From the monthly archives:

July 2009

Come, Lord Jesus!

July 30, 2009

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She’s a good mom.  Traveling with a crew of four little boys, the minivan is as close as she comes to “getting away from it all.”  Surprisingly, she is seldom late for a service which speaks both of her commitment and loneliness.  Craving for adult conversation is a need for every mom on earth, especially those who raise children alone.

Conversation turns quickly from topics of kids and weather and to the reason that the military dog tags swing from her neck.  Her husband, a warrior, is returning.  She feels everything more… fear, joy, excitement, apprehension… but mostly impatience.  She longs to see his face.

There is an Aramaic phrase in a Greek letter written by a Jewish Christian to a church positioned on the boot heel of the Gulf of Corinth. It is only recorded once in the Scriptures yet was obviously a familiar phrase to the church of the first century.  In other words, no translation necessary.

Much later during the Jesus Movement the phrase became popular again and found its way onto bible covers, keychains, even tooled onto leather belts.  There was never a need for translation among those who loved Jesus and those who didn’t were bound to know within a few minutes … if they had the nerve to ask.

The word?  Maranatha.  The translation? The Lord Comes!

At the end of the letter to the Corinthian church Paul inserts the phrase. Why would he transcribe the entire letter in one language and say goodbye in another?  The reason was that the word had become “a watchword and a password” among the early church.  Maranatha described the burning hope of the believers.  They believed emphatically that the Lord would return sooner and not later.

“Maranatha” became code to the early Christians, both the greeting and the goodbye that only the church could understand.  In the midst of a heathen culture bent on hedonistic idolatry and a Jewish culture bent on violent legalism, Christians would encourage one another with a “what did he say?” phrase.  More than one smile would grace the face when “maranatha” was heard.

But the passion for Jesus’ return has waned in the past decades.  One of the obvious signs of revival is the talk of the Lord’s return yet in today’s church you hear about everything before the talk of “the clouds will roll away.”  You can’t just stir it up either.  The heart that passionately looks to the sky is a gift from God.  A lover’s gaze that longs for those still far away cannot be stirred with words or from the pages of a book.  It is a seed that hurts the heart with longing and draws one’s gaze away from this world to search the heavens.

Honestly, for many there are too many trinkets to care.  Too many distractions to keep a focus.  Like a fickle lover whose infatuation needs to be continually stroked, many lose interest in the coming of Christ until the right song plays on the radio.  But talk to the wife of the soldier who is continents away.  She will demonstrate the longing of a lover.    The tears flow often… she hurts to see the one she loves.

“Marantha” captures it all.  It was the word through history… the secret code… the watchword of the church that excited the imagination to dream of the Day.

The three words bears three truths.

  • The Lord comes.”

“There is one Lord,” Paul said, only One who has met the standard of Messiah and Savior. The word designates the single and only true One.  Singular, stand alone, extraordinary, exceptional, unprecedented.  I know it’s corny but Jesus is THE One and THE Only. He is the One and Only Way.

  • “The Lord comes.”

We do not embrace the notion that someone can dictate behavior and rule our every motive.  Lord means master, superior, sovereign and demands that all others are slaves, servants, bondsman, minions, maids, stewards, and followers.  It is not a title of affection but a title that dictates all other positions as being below and subservient.

  • “The Lord comes.

Every generation that has experienced revival has looked to the sky in hopes of seeing the Lord “descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God.” Have you forgotten His promise?
“I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”

Her desire to see her husband is infectious.  I confess that I have not longed for his return but simply noted his absence on occasion and inquired about his home coming.  But recently, her longing has begun to affect my heart.  I’ve thought about him because her face gives way to her passionate desire to see her lover.

And so it should be with the Lord’s church.  My desire to see my Lord should be so intense that others catch my passion.  The very last words of the New Testament capture the “last word” that our conversations should end with:

“I, Jesus… I am the Root and the Offspring of David,
the Bright and Morning Star… Surely I am coming quickly.”  Amen.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Yes, Lord, come.

Maranatha!

For further study:
I Corinthians 16:22
1 Thessalonians 4:17
1 Corinthians 8:6
1 Thessalonians 4:16
John 14:3
Revelation 22:16-21



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Do You Need Endurance?

July 21, 2009


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I have tested you in the furnace…” Isaiah 48:10

Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Thy Word.  Thou art good and doest good; teach me Thy statutes.  It is good for me that I was afflicted that I may learn Thy statutes. Psalm 119:67-68, 71

God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.  1 Corinthians 10:13

Trials, by Divine design, have a beginning and an end.

Every road has an ending.  Every path leads to a different place.  Every journey, a conclusion.  And every trial designed by Heaven’s grand Architect has a final destination.  David embraced the goodness of trials and penned the marvelous testament of Godly instruction and the gaining of wisdom called Psalm 119.  He learned that the goodness of God taught him wisdom with the tools of trials endured.

Today is a different story altogether.  Instead of seeing trials with a beginning and an end, church people see trials with a beginning and an escape.  Most assume that trials are about deliverance and fuss and cry until the day when the pressure is off.  Trials are blamed on the devil … which is shortsighted … or the flesh … which is obvious … or others … which is life.  Ease of life is the excuse to avoid and despise any difficulty that arises even as we read our daily bible study that declares over and over that trials are ordained by God to change me… and, after all, isn’t that the reason I became a Christian in the first place?

God’s intention in trials is not to produce an escape, but to produce endurance.  Endurance is the quality that suffers long in order to receive the prize of hearing “well done.”  James (1:3) gives the clearest picture of the relationship that is forged between trials and endurance.  He says, “the testing of your faith produces endurance.” Interesting, isn’t it?  Everyone wants more endurance but few find themselves pounding on Heaven’s door for more trials.

The writer of Hebrews (10:36), true to form, tells the truth.  He says, “You have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.” Jesus prayed for the disciples not that they would be taken out of the world, but that they would be kept from being overwhelmed by the power of the evil one.  No “way of escape” needed,  instead a need for endurance thank you very much.

There are four areas of life that are the construction sites of endurance.  In essence, they are the seed bed to produce the quality of Godly resolution.


Relationships
.  No matter how wonderful the beginning, every relationship will produce “opportunities” for growth.  Proverbs states, as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.  My experience with sharpening tools tells me that the most obvious sign of progress are the sparks that erupt from the wheel as the metal is ground.  My free translation would be “as iron sparks and grinds so do relationships.”
Morality.  Man’s morality and immorality is mentioned from Genesis to Revelations.  It should be no surprise that the enemy attacks everyone in the secret place of the heart. Endurance might sound too base and corrupt, but for the person who suffers the attack, endurance is the first step through man’s most common challenge.
Stewardship.  Faith in God is directly linked to our practical stewardship of time, possessions and money.  Statistically, marriages suffer the most in the bedroom (communication) and the checkbook (stewardship).  God’s endurance to do the right thing is especially needed.
Servanthood.  Servanthood is the second stage of relationships.  It is the place in life where maturity demands the space above personal gain.  Parenting demands servanthood.  Marriage demands servanthood.  Spiritual ministry demands servanthood.  Every relationship will reach a place of decision if it is to grow… will I serve or be served?

Trials become testimonies. But know this, the time it takes to produce endurance cannot compare with the grace that remains.
So don’t refuse the test.

“Trust Him, do not push away the instrument lest you lose its work.  The school of suffering graduates rare scholars.”



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Sixteen Years

July 18, 2009

SIXTEEN YEARS AGO No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face.  All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; He’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; He’ll always be there to help you come through it. 1 […]

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The Love of Friends

July 9, 2009

Charging into the home of his lifelong friend, Joel barely slowed his pace enough to talk. “Quick, Samuel. Jesse needs us!” The panic in Joel’s voice was enough for Samuel to act quickly. No need to ask what the problem was. Joel’s concern was enough to act on. Jesse was their lifelong friend. When they […]

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The Links at Pebble Beach

July 8, 2009

O blows that smite, O hurts that pierce this shining heart of mine! What are ye but the Master’s tools Forming a work divine. The mythical reputation of Pebble Beach Golf Links is matched only by the seaward lay of the course that stretches along the Pacific coast making even the worst shot better because […]

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A Door of Hope

July 2, 2009

Jesus… stayed outside in lonely places. Matthew 1:45 NIV But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Luke 5:16 NIV Instead of “lonely” the preferred word is “wilderness” in most translations. What a difference a descriptive word can make.  One word in our language describes a location, another word describes an emotion. Both of […]

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