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The Law of Christ

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2). How do we obey Jesus and fulfil what He commanded us? According to Paul, we bear one another’s burdens. It’s that simple.

Some today have taken to calling themselves “Christ followers” or “disciples.” Jesus said in John’s Gospel, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (13:35). The evidence of our discipleship or following Jesus, according to Him, depends solely upon how we love one another, how we bear one another’s burdens.

To bear someone’s burden requires us to walk alongside them. To be a part of their life. To operate out of love, so that a person will even feel comfortable sharing what weighs him or her down. It’s not a relationship that can be formed in our Sunday services or even in our small groups. It only materializes when I place myself in another’s life and demonstrate genuine love and concern.

The law of Christ flies in the face of our me-first, fast paced, hectic, and busy culture. But if we are not going to actively, daily seek to fulfill His command to love one another (John 15:17), then can we truly call ourselves “Christ followers” or His disciples? Do we take time in our day truly to see the people around us, their pain, their struggles? Are we moved with compassion for those we see?

Bearing one another’s burdens is not only to get people to think and believe like us; and, it’s not something we reserve for those we feel comfortable with. Jesus challenged the man who asked Him, “Who is my neighbor” (Luke 10:29) with “Go be the neighbor” (Luke 10:37). The testimony of being Jesus’ disciple is not helping those who are like you (see Matt. 5:46-47); rather, loving everyone and seeking to bear their burdens (Matt. 5:43-45). How badly do we want to be disciples of the Lord? Then, we must do what He commanded; we must love one another. This is the mark of discipleship.

PRAYER

Father help me to see those around me today as You do. May my heart be moved with compassion to bear their burdens for Your glory. Amen.

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Mikhail’s Story of Salvation

Through your faithful support and our partners in the south, we are able to distribute food supplies for families who have just immigrated to the country and are finding it difficult to adjust to life in Israel.

Mikhail and his family immigrated to Israel almost a year ago. And, like every family who just moves to a new country, there are difficulties with learning a new language and culture. Mikhail has been trying to provide his family with the most basic needs of food and supplies.

As a result of not being able to provide his family’s needs, he began drinking, and his family began to fall apart. Life seemed like it was going in the wrong direction.
Our partners in the south heard about Mikhail’s situation and immediately paid he and his family a visit. Bringing some food and other things his family needed.

Mikhail was amazed by how our partners cared for his situation and wanted to know more about the love he felt from them. Through the love and prayers of our follow-up workers, Mikhail received Jesus as his Lord and Savior, time went by, and Mikhail testifies to how the Lord has changed his heart and has allowed him to become a godly husband and father through his walk with Jesus.

Today his family attends a congregation in the city he lives in and continues to receive monthly support from CBN Israel.

Thank you for your generosity and faithful support of our ministry here in Israel. May your life be filled with the love of God.

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What Motivates You?

“Two things I ask of You, Lord; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown You and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God” (Prov. 30:7-9). These words of Agur (see Prov. 30:1) display a heart motivated by a desire to please God, as well as someone who recognizes how life’s circumstances impact, or have the potential to impact, our relationship with God.

Agur sought to live his life pleasing to the Lord, keeping away from lies and falsehood. He asked merely that God provide the needs of his daily sustenance. He recognized the inherent problem with riches, as well as the potential threat poverty had upon his character. He ultimately was motivated by a desire to live his life, even in the common and ordinary, in a way to please God and bring honor to His name.

What motivates you? Do you recognize the potential for the cares and pleasures of life (Luke 8:14), as well as your actions to impact your relationship with God?

Our pursuits have the potential to push God to the edges of our lives. Having too much, can lead us to a level of self-reliance that we ask, “Who is the Lord?” Too little, can cause us to behave in an unscrupulous manner, which in turn will profane the name of the Lord. Can we live in a balance? Not too much, and not too little; rather, looking to the Lord as the source of our daily bread. Does the honor of His name and of our need for Him, motivate us in the choices we make and the things we pursue?

Agur understood that God provided the source of his life, and he did not want anything in his life to detract him or separate him from that reality and realization. In our fast-paced, self-centered world that pursues personal fulfillment, that offers a very different, and peaceful perspective.

PRAYER

Father, keep lies and false words far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but provide me with my daily bread, lest, having too much, I renounce, saying, “Who is the Lord?” Or, being impoverished, I steal and profane the name of my God. Amen.

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A Great Testimony, Visit with Alina

As part of our food distribution program, our team in the south meet many Holocaust survivors, and other elderly people who don’t have the ability to provide themselves with the basic need of food. 

Our partners working in the south of Israel went to visit Alina, a dear 80-year-old woman, which resulted in a powerful testimony of a divine appointment.  

Alina had undergone several surgeries throughout the years and was so debilitated that she was unable to lift more than a kilogram. Our team visited her in her apartment with food and other essentials, which touched her deeply to know people cared that much. The team spent some time with her in fellowship and getting to know her further. 

She told us how she had immigrated to Israel from the Ukraine nearly 20 years ago and that it was a dream come true for her as a Jewish woman to return to the Land of her forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 

The presence of the Lord was tangible at that point that Alina couldn’t help but be touched by the Holy Spirit. She then opened up and shared how during one of her many surgeries she died clinically. She remembers that she left her body and could see her own body from above, she then remembers how she suddenly saw the world from on high, saying how she felt an incredible light all around her and a feeling of complete peace, but then in an instant she was brought back and she found herself back in her body in the recovery room after the surgery. 

This precious lady has now come into newness of life in Jesus, full of strength and hunger to know her Savior more intimately. We gifted her with an audio Bible and she is thoroughly enjoying it! 

It is truly a moment out of time, when God comes and meets one person, in their own home, not because of who they are, but because of who He is – a faithful and loving God.

We want to thank you deeply for the faithful and on-going support you provide us with. You are a great part of the biggest changes in people’s lives all over the Land of Israel. 

May you be filled with the presence and the blessings of our Father. 

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Daily Bread

When the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness, God provided for their daily sustenance by giving them manna: “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day” (Exodus 16:4). They could only gather enough for each day, except on the sixth day they gathered a double portion for that day and the Sabbath (Exodus 16:5). God told Moses that the reason they could only collect enough for the day was “I will test them and see whether they will follow My instructions” (Exodus 16:4).

Before they entered the Promised Land, Moses called them to remember the journey that had brought them there: “Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep His commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Deut. 8:2-3).

The hardships of the wilderness tested Israel’s commitment and obedience to God, but God still provided daily for their needs and sustenance. But they only received the provisions for that day. He taught them to trust Him.

We live in a world that values the “self-made” person. Our rugged, self-absorbed individualism flies in the face of biblical spirituality. God’s actions in the Bible repeatedly remind His people of their need and dependence upon Him. He is the giver and sustainer of life. He provides our daily bread.

If we let it, our world, with its busyness, anxiety, and worry about tomorrow, pushes God to the edges of our lives. We seek to be self-reliant planning for tomorrow because tomorrow depends upon us—or so we think. The message of the manna screams to us: God is the source of your daily provision; He takes care of you. Our responsibility: follow His instructions.

Do we only turn to God when we need something from Him? Do we see Him as the One who delivers us when we’re in a bind? Or, do we recognize Him as the source of our daily bread? Do we daily remind ourselves that He provides the things we need for our daily sustenance, and we are daily to seek to obey His instructions? Have we learned the lessons of the hardships of the wilderness?

PRAYER

Father, thank You for providing our daily bread. God, You are the source of our life; today, may we endeavor in all things to obey Your instructions. Amen.

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What the Lord Requires of You

As you read the Bible, have you ever felt overwhelmed with everything that’s in it? Do you ever wonder, how can I possibly live this way? If you have, don’t feel bad; you’re not alone. The biblical authors themselves recognized the need to boil things down into their essence. There may be 613 commandments in the Law of Moses, but what really does God want from me?

The prophet Micah sought to summarize what God desires from us: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (6:8). That’s the summary. Now go and do it!

But even that statement is striking, “go and do it.” Micah’s summary did not offer propositions for us to believe, or durations of spiritual activities (i.e., pray for a half-hour, read your Bible for an hour). His instructions focus primarily on how we treat others and then our submission to God. In other words, he focuses upon how we act.

Biblical faith takes the form of active obedience. It is not a series of logical propositions we agree with, or ritual activity that appeases God. It’s obedience to Him, which is usually manifested in how we care for and treat those around us. That is the essence of biblical faith. That is what God desires of us.

When Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment, He responded citing Deuteronomy 6:5, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength,” and added the second is like it, “Love your neighbor who is like yourself” (Matt. 22:37-39; Mark 12:28-31; Luke 10:25-28). His summary of what God wants from us, like Micah, centers on how we treat others and submit to God.

We often make things too complicated. We try to achieve some special spiritual revelation (often attributing that to our heightened spirituality). While the Bible contains a lot of instruction, it expresses the earnest desire to help us clearly understand what God desires. We see this in the words of Micah and Jesus: love God and love others. Do you want to please God? Then, simply, do this!

PRAYER

Father, in everything I say and do, may I be consumed with love for you and those around me. Amen.

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Give Life

“The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence” (Prov. 10:11). Do the things you say, the things you communicate, act as a source of life to people? If not, then we may need to check our hearts. The Bible makes clear that what comes out from our mouth (or in writing too) proceeds from our heart. Jesus said, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt. 12:34).

The psalmist requests: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable before You, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14). He recognized the connection between what he meditated upon in his heart and the words the proceeded from his mouth. He desired that both will find favor in the eyes of God.

In modern English we metaphorically use the word “heart” to refer to our emotions and feelings; within the world of the Bible, the “heart” represents the “mind” and our cognitive reason. So, for both Jesus and the psalmist, our words reflect what we think about, and from those thoughts come words acceptable or dishonoring to God.

In each of these instances—Proverbs, Jesus, and Psalms—the words referred to pertain to what we say to others, how we speak to people. Our words to others betray the condition of our heart, what we meditate on, and whether or not we truly please God.

Our age of social media has invited everyone to digitally express themselves. Everyone now has a platform to comment about the events of the day and to “give people a piece of their mind.” What do your words say about your heart? Too often people will justify words that dishonor God by appealing to their attempts to defend God. “A source of life is the mouth of the righteous.” Do our words identify us as righteous? Do our words offer a source of life to those around us?

We live at a time when words have been weaponized, even by those claiming to follow God. The Bible is clear: your words tell the tale of your heart. Those who are righteous, their words give life. Give life with your words today.

PRAYER

Father, let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable before You, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Amen.

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Longing for God

In Psalm 42, the psalmist describes his yearning for God: “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God” (v. 1). He imagines a deer thirsty from the heat seeking out the refreshing water of the stream, and he says that he thirsts after God in the same manner. What brought about this yearning in his heart?

We realize upon reading the psalm that the psalmist is not in a great place in his life; in fact, he is being led off into captivity. He comments that his tears have been his sustenance night and day. Those around him look at his circumstances and question, “Where is your God?” (v. 3). In the midst of his present circumstances, he recalls those times of great joy and celebration as he joined the festive crowds traveling to Jerusalem and the Temple (v. 4). His memory of these festive times stands in stark contrast to his current situation where he finds himself in an uproar and downcast. Yet, in the midst of his circumstances he encourages himself to hope in God convinced that he will see the Lord’s salvation (v. 5).

He then proceeds to describe how he feels washed over by his circumstances (v. 7). He feels forgotten by God and oppressed by his enemies (v. 9). Towards the end of the psalm, those around him still mockingly question him, “Where if your God?” (v. 10). His circumstances have not changed.

The striking feature of the psalmist in this psalm is that regardless of his circumstances he never loses sight of who God is—the One who commands His covenant loyalty towards the psalmist, the living God (v. 2), the God of my life (v. 8)—and because he knows who God is, he never despairs that God will eventually right his circumstances (v. 11). In other words, his circumstances never dictate his reality or perception of God. He recognizes that God answers those who cry out to Him. He responds to those who long for him as the thirsty deer does the streams of water.

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by your circumstances? Have you ever felt forgotten by God? Does life and even those around you scream, “Where is your God?” Don’t allow your circumstances to dictate what you know about God. The God of the Bible is the living God. His ear is not deaf to our cries, nor is his arm short to save us. Do we have the confidence to say like the psalmist, “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God” (v. 11)?

PRAYER

Father, my soul thirsts for You as a thirsty deer longs for water. Regardless of my circumstances, You are my rock and my salvation. Amen.

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Youth Camp – Yes!

Teens headed off to summer camp for an exciting time of making friends, having fun,  and growing in faith.

“Serving as a youth pastor for many years now, I find myself facing the same issue concerning the youth ministry in Israel. We don’t have enough programs for them.”

These are the words echoed by many youth pastors around Israel. Our youth lack programs, such as youth conferences, youth trips, gatherings, and many more. 

We are small in number here in Israel, faith in Jesus is a real issue in the land, and many times can cost you, your friendships, and relationships. We are aware of the struggles our young people face, such as speaking openly about their faith without being judged, outcasted, and in some cases, ostracized.

That is why we need to invest in this future generation, prepare them and teach them how to establish a strong faith. A faith that belongs to them and burns in their hearts for generations to come. Our faithful youth ministers, who dedicate themselves to these young men and women, manage to organize youth camps twice a year.

This year’s summer camp included various activities, worship, and studying the word of God together. The theme of this year’s camp focused on serving in the kingdom, daring to dream, saying yes to God and working as a team. 

These camps open doors for new friendships and help them to strengthen their walk with the Lord and to know they are not alone. During the last camp, 16 girls dedicated their lives to the Lord. We have heard stories about some who attend the same school and even the same class without knowing they share the same faith. 

Thanks to your financial support, youth around the country have the opportunity to attend these camps. Your contribution to the future of these young people is tremendous.

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Single-Mothers’ Retreat

Working with single mothers is an integral part of our work here at CBN Israel. We have a local team dedicated to serving them through providing for their needs and resources. One of the ways CBN Israel provides support for these mothers is through hosting a single-mothers’ retreat.

At the end of July, 45 mothers and 60 children gathered at the Yad Hashemona Country Hotel on a Moshav in the Judean Hill Country outside of Jerusalem for a time of fellowship, fun, and learning about forgiveness.  

Most of the single mothers in the country never have the opportunity to go on vacation. They spend most of their time working multiple jobs, and any extra time they may have includes involvement in their children’s extracurricular activities or helping them with their homework. 

As part of the weekend, the women delved into the difficult topic of forgiveness. We have learned from these women that forgiveness is one of the most challenging issues they deal with as it involves forgiving an ex-husband or someone who has hurt them. As a result, there are times that they feel alone or that nobody understands. These women deal with a lot of pain and loneliness while at the same time trying to raise their children and it takes a lot of energy and strength out of them. 

Dealing with forgiveness as a single mother also carries spiritual implications and at times can be overwhelming. The speakers covered the spiritual, emotional, and physical side of forgiveness, helping these women to overcome bitterness and learn about the freedom that comes with forgiveness. 

We also conducted programs for children of all ages to help them focus on the Word of God as well as rest in His peace.  The families spent their afternoons relaxing by the pools and the children had many hills and open fields to run around and play games with other children.  

The feedback we received from the mothers and their children was heartwarming. 

“I have nothing I can give my son. He has never gone on vacation in his life and I am so thankful for this weekend,” said one mother. 

“My kids and I wait for this weekend every year,” said another participant. “We are so thankful to everyone who made this weekend possible.”

We were honored to make a weekend such as this possible for these families. For them, it was such an unusual experience. The mothers couldn’t believe they didn’t have to cook, clean or run around after the kids. All they had to do was relax and rest for an entire weekend. For many of them, it was an unreachable dream. 

Thank you from the depths of our hearts, for an opportunity such as this. Your donations and generosity make dreams come true. 

May the Lord bless you in every way possible.

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