The Early Church, Jesus Christ's Return

Maranatha

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“O Lord, Come”

 

The word maranatha has been around in Christian circles for centuries. Some even use it for their businesses, and church names. I had never given the word maranatha much thought until I saw the footnote in my Bible last year. How I overlooked it all these years is beyond me. Once I understood the meaning and significance it was an encouragement, and I hope it will be to you as well.

In Aramaic the word marana tha translates to “our Lord comes” or is “coming”. Maranatha occurs only once in the Bible.¹

If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed. O Lord, come!”   1 Corinthians 16:22, NKJV 

Strong words for those who don’t love Jesus. The word accursed is translated from the Greek word anathema. This was the third level of three levels of discipline for the ancient Jews. Anathema meant that the Jew being disciplined was no longer counted as a Jew and would never be reconciled to the synagogue.²

After this dire warning about your soul being cursed for not loving Jesus, Paul ends with maranatha.

Paul used an Aramaic word, maranatha, in a letter to a Greek church. He was sending a message of hope to the early church. Maranatha was an encouragement to fellow Christians enduring terrible persecution under Roman rule. It reminded them that Jesus Christ was coming back for them.

The early Christians were severely persecuted by the Romans since they refused to declare Ceasar was god. This meant death for the Christian. Maranatha became a common greeting of that day. The Lord will return and their suffering will end. The early church expected Jesus to return at any moment and we should too.

Jesus Christ is coming back for His church.

“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” John 14:3, NIV 

Early Christians took loving Jesus and His imminent return very serious. They laid everything down, even their lives to love, serve, and follow Jesus. There was an excitement about the return of Christ.

The 18th Century evangelist George Whitfield attests to his “Maranatha Mindset” writing:

“Let that cry, “Behold, the bridegroom cometh,” (Matthew 25:6) be continually sounding in your ears, and begin now to live as though you were assured that this night you were to go forth to meet Him. (And all God’s people cry “Amen!”)³

Whatever you are facing today, Jesus sees you and is with you. Your suffering will end. I say “Maranatha” to you. Jesus will right every wrong. We will be with Him in heaven for all of eternity. So hold on friend. Keep trusting. Keep believing. This world is not our home.

As Christians, may we live with excitement and great anticipation of the return of Lord Jesus. Maranatha!

Love you all,

Meghan

 

 

  1. https://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/maranatha/
  2. https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/1-corinthians-16/
  3. https://www.preceptaustin.org/maranatha
God, Obedience

The Potter

person making clay pot

Ceramics was one of my high school electives. It was only for a semester and I wasn’t very good at it. I did give it my best try and actually enjoyed making ceramics. The pottery wheel was exciting and very difficult. If you didn’t get your clay exactly at the center of the wheel the pottery was not going to work. Then there was the enormous challenge of shaping the clay. The entire process had to be started over if any part went wrong.

God is The Potter. He made each of us. Shaping us with His mighty hands. Vessels to be used for His glory. 

In the ancient world pottery was an important part of almost every aspect of life. There were storage jars, oil lamps, and cooking pots all made from clay. The earliest pottery was formed by hand.

Yet you, Lord, are our Father.
    We are the clay, you are the potter;
    we are all the work of your hand. Isaiah 64:8, NIV 

When the clay goes bad or something goes wrong in the process, the potter crushes it down and starts again. The potter never throws the clay out.

God will never throw us away. We are the clay in His powerful hands. We must trust what He is doing.

Trust God when everything is falling apart.

Trust God when you are being crushed.

Trust God when the cracks are getting bigger.

Trust God when He reshapes you into something beautiful.

The Potter does not want to destroy us, though we may think that at times. Especially when we are being crushed. God loves us beyond anything we can humanly comprehend. He is our Maker and knows what is best for each and every one of us.

Clay pots look strong, but we can easily break and chip. Many factors contribute to our cracks. What are we filling ourselves with? What are we thinking on? What are our priorities? Clay pots are designed to be containers.

We are not meant to be empty vessels. We are designed with eternity in mind by The Potter. If we allow God to mold us, and shape us, and use us for His glory than we are fulfilling our purpose. Yes, sometimes we will be crushed back down into a lump. Sometimes, we do it to ourselves and the cracks appear and ultimately we crumble.

God never throws the clay away.

No matter how many cracks, and broken pieces are in your life, He can make beauty out of your brokenness. Trust God.

Love you all,

Meghan

If you need prayer just drop me an email from my contact page.

Photo by Anthony Shkraba on Pexels.com

 

Jesus, The Early Church

The Meaning of the Jesus Fish

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For as long as I can remember my mom had this wooden fish on the wall of our home. Since we were Christians, this seemed completely normal. I associated this carving with Jesus making us fishers of men (Matthew 4:19). In my mind, Jesus in the shape of a fish made sense. Jesus and fish go together.

We’ve all seen the fish symbol on countless cars. Anytime I see the little fish on a vehicle I know they are a Christian. It has become a universal symbol in modern American culture. The fish logo shows up on business advertising letting us know it’s a Christian owned company. Every color and version of a fish is used on bumper stickers, T-shirts, book marks, Bible covers, mugs, jewelry, and even tattoos.

The fish logo is easily identified with Christianity. But where did it come from? Why a fish?

First Century Christians were severely persecuted. Christianity was illegal in the Roman Empire. Under Roman Emperor Nero, Christians were arrested, tortured, thrown to wild animals, and crucified. If you were a Christ Follower in the early days of the church, you were probably going to be killed. Many Christians went underground.

In order to reach out to to followers of Jesus Christ, a symbol was used. The fish symbol would be carved into doorways or on the road, to say that Christians were there. The fish was chosen because it could go unrecognized. Several pagan religions at the time used a fish symbol, so it wasn’t given a second look.

The Greek word for fish is ichthys or ichthus.

I – Iota or Iesous – Jesus

X – Chi or Christos – Christ

Θ – Theta or Theos – of God

Y – Upsilon or Yios – Son

Σ– Sigma or Soter – Savior 

The Greek letters form an acrostic which translates to Jesus Christ Son of God, Savior.

During those oppressive years in Ancient Rome, if there was a meeting between two Christians, one person would draw an arc in the dirt. If the other person was truly a Christian, they would draw another arc, completing the fish logo.

In Ancient Ephesus the early Christians used a pizza looking symbol to share the same message, Jesus Christ son of God, Savior. These circular symbols can be found in what remains of Ephesus today. The same pizza-like symbols are in a few spots near The Forum in Rome. The pizza shape hid the Greek letters for fish.

Early Christians risked everything to share The Good News of Jesus Christ. Many gave their lives so that message could go around the globe. I am a Christian because of Jesus. He came to seek and save the lost, which is all of us.

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. Luke 19:10, NIV 

The thought of those early Jesus Followers risking everything to live out their faith is inspiring. I wouldn’t know Jesus as my Savior without them. It started with Jesus and His completed work on the cross, and spread through the first disciples like Peter and Paul. Then it just kept going through poor people, rich people, enslaved people, and ordinary people. So many gave their lives to spread the message that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:16, NIV 

In America I am free to practice my religion. This is not the case around the world. Christian persecution is happening in many places like China, India, and Iran. Christians are still being killed for their faith today. If you live in a country where you are free to worship Jesus without fear of death, thank God! If you are living in a persecuted country, God bless and protect you!

The next time you see a little metal fish on the back of a vehicle say a prayer for the persecuted church around the globe. They are our brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ.

Love you all,

Meghan

 

Father God,

Thank you for sending your son, Jesus, to save us. Thank you for the faithfulness of the early church. Please protect and bless our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world. Use each of us to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. Equip us Father, to do your will.

Amen

 

 

References

https://www.pbs.org/empires/romans/empire/christians.html

Ichthus

http://www.eureka4you.com/fish/fishsymbol.htm

https://www.compellingtruth.org/Christian-fish-symbol.html

https://www.allaboutgod.com/jesus-fish.htm

https://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-study/topical-studies/the-christian-fish-symbol-origin-and-history-facts.html

 

Faith, God, Jesus, Uncategorized

Live for Today

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Today you have been given a gift. The gift of time. There are 1440 minutes in your gift. You and I get this precious gift of time, each and every day.

This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.        Psalm 118:24, ESV 

God made our days and He numbered them.

Lord, reveal to me the end of my life
and the number of my days.
Let me know how short-lived I am.
 You, indeed, have made my days short in length,
and my life span as nothing in Your sight.
Yes, every mortal man is only a vapor.Selah    Psalm 39:4-5, HCSB

How much time do we waste each day? I don’t believe the goal is to fill every single minute with non-stop activity. We’ve all got necassary day-to-day duties that are unavoidable. Sleep takes up a certain amount of our hours. Work. Other daily responsibilities like cooking, errands, caring for our families, and a long list of daily tasks fill our routines. And yes, there should be a little down time each day, to recharge your batteries.

    A person’s days are determined;
    you have decreed the number of his months
    and have set limits he cannot exceed.   Job 14:5, NIV

So, if God ordained our days, and He ordained our lives, then He knows we have normal routine stuff that needs to take place. He also has ordained big and small events in our lives every day; that give us opportunities to make a difference for His Kingdom.

This is not the Carpe Diem trendy thinking of our culture. Seize the day is associated with self. Go for it. Take everything you can from each day. This type of thinking says the day is yours. As Christians, each day is a gift from the Lord that He made, and it’s not all ours for the taking.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  Ephesians 2:10, NIV

God has Kingdom work for us to accomplish. And we need Him to do what He’s called us to. Maybe you don’t know your specific calling yet. Start asking God what He has you here for. Each of us has a unique purpose. In the meantime, look for daily small moments to share the love of Jesus. Working hard to provide for your family matters. Cooking a meal for your family is loving. Going to the grocery store and getting food and other essentials is important. We’re human and we need food. Being kind to the checker at the store. Helping an elderly shopper with reaching an item. (Maybe after the covid19 6 feet away craziness is over.)

There are moments each day that we can make a difference. Praying for someone, sharing the Gospel, helping a neighbor. Giving a friend a ride. Listening to your children’s ideas and hopes. Encouraging your spouse. Forgiving that person you’ve been holding a grudge against. Love God. Love your family. Love strangers you cross paths with. Love your annoying neighbor.

These are not easy on our own. They are impossible in our own abilities. We need filled up before we can overflow with the love of Christ.

Yesterday is the past. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have today.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34, NIV

We are all very aware we’ve got enough to deal with today. Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrow. We are supposed to live in today. We can still make plans, and pray about future events, and circumstances. But, we are to leave those at Jesus feet and get on with our day. I know, that’s super difficult. At least for me it is.

Give each day the care it deserves. It may not be flashy but it is a gift from the Lord. Every day is not some thrill ride. Many days can be mundane and quite ordinary, but God ordained them. Thank Him for each day.

Thank God on the good days.

Thank God on the awful days.

Thank God every single day. He made it just for you.

Is Jesus Christ your Savior? Today would be a great day to accept His free gift of salvation. Tomorrow is not guaranteed.

Love you all,

Meghan

 

Go to my contact page and email me if you need prayer.

 

Bible, Faith, Trials, Uncategorized

Need A Fresh Start?

silhouette of mountains

Do you ever wish there was a reset button in life? Things are just going downhill and it sure would be nice to start over again. There is good news for you. Today, right now, you can start again. Each day is a fresh start. A gift from the Lord. He knew we needed beginnings and endings, each and every day. Doesn’t necessarily mean that the problem or issue disappears the next day, but it can mean a renewal of your attitude and faith.

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23, NIV 

 

I can’t help but think of Chuck Colson, the founder of Prison Fellowship, when needing a restart comes to mind. Chuck was one of President Nixon’s right hand men, and went to prison for his involvement in Watergate. Chuck met Jesus and accepted Him as Savior, and eventually started a world renowned prison ministry. That’s a spectacular fresh start. Only God would do something so magnificent with something so ugly.

Moses had a few fresh starts during his life. He flees Egypt after killing an Egyptian who had beaten one of his fellow Hebrews. Moses then becomes a shepherd and starts a new life in the desert. Years later God talks to Moses from a burning bush. God tells Moses that he’s sending him to Pharoah to bring the Israelites out of Egypt. (Exodus 3) That is a historic fresh start. Definitely a hard job, that changes the course of history.

Moses was not asking for that fresh start. God had other plans. Sometimes we think everything is going fine. Like Moses, maybe we want to hide out in the desert and give ourselves a fresh start. But God shows up and surprises us. God always has a purpose and a plan for each and every one of us.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight. 

Proverbs 3:5-6, NASB

Is there a destructive habit that needs to stop in your life?

Maybe there’s an ugly attitude.

Is there a strain in one of your significant relationships? Marriage, kids, family, friends.

Do you need to forgive someone?

Do you need to apologize and ask for forgiveness?

I’m not suggesting you can instanly fix everything. Only God can change hearts, minds, and attitudes. And time travel is not an option to go back and make changes.

The one thing you can change is you.

Your fresh start begins the moment you surrender it all to Jesus. It takes humilty to lay it at the Lord’s feet and ask for His help.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:10, NIV 

Every single moment is an opportunity to start again.

If you’ve never asked Jesus to be your Lord and Savior, you can change that right now, today. God is drawing you to Jesus.

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. John 6:44, NIV

If you need a fresh start, it begins right now. You can choose.

Love you all,

Meghan

P.S. If you need prayer please go to my contact page and send me an email.

 

 

 

https://www.prisonfellowship.org/
Photo by Simon Matzinger on Pexels.com