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Called to Bless

 

From the beginning of the Bible, in the book of Genesis, God makes a strong declaration to Abraham and his descendants after him: “Whoever blesses you I will bless and whoever curses you, I will curse and in you all the nations of the earth shall be blessed”-Genesis 12:3.  What a statement! Yet have we not seen this played out through all of history how God has keep this promise to the nations who have chosen to either stand with Israel or reject them?

We know that God is watching over His word to perform it and every person who joins themselves to Israel and to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is blessed. We see this in stories such as Rahab the harlot and Ruth the Moabite. In each case, those who join themselves to God’s people receive His covenants, inheritance, promises and instruction.  And they are equally accountable to the laws and commands given by God to house of Israel. (See Exodus 12:49).

But what does God say to the Jew concerning their behavior to the foreigner dwelling among them? Let’s have a look. In Deuteronomy 10:18-19, it says, “He (God) defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you (the house of Israel) are to love those who are foreigners for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.”

To us here at CBN Israel, we view single mothers in the same category as the widow and their children in the same category as the orphan.  Both are without the covering of an earthly husband and father to provide, protect and love them. We do not judge the husbandless and fatherless. We see God as the Supreme Judge over all matters and we are His servants who are simply called to love.

That is why, in our work, we seek to serve single mothers and their children and strive to meet their needs with God’s love that He has placed in our hearts. We read that we were once strangers in a foreign land and now we have a homeland (Israel) in which we can welcome and bless those who are strangers and foreigners among us. We read that we (Israel) were once abused by Pharoph under his leadership and God delivered us. In turn, we can help deliver those who are being abused in their homes.

God’s instruction for us believers is this: Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and fautless is: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by this world.” – James 1:27

So whether we are Jewish by blood or grafted in through the blood of our Messiah Yeshua (Jesus), we are called to love the orphan, the widow, the fatherless and the stranger because this is the heart of God. He is a “Father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy habitation”. – Psalm 86:5

If you have a heart for the orphan and widow and desire to join with us in extending His love to those who are in need, contact us! Also if you would like, you may donate here.

God bless you as you serve Him with all your heart. 

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Refusing to Repent

The ten days between Rosh Hashanah (The Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) are specifically the days that Jewish tradition believes determines the coming year to be one of Divine Favor or Divine Judgement. Whatever happens, these 10 days are the time God makes the call for each person. When we reflect on God’s acts of discipline in our lives, we are called to learn and turn. But when we harden ourselves to what God is trying to say to us, we invite even greater judgement on ourselves.

The story of Gedaliah is told in II Kings 25 and Jeremiah 39-43, and is an illustration of what happens when we don’t recognize God’s call to repentance. For years God sent prophets to warn that the people’s idolatry was bringing God’s judgement, but they ignored God’s word and persecuted those who were sent with the message. When judgement finally came, Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed and most of the people were exiled to Babylon or killed.

Through all of this, there was a small remnant of people who remained in the Land and Nebuchadnezzar appointed Gedaliah as their governor. Some of those remaining rebelled and killed Gedaliah and the Babylonian guards. So the people feared the retaliation of the Babylonians and asked Jeremiah for the word of the Lord about their plans to run away down to Egypt. Jeremiah seeks the Lord on their behalf and tells them that the Lord will be gracious to them if they stay, but will bring judgement on them if they run to Egypt. The people decide that they are going to run to Egypt anyway, and a few years later they were destroyed when the Babylonians conquered Egypt as well.

The interesting thing is the timing of the death of Gedaliah. He was murdered on the 3rd of Tishri, during the 10 “Days of Awe” during the time when God is thought to determine their fate and bring judgement or mercy. This final act of rebellion, after God has just allowed the destruction of Jerusalem, was an act that sealed their eventual doom in Egypt.

So the Fast of Gedaliah is held every year as a memorial to the utter destruction that came about with this final rebellion against God. Even after we rebel and have experienced judgement, God extends to us a hand of mercy if we would only be willing to repent. But this example of judgement is there to remind us that destruction is the ultimate outcome of persistent rebellion.

“Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” (I Cor. 10:11)

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The Gift of a Clean Slate

Have you ever seen a child make a “mistake” in their drawing and instead of working with the mistake to create something new, they crumble it up, throw it in the trash with frustration and start all over again? Why would they do that? Because everyone loves the idea of a clean slate- a second chance to make things right.

Unfortunately, life is not a piece of paper. We don’t get the chance of undoing our words and actions, of throwing away every relationship that involves pain or changing jobs every time someone or something fails to perform. The reality is there is nothing and no one in this world that is perfect. But still we keep trying to toss out the old in search of the new only to arrive at the same dead end conclusion that what is truly broken and in need of a clean slate is us.

In this period of time, known as the “Days of Awe”, the people of Israel take time for deep introspection, repentance for sins committed in the past year and prayer that God would grant them a clean slate with their names written in the Book of Life.  There is something to be said for taking the time to make things right before God and with others. If introspection leads to repentance and a change of heart and actions, it is of great value. Remember, however, that the scriptures make it clear that there is no forgiveness of sins without the means of a sacrifice. “According to the Law, in fact, nearly everything must be purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”- Hebrews 9:22

This is why the message of Yeshua coming as the Lamb of God who was slain for our sins is SUCH GREAT NEWS! Our acceptance of His sacrifice, through faith with repentance is God’s means for a clean slate. Through the atoning sacrifice of Yeshua on the cross, we can rejoice that every time the Holy Spirit and the Word of God convicts us of our sins, and we repent, we can rest assured that we receive God’s mercy and forgiveness. Psalm 103:13 says, “As a father has compassion on His children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.” And the verse just before that states- “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” When we ask God’s forgiveness for our sins, He not only throws them away in the trash, He removes them far, far away from us!

For those who have known the joy of God’s forgiveness, this Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), rejoice that your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life through your faith in the atoning blood of Yeshua! But let me petition of you to pray, not out of arrogance that you are saved by grace, but with compassion for those who have not yet received God’s free gift of salvation. Pray for those who will be fasting on Yom Kippur in Israel, to receive a revelation of Yeshua in this time, that they too might know the joy of God’s forgiveness from their transgressions!

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The Jewish New Year

In Israel, we are now entering the season of the Fall Festivals. This is a collection of holidays that emphasize a time of repentance and reflection. The festivals are given to us as a shadow and signs so that we know how to “identify the season” we are in.

Rosh Hashanah is ten days before Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the Jewish calendar. This was the only day of the year where the High Priest would enter into the Holy of Holies to make atonement for the sins of the people. The preparation prior to this was a 40 day period where the people prayed and repented for their sins. If you think of it like a trial, the 40 days were the trail proceedings, and Yom Kippur was the day when judgment was pronounced. So the 10 days prior to the final day of Judgement are the “closing arguments” part of the trial. This is the season of “drawing near.”

“Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near.

Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts;

Let him return to the Lord, And He will have mercy on him;

And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.” (Isa 55:6-7)

In Jewish tradition, the fate of every person was determined for the next year during the 10 “Days of Awe” between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. One’s name was written in either the “Book of Life” or the “Book of Death.” Yom Kippur was the final day when everyone’s name was written in one of the two books, and the quality of repentance during this time was what determined where your name was written. That is why this period is called “Aseret Yemei Teshuva” or “the Ten Days of Repentance.”

As members of the Body of the Messiah:

“We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, 2 a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.” (Heb 8:1-2) “Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. 12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 15 And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.” (Heb 9:11-15)

So our hope is secured not through our own righteousness, but through Him we have already been written in the Book of Life. Now may God use our lives to make known the path of true repentance leading to eternal life. We long for the day in Israel when:

“I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.” (Zech 12:10-11)

 This is a promised season of true repentance that is to come through a pouring out of a Spirit of Grace and Supplication on “the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem” that we long to see released. Please pray with us for this outpouring.

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Kingdom Investment

“Cast your bread upon the water, for you will find it after many days. Give a serving to seven, and also to eight, for you do not know what evil will be on the earth.” – Ecclesiastes 11:1

I remember when I was young and first came across that verse. I couldn’t understand what it meant. The only time in my life that I had seen bread cast into the water was to draw fish to the surface. I also remember thinking why would you want that bread to come back to you? What good is soggy bread?

But during my time at the 2017 business conference in Jerusalem, one of my fellow, believing, Arab brothers from Nazareth spoke on the concept of “casting our bread on the waters”. What a perspective to live long enough to have experienced the blessing of seeing your “bread” come back to you after many days.

When God called Abraham to leave everything he knew, God’s promise is that in the obedience, God would make him a blessing. It is the same for us. Following God will always lead you on a path where you will find yourself called to serve others around you. Often, these people have no way to pay you back the blessing that they receive.

But how wonderful it is to make the effort to invest blessings and grace into the lives of others and later to have that same blessing and grace poured out on you in a way you never expected. You don’t have to be called to business, but in whatever you are called to- allow God to make you a blessing to those around you. The ROI (Return On Investment) is always amazing.

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All Who Are Thirsty, Come And Drink!

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”– Matthew 5:6

Thirty-one years ago, just weeks before being released from the Israeli army, some friends and I went to the theaters to see the movie, “Ben Hur.” 
At that time, I was into everything the world had to offer and had never once heard the name -Yeshua. As I watched the movie, one particular scene captures my attention. A man figure approaches Judah, son of Hur, as he thirsts in the desert and He offers him a drink of living water. This scene perplexed me. “Who was that man who gave free, living water to Judah who was lost?” Even after the movie ended, that scene still played in my mind. 

As a young, Israeli Jew, I had never been taught the part of the history of my people of when the Son of Man once came to Israel to offer living water to anyone who believed. Students learned in the schools that Jesus was for the Christians and there was no connection to the Jewish people. We were told that not only was there no connection between Jesus and Judaism, but beyond that, Nazis in Germany destroyed millions of Jews in that Name during the time of the Holocaust.  For the Jew, believing in Jesus was forbidden. 
Yet after seeing that moment on film, of Judah being refreshed by a man unlike any other, I knew I wanted that water for myself who also felt my life was a desert. The answer came not long after when my sister, who had just received Yeshua as her Savior came from abroad to visit with our family. The moment I heard her sharing her faith, I made the connection that she had the water inside her that I had been looking for. Thanks to the film, and the prayers of my sister’s faithful community, I was like a ripe piece of fruit ready for the harvest.
I want to remind you that God is amazing. He hears and answers the prayers of those who are thirsty for Him. In this day and age, where everything in life has a price tag attached to it, God wants to give you and I true happiness which He offers to us for free. 
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.”- Revelation 22:17

God has given us the opportunity to repent every day but He has also given us set times for repentance. These times are the Lord’s feasts. This month is the month of Elul in the Hebraic calendar. In this month, we look inside ourselves to search out if there is anything in need of forgiveness by God. We do this in preparation of Yom Kippur, the day of Atonement. As this day approaches, take the time to search your heart and see if you are in need of the Lord’s living water. If you ask of Him, He will surely fill you to overflowing and out of your belly shall flow rivers of living water, the water of His Spirit. 

“But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”- John 4:14

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The Destructive Power of Neglect

Neglect is such a subtle destroyer. It goes unnoticed among the many concerns that occupy our lives, but like a current under the waters surface it has the power to suck us down into the depths. The power of Neglect is not in the way or form it takes, but in what it communicates. It is also well adapted to camouflage itself with things that make it justifiable, never allowing the voice of the neglected to be heard.

First off, before I go on, I want to make clear that we are all guilty of neglecting others and have suffered from the destroying power of Neglect to one degree or another. To those who would seek to use their own experience of being neglected to justify their own bitterness and rebellion, this is not for you (to you I can only say that you need to do a study on the importance of “forgiveness” and learn to accept that people are imperfect). I do want to offer these thoughts for each of us to examine where our own priorities have been and how those priorities have led to us neglecting those we should value and love.neglect1.jpg

Secondly, the intensity of the destruction that Neglect will have is in direct proportion to the intimacy of the relationship. There are spheres of intimacy or relationship. The most intimate would be the bond of marriage of which God testifies that that “two shall become one flesh.” (Gen. 2:24) Then you would have immediate family, then a community of common belief such as a church, then a city and after that- country. If you can visualize the individual as being in the middle and the spheres of relationship getting larger at each level, they encompass more people and are therefore less intimate. But where there is relationship, there is the possibility of suffering Neglect. Neglect by a community will not have as much of an impact on us as the Neglect of a spouse, but both are hurtful.

The definition of Neglect:

1:  to give little attention or respect to : 

2:  to leave undone or unattended to especially through carelessness

If you apply that definition to the way you are called to treat those God has placed in your life, the problem becomes a little clearer. Think about the way you treat: your spouse, kids, parents, co-workers, and whoever else you would like. Is it starting to sink in?

Good, let’s keep going. If we can agree that we want to avoid being neglectful, what is it that we need to do? What is the opposite of Neglect? Here is a list of antonyms for Neglect: attend (to)heedmindregardtend (to)appreciatecherishprizetreasurevaluecultivatefosternursenurturepamperrememberlisten (to)watchfollowmarknotenoticeobserveremark

To help us to avoid making the mistake of neglecting others, we have to start with the acceptance of the truth that “God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Gen 1:27-28) If we understand that God has created the people that He has placed in our lives, and that He has stamped them with His image, we will value them as those God made for the purpose of pouring His love into. Cultivating that attitude towards others is where you want to start. By Neglect we communicate to the person that we value other things above them. It can be work, material things, ambitions, drugs or alcohol- whatever it is, you are communicating that you value “it” above them. Reading and applying the Word of God to the way we think is the way in which we practice the command to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” (Rom 12:2)

neglectThe deceptive power of Neglect comes in the form of some of the reasons we allow ourselves to Neglect others. We all have trouble juggling priorities. It is a struggle that constantly needs evaluation. I think the most deceptive is when people neglect others for “Religious” looking reasons. Paul uses the example of Jewish believers of his day using their religious dietary restrictions to alienate themselves from fellow believers who were not Jewish. He writes: “I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men.” (Rom 14:14-18)

As one who came to faith out of the heart of strict religious orthodoxy, Paul’s teaching throughout his letters was that all the religious activity in the world, aside from being infused with the supernatural love of God is meaningless. That is what 1st Corinthians 13 is all about.

This example was given by Jesus, and I love the story of this healing on the Sabbath:

“Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up. But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.” And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.

But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath; and he said to the crowd, “There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day.”

The Lord then answered him and said, “Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound — think of it — for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?” And when He said these things, all His adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him.” (Luke 13:10-17)

This devotional was written by CBN Israel’s staff member, Daniel Carlson

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Following the Map

This past weekend I had the opportunity to explore the beauty that is found in the Golan Heights of northern Israel.   The region is famous for its hikes, waterfalls and mountain top views, so with just a week remaining of my time in Israel, I decided it was time to do a little exploring up north with two of my friends.

On our first day in the Golan we ventured off on a glorious hike to the Gilabun nature reserve, which culminated in a spectacular waterfall view as we descended into the basin. The waterfall was breath taking and worth every moment spent on the rough terrain to reach the destination. 

The second day, armed with the pride of feeling like professional hikers in the region, we set off on another adventure that promised waterfall views.

Before departing on our hike, we received detailed instructions from the hostel owner about where to find the trail that would lead to the Zevitan waterfall.  With map in hand and full of confidence, we started out on our journey into the Israeli summer heat, and boy was it hot!

We had been walking for about 30 minutes when we realized we had misread the map and were headed in the wrong direction through a field of horses. But instead of going back to the point where we had gone wrong, we saw a short cut across the field, which appeared to connect to our original path. As we cut across the field we could see a sign up at the top of the hill in the distance, but we also saw what appeared to be a trail starting from the point where we were standing. 

So what did we do? We convinced ourselves this must be the path and that the sign up the hill was probably pointing this direction.  We discussed walking up the hill to read the sign, but together decided that would be a waste of time—after all, where we were standing seemed to be a well-worn path, not to mention the fact that we were already hot and sweaty and didn’t feel like back tracking!  So, filled with confidence we set out down the hill.

Now you can probably guess where this story is going. After hiking for nearly 45 minutes and not finding any signs of a stream or a waterfall, we realized we’d made a wrong decision in not reading the sign, it was clear we were nowhere close to our destination.

With a good dose of discouragement, we swallowed our pride and walked another hour back to where we started (by this time in the direct heat and uphill).  As we trudged back, we were quite disappointed with ourselves, as we had wasted so much time and no longer had time left in our day to start over. Our mistake had cost us the beauty of the waterfall. As we walked quietly back I mulled over the spiritual parallels that could be made from this experience.

How often in my life do I make decisions based on my own knowledge and not consult the Lord? Where am I so convinced that I’m right, that I do not look to what God’s Word says?

Psalm 119:103-105 says “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore, I hate every wrong path. Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”

What a beautiful image.  

The Bible is God’s instruction manual for our lives.

If we’re not reading the manual, how can we expect to know how to live life according to the purpose of God?

As you approach decisions in life are you taking the easy path that looks to be well worn, or are you looking to the instructions found in God’s Word? His way will cost you. His way means starting over and getting back on the original path, but it also means you are headed for a destination that promises streams of living water.

For me, I can say with certainty that a waterfall view that day would have been a lot better than circling in the desert.  If only I’d taken more time to read the signs.

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Earthly Fathers

When we look around at the imperfect world we live in, it doesn’t take any kind of special genius to figure out that the people who are in positions of authority in our lives are not as perfect as we would like them to be. No matter what level of authority: from parents at home, teachers and bosses, various spiritual leaders or the rulers of nations. There are a lot of imperfect leaders around us. I am not a big fan of “earthly” authority structures specifically because of the prevalence of abuse and misuse of power by those who have it. 

That being said, God has placed some very imperfect people in positions of authority over me. I’ve had teachers, military leaders, pastors, bosses and supervisors who have treated me unfairly and were even outright corrupt (I can fill a couple of books with bad experiences). But in spite of the imperfection of these people, God still allowed them to be in a position of authority over me, to make decisions that impacted me in a negative way (from my perspective, of course).

Everything in me wanted to yell, “Lord, what is this all about? Don’t You realize what is happening? Can I get a little help down here?”

Yet God doesn’t seem to respond. There is no voice from the Lord saying, “Your right, here is the way out from under their authority.” We remain in the path, seemingly hedged in and unable to do anything but keep walking it. These are not easy times, but painful ones. Most of the time, it is only later that we look back and see what it was that God did in us by allowing us to go through the experience. There are some of these painful experiences that I haven’t been able to understand until now. I have to come to a place of peace that God sometimes chooses to hide things from my understanding. He doesn’t owe me an explanation when I want one.

Sometimes we have the option to leave and get ourselves out from under these “imperfect leaders.” In  our minds, we are completely justified because of the “injustice” and “failures” of those leaders. But the imperfection of a leader doesn’t automatically mean you are not in God’s will under their authority. God may be doing things inside you through the situation that you can’t recognize right now.

It takes true faith in the power and sovereignty of God to submit yourself to a person in this situation. In the story of Hagar and her relationship with Sarah, it says:

“So Abram said to Sarai, “Indeed your maid is in your hand; do to her as you please.” And when Sarai dealt harshly with her, she fled from her presence.

7 Now the Angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur. 8 And He said, “Hagar, Sarai’s maid, where have you come from, and where are you going?”

She said, “I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai.”

9 The Angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit yourself under her hand.” (Gen 16:6-9)

How could God be promoting the ‘injustice’ by calling Hagar to return to an oppressive situation and be submitted to it?

But here is a concept worth considering:  That God gives us “earthly fathers” (or earthly authority figures) who bring “chastening” into our lives:

 “If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Heb 12:7-11)

I have learned that as I have submitted myself to some of the imperfect authority figures in my life, God has taught me how to submit to Him when He leads me in a way that I don’t want to go. God’s path will take each of us through valleys that we don’t want to go through, and there is no way around these hard experiences. But God uses these lower authority figures during certain seasons in our lives in order to train us for the times that submitting to His authority will be very challenging. So don’t shortcut the process of training that God has placed you in by making the assumption that your current discomfort can’t possibly be God’s will and wiggling your way out from under it.

 “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”  (James 4:7-8)

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God’s Struggle

What a strange concept, for God to “struggle.” How can we believe in an all-powerful God and at the same time assert that He struggles.

The story of Abraham and Isaac seem to be fairly smooth when you look at the life of Jacob. Jacob struggles even before he is born, and loses. He ends up as the twin who is born second and loses the title of “First Born.” He uses his brother’s temporary weakness to take away his birthright, and then cheats him out of his blessing.

As Jacob flees his brother’s wrath, he ends up getting cheated by a bigger cheat: his father-in-law.  He marries two sisters who are at war with each other over his affections, and ends up fleeing his father-in-law. It is God who intervenes and keeps Laban from harming him when he catches him. At the end of years of running and fighting, we find Jacob alone, and still struggling.

“Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. 25 Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. 26 And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.”

But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!”

27 So He said to him, “What is your name?”

He said, “Jacob.”

28 And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel;[b] for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.”

29 Then Jacob asked, saying, “Tell me Your name, I pray.”

And He said, “Why is it that you ask about My name?” And He blessed him there.

30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel:[c] “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” (Genesis 32:24-30)

After struggling for a blessing with everyone around him, he finds his real struggle against God. After wrestling with the Lord, he comes to a place of relative peace. A peace through surrender. It is after this event, that there is reconciliation with his brother. “Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.” (Gen. 33:4) Jacob has made peace with God, and now he can see his brother in a way that he had never seen him before. He says:“inasmuch as I have seen your face as though I had seen the face of God, and you were pleased with me. (Gen. 33:10)

You may find that the lack of peace you have with those around you never comes to reconciliation because you are still struggling with the Lord in your life. God’s touch leaves both a blessing and a limp. Examine if you are still struggling with Him for control of your life and come to the place of peace where you will find the acceptance of your brother whom you now see as an adversary.

Does God “struggle?” Yes. He struggles with us for our own peace.

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