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Weekly Devotional: Your Will Be Done

“Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42 NASB).

How often do we think about Jesus in the garden on the Mount of Olives? How often do we consider His deep resolve to submit to the will of His heavenly Father regardless of the suffering that lay in front of Him? We think of the psychological suffering that He went through as He wrestled with God’s will, anticipating His impending physical torture and death. But do we ever ask how He was able in that moment to submit to God’s will?

Ancient sources indicate that in the first century, Jews recited Deuteronomy 6:4-9 at least once, if not twice, daily. The passage begins, “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (NASB). Some of Jesus’ contemporaries said that reciting this meant accepting the rule of God—because it acknowledged Him as king and placed man in submission to Him and His rule, as His servant.

The Gospels portray the family of Jesus as a devout Jewish family, so we can assume that He would have recited the “Hear, O Israel” once or twice a day, every day of His life. What kind of impact do you think that had on Him? Every day submitting Himself to the rule and reign of His Father in heaven, submitting to God’s will.

Habit and discipline form in the ordinary and the mundane, not the outstanding or exceptional. When we add up the totality of Jesus’ life against the episodes recorded of Him in the Gospels, we actually have very little of His life recorded. Yet, it was in those ordinary and mundane moments of His life—His daily habits, discipline, and practice—that His piety was formed and shaped. The extraordinary moments in His life we read about in the Gospels grew out of His daily submission to His Father’s will in the ordinary routine of His life.

That ordinary routine—of daily submission to God’s will—prepared Him for His extraordinary ministry, and particularly His ultimate submission to God’s will in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus didn’t want to go to the cross. He said as much in the garden. But he had trained himself to submit to God’s will, so in the moment of extraordinary personal crisis, He could push aside what He wanted in order to fulfill the will of His Father.

We are all recipients of His obedience. Do we look at the ordinary and mundane moments in our lives as opportunities to build discipline and form habits of submission to God? The daily routine prepares us for the extraordinary moments when God needs us to act according to His will. Do not despise the ordinary and mundane, for it prepares us for the extraordinary.

PRAYER

Father, today we submit ourselves to Your rule and reign. May Your will be done in our lives today. Prepare us daily to serve and submit to You. Amen.

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Holocaust Survivor: Fisher’s Story

They thought the Nazis would never find them. In an isolated village in Ukraine, Fisher and his parents believed they were safe—until German troops came upon them in 1941. From then on, life became one horror after another.

The family was imprisoned in a squalid ghetto far from his home, and one day, Fisher saw his mother reach up to catch a piece of bread someone had thrown to her. But a Nazi soldier also witnessed that act of kindness and deliberately shot Fisher’s mother in the foot. Not long afterward, she died of the resulting infection, and the young boy was all alone.

His faith in Jesus as his Messiah sustained him during the harsh war years, and when the war finally ended, Fisher was determined to help Holocaust survivors wherever he found them. In 1994, he moved from Ukraine to Israel with his wife. From the moment he arrived, he sought ways to serve others. He found the ideal outlet for his wonderful gifts of compassion and encouragement—a community of other Holocaust survivors and World War II veterans.

Thanks to our caring CBN Israel partners, we are able to give Holocaust survivors, like Fisher, love and support, providing them with food, medicine, and friendship. He is so thankful and looks forward to celebrating his 90th birthday with all of his new friends!

Your special gift can deliver hope and compassionate aid to so many who desperately need our help in the Holy Land.

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Weekly Devotional: The Blameless Way

“How blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord. How blessed are those who observe His testimonies, who seek Him with all their heart” (Psalm 119:1-2 NASB).

The writers of the Bible, especially the psalmists and prophets, often used parallelism in their writing. It enabled them to state something, then either restate it, expand it, or state its opposite. This literary device is common within Hebrew writing.

In Psalm 119, the psalmist begins with such parallelism: “How blessed are those whose way is blameless.” The second clause explains whose way is blameless—those who walk according to the law of the Lord, i.e., obeying His instruction. 

Blamelessness, then, for the psalmist, doesn’t mean completely living without error; it means walking in the instruction of the Lord. This is how a person’s way can be blameless. When one bases his or her life on pursuing God’s ways, then they are truly blessed.

He continues His blessings by identifying “those who observe His testimonies” as those who “seek Him with all their heart.” So, seeking God with all of one’s heart means pursuing His ways, and the person who lives like this will be blessed.

Studying Scripture means that we have to read it as its authors intended, which requires us to learn how the biblical texts were written. Doing so adds so much value to how we read and understand the Bible and its message.

Embedded within these redundant and expanded clauses in this passage lie insights into how the biblical authors described God and His people. We often find that they view their world, even their relationship with God, so much differently than we do today.

The psalmist gives us profound insight into how God expects His people to live. If you want your way to be blameless, walk according to His law and instruction. Seek Him with all of your heart by aligning your life with His ways. When you live like this, you will be blessed.

PRAYER

Father, today may we walk in accordance with Your law and instruction, so that our way may truly be blameless. Let us seek you with all our heart by pursuing Your ways. Amen.

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Single Mother: Masaret’s Story

She had run out of options. Although she’d been raised in an ordinary Israeli home, Masaret had made some extraordinarily bad choices. Getting in with the wrong teenage crowd. Drinking heavily. Partying nonstop. Dating a drug addict. Spending all her money on her habit and running up heavy debts. Finally, she found herself the unmarried mother of two young boys, an alcoholic unable to cope—and she lost her sons into the child welfare program. Now Masaret had only two choices: rehab at a center of her choosing, or the government’s.

She had heard of the rehab center in Jerusalem and decided to take it seriously, entering their six-month intensive program. Working hard, she not only became sober, she met God for the first time. The program gave Masaret the strength to start over. She landed a job, got an apartment, and eventually got her children back. She was so grateful for a fresh start.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing; she still had a large outstanding debt. Arik, head of CBN Israel’s family department, helped Masaret talk to the bank and get her debt erased. Thanks to our generous partners, we were also able to help with rent, furniture and food. Today, she attends her local church, her boys love Jesus, and she’s finally making good choices.

During this time of worldwide concern about the COVID-19 virus, the need remains urgent as CBN Israel continues providing food, medicine, shelter, and other necessities to those who desperately need our help.

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Weekly Devotional: Do You Guard Your Mouth?

“The one who guards his mouth preserves his life; the one who opens wide his lips comes to ruin” (Proverbs 13:3 NASB).

Our age of social media enables everyone with an opinion to put it out there for everyone to see. We live in an age where people feel they have the right to comment on just about anything. We “open wide” our lips a lot. And, let’s be honest, those of us who claim to follow the Lord can often be the worst culprits.

The Bible has a great deal to say about guarding our mouths and holding our tongues. It describes the person who does so as wise, prudent, and preserving of his or her life. Similarly, it says a lot about the person who opens wide their lips—describing them as a fool, wicked, and one who will come to ruin.

Words are powerful. They can build up. They can tear down. All people, even children, find their identity in the words spoken to them, whether affirming and loving or harsh. James understood the power of words, which is why he described the tongue as “set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell” (James 3:6 NASB).

With as much as the Bible has to say about our words, it’s troubling to realize how often the followers of the Lord use their words as weapons against others. We try to wrap such words in a false piety, but the Bible is clear—the one who guards his or her mouth preserves their life.

Too often we separate our life with God from how we treat others. The Bible provides practical instruction for every area of our lives. Following God means that we embrace biblical instruction and live it out in every aspect of our lives, including how and when we speak.

Do you guard your mouth? Or do you open wide your lips? Your answer reflects how well you’ve submitted your life to God’s instruction. Let’s follow Him!

PRAYER

Father, help us to guard our mouths and words. May we speak only life into the lives of others and our world. Amen.

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Holocaust Survivor: Raisa’s Story

She was locked in the basement. It would be years before she’d see the sky again. Raisa was just a child when a family friend rushed her and her mother out of town to safety. For the rest of the war, they stayed with Raisa’s non-Jewish grandmother in a German home where their presence wouldn’t be suspected by the Nazis. But being locked in the basement for four years not only made it feel like a prison; the lack of fresh air and vitamins made the girl’s immune system very fragile. At times, her mother despaired for her life.

Despite the deprivations, the two of them survived. Making their way home after the war to find their Ukrainian village destroyed, Raisa and her mother found it far from easy to return to a country ravaged by war and death. Raisa met and married a Jewish doctor, and after a few decades they decided to immigrate to Israel.

Now widowed, Raisa spends a lot of time with other Holocaust survivors in her adoptive land. She is enormously grateful for the steady food deliveries that our generous partners make possible. Most of all, she loves having someone to talk to. She is so thankful to CBN Israel partners for their extraordinary support!

During this time of worldwide concern about the COVID-19 virus, the need remains urgent as CBN Israel continues providing food, medicine, shelter, and other necessities to those who desperately need our help.

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Weekly Devotional: Blessed With Daily Desires

“May our sons in their youth be like plants full grown, our daughters like corner pillars cut for the structure of a palace; may our granaries be full, providing all kinds of produce; may our sheep bring forth thousands and ten thousands in our fields; may our cattle be heavy with young, suffering no mishap or failure in bearing; may there be no cry of distress in our streets! Blessed are the people to whom such blessings fall! Blessed are the people whose God is the Lord!” (Psalm 144:12-15 ESV).

The Bible reflects the realities and desires of those who lived in its world and time. Here, the psalmist summarized the desires of the biblical person: progeny storehouses filled with all kinds of produce, flocks and cattle, and peace. He concluded the psalm stating that those who have such are blessed. He equated those participating in such a blessing as those whose God is the Lord of Israel. In other words, God was the source of such blessing.

Within the Old Testament, God’s promises provided very practical blessings: progeny, fruitful harvest and herds, long life, and peace. People in the Bible yearned for such an existence and saw God as the provider of such. At the same time, God’s promises were tied to the obedience of the people. If they disobeyed His commandments, the consequences of their disobedience were the cutting off of their progeny, the heavens not giving rain—which meant distress on crops and herds—their lives being cut short, and absence of peace.

For this reason, the psalmist equated those who participate in such desired blessings as those whose God is the Lord. They obey God, who provides those things they desire and need.

The biblical person saw God as intimately involved in his or her daily life. The sustenance and bounty of life came from God. To participate in such blessings, they had to live in obedience to the Lord. Failure to do so meant consequences that impacted their daily lives as well.

As modern readers of the Bible, we often spiritualize things to such a degree that we fail to see God’s provision in our daily, ordinary lives. We want spiritual ecstasy instead of seeing God as the source for the practical needs and desires of our life. Can we find the blessing in His provision of our daily needs? The care of our families? “Blessed are the people to whom such blessings fall! Blessed are the people whose God is the Lord.”

PRAYER

Father, may we daily walk in obedience to You. May our greatest joy be in Your daily provisions of the things we need. Amen.

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Weekly Devotional: The Promise of the Father

Pentecost was one of the three pilgrimage festivals within ancient Judaism. Along with Passover and Sukkot (Tabernacles), the Law of Moses required every able-bodied male to appear before the Lord on these festivals. In the first century, that meant coming to Jerusalem and the Temple. Luke describes the throngs of pilgrims from all over the world that traveled to Jerusalem for Pentecost.

Jewish tradition identified the festival of Pentecost as the time when God appeared to Israel on Mount Sinai and gave them the Torah. God’s appearance at Sinai included fire, wind and sounds. Luke wove these same images into his story in Acts 2. He wanted to draw his reader’s attention back to what God did on Sinai when He gave the Torah to Israel, connecting the giving of the Spirit with the foundation of Israel as a nation.

As the crowds hear the disciples uttering the wonders of God in their various languages, Peter stands up before the crowd and explains that what they have experienced is the fulfillment of the words of the prophet Joel. Then, he began to preach the good news about Jesus.

Within the book of Acts, the proof God gives of Jesus’ messiahship is the Holy Spirit. The Spirit’s coming provides the divine evidence that Jesus is truly the Messiah and that God raised him from the dead. The two—the coming of the Spirit and Jesus’ messiahship—are always linked in Acts.

People often focus on other aspects and manifestations of the Spirit, but we can never forget that the coming of the Spirit ultimately testifies that Jesus of Nazareth is God’s Messiah, whom He raised from the dead. Peter’s response to the crowd that listened to him: “Repent and be baptized. … And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38 NIV).

The coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost fulfilled God’s promises through Joel. It connected to His act of the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. And, most importantly, it testified that Jesus is His Messiah, raised from the dead. Whatever the Spirit’s work is in our lives and in our communities, it should also testify to these things.

PRAYER

Father, thank You for sending us Your Spirit to testify of the truth of Your Son. Amen.

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Single Mother: Yevgenia’s Story

She did the right thing. Yevgenia decided to raise her precious little boy even though the father wanted her to abort the child. This single mother, living with her son and caring for her own mother, was blessed with an excellent job as a hotel chef in Israel. Life seemed good—until her mother suffered a sudden heart attack and needed costly surgery.

Then, tragedy hit! The hotel went bankrupt and Yevgenia lost her job. She struggled to keep her family afloat, working nearly every waking hour. Despite her efforts, she plunged deeper into debt, and finally fled Israel for her native Russia.

For eight long years she worked to establish herself, and she eventually returned to Israel. Unfortunately, Israeli law prevented her from opening a bank account—or even getting a job—because she still owed a large debt. By the grace of God, she learned of CBN Israel’s family department. We referred her to someone that helped her manage her finances, pay down her debt, and regain her status as a business professional. Yevgenia now has a new hope for the future. She said that she couldn’t believe anyone would care this much to help her!

During this time of worldwide concern about the COVID-19 virus, the need remains urgent as CBN Israel continues providing food, medicine, shelter, and other necessities to those who desperately need our help.

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Weekly Devotional: Forgive As You Have Been Forgiven

“For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions” (Matthew 6:14-15 NASB).

Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12 NIV). Because, in Christ, we have been forgiven everything, God asks us to extend that same measure of forgiveness to others.

Elsewhere Jesus taught, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matthew 5:7 NASB). The degree to which I receive mercy is correlated to the mercy I show others. He communicated a similar message about judging: “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged” (Matthew 7:1-2 NASB). In other words, I will be judged in the same way I judge others. 

Jesus understood that forgiveness is not a feeling; it is a choice. And it is a choice we are capable of making now, wherever we are. If we desire to receive mercy and forgiveness, then, according to Jesus, we must choose to show mercy and forgiveness to others. We are to forgive those who have wronged us; others who don’t agree with us or act like us; or others who have hurt us. 

This is where Jesus’ message challenges us in very practical ways, just as it did His original audience. He understood that people have the propensity to treat others horribly, without mercy or forgiveness. Yet, it is because we have peace with God, that we should work to have peace with others. The Bible tells us that the love of Christ has been shed abroad in our hearts. We have an ample supply of love and forgiveness to share with those around us.

This is a profound thought with incredible implications. Think how different our world would look if the followers of Jesus lived by the principle that since we have received unending mercy and forgiveness, we must also show mercy and forgiveness to others. It would transform our world, our communities, our neighborhoods, and our families. 

PRAYER

Father, let us share the forgiveness you have given us with others. Amen.

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