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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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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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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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Single Mother | Olesiya’s Story

The one thing she didn’t have was time. Olesiya had to work two jobs just to get by. As soon as she got off her second job, she rushed home to care for her children. The young single mother had never expected to raise her children alone, but her husband had left soon after they’d immigrated to Israel—leaving her with all the responsibility and no support. She was always exhausted; the days went by in a blur.

Sometime later, Olesiya came to faith in Jesus and joined a local congregation—and gratefully pursued their childcare suggestions. She’d still come straight home from work and begin helping her children with their homework, playing with them, and teaching them the Word of God. But how could she care for them properly when she was stretched so thin?

Realizing her plight, Olesiya’s pastor introduced her to Arik, the head of CBN Israel’s family department. He helped her plan an effective budget and made sure she had food coupons each month. Finally, Olesiya was able to actually start living and eventually found a much better job. “I am so grateful for the help I received from CBN Israel,” she says. “My life has been changed in so many ways for the better.”

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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Rain In Its Season

“If you carefully obey my commands I am giving you today, to love the Lord your God and worship Him with all your heart and all your soul, I will provide rain for your land in the proper time, the autumn and spring rains, and you will harvest your grain, new wine, and oil. I will provide grass in your fields for your livestock. You will eat and be satisfied” (Deuteronomy 11:13-15 HCSB).

Timing is everything. Farmers especially know this. Rains that come too early or too late do not provide the nourishment needed for crops to grow and produce their fruit. In some cases, rains arriving too early or late can actually destroy the crops and harvest. The agricultural cycle is very delicate, especially in the ancient world where they had to make do without the advantages of modern agricultural technology.

As the children of Israel entered the Promised Land, God promised them that if they would obey, love and serve Him, He would send the rains in their season. This was particularly important because the land God was giving them depended upon the rains from heaven for its agricultural needs. The rains had to come at the right time, or the crops would fail, animals would die, and the people would starve to death.

God called upon the people to trust Him that He would send rain in its season. They plowed their fields and planted them, trusting that God would provide the necessary rains. Can you imagine the anxiety of the farmer who just sowed his field with seed waiting for the rains to come? 

But there was a condition: “If you carefully obey my commands I am giving you today, to love the Lord your God and worship Him with all your heart and all your soul.” Failure to do so would have negative consequences, as we go on to read: “Be careful that you are not enticed to turn aside, worship, and bow down to other gods. Then the Lord’s anger will burn against you. He will close the sky, and there will be no rain; the land will not yield its produce” (Deuteronomy 11:16-17 HCSB).

One of the draws the children of Israel experienced in worshipping other gods pertained to the agricultural cycle. Many of these foreign gods, like Ba’al and Asherah, were rain and fertility gods and goddesses. Worshipping them offered insurance in the event God did not come through. It was a way for the Israelites to ensure that the rains would come so they could survive.

We also find ourselves frustrated with God’s timing, wondering if He will truly come through. We even seek, at times, to help Him along. His promise remains: If we obey Him and love and serve Him, He will provide the things we need for our daily survival. We don’t need to seek any other source of provision.

PRAYER

Father, thank You for Your love and care for us. You are the sole source of our provision, and we trust You to send rain in its season. Amen.

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Holocaust Survivor | Boris’ Story

They were terrified. Boris and his mother were standing in line for the gas chamber, separated from his father, who had been judged suitable for doing hard work. Then a soldier recognized Boris’s father as a leather specialist, adept at fashioning boots, coats and other items of value, and immediately intervened to save the whole family. The ghetto would be safe, he promised.

But it was not to be. Living with four other Jewish families in a barn, they were in danger with the next wave of killings in their ghetto. When the Nazis began shooting babies, the frantic families created an underground hall behind the latrine to hide from the certain death. 

Escaping to Romania, Boris stayed with a wealthy Christian family for the war’s duration and made his way home after the war. Like many Ukrainians, he had lost his father, who had joined the Red Army to fight Nazis and never returned. He recalls that money was tight, no matter how hard he worked. Years later, Boris made Aliyah to Israel, where he still struggles with the language and finances. At age 90, he can no longer work and has no pension.

But through CBN Israel, generous partners are making his “golden years” so much better. “There are people who care for me like family,” he says. “I receive food, help with medication, and transportation to doctor’s appointments.” The compassion he has received gives him hope and courage.

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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A Life Worthy of Christ

“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you” (Philippians 1:27-28 NIV).

What does your life say about your relationship with the Lord? Do you live each day in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ?

Paul wrote to the Philippians one of his most joyous letters. After being run out of Philippi, unable to fully establish the community there, he heard that the Christians there were thriving. This news precipitated his joyous letter. He knew of the struggles that they faced from their opponents, but he encouraged them in the midst of hardships to live their lives worthy of the Gospel of Christ.

It’s interesting that while Paul enjoins them to live their lives in a manner worthy of Christ’s Gospel, he immediately transitions to his desire for the Christian community of Philippi: “I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel.” We can easily focus on the individual injunction—live your life in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ—and because we are so individualistic in our society, that’s where we leave it. But Paul called upon each individual person to live in such a way that the community might stand firm in one spirit, striving side by side.

Our individualism often separates us from the worldview of the Bible, in which the “we” is always more important than the “me.” The “we” is composed of individuals called upon to do their duty, but that duty serves the “we,” the group. Paul reflects this idea. He expected the individuals within the community of Philippi to live their lives in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ, so that the community could stand in one spirit and not be intimidated by their opponents.

Do I see my lifestyle of discipleship as significant to my Christian community? We should not separate Paul’s call upon the individual in how they live their life as separate from the testimony of the believing community. One makes up the other. So, how are you living?

PRAYER

Father, let us daily live our lives in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ. Through our lives and obedience, may Your community be unified in one spirit. Amen.

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Holocaust Survivor | Polina’s Story

They thought they’d escaped. Instead, Polina and her mother had been caught by the Nazis and sent to Bodina, a cruel place known as a walking death camp. There, they experienced only pain, despair, and sorrow. Polina still tears up as she remembers the cold, the starvation, the atrocities—and finally the terrifying slaughter when the Germans learned they were losing the war and were ordered to leave no trace of their brutality behind.

Somehow, the two of them survived the carnage and were able to move back to Crimea, where they began the hard work of rebuilding their lives. Polina eventually married and had children, and the family immigrated to Israel.

Recently, Polina’s husband died, leaving her an elderly widow. Her health began to decline, her hip gave way, and life became very lonely. Thankfully, CBN Israel heard about her situation and stepped in. Generous people like you provided her with a walker and food coupons each month. She also gets help with her grocery shopping and transportation to doctors’ appointments. In awe of the great love and kindness she receives, Polina says the support from CBN Israel has given her the courage she needs to live each day.

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.

GIVE TODAY
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Seeking God

“He sought God throughout the lifetime of Zechariah, the teacher of the fear of God. During the time that he sought the Lord, God gave him success” (2 Chronicles 26:5 HCSB).

These words describe the early days of the reign of King Uzziah of Judah. He started out his reign by seeking God and fearing Him, but unfortunately, he did not continue on that path. Eventually, the Lord struck him with leprosy, which he had until he died. The end of his life was a disappointment from its promising beginning. His initial path, however, is instructional for us in several ways.

First, the Chronicler makes clear that seeking God means fearing (or revering) Him. How does one fear the Lord? “You shall fear the Lord your God and serve Him, and shall take oaths in His name” (Deuteronomy 6:13 NKJV). One fears the Lord by serving Him, i.e., obeying Him. Within the Bible, then, one seeks the Lord by obeying Him. King Uzziah began his reign in this manner.

Second, “during the time that he sought the Lord, God gave him success.” If we make our principal priority seeking God, then He takes care of us. He prospers us. Seeking Him, however, is not an emotional or charismatic experience. Seeking Him means obeying His words and doing what He has commanded.

Too often we identify “seeking God” as an emotional feeling. The Bible never identifies those actions as emotions; rather, we show them through our obedience to God.

Finally, King Uzziah serves as a warning to us. We can start out well—by seeking the Lord and experiencing the prosperity that He brings—but then we drift away from pursuing Him first. We begin to buy into ourselves too much, and we become disobedient. When that happens, we have ceased seeking God, no matter what we tell ourselves.

Do you set yourself to seek the Lord each day, to walk in fear of Him? Is seeking God your primary purpose? If so, you’ve set yourself on the right course.

PRAYER

Father, may we seek You daily with our whole hearts, striving to obey Your word in everything we do and say. Amen.

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