Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Listening to the Voice of God Even When it Calls for the Strange

I would like to begin this audio blog with a word of caution to all of you listening because it comes from the heart of God to the call in my life. Thus, what I say may not be for you personally, but it may encourage you to listen to the voice of God even when it calls for the strange. The topic is a subject that I believe would benefit every Christian believer, but it may not be your cup of tea so to speak. The subject of our savior is one of many descriptive qualities; such as, He is redeemer, creator, sustainer, and in us wisdom, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The specific quality of God in His Son Jesus is that Jesus was a Jew, not an upper middle class American man who was successful in life and longs to give us the American dream.
Jesus is a Jew who was raised as a Jew and followed the Jewish custom of living under the Law and thus, came to fulfill the Law that His Father God set up in the Torah so that by fulfilling the Law Jesus could take our place on the Cross as the sacrificial lamb, spotless and without sin (Hebrews 4:15). The Torah is the first five books of the bible that are commonly followed by those of Judaism (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). Normally, in the past, just hearing that these five books are important to me as a Christian would have turned my face green with the anticipation of throwing up. I was so entrenched by the legalism I learned growing up in the Baptist church that it almost caused me to quit being a follower of Christ.
However, today my heart is to know God intimately, not just common taught facts by man, but that the Holy Spirit would reveal the depths of God to me as I continue to pant after Him. I want to learn about the history of how Jesus grew up, what was taught to Him as the foundation for living and as the foundation for understanding the gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The new covenant did not take effect until Jesus rose from the dead; therefore, it gave Paul the freedom to go out and do something revolutionary. Paul taught that Jesus was not only for the Jew, but also for the gentile, that there was a place in the family of God in the Kingdom of Heaven in whom the Jewish people have an inheritance to those who believe in the name of Jesus as savior.
I live not under the law, but under grace which allows me the freedom to not be condemn by the law but to live out the greatest commandment that encompasses the law to complete my Joy by living in intimacy with God. In no way am I asking everyone to go out and pick up a Torah portion and read it systematically, but I believe that is exactly what God is calling me and my family to at this point. To study the Torah, the prophets, and the gospels to read the history of our faith, to discover why Jesus did what he did in the ceremonies and in teaching the disciples (who by the way themselves were Jews). We have a Jewish Savior, who followed the Jewish customs, stirred the pot, and yet He did what God told him to do. It was blasphemous for Him to compare himself to God, by calling himself as such, but the truth was this, that as Paul writes, he thought it not robbery… (Phil. 2). I want to share with you the journey as a way to encourage you to grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
About a month ago, I began to hear from a dear member of our Monday Night Fellowship named Miss Pat about the importance of studying the scripture under the eyes of the Jewish traditions and from the reading of the Torah. I completed Seminary in 2001 with a Masters Degree without ever understanding the importance of the way Jesus was raised and taught. It caused me to want to know God, after hearing from this lady who is full of the Joy of the Lord because of her study of scripture, and her personal relationship to Christ, Who by His grace saved her and gave her His life.
The question at this point for me is this; will the study of the Torah help me understand the grace of God in the parameters of the Law? Or will it just be another attempt at legalism from which I’ve failed so miserably in the past? I’m a skeptic at best when it comes to tradition, ceremonies, and festivals, because I’ve given myself to these traditions in the past and brings about much pause and reservation before diving deep. I’ve also have been praying for a way to involve my family in the study of scripture and prayer; I really want my girls to know God, I pray daily that God will draw their hearts to His that they may walk in intimacy with our great Father in Heaven.
I was given a magazine name “Messiah Magazine” Torah, Grace, and Truth. The name of the magazine caused me to want to read it because what I’ve learned so far in my walk is that grace and law do not mix. I’ve lived for the past 15 years studying, learning, and identifying myself in the grace of God. I’ve always believed that the law was holy, but it condemned, shot arrows to the heart, and never showed me a loving father. My sin earned me death and separation from God; Christ took my place and has given me life through my belief in Him. I’ve never wanted to intentionally break the law because of grace, but this is what happens when we taste grace, I became rebellious because I believed I could do any sin, and it would be covered. That’s dangerous living and I was on a road to destruction because of my living under what I thought the grace of God covered.
Grace does by the way cover all my junk, and it remembers my junk no more, but there is still a place and purpose for the Law. Jesus freed me from the condemnation of the law, to live by the law written on my heart. I do not want to break the law, I don’t want to intentionally break the Ten Commandments, but I do want to know God. I still have sin in my life that I desperately want to walk away from, I know my life is hidden in Christ and when the spirit shows me the details of what I need to crucify in my life, he’ll show me what it is and it will not be fun to let go of the toys that reign in my heart above God. I want God to reign unchallenged in my life.
The study of Scripture is important in my life as an individual, father, husband, and youth pastor, my desire to know God has grown out of a desire for intimacy with Him. I desire that my family would know God. I believe God is calling me deeper to search out the depths to discover how much further this rabbit hole goes, I want to taste and see the goodness of God because the taste has caused me to want more that I may put to practice His presence in my life through the joy of my salvation.

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