ASH WEDNESDAY: TREASURES IN HEAVEN
Contributed by Sherman Thompson, KSK Interim Chaplain
(Reflect on this devotional from Wednesday, February 14 through Saturday, February 17)
Akā, e hoʻāhu aʻe ʻoukou i waiwai no ʻoukou ma ka lani, kahi e pau ʻole ai i ka mū a me ka popo, kahi e wāwahi ʻole mai ai nā ʻaihue e ʻaihue ai. No ka mea, ma kahi e waiho ai ko ʻoukou waiwai, ma laila pū nō hoʻi ko ʻoukou naʻau.
But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. –Matthew 6:20-21
These words are found as part of Jesus’ preaching known more familiar to us as the Sermon on the Mount. It can be found in Matthew’s Gospel. The words follows the Lord’s invitation to share in the prayer-life of Jesus himself—to experience the Divine.
The Lord’s Prayer reminds us that Ke Akua is closely present with its people here in this world and beyond our reach. It is this prayer that invites us to know Ke Akua intimately and to share in His life through Iesū Kristo.
According to Matthew’s Gospel, the urging Jesus’ words regarding nā mea waiwai, the treasures, we hold dear reminds us to store our mea waiwai makamae, precious treasures, which in `ōlelo refers to things more precious than material possessions, in a place that will neither tarnish nor fade, or even become lost or taken away, the heavens. We notice that His urging appears soon after the sermon on prayer which to me makes a strong connection where the heavens would even embrace those things important to us.
At the beginning of this Lenten season may we find Jesus’ words as an affirmation to reconnect and enter into Ke Akua’s realm, His righteousness and aloha. Though we acknowledge our shortcomings as demonstrated through our acts of huikala, forgiveness, we should know that God’s covenant and His mercy restores within us ka ʻoliʻoli, joy in our inward being.
Though many of us find Lent to be a season of penitence and self-denial to imitate our Lord’s abstinence for 40 days, may this time be also one of redemption. As we approach the Lenten season, may we truly find restoration, newness and Love all because of Ke Akua’s Amazing Grace.
The familiar Himeni, “Ke Akua Mana E” comes to mind as I reflect on the above passages from Matthew. Translated by Albert Nahale‘a, the Hawaiian words reveal the awesome creation of the heavens and the earth, highlighted by the images of the expanding skies showing the Lord’s mighty power, yet contrasted by creating the lush forest, towering mountains here in our realm. How glorious, How glorious the chorus exclaims! Through these images therein implies the connection between heaven and earth as God intended. How could we not come away bowing before our Savior who rose as redeemer for us? How could we come away not storing our treasures in heaven?
Might we challenge ourselves this Lenten season with these thoughts:
E ke Akua mana loa, ka mea i hana i ka lani a me ka honua. Eia hoʻi mākou, kāu poʻe kauā nei, ke hoʻomaikaʻi a hoʻonani aku nei iā ʻoe. Mahalo i kēia lā hou, ka hanu ola, a me nā mea a pau no ka pono o ko mākou noho ʻana. E hāʻawi mai i ka ʻike, ka naʻauao, a me ka ikaika i loko o kā mākou mau ha‘awina. Nāu nō e kiaʻi, mālama, a hoʻopakele mai iā mākou a me ko mākou mau ʻohana nō hoʻi. Ma ka inoa o kāu keiki hiwahiwa o Iesū Kristo, ʻĀmene.
Almighty God, who created heaven and earth. Here we are, your servants, praising and glorifying You. Thank You for this new day, the breath of life and all our needs for which You provide. Grant us wisdom and strength in all of our duties. Guard and protect us and our families. In the name of Your precious Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.
LENT WEEK 1: IF ONLY...
Contributed by Kensy Apaka, KSH Christian Education Instructor
(Reflect on this devotional from Sunday, February 18 to Saturday, February 24)
Inā hoʻi i ala pū ʻoukou me Kristo, e ʻimi ʻoukou i nā mea ma luna, ma kahi e noho ai ʻo Kristo, ma ka lima ʻākau o ke Akua. E paulele ʻoukou i nā mea o luna, ʻaʻole i nā mea ma ka honua nei. No ka mea, ua make ʻoukou, a ua hūnā ʻia aku ko ʻoukou ola me Kristo i loko o ke Akua. Aia ʻikea aku ʻo Kristo ʻo ko kākou ola, a laila e ʻikea pū ʻoukou me ia i loko o ka nani.
Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. – Colossians 3:1-4
Last week, I participated in a game with my Young Life kids, a group of high schoolers. We were asked various questions from different school subject areas. My turn came up and I was asked an English question, “What part of speech is the word – very?” Immediately, the wheels in my head began turning, the gears were grinding, and time was winding down. I wrote down the first thing that popped into my head – IMPORTANT. It is an IMPORTANT part of speech. Of course, that answer was wrong, the correct answer being adverb. I mean, it didn’t surprise me that the answer I gave was wrong, yet my mind still went down the “If only” road. If only:
Of course, if the situation had changed, the outcome would have been different. The end result would have been much more favorable “If only” I encountered other circumstances.
While this was simply part of a game, it made me realize that I have a tendency toward this type of thinking, but I don’t think I’m alone in this. In life, we run into financial problems, relationship issues, workplace troubles and family stress. Our field of vision can be obscured by the enormity of these things in our lives.
When this happens, time spent with God tends to drop down on our list of priorities. Work deadlines, school assignments, kids’ sports, and social media activity are just a few of the many items which quickly dominate our time.
We fall into the “If only” trap. If only I had more time and less to do, then I would spend time with God. Yet, we as people are called to place God in the forefront of our lives, at the head of all that we do. It is what Ke Aliʻi Pauahi did.
As kānaka, we were and are, people of faith. Faith grounds us in the way we treat one another, the way we mālama our land, and the way we nurture our keiki. Our faith in God shouldnʻt be something that we conveniently place on the laundry list of things to do, but rather it needs to be the perspective, the lens by which we see the world.
The Bible warns us not to conform, but rather be transformed by the way we think (Rom. 12:2). The only way to do that, to become transformed as a person, is by allowing God to shape, change, and mold us. Just as a carpenter consults a level for a project and a mechanic checks tire alignment on a vehicle, so too are we realigned and centered by spending time with God and His Word. It is the Word of God that shows us, corrects us, refocuses us, and directs us.
Lent is a great time to do just that, to spend more time with God. This is the season where we put away distractions, we readjust our calendars, and we refocus on the one thing that matters most – our relationship with Christ. Let us leave the “If only” mentality behind and start fresh with a “God first” lifestyle.
How do we spend time with God?
Read his Word – Scripture says that the Bible is inspired by God and is used by Him to prepare, equip, and correct (2 Tim 3:16-17).
Keep a Journal – God is constantly at work in our lives. There are times when we see the evidence of His presence as clear as day, but if you’re anything like me you probably don’t remember everything as well as you used to. Begin keeping a journal and write about your hopes, fears, struggles, and triumphs. Look for God in each situation and in every circumstance. Record the things He’s teaching you and what He’s showing you.
Pule – Prayer is an integral part of our walk with Christ. It is our personal communication with God and as such, it needs to be incorporated in our daily lives. I do not mean just pule for the meals and at bedtime. Growing up, if I only spoke to my parents or my kūpuna before a meal and right before bed, what kind of relationship would I have been fostering? I would have missed out on so many stories, so much wisdom, and all of their guidance. The Bible instead encourages us to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17). No, that does not mean to drive with your eyes closed. Rather, we are called to recurring prayer. Having a rough day? Pray. Having a great day? Pray. Problem at work? Pray. Thankful for your ʻohana? Pray. Make prayer a regular part of your every day.
E Ke Akua mana loa, ke hoʻomaikaʻi aku nei mākou iā ʻOe no Kou aloha iā mākou. E ʻoluʻolu, e huikala mai iā mākou no nā manawa a mākou e kau ai i nā mea e aʻe ma mua Ou. E ʻoluʻolu, e hoʻomau e alakaʻi, a e hoʻopololei iā mākou i kō mākou pilina me ʻOe. Ke noi aku nei mākou i kēia mau mea ma ka inoa ʻo Iesu Kristo.
Almighty Heavenly Father, we thank You for your grace, your mercy and your love. Please forgive us for the times when we put other things before You. Continue to lead us, shape us, and correct us in our daily walk with You. In Jesusʻ name we pray, amen.