Oil For One

Last night I woke up at 4 in the morning. Everything in me desired to roll over and continue sleeping. But I couldn’t. I knew why I was awake; God wanted my attention. He was looking for me. Pushing against my tiredness, I got up, and began worshipping God out loud. As I worshipped, the presence of God filled my room and touched my heart. His love surrounded me and I felt His pleasure. Tears streamed down my face as the Lord began to speak to me.

“Spending time with Me is one of the ways that you fill your spiritual lamp with oil,” He said. “And no one else can give you oil but me.” He reminded me that one day, Yeshua will come and whoever has oil will go into the wedding supper of the Lamb. But whoever does not, will not be able to buy the oil from someone else, because the oil that we receive comes from spending time in His presence. It’s personal! Think about it. How can we buy the presence of God from someone else? How can we buy the anointing of the Holy Spirit?

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. Later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’ Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour. – Matthew 25:1-13

The five wise women were prepared, they knew Him and He knew them. But the foolish were unprepared for His coming. They were out oil and out of time. And the Father said, “He did not know them.” How do we know God? By spending time with Him. In His word, and in His presence.

My question for you today is this: Are you saying YES to God when He calls you to come and be with Him even in the middle of the night? Are you consistently filling your lamp with oil? I want to encourage you today to seek after the presence of God and to keep on seeking, so that when the time comes, you will be ready for the marriage supper of the Lamb and He will say of you, “this one I know.”

Blessings from Jerusalem!

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Live on Purpose

Do you find life frustrating? Does is seem like there is never enough time, money, resources or energy to do the things you love and long to do? Maybe it’s time to make some changes and to live your life intentionally with purpose.

 “Live intentionally, Bethany.” Those were the wise words my mother had to say after getting an earful of complaints that I didn’t have enough of… you name it. I understood what she was saying. Basically, my life had become what I had allowed it to be. If my children were not helping pick things up around the house, it was because I was not intentional about teaching them the importance of taking responsibility for what was theirs. If our household income was not enough to set aside a little to enjoy something like a vacation or even on a smaller scale, an evening out with my husband, we needed to consider where we could make some changes in order to do those things we love. If work, school, congregation, friends or my cell phone were all vying for my attention, I needed a concrete plan for when and where each one would be welcome into my day. Complaining will never result in change. Taking responsibility where we can and praying through the things we can’t, that is where we will gain the results we are looking for.

In whatever area you find yourself struggling, I encourage you to do something about it today. Push away the distractions, and take the time to think through and process that “thing” that is bothering you. Write down what it looks like now and how you would like it to be. Then, go to the source of all wisdom: The word of God. He has the answer to every question, a solution for every problem, a path of righteousness leading to an abundant life for you. So go for it! Set your goals and live intentionally.

God bless you!

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What Matters to You Lord, Matters to Me

How well do you know the Lord? Do you know what He loves and what He hates? And if you know, does it matter enough to you that you are willing to do something about it?

All of you who have ever experienced the joy of a long-lasting, healthy relationship know that it didn’t happen by caring only about yourself. Of course not.  You gave and received. You listened and were listened to. You acted on their behalf and they acted on yours. And you mutually cared for and invested in one another.

Tell me, should a relationship with God be any different? Should it be only one-sided? Wouldn’t that be considered unhealthy? One of the primary ways we learn about God is through His written word. We learn from His word what God loves and what He hates. And one of the main focuses through the entirety of His word is His love and covenant with Israel.

From the beginning of Genesis, we see that God established an EVERLASTING covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that He is still keeping to this day (See Genesis 17:6-8). The God we serve sees Israel as the apple (or pupil) of His eye. (Zechariah 2:8). The Messiah we are so grateful for saving us from our sins, came through His people Israel. The Bible that we are so grateful for giving us wisdom and instruction, was given to and written through His people Israel. Our God is focused today on bringing back His people from all the nations of the earth, to restore them to their land and to Himself, to give them a new heart and to pour out His Spirit upon them and then, Yeshua, the One we are all waiting to return, will come back and place His feet on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, Israel. (See Ezekiel 36:25-27 and Zechariah 14:3-5).

Knowing the nature and person of God and His heart of love for the land and people of Israel puts us in a position of responsibility to Him. If we say we love Him, we want to know Him, to have a long-lasting relationship with Him, then can we avoid loving what He loves and joining Him in what He is doing with ALL His heart and with ALL His soul? (Jeremiah 32:41).

Take a moment to consider if your relationship with God has been about knowing Him for who He is and joining Him in what He is doing, or has it been primary about what you want Him to be and do for you?

Prayerfully, we can all stand before Him one day and truly say, “What matters to You Lord has mattered to me.”

God bless you!

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When She Chose Faith, God Rushed In

Shabbat Devotional by CBN Israel

By Faith, God Rushed in to Help

It was 9:30 at night; everything was dark in the hidden parking lot where I had left my car hours earlier in downtown Jerusalem. I took out my keys and was heading toward my car when I noticed a man walking slowly through the lot sauntering aimlessly. I suddenly felt the potential danger as this man continued in my direction with a fixed gaze on my face. In that moment, I did what I always do when I am out alone at night- I prayed:

“God, I ask You to put Your angels around me and protect me from harm in Yeshua’s name.” 

Even though the danger of being alone in that dark parking lot with a strange man was real, I knew that God heard my prayer for protection and so I didn’t let fear get a grip on me. I reached my car and took my time, acting unafraid as I put my keys in the lock. By then, the man was only feet away walking ever so slowly in front of my car, still looking me in the face as if testing to see what I would do with his presence there. Suddenly! There was a bright light all around my car! A van, just yards away, turned on its flood lights which shone directly at my vehicle. The sauntering man was surprised by the light and left in a hurry while myself and whoever was in that van left the parking lot in peace. The van followed me for a few blocks and then turned onto another route altogether. I never saw the driver of the van, but I did see how God used him to answer my prayer for protection. 

When we pray, God hears us. And when we walk in faith, fear has to flee. I am confident that there are so many things God does on our behalf in response to prayer that we are not able to see with our physical eyes. But then there are moments like I experienced when He does let us see. 

Let us give God thanks and praise for His goodness! He is always watching over us and comes to our aid when we call to Him in faith. 

“The ungodly terrified me and made me distressed. I called out to the Lord for help, He heard my cry and rushed to my aid. He delivered me because He delighted in me.” –Psalm 18

That is the greatness of our God! God bless you. 

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Take Him With You ~ Shabbat Devotional

Take Him With You

Shabbat Devotional

I was around 12 years old when I was first introduced to New Life Drama Company. I was sitting in my congregation on Shabbat watching one of their skits that dealt with our compartmentalization of our relationship with Yeshua. A young lady was talking with Yeshua through prayer in the privacy of her own room, but when He wanted to go with her to her friend’s house, she was embarrassed by the idea that Him coming with her might reveal the fact that they were together and she didn’t want that known. 

Perhaps the reason we don’t invite Him into every moment of our day doesn’t have to do with fear of being known as a believer. Perhaps we leave Him out because we don’t really want His involvement, opinion or lordship over our lives. Maybe we are so distracted that we don’t think to pause and cry out for His help. Maybe we think He doesn’t love us anymore and won’t answer us if we call to Him. 

The drama was strong imagery and a strong message. We know that God is Spirit and is with us everywhere we go. But He does give us instruction on how to “activate”, if you will, His presence in our lives. One of those ways is this:

“In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight”- Proverbs 3:6

“Acknowledge Him. How do we acknowledge Him? Through prayer. And prayer is something we can do anywhere, at any time. Do you struggle with a rebellious child or grandchild? Acknowledge Him. He has the solution and a clear perspective on the problem. Do you have stress from all the responsibilities with work and home? Acknowledge Him. He is the Prince of Peace and wants you to live a life without stress, fear, anxiety or worry. Are you concerned about finances? A lack of income? Debt? Acknowledge Him! He has a plan and a way that is good and right towards your financial freedom. 

No matter what kind of day or week or life you are having, I encourage you to pause even right now and acknowledge Him. Invite Him into your kitchen when you are preparing your food. Invite Him to your workplace to help you through your day. Invite Him to your dinner table, to your friend’s house, to the grocery store, everywhere you go. Yeshua gave His Spirit to be with us, all the time, every day, everywhere we go. And He has a straight path with an abundant life to offer. Acknowledge Him!

God bless you. 

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Paying Your Vows

Shabbat Devotional from CBN Israel

“It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay.”- Ecclesiastes 5:5

There was a time when I was in Bible College that the Founder was presenting a strong message about giving, followed by an invitation to pledge to the school any given amount. I was so emotionally moved in that moment and was so engaged in the message that I jumped on the bandwagon and pledged, on paper, to give a rather large sum. The truth is, as a college student, I didn’t have that sum to give. 

There was no follow-up from the school with those who had given a pledge. No phone calls, no reminders, nothing. I gave a little of what I had towards the pledge in the beginning, but when finances were tight, I stopped putting anything down. A year passed and I still had a long way to go towards paying off that vow. I even began to think that since no one was following up with me about it, did it really matter if I ever paid it off? Besides, it was a pledge, not a debt. 

The Holy Spirit has a way of convicting us in private areas of our lives that only God knows about. And paying that pledge off was one of them. I was having some quiet time with the Lord one day when I came across this verse in Ecclesiastes about paying our vows. Boy was I was convicted! I knew that if for no other reason than to make this right before God, that was reason enough. I still didn’t have the means to pay off that pledge, but I knew God wanted me to pay it, so I needed to make steps forward in that direction. 

When we act in obedience to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, God steps in to help us. I began setting aside a little money at a time until the day came that I could walk into that college office and pay that pledge in full. Oh the freedom I felt that day! Whew. It was paid!

I learned my lesson the hard way. It is better not to make hasty, emotional vows at all, then to vow and realize after the fact that I can’t come through because I didn’t count the cost. 

We need to be careful when we make commitments. People want hasty answers because they know that hesitation might lead to a, “no.” And we don’t like to hear that word. But making a vow out of haste will in the end, bring disappointment and pain. How can we avoid that? By thinking and praying through our decisions. If God wants us to make a commitment, we can rest assured that He will give us EVERYTHING WE NEED in order to follow through and do what it takes to make good our vows. 

God bless you!

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Do You Cover or Expose Your Neighbor’s Shame?

Shabbat Devotional from Israel

“But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it upon both their shoulders and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were turned away, so that they did not see their father’s nakedness.” Genesis 9:23

Noah had gone too far with his drinking and was naked and drunk when his son, Ham, walked in and found him. When Ham saw his father, he chose to expose him even further by telling his other two brothers, Shem and Japheth. Shem and Japheth, however, did not choose the same response as Ham. They took a blanket, walked backwards into the tent where their father lay, and covered their father’s shame and nakedness. When Noah awoke, he knew what had been done and he cursed Ham’s lineage, but he proclaimed blessing to the God of Shem and on his son Japheth. 

Noah was in the privacy of his own tent when his son walked in on him. This was not a matter to be discussed among the camp. Ham’s action reveals his heart. He had no desire to cover his father, only to expose him to others. Are we guilty of doing the same thing through gossip? 

Gossip is a serious matter. It breaks trust in our relationships, it brings division among the group and can even bring a curse on us and our children. Because of the law of sowing and reaping, if we sow gossip about the mistakes of others, isn’t it true that it will come back to bite us? Every time we learn something negative about the private lives of our leaders, our brothers and sisters, or our parents, we are faced with a choice of what we will do with that information. Will we further expose one another through gossip or will we choose to cover that person with prayer, love and forgiveness?

 “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

God is love and He set the prime example for us by sending His Son, Yeshua, who came through Shem’s lineage, to shed His blood not only to cover our sins, but to remove them far from us. As children of God, we cannot remove sin, but our hearts desire ought to be to keep personal matters private, to cover each other in love. 

Luke 6:31 says; “Do unto others as you would want others to do unto you.” 

We all make those mistakes, those slips of the tongue, but the important thing is to learn from mistakes. The word of God gives us plenty of examples of mistakes others have made before us so that we can learn from them and avoid those same pitfalls. If you struggle with gossip, or have exposed someone’s shame by telling it to another, today is the day to make it right. Turn to the Lord for forgiveness and go to your brother in humility. When we are right with God and each other, we walk in security and freedom and we reap His blessing on us and our children! 

God bless you! 

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What do You do When You are Tired of Life’s Marathon?

But the rich and the poor have this in common;

They are tired and in need of living waters

In my job, every day, all day, I work with families in crisis. I find that people are very tired from running life’s marathon; yes we are in a marathon. Some of us run through life with the most basic of finances. Some of us try harder so we can go higher and farther in life. Others struggle to keep their head above the water and some of us try only to stay happy, hoping that our finances will grow and not plummet. 

It doesn’t matter who we are. The ones that are successful, they have to continue what they are doing in order to maintain success. The ones that are poor are striving to gain more from this life. But the rich and the poor have this in common; they are tired and in need of living waters. 

I ask myself the question, “What do we have to do to truly find rest in this world?” And more and more, I come to the conclusion that this world offers no such thing as rest. Yes, there are times and moments of rest along the journey, but it’s a journey of survival.  And all of the challenges that we face are to test our hearts and our heart attitudes towards God. 

I understand more now why the Bible says that it’s difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.  (See Matthew 19:23). The rich person sadly thinks that he can buy happiness with money. But it’s not true. However, the poor are just same. They too believe that money can buy happiness.  Friends, I have met people from both sides and I come to this conclusion:  The most important thing in life is the attitude of the heart. 

King David, in all his wealth, stated that the “good life” was to be in the presence of God. For him, it was the most important thing. “One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD and to meditate in His temple.”– Psalm 27:4.

When you are tired from life’s marathon, whether you have little or much, cry out to the Lord like it says in Isaiah: “Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.” – Isaiah 40:31

So, to the Pastor, who stands in front of the congregation each week and preaches God’s word but feels empty inside of himself, and to the one who has a large home, personal security, and an abundant of riches but has no quiet inside his heart, and to the single mother/widow who feels like there is no more strength to go on alone, I say this: Your peace and strength is only found in the love of Yeshua our Messiah. Rest and abide in Him. 

God bless you!

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Where Does Your Help Come From?

Shabbat Devotional From CBN Israel

Does Your Help Comes From The Lord?

Do you go through life proclaiming, “I can do ALL things through Christ who gives me the strength”, but still find yourself overwhelmed and stressed by all that you “need to do”? Are all of the items on your plate things that God is requiring of you? 

There have been seasons in my life when I piled my plate too full and was on the verge of total burnout. I lacked boundaries and my answer to every person who seemed to really need my help was, “yes!” But what I hadn’t taken into consideration was my own health, my family, and most importantly, what God had to say about my involvement with each of these opportunities.

In every burnout, I had to completely clear the plate in order to put back on only what was truly mine. There were times my plate seemed mostly empty. There were times He asked me to do what seemed impossible. But whatever the case, if God was in it, His grace was sufficient and His strength was made perfect in my weakness.  Anything extra that I added to my schedule without consulting Him first inevitably became a burden and a stress later on. 

God’s grace is sufficient for what He calls us to do, and it is our responsibility to asses each part of our lives to be sure that it is pleasing to Him. So if you find that your plate is too full and you are heading for a total burnout, take the time to inquire of the Lord. And always remember, that within our busy lives, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23

God bless you!

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Shabbat Devotional by Bethany at CBN Israel

On the Outside Looking in

~by Bethany

“For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”- Romans 8:15

Word has gotten around the neighborhood that our back door is a cat hangout. My family and I can’t help but feel compassion for the hungry and homeless neighborhood kitties. Because we have adopted several cats of our own, we have extra food to spare and willingly put out a handful for those who come looking for it. Most of the time, the cats treat us like a soup kitchen, not as a permanent residence. They are skittish when we open the door and they don’t come to eat until the door is properly shut.

There are a few who have come for a closer look into the life of a family cat. One particular kitten stood peering through the glass door, daily watching as our adopted cats played, received cuddles, were given a warm lap to sleep on and had all the food they could eat. We saw it looking in and invited it to join our family. But it just couldn’t overcome its fear. We tried to coax it, show gentleness, offer our hand, but it just wouldn’t trust us. So day after day, it stood in the cold looking into our warm, loving home.

On another occasion, after an evening meeting, a kitten who had the exact same coloring as one of our own cats, walked in the front door as people were leaving and began helping herself to a bowl of cat food. Because of how comfortable she felt in our home, we did not realize it was a stray for quite some time. When it dawned on us that this kitten was considerably smaller than our cat and was considerably dirtier, we were shocked! This kitten had no fear of us at all! She felt as if this was her home all along. When we picked her up, she purred. When we put her down, she couldn’t stand to be separated from us, so we picked her up again for an additional cuddle. As you can imagine, we felt no choice in the matter than to adopt yet another kitty. We felt as though WE were the ones being adopted!

Through these two experiences, I felt the Lord was speaking to me. You see, it takes faith and trust to be a part of the Lord’s family. Through the sacrifice of His Son, we are offered adoption into God’s kingdom. We are told we have nothing to fear because He cares for us. We are offered love, peace, eternal security, food, shelter, clothing, and all that we need! But fear keeps us on the outside looking in.

Friend, don’t let fear rule your heart. God has so much in store for you if you will only trust Him. He is a good, loving, heavenly Father who knows your needs before you ever ask. He is trustworthy, faithful, and always available to you. He is slow to anger, abounding in mercy and is the greatest caretaker you will ever know. Even if you walk through the most difficult time in life, His grace will most certainly be sufficient for you. He promises to never leave you, never forsake you, and never let you go. Today, if fear has had you in bondage and has kept you on the outside looking in, I encourage you to confess it to the Lord, ask Him for the courage to face your fears and then trust Him that you won’t face those fears alone. He will be with you and will empower you to overcome.

Father, I pray that You would set Your people free from torment and slavery to fear in the name of Yeshua. Help us Lord, to trust You, to know You, and to walk in the abundant life You offer. Do this for Your glory, Lord, and for the joy of Your people! Amen.

God bless you!

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