Has The Church Become a Modern Israel?

Have you ever wondered what the heart of God really is?

Have you begun to question the status of your Christianity?

Have you begun to question your ability to live up to snuff?

Do you feel lazy, like your life is just going through the motions?

Have you ever felt as if you are not doing enough?

I used to feel that way all of the time. I was overwhelmed by guilt and restlessness. I was always concerned with what I was doing, how pure my heart was, how sinless I was remaining. My prayers typically consisted of apologies and begging God to show me what to do. It wasn’t out of love, but out of a desperation to be accepted, valuable, good.

I think every human being has these innate desires.

These desires are not wrong.

What can be wrong is how we seek their fulfillment.

Why did God send, “his only begotten son”? Why did Jesus die?

Think back to the Israelites.

They are described as the apple of God’s eye, as his precious jewel. They were HIS. He cherished them infinitely, he protected them relentlessly and forgave them countless times. We look back at that nation and laugh at their foolishness in Church services all the time. They had everything, but lived as if they had nothing, or like they had to earn what they’d been given.

Recently I was reading Isaiah 1, which is basically a synopsis of how much the Israelites had it wrong, how often they turned away from their loving God and how awful that distance they created was for them. It talks about how much it hurts the Father’s heart to see his people going astray. It talked about their dependence on works, on doing everything right and how very often they would fail, but never recognize those failures.

While I was reading I realized how very like the Israelites modern Christians and the modern church have become. Do we want our generation to be the new Israel, a generation of ineffective wanderers? We don’t have time to wander for forty years in the wilderness of confusion and self-preservation. Jesus is coming back soon. The signs Jesus warned of are there with more on the way in the near future.

This isn’t meant to be a condemnation or a guilt trip. I am only asking us to look deep inside, to question what our Christianity has become. I would ask you to read over Isaiah 1 and see if indeed you come to the same realization I did, then study the life and the death of our savior, Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Think hard about this and its implications. If we continue on this path what, if anything, will happen? What does this mean for our generation and for us as a people under the blood of Jesus? Take the time to listen for God’s voice in this matter. I can’t judge your life. That is between you and God. Where do you stand?

I’ll be back soon with more on this topic, with what I think God is saying we ought to do from this place of dependence on self to get back to dependence on him. From Works to Grace.

Much love,

Deanna.

Guest Blogger – Stephanie!

Hello Everyone! Today we have a guest blogger who is very dear to my heart. Right now she lives in Florida – which is way to far away from New Mexico – but she is doing great things there. She is deeply involved in Journey Church and just got back from a missions trip to Mexico where she absolutely fell in love with all the kids. I cannot wait to see where else she will go and what else God will lead her to do for His kingdom. It is beautiful for me to watch my friends grow up around me and she is one of them so without further ado Stephanie’s post!

steph

A Word Misunderstood:

“The number one question people are constantly pondering, studying, researching, asking, googling, reading about, and striving to find the answer to is: ” why are we here?” or, in other words, “what is the purpose of life?”. It is a question that has been attempted to be answered by millions of people in an infinite amount of ways. Each person may have a different answer. Some might say to be happy or to be successful or to have a family or to contribute something positive or to protect the environment or to make yourself and others happy. The list goes on and on.

As a Christian my first response to that question has always been “to reach the lost for Jesus.” – a noble cause. I always found that at the center. After all was that not Jesus’ last command to us? To go and make disciples of all nations. Therefore, as a good Christian, I could confidently say the purpose of my life was to tell people about Jesus, to point others to him. In my mind that was the purpose of every life. God gave people talents so they could use them to point others to Jesus.

The purpose of life is not to be successful because success will fade. The purpose of life is not to be happy because happiness is a fleeting emotion that can easily change. Not that these things aren’t a good part of life but rather that they are not at the center of life.

Recently I have found that the purpose of life is not to point people to Jesus. Here is where a righteous gasp would be allowed and an indignant “how dare you say we are not supposed to point people to Jesus!”

That is not what I am saying at all.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and all that is within them. He created man in his own likeness and from him he created woman. In the first couple chapters of the Bible we can see the purpose of life as God intended it. Before the fall of man and before sin came into the world, before people chose to forget God, before people needed to be saved and pointed to Jesus God had a purpose for our lives. Every day God met with Adam and Eve to walk and talk and laugh and have an intimate relationship with the people he loved.

The purpose of life is to be a lover; and not just a lover of anything but a lover of a Creator who loved us beyond any of our own capabilities before we could ever love him.

The word lover has been ruined by todays society – corrupted. The word itself would make me queasy and uncomfortable, feeling like I was intruding on something that was none of my concern. For a while all it meant to me was someone who had intimate relations with another – usually when they weren’t supposed to. It felt secretive and dirty to me and had little to no connotations of actual, real love.

Instead of explaining what a lover is not allow me to expound on what a lover is and how it fits into our purpose. A true lover is someone who stands in awe of another being. Nothing could compare to or satisfy like being in the presence of this being. Being a lover of our Creator is not something strange and uncomfortable: it is simply standing in awe of our Savior and losing our breath and losing our words. It is wanting to spend our life getting to know Him better, getting to spend time with the one who gave His life for us. It is us being satisfied that He is all we need. He is our everything. It is a love that realizes that He sacrificed himself for us and in return we willingly and lovingly do what he asks of us because we LOVE Him.

Life is, but a fleeting moment compared to eternity. It comes and goes and what we gained and accomplished in it will be forgotten and lost. So what is the purpose of life if at the end, when we are laying on our death beds, we cannot take anything with us and chances are in 100 years we will be no more than a name on a stone next to hundreds of stones that all look the same? Well to answer that you must look at the bigger picture: at eternity. For eternity we will spend our lives praising and worshipping a beautiful God. The one thing we can take with us when we die is our relationship with our Savior therefore our purpose in life is just to be a lover.

Naturally, when you are in love with God it affects the rest of your life. His love through you affects the people you meet, the way you act, they way you work, the things you do. Which in turn affects your happiness, your work, your success, your passions and desires, your family and friends, and everything else in life.

When God is at the center of not just your life but at the center of the entire essence of your being, when you focusing your love and adoration on him is at the center of every decision you make, of the words you say, of the relationships you have with others, of the work you do, and at the center of everything you are, THAT is when you know you have fulfilled life’s purpose. Because you are who God made you to be: His lover.

Sometimes I lay in awe and wonder of God and in these moments my heart swells till I feel like His love is going to make it burst. I cannot begin to fathom or wrap my head around a love so extravagant and so real. It shines through everything around me. All the things I take for granted and all the things I enjoy are strategically placed in my life as love letters from God. His handwriting is everywhere! Bleeding through my life as a pen bleeds through paper. His love seeps into my being and fills me with a joy that is incomparable.

Even in the hard times he leaves behind his beautiful handwriting. His hand is there guiding me. His arms are open to hug me and comfort me when my face is red and blotchy with tears. He knows. To have a lover that will never misunderstand you, will never let you down, will be there for you no matter what, and knows exactly how to make you smile: that is all anyone could ever ask for and it is already ours. It was ours before the world was made. What more could I ask for?

Words are frustrating because they can never convey the love of God fully. It is something you must experience for yourself to understand the full gravity of. My soul is bursting at the seams through these words trying to find a way to convey the complexity of a love that existed before words, of a love that invented languages. It is impossible. Sometimes it is best to just let yourself be wordless, speechless, and just let God be God.”

This spoke volumes to me.

In what ways do you and I need to just let God be God this school year?

Where must our worries cease and allow His hand?

Should I have more guest bloggers? Should I convince Steph to come back some time?

Please share in the comments!

God is faithful and you are utterly blessed.

Love,

Deanna and Stephanie ❤

– To The World and Those Who Live Within It –

1 The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.

2 Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.

3 The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.

4 Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.

5 Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.

6 From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.

7 Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers.

8 And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city.

9 Except the LORD of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.

10 Hear the word of the LORD, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah.

11 To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.

12 When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts?

13 Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.

14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.

15 And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.

16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;

17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.

18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:

20 But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

21 How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers.

22 Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water:

23 Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them.

24 Therefore saith the LORD, the LORD of hosts, the mighty One of Israel, Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies:

25 And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin:

26 And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning: afterward thou shalt be called, The city of righteousness, the faithful city.

27 Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness.

28 And the destruction of the transgressors and of the sinners shall be together, and they that forsake the LORD shall be consumed.

29 For they shall be ashamed of the oaks which ye have desired, and ye shall be confounded for the gardens that ye have chosen.

30 For ye shall be as an oak whose leaf fadeth, and as a garden that hath no water.

31 And the strong shall be as tow, and the maker of it as a spark, and they shall both burn together, and none shall quench them.

Can you not see? Do you not understand even though you hear? Constantly God is traveling within your dark spirit – calling your name – saying, “I never left you! When will you stare into the brightness of the dawn and see the SON? I don’t wish to condemn you, but I must if you continue in the way you are going. I wish nothing more than to love you for eternity! Can you not see that in the life of my Son? I wish you to live – abundantly! Can you not see that in my commands? Deuteronomy 10:12 – 13 states what I told Moses and what I now reveal to you about my love, “What does the Lord your God require from you, but to fear {honor} the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart {everything you desire, dream and feel} and with all your soul {every part of your personality and what makes you an individual}  and to keep the Lords commands… which I am commanding you today for your own good?”

Can you not see my good desires for you? Come into the Light of Righteousness and fall into My Arms so you may “learn to do right,” and live in abundance through Me.”