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The Fruit of Thanksgiving

We live in a dark and broken world, however, we who have experienced God’s deliverance not only have the freedom from our past darkness but the hope of a glory filled future in Him. The transformation of the mind is an essential part of preparing ourselves for the glory of the coming Kingdom.

In the story of God’s redemption of Israel from the bondage of slavery in Egypt, God reveals the ‘structure’ of worship in the sacrificial system of the Tabernacle. As expected, there were the sacrifices that were offered to make atonement for sin because of the people’s continued imperfect condition. But Leviticus 7:7-14 includes a provision for sacrifices of ‘thanksgiving’ as an expression of worship. What would God need with sacrifices of ‘thanksgiving’ if He was only interested in ritual perfection of the worshiper- why would you need to go beyond the atonement? But God doesn’t merely call us to perfecting our deeds under the ‘law;’ His purpose is to use our circumstances to transform our worldview to one where we see things from His Kingdom’s perspective.

God was already pointing to the necessary transformation of the mind and attitude of His redeemed. The response of gratitude to God for the redemption He made possible was part of cultivating a different and new perspective on life. It is ‘Thanksgiving’ as an attitude expressed in sacrifice that cultivates the loving relationship God desires between us and Himself.

Prior to redemption, the person held in bondage has no ability or reason to have thanksgiving as part of their worldview. They are surviving day to day under oppression with no hope of anything changing for the better. But not us. Our deliverance from bondage to sin and the guilt over the past is God’s ‘down payment’ so that we have assurance that He will complete the process until His full Kingdom has been made our reality, and while continue to experience of hardship associated with living in a broken world, our Thanksgiving is our heart responding to the hope in God’s promises that continue to be fulfilled even if it hasn’t come to completion yet. When you read the account of the children of Israel wandering for 40 years in the wilderness and the grumbling and complaining along the way, I have to wonder how many times the priests had someone show up to the Tabernacle to make a “Thanksgiving sacrifice.”

Continue to recognize and pay close attention to those things that God has already done, and make the ‘giving’ in your life a declaration to your own soul of how bountiful His love has been poured out over you. Don’t miss out on the joy by performing just some religious duty.

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God’s Ways Are Not Our Ways

When we begin to follow the Lord, there is so much work He has in adjusting our worldview. But when our worldview is anchored in “religious” misconceptions, it is probably one of the harder things for us to let go of. This mixture of “earthly religion” cloaked in “heavenly expression” is not something that the Lord looks past and moves on. With His disciples He is short and confrontational because of how serious the issue is. Here is an example of what I mean:

“Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?”

But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of.  For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” And they went to another village.” (Luke 9:51-56)

At the time this conversation takes place, Jesus knows that He is on a mission to pave a path of salvation that will soon be revealed to all of mankind. The path in the eyes of the disciples was leading towards Jerusalem and a throne with Jesus as King. The disciples were not wrong but they were missing the cross that had to come before the throne. The Kingdom will one day be established, and His righteous judgement will one day come, but Jesus knew that this was not that season.

What season are we in? In order to have the same attitude towards others that God has, we have to be in tune with what He is doing and where He is going. He calls us as disciples to walk with Him along the path, and He gives us promises as we go. But the path also leads through seasons of pain and suffering. If the Lord brings abrupt correction into your life, don’t resist it, He is correcting your misconception so that you remain on the right path, even if that leads through a season of difficulty.

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I Have Established Watchmen On The Walls

In Israel, every Jewish, young man and woman must serve in the IDF (Israel Defence Force) for a minimum of two to three years. As they join, each new soldier places their right hand on the Tanach, otherwise known as the Old Testament, and their left hand raised before God as they pledge their allegience. Just a few weeks ago, my son, a Jew who believes that Yeshua is the Messiah, joined Israel’s elite forces and followed suite in being sworn in. But unlike the others, he placed his right hand on the Brit Chadasha, otherwise known as, the New Testament. It was his personal conviction and testament that his faith is not only in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but in Israel’s Messiah, Yeshua. 

Sixty-nine years ago, the nation of Israel was born again. A nation that once existed and then was destroyed and it’s people scattered because of sin. But God, in His great mercy and faithfulness, has resurrected us from the grave, gave us back our land and is restoring the people. Today, not only is God bringing His people back from all lands where they were scattered, (my wife and I included), but God is pouring out His Spirit and bringing our hearts to life again. My son is a living testimony of this. As the Lord has promised, so He is doing: 

“For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land. “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. “You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God.”- Ezekiel 36:24-28

As more and more Israelis are recognizing Yeshua as their Messiah, the number of believing youth is also growing. They grow up in faith and when they come of age, they join the Israeli army and become, quite literally, “watchmen on the walls”.

“On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen; All day and all night they will never keep silent. You who remind the LORD, take no rest for yourselves; and give Him no rest until He establishes and makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.” – Isaiah 62:6

You who intercede before the Lord are also His watchmen. You who have prayed for the salvation of Israel, rejoice! For God is answering prayer! Now I ask that you join CBN Israel in praying for these soldiers who defend this country. Pray for wisdom and protection. Pray that God would pour out His Spirit upon all the soldiers, that they might know Him! And pray that God would give them hearts like David, full of courage and faith.

God bless you, faithful ones, who have and are taking part, through prayer, in what He is doing. 

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The Significance of Beer Sheva

This week in Israel, we marked the one hundred year anniversary of the British conquest of the town of Beer Sheba located in southern Israel. On October 31, 1917, the ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) Light Horse Cavalry made the surprise charge against the Ottoman Turkish forces that defended the city. The failure of the first two attacks on Gaza failed in pushing the Turkish forces back, but once Beer Sheba was taken, the Turkish forces in Gaza retreated in fear of being surrounded and cut off. This battle has been hailed as a key turning point in the release of what was known then as “Palestine” from Turkish control and a key event leading to the establishment of the State of Israel.

Our God is a God of perfect timing, and He often gives us hints to what He is doing by coordinating events so that we can see and understand. In the book of Exodus, we read the story of the release of the children of Israel from the bondage of the Egyptians. Their deliverer Moses, makes a point about the timing of God in the events he records:

“Now the sojourn of the children of Israel who lived in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years. And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years—on that very same day—it came to pass that all the armies of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt. It is a night of solemn observance to the Lord for bringing them out of the land of Egypt. This is that night of the Lord, a solemn observance for all the children of Israel throughout their generations.” (Exodus 12:40-42)

In light of what took place in Beer Sheva, there is a significance that on the same day the Balfour Declaration was signed in London making a commitment of the British Empire to work towards the establishment of a Jewish state on the land that was being conquered. We can see now in retrospect that God was putting together the pieces of a puzzle that would eventually lead to the establishment of the Jewish State and 50 years later the re-unification under Israeli sovereignty since Biblical times.

God had promised Abraham that He would give him this land as part of His covenant with him. Abraham may have had the promise, but Beer Sheba was the first land where he was given the ability to settle. Was it God’s sovereign hand that brought the release of Beer Sheva first as He had before? Was He letting us know that these events were leading up to the fulfillment of His promises?

This is the essence of our call in blessing Israel and her people. God is working in our time and His call is to come and join Him in what He is doing.

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Get Out of Your Country

Every week the Jews gather together around the world and read designated portions of Scripture. This week we read the portion in Genesis 12 describing God’s first revelation to Abraham. The portion called in Hebrew: “Lech Lecha” meaning “get out of your country.”

“Now the Lord had said to Abram:

“Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house,
To a land that I will show you.
I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you;
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
(Gen.12:1-3)

God starts Abraham’s adventure by telling him to “leave.” Abraham was raised in a tribal culture where tribal loyalty was a high value. God’s call was contrary to everything Abraham had been taught by the tribal culture he was raised in.

It is impossible to know what was going on in Abraham’s life, but somehow he chooses to leave behind his family and culture and follow a God he had not known, in exchange for a promise that he would become a blessing to those around him.

We may not automatically think this way, but Abraham lived in an adulterous society surrounded by false objects of worship. In order for God’s ways to take root in his life, Abraham had to be removed from the things that would hinder the process. Without Abraham’s obedience to “get out,” God would never be able to make him the blessing he ultimately became.

In the same way, God calls us out of our own way and out of the comfort of what is familiar and in to His purposes so that He can make us a blessing. But sadly, many of us refuse to allow God to remove the things in our lives that hinder the process from taking place. Understanding that God’s purpose is to make you a blessing may help inspire the obedience that is necessary for the promise to be fulfilled.

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Disarming Your Enemy

How often you think of life in terms of “warfare” or “conflict”? As we enter into a spiritual understanding of life with God, we understand that there is a very real war that is going on in and around us. We are imperfect people living among the imperfect, and yet the calling of God involves our transformation into His likeness so that we can be a blessing to others. God’s work of transforming us into something that we are not is the basis of this conflict.

In order to be effective in our battles, we must understand the way our enemy operates. As God works in our lives, His process is to bring us into our inheritance in Him. In this place we settle and become fruitful. The enemy will do his best to keep us from reaching our inheritance, but if he can’t keep us out of your inheritance, he will work to make sure he still has the upper hand over us. Let’s take a look at how the enemies of Israel kept Israel under oppression in the land of their inheritance:

“Now there was no blacksmith to be found throughout all the land of Israel, for the Philistines said, “Lest the Hebrews make swords or spears.” But all the Israelites would go down to the Philistines to sharpen each man’s plowshare, his mattock, his ax, and his sickle; and the charge for a sharpening was a pim for the plowshares, the mattocks, the forks, and the axes, and to set the points of the goads. So it came about, on the day of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people who were with Saul and Jonathan. But they were found with Saul and Jonathan his son.” (1 Sam 13:19-22, NKJV)

In order to make sure that Israel couldn’t have dominion over their inheritance, their enemies made sure they didn’t have any blacksmiths who could make weapons. The Israelites became dependent on their enemies to maintain their agricultural equipment, but they could never be free because they would never mobilize for war without weapons.

In your life, the enemy will allow you to work and produce what is necessary to sustain life, but to be victorious you have to be equipped with the weapons to make war. That is how the enemy operates to keep you away from him. The “day of battle” will always come, so prepare and become equipped by knowing how your enemy operates and ask God to equip you with the weapons of His righteousness.

“Behold, I have created the blacksmith who blows the coals in the fire, who brings forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the spoiler to destroy.

No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn.

This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from Me,” says the Lord.” (Isa 54:16-17, NKJV)

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Israel- A Nation of Overcomers

Have you ever heard the story of the “Unsinkable Molly Brown”? Against all odds, this woman prevailed and found a way not only to stay alive in the face of the impending danger of the sinking Titanic, but to help others to overcome their obstacles and live. This is the way I see the Jewish people. They have faced one hardship after another, including the horrors of the Holocaust, yet they continue to live out their mandate from God that through them, all the nations of the earth shall be blessed. 

The more I spend time with those who have survived the Holocaust and were a vital part in the founding of the nation of Israel, the more I learn that it isn’t me that has so much to give to them, but they who have so much to give to me. These Survivors have grieved the loss of their family members, their friends, and their homes. They have been hated, rejected, and treated as less than human. What was their “crime”? Being Jewish. Yet in all these things, they overcome.

Today, Israel is known for their inventions that have blessed the nations. They are among the first responders to international crisis. But their greatest contributions to the world are the preservation of the word of God and the Messiah.

Overcoming great tragedy is not reserved only for those who have survived the Holocaust. The whole nation is a people of overcomers. Their walls were built under persecution. Their cities were won through opposition on every side. At times, their children were birthed in secret so as to not make the enemy aware of their existence leading to their immediate death. In all these things, they continue to grow stronger, and to celebrate the gift of life that God has given them.

We as believers have a lot to learn from the Jewish people and specifically their elders. What is the message of their lives? That in all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us.

“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, ‘For Your sake we are being put to death all day long;

We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”– Romans 8:35-39

Written by CBN Israel staff member- Bethany Cohen

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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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