Families today struggle to connect on a deeper level more than ever before. Finding time to spend “quality time” with your loved ones has many challenges.
Keeping the Sabbath is the perfect opportunity to put life on pause to focus on your family as you also focus on God.
We live in an age where families spend more time alone in their own homes than with each other. It’s a real struggle isn’t it?
Studies have found even when children are among family they often still feel alone. It’s common for families to spend their time together doing their “own thing” alone.1
Did you know the Sabbath can also help create stronger families?
Keeping the Sabbath has many benefits for families today. The Sabbath is a day where you can step away from work, school, and the stress of this world. It’s the perfect time to spend resting and worshiping God.
Let’s look at ways you can connect with your loved ones by celebrating the Sabbath as a family.
WHY WAS THE SABBATH CREATED?
The Sabbath was created as a gift on the seventh day of Creation. You see, God had our well being in mind during the first creation week. He knew how much we would need time set apart to rest and refresh our weary hearts.
That first creation week must have been incredible. Imagine the God of the universe speaking into existence the very world we live in.
- On the first day, God created light.
- On the second day, God created the firmament and the atmosphere.
- On the third day, God created the dry ground and the plants.
- On the fourth day, God created the sun, moon, and stars.
- On the fifth day, God created the birds and sea animals.
- On the sixth day, God created the land animals as well as humans.
- On the seventh day, God rested from His work and blessed the seventh day and made it holy.
God created the world in perfect order. He thought of everything. From the air we would need to breathe to the water we would need to drink and the food we would need to nourish our bodies.
The whole of creation is complex and miraculous!
Each day of the week He created a part of the environment we live in to be a blessing to us. But on the seventh day He did things a little differently.
Genesis 2:2,3 ESV says, “And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.”
God created the Sabbath on the seventh day of the first creation week. He didn’t create the Sabbath for His own benefit. God created the Sabbath as a gift to His people.
The word Sabbath comes from the Hebrew word Shabbat which means to stop. God stopped His work and rested on the seventh day of creation as an example to us.
After a long day’s work, you and I are worn out. We need physical rest from our labors. The Bible tells us God does not grow weary or need rest the way human beings need rest.
“The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary.” Isaiah 40:28 ESV
God does not grow weary, but He knew we would! You see, God the Father gives good gifts.
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17 ESV
He wants the Sabbath to be a blessing to you. Jesus said:
“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” Mark 2:27 ESV
God created the Sabbath as a blessing for all humanity for all time. The 4th commandment tells us to “remember” the Sabbath. He didn’t want us to forget!“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” Exodus 20:8-11 ESV
HOW IS THE SABBATH BENEFICIAL TO FAMILIES?
The Sabbath has so many benefits for people today. Rest allows people time to heal. Some of the benefits of rest are:
- you’re more productive2
- reduces stress and strengthens the immune system3
- lowers your risk of heart disease4
- get more exercise
- enjoy more sleep5
- your brain gets a break6
- you’ll enjoy life more
- you’ll even live longer7
If our bodies heal from rest, what happens to our relationships? The Sabbath offers us a day set apart to focus on our relationship with God. It also offers us 24 hours to focus on our family relationships.
Families who spend time together are stronger and happier. Spending time with family members can help heal those relationships too.
Relationships need nurturing or they wither and die. Time spent together helps to nurture our relationships.
Some of the benefits of time spent with the people you love are:·
- creates a strong emotional bond between family members8
- better communication skills with each other9
- kids who spend time with their family members do better in school
- teens have fewer behavioral issues when they spend time with family on a regular basis
- children are less likely to engage in substance abuse10
WHAT DID FAMILIES IN THE BIBLE DO TO GROW SPIRITUALLY?
It’s God’s design for families to worship and pray together. We see in the book of Deuteronomy that prayer, worship, and knowledge in the Lord are to be a way of life for us.
“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:6-9 ESV
For God’s people, faith is a part of their everyday lives. Parents are to teach their children the Scriptures and the commandments of God.
Writing to Timothy, Paul says:
“I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.” 2 Timothy 1:5 ESV
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 3:14, 15 ESV
Timothy was a young man raised in a loving home. His mother and grandmother taught him to be a faithful follower of Christ. What a wonderful legacy to pass down to future generations!
We can learn so much from the faithful people in the Bible!
Parents today have as much responsibility to teach Bible truths to their children. What sweeter gift can you give your child than a firm foundation of faith? There is no better way for a family to grow closer together than through the worship of our Creator God.
IDEAS TO CELEBRATE SABBATH WITH YOUR FAMILY
If you have not kept the Sabbath before, it can take some getting used to. If you have decided to begin keeping the Sabbath for the first time, you may have some questions like:
When is the Sabbath?
The seventh day Sabbath begins at sundown on Friday night and ends at sundown on Saturday night.
What are appropriate activities on the Sabbath?
Keeping the Sabbath is really about spending your time focusing on those things in life that really matter – your relationships. Activities on the Sabbath should bring you closer to God and closer to your family. Creating family traditions for the Sabbath can help make the day special. Traditions help make the Sabbath a day you and your family look forward to and enjoy!
#1 How Your Family Can Prepare for the Sabbath
Preparing for the Sabbath will help your family get the most blessing out of the Sabbath day.
Observing the Sabbath is so much easier when you don’t have to worry about things like:
- what your family will eat
- if the house is clean
- if you have the things on hand you will need
For instance, preparing your home for the Sabbath will allow you to truly rest. Many people feel stressed if the environment they live in is messy and in need of a good cleaning.
In the Bible we find the preparation day was Friday (Mark 15:42). You can use Friday to do most of your preparation or you can begin your preparations earlier in the week.
Anticipating the Sabbath makes preparation easier. Some ways you may want to prepare before Sabbath day are:
- clean the house
- set the table
- fill the gas tanks in your vehicles
- do your grocery shopping
- plan your Sabbath menu
- prepare simple food ahead of time
- choose what you will wear to church
- buy items you need for the weekend
The 4th commandment in Exodus 20:8 reminds us to refrain from work on the Sabbath. It also tells us not to have others work for us.
Breaking the Sabbath is harder to do when you have these things done.
By preparing meals, filling the gas tank, and other simple preparations, we are ensuring we do not need anyone to serve us on the Sabbath day – whether it be a waitress, gas attendant, or store clerk.
As you prepare for the Sabbath ask God to help you ready your heart for worship and time spent with Him.
The Holy Spirit can help you have the right attitude as you enter the Sabbath. You want to feel at peace and ready to bless your family.
Pleasant attitudes make the home so much more special.
- speak in soft tones
- use encouraging words
- smile at family members
- offer kind gestures
- seek to be a blessing
Instead of criticizing your children or bringing up issues you are displeased about, let your words be uplifting and encouraging.
#2 A Sabbath Greeting
Jewish traditions for Sabbath observance can give us a fun starting point. In Jewish homes, the Sabbath is welcomed every Friday before sundown.
It is customary for Jewish families and friends to exchange special greetings on “Shabbat” or Sabbath. The greeting in Yiddish is “Gut Shabbos” which means “Have a good Sabbath.”
Another common greeting among Jewish people is “Shabbat shalom” which means “Have a peaceful Sabbath.”
Many Adventist families love to greet their friends, family, and other believers with the words, “Happy Sabbath!”
#3 Enjoy a Nice Sabbath Meal
Setting the table for a meal together doesn’t take a lot of work. Making your table setting feel pretty isn’t necessary, but it can make your Sabbath meal so much more special.
If your children are old enough as them to help you set the table and praise them for a job well done. Help them get excited about the Sabbath to come.
Some simple ways you can set a pretty table are:
- use a festive tablecloth
- cloth napkins
- add a simple centerpiece
Research has shown family meals around the table are vital to the health of a family. Taking the time to set the table and enjoy a Sabbath meal together on Friday night is a wonderful way to celebrate the Sabbath.
You may like to incorporate food traditions into your Sabbath celebration.
Maybe Friday night you always serve soup with Jewish Challah bread.
Or perhaps you make your favorite homemade pizza. You might want to always serve grape juice or some other special drink.
Of course, you don’t have to have the same kind of food each week for Sabbath. It’s really all about making the day meaningful for your family.
What will they love the most? What do you want them to remember about Sabbath? What will make them feel blessed by the Sabbath?
#4 Special Sabbath Activities
When you set aside certain activities for a special day, you create traditions. Traditions are a wonderful way to bond a family together. Families form closer bonds through shared experiences and memories.
Ask your family what activities they think would be fun to do on Sabbath. Try to incorporate their ideas into your traditions and rituals.
For instance: Perhaps your family would like to wake up early on Sabbath morning for breakfast together.
Or maybe you decide creating a tradition of visiting your local nursing home once a month would be a blessing.
Get creative and work together to plan for making Sabbath special each week. Here are a few ideas to help you get started celebrating the Sabbath as a family:
100 Sabbath Activities Families Can Do Together
- Enjoy Friday night family worship or invite others over for vespers
- Ask for prayer requests and pray together
- Take a hike or spend time in nature
- Play a Bible Trivia game
- Visit a neighbor or church member.
- Go on a treasure hunt with Geocaching11
- Study the Bible together
- Draw or illustrate Bible stories
- Do crafts to illustrate Bible characters or stories
- Scrapbooking family photos
- Science experiments
- Play musical instruments together
- Read a Sabbath book out loud
- Listen to a Sabbath podcast
- Listen to Your Story Hour stories on CD or online
- Visit online sites to answer spiritual questions people have
- Invite a less fortunate family over to visit
- Learn new praise songs
- Go kayaking on the lake
- Write a song
- Use conversation starters to connect with one another
- Draw discussion topics from a hat and talk about them
- Try different forms of prayer
- Study the Bible using the SOAP method
- Brings treats to your neighbor and fellowship together
- Take food to a homeless shelter or volunteer to help
- Visit a nursing home
- Invite friends to the park for a campfire and songs
- Hold a Bible story time in the park
- Give a Bible study to a new believer
- Write and share your personal testimony
- Share Bible tracts with people in town
- Visit widows or shut-ins who belong to your church
- Create a Bible scene with felts
- Play Bible charades
- Look through old family photo albums
- Color in a pretty nature themed coloring book
- Create “Top Ten” lists: Bible stories, sea animals, pets, etc.
- Go on a nature scavenger hunt
- Visit with relatives
- Go on a walk
- Dress in costume and do a Bible skit
- Video chat with friends or family who live far away
- Write letters to missionaries and pray for them
- Go camping with your family or church group
- Put a nature puzzle together
- Do a topical Bible study
- Study trees and learn how to identify them
- Offer to babysit children for a single parent
- Read the words to a hymn and discuss the meaning
- Sing songs around the piano
- Listen to Christian music
- Have a special Sabbath box of toys and activities for the children
- Do Bible crossword puzzles
- Play a Bible board game
- Pray outside together
- Read miracle stories
- Pray for the family you plan to visit next week
- Quietly watch the sun as it sets on Saturday evening
- Call someone who wasn’t at church and let them know they were missed
- Share one thing you love about each other
- Visit prison inmates or start a prison ministry
- Visit an orphanage
- Talk about what heaven might be like together
- Study the Sabbath school lesson
- Think of questions you’d like to ask Jesus
- Take a cd copy of the sermon to someone who missed church
- Have family worship outside
- Write a letter to Jesus or color a picture for Jesus
- Learn a memory verse
- Invite someone to your home who can’t return the favor
- Make a gratitude list
- Pick someone up for church who doesn’t have a ride
- Take church magazines or literature to a neighbor or friend who would appreciate them
- Write down your prayer requests and answers to prayer
- Take your dog for a long walk or to the park
- Take a meal to a shut in or a family with a new baby
- Turn off the lights on Friday night and use candles instead
- Memorize Scripture songs
- Visit a national forest
- Invite someone to attend church with your family
- Interview the oldest member of your church
- Make handmade cards to send to someone who is sick
- Make a shoebox diorama of your favorite Bible story
- Spread a blanket in the grass and find pictures in the clouds
- Have an object lesson: Each person picks an object and shares a lesson from the Bible using that object
- Talk about how to honor and respect God’s house
- Write a parable in your own words
- Write a letter to a Bible character
- Have a family Bible drill
- Discuss the pastor’s sermon over supper
- Take a bike ride together
- Plan a random act of kindness
- Find gospel quotes to share on social media
- Write in a family journal
- Pick flowers and take them to a friend or neighbor
- Go rock climbing
- Talk about family values and what they mean to you
- Write a thank you note to someone who was kind to you this week
- Attend your local church
Celebrating the Sabbath as a family will bless you all in countless ways! God tells us in His Word He will bless us when we call the Sabbath a delight!
The Sabbath is a day you and your family can look forward to each week.
When you put in the effort to make the day special, you’ll find the Sabbath becomes a beautiful blessing to your family.
- In the age of screens, families are spending more time “alone-together” – QZ.com
- To Stay on Schedule, Take a Break – NYTimes.com
- Rest From Stress – Creation Health
- How Does Sleep Affect Your Heart Health? – CDC.gov
- Costly Effects of Sleep Deprivation – Creation Health
- Bringing Your Thoughts Into Focus – Creation Health
- Loma Linda, California – A group of Americans living 10 years longer
- 3 Benefits of Family Fun
- The Benefits Of Family Time
- Family-Based Interventions for the Prevention of Substance Abuse and Other Impulse Control Disorders in Girls