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God’s Struggle

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

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

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

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

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

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

He said, “Jacob.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Worship and the Temple Mount

The battle for Jerusalem is not just the subtitle of CBN’s recent docudrama about the recapturing of the Old City by the Jewish people. It is a spiritual wrestling match about who is truly God. With all the unrest happening in Jerusalem, specifically at the Temple Mount, I began to research the scriptures concerning the Lord’s heart and purposes for Jerusalem. What I learned has given me guidance in my attitude towards current events and instruction in how to pray.

Rick Ridings, an intercessor in Jerusalem, made this statement: “The spiritual battle is for Jerusalem. The battle in Jerusalem is for the Temple Mount. And the battle for the Temple Mount is about who is going to be worshiped there.” Remember the story of Jesus being tempted by Satan after fasting for 40 days? “Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. “All this I will give to You,” he said, “If you will fall down and worship me.” “Away from me, Satan!” Jesus declared. “For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.’” Matthew 4:8-10. From the time Satan rebelled against God in heaven until today, he has been after the worship that belongs to God. The Temple Mount is the most important place of worship in all the world. It is the place where the God of Israel, the Most High God has “placed His name forever.” 2 Chronicles 7:16. It is the place where both the first and second temples stood as houses of worship to the God of Israel. All nations of the earth came to worship God in those temples. The Temple Mount is the place from which Messiah Yeshua will rule and govern the nations and all the nations will once again come to worship Him there (Zechariah 14:16). So we see from scripture that the Temple Mount is the place where both God and Satan desire worship.

We need to keep these things in mind when we consider what is taking place on the Temple Mount today. There is a battle for that specific space and for the city of Jerusalem. As believers who love the Lord, we are the agents in which the Lord chooses to use to carry out His plans and purposes on the earth. One of the ways we do that is through prayer. How then do we pray for Jerusalem? By praying according to His word. Here are examples of just a few scriptures to pray for Jerusalem:

“Your kingdom come Lord, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10). “May Your name, oh Lord, be exalted in Jerusalem for this is where You have chosen to place Your name forever.” (2 Chronicles 7:16). “Destroy the work of those who come against Jerusalem and pour out Your Spirit of grace and supplication upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem that they might turn to You again and declare that Yeshua is Lord” (Zechariah 12:10). “Lord, take Your place on Your throne, in Jerusalem, that all the nations of the earth might hear Your word and walk in Your ways” (Jeremiah 3:17 and Isaiah 2:3).

May all the plans and purposes of God for Jerusalem be fulfilled that His name alone may be praised in all the earth. 

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There’s More to God Than Mercy

In our Business Development activity this week I had such an amazing example of how God operates in all our lives. We work with small business people who are working hard at developing their business ideas. Two people I worked with recently were complete opposite of each other. They both have very challenging paths that they are walking. They both are facing monumental challenges in their business ventures. I sat with each, one-on-one, for many hours to help sharpen their business approach and find the best path forward.

‘Person A’ was so grateful for the assistance and was diligently applying the suggestions so that their business gets better. ‘Person B’ has had multiple opportunities to change how they operate and hasn’t done so. ‘Person B’s’ primary focus is getting a business loan to meet their current economic crisis, but then does nothing that would enable them to get the assistance they need. Our requirement for assistance is the implementation of proper organizational standards. By refusing to get organized in their business operations they are making it impossible to be eligible for the assistance they genuinely need.

How often is this the way we handle our walk with the Lord? We pray, “Oh, Lord, bless my way and what I’m doing”, yet we refuse to apply His readily available wisdom and correction.  The book of Hebrews illustrates this point:

“Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. (Heb. 12:12-13)

God desires your healing, but the exhortation here is that making our “paths” straight is our responsibility and has a direct influence on our healing. Is there something that God has been placing on your heart that you need to correct in your “path?” Could it be that your refusal to correct your own path is preventing your healing?

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Be Fruitful and Multiply

In the story of creation God creates both creatures and humans. After seeing His creation, in both cases it says:

“Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth…” (Gen 1:28)

Even after the “Kingdom of Earth” rebelled against Heaven resulting in the flood, God saved and blessed Noah and his sons with the same blessing as in the beginning:

“God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.” (Gen 9:1)

In our lives, God’s desire is for us to come to the place of “fruitfulness.” We associate fruitfulness with labor or “the work of our hands.” Sometimes we associate hard labor with “productivity” because we live in a fallen, corrupted world. But this “fruitfulness” is linked to God’s blessing resulting in the creation of something new. Our actions partner with God’s creative power to bring about something that brings joy and satisfaction.

It is interesting to note that when God chose Abraham, and destined that through his lineage would come the Messiah, there were significant problems with fertility, and without God’s intervention Abraham and Isaac would have no natural offspring. This is a symbol of the necessity of God’s intervention beyond the ability of our flesh when it comes to salvation.

“Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.” (Gen 2:15-16)

The work that God calls each one of us to is not a matter of “toil” which is the result of the curse of sin, but God places us where He has done the planting and we “tend” to what He has already done.

God has given each one of us the responsibility to “tend” to what He has placed in our care. Be faithful with whatever God has put in your care. “Tend” and “cultivate” the fruitfulness of your garden, so that when He comes, you can hear: “His Lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.” (Matt 25:21)

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The Long and Narrow Road

Recently I have been hearing from people that they feel discouraged and disappointed by the body of Messiah and sometimes even by God, and I ask myself, “Why?” When we have expectations, we can be disappointed. In the Hebrew language, there is a sentence that says, “The size of the expectation will be the size of the disappointment.” We expect more from people than we expect from ourselves, and people will always disappoint us. Although we do not act correctly, we expect God to give us positive responses. Though we religiously obey God’s laws, He is looking to change our hearts. Yet, we are often not willing to work on our hearts and if we do, we expect immediate results.

We live in a world whose rhythm is not the rhythm of God. In God there is a vision, there is a plan, there is a strategy, there is a process. Yes, there is also grace and miracles! But God’s grace does not eliminate our need to walk the long, hard, narrow road- the working out our salvation. (Philipians 2:12-13). God has no shortcuts. “Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting.” (Psalm 126:5). “What we sow is what we reap.” (Galatians 6:7). We have a responsibility to act correctly to obtain the right result. It is easy for us to blame others and it is easy for us to fight God and ask; “But why?” On the contrary, it is difficult for us to change our attitudes; to admit when we are wrong, to love and bless others when they have been unkind. Yet love is a mitzvah, for it is said, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” Let’s focus on the beam in our own eyes and stop looking for the toothpick in the eyes of others and pointing our fingers at God.

Remember, as we forgive, so we are forgiven. And as we judge others, so the same will we be judged. Love covers a multitude of sins. And that is the sum of our work; to love God and others with an open heart.

God bless you.

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Blessed in Suffering

 

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.
 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
(Matt. 5:3-10)

I sometimes wonder how the Galilean Jews responded when they first heard these words from Yeshua. These Jews who lived under the heavy oppression of Roman tyranny that perpetuated their poverty and suffering, I have to assume that they didn’t feel particularly blessed. The historical record shows a world that they were sure to have been very familiar with being “poor, mourning, hungry, and persecuted.” But making the connection between those things and “blessing” is a connection not many naturally make.

But who is He talking to?

“And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him.  Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:” (Matt. 5:1-2)

Jesus isn’t speaking to “the multitudes,” it says He saw the multitudes, but was speaking to His disciples.

So what? What is the significance?

The condition of need is a point of blessing only to the disciple, because that is the place where Jesus meets him. Jesus saw the condition of the multitudes in their poverty and need, but His presence was with His disciples and this was His promise that in their deep places of need, they would find Him.

It was His presence that was the blessing. As I have discovered the “God of all comfort” (II Cor. 1:3) in the midst of my anguish, the blessing of His presence plants the seeds of grace and mercy that after a time become a tree life bearing fruits of compassion and grace for those around me.

We take comfort in our need because we know that through it God’s work is forming us into people that “theirs is the Kingdome of Heaven.”

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The Tyranny of the Emotions

“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7)

Living in this world is a war of emotions. The physical world around us seems to constantly throw things in front of us causing inner emotional turbulence. We lose our emotional balance and end up losing our peace. The “peace of God” is not something that is comprehended by the natural man, because it is derived from God’s presence. When we were separated from God through sin, we were removed from His presence. But having been restored to relationship with God through the work of Jesus, means that His presence brings us His peace.

As we grow in our awareness that we have been adopted as citizens of another Kingdom, we will come out from under the authority of the earthly kingdoms of this world. This is a process much like changing old habits for new ones, and that will cause the change in emotional reaction.

Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.”(Isaiah 55:7)

When I think of maintaining “peace” in the midst of adversity, I think of Jesus on trial for His life before Pilate. The ability to maintain your peace when standing trial would be a challenge for most of us. Take a minute to put yourself in the same position as Jesus standing before Pilate. When Pilate becomes upset that Jesus doesn’t answer him, he says: 

“Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?” (John 19:10)

The arrogant Pilate is not used to someone who doesn’t seem to be aware of the power he holds. But Jesus’ response comes from a place of total peace, He knows that He is right where He is because it was the perfect will of God for Him to be there. He is totally submitted to God’s sovereignty and His response to Pilate is amazing, saying:

“You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above.” (John 19:11)

Sometimes our suffering can be self-inflicted results of not doing what we ought to be doing. But being in the perfect will of God doesn’t necessarily mean the absence of suffering. If we don’t have our confidence in God’s sovereignty, we can never come to the place of peace and our emotional reaction merely reflects where our heart is at.

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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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The Sabboth And Rest

When the Lord delivered the Children of Israel from Egypt, His desire was to bring them to a place of rest. The condition of their hearts prevented them from entering into that place of rest, and even God’s commands turned into a burden. So without giving God access to change the condition of your heart, you too will find God’s ways of righteousness to be burdensome commandments instead of finding His path to peace and rest.

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

“You shall have no other gods before Me.” (Exodus 20:2-3)

If you don’t understand that God’s design is to bring you out of the “house of bondage” you run the risk of making your “labor” a god “before” Him. Is it any wonder that we find the Israelites in the wilderness constantly wanting to return to Egypt, and the “house of bondage?”

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” (Exodus 20:8-11)

The religious emphasis is how do we “keep” the commandment of “rest.” But in Hebrews we see that the people who were delivered from the toil and bondage of Egypt, never changed their hearts, and so God says: “So I swore in My wrath,
“They shall not enter My rest,” (Heb.4:3)

But the Sabbath was given to us for “rest,” and the promise of God is that: it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience” (Heb. 4:6) Joshua did not bring the fulfillment of the promise for rest when he led Israel into the land of God’s promise. “For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.” (Heb. 4:8-10)

The promise of entering into God’s rest is not by the observance of religious duty. You won’t find rest in just not working or laboring. The place of God’s rest comes when you allow Him to complete His work in your heart. The restoration of intimacy with Him is where you will find your rest. That is the true Sabbath of God’s promise. It is found in Him. That is why He calls Himself “The Lord of the Sabbath.”

God bless you.

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A House for the Suffering

A Home For Rehabilitation & Strengthening

We recently started to work with an organization that has rehabilitation houses spread all across the country. In some of the houses, there are families including families of single mothers. In each rehabilitation house, a congregation is formed. When the congregation reaches 50 people, the organizers open a new house. In these houses there are many needs and people with financial problems. Some because of their past and others because of the cultural difference due to most of them being new immigrants. In our opinion, there is a great need for help, and this will take time and effort.

We have already begun to work with a man living in one of these houses. He was a drug addict in the past, but has now been sober for a few years. He is still trying to get out of debt that he has accumulated. We helped him monetarily with some of his debts, and have been giving him financial counseling. He will be joining our seminar on how to help others with finances.

Another young man we are working with comes from an African background. He grew up in a believing family but slipped between the cracks, and became homeless and a drug addict. In the past year, he has changed his life around and has been sober since. He doesn’t have any support system, and isn’t taking advantage of his rights. We will accompany him through this process of change.

We are in constant need of prayer because we are being exposed to these kinds of stories on a daily basis. We don’t have “formulas” for these people. We try to meet each person that has fallen between the cracks, listen to them, build them up and consider how to best help them in their specific situation.

Our main priority is to be able to listen, empathize, and love. To see these people eye to eye. To renew the hope and trust in people again, and help them rebuild their trust in God, that He truly cares and loves.

All of this requires sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, and the ability to let the fruits of the Spirit work through us in this world, where we mainly focus on ourselves, on our wisdom, knowledge and experience. It is not always an easy effort to listen to the Holy Spirit and not lean on our experience and knowledge, or to what we see with our own eyes.

Therefore, we ask that you would stand with us in prayer. That although we are being exposed, we would still be sensitive and creative.

Finally, we ask for your prayers for our upcoming volunteer seminar focusing on family finances. There will be volunteers from all over, and we are hoping this will help the body across the country.

It is not always easy to push and encourage people to volunteer, but we see it as a great need. We are trying to organize a seminar of four meetings in the month of June, and we still don’t have enough people who are interested.

We are praying for at least 10-15 people who are willing to take part in this volunteer program. If it’s on your heart, please get in touch with us here.

Thank you for standing with us! We are grateful for each and every one.

God bless you.

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