Judaism


"Honoring

Our Jewish Brothers & Sisters"

Dearest Family in God;

The other day, I was watching a story on TV that depicted a Jewish family going through hard times in the American old west. According to the script, they had wandered for many years from town to town, hoping to find a place where they could finally settle down and from where they could live their lives in peace, able to practice their faith without ridicule or persecution.

At some point in the story, understanding did come between this family and the new community which they eventually embraced; and as the show concluded, all the characters, the Christians and Jews together, were able to share with one another, some of their sacred ceremonies and traditions, celebrated during the month of December.

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When it came time in the story for the Hanukkah candles to be lit, I was immediately stirred with a deep knowing that whenever or wherever God is being honored, a sense of timelessness and awe can quickly fill a room; and in like manner, my heart and soul were instantly awakened and summoned to the moment. As the flickering candlelight reflected on their faces, one could see that those who stood around the ceremony table were also enveloped in a sense of wonder as they listened, wide-eyed, while the story of Hanukkah was being told.

Most of those present were hearing about this for the first time; and as the evening progressed, one could see that it was a revelation to the town's people to realize that any testimony of endurance and faith toward God can inspire and strengthen others, at times reaching across man-made boundaries of culture or even religion.

Then, a little later... while verses of the Holy Scriptures were being spoken, my eyes welled up with tears; my heart was so moved by the reverence for God that was being expressed in that little room.

For a moment in time, one could see in this “moving picture,” that in that humble “upper room” of an old-time building, a feeling of unity as well as mutual understanding was achieved around that table. But in coming away from such a story, I wondered, “Could we learn how to remain in that state of unity for always? And if we could…. what would we need to know and focus upon to be able to continue to hold in our hearts, a sense of unity, harmony, and peace?”


What do we share with our Jewish brothers and sisters?

What do we have in common?


"Baruch Ata Adonai, Elohenu Melech ha-olam, asher kid'shaun b'mitzvotav, v'tzivanu al netialt yadaim" or "Blessed are Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us in His commandments and commanded us to lift up our hands".

Abraham

The God of Abraham

Well, to begin with, clearly, we can share our love for the God of Abraham, whom we both worship as Father; this marks our first bond with one another.

We also know that those who bend their knee to the Almighty realize what it means to live with the wonderful sense of purpose that a relationship with God brings.


The Holy Scriptures

“My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee. Keep my commandments, and live: and my law as the apple of thine eye. Bind them upon thy fingers; write them upon the table of thine heart.” – Proverbs 7:1-3 (KJV)


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The Law and the Prophets

Jews and Christians also share a deep appreciation and reverential respect for the Holy Scriptures, for the Law of Moses, and especially for the Ten Commandments.

We all continue to be inspired by the prophets and other leaders written about in the Bible, ones who often endured much to bring the Word to the people, to keep “God’s own” on course.

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In fact, for centuries, Jews have held the highest regard for the Scriptures, making God and the study of the Holy Book the center of their lives.

We, as Christians can learn loads from this example and apply ourselves to do like-wise, while remembering how precious our liberty by the Spirit is, to say nothing of how fortunate many of us in the world still are, to abide in freedom.

Having liberty also translates... into being able to be Seekers in the first place, and then to study and assemble peacefully, as we are led by our Creator.

So together we can continue in diligence as we learn everything we can about our Heavenly Father, and as we pray together for those who have become displaced or who suffer from the loss of freedom.


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God as first in our lives

This article so far, has named just a just a few of the common denominators that we share with our Jewish Family; and there are so many more priorities, feasts, and beliefs which we could focus on or which we could spend a life-time learning about.

But beyond these traditions, we already know that we celebrate God as first in our lives; and we all look to the heavens from where our hope comes…for today, and for the time of Peace and Comfort to come.

But let’s look at one more very important set values that we have in common, starting with mercy.

              



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The Mercy of God

You may have heard at some point in your life’s travels about a group known as “Messianic Jews” who still uphold most Jewish traditions and yet believe that Jesus was the Messiah.

Then of course, there are other groups of Jews, who are still waiting for a “Special One” to come…..But beyond basic beliefs, traditions, and culture, what other core Message or principles do we already have in common with those of the Jewish faith, that we can put into play right now, regardless of our differences?

“I will have mercy and not sacrifice….” – Matthew 9:13 (KJV)

Whether we understand Jesus to be the Son of the Father or not, we nonetheless share the commandment from God to be merciful and humble. We celebrate God’s Love each time we show hospitality to one another and in the ways in which we extend mercy and forgiveness to all others who come across our path in our every day lives.


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God First, Family Second….

"In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge. – Proverbs 14:26 (KJV)

It also goes without saying, that mercy begins at home, with the way in which we treat our own family members and neighbors, knowing that they represent our first ministry unto the Lord. Taking care of business at home, maintaining a strong family unit, is another tradition among many Jews which we as Christians, can all stand to be reminded of from time to time...remembering the beauty and value of living a fulfilling life within the context of a Godly family and loving community.


Charity

“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” – John 13:34-35 (KJV)

Mercy can always express itself in the form of charity…and where there is suffering in the world, both Jews and Christians can be found reaching out to those in need.

Thus, as we sing our praises to the Father, we can also celebrate the tenderness of His compassion as we stand side by side, seeing to the needs of the broken and the suffering.

As for the Source of all provision... whether we celebrate at our own tables or find ourselves observing how God is moving to reach and comfort others through us... both Jews and Christians recognize God as The One “from whom all Good Things come.” Thus, together, we can give thanks for our provision, for guidance, and for spiritual freedom, for ever….and ever.


Loving kindness

candle_light“Thou shalt not go up and down as talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbor; I am the Lord. Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him. Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord.” – Leviticus 19:16-18 (KJV)

Yes, as we give generously to those in need, willingly serving with our hearts and hands, Jews and Christians alike, understand the importance of exercising restraint when it comes to indulging in unkindness, ugly speech, or pride if we find ourselves enticed or provoked by hatred or cruelty. This is very hard to do, especially in today’s permissive and often indulgent, social climate.

"Looking diligently lest any man fail of (fall from) the Grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled" (Heb 12:15 - KJV).

But in both Testaments, New and Old, we see that we must deny the self (self-nature) and its wiles (ways/knee-jerk, old-nature reactions) in favor of mercy; and all those who look to Scripture regarding virtures such as kindness or patience, can receive instruction. For instance, let's look at what Proverbs tell us:

“A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” - Proverbs 15:1 (KJV)

Or we see in Proverbs 14:29 – “He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly.”

Then we see the good fruit that flows from those who engage their heart, prior to speaking...

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“A wholesome tongue is a tree of life.” -  Proverbs 14:4 (KJV)


As people who align with the Faith of Jesus, we are so blessed to have what we need and more in the Way of the Godly Knowledge and Wisdom found in the presence of the Spirit. This Source of leadership and strength helps us learn over time, how to respond to difficult situations with love; we have the commandment and means at our fingertips to at least try and rein in our old-nature and reach for what God has always been trying to teach us, even in the face of darkness….which is to Love Him and to Love one another.


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So whether we gain our soul-motivation from the Law of Moses (together with the words of the Prophets as led by the Holy Ghost)... or via the Holy Spirit and "It's leading"... many Jews and Christians alike, share a deep commitment to walk in love as well as pass important values and culture on to our children, who then hopefully, will learn to carry themselves in the same manner....with dignity, respectfulness, and reverence for God.


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The Lord of the Harvest

"Baruch Ata Adonai, Elohenu Melech ha-olam, boreh pri ha-gafen," or "Blessed are Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine".

At harvest time, we gather to give thanks unto God for His Mercy to us, each according to our own traditions.

May these blessed traditions and ceremonies survive the changes in our society and continue forever from generation to generation as we keep the Love of God alive in our hearts and souls.



Celebrating Psalms……

"Yeah though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death"….

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As the Bible tells us, King David was anointed of God by the Prophet and went on to become a great leader as well as a phenomenal example of one who walked closely with the Father, pouring out his heart to Him throughout all of his experiences.

Having kept a running conversation with God, David the Psalmist, has always been an inspiration to me, especially in the way he would sing and dance before the Lord, opening his soul concerning all aspects of his life.

Therefore, The Psalms have become a bottomless source of joy and beauty to me, documenting what a friendship with God can be like: through the ups and downs of life, through mistakes and repentance, and in sorrow and joy.

Many Jews and Christians alike, believe that the Psalms fore-told of times to come, of episodes in history which some conclude... we are seeing fulfilled today.

But whether or not you believe in the Psalms as being a source of Prophecy, we all agree that they provide valuable direction, encouraging us to keep our eyes on the Ultimate Lighthouse (God & God's Light) in order to find our way through the foggy battlefields of the enemy (darkness) and in order to walk in the fulfillment of God's purpose for our lives.

 

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  In Conclusion…

“And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.” – 1 John 5:6 (KJV)

So, for those who follow Jesus... let’s see that mercy, humility, patience, meekness, and hospitality flow from us as elements of our first Witness; and let the Light of the Spirit say much through us, while our lips bless and curse not.

We have so much to celebrate beloved! Let us open our feasts to one another, inviting and including always, members of our Jewish family, locally and abroad. For that matter, we can welcome those of many other cultures as well, who the Father may place in our path, to love and care for.

And as we do these things, that the Father would have us do, we can keep our eyes and hearts ever open to the Glory and Magnificence of God who is our Everything, now and forever. Selah!

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Which is the first commandment of all?...And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Isra-el; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all they soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12: 28-31 (KJV)

“Thou shalt love they neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord” – Leviticus 19:18 (KJV)


Shalom my brothers and sisters….Shalom

Yours at His Sacred Feet;

Your sister for the journey…..Ann M. Wolf

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