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 11, 2019 – Give Thanks …

1941AFC101119 – Give thanks … 

     Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I give you thanks and praise

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

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

at your service, Belovéd!

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

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

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Aloha Friday Message – October 4, 2019 – What shall I give him?

1940AFC100419 – What shall I give him?

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.

*Special Note: Recently the blogsite was unavailable because the domain name had expired. It is with deep gratitude that we acknowledge the sponsors of this website for restoring it once again to public access. We ask that you continue to use the MBN Prayer – daily if possible – and that you revisit the Intercessory Prayer List frequently. Thank you for your continuing prayerful support as well. And now to our Key Verse for today:

     Luke 17:10 10 “So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!'”

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! It would be a big help if you would just use the link above to connect to the post online momentarily as soon as it is available – maybe scroll down the page a little or activate the READER VIEW BUTTON – so that the Internet shows this site is viewed at times. Thank you!

Today’s title What shall I give him is from the last stanza of A Christmas Carol by Christina Rossetti it goes like this:
What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a Wise Man
I would do my part,—
Yet what I can I give Him,
Give my heart.

This short verse has particular significance in our family. In 1978 when we adopted our son, Timothy, we followed the example of Hannah – the mother of Samuel – and dedicated him to the Lord. For the next twelve years, we held a Mass in our home rededicating Timothy. Part of the dedication prayer was Timothy reading or reciting this scrap of poetry. It would become our family offering for the rest of our lives.

Making an offering is an important part of any Christian life. In fact, if you think back about any religion in history, they all involve making some sort of sacrificial offering. Whether the offering is to Jehovah or other gods in other religions, it is always important to offer something of one’s self – we call that stewardship of time, of capability, or of material goods – to honor or appease a deity, to “ingratiate” oneself in some way to someone or something greater than one’s life and outside of one’s life.

Throughout the Old Testament Jehovah instructs his people Israel on how to present sacrifices to him as a burnt offering “for a sweet savor before the Lord.” There were a lot of offerings made! Part of the cycle of offerings included daily offerings of one spotless lamb in the morning and one spotless lamb in the evening (See Exodus 29:39). There were offerings for sin, for feasts, for Thanksgiving and praise, for festivals (the Holy Days prescribed by God), and all of them were to be done regularly. All of them were sacrificial offerings, and sacrificial offerings are intended to be just that – a sacrifice, something we do not expect to get back but give anyway. In all honesty, there are many folks who think of sacrificial offerings as a bartering system. We give a deity something and expect the deity to return something to us such as fertility, better crops, winning a war, building or sailing a canoe, or whatever we feel we are lacking. Others see sacrificial offerings in ways closer to what they are – a gift of thanks, of reverence, and of awe. So just what is an offering?

It is a gift, a submission of one’s property, a contribution for the common good or for improvement of personal status in relation to a deity. It is an intensely personal act of worship – or certainly should be: “This is mine and I’m giving it completely to You.” The most beautiful and famous offering of all time is the life of Jesus the Christ. He gave his complete self to God as a sacrificial offering – “this pure victim, this holy victim, this spotless victim, the holy Bread of eternal life and the Chalice of everlasting salvation.” (See Eucharistic Prayer I). The word “victim” is used for the Latin word hostia which means sacrifice or victim. In the English translation from the Latin canon, victim may have been chosen because it more properly reflects the theology associated with the original formation of that prayer. Victim or Sacrifice, the important thing to remember is that an offering was made. In the Catholic Church, that offering is made around the world 24/7/365, and it is the same offering every day in every way. Christ is the Altar, Christ is the Priest, and Christ is the offering. By Faith and Grace we have participated in that offering, lending our heart’s desire to the liturgy which is “only what we ought to have done!” Even done daily, there is a little something extra we can add as a deeply personal offering: Self. I can give God my being, my person, my life. We surely all remember John 15:13 13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. God is our Friend, too. Will I, will we, lay down our life for God? It may not require suffering to the “point of shedding blood.” (See Hebrews 12:4) In fact, there are great examples of daily sacrifices – consecrations of one’s day – to God. There are many forms, but here is a common one from Father Francois Xavier Gaulrelet in 1844 for his Apostleship of Prayer which he founded that year.

    O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys and sufferings of this day in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart: the salvation of souls, the reparation for sin, and the reunion of all Christians. I offer them for the intentions of our bishops and of all Apostles of Prayer, and in particular for those recommended by our Holy Father this month. That is pretty simple but very powerful. Here is a version I used based on the same idea:

O my Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer You this day and all of my thoughts, words, and deeds, my works, my prayers, my joys, my sorrows, my victories and my defeats, my fears and anxieties, my heart’s desires, everything I do and everything I fail to do, all that I am and all that I have, everything I can become – I offer everything to You. Even my temptations and my sins I lay at your feet so that you may possess all of me.

The effect can be extraordinary! The essence of this daily morning offering is that henceforth every act we do that day becomes a sacrifice, a consecration – a gift to God – of our own entirety. Once we have made our morning offering, we make “holy” every act we do throughout the day. Remember Romans 12:1? 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. We ought to pray for one another as well, so consider this Prayer for All Souls:

Jesus, lover of mankind, You came to Earth centuries ago to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and yet countless men and women, boys and girls, do not know You, do not love You as well as they could, and many are indifferent or opposed to You. In this state of being, Lord, they might not consciously offer You their lives today. There are millions more, Lord, who do know You, do love You, but do not know about, do not care about, or have forgotten about making a daily offering, so Lord, on behalf of all of these souls I offer You the best moments of their day today so that You might be loved and honored in some way by them, too. Lord Jesus Christ, be merciful to them all as miserable sinners, forgive them their sins, and bring them to everlasting life. Amen.

Our beautiful Little Sister in Christ Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, extended her heart to God in several beautiful prayers including some lovely Morning Offering prayers you may want to see.

When I make my morning offering, I am glaringly reminded of my tendency to reach up and grab away my offering of obedience to God’s will, so I ask for guidance in knowing and keeping his will:

Almighty Triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – I love You. I worship You. I adore You. I praise You. I glorify Your name, I give you thanks for revealing your Glory through Christ Jesus our Lord. Enlighten, guide, strengthen, and console me. Teach me Your will and empower and inspire me to fulfill it completely, for it is my heart’s desire to serve You well in all that You ask of me and everything that You allow to happen to me. Only make Your will known, and grant me the graces necessary to faithfully follow You to the place You have prepared for me. I offer You this prayer in the name of Jesus, The Christ, our Lord who lives and reigns with God, The Father Almighty, in the unity of The Holy Spirit, The Lord, the Giver of Life. AMEN.  (This can also be used as an Evening Prayer.)

Belovéd, let us all find a way on this very day to offer God all of us because he loved us enough to give us all of him. Does it need to be complex and theologically scholarly? Of course not; it can be as simple as Rossetti’s little verse – or even simpler:

Jesus my life is yours today from this moment on. Do with it according to your will. Amen. Is that enough? The Holy Spirit says “yes.” Is it still “only what we ought to have done!?” Yes, it is, but it’s not merely tossed onto the Altar of our hearts. It is laid gently with Love and Reverence at the Feet of the Master and just may be received as “a sweet savor before the Lord.” We may be worthless slaves – unprofitable servants – but our offering will be welcomed by Our El Shaddai-Olam, the GREAT I AM, because he generously gives his Only Begotten Son so that whosoever would believe in him might live forever in the Father’s House of many mansions. Jesus reminded his followers – including us, Belovéd – that he, Jesus, is the Christ of God. He gave it all. We can aspire to do the same. If we can also add a Mass to our prayers of offerings, so much the better! In addition, we can make an offering of all that we have done in the evening as well. Psalm 141:2 Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice. An Evening Prayer:  My God, I adore You, and I love You with all my heart. I thank you for having created me, for making me a Christian, and preserving me this night. I offer You the complete contents of this day. Grant that all of them may be in accordance with Your holy Will and for Your greater glory. Protect me from sin and from all evil. Let Your grace be always with me and with all my dear ones. In the Precious Name of Jesus. Amen.

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

at your service, Belovéd!

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

Also, Belovéd, please thank the Lord for this ministry on the Internet and for the people who have helped it become a reality!

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 27, 2019 – A Hellacious Outcome

1939AFC092719 – A Hellacious Outcome

Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

Luke 16:22-23 22 The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom*. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades**, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus in his bosom.

* Bosom: a familiar source of protection, security, or affection; also, describes a friend to whom somebody is very close.

** ᾍδης (hadés) {hah’-dace} Hades, the abode of departed spirits, i.e. the present dwelling place of all the departed (deceased) as in שְׁא֣וֹל (sheol) { sheh-ole’} → the place to which people descend at death; grave, hell, pit; the “first death,” the end of earthly life.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Grace and Peace to each of you from God our Father and our Lord, Jesus the Christ, in the Power of the Holy Spirit. Today we have “guest authors.” Most of what I put before you will be Scripture. Some of it will be quotations from other writers, but mostly it will be what the Holy Spirit inspired in others. If it seems to you that we are “stuck” on a certain theme, I think you may be right. I did not plan to write about this; however, it seems to fit in well with several previous posts (index #s 1912, 1914, 1916, 1920, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1938, and now 1939). We don’t want to hear about it, it is seldom preached for the pulpit, and bringing it up makes people cringe and turn away. Why, then, am I choosing this topic again? Let me share as briefly as possible how these posts are prepared.

After the Friday post goes out on the Internet at 12:06 AM[i], I usually put a link to it on Facebook that morning. Then I go to the USCCB website and review – and usually copy – the readings for the next Sunday. I read all of the Scriptures for that Sunday and usually spend a couple of days of thinking about what I read, then a passage “jumps out.” I research that passage and it becomes the Key Verse. Once the Key Verse is located, usually the title comes immediately along with it (although sometimes the title shows up first and that leads me to the Key Verse). From there I search for Scripture, commentaries, quotes, whatever I can find that treats the topic of the title and key verse. That’s why today you’re going to get a walloping dose of Scripture because it says what needs to be said. I’ve also included a few quotes from other writers because there was no point in rewriting what they have so clearly said. You’ve already guessed the subject matter based on the Key Verse, so let’s get going.

Wisdom 1:12-16 12 Do not invite death by the error of your life, or bring on destruction by the works of your hands; 13 because God did not make death, and he does not delight in the death of the living. 14 For he created all things so that they might exist; the generative forces of the world are wholesome, and there is no destructive poison in them, and the dominion of Hades is not on earth. 15 For righteousness is immortal.

16 But the ungodly by their words and deeds summoned death; considering him a friend, they pined away and made a covenant with him, because they are fit to belong to his company.

Job 24:19 19 Drought and heat snatch away the snow waters; so does Sheol [Hades] those who have sinned.

Proverbs 27:20 20 Sheol [hell1] and Abaddon [Destruction2 – the “Second Death”] are never satisfied, and human eyes are never satisfied. Humanity’s lust and avarice are never satiated; so also for death and hell – they are always “open for business,” and their business is everlasting torment.

1 שְׁא֣וֹל (sheol) { sheh-ole’} → the place to which people descend at death; grave, hell, pit; the “first death,” the end of earthly life

2  אֲבַדֹּה (wa-’ă-ḇad-dōh) or וַ֭אֲבַדּוֹ (wa-’ă-ḇad-dōw) → used together signify utter destruction

Daniel 12:2 Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

Isaiah 28:9-20 Use the link to see this excerpted passage in context: 15 Because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death, and with Sheol we have an agreement; when the overwhelming scourge passes through it will not come to us; for we have made lies our refuge, and in falsehood we have taken shelter”; 16 therefore thus says the Lord God, See, I am laying in Zion a foundation stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation: “One who trusts will not panic.” This passage shows God speaking to his Children and chiding them for failing to listen to Life but rather “making a deal with Death.” Watch the news tonight and you will see thousands doing the same thing!

Psalm 103:20 20 Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, obedient to his spoken word. We can model our behavior after theirs, always ready to be obedient to his spoken word (Scripture).

It is not enough to simply make requests in hopes of help arriving. The fact is, help has already come! They are the angelic host that are waiting on US to declare God’s purposes. Because of increased enemy attacks, both natural and spiritual, heaven is calling for believers to SPEAK UP and announce the word of the Lord so that the demonic forces are not just taken down, but taken OUT. WE are the ones they take their cues from and then RUN to the battle to bring home the spoils! https://www.ifapray.org/blog/the-angelic-host-are-awaiting-our-decrees/ September 21, 2019 | Wanda Alger, IFA Field Correspondent

Who is behind all of this dissension, disruption, and dysfunction? You have three guesses, and the first two don’t count! Here’s a quote from Ray Comfort quoting Martin Luther: Satan is the god of dissension. One person comes because he wants to escape the fires of Hell. But in his heart, he thinks God is harsh and unjust, because the Law hasn’t been used to show him the exceedingly sinful nature of sin. He doesn’t see Hell as being his just dessert, that he deserves Hell. Therefore, he doesn’t understand mercy or grace; and therefore he lacks gratitude to God for His mercy. And gratitude is the prime motivation for evangelism. There’ll be no zeal in the heart of a false convert to evangelize. And there’s a lack of gratitude; there’s not a burning zeal for the lost. You can’t say you’re on fire for God; in fact, you’re in danger of being one of the ones that are called “lukewarm” and will be spewed out of the mouth of Christ on the Day of Judgment (See Revelation 3:16) November 20, 2013.

Revelation 2:11 11 Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. Whoever conquers will not be harmed by the second death.

Revelation 20:6 Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. Over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him a thousand years.

Revelation 20:14-15 14 Then Death3 and Hades** were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire; 15 and anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.

3Death → Θάνατος (thanatos) {than’-at-os} → that separation (whether natural or violent) of the soul and the body by which the life on earth is ended; the misery of the soul arising from sin, which begins on earth but lasts and increases after the death of the body in hell [This is the Second and Eternal Death → YOLOF!]

Revelation 21:6-8 Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life. Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, the murderers, the fornicators, the sorcerers, the idolaters, and all liars, their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” 

    I am quite certain by now we all have gotten the point. Hell is vast, eternal, and has plenty of vacancies set aside for anyone who will not “repent and believe the Gospel.” Satan is clever and cruel and will come hard against anyone God blesses as in this illustration from Pilgrim’s Progress. Is it really that simple? Yes, it is absolutely that simple. Heaven awaits those who prepare for it, and Hell awaits for those who will not prepare for Heaven. Evil has an insatiable appetite called Death, and Death – along with everyone who “makes a deal with it” – will know The Second Death.

What is it going to be like there; is it really a lake of burning fire? I have no intention of finding out! I pray none of us do! But how do we make sure we don’t get suckered into this endless Life without God? Time for a variation on the old WWJD question: WDJD? Yes, what DID Jesus do? Think back to the temptation in the desert. What did Jesus do? He answered Satan with Scripture, he held his ground, he resisted temptations greater than any of us could ever imagine. St. James has a thought about that here in James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist4 the devil, and he will flee from you.

4 ἀνθίστημι (anthistémi) {anth-is’-tay-mee} It is for the Believer to set oneself against, withstand, take a 180º contrary position publicly by conspicuously where they unswervingly stand. “Scripture has it” is a pretty good way to handle it, but remember that the Devil can also quote Scripture!

There’s more to it than that. It is recognizing what Old Scratch is up to, and here I’m going to recount something from a recent wonderful encounter with Fr. Tony Ricard (see more HERE on Facebook and several presentations on YouTube). He was talking to us about when Jesus was reprimanding Peter right after he named Peter the “Rock on which I will build my church.” You’ll remember right after that, Jesus said he had to go to Jerusalem and die (See Matthew 16:13-23 especially vv. 21-23. Jesus recognized that Satan had seen and heard Jesus naming the future head of the Church. Satan was using someone loved by Jesus to hurt him by hurting the one he loved. Jesus rebuked Satan by saying, “Be behind me Satan,” publicly and vocally, and then said Peter needed to be thinking the way God thinks, not as earthlings think. That was an AHA! moment for me because I realized all the self-recrimination I have recited for decades over things God has already forgiven (!!) was Satan trying to suck me into his pit; so I said, “To Hell with Satan! I’m with the Lord!!” Now that you’ve seen what that Old Dragon has in store for folks who choose him over God, you’ll be saying the same thing, too. God said it, I believe it, and that’s the end of it. No hellacious outcome for us!!

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

at your service, Belovéd!

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


[i] What? Why 12:06 AM for publishing these posts. I entered the world at 12:06 AM MST on November 20, 1946. My posts enter the world at the same time. Sort of silly I guess, but who wants to be serious all the time??

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

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

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Aloha Friday Message – September 20, 201 – Stewards praying for stewards

1938AFC092019 – Stewards praying for stewards

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.

    1 Timothy 2:1-2 1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity.

Luke 16:10 10 Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much.

May Peace always be with you and may God bless you, Belovéd! Already we are in the season of Autumn, the season of harvest, of falling leaves, of back-to-school specials, and the seemingly never-ending hoopla of football – at least in the northern hemisphere (fall in the southern hemisphere is March to May). It is time for putting away summer clothes, for putting up pickles and preserves, for putting out stuff we don’t really need any longer, and for putting in some time getting ready for our series of holidays – Halloween, Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Despite all this busyness over business, we have some ongoing responsibilities as well. One of those ongoing responsibilities is directly connected to today’s Key Verse from 1 Timothy. It goes like this:

 

1 Thess 5:16-18

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. That short little three-item list is so easy to remember and so hard to do! With all the craziness in the World these days, it often seems as though there’s not much to rejoice about in our lives. Wars, diseases, fires, storms, floods, politics, religious hostilities, gender issues, abortions, addictions, fraudulent claims, all kinds of unimaginable abuse and human neglect, murders, genocides, torture of innocents, persecutions, and baseless but rampant hatred for no discernible reasons. How can there be any rejoicing in the midst of all that? Well, that’s just the first part of the list. The answer – the power and grace – to rejoice always begins in the second item of that list – pray without ceasing.

What does that mean and how is that possible? Given all the horrible things we have to deal with every day, we could pray 24/7 for God to stop all that suffering, and never run out of things about which to pray. There is so much more to pray about, to pray for, and so many others with whom we can pray. A Christian life should be over-and-above-all a joyous life. We have eternal life in Christ (YOLOF!). If we wish to rejoice more, then we must wish to pray more. Prayer does not have to be – and should not always be – about our grief, pain, and suffering. Prayers of adoration, thanksgiving, and praise are the kinds of prayers God enjoys and expects. Remember that old hymn “Count your Blessings?” (↔ Music Link) That is such a wonderful exercise for our evening prayers, and it is way more fun and useful than counting sheep! In fact, if we really worked on those kinds of prayers, we’d never run out of things to offer up to God in prayer. That makes the whole idea of “pray without ceasing” a nearly endless opportunity for rejoicing.

Prayer helps enrich every moment in which God is praised, enhances every act and word making their goodness even more right and proper, and actually helps make The World a better place. In this way we see the goodness of God in sparing us and preventing those things which can impair our rejoicing. God does not make junk, nor does he rejoice in suffering. Everything God has made – including us Belovéd – is made for goodness, joy, edification, correction, and Love. In short, the more we pray the more rejoicing we experience while as we rejoice more, we are led to pray more. THAT is what I call a terrific plan. But wait! There’s more! When we are occupied with prayerful rejoicing and joyful prayer, we are saturated with that Attitude of Gratitude that brings overwhelming Peace surpassing all understanding. You remember that passage, right?

Philippians 4:4-7 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. That sounds a lot like our Key Verse, doesn’t it? There are a couple of other points the Apostle Paul makes in that passage that can guide us in how to pray. We are to be gentle, not angry, not prideful, but gentle all the time everywhere. All of us could use some work in that area, especially on the freeway or the grocery store, or maybe in the movies (or even in church???) because those are the ordinary places in life were the enemy likes to whack us in the ankle so it looks like we stumble and fall. So the Apostle Paul goes on to say, “Do not worry about anything.” We don’t have to slip into some sort of Pollyanna mentality to avoid worry; we just need to aim for a little balance in our lives – a balance between faith and trust. (← Check it out! It’s a good one!) Praying for an end to suffering is important, and that is one of the major purposes for the Moon Beam Network – we intercede by praying for, with, and about others. These are the practical things in life that should be included in joyful prayer.

In the past, some subscribers have told me to leave politics out of these posts – and I concur – but we can’t leave politics out of our lives as the Apostle Paul shows us when he says how we must pray ” … I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity.” If we spent as much time and energy (I’m pointing right a me here) asking God to bless and guide ALL our 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, then we have done what we should – we have exercised our stewardship of prayer by praying for the stewards whom we choose so that they will serve us with their knowledge, skills, and abilities as leaders and coworkers in the Kingdom of God. Is that so much to ask? If we have indeed counted all our blessings, if we have inculcated our attitude of gratitude in every moment, if we have struck a balance between begging for Mercy and offering Mercy – then we have been “faithful in a very little” so that we are “faithful also in much.” Good stewards are good managers of balanced rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks. When we are faithful in that small part of the entirety of our lives (again YOLOF), then we will have done what is expected of us. In all of the things we do to strike this balance in our service to those who are stewards for us, we must also use wise discernment so we will not be led astray by false hopes and empty promises. Jesus warned us about that.

Luke 21:8And he said, “Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is near!’ Do not go after them. How do we recognize those “good and faithful stewards” God has given to us to help us live good and fruitful lives? Are they only Christians? Are they only people we know? Are they only leaders who swear to us they have the answers to all our woes? The test of the worth of their stewardship is the fruit of their works as spelled out in the Letter of James: James cautions people to be discerning about the fruit of their service to others. (See James 3:17, Matthew 7:14, and Luke 6:44). We, too, must be discerning. See 1 John 4:1-3 … “Beloved, do not trust every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can know the Spirit of God: every spirit that acknowledges Jesus Christ come in the flesh belongs to God, 3 and every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus does not belong to God.” Do you see a steward who clearly does not belong to God? Then that is the steward for whom we must offer ” … supplications, prayers, intercessions,  [ … ]  for kings and all who are in high positions.

Being faithful to the Christian life is certainly challenging – I remember one commentator saying “life truly is a bed of roses, but everyone knows roses are full of thorns” – but it is not all drudgery and misery either. The main reason for that is that we are not in this alone. We have each other, and together we “16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances.” We have the fellowship of the Holy Spirit to enflame us with the Power of the Blood of the Lamb! That word fellowship is often translated communion. We’ve mentioned this before, but it is worth mentioning again. In the Mass, when we hear that phrase “in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,” or “in the unity of the Holy Spirit,” or “in the communion of the Holy Spirit,” the word we are echoing is κοινωνίᾳ (koinonia) {koy-nohn-ee’-ah}. My favorite passage featuring this word is Acts 2:42 – 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. This is a summary of Christian life: [1] Apostolic teaching, [2] fellowship, [3] the Eucharist, and [4] the prayers – prayers we offer with ceaseless joy for every steward among us – good or bad – so that we can all live together in Peace, so that we can know safety in even the most dangerous moments, and so that we will know the never-ending, everlasting, always Blesséd presence of the One, True, God and Savior over Heaven and All the Earth.

That, Belovéd, is one great way to live, and it beats the socks off any other life you can dream up! We can be faithful in these little things – the things that occur inside our sphere of influence – and we can be faithful as well in joyfully, prayerfully, constantly serving the stewards outside that sphere who nonetheless impact even our own meager gifts. Doing so opens the door to being gifted with more missions of service at greater levels of responsibility and reward. Before we realize it, we are immersed and saturated with blessings so numerous we will never be able to count them all. Man! What a great life that is!!

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

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

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

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

 

 

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Aloha Friday Message – September 13, 2019 – Relentless Relenting

1937AFC091319 – Relentless Relenting 

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    Luke 15:10 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.

E pili mau na pomaika‘i ia ‘oe a me ke akua ho’omaika‘i ‘oe, ʻŌmea! (May blessing always be with you and may God bless you, Beloved!) Jesus talks a lot about repentance, so we should probably assume he considers it important. There are about 100 occurrences of “repent” and its variants in the Bible. The words in today’s title can have a meaning similar to repent. Let’s start with the root word:

Relent acquiesce, relax, ease off, let go, moderate, show mercy, change one’s mind.

Relentless persistent, constant, continual, remaining, enduring, unshakable, frequent, recurrent, repetitive.

Relenting changing your mind, having second thoughts, going back on, mitigating the outcome, easing up, abating, being compassionate, relinquishing anger, softening punishment. Repent and relent can involve changing one’s direction, changing one’s mind, and making room for mercy. It is in the hope that “God will relent in his punishment” that persuades many to repent. Rather than be subjected to God’s just chastisement for sin, we hope to see instead God’s Mercy and avoid the punishment. There’s an old adage I have always considered wise advice: “The best way to get out of trouble is to stay out of trouble!” All of us know how very easy it is to make that one wrong decision to do what we know is wrong or to avoid doing what we know is right. Yep, that’s what I said, and common sense tells us that’s backwards.

We must (should?) always choose to avoid doing what is wrong and choose doing what is right. Fear of punishment sometimes helps us make that decision, but that’s not really the proper motivation, is it? What can we cite as the right reason for doing right things better and better things right? How can we consistently choose the good act over the evil act? Again, fear of getting smacked down doesn’t work often enough, but Love always does work. It works every time we choose it. When we Love God enough to choose him, to choose righteousness, to choose Good, then we chose Life. We know so very well that the wages of sin is death, yet we choose sin rather that obedience. Why does that happen so often? I believe it is because we so easily forget the tremendous power Love has over sin; that power was consolidated and proven for us at Calvary. Nonetheless, the other side of Love is when God relents and instead shows Mercy, and – as long as we remember that Mercy is Justice tempered with Love – God’s relenting is a great cause for Hope. Far too many people think of God as a mean old man who peers out the window of Heaven and tosses calamity onto people. The promise of punishment is really, really real; but the promise of Mercy is every bit as real and way more prevalent in God’s Word. Let’s take a look in the Bible for some examples.

Genesis 6:6 And the Lord was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. Wow, that’s heavy! Those early earthlings had really perfected choosing to do wrong. Now, this was before Moses accepted The Law from the Lord’s own hand. God was already working on a plan of redemption, but part of that plan included a BIG correction of human errors. The folks back then did not even acknowledge any remorse over their disobedience. They just kept on sinning. In Genesis chapters 6-10, we find the story of God’s corrective action – Noah, the Ark, and the Flood. There are examples in the Old Testament of how God sent Israel Judges, prophets, seers, and kings, yet they still did not catch on to the importance of obedience derived from Love. There are many more examples of God relenting – changing his mind – and he is relentless about relenting. He never stops giving us another second chance. (← Check it out!) Take a look:

Genesis 9:8-17 This is the account of the covenant God made with Noah and his sons to never again destroy the earth by flood and the “sign” of that covenant is the rainbow (which God wants restored to its original and proper use!).

Exodus 32:14 14 And the Lord changed his mind [relented] about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people.

Numbers 23:19 19 God is not a human being, that he should lie, or a mortal, that he should change his mind. Has he promised, and will he not do it? Has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it? As in the Great Flood, God will do what he says if we do not do what he expects.

Jonah 3:10 10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, [repented] he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened. New International Version (NIV)  Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Jeremiah 18:7-8 At one moment I may declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, but if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, [repents] I will change my mind [relent or repent] about the disaster that I intended to bring on it.

Jeremiah 26:13 – 13 Now therefore amend your ways and your doings, [repent] and obey the voice of the Lord your God, and the Lord will change his mind [relent or repent] about the disaster that he has pronounced against you.

Joel 2:13 13 rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord, [repent] your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing.

God clearly shows us he will relent if we will repent. Repentance is more than just feeling sorry, or remorseful, for our disobedience. How often have we heard it said of someone charged with a heinous crime, “S/he showed no sign of remorse.”? Remorse is one part of repentance. The other part is change. We have to change our ways, we must turn around and return to the Lord. When we do that because we know that he Loves us, and because he first loved us, we love him, then we can experience the relentless relenting of God’s Love as he again and again finds ways to show us Mercy.

When we are overwhelmed with the magnificent Power of God’s Merciful Love, we rejoice. God’s plan is that we should have help in that rejoicing, and Jesus tells us where that help originates when he says, “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.One sinner, just ONE! If I, if you, if we choose to be that ONE, then Heaven and Earth rejoice and all creation sings (See 1 Chronicles 16:31-33 and Psalm 96:11-13 and this Music Link) (↔ Music Link). God will relent if we repent – not just be sorry, but truly repent. I want to show you one more example of how remorse does not equal repentance – we will look at Judas Iscariot:

Matthew 27:3 When Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he repented* and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders.

* [regretted, was remorseful; not the same as repented]. This word describing Judas’ actions is μεταμεληθεὶς (metamelētheis) μεταμέλομαι (metamelomai) {met-am-el’-lom-ahee} to regret, repent. Literally it means “I choose to change one care or interest for another,” or “I change my mind” (generally for the better), “I have regrets or remorse; properly, to experience a change of concern after a change of emotion (not action) and usually implying to regret, i.e. falling into emotional remorse afterwards. Remorse without repentance does not lead to rejoicing; it only leads to sorrow. We have the benefit of God’s Grace by which he relents, but if we refuse that Grace, we risk the wages of sin.

Our Key Verse for today comes from the Gospel for the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time. The Old Testament reading is from Exodus 32:7-14. This is the account of Israel in the desert as Moses is on the mountain, and they convince Aaron to make for them a golden calf. God’s anger flares up and he promises to destroy the whole lot of them and then make of Moses a great nation (thus “transferring” his covenant from Abraham to Moses). Moses pleads for Israel, and the passage ends at Exodus 32:14 14 And the Lord changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people. Moses interceded on their behalf, and then followed up with leading the whole nation of Israel to repentance and eventually to the threshold of the Promised Land.

God can, does, and will relent so he can show Mercy. We can, should, and must repent – through the power of Love expressed as Grace – and we can know Mercy. Certainly that is more than enough reason for joy in the presence of the angels of God. How exceedingly wonderful it is that we know and can share in that rejoicing because of the Love we share with God!

     1 John 4:16 ~~ So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.

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

 

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

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

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Aloha Friday Message – September 6, 2019 – Whom do you prefer?

1936AFC090619 – Whom do you prefer?

Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

     Luke 14:26 26 Whoever comes to me and does not hate1 father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.

1 μισεῖ (misei) from μισέω (miseó) {mis-eh’-o} miséō – properly, to detest (on a comparative basis); hence, denounce; to love someone or something less than someone (something) else; that is,  to renounce one choice in favor of another. To choose one person, thing, place, or idea above all others.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Today’s post is, in a way, a continuation of last week’s post And me, your worthless servant. We will take a look at what is required to be a “good and faithful servant.” To help us with that, we will also look at Matthew 10:37-39 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38 and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.

Looking at our Key Verse from Luke’s Gospel, we might be surprised by the word hate. That is why I have included the Greek root word and the explanation of it in context. The word itself – μισεῖ (misei) – carries a connotation of comparative language. If you will use the link to the Key Verse to open Bible Gateway, on the right side of the screen you will see this:

Luke 14:26 26 “If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple.”  New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved. You will find similar language in the NLT if you use the link for Matthew 10:37-39. What, then, is the cost of discipleship? How do we even begin to be “good and faithful servants?

Jesus’ answer is the same as God’s command: “GOD FIRST, ONLY, AND ALWAYS.” Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever God must be the most important person in our lives, period. Jesus is God, so Jesus tells his Disciples (that’s you and I, too) “If I am not more important than every facet of your earthly life, you are not fit to be my Disciple. I have to be more important than family, food, football, church, chess, chakras, music, medicine, or merchandise.” That is what God wants – to be FIRST in every moment of every life in every circumstance. Is that hard to do? Of course it is! If it was easy everyone would do it. It is so hard to do, in fact, that nobody does it because nobody can do it. That is not to say however that we cannot be Disciples. In our human, sinful nature, about the best we can hope for in this life is to be unworthy servants who can’t even do the minimum expected of them. Guess what? Jesus loves us anyway, died even for us anyway, conquered sin and death for us anyway, and welcomes us home to the place he has prepared for us anyway. There is nothing we can do on our own to achieve that outcome because it is – absolutely every teensy-tiny bit of it is through – GRACE. That Grace is freely given as it is freely received. We just have to make room for it by making room for him.

I can tell we this: If we cannot find room for Him in our hearts, in our lives, in our future, then we are literally in for one Hell of a surprise when we die. Please don’t wait. Please don’t hesitate. Please don’t rationalize away the opportunity to let Jesus come into your heart. If you don’t think a church is the way to associate yourself with Jesus because churches are full of hypocrites, be aware you are putting a hypocrite as an obstacle between you and God. You can find God at the beach, or in the mountains, or maybe even the golf course; but you cannot enjoy the fellowship and communion of the community of Christ’s people without going to where they are. The People of God are literally out of this World – of the World but not in the World.

All the World can give you – at its very best – is physical comfort, and that is only temporary. In Christ alone we can find the Peace that surpasses all understanding eternally.

Why would we want anything less than that? We can have eternal, everlasting Life through Him, with Him, and in Him only. Seek Him with a sincere and humble heart. Nothing else and no one else can take His place as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Not Nature, not meditation, not “The Force,” not self-enlightenment, not drugs, not gurus, not the World, not money or fame or personal glory, and believe-it-or-else not even religion can save your Life forever and ever. Even pagans are super-religious, but they are not saved. Beloved, go to Him, and your Joy will be complete. Turn your life around by turning it over before you’re turned under. Before that happens, Jesus expects us to help each other to be open to that Grace by relying on and living in the Holy Spirit. As the Apostle Paul eloquently put it in 1 Corinthians 12:3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says ‘Let Jesus be cursed!’ and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.

We often hear questions like “Have you accepted Jesus as your personal Savior?” or “Do you know in your heart you are SAVED?” If we love our neighbor, if we love God, if we love his Creation, if we LOVE – we can confess with our lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised him from the dead, we will be saved (See Romans 10:9) because that is all that it takes to put Jesus first.

Can we do that just one time and take care of Salvation forever? Before I answer, let me first ask, “Can we do that in thought, word, and deed Every Moment Of Every Day?” (↔ Music Link) I know I’m a sinner, so I have to answer that “Negatory. I often fail to keep Jesus in the Top Spot position ‘in thought, word, and deed every moment of every day.'” I’ve gotten sloppy at taking up my cross (I am  my cross) and following him. I take my hand off the plow and look back. I wander off the straight-and-narrow (are you recognizing some past themes here?). My story is full of holes and the Light of my Life shines through them to show me The Way. My problem has always been “the wrong attitude.” The Apostle Paul told us in Philippians 2:5Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus. (Please us that link to see this in context; it is an import theological statement from the Apostle Paul.) Jesus gave up everything (↔ Music Link) for us. How can we know that’s what he expects us to do? Surprise, surprise, he said so in Luke 14:33 – 33 So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions. Recall this: “Any of the things you have that you can give away are your possessions. Everything you cannot give away possesses you.”

If we can live a life where our only possession is Jesus, then we will keep what we prefer most – Jesus himself. Granted, we will change or preferences frequently but – by the Grace which makes us whole – we can repent and believe the Gospel and declare in the Holy Spirit “Jesus Christ is Lord.” (← Check it out!)

Let us again ask “Why would we want anything less than Jesus?” Those of us who are “of a certain age” may recall George Beverly Shea answering that question so powerfully during many televised Billy Graham Crusades. I went to one at the Denver Bears Stadium in 1965. Here is Mr. Shea answering by singing I’d Rather Have Jesus Than Anything (↔ Music Link). All I can say to that is ME TOO! AMEN. Jesus is the One whom I prefer because Jesus Christ is Lord.

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

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

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

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

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Aloha Friday Message – August 30, 2019 – … And me, your worthless servant.

1935AFC083019 – … And me, your worthless servant.

Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

Luke 14:11 11 For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Psalm 100:2 Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!

English Standard Version (ESV) Used with permission.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Grace and Peace to each of you from God our Father and our Lord, Jesus the Christ, in the Power of the Holy Spirit. Today’s Key Verse comes from the Gospel for September 1, 2019 (See Luke 14:1, 7-14). The word servant appears in the Bible almost 500 times, the word serve over 200 times. There are over 1,400 words listed as variants of the root serv*. Serve, servant, serving, service, servitude, and even servile are included in that list. The concept of servanthood is highly valued throughout Scripture. Recently we looked at the incident in Abraham’s life when he entertained three visitors. He referred to himself as their servant and – with the help of his wife, Sarah and an unnamed helper – prepared a gigantic meal for them. At one point (See Genesis 18:3) he said “My lord, if I find favor with you, do not pass by your servant.” He was offering the gift of hospitality, and hospitality is a mark of humility. One must be humble to serve another.

Jesus’ rebuke of the Scribes and Pharisees accused them of lording it over the ordinary citizens of Israel. Instead of serving the people, they served themselves by burdening others with meeting their needs. Will Rogers might have said they were too big for their britches.

There are similar role-reversal passages throughout the Gospels – the last shall be first and the first shall be last, the greatest must be a servant and the leader must be a slave, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” (See Mark 9:35) We’ve cited Bob Dylan’s Gotta serve somebody at times. Isn’t it true that we hope to one day hear Jesus say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”? (See Matthew 25:21-23 and Luke 19:17) Well then, who will we serve, and how? Who is the most important person in our lives? And if we do serve well, what outcome do we expect? Let’s take a quick diversion for The Parable of the Long Spoons.

In this parable, often attributed to Rabbi Haim of Romshishok and various other sources, everyone who dies goes to a place where there is a long (or round) banquet table. Everyone is given a long wooden spoon – about 4 feet long. Those at Hell’s banquet table struggle to feed themselves and end up perpetually starving and suffering from pangs of hunger.    Those at Heaven’s banquet table use their spoons to feed others across the table or neighbors nearby. In one version, a person is sent to suggest to the banqueters in Hell that they might feed one another to which one fellow replies, “You expect me to feed the detestable man sitting across the table? I would rather starve than give him the pleasure of eating!” Does that sound like humility? No, of course not. All of us can see and understand that humility is a virtue that prohibits self-serving actions. Being self-serving is the error committed by the Pharisees. They were more important, not the people to whom God sent them as servants. Jesus was warning them that they required a conversion of heart; they must “repent and believe the Gospel.” Those poor, deluded chaps thought they had it made because they had memorized The Law; what they did not realize is that they did not live The Law. They could probably quote Psalm 19:7-14 and completely forget that – because The Law of the Lord is perfect – they should know that failing to live The Law by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. 12 But who can detect their errors? Clear me from hidden faults. They failed to heed the warning of The Law and purposely hid their errors in pompous pretended piety. They sought to be first, the masters, the well-regarded celebrities of their time. They chose to ignore the Love of God – Christ’s law of Love.

The love of God is like the ocean, you can see its beginnings but not its end. The Grace of God is the ocean of His Love. He is the source of the Ocean of Grace. When you acknowledge Him, it is as if you are submersed in a vast ocean being fed by a fountain of purest water. You are standing in that fountain in the center of the center of the Crystal Sea drinking from a crystal cup of God’s Endless Grace and Love, and this is true for every human soul alive today in Heaven and on Earth who will Serve the Lord with gladness! This is the hallmark of a “good and faithful servant.”

When we use the word faithful to describe someone, we mean that person is trustworthy, someone who can be relied on to be honest in word and action. In the parable of the Good Steward, Jesus describes the servants who meet or exceed their master’s will as “good and faithful servants.” We can contrast that with Jesus’ statement in Luke 10:16 “So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!’” Someone who is faithful is not worthless but rather valued, and a faithful servant will – at the very least – follow all of the master’s orders. A good and faithful servant will endeavor to exceed the master’s expectations. Good stewards do good work and for that they are counted as reliable by their master and by others. Good stewards do the right thing even when the master is not good. But, what if the master is good?

A good master and a good servant are the basis for a good household, a good community, and a good nation. God himself is the epitome of the Good Master. Who is more faithful than God? Who can be trusted more than God? Who is more reliable, more believable, more honest? Who else is the embodiment of Truth? St. Augustine in his sermon on The Creed stated there are three things God cannot do. He cannot die, he cannot lie, and he cannot be deceived. These are not failings that arise out of weakness, but rather a testament to God’s infinite power and dignity. If a good master and good servant make a good combination, how much better is a combination of an infinitely good master and a good and faithful servant? We can only speculate about that because we, too, have at most done only what is expected of us; truth be known, we don’t make it to that level of excellence very often. How, then, can we hope to hear or Lord call us “good and faithful?” We have that hope because HE is faithful! Belovéd, if God wants us to be servants, doesn’t that mean he wants us to give up our freedom? Are we to be God’s slaves?

Let us first ask how slaves are acquired. They are usually bought. Someone pays for the authority to rule another person’s life. Are we bought? Yes! And our account is stamped “PAID IN FULL.” And what was the price? Love. Love sets us free. It was Love that held Christ to the Cross. It was Love that gained us our salvation. It is Love that binds us to Christ as his slaves because – as he said – “If you love me you will keep my commandments.” (See John 14:15-31) Jesus paid the highest-possible price – his life for ours. All that he requires is that we give our lives for him. It doesn’t matter to him what our lives look like. He’ll take us just the way we are. That’s what Paul was telling the Galatians. When we “know better than God,” we err in favor of our personal pleasures. Let’s also take a look at what Paul said to the Galatians about that in Galatians 6:8-10If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh; but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit. So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. 10 So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith.

Let us work as the slaves of Christ for, because of him, God has made us coheirs with him by making us his children. That is why Paul said in Galatians 4:6 And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Is the son the slave of his father? Is the daughter the subordinate of her mother? In the Old Testament, the word for slave is עַבְדֶּֽךָ   (‘aḇ-de-ḵā) from עֶבֶד (ebed) {eh’-bed} (See Genesis 18:3) – variously translated as slave, servant, attendant – a subordinate person either through ownership of pledge of service. In the New Testament it is δοῦλος (doulos) {doo’-los} – a bond-slave, without any ownership rights of their own, and “surprise, surprise,” that state of being is highly honored throughout the New Testament for those who willingly live under the authority of Christ and his chosen leaders as devoted followers of their One, True Master, Jesus the Christ. We are BLESSED to be less! We surrender our lives to be consecrated to the Servant of servants. As Jesus’ disciples, we are

  • Grateful
  • Prayerful
  • Watchful
  • Bountiful
  • Respectful
  • Reverential and
  • HUMBLE

We are not forced to serve; we are chosen to serve, and when we prefer to serve – even as his unworthy servants – then our service is rewarded when we hear, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your Master.” (See Matthew 25:23) I am indeed a worthless servant – even less than worthless; I cannot even do what my Master has asked much less more than he requires. May our prayers for Grace from God our Father advance the peace and salvation of the whole world and humbly confirm in faith and charity our gladness in his presence along with all who seek God with a sincere, meek, and humble heart. (See Eucharistic Prayer III) Then, we will Serve the Lord with gladness! And Come into his presence with singing! (↔ Music Link) We will exult with the Exalted.

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

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

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

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

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Aloha Friday Message – August 23, 2019 – Hold that door for me!

1934AFC082319 – Hold that door for me!

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     Luke 13:24 24 Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Today we will look at some pretty stark words from Jesus to his Disciples. In the 2000 or so years since these words were spoken, there has been much analysis of the text and other passages connected to it. We’ll look at a little of that today, but mostly I want to write about why “narrow” is such an important work in Christian life. Are you ready? Then let’s begin.

Here are several additional passages that relate to today’s Key Verse:

Matthew 7:13-14 13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. 14 For the gate is narrow and the road is hard (constricted) that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

Matthew 7:21-23 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’ 23 Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.'”

Mark 10:25 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.

Matthew 7:15-19 15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? 17 In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

Matthew 24:3-5 When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” Jesus answered them, “Beware that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah!’ and they will lead many astray.”

Let’s begin with Matthew 7:13 – that broad highway to destruction of which Jesus speaks. What does he mean by destruction? The Greek word used there is ἀπώλειαν apōleian from ἀπώλεια (apóleia) {ap-o’-li-a} “cut off” as someone or something is completely severed from whatever could/should have happened had they not strayed off from what is righteous. This is the same Greek word used and translated as “perdition.” Those “bound for perdition” (See Revelation 17:11 for example) will be utterly destroyed. That road that leads to utter, eternal destruction – the road to Hell – is wide and lovely (paved with good intentions, heh?), and many wish to follow it. They believe in the dawn of a New Age.

In this New Age, there is the evolution of a new consciousness. This revised reality comes from an enlightened understanding of how the universe acts on our behalf to show us the inner deity we all possess but do not recognize. The evidence is right in front of our eyes in the Aquarian Age and was clearly predicted in the “Mayan Great Cycle.” We, as the Children of Gaea (“Mother Earth”) will be able – if we raise our level of consciousness to full realization and actualization of our inner divine being – to capitalize on this “tremendous opportunity for spiritual growth” so we can readily and properly embrace genuine humanitarianism that unties the whole world into one massive village where, according to one of the principle theme songs of this “great movement” there will be one government, one way for all, as we unite in group consciousness and realize we are all God because we at last understand “Christ Consciousness.” Belovéd, there are literally “billions upon billions” of aspiring luminaries who believe that horsepuckey. In their cosmogeny of the universe, they believe that the spiritual masters they have been anticipating have arrived and (paraphrasing Pogo) “They are US!” That is a very Wide Road indeed, wide as the whole wide world. The problem of course comes up when it’s time to leave the road on Earth and go to the Road Beyond. You see, there’s a bit of a “bottleneck” there: The Narrow Road and the Narrower Door.

Many will try to enter that narrow door, but they cannot; it is too difficult for them because they want to “take it all with them” – after all they are gods – and that just doesn’t work because that’s not how God created it. We are reminded of Mark 10:25 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God. These befuddled souls who worship “The Universe” count themselves as the richest of all because they have discovered their divinity. Their own prophets and prophecies absolutely verify what Jesus said of them in Matthew 7:15-19 15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? 17 In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” Once again, if we look at the Greek words used in this passage, its impact becomes clearer. Here, when Jesus says “bad” tree or fruit, the Greek word is πονηροὺς (ponērous) {pon-ay-ros’}. It is a word that means evil, bad, wicked, malicious, slothful – literally, pain-ridden, emphasizing the inevitable agonies (misery) that always go with evil.

What are the fruits of these “evil trees” to and through whom “the universe” has disclosed their Christ Consciousness so that Jesus is portrayed as just an ordinary human being who “evolved himself to godliness” through progressive enlightenment? Up until just recently, only Jesus had self-realized his own deification. Sharing that with us, the message is that we are all gods and that brings us one step closer to finding your inner Christ-Self. Here’s the rub: Beware that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah!’ and they will lead many astray.”

New Age authors like Wayne Dyer, Eckart Tolle, Neal Donald Walsch, Deepak Chopra, Louise Hay,  Anthony Robbins, Oprah Wiinfrey, Mooji, and best-selling-author and presidential candidate Marianne Williamson tell us that Jesus is not the only path to Heaven. This is because man is divine by nature and not separated from God because of sin. There is no absolute final truth and no scripture (such as the Bible or any other “sacred writings”) that defines any exact and entire doctrine or religion. Religion is irrelevant because each of us can create our own religion based in our own truth as we understand our own divinity and preferences. Therefore it is immaterial if we get it right (or wrong) because there is no right or wrong, and besides either way, we can always be reincarnated and try again until we “get it right.” – But there is no right so we may not ever get it. But that’s OK, too, because the only way to live forever is not to die, and you do that by expanding your consciousness.

Marianne Williamson, mentioned above, has drawn attention to herself as a “very spiritual person” who believes the tripe in A Course in Miracles, that its two scribes, Drs. Helen Schucman and Bill Thetford, authorized for publication by the Foundation for Inner Peace in 1975. I guess that’s as close to a Bible as you can get for these folks. In 1993, it gave rise to The Circle of Atonement, a group that will guide us through this “communication from Jesus of Nazareth through a human ‘scribe.'” It is a new Gospel from a new Christ.

My oh my! We should be reminded to echo the words of the Psalmist in Psalm 5:8 Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me. God anoints, men appoint. Isaiah 45:1 1 Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped to subdue nations before him and strip kings of their robes, to open doors before him — and the gates shall not be closed. This is why we read in Isaiah 40:3 A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. and Matthew 3:3 This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’” (See also Mark 1:1-3, Luke 3:3-4, and John 1:22-23). God built the road/staircase to Heaven, earthlings did not, have not, will not, cannot do that because – no matter how often they chant it to themselves, no matter how many chakra they align, no matter how expanded (or inflated) their consciousnesses be – THEY ARE NOT God.

Last week we looked at how Jesus talked about bringing division and fire. These jesters of the universe – trying to claim they speak for Jesus – say they want the world to sing the same song and  share a Coke (although many prefer a toke instead). They claim to have heard the Word, but somehow it doesn’t apply to them because they have transcended that outdated collection of myths and mistakes. Here’s what happens to them as told to us in James 1:23-24 23 For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; 24 for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like.

That door, that gate at the end of the Road – it’s not a swinging door that opens for ingress and egress. It is, perhaps, much like that quote attributed to Rev. C. H. Spurgeon which describes it something like this: Over the front of Heaven’s gate is a sign which reads “Whosoever wills let him come.” Upon entering we discover that a sign above the inside of the door says “CHOSEN IN CHRIST BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD.”

Belovéd, we do well to recall the Parable of the Wedding Banquet in Matthew 22:1-14 – especially that last verse: 14 For many are called, but few are chosen. Some believe there are exactly 144,000 souls in that “few.” Others believe you can’t follow the road unless you find the road. I’m in that group. Sometimes I wander off-road and get lost in the brambles, but when I come back I find that the road I follow is like a straight pencil line drawn across a humongous floor upon which many have applied great quantities of paint, and sand, and riches, and filth, all set in swirls and splatters; but the line is always there, always straight, always narrow, and always findable.

I walk the line, and I see the Narrow Door. When I get there, Someone will hold it open for me. Let’s go there together, then, and cross that threshold to the Place where God is on his Throne and we are called to minister there.

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

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

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Aloha Friday Message – August 16, 2019 – You’re gonna get fired.

1933AFC081619 – You’re gonna get fired.

Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

  Luke 12:49-51 49 “I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50 I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! 51 Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!”

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Today’s Key Verse passage comes immediately after the Gospel reading from last week. Jesus has just finished telling people that they cannot let their possessions rule their lives. He has told them a parable about faithful servants who are found prepared and waiting for the return of their master. Their readiness will be rewarded by the master who will put on an apron and wait on them. He describes how a man would prevent a theft if he knew when the thief was coming; since we do not know when Jesus is coming, we must be in a state of constant readiness like the good steward and servants he describes. Then Peter interrupts and asks if that parable is for the Apostles or for everyone. Jesus responds with another parable about the rewards for being vigilant and faithful to the master’s wishes by being prepared to welcome the master on his return “at an unknown hour.”

Then, almost apprehensively it seems, the Lord looks ahead to the finish of his journey to Jerusalem and the anguish he must face there. If we could look at the Greek text of Luke 12:49 we could see that the word-order looks like this: Πῦρ ἦλθον βαλεῖν ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν, καὶ τί θέλω εἰ ἤδη ἀνήφθη.  Fire I came to cast upon the earth, and how I wish if already it be kindled! The fire he came to cast upon the earth is the fire of judgment. If we will think back to the prophecy of John the Baptist about Jesus’ coming – as recorded in Matthew 3:12 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire. This is a pretty common metaphor in the Old Testament. Imagine the hardened soil of a threshing floor somewhere on a windy hillside. There oxen tread upon the grain to break away the husks – the chaff – from the kernels. The gathered sheaves take a pretty serious beating and trampling to loosen the kernels from the husks. Then the wheat and chaff are tossed into the air and the chaff is blown off to the side while the kernels of wheat fall to the floor to be gathered up. Whatever isn’t blown completely away is swept up and burned. So it will be at the time of judgment. Whatever is good will be saved and whatever is not good he will burn with unquenchable fire.

Jesus has come to institute judgment within the Kingdom of God. If the judgment had already been started – had the fire already been kindled – then he would not need to impede it. As he stares into his dark future, however, perhaps he momentarily hopes the suffering he sees ahead will soon be over with; but his time has not fully come. In another passage, some followers invite him to go to Judea to show them the works he has done in Galilee: John 7:2-8 Now the Jewish festival of Booths was near. So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea so that your disciples also may see the works you are doing; for no one who wants to be widely known acts in secret. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” (For not even his brothers believed in him.) Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify against it that its works are evil. Go to the festival yourselves. I am not going to this festival, for my time has not yet fully come.”

For Jesus, there is still much to do before Gethsemane and Calvary. As he calls into being the Kingdom of God, he establishes a judgment so present and so powerful that it will divide those who accept his message from those who do not – even within families there will be division over what he says and does. This fire of division will cleanse that which is polluted and purify that which is defiled. This purifying fire can only come through that baptism – the pain, suffering, and death in which he must willingly immerse himself – which looms ahead of him as he journeys to Jerusalem. He is intent on completing the work of his Father’s plan regardless of who goes with him or abandons him. Those who turn away will become like the chaff in a whirlwind of fire. Those who follow will find another sort of Fire awaiting them.

Will it be the Fire of Judgment or the Fire of the Spirit? Will we get fired up or fired off? Many of us often pray for the world to be set afire with the Holy Spirit; we pray for a New Pentecost where hearts are set aflame with the love of Christ. For those who bear this Fire of Love, there is indeed division, disunity, and dissension surrounding them. The world shuns that which it does not understand, abhors that which does not love its gratifications, and persecutes everyone who rejects its enticements. Nonetheless, we have a better Life in that Fire which burns without consuming (← Check it out!) Recall this lesson taken at Mark 10:29-3129 Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age — houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions — and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”

Belovéd, the line it is drawn, the curse it is cast, “For the times they are a-changin’!” (↔ NOT a Music Link?)They started changing when Christ the King was born in Bethlehem and the second loop of Infinity started on Golgotha in Jerusalem. We’re gonna get fired. Maybe we’ll be like the chaff blown about by the winds of change and burned at the end as the winnowing fan in the Hand of the Man from Galilee drives us into eternity. Maybe we’ll be like the stubble of the fields set ablaze to clear the land for a new beginning. Perhaps we can hope to be worked into earthen containers at the Potter’s hands, and then fired and tempered into vessels storing treasures worth more than gold. Better still, we may be the lamp that is lighted to dispel the darkness and divide the unknown away from the revealed. There is darkness all around us, but there is a Blesséd Light on the horizon. That light is the Fire of the Son, and how I wish it were kindled in every living soul!

This Light – this Holy Fire – comes to us through the Wonderful Grace of Jesus. (↔ Music Link) It is Grace that that divides us from the World, turns away the Darkness, and draws us and everyone we meet to God’s perfect Integrity, Endless Mercy, and Eternal Salvation through Christ our Lord AMEN!!

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

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

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

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

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Aloha Friday Message – August 9, 2019 – Faith in Death

1932AFC080919 – Faith in Death

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     Hebrews 11:13-14 13 All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, 14 for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.

 

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

Perhaps you’re already thinking I must be crazy to be talking about faith in death. We all know the saying usually attributed to Benjamin Franklin, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, we do know that is usually true, and to that – these days for sure – we could also add, “and we can be certain that whatever we do or say will offend someone.”

This has an unfortunate – and probably intended – effect on those who endeavor to speak the Truth: We tend to hold back sometimes so we don’t set off a firestorm of negative judgments from the people around us, even from people who have no idea who we are or what we stand for – we’re just worthless in their judgment. We can easily be discouraged by this prejudicial attack on our own faith – that is, unless we remember that their lack of faith, lack of righteousness, lack of humility is their eternal death knell. Consider this:

Hebrews10:36-38 36 For you need endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. 37 For yet “in a very little while, the one who is coming will come and will not delay; 38 but my righteous one will live by faith. My soul takes no pleasure in anyone who shrinks back.” In this passage the Apostle Paul is referencing Habakkuk 2:3-4 For there is still a vision for the appointed time; it speaks of the end, and does not lie. If it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay. Look at the proud! Their spirit is not right in them, but the righteous live by their faith.

By faith …Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua at Jericho, Rehab – all of these acted by faith in faith that God would be true to his promise for those who are righteous, and they were counted as righteous because of their faith. All of these Israelite heroes died in faith despite never seeing the fulfillment of The Promise. The righteous live in faith and die in faith. They have faith in death because death is part of the promise of redemption, salvation, and eternity. I encourage you to read Hebrews 11 so you can become familiar with how God saw righteousness in the actions of these predecessors of the Apostle Paul. I encourage you further to consider how he will see the righteousness in the actions of the successors of the Apostle Paul.

     Hebrews 11 starts with the beautiful description of faith: 1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible. “The assurance of things hoped for;” this is echoed in Romans 8:24-25 24 For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes [waits for] for what is seen? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. And next we have “the conviction of things not seen.” In this we see that the expectations of faith are not burdens, but rather they form a pillar of strength, a tower of support, for all that is promised but as yet is not manifest. We trust that the fulfillment will be complete because we know that the Maker of the Promise makes all things complete. The Apostle Paul references this notion in verse 3 – the worlds were prepared – God completed all his work in the universe. The words “was formed” – as the history of the universe – is written is Greek in this passage as κατηρτίσθαι (katērtisthai) [kat-ar-tid’-thai] – From kata and a derivative of artios; to complete thoroughly, to complete, to prepare, i.e. adjusted exactly “down” to fully functional. As we have said here before, God doesn’t make junk, and what he makes is inherently perfect; what we have made imperfect carries within it his perfection. Therefore, since he has made the promise, we can confidently expect the promise to be fulfilled, and that is how we live by faith and die in faith.

Belovéd, if we live by faith, then we can be confident that our faith will endure even death. Were it not so, all our faith would be in vain; but in what does our faith consist? What is the Mystery of Faith? “Christ has Died. Christ has Risen. Christ will come again.” And, “Dying you destroyed our death. Rising you restored our Life. Lord Jesus, come in Glory.” Yes, it is true, these are the “old” acclamations, but they sum up our hope rather succinctly. If we want to define the object of our faith we need only to turn to the ever-popular and well-known John 3:16-17: We will be resurrected to everlasting, eternal life with God, his angels, and his saints. Of all the promises made by God, that is the most beautiful and the most lasting, and therefore, it is the one in which we have the greatest faith. If Christ only died, then our faith is in vain. But – as the Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:12-27, IF Christ was indeed raised, then we can have faith in the promise that he will come again (after all, he told us he would in John 14:1-3!). That is “the conviction of things not seen.”

In life and in death we embrace that conviction because we can “hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful.” (See Hebrews 10:23) After all, he created all things (John 1:3a) and all things were created for him (Colossians 1:15-16) – including you and me. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills (↔ Music Link) (Psalm 50:10), and he is our shield and protector. Whenever others come against us because of our faith, we need not fear because he promises not to fail or forsake us: Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them, because it is the Lord your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you.

We have faith in our lives because we know that we can have faith in – at the time of  – our death as an everlasting promise from the One, True, Eternal God who completed a fully functional universe, and that promise is that we are, have been, and will be eternally his and that where he is will be our homeland. Instead of the unbelievers’ “I hope so,” we hold fast to the believers’, “so is my hope!”

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

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

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

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

 

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