"Baruch At Hashem, Eloheinu Melech Ha'Olam, Asher Kideshanu Bemitzvotav Vetzivanu La'asok B'divrei Torah."
"Blessed are you, Hashem our G-d, King of the universe, Who has made us holy through His commandments, and commanded us to actively Study Torah."
The above is a blessing of the Torah that Jews pray every morning. I have been learning about Jewish prayers through Rabbi Gidon Ariel of Root Source. This morning the Rabbi said something in his lesson that really struck a chord with me. He explained that the Jewish people pray this prayer because they have a holy commandment (a task) to actively study the Torah. As a nation, the Jewish people should, therefore, actively be studying the Torah. The Rabbi then asked, "So, what happens if you don't actually learn anything? If it goes in one ear and out the other?" It then becomes, according to the Rabbi, a blessing that shouldn't have been said. For example, the prayer above is a commandment from God to the Jews to actively study the Torah. If the prayer/blessing is simply repeated without putting it into action, then you have said the whole blessing in vain.
I've recently begun to dig into the book of Jeremiah and realized once again how God really does have things in control. For example, in my last post, we discovered that God had a plan for Jeremiah's life before Jeremiah had even been conceived. Does this mean He also has our lives planned out in advance? If so, how much free will do we really have?
It is evident when you read the complete first chapter of Jeremiah that we have quite a bit of free will. True, Jeremiah was born into a family of priests, so his future was somewhat marked out for him. He also would have been trained on how to approach God and the laws of the Torah and the respect that comes with that. So, his upbringing likely prepared him for the role God had in store for him. But was he ever in the position to say no?
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations."
Have you ever wondered if God has a plan or purpose for your life? Lately, I have been asking myself that same question. You see, for years, I thought His plan was made perfectly clear to me when, at the age of 17, He revealed that I would sing for Him. I was in church on New Year's Eve. During prayer, I heard the Lord say to me, "This year, you will begin to serve me with your voice." I thought, "Cool! I love to sing, and I would be willing to do that." But my immediate thought after that was, "How?" Well, God had it all figured out beforehand, and I never had to worry about the "how." The day after New Year's Day, I received a phone call from a Christian organization asking me to come to sing for a weekend at their camp. I said I would but that I had never done anything like that before. They said, "Then come practice on us." They would provide meals, a room to sleep and a way to get there.
Well, you didn't have to tell me twice that God was up to something. Especially when to this day, I still don't know how these people heard of me or got my number! I suspect one of my friends wanted to jump-start my ministry and recommended me, but no one owned up to it, which has always made me feel God's hand was at work. So I accepted, despite my inexperience at performing. You see, up until then, I had been vocally trained and knew how to play the guitar. I had even written twenty or more songs. But I had never performed them in front of anybody. I was nervous, but God had a plan.
Life sucks. Yep, I said that and yes, I believe it's true for many people in the world. After all, this life we have here on earth was never meant to be the life God wanted for us. If you have never been touched by heartache, disease, fear, or death, you have beaten the odds. We were never meant to struggle with illness, despair, catastrophes, death or sin. We were never meant to wonder if there is a God. We were never meant to fight over our "rights" . . . gay rights, religious rights, women's rights, etc. All of it was never meant to happen.
Have you ever thought about your authority in Christ and what happens when you don't use it? In Matthew 16:13-19, Jesus asks the disciples who people think he is. Peter responded by saying, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus was so pleased by Peter's answer that he said, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock, I will build My church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven." Since that time, this verse has been a source of confusion for many regarding Peter and his authority within the church. Although Peter's name in Greek means rock, Jesus was not saying that His church would be built on Peter. He said that the truth of what Peter had just revealed that Jesus was the Son of the living God is the rock upon which His church would be built. This unshakeable foundation that Jesus is the Messiah is what holds and binds the church together.