passover

Five Steps to Count the Days

COUNTING THE DAYS

Counting the Days is a fifty-day period during which Yahweh instructed Israel to mark each day from Unleavened Bread to Pentecost by counting them. It symbolizes God’s desire to build anticipation in us for the blessing of Pentecost.The keynote of this fifty-day period is marking each day by remembering to count them.

The fifty days between Passover and Pentecost is a time of anticipation and preparation. Yahweh led Israel to Mt. Sinai to receive his Torah. And, 1,500 years later, Jesus told his disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they had received power from heaven (Acts 1:8). Each year, when we count the days, we prepare ourselves to experience the transforming power of God’s Word and Spirit.

Yahweh promised he would meet with and speak to his people (Exodus 29:38-46). With holiness and pure passion, God longs to dwell among us. And as he dwells with us, he wants to reveal his heart to us. To speak to us. To show us the beauty of his glory. If we’re willing to prioritize his presence, he will meet with us. And if we take the time to listen, he will speak to us.

Of course, we believe these promises are fulfilled through Jesus, our Messiah. Through his death and resurrection, he entered God’s presence for us. There, he rests in his Father’s presence, interceding on our behalf. Because he’s there, we’re invited to come boldly into God’s presence to see his face, hear his voice, and receive his grace (Ephesians 2:18; Hebrews 4:15,16).

More than any other way, God speaks through his Word and prayer. While there are many ways we can approach God, these following practices are designed to cultivate the habit of God’s presence and attune our ears to his voice. They help us prayerfully engage God’s Word through prayerful reading and responding. Because God’s Word is living and active, reveals the beauty of his ways, and shows us his heart, we can expect to encounter him as we interact faithfully with his Word (Psalm 1:1-6; 19:7-11; II Timothy 3:15,16; Hebrews 4:15,16).

Personal Prayer: Lectio Divina & Praying the Psalms

There are two exercises intended to cultivate personal prayer: Lectio Divina and Praying the Psalms. Consider spending fifteen minutes in the morning and evening using these exercises to create awareness of God’s presence and voice. During your personal prayer time, use scripture passages of your choice.

 

FIVE STEPS TO PRAY FOR COUNTING THE DAYS

You can use the following exercises individually or to cultivate family prayer. Consider spending five-to-ten minutes in the morning OR evening using this exercise for your family prayer times. During your family prayer time, use the short scripture passage in the Counting the Day Guide.

 

STEP 1: REVIEW YOUR PRAYER GOALS

Before you begin to pray together, take a moment to review your prayer goals for the season. What one thing are you asking God to do in your personal life during the Counting the Days? What one thing are you asking God to do in your family life during the Counting the Days? What one thing are you asking God to do in our congregation during the Counting the Days? What unsaved person are you asking God to save during the Counting the Days?

 

STEP 2: READ 

Download our Counting the Days Guide here. Find the scripture verse from the Counting the Days Guide that corresponds to today’s date. Keep in mind that each day of counting goes from sunset to sunset. The reading guide marks the sunset of the first day. Read the scripture passage aloud twice. Sit in silence for a moment inviting God’s presence into your prayer time.

 

STEP 3: LISTEN

Read the scripture passage aloud again. As you read, listen for one word that sticks out to you. After a moment of silence, have everyone share their one word without comment.

 

STEP 4: CONNECT

Read the scripture passage aloud again. After a moment of silence, have each person share how the one word that stuck out to them connects to one of your family prayer goals for Counting the Days.

 

STEP 5: PRAY 

Read the scripture passage aloud again. Have each person respond to the word that stuck out to them and one family prayer goal by praying their heart’s desire back to God.

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Six Ways to Make Passover Fun for Your Kids

PASSOVER 2020

Mark your calendars! April 8th, 2020 begins the 8-day celebration of Passover fun for parents and kids alike. Each year, we remember the miraculous journey that Moses led the people of Israel out of Egyptian slavery. Simultaneously, we begin walking into new freedoms in our own lives. Just as Yahweh confronted the idols in Egyptian culture to declare freedom for the Israelites, He invites us to witness His redemptive plan for our lives in new ways each year.

With so much good in a holiday, it only makes sense to include our children. If the sheer love of sharing hope and miraculous victory isn’t enticing enough, you can study the commandment to share this story with our children in Exodus 13:14.

To help give you inspiration, here are 6 easy ways to help your children engage in the holiday. Remember, these ideas don’t replace the day-to-day narrative and relationship you share with your child that will help them enter into the holiday in meaningful ways. These are simply tools to help create opportunities. Let’s dig into some Passover fun for kids.

1. READ STORIES WITH YOUR KIDS

Stories are the foundation on which all other elements are built. Stories are relatable. They are interesting. And the Bible is full of them. So it makes sense to read (or tell) stories for Passover. Because our house includes children, we love to supplement the actual story of the Exodus with fun books. You can find books online, in the library, or even some stores.

2. LET KIDS BE CREATIVE

Creating 10 plagues finger puppets. Building a matzah house. Making felt Seder plates! Online, there are a ton of kid-friendly ideas to get their brain working. Crafts and family activities help kids enter into the festivities, and they are a great way to build family traditions.

3. PUT KIDS TO WORK

Resist the temptation to send your kiddos outside while you crank out your holiday preparations. Instead, let them help you. Let them hunt down the chametz (leavened food items) and toss them out. Give them a job, like cleaning around the house, to help build anticipation for the festivities. And even let them help with the food preparations.

4. SING AND DANCE

All kids love songs. All kids learn through songs. Songs are a big deal in our house. We love to be silly. Music helps us remember important things, like why we celebrate Passover in the first place. Here are a few of our favorites. We would love to hear some of yours!

“Pharoah, Pharoah” by Kids Rock Cm:  https://youtu.be/5PkMC7O1lq0

“Lion King Passover” by Six13: https://youtu.be/qervY5HSzqM

5. WATCH THE PRINCE OF EGYPT

Sure, this kids movie isn’t totally accurate. But it is a great story, and it will help your children relate to the Passover story. It will get them emotionally connected, and is a good starting point for meaningful conversations. We love to watch this movie as a family each year.

6. USE THE FUN LINGO WITH KIDS

Holidays come with their own special words and associations and can seem like another language altogether. In the case of Passover, it actually is. Teach your kids the Hebrew words like afikomen, chametz, and other holiday words by using them around the house. And don’t forget to teach them the Passover greeting, “Chag Pesach Sameach.”

 

I hope you are inspired and ready to celebrate Passover with your family! Remember, these suggestions are only a few ideas to help bring your kids alongside you as you engage the holiday. The opportunities really are endless! The real magic of Passover for children comes not from a perfectly planned evening, but from sharing The Lord’s redemptive power with our children.

May your season be filled with freedom and hope!

Chag Pesach Sameach!

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Unleavened Bread: Formation and New Life

FORMATION IN UNLEAVENED BREAD

The Biblical Jewish Festival of Unleavened Bread commemorates the Israelites’ liberation from the land of Egypt. Moses led them out of the wilderness after the Passover and they fled so quickly, their bread didn’t even have time to rise. They realized in that moment that God had beaten the gods of Egypt, and their God was bigger than any other. As they were in the wilderness, God used this period of time to test them and grow them. They were formed to be more and more like the Chosen people God called them to be. Because of this, they were able to experience new life in the Promised Land of Israel.

 

UNLEAVENED BREAD TODAY

As Christians, like Israel, God called us out of our old life and into a new one. Not only did He invite us into the resurrection life of Jesus but He also drew us into a life of holiness. Unleavened Bread reminds us that because He freed us, we wanted to be different. We want to know the beauty of holiness and wholeness. We want to leave behind what we’d been and become something different.

As Christians, we learn during the season of Unleavened Bread, to tell our story by practically choosing not to each leaven. We demonstrate that we are convinced we can trust our God to rescue us. Because we have encountered Jesus’ love, now we get to choose to take up our cross and surrender wholly to Him. Because we experience Jesus’ death as the gateway into forgiveness, we now get to receive life and formation. We get to see how Christ living in us changes the way we live.

 

PUTTING IT INTO PRACTICE

During the season of Unleavened Bread, most people rid their homes of any leaven. This means many get rid of products like yeast, breads, baking soda and baking powder. The point of eating only unleavened breads during the season allows us to practically recognize the areas where sin has taken a hold of our lives. Not eating leaven brings this to mind each time we consider eating leaven. If you are worried about this, never fear! We have recipes on our blog available for you to try during the week of Passover! As you prepare for Unleavened Bread, consider ridding your home of leaven, and journal about the new life and transformation God wants to bring about in your life.

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The Feast of First Fruits

THE FEAST OF FIRST FRUITS

The Biblical Jewish Festival of First Fruits comes a day after the festival of Passover. It was given to the people of Israel as a holiday to celebrate the first fruits of their harvests. Because Israel was an agricultural community, they were to offer to God a sacrifice of the first fruits of their harvest, commemorating their gratitude and thankfulness for his provision. The people of Israel were not to celebrate this holiday until they were in the Promised Land (Leviticus 23:10). This was because they were wanderers whose food was provided from God, not an agricultural community who grew their own food.

First Fruits Spring Holiday

This day was commemorated as a Sabbath (Numbers 28:26). The people were resting on this day as a reminder that God was their ultimate provider, and it was his provision that gave them a harvest. The people of Israel celebrated this festival through their generations. Even today in Israel, many of the people who work on Kibbutzim (communal agricultural communities) will celebrate the day with a harvest, feasting and dances in the fields until late into the night.

 

JESUS IN THE FEAST OF FIRST FRUITS

First Fruits commemorates the day the Messiah rose from the grave. Because it comes right after the celebration of Passover, we see this day often falling on a Sunday. In a sense, Jesus fulfilled the holiday through his miraculous resurrection. He was the first to be raised and we have the promise that he will raise us up from the dead too. In this way, we see that the promise of First Fruits is that there is more to come! The harvest is just beginning and Jesus will continue to raise up his people!

CELEBRATING THE FEAST OF FIRST FRUITS

On this feast day, we would encourage you to take the day off and rest in the abiding presence of Jesus’ resurrection. Because Jesus ate fish when he rose from the grave, many people will eat fish during breakfast, lunch or dinner on First Fruits as a reminder of Jesus’ resurrection. It is a wonderful day to spend with family and friends being reminded of the provision of God to his people, and the death and resurrection of our Savior, Jesus.

Fresh uncooked sea bream or dorado fish with lemon, herbs and spices on rustic wooden board over grey concrete background, top view. Healthy, dieting, clean eating concept
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Passover: Freedom in the Messiah

PASSOVER IS A SEASON OF FREEDOM

The Biblical Jewish Festival of Passover commemorates the Israelites’ liberation from the land of Egypt. Today, Passover is celebrated with a dinner accompanied by liturgy (holy readings), and symbolic elements reminding us of the Passover. Today, as believers in Christ, we know Jesus as the Passover lamb. He was the slain lamb sacrificed for our sins. The symbolic elements of Passover are represented so we can Embrace the Festivals Holistically. To understand Jesus’ story of redemption, we must understand the individual freedom in the components through Passover.

IDENTITY – WE ARE SONS

In Passover, we experience the spiritual blessing of being adopted sons and daughters in Christ’s death. Ephesians 1:3-6 describes this adoption as sons and daughters. In 1 Peter 2:9,10, we see that we have been chosen by God, grafted into the family of God. We are adopted for the express purpose of proclaiming God’s greatest to the rest of the world. Just as the Israelites were freed from slavery (Exodus 4:23), so we are freed through Jesus’ compassionate death (Galatians 4:5,6). We are brought out of our slavery, sanctified for the presence of God.

DELIVERANCE – WE ARE RESCUED

To “rescue” someone is an indication they can do nothing to influence their own redemption. Try as we might, we are not capable of rescuing ourselves. We can’t save ourselves, no matter how strong, capable, smart or perfect we may try to be. The Israelites were delivered from their “bondage” or “service” of the Egyptians and their gods in the Passover story (Numbers 33:4). This redemption is a great act of God’s power and sacrifice to free us. Today we know that Jesus’ redemption is a free gift. Matthew 26:26-29 tells us Christ was the price given that we might be redeemed. We could never earn the grace of Christ. Rather, we are redeemed by a loving God, without any merit of our own (Colossians 1:13,14).

PASSOVER AND THE KINGDOM  – WE HAVE A FUTURE

Because we are redeemed, we have the future hope of the time when we will see Jesus (Romans 8:23-25). We are granted eternal life through his death. The sacrifice of the Passover lamb gave the Israelites an opportunity to step toward the Promised Land of Israel. Today, we can experience the Promised Land and the Kingdom of God in our own lives. His Kingdom is already here, and when we give our hearts to Jesus, we become a part of that Kingdom.

PUTTING IT INTO PRACTICE

On the evening we celebrate Passover, there is a time for everyone to share how Jesus has brought freedom into their lives over the past year. We all share what freedom we expect to experience in the coming year. As you prepare for Passover, consider journaling about the following questions in preparation for Passover.

  1. How has Jesus’ death given me freedom to experience deeper intimacy with Him?
  2. How has Jesus’ death changed my experiences in worship?
  3. Based on Jesus death, what have I discovered about repentance over the last year?
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Passover: Our Freedom Story

OUR STORY IN THE PASSOVER SEASON

The Biblical Jewish Festival of Passover commemorates the Israelites’ liberation from the land of Egypt. Today, Passover is celebrated with a dinner accompanied by liturgy (holy readings), and symbolic elements reminding us of the Passover. Symbolic elements of Passover, the Seder are use so we can Embrace the Festivals Holistically. In order to fully understand the story of Passover, we must first understand how it tells OUR story.

We are storytelling in the Passover season. When we look at the Exodus, we can see that in fact it is a story—and it’s an epic tale of freedom. God wrote this story as a picture of all our stories. What we see in the Exodus is symbolic of what we live when we taste God’s redemption. As our lives come to embody the purpose and truth to which the original Exodus pointed, we will continue telling the story of freedom in our generation.

THE EXPOSITION – EGYPT

In Exodus 1, the plot begins with the Israelites enslaved by the evil Egyptian Pharaoh. The king “did not know Joseph” or in other words, he did not know the God of Joseph. He forced them into slave labor out of his fear that they would rise up against Egypt, or escape. This is a compelling story and an exciting, if a bit horrifying, beginning. Today, we can ask ourselves a question about this plot. What was our “plot” or storyline of our personal and family lives before we encountered Jesus? Who were the major characters in our stories?

THE RISING ACTION – BONDAGE

Israel was in bondage. They needed a savior, and God commissioned Moses to go lead the people of Israel out of Egypt. Like Israel, we’ve all been in bondage—or else we would never have come to Jesus. While bondage is a general human condition, we all have bondages from which we’ve been redeemed. So our story starts with our own Egypt, the place of our bondage from which we needed to be freed. What conflicts characterized our lives before encountering Jesus? How did these conflicts create patterns of bondage? What idols needed to be defeated in order for our bondage to be broken? How did we see tensions (relationships and circumstances) arose that revealed our need for redemption? What did God have to do in order to expose and destroy our idols?

 

THE CLIMAX – JUDGEMENT ON IDOLS 

God redeemed his people Israel through the many plagues he sent upon Egypt. The climax comes to a peak when God strikes the firstborn of Egypt on the night of Passover. This changed Pharaoh’s heart and redeemed the Israelites. Like Israel, all who trust and follow Jesus call out to Him to be rescued. And why do we do this? Because in the midst of our chains, God’s grace is already working in us to show us our misery. His grace gives us hope that someone, somewhere will rescue us. Then, at some point, Jesus intervenes, destroys the idols that bound us, and takes us out of our Egypt. Now we can ask ourselves how Jesus’ redemption finally broke into our lives? What events took place to help us see we were enslaved to sin and needed redemption?

 THE FALLING ACTION – REDEMPTION 

The Israelites were redeemed out of Egypt. Moses led them out of the wilderness and they fled so quickly, their bread didn’t even have time to rise. They realized in that moment that their God was bigger. As Christians, whether by a process of time or a moment in time, Jesus reveals Himself to us too. At some point, we were convinced we could trust Him to rescue us. How did  we encounter Jesus’ love so we could surrender to Him? How did we experience Jesus’ death as the gateway to our freedom, forgiveness, and reconciliation?

THE RESOLUTION – FORMATION AND NEW LIFE 

Israel was formed in the wilderness over a 40-year period before they were able to step into new life in the Promised Land. Like Israel, God called us out of our old life and into a new one. He invite us into the resurrection life of Jesus in the holiday of First Fruits. He also drew us into a life of holiness through the holiday of Unleavened Bread. Because He freed us, we wanted to be different. We want to know the beauty of holiness, leave behind what we’d been and become something different. Now we can ask ourselves how God changed our lives as a result of trusting in Jesus? In what ways were we immediately different? In what ways has it taken time to for God’s holiness to work out in us? How did the hope of new life and resurrection change the way we live?

PUTTING STORY INTO PRACTICE

On the evening we celebrate Passover, there is a time for everyone to share their story. Each person shares a testimony of how Jesus has brought freedom into their lives over the past year. Those of us who have not yet experienced that freedom can listen to the incredible stories of those whose lives were changed. As you prepare for Passover, consider journaling about your own story, and how you have seen Jesus in your redemption story.

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Passover Recipes

Passover recipes are all over the internet. Passover poses challenges to even the most seasoned chef or baker due to the lack of leavening in the meals. During the seven days between Passover and Unleavened Bread, we are instructed to not eat leaven as a reminder of the Israelites who left Egypt in such a hurry they couldn’t let their bread rise in time.

Because of this, the internet has taken the challenge on, and Passover recipes working around the leavening component are found everywhere! We would encourage you to find your own recipes for desserts, baked goods and yummy dinners. The recipes listed below are our chef’s favorite recipes to try during the Spring season. All of them are wonderful additions to your Passover meal, and we hope you find great use in these tried and true recipes!

Moroccan-Style Brisket with Dried Fruit and Capers

Brisket, either lamb or beef is a typical main course for a Passover meal, but this recipe has some pizazz! Try this out for the best brisket you have ever had!

Passover Recipes Brisket

Chocolate Chip Walnut Mandelbrot:

A biscotti-like cookie, Mandelbrot are Eastern European style cookies, often with chocolate, walnuts or almonds. And the best part is… completely leaven-free!

Passover Food Dessert Mandelbrot

Chocolate Macaroon Cake: 

Think chocolate-dipped coconut macaroons… but as a cake! A fantastic addition to your Passover dessert menu, everyone will be asking for more of this!

Passover Food and Recipes

Passover Chocolate-Toffee Matzo

Take the traditionally boring Matzo cracker and turn it into matzo covered in chocolate: think heavenly! Any toppings can be switched out for the toffee, but all versions are delicious!

Passover Food Dessert Matzo

Passover Pistachio and Dried Fruit Haroset

A classic passover recipe, haroset is a paste made of fruit and nuts, and it is typically used during a Passover Seder. This recipe can’t be beat!

Passover Food Haroset
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