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Patient Endurance

“The word of the Lord came to me saying, ‘What do you see, Jeremiah?’ And I said, ‘I see a rod of an almond tree.’ Then the Lord said to me, ‘You have seen well, for I am watching over My word to perform it’” (Jeremiah 1:11-12 NASB).

This interchange between God and Jeremiah seems a bit strange. How does an almond branch connect to God diligently watching over His word to see it happen? To understand this interaction, we need to recognize two things: 1) a wordplay happens in Hebrew in these verses, and 2) the horticulture of the almond.

The word for almond in Hebrew is shaqed, and the word translated as “diligently watching” is shoqed. What Jeremiah sees—the almond branch—connects to God’s message that He watches diligently over His word to see it happen. That explains the connection between what Jeremiah sees and God’s message to him, but what does it mean?

Of all the trees in the land of Israel, the almond tree blossoms first. The appearance of the almond blossoms signals that spring has come. Yet, while the almond blossoms first, its fruit arrives last of all the trees. It’s first to blossom and last to fruit. Herein lies God’s message to Jeremiah. As with the almond, whose fruit you must diligently await, so is God’s word. If He has given His word—even if its fulfillment is delayed—He watches over it diligently to perform it. Like the almond’s fruit, God’s word, even if delayed, will come to fulfillment.

Do we have the patience to diligently endure until God performs His word? Do we trust that, even if the world around us looks like God has forgotten His word, He diligently watches over it to do it?

Patiently enduring is often one of the hardest spiritual disciplines to acquire because in our culture, in which everything is instant and immediate, we don’t like to wait. Patience is a struggle. But as anyone who understands agriculture will tell you, growing produce takes time, and there are specific seasons within the growth cycle of the fruit.

Don’t get in front of God. Wait patiently for Him to perform His word because He diligently watches over it to do it.

PRAYER

Father, sometimes patience is hard for us. Help us not to get out in front of You, but to trust Your goodness and timing knowing that You watch over Your word. Amen.

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Social Events for Holocaust Survivors

Their words are haunting. “We want someone to care about us—to talk to us and ask about our day.” All too often, those who survived Nazi cruelty no longer have any connection with family members. Many of these people—once fighters in the wars that established the Jewish state—have reached an age where they desperately need community interaction. But there’s no one to take care of them. Instead, their lives are marked by loneliness and isolation, which robs them of a sense of purpose and a desire to live.

Thanks to the compassion and generosity of our partners, we are able to organize social events for the Holocaust survivors who are living among us—events where they are able to sing, dance and eat together. In addition to providing such gatherings, our local teams visit these survivors on a weekly basis, bringing them food, walkers and medicine. Perhaps most importantly, there’s someone to listen to them and their stories.

We all have a need to be connected with and needed by others. Realizing that they are still cherished can be a powerful experience for people in the twilight of their lives.

You can be a blessing to so many Holocaust survivors providing them with regular grocery deliveries from our compassionate field teams, along with opportunities to attend social activities and field trips with others in their community.

Your special gift today will also provide relief to victims of terrorism, food and counseling to new immigrants, meals and education to single moms, and so much more. 

People in Israel are depending on you. You can make the difference!

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The Lord is My Shepherd

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:1-4 NKJV).

Sheep are animals that need to be led. In the land of Israel, shepherds often took their sheep away from settled areas to graze. This exposed them to various dangers—the weather, terrain, and human and animal predators. The shepherd was responsible for leading his flocks to safe areas where they could find nourishment, be protected from predators, and would rein in their tendency to wander away. Because of Israel’s climate, terrain and predators, the sheep depended utterly upon the shepherd.

The daily reality of the shepherd provided clear images for the psalmist to describe God. God is a good shepherd, one who leads His flock to places of nourishment, along right, safe paths, who protects each sheep from potential dangers. The sheep depend upon the shepherd to take care of these things, as a good shepherd does.

Often the farming and herding images of the Bible fail to connect with us as they did to the ancient readers, because in our modern developed world we do not interact with agricultural or herders’ lifestyles. But the psalmist painted a clear image of our need for God and His responsibility to lead us and protect us. Do we allow Him to shepherd us? Do we allow ourselves to be shepherded?

The psalmist knew that the sheep could not survive within the hazardous wilds without the shepherd. There were no self-made sheep. Too often today, the world idolizes rugged individualism; we do not allow ourselves to be led. We do not recognize our limitations. This is where worry comes from: when we seek to take control of the things that belong to God.

Do we recognize that our Shepherd is a good shepherd? Do we trust Him to lead us and allow Him to do so? We can rest assured that if we do, we shall not want.

PRAYER

Our Father, our Shepherd, lead us, guide us, protect us for Your name’s sake. Amen.

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Rejoice in Desolation

“Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation” (Habakkuk 3:17-18 NLT)!

The Bible describes the land of Israel as “a good land of flowing streams … a land of wheat and barley; of grapevines, fig trees, and pomegranates; of olive oil and honey. It is a land where food is plentiful and nothing is lacking” (Deuteronomy 8:7-9). The land is elsewhere described as “a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:17). Milk refers to goat’s milk, and honey to date honey, meaning that it is a land good for shepherd and farmer alike.

Habakkuk, who prophesied in the days leading up to the Babylonian destruction of the kingdom of Judah, envisioned a land where fig trees did not blossom; where there was no fruit on the vines. The olive produce failed; there was no wheat in the fields. Flocks and herds were cut off. The bounty of the land was gone; it now lay desolate.

The agricultural and herding prosperity of the land spoke of God’s blessing, but now the armies of Babylon were coming, and ruin and destruction were coming with them. God brings judgment upon His people because of their disobedience. The land, its livestock and produce, all lay desolate.

Faced with such disaster, how does Habakkuk respond? “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation” (3:18). We don’t know what happened to Habakkuk; the Bible doesn’t say. He, like Jeremiah, was likely swept up in the devastating events and outcomes of Babylon’s destruction of Judah and Jerusalem. He likely never saw the prosperity of the land again in his lifetime. “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord.”

It’s easy to rejoice in the Lord during the good times, when the land yields its fruit. But what about when our world is desolate? When the prosperity we have known is gone? Habakkuk was a prophet, and presumably a righteous person, yet he suffered the consequences of others’ disobedience to God. We can sometimes handle the desolation our choices bring to our lives, but when we suffer because of what someone else did? “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord.”

Are we consistent in our faithfulness, or do the circumstances and fluctuations of life sweep us away in an emotional rollercoaster? Can we stare in the face of desolation and rejoice in the Lord? The answer to that question depends upon our chosen response.

PRAYER

Father, no matter the circumstances—in plenty or in want, in fullness or in desolation—we will rejoice in You, the God of our salvation. Amen.

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Holocaust Survivor | Rita’s Story

The memories are still painful. Rita can never forget the shame and humiliation of being forced—at age 10—to strip naked in front of grown men, stand under a freezing shower, and have her head shaved—along with so many other Ukrainian girls and women. Her eyes still fill with tears as she remembers the hunger, the cold, and the regular abuse from Nazi soldiers.

The cruelty Rita witnessed on a daily basis made her think she was witnessing the end of the world. How could humans be so cruel? Her job in the concentration camp was moving heavy bricks. “The intense labor was so difficult that my spine became crooked over time, and to this day, I can’t even walk straight,” the elderly woman recounts.

Rita survived the war, married, and immigrated to Israel with her husband. He died 10 years ago. Today, she is one of about 200,000 elderly Holocaust survivors in Israel, about a quarter of whom live in poor circumstances. Yet, because of friends like you, our CBN Israel team was able to help Rita with her vital needs. We provided food, medicine, transportation to the hospital, and comforting visits that let Rita know she is neither forgotten nor alone.

You can be a blessing to so many Holocaust survivors, like Rita, providing them with regular grocery deliveries from our compassionate field teams, along with opportunities to attend social activities and field trips with others in their community.

Your special gift today will also provide relief to victims of terrorism, food and counseling to new immigrants, meals and education to single moms, and so much more. 

People in Israel are depending on you. You can make the difference!

GIVE TODAY
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God, What are You Doing?

“How long, O Lord, will I call for help, and You will not hear? I cry out to You, ‘Violence!’ yet You do not save. Why do You make me see iniquity, and cause me to look on wickedness? Yes, destruction and violence are before me; strife exists and contention arises” (Habakkuk 1:2-3 NASB).

Have you ever heard someone ask, “If God is all powerful and loving, then why does He allow suffering, hardship, and evil within our world?” When presented with such a question, we often provide some half-hearted reply about living in a fallen or sinful world, but rarely do we join our frustration to that of the person asking that question. We don’t allow ourselves to openly exclaim that our beliefs about God don’t always make sense within the world that exists before our eyes. We would never permit ourselves to say, “God, what are you doing?” To do so would seem to indicate a lack of faith.

The prophets did not look at things in such a manner. When life’s circumstances challenged their theology, they didn’t default to an answer about a fallen world; rather, they expressed their frustration with God. The prophet Habakkuk was especially outspoken in this regard. He recognized that the people of Judah had sinned and fallen short of God’s mark, but God was judging Judah with the Babylonians, who were even worse than the Judahites: “Look among the nations! Observe! Be astonished! Wonder! Because I am doing something in your days—you would not believe if you were told. For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans” (Habakkuk 1:5-6). Today we might wonder: How did that make sense? How could God judge Judah for its unrighteousness by a people even more unrighteous than they?

Habakkuk never sought easy answers to the difficult questions or to the circumstances and events his world presented. Nor did the challenge that such events posed to his conviction of God cause him to jettison his faith. Rather, he sought answers. He never received the precise answer to the question he posed, but God did answer him. That is a sign of a robust faith—faith that neither turns from the hard questions posed by life and circumstance nor abandons its conviction that God is indeed Who He said He is.

It’s hard not to look at our world today and occasionally wonder what God is doing or where He is. Our faith should have the courage to voice such frustrations and affirm those who express them, as did the prophets. At the same time, do we have the firm persistence, a persistence born from a conviction that God does answer, to say, “I will stand on my guard post and station myself on the rampart; and I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me, and how I may reply when I am reproved” (Habakkuk 2:1).

PRAYER

Lord, when we look at the world around us, it is sometimes frustrating and confusing. Where are You? Why does evil persist; why do the innocent and righteous suffer? How long, O Lord, will this continue? But in the midst of our frustration and confusion, we acknowledge that You are a God who answers, and so we await Your reply. Amen.

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Holocaust Survivor | Jacob’s Story

He felt so helpless. Not as badly as when Jacob had seen Nazis shoot people in the street, or assault his sisters, or take his parents away—never to return. And he couldn’t forget the horror of watching his grandmother and others lined up in front of a huge hole in the ground and shot in the back—after which the young boy was mute for days.

Immigrating to Israel and proudly serving for 40 years in the Israeli army helped ease those early memories. So did the joy of raising two children and then becoming a loving grandparent. But today was a different kind of stress—the medication Jacob’s wife needed for a recently diagnosed medical condition was expensive and he didn’t know how he’d pay for it.

Thankfully, through CBN Israel, compassionate people like you were there for Jacob and his wife by making it possible to purchase her medicine. This support also helped provide transport to take her to doctors’ appointments and meet everyday needs. Such generous aid has been a tremendous source of encouragement and strength for the couple, and they are so grateful.

You can be a blessing to so many Holocaust survivors, like Jacob, providing them with regular grocery deliveries from our compassionate field teams, along with opportunities to attend social activities and field trips with others in their community.

Your special gift today will also provide relief to victims of terrorism, food and counseling to new immigrants, meals and education to single moms, and so much more. 

People in Israel are depending on you. You can make the difference!

GIVE TODAY
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Don’t Trust in Horses

“Some take pride in chariots, and some in horses, but our pride is in the name of the Lord our God” (Psalm 20:7 NRSV).

The land of Israel sat at the crossroads of the ancient world. Its geographic location made the land strategically significant. For this reason, throughout Israel’s history, people and empires fought to control this international crossroads.

Within the ancient world, the horse and chariot represented the height of military technology. The armies that had superior cavalry and chariot forces often won the day and exerted their control over a region.

Throughout the Bible, Israel’s ability to remain within this strategic land depended upon their obedience to God. If the people of Israel obeyed the commandments of God, they stayed in the land. If they did not, God would remove them. The prophets and psalmists cautioned against trusting in horses and chariots. In other words, Israel’s military would not keep the Israelites in the land; instead, the people’s obedience to God would. Trusting in horses and chariots meant that they sought within the military technology and strategy of the day the source of their power and sustainability at the crossroads of the world—instead of obedience to God.

In Deuteronomy, we are told God commanded that when the people established a king he “must not acquire many horses” (17:16). The prophet Isaiah admonished, “Alas for those who go down to Egypt for help and who rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 31:1). Israel would remain at the crossroads only when obedient; if they obeyed, they could trust that God would defend them and protect them against foreign threat. This is why the psalmist notes that while some trust in horses and chariots, Israel’s hope is in the name of the Lord.

Our modern world seeks to woo us into trusting our technology, our might, and our selves. Like Israel, we run the risk of losing sight of what keeps us anchored in our world—the source that sustains us. We find ourselves distracted by all the shiny new innovations that show up in today’s world, thinking that through this or that technology we can gain greater influence—even influence for God.

But the answer isn’t pride in our technology or in our ingenuity; it’s trusting in God, remaining obediently faithful to Him at the crossroads of our world. This, in fact, is the greatest witness we can have to His greatness—looking to Him and obeying Him, not trusting in our world’s sources of power and ingenuity.

PRAYER

Father, we look to You; we trust in Your name. Help us to remain obedient to You at our crossroads. Amen.

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Victim of Terrorism | Nina’s Story

She had lived in fear for 19 years. Nina settled her family in Sderot, Israel, before the missile launches from Gaza had begun. But now, they lived in constant fear of bombings. The relentless blaring of sirens meant it was nearly impossible to rest, to sleep, to live a normal life. They often had to seek cover in bomb shelters. Nina cared for her sick mother and teenage daughter while earning a living, and the stress never ended. How much longer could they go on this way?

She began having panic attacks as her life spiraled out of control. One of CBN Israel’s partners was out shopping when she saw Nina and felt the need to approach her. Within moments a tearful Nina began explaining how she couldn’t sleep at night, her life was a mess, and she didn’t know how to gather her thoughts even for the most straightforward task.

What a fortunate encounter! Our local partners in Sderot, who dedicate their lives helping its people, provide free professional psychological treatments and help residents learn how to cope with the onslaught. With time—and the tools provided—Nina felt more at peace, and she passed on that gift of peace to her mother and daughter. You made it possible for her to receive this life-changing help!

You can be a blessing to so many victims of terrorism like Nina. Your support can provide trauma counseling and financial assistance to those affected by terror as well as emergency response equipment and training for communities on the front lines. Together, we can counter these vicious attacks with tangible expressions of love and compassion.

Your special gift today will also provide help and hope to Holocaust survivors, food and counseling to new immigrants, meals and education to single moms, and so much more. 

People in Israel are depending on you. You can make the difference!

GIVE TODAY
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Delayed Promises

“Now the word of the Lord came to him [Abram]: ‘This one will not be your heir; instead, one who comes from your own body will be your heir.’ He took him outside and said, ‘Look at the sky and count the stars, if you are able to count them.’ Then He said to him, ‘Your offspring will be that numerous.’ Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness. He also said to him, ‘I am Yahweh who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess. … But you will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a ripe old age. In the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure’” (Genesis 15:4-7, 15-16 HCSB).

We often read the Bible to seek out the promises of God for ourselves. Reading them gives us peace and hope that God is with us and that He will bring us through our circumstances. Abraham offers a figure to whom God made tremendous promises, who proved faithful to God. But have you ever noticed that Abraham never lived to see the fullness of God’s promises? Abraham saw Isaac, but he never saw his descendants as numerous as the stars of the heavens. He never saw his seed inherit the Promised Land.

We search the promises of the Bible to bolster our faith that God will take care of us or see what He will do for us. Remember that in the Bible, the “we” is always more important than the “me.” Had Abraham only sought God’s promises for himself or looked for their fulfillment in his lifetime, he could never have been the father of faith. But Abraham was believing God.

He recognized that God’s plans extended beyond him—that he and his faithfulness had a role to play within God’s bigger picture. But he did not see the fullness of the promise. He trusted God. And he did his part; he played his role faithfully.

Does our spirituality focus primarily on what God has done, can do, or will do for us? Or are we content to be faithful and serve him, playing our role within His will, not ours? Do we need to see His promises realized in our circumstances, immediately, or will we remain faithful in light of the possibility that we may not see the promise realized in our lifetime?

Abraham went to his grave with only God’s promise that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars and that God would bring them back into the land. Yet he remained faithful. Do we have that degree of faith?

PRAYER

Father, enable me to serve You and faithfully perform my duty to You, so that Your will is done—even when I don’t see it. Amen.

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