The Clarion, June 2020
We hope you enjoyed the first issue of The Clarion. Now we find ourselves already in the month of June. We hope that everyone will have an enjoyable Father’s Day, and despite the turmoil, a pleasant beginning to the summer season.
RUNNING WITH HORSES, PART 2
In Part 1, we looked at God’s response to Jeremiah when he was discouraged about the wicked who prosper. In Jeremiah 12:5 God tells Jeremiah this: “If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?” We looked at Revelation 6:1-2, which is about the first horse which rides in the Seal Judgements. I suggest you read Part 1 to get a better understanding of Part 2. In Part 2 we are going to continue looking at these horses. Revelation 6:3-4 tells us, “When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, ‘Come!’ Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make people kill each other. To him was given a large sword.” Going back to Cain and Abel murder has been with us in our lives. We have seen over history that people have engaged in war after war. In the last 100 years we have seen two world wars with the deaths of millions of people. Wars have broken out in almost every area of the planet. We have seen civil unrest and violent protests and even killings in our schools and in our workplaces. Our cities are like the battlefield. The local news is nothing but one shooting after another. John reveals to us that the second horse will ride and it will take away our peace. People today live in fear. They have cameras all over their property. They have their homes secured like Fort Knox. Our schools practice for active shooter situations. In Matthew 10:34-39, Yeshua says this: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ Anyone who loves their father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for My sake will find it.” So Yeshua is warning us of the horse that will ride to take away our peace. You see the end times are going to be a time when people will fall away from the truth. It will be a time of chaos and confusion, wickedness will abound. People who follow God will be hated even by their own family. Romans 1:28-32 tells us, “And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.” Yeshua, after telling His disciples that He would be leaving them, saw that they were grieved, and He told them this in John 16:33: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” The longer the red horse rides the worse we will see murders of all sorts, but the question is, are you an overcomer? Well, John tells us how we can overcome the world in 1 John 5:3-4, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” Let’s look back at what Yeshua told us in Matthew 10:38-39: “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for My sake will find it.” Paul has great advice for us in Philippians 4:4-9: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Messiah Yeshua. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” You want to overcome the “red horse”? Trust the Lord, and as Isaiah 26:3 tells us, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You.”
COUNTRY OF THE MONTH
Every month, we pray for a specific country where Christians are experiencing persecution. This month, we are praying for the nation of Iraq. The ancient Christian population in Iraq faces extinction as individuals have fled discrimination in everyday affairs and violent persecution from ISIL and other extremist groups. Here are some ways you can pray:
• Pray that Christians in Iraq will be encouraged and emboldened despite violence and hardship.
• Pray for an end to sectarian violence and religious violence/discrimination in Iraq.
• Pray that missionaries will be successful in providing Bibles to believers.
• Pray that those who are sharing their faith will be protected and successful., and that many Iraqis (including the persecutors) will come to know the truth and receive salvation through Yeshua.
SANDIEGRAM: “NEVER ALONE”
Written by Sandie Balistreri — Copyright 2010
I thank You, Lord, for Your presence.
As I meditate by myself, I am not alone.
You are with me shining Your light upon me
And blessing me.
When I am troubled, You comfort me.
When I have doubt, You reassure me.
When I cry, You wipe away my tears.
No matter where I go,I am never alone,
For You live within me,
And every breath I take,
You are there.
You surround me with angels to watch over me.
In the darkness of the night,
You illuminate my mind with Your presence.
Lord, I give praise, honor, and glory to You,
For in the darkness of this world,
Your light shines bright,
And I am never alone.
IS THE CROSS POLITICALLY CORRECT?
Today, we have become so politically correct and so sensitive to words that even in our congregations and our churches we have compromised our beliefs and our words so we do not offend anyone. Tolerance is the word of the day, and yet we do not have tolerance for everything or everyone: it’s like pick and choose depending on who you are or what you believe. “Everyone must get a trophy, everyone must win, we can not have anyone left out. Watch your words! Are they degrading, or harsh, or something I just don’t want to hear? Give me a place to run to, give me a safe place from words and life!” But is this really life? The world we live in is a dangerous place. The Bible tells us that there is good and evil, there are those who will be saved and those who will not be saved, there is a heaven and there is a hell. But to so many people these statements are politically incorrect. So I ask, do we live by the Word of God or do we live to please those who cannot or will not believe in a God who would not include all? It is sad to say, but many believers will say, “I can only believe that God in His mercy and grace will save all those who are good.” Many say, “God is a God of love and He would not send anyone to hell.” Many say, “Well, I am a good person and God would not send me to hell.” Many even would say, “I go to church, God would not send me to hell.” I have even heard believers say, “There are many ways to get into heaven. They may have been baptized, they may have said a prayer, belong to a certain denomination, go to church, or even read their Bible.” Many even would say, “My pastor tells us that we can still do this or that. He even does those things himself.” So the question is, have we moved away from the cross of Calvary? Have we taken a step backwards? Is the cross even politically correct? In our society today, we do not like the thought of pain or torture. We do not like the sight of blood and death. We do not want to hear about it. We have become calloused to it, we resent it even. We want to run to our safe place, we want comfort, we want to close our ears and we do not want to listen. We close our eyes and we do not want to see. We have become weak, we have become soft. We see death and we ask, “Why? Why does a loving God allow this?” Today’s believers do not even want to see a crucifix because we say, “Yeshua has risen, He is no longer on the cross. Quick, take the sight of it away from me! We want to live in the resurrection, not the death.” Without His death, we would have no need of the resurrection. It was through that grief that He bore our sins. It was through His death on the cross that He paid our debt. “Yes, we will accept that, but not the cross.” But this same cross, this instrument of pain and suffering and death which our Messiah Yeshua carried to His death, this cross is exactly what Yeshua tells us that we need to pick up in order to follow Him. We say, “NO, NO! I do not want to die. I have my life and I want to keep it. I have my business, I have my home, my car, all those things that I love and enjoy. I will not give them up, I will not die.” When a person hears that he is going to die, that is his response.There is a process that a man goes through when he hears that he is going to die. There is anger and denial and a sorrow and a letting go of this world which has to take place, and then hopefully they reach a place were there is peace. We in our nature cling to life. This is why God gave us eternal life through Messiah Yeshua, because He is the God of life. And yet Yeshua tells us to pick up that instrument of death and follow Him. Now, I know that I have heard many people who have an illness or some misfortune that they have to live with say that this is their cross in life, so they pick up their cross and go on in life. But is this what our Messiah meant? What are we dying to? Ourselves? To sin? The world? Let’s look at all the Scriptures where the Word tells us we have to die. “Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” (Luke 9:23-26) “In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.” (Luke 14:33) “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” (John 12:24) “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Romans 6:1-2) “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we died with Messiah, we believe that we will also live with him.” (Romans 6:6-8) “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Messiah Yeshua.” (Romans 6:11) “Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1-2) “I have been crucified with Messiah and I no longer live, but Messiah lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20) “Those who belong to Messiah Yeshua have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5:24) “May I never boast except in the cross of our LORD Yeshua Messiah, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Galatians 6:14) “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24) “I also consider all these things as loss for the majesty of the knowledge of Yeshua the Messiah, my Lord, him for whose sake I have lost everything, and I consider it all as rubbish that I may gain the Messiah.” (Philippians 3:8) “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.” (Colossians 3:5) “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Yeshua the Messiah, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” (Titus 2:11-14) “Therefore, since Messiah suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.” (1 Peter 4:1-2) So we see that we are to die to the world, to ourselves, to sin. The question is, have we died to this world? Have we died to ourselves? Have we died to sin? 1 John 2:15-17 tells us, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” Have we looked into the mirror and then walked away and forgot who we are? Have we truly laid aside the old self and put on the new? I’m sure if we were honest with ourselves we would have to say, “No, I have not died to myself. I have not put on the new. I still watch those worldly shows. I still use language I shouldn’t. I still live like the world and sound like the world and even look like the world.” How we need the cross before us! How we need the shed blood of Yeshua to cleanse us of our sins daily, and the only place for that blood to fall on us is at the foot of the cross. We need to see the cross every day, and every day we need to crucify our flesh. Do not think that an image of our Yeshua on the cross is wrong. It was that image that paid our debt, and we need to be eternally grateful for the life that Yeshua gives us. As a disciple of Yeshua, a follower of our Messiah, we must walk in His footsteps. We must follow Him to the cross and we must deny ourselves and crucify our flesh so that we too may have life. Read 1 John 1:5-2:3. The cross may not be politically correct, and in this world we may not all win, but as for our Father, He has made the way for all of us to be winners. But to win we must first die. Do you need to come back to the cross? That is where the cleansing flow of the blood of the Lamb is. Come on bended knee and the love of Messiah will wash you clean.
Challah is a type of bread that is eaten on special occasions, such as the weekly Sabbath. Try out the following recipe for yourself! (Yields 4 loaves).
2 packages dry active yeast
7 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 sticks margarine
1 cup hot (not boiling) water
3 eggs and 1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 egg to coat Challah
1. Sift yeast and flour. In a large bowl, mix margarine and water until margarine is melted. Add eggs, yolk, salt and sugar. Keep mixing. Gradually add flour mixing well (a wooden spoon works great). Cover bowl with warm damp towel and leave covered for 3 hours, more is better.
2. Smash down, divide into 12 balls. Roll into snakes. Braid snakes into 4 loaves. Put on cookie sheet. Cover with damp towel for 1 hour.
3. Brush loaves with beaten egg. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
The word challah means “portion”, and it is used in the Torah to refer to the portion of bread which was set aside as holy: “When you enter the land where I bring you, then it shall be, that when you eat of the food of the land, you shall lift up an offering to the LORD. Of the first of your dough you shall lift up a cake (challah) as an offering; as the offering of the threshing floor, so you shall lift it up” (Numbers 15:18-20). This offering portion was actually the part of the bread that was given to the priests as their portion. Today when the Jewish people make this challah bread in their homes for their own use, they take a portion of the dough and set it aside by burning it. Even though this sanctified part of the dough is technically the part that should be called challah (since it is the portion which is set apart), in popular reference the main part of the bread that anyone can eat has come to be known as challah. This is a traditional rather than a Biblical commandment. It is traditional to bake two loaves of challah, corresponding with the two offerings which were made every Sabbath in the Temple. These two loaves also represent the double portion of mannah that God gave for the people to eat on the Sabbath (Exodus 16:4-5). And, like the offerings, the two loaves are sprinkled with salt. It is believed that the tradition of eating this distinctive style of braided bread, as in the recipe above, started with the Jewish populations in Europe.
“God is not a deus absconditus [hidden God], living in lonely bliss in some far-off heaven, inaccessible to man; rather, he is the ever-present Shechinah in ‘exile,’ in the corrupt world of sin, undertaking the task of redeeming and regenerating creation. His supreme characteristic is his infinitely self-giving love, a love operative from the foundation of the world and revealed in diverse ways through his saints and prophets in all lands, manifested in his Shechinah in glorious fullness in ‘the light which lighteth every man coming into the world’ [John 1:9].” — Paul Philip Levertoff
In each newsletter, we will teach you a new Hebrew letter and give you a little information about it. There are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet. This month, you will learn the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The name of this letter is aleph, pronounced ah-lef. In Hebrew, each letter also has a numerical value. If you open up a Hebrew Bible, you will notice that the chapter numbers will be Hebrew letters. The numerical value of aleph is 1.
Aleph is a silent letter. It doesn’t, on its own, make a sound. Instead, it is pronounced as part of the vowel which follows it. For example, the word el , meaning “God/god”, is spelled with two letters, aleph and lamed. While aleph doesn’t have a sound on its own, in this word it takes the “e” sound of the vowel that follows it (the two dots beneath the aleph). Unlike in some languages such as English, in Hebrew you read right-to-left.