can be bought and sold, withheld, decorated, abused, and discarded. Everything is disposable. Only what-they-want-next has value. Everything they have has been bought with a price. And they fail to realize that they, too, have been bought with a price. Thus inclined, they reject God’s offer of abundance, joy, and everlasting happiness. They have what they think they need because they have taken what they want.

We know these people. Some of them are the agnostics, the atheists, the hypocrites, and the unfulfilled. They may do good deeds in their lives. Some may choose to be kind, generous, and even pious; yet these characteristics are part of their bartering system for the enhancement of their worldly prestige. Even so, we all tend to embrace, or to like, or merely to tolerate them. There are still others who are the criminals and depraved people who cause immense suffering out of greed and evil; the general public has a low tolerance for these individuals, especially when they make claims that their depravity is a service to their deity. Collectively, these are the earthlings who choose not to hear, and therefore not to answer, God’s call to the abundant life He promises. They hear only their own music, see only their own finery, taste only their own pleasures, touch only their own world, and smell only their own death.

God is calling me, calling you, calling many to the Table. The banquet is ready. The table is set. We have been invited to feast with our friends. If we are dissatisfied with The World’s pointless passion, let that disappointment cause us to listen intently to God’s invitation, and then take Him up on it. If the vanities of our lives are so mundane that we are given over to addiction, infidelity, or indifference; if our lives are filled with the pain of abandonment, the anxiety of confusion, or the pointless acquisition of emptiness; then we must answer the call. Why should we have to pay for it when it is more than we want, more than we need, and more that we can comprehend? Why work and work and work at filling our lives with The World when we can have that Abundant Everything which our God has promised – every single Blessing and Grace promised to Israel through King David – free?

That is F – R – E – E FREE!

And why does God call us to this eternal banquet? Check out the last sentence in our scripture today: I will renew with you the everlasting covenant, the benefits assured to David..

So, now you are telling me you’re already at the Banquet Table, everything’s fine, and you’re just on the verge of getting second-helpings? Excellent! One question though: Is that empty chair next to you for your neighbor? Not sure how to invite him/her? Maybe you can share what you heard in this message, or send them to aloha-friday.org. Share what you know, answer the call, take the invitation, and invite others. That which we are promised is not the abundance of worldly things that leave us unfulfilled. We are promised the Eternal Banquet of Righteousness and Love. That is why we open The Word and learn about what plans God has for us. (See Jeremiah 29:11!)

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

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

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

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

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

Romans 8:38-39 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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

 

Image result for heavenly banquet

 

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

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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

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