The Clarion, Feb. 2022
We find ourselves in the middle when February arrives. It’s the halfway point of winter. It’s like being in a tunnel, you can no longer see the entrance of the tunnel nor can you see the end of it. It’s like faith. We have the confidence that if we keep going forward we will see the end result, even though we do not see it now, (Hebrews 11:1). We have that hope, for who hopes for what they already have, (Romans 8:24)? This is what our walk is like with the Lord. 1 Corinthians 13:12 tells us, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, and love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” It seems like all roads lead to love, one way or another, love is usually the element that causes one to do good or the lack of it which causes people to do bad. Like February which is in the middle of winter, our love can also be half way. You can’t really see the good of it, nor can you really see the bad. Maybe that is why God tells us in Revelation 3:15-16, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. Oh, that you were either cold or hot! So because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spew you out of My mouth.”
We can not live on the fence. We can not live in the middle. We can not be complacent, or undecided. We must make our decision to follow the Messiah whole heartedly, with commitment, and fervor, walking in His footsteps, or get off the road, and stop pretending that you are on the road that leads to life. People may be watching you, and think that they too can be like you. Love is the greatest, because love never pretends. It is never unresponsive. It is never fake. It does not sit on the fence. Love is complete and there is no halfway about it. It’s all or nothing. It’s what gives us our faith and our hope, and it sees what we may not be able to see with our eyes, because it sees with the heart. Today if you find yourself in the middle, halfway in either direction, choose love, and it will give you all you need to go in the right direction, because God is love, He is true love, and His direction is always right because love never fails.
How Did You Get In?
Matthew 22:1-14 tells us about a parable that Yeshua told about a king. This parable is hard to understand. So let’s take a closer look at it, and unravel the secret of Yeshua’s parable.“And againYeshua spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’ But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests. “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”
At the time of Yeshua, there were many parables that circulated, all having a similar thought. Parables were a way that Rabbis taught the people in the day of Yeshua. We see here a wedding has taken place and the king’s son is the bridegroom. Naturally there has to be a banquet. So it was customary even as late as the 1800’s that servants would be sent out to let those who have been invited know that it was now time for the gathering. Now we must emphasise the fact that these people had already been invited. The “hold the date card” had been sent. But what the servants found was one excuse after another, one to his farm, another to his business, and others even killed the servants. In Luke 14, his version said that one had just bought a field, another had bought five yoke of oxen, another had just gotten married himself. Yeshua continued, so the servants reported all of this to the king, which of course, made the king very angry. Now let’s stop here. Who do these people represent? These are everyday people like you and me who have been invited to come, and partake of the marriage of Yeshua to His Bride. We all got the invitation. We all said, “Yes, let me know when everything is ready.” But like the five virgins when the time came, only five were ready to receive the bridegroom. What were the excuses? “I just bought one thing or another.” Yeshua said that it will be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter into the kingdom, (Matthew 19:24). Rich does not mean being a millionaire, it means anyone who let’s his money, his possessions or anything relating to the world or life, get between you and God. We are supposed to love God more than our family, even our own lives, (Matthew 10:37). Sitting in pews, or reading our Bible, or even praying does not save us, only our relationship with God, doing His will, being obedient and living out the Word of God as Luke 6: 46-49 says, “Now why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when there was a flood, the river burst against that house and yet it could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation; and the river burst against it and it immediately collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great.”
Our foundation will keep us focused on the purpose of life. We see a similar thing with the parable of the sower. Matthew 13:18-23 says “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” This is exactly what happened in our parable of the banquet. Things came along in life that made them forget that they had been invited, so when everything was ready, well, they were preoccupied or simply forgot. So back to the parable, the king sends his servants out once again to bring in the people to celebrate this happy occasion. So as Luke tells us, they went and brought in the poor and crippled ,the blind and the lame, the good and the bad. They went to the highway and byways till there was no room. You say, great this is what he should have done in the beginning. But then Matthew records this twist in the story. “So the wedding hall was filled with guests. “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment? Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”
Now you say, maybe he was poor, or maybe he did not know how one should dress for such an occasion. This part of the parable seems to stand out from the rest.. This is the moral of the story. Today we say, I prayed a little prayer and now I am saved. I did a good deed, so I am a good person worthy of heaven. I belong to this church or that denomination and so I am saved. Revelation 3:4-5, “Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels”. And again Revelation 7:14-15 says, “I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.”
Isaiah 61:1-3, 10 says, “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”
Ephesians 5:26-27 tells us this about our Messiah, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Messiah loved the church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the Word, and to present her to Himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” These are those who are dressed for the wedding. Are you advancing the kingdom? Are you doing the works of the Messiah? Are you living by the Word of God? Matthew 4:4 tells us, “But He answered and said, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes out of the mouth of God.”
Are you making excuses and lying to yourselves that you are godly and holy and righteous before God, when you are actually living like the world and fellowship with it instead of with God? Being invited is one thing, being chosen is another. This is the time to make your garments white before all is ready.
Recipe Corner: Strawberry Cheesecake Chimichangas
4 oz. cream cheese, softened . 1 tsp. lemon zest . 1 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract . 4 flour tortillas . 2 c. chopped strawberries
2 tbsp. butter, divided . 2 c. cinnamon sugar . Melted chocolate, for drizzling
- In a small bowl, combine cream cheese, lemon zest, sugar and vanilla. Mix until smooth.
- Spread the cream cheese mixture on each tortilla then top with strawberries. Roll tortillas up like a burrito.
- In a medium nonstick pan over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter, then add two chimichangas. Cook until golden on both sides, about 4 minutes per side. Immediately toss the cooked chimichangas in cinnamon sugar. Repeat with remaining chimichangas.
- Drizzle with melted chocolate before serving.
Hebrew Corner: Shin ש
Shin is the 21st letter in the Hebrew alphabet. It has a numerical value of 300. Many people may have seen this letter on different Jewish items, like a mezuzah or on a necklace. Shin is the first letter of shalom (peace), it is also the beginning letter of shadai as in El Shadai, which is one of the names for God. The letter looks like a crown. We know that Yeshua will wear the crown as it says in Revelation 14:14, “Then I looked and there was a white cloud, and sitting on the cloud one who looked like a son of man, with a gold crown on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand.” The three pillars of shin also stand for the Torah (God’s Word), prayer, and good deeds. The high priest would lift up his hands and form the letter shin as he spread them out to say the Aaronic blessing, today it would be the Rabbi or anyone else who would recite the blessing. People may remember that Leonard Nimoy would do this in Star Trek. The shin also represents Shuvah, which means to return. When one says teshuvah or repent, he returns to truth and harmony with God. We also see the letter shin in Shannah which means years and it is found in the Feast of Rosh Hashanah, meaning head of the year, which is also a time of shuvah, repentance.
God is All
God is love. He is Yahweh, El Shaddai, and the Great I Am.
His strength is like the mountains. His power is like a powerful waterfall.
His love is like a fragrant flower. His gentleness is like the water of a brook.
He is the Creator, the Potter, the Vine, and the Shepherd.
He is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Jesus is our Savior, our Redeemer, and the Prince of Peace.
He is our peace and joy. His Word is truth and truth lives on forever.
Sandiegram/ Who is God? Copyright 2010