The Clarion, Aug. 2020
Welcome to the August edition of The Clarion. Hopefully you have been keeping cool and staying safe. We hope that these newsletters have been, and will continue to be, a source of encouragement for you. Later this month we will start counting down the days to the Biblical Appointed Times which are called the Fall Feasts.
RUNNING WITH HORSES, PART 4
We have been doing a series on running with the horses. Jeremiah is asking God a question: why do the wicked prosper? We have been looking at God’s response to his question. 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?” We will continue in Revelation 6:9-11, which tells us, “When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, ‘How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until You judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?’ Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been.” All over the world Christians are being persecuted and martyred. On the average, about eleven Christians are martyred every day, and tens of thousands every year. Yet for decades, pastors (especially here in America) have been preaching that this would not happen, that we would all be raptured. The verse that they quote is 1 Thessalonians 5:9, “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Messiah Yeshua.” Now this is true, God does not want us to suffer wrath. But the wrath that He is speaking of is eternal damnation, because salvation is in Yeshua. We must, as Christians, always be ready to lay down our lives for a friend. Yeshua gives new meaning to being a friend. He tells us this in John 15:13-15, “No one has greater love than this—that one lays down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because the slave does not understand what his master is doing. But I have called you friends, because I have revealed to you everything I heard from My Father.” If we are Yeshua’s friend, then He is our friend; and if Yeshua is our friend, then we must gladly lay down our lives for Him. Like Yeshua, we too must pick up our cross and follow Him. Where? In losing our lives so that we may live, and this at times may mean literally losing our lives. God never asks us to do anything that He Himself has not done. We are His children, and we too must walk in His footsteps. John 13:37-38 gives us some insight into this: “Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, why can I not follow You right now? I will lay down my life for You.’ Yeshua answered, ‘Will you lay down your life for Me? Truly, truly, I say to you, a rooster will not crow until you deny Me three times.’” Peter in his head wanted to follow Yeshua, even to death, but we see that it really was not in his heart. We must be ready to lay down our lives if we must, and to do that we must draw close to God, praying without ceasing, meditating on His Word day and night. We must let go of this world. We must literally go through a dying process of letting go and denying ourselves, and most of all, growing our faith. Philippians 3:7-11 tells us, “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Messiah. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Messiah Yeshua my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Messiah and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Messiah—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Messiah—yes, to know the power of His resurrection and participation in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” Paul also tells us in Romans 12:1-2, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” 2 Timothy 2:3-7 tells us, “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Messiah Yeshua. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops. Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things.” If we endure till the end, Revelation 3:21 tells us our reward: “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” Yeshua picked up His cross and He was crucified, and so we too must deny ourselves and pick up our cross and crucify our flesh, and if the time comes, we may lose our lives for the gospel. Yeshua warns us in Matthew 25:13, “So stay awake and be prepared, for you do not know the date or moment of My return.” Can you honestly say, “Well, it most likely won’t be in my lifetime”? Yeshua tells us, “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” How about you? Are you ready to run the race to the end? If not, this is the time to prepare. Hebrews 12:1-3 tells us, “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Yeshua, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Lord, make us ready so that in all situations we will be overcomers.
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 Laos. Buddhism and ethnic religions exert a great influence on this nation, and the communist government is restrictive of Christianity. Converts face the potential prospect of social alienation from their families and villages. Here are some ways you can pray:
• Pray that Christians in Laos will be encouraged and emboldened despite violence and hardship.
• Pray that religious freedom will prevail.
• Pray that missionaries will be successful in providing Bibles to believers.
• Pray that Christianity will no longer be perceived as a political tool of the West.
• Pray that those who are sharing their faith will be protected and successful, and that many Laotians (including the persecutors) will come to know the truth and receive salvation through Yeshua.
By Sandie Balistreri, Copyright 2010
I saw a light shining in the dark
And I walked towards the light.
I felt a glow of love.
As I got closer to the light, I saw Jesus
Beckoning me to come to Him.
I put my hand in His,
And He took me down a beautiful path.
The springs of water were dancing
As the birds flew gracefully over the water.
The trees swayed as the wind kissed each branch.
The flowers gave out a heavenly fragrance,
And the sun warmed my heart.
My heart jumped with joy,
For I saw the lion playing with the lamb.
We walked on a holy highway
Which seemed to have no end.
On this highway,
My Lord told me I was redeemed.
EXCERPTS ON PERSECUTION
Today we want to take a look into the lives of those who have been persecuted. First, we want to look at Richard Wurmbrand’s book Tortured for Christ: “I worked in both an official and underground manner until February 29, 1948. On that beautiful Sunday, on my way to church, I was kidnapped from the street by secret police. I had often wondered what was meant by ‘man-stealing,’ which is mentioned several times in the Bible. Communism has taught us. Many at that time were kidnapped like this. A van of the secret police stopped in front of me. Two men jumped out and pushed me into the vehicle. . . . I was taken to a prison were I was kept secretly for over eight years. During that time, no one knew whether I was alive or dead. My wife was visited by the secret police who posed as released fellow prisoners. They told her that they had attended my burial. She was brokenhearted. Thousands of believers from churches of all denominations were sent to prison at that time. Not only were clergymen put in jail, but also simple peasants, young boys and girls who witnessed for their faith.” Next we want to look at a book by the Voice of the Martyrs called Hearts of Fire: “A simple bamboo pole formed a gate in the road where police would stop travelers to ask for documentation. If everything wasn’t in order, they arrested the person, or at least put pressure on the individual to pay a bribe before continuing on. With no travel permissions, and carrying illegal bibles, Mai skirted the gates, sneaking off the road and hiking through the thick forest when necessary to avoid the checkpoints. She knew the government was aware of her Christian activities and that her name had been put on a wanted list. The risks were great: those sneaking around the checkpoints could be shot on sight. Sometimes Mai was caught and held overnight. Sometimes they confiscated the Bibles she carried. Other times the Lord miraculously hid the Bibles from their sight. Mai silently rejoiced each time they handed her bag back with the precious cargo intact. The young evangelist saw a rapidly growing church among the tribal peoples, and she was blessed by their courage in the face of intense persecution. The tribes are like scattered sheep, she thought. No one defends them but the Lord Himself.” Last we want to look at the apostle Andrew from the Acts of Andrew. Christian scholars do not know how much of the Acts of Andrew is true, but they know that he traveled the Black Sea into Thrace, Macedonia, and Achaia. One account speaks of Andrew being arrested and put on trial. He was found guilty of blasphemy against the Roman gods, because he taught that there is only one true God and it is Him only that you worship. He was sent to the arena to die. Fierce boars and wild bulls and leopards were sent out to devour him, but they did not, they could not, and Andrew walked away unharmed. The believers in Macedonia thanked God for Andrew’s salvation. When Andrew was released he continued his work and did many miracles. I want to end with this Scripture in Mark 13:11: “Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.”
NO LONGER A LUMP OF CLAY
God wants us to draw close to Him, but what does that actually mean? Does it mean that we must pray more? The Bible does tell us to pray without ceasing, as we see in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Messiah Yeshua for you.” Does it mean worshiping Him more? We are to worship God, for it is the fruit of our lips. Hebrews 13:15 tells us, “Through Him, then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.” Maybe we are to do more good works, as Galatians 6:9 tells us, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Maybe it is all of these and more. Let’s take a closer look at this. Isaiah 64:8 tells us, “But now, O Lord, You are our Father, we are the clay, and You our potter; and all of us are the work of Your hand.” So how does God want to change us? Let’s look closer. We know that God is fire, as Ezekiel 8:2 tells us, “His loins and downward there was the appearance of fire, and from His loins and upward the appearance of brightness, like the appearance of glowing metal.” God is the fire that we must go through to become a vessel in God’s own hand, for it is the fire that makes a lump of clay into pottery. 2 Timothy 2:20-21 tells us, “In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.” But going through the fire can be painful. God wants us to know Him, like a wife knows her husband. It is a covenant relationship. But the closer we get to God, the more pain and suffering we go through because we must die to ourselves by crucifying the flesh, leaving the world behind us. We must put on the yoke of the Kingdom and pick up our cross and follow Him. When we do, we will no longer be a lump of clay, but a vessel that God can use. Philippians 3:7-11 sums it up: “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Messiah. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Messiah Yeshua my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Messiah and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Messiah—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Messiah—yes, to know the power of His resurrection and participation in His sufferings, becoming like Him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” Today, tell God that you want to go through the fire so that you can become His vessel to advance the Kingdom, even if it means that you too may participate in the suffering of Messiah, even to death, so that you may know Him in His glory.
JEWISH RECIPE—SHABBAT SALAD
A salad that can be prepared the day before and served on the Sabbath (or any day) after marinading in the dressing. (Serves 4)
1 red pepper (diced)
1 green pepper (diced)
1 orange pepper (diced)
8 oz. fresh mushrooms (sliced)
1 can artichoke hearts (drained, rinsed, quartered)
3 scallions (chopped)
1/4 cup vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons dill weed
Salt + pepper to taste
Hot pepper sauce to taste
1. Place all chopped vegetables in a medium salad bowl.
2. Mix dressing ingredients together and pour over vegetables. Stir well. Let marinade for 4 hours or overnight before serving.
In Judaism, cooking is forbidden on the Sabbath. There is no direct commandment in the Torah which forbids cooking on the Sabbath. However, it is very heavily implied since, when the Israelites were in the wilderness, God sent a double portion of manna on Friday, and no manna was sent on the Sabbath—thus they were not allowed to procure food for themselves on Shabbat. Additionally, the Torah forbids one from kindling a fire on the Sabbath. The rabbis found further justification for this prohibition by their ruling that the 39 categories of labor involved in the construction of the Tabernacle were prohibited on the Sabbath. Since herbs were cooked to create some of the dyes used, cooking is forbidden on the Sabbath. Specifically relating to our salad, certain kinds of chopping and selecting of foods are prohibited on the Sabbath by the rabbinic rules. These rules say that it is not forbidden to make a salad on the Sabbath, as long as it is eaten immediately after preparation. However, the rules governing how this must be done are tricky, and the time limitation creates a situation where it is simply easier for observant Jews to have the salad prepared ahead of time, before the Sabbath begins.
The ideal prayer is not asking God for this or for that, but the desire that He may, so to speak, concentrate His whole mind upon us.— 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 third letter. The name of this letter is gimel. 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 gimel is 3.
Gimel makes a “g” sound, as in “God.” An example of this letter in a word is below. The first two letters in this word (remember, in Hebrew you read right-to-left) are gimel and aleph, which you know. You will learn about the third letter later, and the symbols beneath the letters are vowels. This word is pronounced “gah-all”, and it is a verb which means “to redeem.” Note that in this word, there is a dot inside gimel. Last month you learned that when this dot is present inside the letter bet, it is pronounced differently. However, when this dot is present inside gimel, it does not change the sound: it is still pronounced “g” as in “God.”