China Update – A Message from the Church in China

Do you notice anything different about the above photo? It was taken earlier this year, and shows a group of Christians from the Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, China. The photo shows faithful believers meeting in a public park after their services were shut down and their leaders taken away. Starting last December, more than 100 members of this fellowship have been arrested, with many being tortured in prison.

If you look closely, you will see that many have packed bags next to them as they worship the Lord. They brought their clothes and personal items to the open-air meeting in case they were arrested and taken to prison. Across China right now thousands of churches are going through similar intense hardship.

In this newsletter we would like to give a brief summary of what is presently happening in the Chinese Church. The situation is fluid and changing daily, but our contacts in China have shared the following update, followed by a special message from 2 Corinthians chapter 4, which seems particularly relevant and will hopefully greatly encourage you in your own walk with God.

First, an update on some of the recent developments in China:

* Thousands of churches continue to be closed down, and many pastors and evangelists have been arrested. This is true both of city churches and rural fellowships. The persecution is nationwide, and is the result of the implementation of new anti-religion laws introduced in 2017 and 2018.

* Many large city churches have tried to protect their brothers and sisters in the countryside by providing resources, finances and teaching so their faith will be strengthened and better able to withstand the storm. Although the most severe persecution first affected the cities, it has now spread even to small towns and villages. The majority of Chinese Christians remain poor farmers and factory workers.

* Many house church leaders have gone missing. Large numbers have been arrested, while others have gone into hiding. Invasive technology, however, means it is now very difficult to remain anonymous in China. Some leaders have decided they should simply continue to serve God openly, and they are ready to face whatever consequences their actions may bring.

* Even many government-registered Three-Self churches are undergoing a fiery trial. Video cameras with facial-recognition technology have been placed behind pulpits, facing the congregation, and on the walls above church entrances. Scripture posters have been forcibly removed from the walls of many churches and replaced with portraits of President Xi or the national flag.

* All children’s ministry has been banned. This has always been a particularly sensitive topic for the Communist authorities in China. Children are being encouraged to tell on their classmates if they are involved in any religious activity.

* All over the country various local initiatives have been launched in an attempt to stop the growth of Christianity. For example, in the city of Guangzhou the authorities announced they will pay 10,000 Yuan (about US$1,500) to citizens who disclose the names of any missionaries (foreign or Chinese) who work in their city.

* In Henan, which is the province with the largest number of Christians in China, the authorities have issued a paper entitled, “Christianity’s Enormous Harm on China’s Security.” Such reports show how insecure the government is as they seek to consolidate their hold on power. In reality, Christians in China are the most peaceable, hard-working and obedient members of society.

* There is a massive shortage of Bibles right now. The churches are facing a famine of God’s Word as printing slows down, and in many places appears to have come to a halt. Bibles are becoming increasingly rare, and many websites and apps that enabled believers to access the Scriptures have been blocked by the government. Asia Harvest is one of a few organizations still able to provide Bibles to China’s house church Christians.

Please pray for this urgent need. Without the nourishment of God’s Word, the Body of Christ in China will wither.

A Message from the Church in China (from 2 Corinthians 4)

“Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the Word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.” (2 Cor. 4:1-2).

The first thing that we Christians in China would like the global Body of Christ to know is that we have not lost heart. Although we are experiencing a severe trial and some people have given up the faith, we are thankful for the hardship, because God is pruning His Church. It is vital that all believers know that it’s not Satan or any government that prunes God’s Church. The Master Gardener is our loving and wise Heavenly Father!

The reason the Lord prunes is to make the vine even more fruitful, for He said: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful” (John 15:1-2). Therefore we do not lose heart, for we know our lives are completely in the hands of our all-powerful Lord and Savior. At the moment, He is getting rid of some unfruitful branches among His people in China, so that His Church will be refined and more holy as we march forward in spiritual warfare.

We look forward to the time when we will be more fruitful for the kingdom of God. In the meantime, we will not stop proclaiming the Gospel, and we are willing to lay down our lives if necessary so that all of China will hear about Jesus Christ.

“And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Cor. 4:3-5).

While our lives are firmly in God’s hands, we also recognize that the source of attacks on the Church is the devil. Mankind has been locked in a fierce battle with Satan ever since God declared: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (Genesis 3:15). The word “enmity” means much more than a separation. This was the commencement of a full-on war to death, as the devil seeks to destroy mankind, especially those people who reflect the character and goodness of God.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Cor. 4:7-9).

We praise the Lord that He sets limits on what man can do to us. Although millions of believers throughout China are now without a church building to go to and countless home meetings have also been closed down, our faith is strong. The truth of God’s Word and the indwelling sweet presence of the Holy Spirit can never be taken from us. We are not afraid, for the Lord Jesus told us, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).

“We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body” (2 Cor. 4:10).

Hallelujah! Already we are seeing the benefits of this time of purging in China. In many places, instead of being decimated, churches are experiencing growth! The hardship has caused Christians to become more serious about our faith, and the gospel ie being boldly proclaimed, resulting in even more people pressing into the kingdom of God.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor. 4:16-18).

Finally, brothers and sisters around the world, we want to thank God for you, for we are all members of the same family. Thank you for praying for the Church in China! Although your struggles may be different from ours right now, we know that the Lord is passionate for His people, and He will never abandon us. God’s purpose in suffering is always to humble us, so that we will rely not on our own futile strength, but on the power of His might. We want to conclude by reminding all Christians of this exhortation:

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings” (1 Peter 5:6-9). (Click to Source)

 

 

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Addiction Ends at the Foot of the Cross by True Salvation thru Yeshua the Messiah – Jesus Christ

UN poised to launch global ban on speech that insults Muslims

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Sharia-adherent nations have long “sought a determination from the United Nations that any criticism of Islam or Muslims is ‘Islamophobia’ and banned globally.’”

But somehow Westerners still generally refuse to acknowledge the real meaning and intent of the concept of “Islamophobia.” In short, it’s intended to promote the supremacy of the Sharia by discrediting and silencing critics of Islam. The UN declared its intention to become closer with the OIC years ago, and it has happened. Now:

Nations belonging to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and other governments adhering to Shariah law across the world are ramping up their new campaign with the United Nations to prohibit all speech that Muslims consider offensive.

This aggressive campaign is the logical next step following years of appeasement, thanks to politically correct Western leaders. There have been enough warnings. Now, the final stage for Western subjugation has arrived, and the more Westerners fight for their own right to the freedom of speech, the more aggressive the “Islamophobia” brigade will become, particularly in light of the fact that they have come this far through bullying, intimidation, deceit and manipulation. They’re not about to surrender now, as they have been encouraged by too many Western dhimmis surrendering to them.

Pakistan Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi incited more support to silence any opposition to Islam and its adherents – including speech condemning Islam for its scriptural inciting of terrorists to conduct jihad (holy war) on “infidels.”

Mainstream Muslim groups in the West share the message of Lodhi and routinely persecute those who call out the truth about Islam. Lodhi stated a common message which is now embraced across the West in describing the so-called consequences of those who offend Islam:

“An inevitable consequence is to fan the flames of bigotry, intolerance, anti-Muslim hatred and xenophobia”

An “inclusive political process for durable peace”  by rejecting “Islamophobia” is what Lodhi — and other stealth jihadists who are promoting the Sharia — have duped Westerners into believing as they promote Islamic anti-blasphemy laws.

“UN poised to launch global ban on all criticism of Islam,” by Michael F. Haverluck, One News Now, June 23, 2019:

Nations belonging to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and other governments adhering to Shariah law across the world are ramping up their new campaign with the United Nations to prohibit all speech that Muslims consider offensive.

“Islamist nations … long have sought a determination from the United Nations that any criticism of Islam or Muslims is ‘Islamophobia’ and banned globally,’” WND reported, noting that with 57 members, the OIC represents the largest voting bloc in the U.N. “But each time it has come up for a vote, more realistic arguments prevailed and the campaign never was legitimized.”

Pakistan putting on the pressure
After U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres unveiled the new “U.N. Strategy and Plan of Action” to fight so-called “hate speech” at a special meeting in the packed Economic and Social (ECOSOC) chamber, Pakistan Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi incited more support to silence any opposition to Islam and its adherents – including speech condemning Islam for its scriptural inciting of terrorists to conduct jihad (holy war) on “infidels.”

An inevitable consequence is to fan the flames of bigotry, intolerance, anti-Muslim hatred and xenophobia,” Lodhi proclaimed before ambassadors, senior diplomats and high-ranking U.N. officials, as quoted in a press release, according to MSN. “My Prime Minister Imran Khan has recently again called for urgent action to counter Islamophobia, which is today the most prevalent expression of racism and hatred against ‘the other.’” (Click to Source)

The Complainer and the Atheist

SHELACH

Portion Summary

The thirty-seventh reading from the Torah is called Shelach(שלח), an imperative verb that means “send out.” The portion is so named from the first few words of the second verse: “Send out for yourself men so that they may spy out the land of Canaan” (Numbers 13:2). The Torah reading tells the tragic story of how the spies returned with a bad report about the Land of Promise and influenced the congregation of Israel to rebel against the LORD. Thus God consigned the generation of Moses to wander in the wilderness for forty years.

Regular Shabbat Readings

  • Shelach (שלח | Send)
  • Torah: Numbers 13:1-15:41
  • Haftarah: Joshua 2:1-24
  • Gospel: Matthew 10:1-14

Note: The regular readings are often interrupted with special readings on Jewish holidays, special Sabbaths, and Rosh Chodesh. Refer to the annual Torah Portion schedule for these special portions.

Portion Outline

  • TORAH
    • Numbers 13:1 | Spies Sent into Canaan
    • Numbers 13:25 | The Report of the Spies
    • Numbers 14:1 | The People Rebel
    • Numbers 14:13 | Moses Intercedes for the People
    • Numbers 14:26 | An Attempted Invasion is Repulsed
    • Numbers 15:1 | Various Offerings
    • Numbers 15:32 | Penalty for Violating the Sabbath
    • Numbers 15:37 | Fringes on Garments
  • PROPHETS
    • Joshua 2:1 | Spies Sent to Jericho

Portion Summary

The thirty-seventh reading from the Torah is called Shelach(שלח), an imperative verb that means “send out.” The portion is so named from the first few words of the second verse: “Send out for yourself men so that they may spy out the land of Canaan” (Numbers 13:2). The Torah reading tells the tragic story of how the spies returned with a bad report about the Land of Promise and influenced the congregation of Israel to rebel against the LORD. Thus God consigned the generation of Moses to wander in the wilderness for forty years.


The spies returned from Canaan with a giant cluster of grapes. The grapes should have encouraged the Israelites. The land was indeed a good land full of bounty, just as God had promised. The ten spies, however, interpreted the giant grapes differently. They used them as evidence that the land was inhabited by unconquerable giants. “What would you expect from the vineyards of giants?” Isn’t it strange how two people can look at the same thing—such as a cluster of grapes—and come to opposite conclusions? To Joshua and Caleb, giant grapes were a good thing. To the other spies, the giant grapes were a sign of despair.

God said He heard the grumbling and the complaints of the children of Israel. He hears our complaints too. The sin of grumbling is related to the sin of gossip. Both are forms of evil speech; both result from a critical spirit.

Gossip destroys others, breaks up friendships and severs relationships. Grumbling destroys your quality of life and that of those around you.

Imagine going to the zoo with a cranky and undisciplined five-year-old. You take the child to see the lions, but he is sulking because you did not buy him candy. You take him to see the zebras, but he is angry because he does not want to hold your hand in the crowd. You take him to see the monkeys, but he is having a fit because he wanted French fries. You buy him French fries, but he leaves them uneaten because he complains that they are soggy. At the end of the day, he did not see lions, zebras, and monkeys, nor did he eat French fries. He has had a miserable day, and so have you. The child transformed what could have been a wonderful experience into a horrible one for no good reason.

As an adult, it is easy to look at a situation like that and realize how foolish the unruly child is being. It’s harder to realize that our own complaints, grumbling and murmuring is just as petty. Adults are usually sophisticated enough to disguise their childish tantrums and inner discontentment. We disguise them as serious adult issues, concerns and complaints. On closer investigation, many of those issues tend to be no more than sulking over soggy French fries. The worst part is that this is not a trip to the zoo. This is your life. If you spend it fussing and sulking, you will never enjoy the good things God is continually doing for you. You will never even notice them.

The Torah teaches that God hears all of our complaints and negativity. That’s why the sages teach that the complainer is tantamount to an atheist. His complaints deny the existence of God as if there is no God to hear his bitter words. (Click to Source)

Weekly Torah Readings: Sh’lah L’kha – from One New Man Bible – Jun 29, 2019

Sh’lah L’kha

Spies Named

13.1. And the LORD* spoke to Moses saying, 2.Send men for yourself, so they can spy out the land of Canaan, which I AM giving to the children of Israel. You will send a man from each tribe of their fathers, each one a leader among them.” 3.And Moses by the commandment of the LORD* sent them from the wilderness of Paran, all those men were heads of the children of Israel. 4. And these were their names: of the tribe of Reuben, Shammua the son of Zaccur;  5. of the tribe of Simeon, Shafat the son of Hori; 6. of the tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Jephunneh; 7. of the tribe of Issachar, Igal the son of Joseph; 8. of the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea the son of Nun; 9. of the tribe of Benjamin, Palti the son of Rafu; 10. of the tribe of Zebulun, Gaddiel the son of Sodi; 11. from the tribe of Joseph, of the tribe of Manasseh, Gaddi the son of Susi; 12. of the tribe of Dan, Ammiel the son of Gemalli; 13. of the tribe of Asher, Setur the son of Michael; 14. of the tribe of Naphtali, Nabbi the son of Vofsi;15. of the tribe of Gad, Geuel the son of Machi.

Hoshea Renamed Joshua

13:16. These are the names of the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land. And Moses called Hoshea the son of Nun Joshua. 17. And Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan and said to them, “Go up here in the south, and go up on the mountain 18. and see the land, what it is and the people who live there, whether they are strong or weak, few or many. 19. And what the land is that they dwell in, whether it is good or bad and what cities there are that they live in, whether in tents or in strongholds. 20. And what the land is, whether it is fat or lean, whether or not there is wood in it. And be of good courage and bring of the fruit of the land.” Now the time was the time of the first ripe grapes.

Spies Go Out

13:21. So they went up and spied out the land from the wilderness of Zin to Rehob, as men come to Hamat. 22. And they ascended by the south and came to Hebron, where Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the children of the giants were. (Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.) 23. And they came to the brook of Eshkol and cut down from there a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they carried it on a staff between two men; and they brought of the pomegranates and of the figs. 24. The place was called the brook Eshkol, because of the cluster of grapes which the children of Israel cut down from there. 25. And after forty days they returned from spying out the land.

Spies Report

13:26. And they went and came to Moses and to Aaron and to the whole congregation of the children of Israel, to the wilderness of Paran, to Kadesh, and brought back word to them and to the whole congregation and showed them the fruit of the land. 27. And they told him and said, “We came to the land where you sent us and surely it flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. 28. But the people that live in the land are strong and the cities are walled, very great! And moreover we saw the children of the giant there. 29. Amalek lives in the land of the south and the Hittite, the Jebusite, and the Amorite live in the mountains, and the Canaanites live by the sea and by the Jordan.”

13:30. And Caleb calmed the people before Moses and said, “Let us go up at once and possess it, for we are well able to overcome it.”

13:31. But the men who went up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.” 32. And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had spied out for the children of Israel saying, “The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that eats up its inhabitants. And all the people that we saw in it were men of great stature. 33. And there we saw the Nefilim, the sons of Anak (Giant), who come of the Nefilim, and we were in our own sight like grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.”

Evil Report Wins

14.1. And the whole congregation lifted up their voice and cried, and the people wept that night. 2. And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron and the whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or we had died in this wilderness! (1 Cor. 10:10) 3. And why has the LORD* brought us to this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? Was it not better for us to return to Egypt?” 4. And they said to one another, “Let us make a captain and let us return to Egypt.”

14:5. Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before the entire assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel. 6.And Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were of those who spied out the land, tore their clothes,7. and they spoke to the entire company of the children of Israel saying, “The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land. 8. If the LORD* delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. 9. Only do not rebel against the LORD*, neither fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us: their defense has departed from them and the LORD* is with us. Do not be in awe them!” 10. But the whole congregation ordered to stone them with stones. Then the glory of the LORD* appeared in the Tent of Meeting before all the children of Israel.

14:11. And the LORD* said to Moses, “How long will this people provoke Me? And how long will it be before they believe Me, for all the signs that I have shown among them? 12. I shall strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and will make of you a greater nation even mightier than they.”

Moses Pleads with the LORD*

14:13. And Moses said to the LORD*, “Then the Egyptians will hear it (for You brought up this people in Your might from among them) 14. and they will tell the inhabitants of this land, for they have heard that You, LORD*, are among this people, that You, LORD*, are seen face to face and Your cloud stands over them, and You go before them, by daytime in a pillar of cloud, and in a pillar of fire by night. 15. Now if You will kill all this people as one man, then the nations which have heard Your fame will speak saying, 16. ‘Because the LORD* was not able to bring this people into the land which He swore to them, therefore He has slain them in the wilderness.’ 17. And now, I beseech you, let the power of my Lord be great, according as You have spoken saying, 18. ‘The LORD* is patient and of great loving kindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation.’ (Exod. 34:6,7) 19. Pardon, I beseech you, the iniquity of this people according to the greatness of Your loving kindness, and as You have forgiven this people from Egypt even until now.”

The LORD* Pardons

14:20. And the LORD* said, “I have pardoned according to your word. 21. But as truly as I live, all the earth will be filled with the glory of the LORD*. 22. Because all those men who have seen My glory and My miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness and have tested Me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to My voice. (Heb. 3:8) 23. Surely they will not see the land which I swore to their fathers, neither will any of them who provoked Me see it, 24. except My servant Caleb because he had another spirit with him and has followed Me fully, I shall bring him into the land where he went and his seed will possess it. 25. (Now the Amalekite and the Canaanite dwelled in the valley.) Tomorrow turn and go into the wilderness by the way of the Reed Sea.”

Israel Sentenced to Forty Years in the Wilderness

14:26. And the LORD* spoke to Moses and to Aaron saying, 27. “How long will I bear with this evil congregation that murmurs against Me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against Me. 28. Say to them, ‘As truly as I live, says the LORD*, as you have spoken in My ears, so will I do for you: 29. your carcasses will fall in this wilderness and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, that have murmured against Me. (Jude 5) 30. Doubtless you will not come into the land, which I swore to make you dwell in, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun. 31. But your little ones that you said should be a prey, those I shall bring in and they will know the land which you have despised. 32. But as for you, your carcasses will fall in this wilderness. 33. And your children will wander in the wilderness forty years and bear your backslidings, until your carcasses are wasted in the wilderness. 34. After the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, each day for a year, you will bear your iniquities, forty years, and you will know My enmity.’ 35. I AM,the LORD*, I have said, ‘I shall surely do it to all this evil congregation that are gathered together against Me, they will be consumed in this wilderness and there they will die.’”

14:36. And the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land, who returned and made the whole congregation to murmur against him by bringing up a slander upon the land, 37. even those men who brought the evil report on the land, died by the plague before the LORD*. 38. Except Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh still lived, who were of the men that went to spy out the land.

14:39. And Moses told these sayings to all the children of Israel and the people mourned greatly. 40. And they rose up early in the morning and went up to the top of the mountain saying, “Here we are and we will go up to the place which the LORD* has promised, for we have sinned.”

14:41. And Moses said, “Why do you now trespass the commandment of the LORD*? But it will not succeed. 42. Do not go up so you are not smitten before your enemies, for the LORD* is not among you. 43. For the Amalekite and the Canaanite are there before you, and you will fall by the sword because you turned away from the LORD*, therefore the LORD* will not be with you.” 44. But they presumed to go up to the hilltop, nevertheless the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD* and Moses did not leave the camp. 45. Then the Amalekite and the Canaanite who lived on that hill came down and struck them, and crushed them to Harmah.

Offerings in the Land

15.1. And the LORD* spoke to Moses saying, 2. “Speak to the children of Israel and say to them,

“When you come into the land of your homes, which I AM giving to you,

3. and will make an offering by fire to the LORD*, a burnt offering or a sacrifice in performing a vow or in a freewill offering or in your solemn feasts, to make a sweet savor to the LORD* of the herd or of the flock, 4. then he that brings his offering to the LORD* will bring a grain offering of two tenths of an ephah of flour mixed with the fourth of a hin of oil. 5.And you will prepare the fourth of a hin of wine for a drink offering with the burnt offering or sacrifice, for one lamb. 6. Or for a ram, you will prepare a grain offering two tenth parts of flour mixed with the third of a hin of oil. 7. And for a drink offering you will offer the third of a hin of wine, a sweet savor to the LORD*. 8. And when you prepare a bull, a burnt offering or a sacrifice in performing a vow or peace offerings to the LORD*, 9. then he will bring with a bull a grain offering of three tenths of an Ephah of flour mixed with half a hin of oil.

10. And you will bring for a drink offering half a hin of wine, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savor to the LORD*. 11.Thus it will be done for one bull or for one ram or for a lamb or a kid. 12. According to the number that you will prepare, so will you do for everyone according to their number. 13. All that are born of the country will do these things after this manner, in drawing near with an offering made by fire, a sweet savor to the LORD*. 14. And if a stranger lives with you or whoever is among you in your generations, and will make a fire offering of a sweet savor to the LORD*, as you do, so will he do. 15. One ordinance will be both for you of the congregation and also for the stranger that lives among you, an ordinance forever in your generations: as you are, so will the stranger be before the LORD*. 16. One Torah and one manner will be for you and for the stranger who lives with you.”

15:17. And the LORD* spoke to Moses saying, 18. “Speak to the children of Israel and say to them,

“When you come into the land where I bring you, 19. then it will be, that when you eat of the bread of the land you will offer up a heave offering to the LORD*.

20. You will offer up a cake of the first of your dough for a heave offering. As you do the heave offering of the threshing floor, so will you heave it. 21. Of the first of your dough you will give a heave offering to the LORD* in your generations.

15:22. “And if you have erred and not observed all these commandments, which the LORD* has spoken to Moses, 23. all that the LORD* has commanded you by the hand of Moses, from the day forward that the LORD* commanded him among your generations, 24. then it will be, if anything has been committed by ignorance without the knowledge of the congregation, that the entire congregation will offer one young bull for a burnt offering for a sweet savor to the LORD*, with his grain offering and his drink offering, according to the manner and one he goat for a sin offering. 25. And the priest will make atonement for the entire congregation of the children of Israel, and it will be forgiven them, for it is ignorance and they will bring their offering,  a fire offering to the LORD* and their sin offering before the LORD*, for their ignorance, 26. and it will be forgiven the whole congregation of the children of Israel and the stranger who lives among them, seeing all the people were in ignorance.

15:27. “And if any person sins by mistake then he will bring a she goat of the first year for a sin offering. 28. And the priest will make atonement for the one who sins ignorantly when he sins by mistake before the LORD*, to make atonement for him, and it will be forgiven him. 29. You will have one Torah for him who sins through ignorance, both him who is born among the children of Israel and the stranger who lives among them. 30. But the person that does anything with a high hand, whether he is born in the land or a stranger, he blasphemes the LORD*, and that one will be cut off from among his people. 31. Because he has despised the Word of the LORD* and has broken His commandment, that person will be utterly cut off: his iniquity will be upon him.”

Working on the Sabbath

15:32. And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man who gathered sticks on the Sabbath. 33.And those who found him gathering sticks brought him to Moses and Aaron and to the whole congregation. 34. And they put him in custody because it was not declared what should be done to him. 35. And the LORD* said to Moses, “The man will surely be put to death. The whole congregation will stone him with stones outside the camp.” 36. And the whole congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him with stones and he died, as the LORD* commanded Moses.

Prayer Shawl (Sh’ma, Part 3)

15:37. And the LORD* spoke to Moses saying, 38. “Speak to the children of Israel and bid them to make fringes for themselves in the wings of their garments throughout their generations and that they put upon the fringe of the border a thread of blue, 39. and it will be to you for a fringe, that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the LORD* and do them, and that you do not seek after your own heart and your own eyes, after which you used to go astray, 40. so you will remember and do all My commandments and be holy to your God. 41. IAM the LORD* your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I AM the LORD* your God.” (Click to Source)

‘The Church Is Under Attack’: CA Lawmakers Pass Measure Forcing Pastors to Embrace LGBT Ideology

06-27-2019
Charlene Aaron

Africa: Alarming Rise of Christian Persecution

by Uzay Bulut

  • “In some regions, the level and nature of persecution is arguably coming close to meeting the international definition of genocide, according to that adopted by the UN.” — The Independent Review of FCO support for Persecuted Christians.
  • “The assailants asked the Christians to convert to Islam, but the pastor and the others refused. They ordered them to gather under a tree and took their Bibles and mobile phones. Then they called them, one after the other, behind the church building where they shot them dead.” — World Watch Monitor, May 2, 2019.
  • As the British report demonstrates, persecution against Christians and other non-Muslims is not about the ethnicity, race or skin color of either the perpetrators or the victims; it is about their religion.
  • If these crimes are not stopped, it is highly likely that the fate of the African Continent will be like that of the Middle East: Once it was a majority-Christian region; now, Christians are a tiny, dying, defenseless minority.

According to a recent interim report published in the U.K., “it is estimated that one third of the world’s population suffers from religious persecution in some form, with Christians being the most persecuted group.”

Although the full report — commissioned by British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and conducted by the Bishop of Truro, the Right Reverend Philip Mounstephen — was due to be released by Easter this year, “the scale and nature of the phenomenon [of Christian persecution] simply required more time,” accordingto the report. As a result, Mounstephen explained, the “interim” findings released in April are incomplete, and the final report will be published at the end of June.

According to the “overview” section of the interim “Independent Review of FCO support for Persecuted Christians”:

“In some regions, the level and nature of persecution is arguably coming close to meeting the international definition of genocide, according to that adopted by the UN.”

Africa — now home to the greatest number of Christians in the world — is one such region.

On June 16, for instance, a Christian elementary school in a Muslim village in Uganda was destroyed, International Christian Concern (ICC) reported.

On June 15, “a mob of Muslim protestors set a church ablaze in Maradi, the third largest city in Niger. The incident was a response to the arrest of a very prominent Imam who was arrested after he claimed the country’s proposed legislation on worship was ‘anti-Islamic.'”

On June 9 and 10, two terrorist attacks in Burkina Faso left 29 Christians dead. This purposeful slaughter of Christians came less than two months after the April 28 massacre of 80-year-old pastor, Pierre Ouédraogo, and other members of his congregation in Burkina Faso, by armed Islamists. A local leader, who requested anonymity, told World Watch Monitor:

“The assailants asked the Christians to convert to Islam, but the pastor and the others refused. They ordered them to gather under a tree and took their Bibles and mobile phones. Then they called them, one after the other, behind the church building where they shot them dead.”

On June 7, a Christian woman in Niger was kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorists and released three days later with a letter calling on all Christians to “leave the town within three days or be killed.”

The above incidents are not isolated. According to the 2019 World Watch Listcompiled by Open Doors, a persecution watchdog group:

“While the violent excesses of ISIS and other Islamic militants have mostly disappeared from headlines from the Middle East, their loss of territory there means that fighters have dispersed to a larger number of countries not only in the region but, increasingly, into sub-Saharan Africa. Their radical ideology has inspired, or infiltrated, numerous splinter groups such as Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), a deadly group that broke away from Nigeria’s Boko Haram that also enslaves Christian women and girls as an integral part of their strategy.”

Terrorist groups are not the only sources of persecution in Africa. Many Muslim governments and individuals also target Christians.

According to the Open Doors 2019 report, the situation in many African nations is as follows:

In Somalia, there is a “life of violence and isolation” for the Christian community that numbers only a few hundred.

“Estimates suggest that 99 percent of Somalis are Muslims, and any minority religions are heavily persecuted. The Christian community is small and under constant threat of attack. Sharia law and Islam are enshrined in the country’s constitution, and the persecution of Christians almost always involves violence. Additionally, in many rural areas, Islamic militant groups like al-Shabab are de facto rulers. Somali Christians often must hide their faith to stay safe.”

Libya is home to a Christian population of only around 38,000.

“Converts to Christianity face abuse and violence for their decision to follow Christ. Libya is also home to many migrant workers who have been attacked, sexually assaulted and detained, which can be even worse if it is discovered they are Christians.”

Sudan is home to 1.9 million Christians.

“The country has been ruled as an Islamic state with limited rights for religious minorities and heavy restrictions on freedom of speech and press. Christians, whose population is over 1,900,000, face discrimination and pressure— multiple church buildings were demolished in 2017 and 2018, leaving some Christians without a place to worship. Christian converts from Islam are especially targeted for persecution.”

In Eritrea, sometimes called “Africa’s North Korea”, there are around 2.5 million Christians, and many suffer in prisons.

“Since 1993, President Isaias Afwerki has overseen a brutal authoritarian regime that rests on massive human rights violations. In 2018, there were raids on churches, and hundreds of Christians were imprisoned in inhumane conditions. Additionally, there are estimates that other Christians are currently in Eritrea’s vast prison network, but no one knows how many there are or if they are still alive.”

Nigeria, where over 90 million Christians live, is one of the worst places in Africa for Christians.

“Nigeria’s score for violence has stayed as high as possible, primarily due to the increased attacks on Christian communities by militant Fulani herdsmen. These attacks claimed the lives of hundreds of believers during the reporting period, and villages and churches burned to the ground. Additionally, in parts of northern Nigeria, Christians are treated as second-class citizens. Christians from Muslim backgrounds face persecution from their own families”.

Christians in Egypt, whose Christian population is 9,937,600, suffer from persecution in various ways.

“Those with Muslim backgrounds face enormous pressure from immediate and extended families to return to Islam. Severe restrictions on building or securing places for worship prevent Christians from congregating, in addition to hostility and violence toward believers who do gather. In recent years, Islamic extremist groups have targeted Christians and churches in numerous violent and deadly acts of persecution.”

In the Central African Republic (CAR), the main religion is Christianity, and the Christian population numbers more than 3,450,000.

“Over the last year, the situation has worsened for CAR Christians who face intensifying pressure from Muslims. Christians are also threatened by jihadists and criminal groups in the country whose actions often overlap. And Christian civilians are still caught in the violent conflict between the mainly Muslim Seleka and self-defense militant groups called anti-Balaka.”

Algeria, where around 125,000 Christians live, “has seen an increasing number of churches closed” over the last year.

“At the same time, Christian converts have become more open about their faith, leading to a backlash by Muslim families and the intolerant society. Laws regulating non-Muslim worship, banning conversion and prohibiting blasphemy make proselytizing and public expression of the Christian faith dangerous as well.”

In Mali, the Christian population is 425,000.

“The West African country has become increasingly militant. In the northern part of the country especially, this intolerance has resulted in increasing violence against Christians from jihadist and criminal groups that have a vested interest in keeping the country mired in chaos and instability.”

In Mauritania, there are only around 10,000 Christians from population of 4.5 million people.

“The ‘Islamic Republic of Mauritania’ — the autocratic government of Africa’s 11th largest country — often acts as protector of the Islamic religion. As a result, the state is a major source of persecution. Radical Islamic preachers and militants contribute to the radicalization of society, fueling antagonism and hatred toward non-Muslims. Additionally, a caste system marginalizes darker-skinned Mauritanians and those who do not adhere to Islam.”

In Ethiopia, where the main religion is Christianity and the Christian population numbers more than 64 million, “radical Islam is growing at the local, regional and national levels. Particularly in the rural areas, where Muslims are the majority, Christians are harassed and often denied access to communal resources.”

Morocco has a Christian population of around 31,500.

“Christians suffer persecution from both the state and society. There are restrictions imposed by the state on Christians, such as confiscation of Christian materials written in Arabic, restrictions on evangelization and difficulty getting places of worship for believers from a Muslim background. Radical Muslims within the general populace also put pressure on Christians. In rural areas, pressure from family and community can also be considerable.”

In Tunisia, for the small community of Christians numbering around 24,000, “life within Islamic society comes with hostility and daily pressure.”

“And the threat of Islamic militant activity—especially by those returning from fighting with ISIS—is still worrying, with one suicide-attack on a police station in Tunis in September and a major attack in the border region with Algeria in July 2018.”

In Kenya, another African nation where the main religion is Christianity, Christians are targeted both by Muslim officials and terror groups.

“Inspired by Islamic radicals in Somalia, Muslim politicians have made it their agenda to eliminate Christianity. Officials often demand churches do things that are not in line with their faith, while militants viciously carry out suicide bomb attacks and other brutal acts against those considered to be the enemies of Islam. Due to corruption inside the government agencies, those operating against Christians tragically often enjoy impunity.”

In a May 21 article for Open Doors, Lindy Lowry says that Boko Haram, founded in 2002 in Nigeria, has expanded into neighboring countries:

“They have conducted terrorist attacks in Niger, Chad and Cameroon, which have resulted in dramatic refugee and humanitarian crises. They are even regarded as ‘slave raiders’ who target women in raids for ‘wives’ in the areas around Lake Chad, which borders Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Nigeria…

“In Rwanda, the country has closed thousands of churches and has arrested at least six pastors since February 2018 for ‘noise pollution’ and failing to comply with building regulations. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s eastern province of North Kivu, leaders of the church have been targeted and killed. Reportedly, at least 15 armed extremist groups were known to be operating in the area.”

As the British report demonstrates, persecution against Christians and other non-Muslims is not about the ethnicity, race or skin color of either the perpetrators or the victims; it is about their religion. In Africa, various Islamist groups and individuals are attacking and attempting to annihilate Christians for being Christian. If these crimes are not stopped, it is highly likely that the fate of the African Continent will be like that of the Middle East: Once it was a majority-Christian region; now, Christians are a tiny, dying, defenseless minority. (Click to Source)

Uzay Bulut, a Turkish journalist, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Gatestone Institute.

Torah Commentary – Sh’lach L’cha (Send on your behalf) – The Tourists Connection – SCRIPTURES FOR June 29, 2019

Sh’lach L’cha (Send on your behalf)
Numbers 13:1-15:41
Joshua 2:1-24
Hebrews 3:7-19
The Tourists Connection
If a list were made of the top ten stories the Hebrews are known for during their sojourn in the wilderness, the account of the twelve spies would certainly be found. Many fingers have been pointed at the faithless reports given by the ten spies. Is there a deeper level of understanding regarding the reason behind the difference in the statements shared by the ten versus the two? Could we find another lesson from their experience that can give instruction to us today? Let’s see.
The Hebrew word translated as spies is “tuwr.” It is interesting that the word sounds like our English word “tour”, though it is not the actual root of the word. We can use the comparison to draw a lesson. We can look at these men, not as it describes as “in the Land”, but rather as tourists? At the time, they were travelers, not dwellers. Consider, after all, when they returned to camp they brought back souvenirs of fruit of the land to show off. The fruitful bounty could have been inspiration to take the Land as Yah directed. Yet, it is not what they brought back on their shoulders which truly mattered, instead, it was what was in their hearts.
It is hard to envision the immense feast of produce these men saw or the terror of the massive size of its inhabitants during their “tour.” A few years back a section of the wall of Hevron was found that dates back to the time of Scripture. On one of my trips in Israel I was able to visit that section of unearthed wall. I remember just staring at it. I have always had a connection to Joshua. The haftorah readings for the Torah portion related to my birthday are verses in the first section of Joshua. That day at the wall I just stood and stared as I considered that ancient stone and pondered whether it may have been a spot Joshua had fixed his own eyes upon.
All twelve of the men saw the same sites, ate the same food and walked the same soil, so why the different accounts given upon their return? Most would say it was based on their level of faith which to some measure, I agree with. Going back to our original question whether we have another lesson from the spies experience, let us consider this point of view. I believe we can also reflect on the word “connect”. Joshua and Caleb connected with the Land. They were able to see past the giants inhabiting the area, even the bountiful harvest. It was their King’s Land. He was calling them to possess His promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob! Their heart connection to Yah instilled a deep passionate connection for His Land, their inheritance. It appears the other ten did not make this connection.
My friend and brother Hanoch Young says it best, if you connect with the Land, the Land will connect with you. For Joshua and Caleb, the Land became a part of their very hearts. Sadly it seems for the others it was just another random handful of dirt.
As with Joshua and Caleb, you and I will fight for our heart’s desires and what and who we are connected to. That connection will manifest itself in actions which may in the end be termed faith, but faith begins with the relationship established in our heart.
What did Joshua and Caleb connect to? The answer is found in Deuteronomy 11:12 which reveals to us that the eyes of Yah are continually on that Land. Eyes do not lead your heart, they follow your heart. What your eyes gaze upon is an outward manifestation of where your heart is.
The eyes and hearts of Joshua and Caleb connected with the eyes and heart of the Father Himself. This is why they were allowed to enter the Land and would later give their very lives to possess it.
What caused Joshua and Caleb to connect with the Land and the others did not? I wish I could give you a complete answer. What makes one person go to Israel and weep while another is engrossed in taking pictures and playing on their cell phone? That is a question I cannot answer, but I am certain it involves the heart.
I have taken hundreds of people to Israel through the years. Most everyone will take pictures, bring home souvenirs and have stories to tell friends and family when they return. For the majority the memories will fade and become like the memories of taking the children to an amusement park. For others, life will never be the same. What is the difference? I do not know. What about the person who has never stepped foot in Israel, but yet the mention of the word brings tears to their eyes? I don’t know.
Joshua and Caleb connected to Israel on that day. They joined to the heart of their Father. This connection gave them the faith to see past giants and other obstacles. Their relationship gave them the blessing to cross over Jordan and enter into the Promise Land!
My prayer as I read this Torah portion is, “Father, I desire a heart like Joshua and Caleb, a heart for what is important to you. Give me the heart that brings forth the faith to see past giants so I too may enter your Land, my destiny!” (Click to Source)

 

While Iran, US Go Head-to-Head, Iranians Are Turning Their Hearts to Jesus

06-26-2019 – Chris Mitchell

 

It may surprise you that the fastest growing church in the world is in Iran.  Yet that’s the assessment of those who have seen and heard the remarkable story of millions turning away from Shiite Islam and turning toward Jesus Christ.

The image Iran presents to the world is large demonstrations with shouts of ‘Death to America’ and ‘Death to Israel’.

Those who have seen Iran from the inside, however, paint a very different picture.

“You can’t believe the images on TV.  Because for example, all the protests you see on the streets, those are mostly contrived.  They’re young people on the streets and they’ve told us if we don’t go to the streets, we won’t get our grades so we’re forced to go and protest,” one Iranian church worker said.

He spoke to CBN News on condition of anonymity.

He says there are two Irans.  The one you see on the news and the other hidden from the world.

“I would say there’s a 10 percent Iran and a 90 percent Iran.  Ten percent control the country in a more oppressive manner, hardline, religious manner and then the majority of the people, 90 percent of the people love America.  They don’t hate Americans.  I think that’s the message that Americans need to hear.  They tell us all the time, we don’t hate Americans, we love America.”

He wants Americans to know that forty years after Iran’s Islamic revolution, there’s another spiritual revolution underway.

“Awaken to the truth that we live in a time that’s very special.  More people have come to faith in Iran in the forty years than in the previous 1400 years.  So, there’s a once, not only in a lifetime, but in history where we have a moment where Iranians are coming to faith at such a rapid rate.”

Frontiers Alliance International (FAI) is producing a documentary called Sheep Among Wolves to introduce the Iranian church to Christians worldwide.

“What’s taking place in Iran right now is spectacular,” says FAI founder and director Dalton Thomas.  “It’s the fastest growing church in the world that owns no buildings, has no 501c3’s, that owns no property, that has no bank accounts; that has no centralized leadership; that has no denominational leaning and yet it’s multiplying like crazy … What the Lord is doing there is staggering.”

The evangelism results in intense persecution that Thomas says leads Iranian believers to seek prayer but not in a way you may think.

“Typically, the way we pray is we expect that they want us to pray for the persecution to end and they say, no, no, don’t do that.  Persecution is growing the church.  When the persecution stops, the growth stops.  What we want is the Gospel to spread far and wide and deep in Iran.”

With Iran and the use on the brink of war, Thomas says it’s important to see what’s happening behind the Iranian veil.

“When Muslims from Iran come in contact with the Man from Nazareth, something beautiful happens.  And when they realize that they have been bought and saved and purchased with Jewish blood; prophesized by Jewish prophets in a Jewish Bible something crazy happens; something beautiful happens and that’s what we’re seeing take place in Iran.”

Thomas believes one day the world may wake up to find Iran’s church growth in the 21stcentury rivaling that in China and Korea in the last century. (Click to Source)

A Desire to Depart

David Wilkerson (1931-2011) – June 28, 2019

 

These mortal bodies of ours are but mere shells and the life is not in the shell. It is a temporary confine that enshrouds an ever-growing, ever-maturing life force and acts as a transient guardian of the life inside. The shell is synthetic in comparison to the eternal life it clothes.

Every true Christian has been imbued with eternal life. It is planted as a seed in our mortal bodies that is constantly maturing and it must eventually break free out of the shell to become a new form of life. This glorious life of God in us exerts pressure on the shell, and, at the very moment resurrection life is mature, the shell breaks. The artificial bounds are broken, and like a newborn chick, the soul is freed from its prison. Praise the Lord!

As a child of God, at the precise moment our Lord decides our shell has fulfilled its function, we must abandon our old body. Paul said, “To die is gain!” (Philippians 1:21). That kind of talk is absolutely foreign to our modern, spiritual vocabulary. We have become such life worshipers that we have very little desire to depart to be with the Lord. But was Paul morbid? Did he have an unhealthy fixation on death or show a lack of respect for the life God had blessed him with? Absolutely not! Paul lived life to the fullest but he had overcome the fear of the “sting of death” and could say, “It is better to die and be with the Lord than to stay in the flesh.”

Those who die in the Lord are the winners and we who remain are the losers. I encourage you to refocus your attention on the glorious city that God has prepared for those who die in the faith (see Hebrews 11:16). Ask him to cut you loose from the ties of this world so that you might look forward with precious anticipation to being in his presence — whenever that may be. (Click to Source)

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