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Weekly Devotional: The Sign of Love

“If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15 NKJV). When we speak about love, we often refer to an emotional feeling, something that moves our emotions. Love for another, ourselves, and even God often boils down to that which we feel. If my feelings are high, then my love is stronger; but if my feelings are low, then my love is weaker. 

In the Bible, love is an action. Jesus tells His disciples that the sign of their love for Him is how they keep His commandments. The same remains true today; our obedience demonstrates our love of the Lord, not our emotions.

Jesus’ statement to His disciples parallels Moses’ instructions to the Israelites: “Therefore you shall love the Lord your God, and keep His charge, His statutes, His judgments, and His commandments always” (Deuteronomy 11:1; emphasis added). In the Old Testament, one showed his or her devotion to the God of Israel by obeying His commandments, doing what pleased Him. Action. Obedience.

The Bible is consistent in its message that we exhibit our love for God through our obedience to His commandments. Jesus asked His disciples, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). So, we not only display our love and devotion to Jesus by obeying Him, but we actually verify whether or not we truly identify Him as Lord, by our obedience. 

We demonstrate our love for God, not by announcing it to others, or what we say on social media, or how excited we get singing in church; no, we demonstrate our love for God in our obedience, and specifically by how we love others (Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 7:12; 22:35-40; John 15:12). 

Do we see our love of God demonstrated in our pursuit of obeying Him? 

We live in a world filled with talking, but do we daily seek to allow our actions to show the depth of our love and devotion to God? Do we see ourselves as Jesus’ disciples in how we keep (or obey) His commandments? Jesus identified obedience as the evidence of our discipleship. “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”

PRAYER

Father, today I submit myself to Your will and commands. In everything I say and do, may I show the depth of my love and devotion to You. Amen.

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Are Nazi-Style Tactics Swaying Our Culture Against Jews and Christians Today?

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

Readers may be surprised to know that Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf (“My Struggle”), a book first published in 1925, is still read today. From 1925 until 1945, when the book was rightly banned in Germany, it sold 12 million copies in German and was translated into numerous other languages. 

With traditional cultural values collapsing around us, it is vital that we educate ourselves and prepare spiritually and practically as best we can. I urge Christians to read this article’s summary of several Nazi strategies that created a devastating culture. I am also highlighting a much newer book, published in 2020, featuring wisdom and Christian testimonies about how to live amid cultural shifts that seek to erase freedoms. Its title: Live Not by Lies.

Nazism promoted World War II’s deadly cancel culture. Hitler himself boasted that his propaganda technique was so “colossal” that no one would believe an attempt to “distort the truth so infamously.” Hitler hired Joseph Goebbels as his Reich Minister of Propaganda, who promoted and fostered Germany’s Jew-hating culture into the eventual takeover of that nation’s newspapers, radio, magazines, and films.

As we read a few of Hitler’s evil strategies, the rapidly growing popularity of the Nazi Party and resulting Holocaust make it all too clear that the gradual tactics worked: 

  • The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly—it must confine itself to a few points.
  • An essential Nazi priority shows how the hatred was propagated. If you repeat a lie over and over, people will believe it, and you will even come to believe it yourself. 

In other words, the lies become occupiers of the mind, emotions, and soul. High-ranking Nazis and their power-hungry friends clothed themselves in normality with sophisticated culture, elegant parties, classical music concerts, and the like. However, their imitation of normalcy allowed hatred to lurk in the shadows and grow like a malignant cancer. With their minds twisted and warped by the deceptions, they came to believe the lies themselves.

After Hitler’s suicide on April 30, 1945, followed by a series of Allied victories, the world was relieved, thinking, “It is over.” But decades later it is, sadly, far from over.

Some of the Nazi strategies that powered their propaganda machine are still grinding out lies from many quarters toward the Jews and Israel. The misguided offenders include the United Nations, Iran’s leadership, most worldwide mainstream media outlets and, grievously, several mainline church denominations. The media tolerates anti-Semitism by omitting context in its unrelenting warfare of distortion. 

Today’s biased outlets may not be marching in lockstep like Nazi troops in Nuremberg stadium, but they are marching through wide-open doors in media of all kinds, including the mainstream media and social media. It should be no surprise, then, that anti-Semitism is multiplying. For example, last year some 430,000 Twitter users wrote 3.5 million posts containing anti-Semitic content. 

Despite flagging these offensive posts, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok chose not to delete 84 percent of the depraved content. Imran Ahmed, CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, observes that online there are no limits, and “people become radicalized without any boundaries.” He goes on to say that the social media giants’ failure “is a cost that’s paid in lives.”

In an unequivocal contrast to Hitler’s anti-Semitic manifesto, Live Not by Lies, written by Christian author Rod Dreher, is subtitled “A Manual for Christian Dissidents.” Amid rising anti-Semitism, the hostility toward Jewish men, women, and children has expanded into the intense persecution and denigration of Christians and people of various faiths across the globe.  

Dreher’s book is timely. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom reports that 1,546 victims of various religions are presently either detained, in prison, forced to renounce their faith, under house arrest, or have disappeared. Open Doors, in their World Watch List, estimates that more than 360 million Christians currently live in dangerous nations like Afghanistan, China, Cuba, Iran, and Nigeria.

The title of Dreher’s book comes from a saying by Russian historian and author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (December 11, 1918–August 3, 2008), who won the 1970 Nobel Prize in Literature. Solzhenitsyn’s troubles began when he was arrested for private letters that he had written to a friend criticizing Joseph Stalin, the Russian tyrant. 

Subsequently Solzhenitsyn, an Orthodox Christian, was arrested and sent to a series of gulags. The bleak prison labor camps punished citizens for anything or nothing, and they came down harshly on dissident intellectuals like Solzhenitsyn. Upon his release, the author’s books and speeches elevated him as a famous global critic of godless communism and totalitarian governments. 

His saying, “Live not by lies,” was the title of a 1974 essay Solzhenitsyn wrote to those in his homeland, when the Soviet Union exiled him before he immigrated to the United States. He wrote about ways to peaceably dissent by evading lies at all costs. It is a risky yet necessary choice for those who want to devote themselves to truth and the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Our determination to lead a life not lived by lies is affirmed in 1 Peter 3:13-15: “And who will harm you if you are deeply committed to what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear or be disturbed, but honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.”

What makes Dreher’s book so believable is the in-person meetings with Christians who had lived under communism. Some found refuge in the United States once the Soviet Union began crumbling (after the Berlin Wall was opened on November 9, 1989). While the book’s focus is Christian persecution from Soviet state socialism between 1945 and 1980, Germany’s Third Reich and communism are cut from the same demonic design. “Totalitarian” is another word for a centralized, dictatorial government forcing obedience to the state. 

Dreher interviewed dissidents who formerly lived in the Soviet Bloc. Speaking from Baptist, Catholic, and Orthodox Christian backgrounds, they maintained their faith under communism with spiritual and physical valor. Survival rested on family, underground churches, trusted small groups, and their Bibles—if still in their possession. These were essential in their determination to live not by lies in a peaceful way.

In his travels to interview these heroic Christian role models, Dreher heard a common theme from the Americans who had immigrated here. Asking them if they thought the U.S. was shifting into some version of totalitarianism, they all said “yes,” often forcefully. To a person, what they observe in the United States is eerily akin to the communist takeover in their native countries. A professor living in the Midwest weighed in about threats to our liberty: “I was born and raised in the Soviet Union, and I’m frankly stunned by how similar some of these developments are the way Soviet propaganda operated.”

Dreher says that we are experiencing a profoundly “anti-Christian militancy.” He calls it “soft totalitarianism,” which veils the loss of freedom where we are lulled by our comforts and a prosperity that far outweighs the former Soviet Bloc’s deprivation. He suggests that we are not paying enough attention to what is happening and are ill-equipped to resist. A dissident Soviet Baptist pastor described our American lifestyles in this way: “Living within reduced expectations of worldly success, it becomes easier to stand for the truth.” An entire chapter worth close attention is “The Gift of Suffering.” 

After reading my article, I hope you will read Live Not by Lies in order to become more aware, more prepared, and more encouraged by how our Lord Jesus walks with us through all circumstances we encounter—giving us strength to endure. 

In 2022, whether we call it fake news, misinformation, bias, propaganda, or lies, the Nazi-style tactics are being widely employed today in a storm of slander against Israel and a growing series of policy decisions and movements in the U.S. that defy biblical values, common sense, and our cherished Constitution. 

Seventy-seven years after the war ended, a downline of lies thrives again. It requires all believers to become “brilliant propagandists” for truth!

Join with CBN Israel this week to pray that truth will prevail against the lies: 

  • Pray for God’s direction on how He wants each of us to stand for truth. 
  • Pray that persecuted Christians will sense an infusion of God’s strength and peace. 
  • Pray for wise ways to speak out against hatred toward Israel and our Jewish friends. 
  • Pray for believers to stay educated and pray about sinful ideologies.

As we join together in prayer, may we consider Proverbs 12:22 as an integral reminder of our spiritual duty to oppose lies and uphold the truth: “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal faithfully are His delight.”

Arlene Bridges Samuels pioneered Christian outreach for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). After she served nine years on AIPAC’s staff, International Christian Embassy Jerusalem USA engaged her as Outreach Director part-time for their project, American Christian Leaders for Israel. Arlene is an author at The Blogs-Times of Israel, a guest columnist at All Israel News, and has frequently traveled to Israel since 1990. She co-edited The Auschwitz Album Revisited and is a volunteer on the board of Violins of Hope South Carolina. Arlene has attended Israel’s Government Press Office Christian Media Summit three times and hosts her devotionals, The Eclectic Evangelical, on Facebook.

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Single Mother: Anna’s Story

When Anna learned her baby might be born disabled, her husband pressured her to get an abortion. She refused, and he left her. So she moved in with her mother, found a great paying job—and her baby boy was born with no disability! Life in Israel was good… until disaster hit. 

First, her mother suffered a severe heart attack, and Anna took out a bank loan to pay the huge medical bills. Then, her employer went bankrupt, and her high salary job was gone. Drowning in debt, she worked three jobs to make ends meet. But when her son shared in class that he longed to see his mom more, the school threatened to report her to social services. 

Overwhelmed, Anna decided to escape Israel. But there was an injunction filed against her leaving, due to her debt. Desperate, Anna used her Russian passport, and took her family to Russia. Eight years later, they returned to Israel. But her debt with interest had risen from 120,000 shekels to 700,000 shekels. Any income she earned would be taken. She felt trapped. 

Thankfully, friends like you were there. Through CBN Israel’s family department, donors gave this single mother food and essentials to survive. And, they hired an expert lawyer, who helped Anna with her finances—and got the entire 700,000 shekel debt erased! It gave her a fresh start. She now has a terrific job, and says, “You gave me help and hope when I had nowhere to turn!” 

And your gift to CBN Israel can give help and hope to Holocaust survivors, terror victims, refugees, and others struggling in the Holy Land. In fact, your support can provide a lifeline for those in need across Israel—offering groceries, housing, financial aid, medical care, and more. 

Please join us in blessing those who are hurting today!

GIVE TODAY

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Weekly Devotional: Living at the Crossroads

Have you ever wondered why God brought Abraham from Ur in Mesopotamia to the land of Canaan? After all, Mesopotamia was far more developed culturally and economically than Canaan. 

Did you ever speculate why Samuel—after making his circuit around Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah judging Israel—always returned to Ramah, his hometown, to judge Israel (1 Samuel 7:16-17)? Or why Paul chose to reside in Ephesus for more than two years? 

All of these locations—Canaan, Ramah, and Ephesus—share the same feature: They sit at a crossroads. The land of Canaan sits along the eastern Mediterranean coast, wedged between the Mediterranean Sea and the desert. It provides the natural land bridge that connected the continents of Asia and Africa. 

It was also located between the major superpowers of the ancient world—Egypt in the south and the Mesopotamian powers to the north. If you wanted to travel within the ancient world, you had to pass through the land of Canaan; it was the crossroads of the known world.

Ramah sits at the juncture of the major north-south and east-west roadways through the hill country of Israel, where the majority of Israelites lived. The best way for Samuel to judge the people was to place himself at the crossroads, and the people would come to him.

Ephesus served as the major east-west gateway of the Roman Empire. Traders and travelers journeying from east or west passed through the city. It was also a major pilgrimage site as it boasted one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world, the Temple of Artemis (see Acts 19:24-34). Pilgrims throughout the Roman world journeyed to Ephesus to worship the goddess.

This why the geography and physical setting of the Bible are so important. The selection of these locations was strategic. They served as significant crossroads, places where God and His message could impact the most people. 

At the same time, He demanded that His people live in obedience to Him at the crossroads to demonstrate to the world His kingship. Even in the midst of a pagan city like Ephesus, Paul did not isolate himself; rather, he lived at this crossroads, and his life and message impacted the paganism of the city (see Acts 19:24-34). 

Where are the crossroads of our world today? Where are your crossroads? God still desires to place people at the crossroads of our world to affect the world for His glory and to display His kingship.

PRAYER

Father, today make me mindful of the crossroads in my sphere of influence. Help me to be strategic in my actions to bring glory to Your holy name. Help me to live obediently at the crossroads of my world, so that the people around me may see You in me and glorify You. Amen.

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The Abraham Accords and President Biden’s Visit to the Middle East

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

When former President Donald J. Trump officially launched the Abraham Accords from the White House lawn, it marked the beginning of unprecedented transformative relationships in the Middle East. Since then, the benefits have soared as high as the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower, in United Arab Emirates (UAE). The original four signers—United States, Israel, UAE, and Bahrain—have since been joined by Morocco and Sudan. 

The Abraham Accords Peace Institute’s June 2022 newsletter discloses numerous reasons for jubilation from Trump’s important legacy. Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics reports that trade between Israel and UAE has increased 130 percent and reveals a 94 percent increase with Morocco, which is also opening an embassy in Jerusalem. 

Other positive initiatives include UAE’s Emirates Airlines offering direct flights daily between Dubai and Tel Aviv. For sports lovers, Moroccan and Israeli women’s basketball teams signed on to play matches and tournaments. In June, Bahrain hosted a meeting of six countries’ foreign ministers who are slated to meet yearly to discuss and cooperate on a range of issues including security, food, and water. Egypt and Jordan, which have historic peace agreements with Israel—in 1979 and 1993, respectively—are expanding their participation. 

Clearly, the Abraham Accords have fostered considerable benefits. However, one of the biggest reasons, if not the biggest, for the Abraham Accords’ formation is to curb the Iranian menace. Israel is not alone in its security troubles; the entire region views Iran as an enemy. With apocalyptic imams directing their elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps—which helps train and fund terrorists in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, and Gaza—danger is always afoot. Iranian warships now ply waters near the Red Sea, and their small gunboats harass U.S. ships in the Straits of Hormuz on the Persian Gulf. Forty percent of the world’s oil tankers navigate in and out of the Straits to resupply. Iran itself, directly north of the Straits, has a 90-nautical-mile coastline. 

President Biden arrived in Israel yesterday and will also travel to Saudi Arabia. Biden’s visit has the real potential to build on the Abraham Accords established by the Trump administration. One significant goal of the trip, according to the president, is “to deepen Israel’s integration in the region.” He also stated that Israeli leaders came out “strongly for my going to Saudi.”

However, the president’s visit raises fundamental questions about the U.S. commitment to Israel, considering the Biden administration’s plans to revive the failed 2015 Iran deal. The currently stalled meetings suggest that they again suffer from America’s naive negotiations—which first rewarded Iran for nothing. In addition, if Israel is forced to defend itself from an Iranian nuclear breakout, former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren is unsure of U.S. support: “What’s America going to do? We often rely on the United States during these battles both for ammunition and for diplomatic support, what I call the diplomatic Iron Dome.”

Biden is also set to visit East Jerusalem, which Palestinians view as their future capital. He is the first U.S. president to make such a visit, in a move that is an affront to Israel’s sovereignty. It clearly indicates his overzealous attempts to persuade Palestinian leaders to make peace. With Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority president, refusing to enter direct negotiations with Israel, Biden’s visit to East Jerusalem is not likely to yield any constructive outcomes. Abbas has rejected direct negotiations since 2009. 

Another flash point for many Israelis: Israel’s President Herzog is awarding Biden the Medal of Honor given to true friends of Israel. This may be understandable from a diplomatic viewpoint, but Biden’s pursuit of another Iran deal and his promise to open a Palestinian consulate in the Israeli capital do not engender hope. 

Nonetheless, signifying high hopes, the U.S. Congress established an Abraham Accords Caucus earlier this year. They recently introduced timely legislation to strengthen the agreements between the Israel and Arab states. The Deterring Enemy Forces and Enabling National Defenses (DEFEND) Act compels the U.S. to integrate air defense systems with Israel, Egypt, Jordan, UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain. The eight U.S. Senate and House lawmakers included in the caucus are evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans. Their bipartisan cooperation deserves praise amid congressional gridlock on a number of other issues.

Israel’s Abraham Accords Caucus is also active in the Knesset. Defense Minister Benny Gantz recently announced that Israel was building a Middle East Air Defense Alliance that would cooperate with the U.S. to halt Iranian air aggression. Both Israel and the U.S. are continuing to make historic strides toward building unprecedented partnerships in the Middle East. 

However, Biden’s current visit, along with the recent decisions announced by both the U.S. and Israel’s Abraham Accords caucuses, have prompted worn-out claims of innocence from Iran. Nasser Kanani, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman, described the U.S. and Israel’s air defense initiative as a “provocative move.” The Islamic Republic News Agency went on to falsely claim that the U.S. and the “Zionist regime” are pushing division and spreading “Iranophobia.”

When the U.S. caucus launched, Senator James Langford (R-OK) relied on Scripture in saying, “We will seek peace through expanding and encouraging the Accords and set the example for other nations who desire peace. Matthew 5:9 importantly reminds us that ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.’”

For Christians who rely on the biblical accounts about God’s chosen people and His endless promises to them, we are called to pray for peace and surely need peacemakers. Nevertheless, we know that it is only the Prince of Peace who will offer the world perfect peace.  

Please join us this week in praying for Israel and the Middle East:

  • Pray for the world’s people to meet our Savior, the Prince of Peace.
  • Pray for the Abraham Accords’ bonds of cooperation to increase even more.
  • Pray for peace in Israel and Saudi Arabia during the presidential visit.
  • Pray for peacemakers equipped with anointed wisdom. 
  • Pray for Iran’s citizens who are suffering under their oppressive leaders. 

May we continue to meditate on Isaiah 54:10—“‘Though the mountains be shaken, and the hills be removed, yet My unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor My covenant of peace be removed,’ says the LORD, who has compassion on you.”

Arlene Bridges Samuels pioneered Christian outreach for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). After she served nine years on AIPAC’s staff, International Christian Embassy Jerusalem USA engaged her as Outreach Director part-time for their project, American Christian Leaders for Israel. Arlene is an author at The Blogs-Times of Israel, a guest columnist at All Israel News, and has frequently traveled to Israel since 1990. She co-edited The Auschwitz Album Revisited and is a volunteer on the board of Violins of Hope South Carolina. Arlene has attended Israel’s Government Press Office Christian Media Summit three times and hosts her devotionals, The Eclectic Evangelical, on Facebook.

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Summer Youth Camps

How can CBN Israel help youth within the believing community say “yes” to God? That’s a question echoed by many youth pastors around Israel.

“Our youth lack programs, such as youth conferences, youth trips, gatherings,” says one committed, long-term pastor. “That is why we need to invest in this future generation, prepare them, and teach them how to establish a strong faith—a faith that belongs to them and burns in their hearts.”

The faithful ministers who dedicate themselves to these young men and women organize youth camps twice a year. This year’s summer camp included various activities, worship, and studying the word of God together. The theme of this year’s camp focused on saying “yes” to God and working as a team.

“Our counselors have noticed wonderful outcomes from such programs,” says a local youth pastor. “They report that the camps open doors for new friendships for these young people and strengthen their faith.” 

We are so excited to have the strategic opportunity to invest in the future of these young people. Through CBN Israel, caring friends like you are helping to make these summer camps possible. 

Caring donors are also reaching out to Israel’s most vulnerable citizens—providing food, housing, medicine, job training, and so much more. 

Please join us in blessing Israel and her people in need!

GIVE TODAY

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Weekly Devotional: Rivers of Living Water

Have you ever been in a desert or dry wilderness and seen what happens when there is water from a spring or river? The land closest to the water is transformed into a garden oasis. The brown dryness of the desert may surround the oasis, but the land around the flowing, life-giving water is lush with vegetation. The water transforms the nature of the landscape.

On a certain occasion, Jesus said to a crowd gathered in Jerusalem for the Festival of Tabernacles, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38 NKJV). Jesus described what will proceed from one connected to Him: rivers of living water. The image He chose had a pointed significance for His audience who understood the impact of living water upon dry lands. 

As followers of Jesus, what does the world around us look like? Does life-giving water flow out of our hearts and lives, bringing vegetation and signs of life into the parched land around us? Or don’t we see any difference? Does our presence in our world make any difference?

Jesus’ words indicate that the evidence of whether or not we believe in Him is, in part, whether or not rivers of living water flow from us. If we do truly believe in Him, which means we obey Him, then the natural result is rivers of living water flowing from us. You cannot have a desert where living water flows; the land around it must be transformed.

It is common today for Christians to blame the forces of secularism, the media, politicians, and Hollywood for the decline of religion and morality in the world. This would not be the opinion of Jesus. Jesus’ statement in John suggests that the reason for the dryness and bareness in our world today is because of us.

Water brings life. This is true in the natural world; it’s true in the spiritual world. Jesus said that rivers of living water would flow from those who believe in Him. Our faith in Him evidences itself in the world around us, in the lives we touch. So how is the river flowing from you impacting your world?

PRAYER

Father, help me through my obedient action to demonstrate my faith in Jesus. May life-giving waters flow from me into my world for Your glory. Amen.

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Presbyterian Church USA Promotes Anti-Semitic Policies Against the World’s Only Jewish Nation

By Arlene Bridges Samuels  

Millions of Christians who support the Jewish state are confident in God’s eternal covenants with Israel and the inerrant truths of Scripture. That’s why recent resolutions of the Presbyterian Church USA’s (PCUSA) Committee on International Engagement are so unsettling.

The committee’s 28-3 vote last week asserting that Israel is an “apartheid” state is a disturbing sign of their bias against the Jewish nation. The committee also decided to add the Palestinian day of mourning to their calendar, declaring May 15 as Nakba Remembrance Day. Nakba, meaning “catastrophe,” describes Israel’s declaration of independence on May 14, 1948 as a disaster. These recent decisions by the PCUSA disregard God’s plans for modern Israel to continue fulfilling prophecy as a “light to the nations” (Isaiah 42:6).

The apartheid accusation is chief among the PCUSA’s upside-down claims made during their General Assembly meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, June 18–July 9. Harkening back to the appalling decades when South Africa was truly apartheid—a minority white population ruthlessly oppressing its majority Black population—the PCUSA leadership has turned Isaiah 5:20 into a present-day fact. “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” 

Painting all members of a PCUSA church as promoters of Israeli defamation would not be accurate or right. I have friends who are members of the denomination and they are faithful believers working and praying for changes within their churches. However, key influencers in the PCUSA leadership and committee hierarchy also have a long track record of engagement in anti-Israel policies, including the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS)—economic warfare against Israel. They keep steering their denomination into anti-biblical channels, dismissing God’s ancient covenants with the Jewish people that are still in effect today. 

The foundational problem seems to be theological. Replacement theology has infected denominations for centuries with the erroneous idea that the Church has “replaced” the Jewish people as God’s chosen people—that God has terminated His covenants with the Jewish people and permanently evicted them from Israel with no future plans and blessings. 

Nevertheless, in Genesis 17:7, God declares to Abraham, “And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you.” God chose the Jewish people to transmit His words through Jewish scribes and to provide universal salvation through our Jewish Savior. God does not lie, nor does He change His mind. 

We are surrounded by the results of a dramatic shift toward weakened fidelity to Jesus, Scripture, and faith. Amid rising global anti-Semitism, certain church leaders have for decades regrettably woven a thread of anti-Semitism into their congregations’ outlook. Case in point: On Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2015, the Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson II, Stated Clerk of the PCUSA General Assembly, declared: “The continued occupation in Palestine/Israel is 21st-century slavery and should be abolished immediately.” 

Within the PCUSA itself, Presbyterians for Middle East Peace (PMEP) spoke out against Rev. Nelson, observing that he “seems to blame all Jews as the culprit, ignoring the many reasons why Americans support Israel.” The PMEP added, “Lashing out at the U.S. and global Jewish community is beyond the pale. Gratefully, his actions and words do not match the work of local PCUSA and Jewish congregations in communities across the nation.”

Regarding the current resolutions, the PMEP stated that the anti-Israel motions “made a mockery of the PCUSA’s historic commitment to hearing all sides and doing deep research on issues prior to taking controversial decisions.” They went on to say that the Committee on International Engagement did not invite a single U.S. or Israeli Jewish voice to offer further perspective and that there were “no representatives of the thousands of organizations that have not deemed Israel to be an apartheid state.”

The Jewish state itself is now undeniably the focus of accusations and lies from Palestinian leaders that sometimes echo Iran’s threats and find a welcoming home in PCUSA’s wrong-headed rulings. Fortunately, groups and individuals opposing the guidelines of the PCUSA are taking action. After decades of PCUSA’s ill-begotten decisions, Shurat Hadin, the Israel Law Center, filed a case against them in 2014 saying that they “violated the U.S. tax code through unlawful lobbying and contact with Hezbollah, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization.” The PCUSA has been active for decades in the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. 

I also applaud the Philos Action League, newly minted by the Philos Project, which promotes positive Christian engagement. Right now, they are conducting peaceful protests at the PCUSA General Assembly. On July 2, the Christian organization tweeted, “We are continuing to protest the GA225 vote declaring that 1) The false claim of apartheid (among several other claims) is anti-Semitic and hurts relations between Christians and Jews” and “2) that not all Christians believe the claim of apartheid.”

Ignoring clear Scriptures on several key issues, the PCUSA membership is slowly diminishing. The Christian Post published a report stating that last year, 100-plus churches, 51,000 members, and four presbyteries left the denomination. The PCUSA congregations have declined for decades due in part to embracing liberal views. With upwards of 60 million American evangelicals who claim a pro-Israel stance, my guess is that the PCUSA’s anti-Semitism has also driven away members who care about Israel. Since its founding in 1983, this branch of the Presbyterian Church has fallen from 3,121,238 members to 1,193,770, a 62 percent loss.

Despite the recent resolutions from the PCUSA, I am thankful for pastors and churches that remain faithful to the clear, God-inspired message of the Bible. The sound teachings about His covenantal promises to the Jews are eternal. For us as non-Jews, God graciously set up a system of adoption. He receives us into His family when we recognize our redemption from sin through His Son’s sacrifice and resurrection. 

Let us pray that American denominational leaders drifting from biblical truths will encounter Arab voices like Yosef Haddad, a Greek Orthodox Christian Arab who grew up in Nazareth. Although Arab Israelis are not required to serve in the military, Haddad volunteered to serve in an elite Israel Defense Forces (IDF) unit where he became a commander. “From the second I stepped in the unit I was treated like family. There’s no difference between any Golani soldier. It doesn’t matter if he’s Jewish or Arab or Ashkenazi or Ethiopian.” 

Yosef later founded an Israeli Arab organization called “Together.” He speaks worldwide to disparate audiences with a clear message. “We say the truth. We show the facts. The whole truth. Israel is not perfect, but the way Israel is represented in the Arab world, in the media, is completely far away from reality.” 

Friends, you know that we live in chaotic times. Isaiah 40:28-31 is the perfect passage to reflect on today: “The everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

Please join CBN Israel in prayer this week for Christians worldwide to stand with the Jewish nation and people:

  • Pray for mainline churches across the globe to wake up to the biblical truths about Israel and the Jewish people.
  • Pray with praise that God has sustained a remnant of churches, Christian organizations, and individuals who consistently stand with Israel. 
  • Pray for the Philos Action League to grow stronger and inspire new like-minded groups to rise up around the world.
  • Pray for Israel’s interim government to operate with wisdom and steadiness in the weeks and months leading up to the next election on November 1, 2022.

Arlene Bridges Samuels pioneered Christian outreach for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). After she served nine years on AIPAC’s staff, International Christian Embassy Jerusalem USA engaged her as Outreach Director part-time for their project, American Christian Leaders for Israel. Arlene is an author at The Blogs-Times of Israel, a guest columnist at All Israel News, and has frequently traveled to Israel since 1990. She co-edited The Auschwitz Album Revisited and is a volunteer on the board of Violins of Hope South Carolina. Arlene has attended Israel’s Government Press Office Christian Media Summit three times and hosts her devotionals, The Eclectic Evangelical, on Facebook.

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Widow in Need: Polina’s Story

When Polina and her husband immigrated to Israel in 2004, they found the historic Galilee area a beautiful place to put down roots. But soon, they discovered that there were few good job opportunities—and the very low socio-economic conditions made it difficult to thrive. 

Polina eventually found work at a local factory to help pay the bills. Then, about three years ago, her husband tragically lost his life to cancer. Polina, now 58 years old, has struggled ever since his death to survive alone on a meager income. 

Sadly, her small, dilapidated apartment often floods, causing toxic mold—a major health hazard. Because of her limited income, she can’t even afford minor repairs. With no husband or family, where could she turn? 

Thankfully, Polina found help at a local community center that partners with CBN Israel. When she shared her plight, friends like you sent professionals to her home who removed the toxic mold and made needed repairs. Plus, caring donors provided food for her during this challenging time. Polina was touched, saying, “I have never received such kindness and generosity from anyone… I am so grateful for your love and compassion.”

Your gift to CBN Israel can bless Israel’s neediest communities with food, medicine, and financial aid—and share God’s love in crisis situations. With the ongoing pandemic, terrorist attacks and more, the cries for help in the Holy Land have escalated. 

Your support can reach out to aging Holocaust survivors, lonely refugees, young families, and more with compassionate relief. 

Please join us in bringing hope to others!

GIVE TODAY

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Weekly Devotional: Freed to Serve

“Let My people go, so they can serve Me.” Moses repeatedly uttered this refrain to Pharaoh, insisting the Egyptian ruler release the Israelites, the descendants of Abraham. Many modern translations translate Moses’ command as “Let My people go, so they can worship Me,” but the word better translates as “serve.” 

Everyone loves a story of freedom; it’s one of our inalienable rights. The Exodus is one of the great stories of freedom in human history—an enslaved people miraculously led by God to freedom from their oppressive masters. It was such a potent story that in the “Slave Bible”—a Bible given to African slaves brought to the Americas—the story of the Exodus was removed, being deemed too problematic. 

Our love for liberty spills over into our faith and spirituality. We often focus on our “freedom” in Christ, or that Christ has “freed” us. But, freed us for what? The story of the Exodus, Israel’s miraculous deliverance, is not just about freedom, but rather about God’s liberating His people so that they can serve Him. 

The Exodus from Egypt is not only about the slave going free, but about God redeeming a people from slavery to serve Him. Throughout the Bible, the theme of freedom is closely tied to the theme of worshiping God and devoting one’s life to Him. True freedom is found only when we surrender our lives to the will and purposes of our King. 

The Bible mentions God’s kingship for the very first time in connection with the deliverance at the sea: “The LORD reigns for ever and ever” (Exodus 15:18 NIV). A king is to be served. God established Himself as Israel’s deliverer and its king. The people, then, were freed in order to serve: “Let My people go, so they can serve Me.”

The problem, however, is that we often don’t want to serve. We want freedom and liberty on our own terms. The Bible views things differently: God is the King; we are His servants. He is the one who created and reigns over all existence. We were created to know God and to serve Him only.

Jesus spoke far more about service and servanthood than He did about freedom and liberty. Why? Because He understood that we either serve God or something else (Matthew 6:24), but we have to serve somebody.

God delivered Israel to serve Him. They were freed to serve. He still frees people to serve Him. We have freedom and liberty so that we can know God and live for His purposes. How will you use your freedom?

PRAYER

Father, today I submit my will and my life into Your hands. You are the King; may I follow You today as Your faithful servant. Amen.

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