Our Family’s Sabbath

Today is the Sabbath – the seventh day of the week.  We usually refer to it as Shabbat, the Hebrew word for Sabbath. Sabbath/Shabbat means “rest” or “cessation.” Sabbath-keeping has been a big part of our lives since we began walking down this path of Messianic observance almost 8 years ago.  We have discovered such beauty in the Sabbath!

This morning, Mark and I had a short but meaningful conversion of how our observance has been lacking lately. This has been in part to a crazy month with three trips away from home. But it is also a result of, quite honestly, laziness on our part. As many of you may know, we have been home-churching since we moved here almost 6 months ago. Every Shabbat morning, we plug our computer into our tv and watch our home congregation’s live streaming service. It has been such an incredible blessing to us to be able to stay somewhat connected with our community as we make the transition to life in Idaho. But it’s also so easy to get slack. When you can watch service in your pajamas while eating french toast, it’s hard to discipline yourself to engage in the service, enter into worship, and let God speak to you during the message.

This morning, as service was starting, I realized that our busyness and lack of routine had really made our lives go topsy-turvy, and this feeling was especially strong as I was trying to enter into the presence of God. Have you ever noticed how the state of your spiritual life tends to be a microcosm of the rest of your life? That’s what I had realized this morning. Mark had realized the same thing (don’t you love when He speaks to your spouse at the same time?!) and was really feeling the importance of getting back on track.

So, today has been a powerful Sabbath at our home. It has been a day of inward rededication to the Lord’s plans, purposes and priorities.

I’ve been asked before what Sabbath observance looks like for us, and I want to share that here, partly in hopes of inspiring you in your practice and partly in effort to hold myself accountable to keeping this holy day holy in our home. Don’t take this as a list of what you should do, but rather seek HaShem for what He would have you do!

A Typical Shabbat In Our Home

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(and, no, it doesn't look like this - but a girl can dream right?)

As laid out in Genesis 2:3, the Sabbath begins on sundown Friday and goes through sundown Saturday. We strive to make Friday night special as we welcome the Sabbath. This usually means a yummy dinner that is well-liked, and if I’m really on it, a loaf of challah (traditional bread for Shabbat). 😉 We light 2 candles and say a short series of blessings, thanking the Lord for the Sabbath day, for all He has provided for us – both basic necessities and those added extras – and then laying hands on our children and blessing them. We try to have a relaxing mealtime 😉 and evening. We do our best to stay off screens (one of those we’ve gotten lax in and need to get better about again) and keep the focus on each other and the Lord.

Saturday mornings are slow-starting, usually with lots of in-bed kiddo snuggles. We enjoy a relaxed breakfast and morning, and Mark and I try to make sure each other gets a quiet time. At 11:30 we turn on service in our living room. The kids are required to stay with us until the kids are dismissed from adult service after worship. (This is also something we have to work harder on. It’s so easy to just send them out so that we can focus, but then they will completely lose out on the service.) During announcements we usually make a simple lunch that we eat during service because it goes until 2ish. After service is over we make sure the littles are napping (they usually fall asleep during), and then we’re working on spending some quality spiritual time with the older two.

After that, we rest! Naps are awesome. 😀 This is also a discipline issue, because it’s so easy to justify away planning things for the day. But God’s word is so clear that the Sabbath is to be a day of rest.

There is also a short series of blessings to close out Shabbat that we sometimes do, called Havdalah. I’d really like to be more regular with this. It’s a beautiful way to bring closure to the day instead of just letting it fade away with the sun.

And there you have it – a typical (with God’s grace) Sabbath in our home! What does your day of 1st look like? Do you struggle with keeping your focus on this day? What helps you? Do share!

Happy Rosh Hashanah!

I love Rosh Hashanah. It’s the beginning of the new year, the celebration of new beginnings. It’s the start of the Ten Days of Awe, a time of introspection, repentance and forgiveness. And it’s a celebration of the kingship of our Messiah Yeshua!

Biblically, Rosh Hashanah is called Yom Teruah, the Feast of Trumpets. The only details that HaShem gives us for how we celebrate this day are that it is a holy convocation – a day to assemble together, a sabbath – a day to rest, and that we are to hear the shofar/trumpet blown. (Leviticus 23:23-25)

HaShem has always placed high significance in the shofar blast. It was the sound that came from Mount Sinai at the giving of the Torah, and has been used in battle as well as worship throughout Israel’s history.

But why did HaShem establish an entire holiday for the purpose of listening to the shofar blast? I believe the answer is found in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17:

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.

Not only has the shofar blast been important in times past, but it will be important in the time to come!

Be blessed this new year and always – Shana Tova!
~Judy

*For more information about the shofar, check out this link:
http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Holidays/Fall_Holidays/Elul/Shofar/shofar.html

Grace and Law – Opposites or Complements?

I saw a post on Facebook last night that caught my eye.  It was a quote that basically pitted law and grace against each other, showing just how awful law is and how wonderful grace is.  It broke my heart.  God wrote those words of “law” for His people whom He loves with an everlasting love, and who He chose to have a relationship with.  This is the reply I wrote to that thread.  I hope that it helps people to think about God’s beautiful word through a slightly different lens.
First of all, the word “law” here is a poor translation of the Hebrew word “Torah” which means teaching or instruction. God gave the Israelites His divine instruction on how they should live as His covenant people. It is their “marriage ketubah” of sorts – a written contract for the covenant that He made with them. You say that the law was put into place for the unsaved, but that’s not really the case.
Second, grace and law are not opposites, as is evident when we understand what the “law” really is. (No one would try to argue that grace and instruction are opposites.) Grace and legalism are opposites. Grace and Torah are a beautiful complement to each other.
As soon as people start pitting grace and “law” or NT and OT against each other, they lose the ability to understand either fully. This gives way for us to depend solely on our “conscience” and what “feels right” instead of going to God’s word for the answer. I know that most people may not think of it that way, but it happens every day – just look at how many churches are ordaining homosexual ministers. As soon as you bypass God’s Torah in favor of grace, you begin seeing it as a license to interpret Scripture however you want.
Jesus said “If you love me, obey my commandments.” He’s speaking of the Torah. He said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” He’s speaking of the Torah. Then He says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations… teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
Grace and Torah serve two different purposes, both of which equally important. Grace keeps us in right standing before God. Torah shows us how to live out our love for God. Because we have grace, we keep His commandments.

On the Doorposts

Yesterday morning, our family put up our mezuzah. We have had a mezuzah on our front door for several years now, and while I’m used to seeing it, it’s impact on me has never faded.

The mezuzah is a small, thin case that holds a tiny scroll of scripture with two passages written on it – Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:13-21. These passages contain the Shema and the verses giving the command for writing/affixing God’s Word to our doorposts.

Although we are not Jewish, we chose to keep this commandment out of love for the Lord and respect for His Word. It functions, not as some kind of “amulet”, but as a constant reminder of the role of God’s Word in our home and lives. When we enter our home, we see the mezuzah, and remember that God reigns in our home and that His Word is above all. We often touch the mezuzah and bring our fingers to our lips, worshipping not the object, but the Creator whose holy Words are written within.
 

Whether or not you choose to affix a mezuzah to your doorposts, I challenge you to find a way to bring honor and attention to the authority of God’s Word in your home.

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

-Matthew 7:24-27

May we be those who build our homes on the solid foundation of God’s Word!

– Judy

Interested in the Jewish Roots of Your Faith?

Have you ever wondered about the Jewish roots of Christianity?  Are you interested in learning about the land, people, and culture of ancient Israel – the land that Jesus came to over 2000 years ago?  Do you wonder what relevance it has to your life today?

We are super excited to be starting up an in-depth, well-researched Bible study about our Jewish roots!  It is called HaYesod, which means “The Foundation.” From www.hayesod.org:

“The HaYesod discipleship program attempts to educate believers on their relationship with the Promised Land, the historic people of God, and the Scriptures of the Jewish people. Knowing the Jewish foundation of Christianity deepens the faith of the believer, clarifies the meaning of the Bible, and reveals God’s purpose for all of His people.”

HaYesod will run for 10 weeks, beginning Saturday evening, September 8th.  It is open to believers from all backgrounds, and will be located at our home in Meridian, Idaho.  Families are welcome!  Cost is $35/single or $60/couple and includes a gorgeous, in-depth (3/4″ thick!) student workbook for each registered student.

Watch the video preview below, and if you’d like a longer preview, click here!

After watching, if you are interested in signing up, please contact me at judyrich04{at}gmail{dot}com.  Thanks!!

Shavuot – Delighting in God’s Gifts of Torah and Spirit

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he propers.
Psalm 1:1-3 NASB

Today is Shavuot – the Feast Of Weeks – that is celebrated 50 days after Passover. Today is the day that we celebrate the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai as well as the giving of the Spirit in Jerusalem. Today we celebrate that God loved us so much that He gave us His divine instruction for how we should live our lives, and He gave us His Spirit so that His Words would be written on our hearts and we would have more power to live a holy life.

The passage above is one that our family holds dear; the last sentence of that verse is on our living room wall. We stand on that promise: that we will be strong, fruitful and blessed as long as we delight in and meditate on God’s law – teachings – Torah.

Does that seem like a dichotomy to you – delight and law? God never intended for that to be so. His Torah was given as part of His relationship of love with Israel. And He gave His Spirit to His people to help empower them to keep that same Torah. Yeshua taught a love for the Torah (see Matthew 5:17-20); the apostles cherished the Torah. And I love the passage in John 14 (vs. 15-31) where Yeshua explains to his disciples his reason for sending his Spirit. His Spirit was to be a helper to them – to keep God’s commandments – and a source of God’s power within them.

As modern-day believers, we are called to celebrate the Torah as “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword,” (Heb. 4:12) and also cherish the Spirit, the “Helper to be with you forever.” (John 14:16) Through these two gifts to us, God speaks, and through them, our lives are changed! But in keeping with my heart’s song of late, sometimes it’s really hard to see these gifts. If I’m being honest, I’ll tell you that I’ve gone through seasons when God’s Word and Spirit have been far from my words and spirit. But the grace of God is truly amazing, and patient, and forgiving! He longs to draw us to Himself over and over again, and He never gives up on us!

Praise be to our God, who in His infinite love gave us His Word and His Spirit! May we recognize these gifts that He has given us and delight in Him!

~ Judy