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New Immigrant: Snejana’s Story

When Snejana, her husband, and their three children emigrated from Ukraine to Israel in 2018, she had high hopes, despite the obstacles of starting over in a new culture. They found an apartment that looked fresh and clean, and seemed perfect for their family. 

But when winter came, their dream apartment became a nightmare. Their entire home was filled with mold—in the kitchen, living room, master bedroom, and kids’ room. When they called the landlord, pleading with him to fix it, he hung up and said it wasn’t his problem. 

By this time, Snejana was a stay-at-home mom, caring for her children, and pregnant with a fourth child. Her husband was the breadwinner, but his modest salary just covered their basic needs. Unable to hire a professional contractor, the couple washed the walls with bleach the whole winter. Still, a huge piece of their wall fell off, and the floors were always wet. 

One day, a local group that CBN Israel partners with saw what a health hazard Snejana was living in and contacted us to help her family. We provided workers who repaired the roof, pipes, and the walls, and removed all the mold. Thanks to friends like you, their children have dry floors and walls—and clean air to breathe. We also brought her family groceries and other needed essentials. Snejana says, “Our family is beyond grateful… We are speechless when we think of people halfway around the world caring for us!” 

And CBN Israel is offering help to many more who are struggling in Israel, including Holocaust survivors, terror victims, lone soldiers, and more. Your support is crucial in helping the Holy Land. You can bless those in need with groceries, shelter, financial aid, and medical supplies. 

Please join us in reaching out to those who need our help!

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Business Development: Nathanial’s Story

Nathanial had a rough start in life that could have held him back. He grew up in a poor Israeli neighborhood, with only his mother to offer him encouragement. Yet, this brilliant young man loved computers, and had a vision to make his mark in the field of computer cybernetics.

As a 20-year-old soldier in the IDF, he developed a software program that protected and secured information inside military bases. He faced many obstacles in developing this into a business and making a living. But Nathanial had just started the process of selling his software to the military—and then, COVID-19 hit, putting the process on hold.

Meanwhile, his expenses to maintain, develop, and run his fledgling company remained the same. During the lockdown, tens of thousands of Israel’s businesses went bankrupt, or closed due to massive debt. Where could he turn for help? Thankfully, friends like you were there.

Through CBN Israel’s business development department, he learned step-by-step how to formulate a business plan. During his military service, he took our annual business course, and learned how to thrive in a COVID-19 world. CBN Israel has also offered zero-interest grants and loans to struggling businesses like his—helping them survive and avoid bankruptcy. Nathanial says, “I owe so much to CBN Israel for their help and support during these hard times!”

And CBN Israel is doing much more to bring aid during this pandemic. We are there for Holocaust survivors, single mothers, and refugees. As cries for help in the Holy Land continue, your support is crucial. You can deliver groceries, housing, and other essentials to desperate families. 

Please join us in reaching out to those who need our help!

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Outpouring of the Holy Spirit

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” 

(Luke 1:8 NKJV).

Pentecost (or Shavuot) was one of the three pilgrimage festivals within ancient Judaism. Along with Passover (or Pesach) and Sukkot, 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 let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38 NKJV).

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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Weekly Devotional: Do You Sanctify His Name?

But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not trust Me to show My holiness in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this assembly into the land I have given them’” (Numbers 20:12 HCSB).

The children of Israel found themselves in the wilderness of Zin without water. They grumbled against Moses and Aaron, wishing themselves back in Egypt. God instructed Moses to speak to the rock to bring water out for the people. Moses, however, in his anger, struck the rock and brought forth water. The disobedience of Moses and Aaron prevented them from entering the Promised Land.

This seems like an odd story. Regardless of how Moses did it, water still came from the rock. Why did God get so upset? Because Moses did not do what He commanded. Moses and Aaron brought the congregation before the Tent of Meeting, and God’s glory appeared to everyone. They heard what He said. But still, water came from the rock. Problem solved. Yet, it wasn’t.

Shepherds, like Moses, have a knack for finding water in the desert. Moses’ efforts made him the source of Israel’s provision, not God. His action showed that he did not trust God to bring forth water simply at his word. Moreover, his disobedience in front of the congregation did not sanctify God; in fact, it did the opposite. It profaned Him.

According to the Bible, our behavior either sanctifies God’s name or profanes it. We sanctify His name through our obedience to Him in the common and ordinary aspects of our everyday lives. The Bible often provides ordinary examples of ways to sanctify God’s name in our daily lives. To disobey means that we profane His name.

We often want to blame the media, secularism, politicians, and non-believers for God’s name being profaned in the world. However, the Bible tells us that non-believing nations were not called to sanctify God’s name; His people were. The secular forces in our world are not responsible for God’s name being profaned in our world; we are. When we fail to obey Him, we profane His name. But when we obey Him, we sanctify His name before the world.

God takes this seriously. So seriously, that it prevented Moses and Aaron from entering the Promised Land. The first benediction of the prayer Jesus taught His followers to pray requested, “May we sanctify Your name.” How? By obeying His will.

PRAYER

Father, may we sanctify Your name in our world today through our obedience to Your word. Amen.

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Weekly Devotional: Obedience Through Suffering

“During His earthly life, He [Jesus] offered prayers and appeals with loud cries and tears to the One who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence. Though He was God’s Son, He learned obedience through what He suffered” (Hebrews 5:7-8 HCSB).

Our faith has run off the rails. Somewhere within western Christianity we’ve come to believe that God is concerned with our comfort, happiness, and wellbeing. Jesus learned obedience through what He suffered. Wow! That’s sobering.

God did not spare His own son trials, pain, and sufferings. What makes us think that He will spare us? In fact, He used trials and suffering to teach His son obedience. God could have saved Him. But He didn’t. Jesus had a lesson to learn—obedience—so God made Him walk through suffering to learn it.

Our faith often places us (mankind) at the center. We think God desires our comfort, happiness, and well-being. In that sort of economy, God exists for me. I am the subject, and He is the object. The Bible, however, does not view the world in such a manner. God is king. He makes the rules; we don’t. I exist to serve Him.

He has my ultimate best interest in mind, but His goal reaches beyond me. He receives the glory. He is the subject, and I am the object. He will teach me obedience—which is His ultimate desire for my life—through suffering.

We tend to equate our inconvenience with suffering. It’s not. We do not suffer when we are inconvenienced. The denial of my perceived rights does not mean I’m suffering. Our faith desperately needs a healthy theology of suffering, because through suffering Jesus learned obedience. His suffering did not mean God didn’t love Him. No, it meant His submission to God’s will, God’s way, and God’s rule.

The author of Hebrews continued, “and being made perfect.” How? Through His sufferings. Jesus “became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him [God]” (Hebrews 5:9 HCSB). Jesus’ sufferings made Him perfect, and they made Him the source of salvation for those who obey God. God can perfect us too by our sufferings, if we submit to Him. Moreover, our obedience to Him offers a conduit for others to come to Him.

Why should God save us from the lessons He taught His son? As long as our faith focuses upon ourselves, we will never mature, nor will we learn the lessons God has for us. If we truly follow Jesus, we too will submit to the lessons God seeks to teach us, even in suffering. Our refusal to do so indicates our ultimate rejection of following Jesus.

PRAYER

Father, You loved Your son Jesus dearly, yet You taught Him obedience through His sufferings. Lord, teach us Your lessons too. May we submit to You and Your will in all we do and say, and in every circumstance. Amen.

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Weekly Devotional: The Lord Alone Exalted

“The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day. For the day of the LORD of hosts shall come upon everything proud and lofty, upon everything lifted up—and it shall be brought low” (Isaiah 2:11-12 NKJV).

Our world marvels at mankind’s stunning achievements. We celebrate human advancement consumed by modern success. At the center of our universe stands humanity. Our postmodernism evaluates everything through the lens of the human individual. Such a worldview is foreign to the biblical mind. In fact, the biblical worldview challenges and affronts our modern outlook.

The biblical mind was overwhelmed by the God of the universe and His awesomeness. It recognized the transience and fragility of human existence against His dwelling in eternity. It saw the folly of human pride and arrogance as God raised up and brought low.

It recognized humanity as created by the Creator to do His will instead of viewing itself as the master of the universe. It understood that God is King and we are not. It also realized that creation—all of it, including humanity—existed to glorify God, not itself. His redemption of the world primarily brings glory to Him and is not about us.

For the Bible, God is the subject of the universe, and we are the object. Our modern world flips that around, if we even place God in the sentence at all. Unfortunately, our modern Christianity also makes us the subject and Him the object. We look to Him for what He can do for us, our needs, our salvation, our comfort.

God does care deeply about us, more than we can ever comprehend, but He does not exist for us. We exist for Him. That affronts our modern sensitivities, but until we recognize the difference between our worldview and that of the Bible, we cannot truly capture what the biblical authors sought to convey. We cannot be swept away by His awesome majesty.

PRAYER

Father, You are awesome, enthroned in majesty. May we live our lives declaring Your rule in all we say and do. Amen.

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Weekly Devotional: Slow to Anger in a World of Tempers

“Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but one who has a hasty temper exalts folly” (Proverbs 14:29 NRSV).

We live in a world full of tempers. On our streets, in our homes, on our social media, people express their temper often and loudly. Anger seems to simmer under the surface of our society, and it’s destructive.

The admonition of Proverbs has a timeless relevance: “A hasty temper exalts folly,” yet the one who is slow to anger shows understanding. Proverbs does not say, don’t have a temper or don’t ever get angry. It instructs us not to have a hasty temper.

As humans, we get angry. God even gets angry in the Bible. We have tempers. Our response in the moment of emotion causes us to move from understanding to folly.

Paul notes in Galatians that self-control is one of the fruits of the Spirit (5:23). One who is slow to anger controls him or herself. Such a person stands out increasingly in the volatile and emotionally driven world in which we live.

Emotions tend to focus us on the passion of the moment; but self-control takes a long-term view of a situation. Our freedom of expression, especially in moments of anger, rarely brings about anything constructive. In fact, it often causes more harm than good.

But when we exercise self-control and are slow to anger, we find opportunity to build instead of tear down; we display understanding and wisdom instead of foolishness. And, ultimately, we show that God’s Spirit works in us, by the fruit our lives produce. In other words, we testify to God before a watching world.

A world full of tempers cares little for our Gospel proclamations when we show our tempers just as hasty and volatile as its own. A person with great understanding is a rare commodity in our world, and such a one enables people to glimpse God.

PRAYER

Father, may Your Spirit bear fruit in my life, enabling me to exercise self-control at being slow to anger. Amen.

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Weekly Devotional: Do You Consider the Poor?

Blessed is he who considers the poor; the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble. The LORD will preserve him and keep him alive, and he will be blessed on the earth; you will not deliver him to the will of his enemies. The LORD will strengthen him on his bed of illness; you will sustain him on his sickbed” (Psalm 41:1-3 NKJV).

Our Western Christianity often relegates our spirituality to our relationship with God. The Bible did not look at things in this manner. In the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, our path of relationship to God lies through other people, particularly the poor and suffering.

“Blessed is he who considers the poor; the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.” This is a rather challenging and profound statement, for it ties our deliverance from God in the day of trouble to how we serve and take care of the poor.

Our treatment of others, especially the poor, influences God’s reaction to us. He protects those who consider the poor, sustaining them on their sickbed, healing them from their illness.

Some want to interpret the “beatitudes” in the Bible—those passages that begin with “blessed” or “happy”—as “I will be blessed and happy” when I do such a thing. That is not necessarily the meaning in the Bible. A person who lives and behaves as the “beatitudes” instruct walks in the ways of God. This is the path of obedience. That makes them blessed.

We meet God in the poor, suffering, and broken in our world. Loving and caring for them displays our recognition of Him in them. He responds to our treatment of them by protecting and delivering us in our time of need.

Jesus also embraced this worldview. In Matthew 25:35-46, He identified the righteous as those who cared for the poor and suffering; they receive the reward of eternal life because they recognized God’s image in the “least of these.”

One of the hallmarks of Christianity since the beginning has been the care for the poor, suffering, and broken. The Roman world of the first century did not care about the poor. Roman society had no moral obligation or mechanism to care for the poor and needy. But Jesus’ movement did. His followers had a strong sense of obligation as given by their Lord, and they grew because of it.

Do we see God in the poor and suffering of our world? If not, we need to listen more carefully to the psalmist and look a little harder—for those who do are blessed of the Lord.

PRAYER

Father, give us eyes to see the poor and suffering around us. Move us to action because this is where You reside. Amen.

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Weekly Devotional: Finding God in the Ordinary

“He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap. As you do not know what is the way of the wind, or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child, so you do not know the works of God who makes everything. In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening do not withhold your hand; for you do not know which will prosper, either this or that, or whether both alike will be good” (Ecclesiastes 11:4-6 NKJV).

We usually approach our Bible reading hoping to find something for our “spiritual” lives, but the Bible is not always “spiritual” in the way this word is often understood. Many of the stories and wisdom sayings of the Bible represent the everyday reality of the people living in ancient Israel and Judah. They are not innately religious, but they can help us embrace a more holistic form of “spirituality” that encompasses all aspects of our lives.

And this, in part, provides the opportunity to teach us about biblical spirituality. It penetrated everyday life—the common, ordinary existence of the people. It did not solely pertain to those moments of religious practice and observance, but offered regular, commonsense wisdom. The book of Ecclesiastes is filled with this.

Ecclesiastes has an abrupt and abrasive outlook and message. The Teacher has sought understanding and wisdom and concludes that it really does not matter, since the end of everyone is the same. Along the way of his discovery, he shares practical wisdom. Our text for today offers one example.

His message: Do not sit idle waiting for the right moment or the right time. If the farmer waited for the proper wind, he would never sow. If he tries to time the rains, he won’t have seed in the soil when the rain comes because he waited for the proper moment. The Teacher notes that the only way one can ensure he or she will prosper is to practice industry all day, sow in the morning and in the evening do not sit idle, for no one knows what will work.

The Bible encourages a strong work ethic and sense of responsibility. This probably derived from the people living in a world where existence required daily effort and attention. But even after the farmer labored sowing his seed and reaping his harvest, he blessed God who brought food from the earth. The farmer viewed God as being part of the common and ordinary aspects of his life.

So, too, our lives offer us the opportunity to continually invite God into our everyday moments. The writer of Ecclesiastes certainly viewed our labor, our work, and all of life as being spiritual. Why? Because God wants to be involved in our daily lives, and we are invited to welcome Him into all aspects of our existence.

PRAYER

Father, as we labor today and live our lives, may our work and energy be pleasing before You. May we seize every moment and bless You for all that You provide. Amen.

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Weekly Devotional: Coming in Last to Serve God Best

“For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonored! To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things” (1 Corinthians 4:9-13 NKJV).

The image Paul used to describe apostles, as being exhibited last, like men sentenced to die, came from the victory processions within the ancient world, particularly those of Rome. After an army won a great battle or war, the conquering general led a victory procession through the streets of the capital city. Following the general’s chariot and soldiers came the spoils of war, and last of all the prisoners of war, whose fate often resulted in death.

In fact, as part of the victory ceremony upon arriving at the end of the procession, they executed many of the prisoners of war. Not a very noble position or end. Yet Paul compared God’s exhibition of apostles to such a situation.

He continues contrasting the situation of the apostles with the Corinthian believers. The apostles are weak, fools, held in disrepute. They find themselves poor, yet they respond to the abuse of others with blessing. They are the refuse, the waste, the trash of the world. Doesn’t sound like a calling most of us would want. The lives of the apostles contrast with everything people tend to want in life: material substance, favor among people, a life of peace and ease.

So why did Paul choose to remain faithful to such a life? Because he understood that the best way to serve God means being last, for God will reverse the current situation of things and the last will become first. Paul understood that his faithfulness in the midst of the present reality meant future reward and blessing from God. In other words, Paul remained faithful because he kept the end in sight.

Being an apostle or prophet in the Bible was not a pleasant experience. It often meant ridicule and revilement. It meant losing in the present to win in the end. It meant sacrificing the desires of the present for obedience to God’s call.

This is a very different outlook than our modern world has. It’s a very different outlook than many in our churches have, including our leaders. If your prayer is genuinely to serve God best, be ready for Him to place you at the end of the procession, with the others sentenced to death.

PRAYER

Father, we trust our lives into Your hands. We are Your servants, and so do with as You please. May we serve You best, even if it means our discomfort and foolishness. Amen.

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