25 Devotions – Day Ten

The Native Jesus And Napoleon

The man known as the Emperor of the French, was actually not born there. Napoleon Bonaparte was, instead born on the island of Corsica. An yet, no other name is more connected to the the country of France than a child descended from Italian nobility. Corsica, only became part of France a year before his birth. What a difference a year, and a child make.

My mind goes to a more important birth, that occurred years before. When a child of Heaven was born in a very human stable. The Savior Of The World, born in the world, but not of it. Yet, every citizen of Earth, who longs to be a resident of Heaven, looks to The Native for salvation.

He became a Native of a land foreign to His nature, so that we could experience a change in our own. I’ve written about it before, but no matter how many times I do, the excitement holds. Christ, knowing the cost of Calvary, embraced the journey.

Nine months, plus thirty three and a half years. It would be filled with peril, pain, and purpose. To Him, all that paled in comparison, to filling Heaven with souls who have experienced redemption.

Christ gave His heart to man, even before He gave His body. Before He walked to Gethsemane, His heart embraced us, knowing it also meant accepting the burden of the cross. The Lord promised from the second the fall occurred, that He would rescue us, and Calvary fulfilled that vow.

It was something that made men like Napoleon stand in awe. Christ triumphed out of love, and in so doing, accomplished what he could never do. Below are words reported to be said by the Corsican General about The Lord Jesus.

“In defiance of time and space, the soul of man, with all its powers and faculties, becomes an annexation to the Empire of Christ.

 

All who sincerely believe in Him experience that remarkable supernatural love towards Him. This phenomenon is unaccountable; it is altogether beyond the scope of man’s creative powers.

 

Time, the great destroyer, is powerless to extinguish this sacred flame; time can neither exhaust its strength nor put a limit to its range. This it is which strikes me most; I have often thought of it. This it is which proves to me quite convincingly the divinity of Jesus Christ.”

25 Devotions – Day Nine

The Native: The Villages Of Jonah, Jesus, and Zeus

2 Kings 14:25-26

25 He restored the coast of Israel from the entering of Hamath unto the sea of the plain, according to the word of the LORD God of Israel, which he spake by the hand of his
servant Jonah, the son of Amittai, the prophet, which [was] of Gath-hepher.

26 For the LORD saw the affliction of Israel, [that it was] very bitter: for [there was] not any shut
up, nor any left, nor any helper for Israel.

The Legend Of Aetos Dios

Periphas was a legendary king of Attica who was a just king, and a dutiful priest of Apollo. Zeus however became indignant because Periphas was revered and honoured as if he were Zeus himself, so Zeus wanted to destroy Periphas and his entire household. But Apollo interceded, and instead Zeus transformed Periphas into an eagle, making him king of all birds and guard of his sacred septre.

To borrow from a famous title, this is really a tale of three cities. Gath-hepher, Nazareth, and Sepphoris.  I’m sure that most of you are familiar with one of those three, but a lesser amount will have heard of the first one I mentioned.  My guess is that most of you haven’t heard of the third one, and until recently I hadn’t either.  While each holds wonder, their connection to each other, make it even more so.

Gath-hepher wasn’t a prominent place. One writer describes it as inconsiderable, meaning small or of little significance. It’s name meant either wine press of the well, the pit, or the digging. It was near Sepphoris, a town that would one day be renamed Diocaesarea in honor of Hadrian Caesar and Zeus. At the time of Christ, the village of Gath-hepher’s most famous citizen was an ancient memory.

That citizen was Jonah.  In his day, he was sent by God to Nineveh.  According to Scholars, the founder of Nineveh was the Nimrod of Genesis chapter 10.  A city whose Assyrian name ironically connected to the fictional son of Zeus, Hercules.  A true Prophet of Jehovah was sent to a city built upon a false idol.

They were spared because of repentance. Unfortunately, years later, they would backslide into idolatry. This would bring their destruction. Any city, or person, whose foundation remains tied to idols will buckle under the weight of lifting up anything other than The Creator.

Our God supports us, and not the other way around. The problem with idols is that they’re not real. You may build them statues and temples, but in the end, you only have things that you must support. God’s Tabernacle and Temple saw a Heavenly cloud fill it, and not a stone statue.

Your familiar with what happened next, when Jonah arrived, judgement gave way to mercy.  We all know the story, you saw the whale in your mind’s eye as soon as you read the name.  The one thing that I never connected with the book of Jonah, was the importance of the place of his origin, and the history of the city he was sent to reach.

In fact, Gath-Hepher isn’t mentioned in the book of Jonah.  Had it not been for the prophecy referred to in 2 Kings, we wouldn’t have known it.  God purposely referred to the fulfillment of a prophecy that we didn’t even get to witness in Scripture.  He wanted us to know that Jonah was from Gath-hepher.

Jonah repented in the whale’s belly, but he didn’t linger there. He hit Nineveh, following God’s command, also with a message of Repentance. Was he perfect? No, but he was actively seeking God. Was Nineveh perfect?  No, but they actively sought God.  Repentance doesn’t only mean remorse, it means change.

I should mention that Jonah’s home isn’t only within miles of Sepphoris, but it’s also within two miles of another city, the city of Nazareth. Note the contrast. Gath-hepher is a village between a city that, like Ninevah, was given to idolatry, and The City Of The Christ!

Christ wasn’t born in Nazareth, He moved there.  The Perfect One wanted to be near a people that were covered in sins, drenched in disappointment, and in severe need of redemption.  It’s no wonder then that among The Old Testament Prophets that Jesus connects Himself with, He refers to Jonah.

Intentionally, not ironically, He who is perfect identified with a servant famous for failure and redemption. This was the type of man He came to reach. Jonah was not a perfect man, but a man capable of Repentance. Much like the sparrow that Christ made a place for, He redeemed Jonah.

Ironically, they say that Jonah was buried in a mountain near Sepphoris, which in the Greek, means bird.  It’s this town that they would rename for a very mortal emperor, and a very flawed idol.  A bird in the hand of Christ is cared for, loved, and redeemed.  Hadrian built a temple to Jupiter/Zeus on the site of the Temple in Jerusalem. In the legend, Zeus transformed a man into a bird out of jealousy.

Psalms 84:3

Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, [even] thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God.

Luke 12:6-8

6 Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?

7 But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.

8 Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God:

The kings and idols of this world come seeking servants, while Christ comes serving.  Each will transform, but only one will wash away our iniquities, wrap us in His love, and free our souls.  God sent His Prophet with a Message of hope, of peace, and of transformation.  He will take us the way we are, and make us better than we could ever imagine.

Sin will transform also, but it will only serve to plunge us deeper into slavery.  Much like a bird it may allow you to fly from a perch, but only for as long as the length of the string tied to it’s foot. Any success, any soaring accomplished in this life, will be limited and corrupted.

The Greek word Sepphoris finds it’s parallel in the Hebrew word Zipporah.  You may remember her as the wife of Moses.  After the Exodus, Reuel, whose name means friend of God, brings her to Moses in the wilderness.  Earlier in Scripture, she initially had a problem with circumcision, but she is reunited with her husband.

Colossians 2:11-13

11 In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:

12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with [him] through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;

According to Colossians 2:11-14, Circumcision in the Old Testament is tied to  Baptism in the New Testament. Like Zipporah, we were estranged from God’s Love. Thanks to sin, we were lifeless, hopeless, and in fear of the judgement.  However, God sent His Prophet, His friend, to reunite us with The Lord. Each transforms, but only the transformation of Christ frees us. Now, instead of being a stranger, we are part of the family of God.

Because of Him, we are no longer on the outside looking in, He causes us to rest in Heavenly places in Christ Jesus. The transformation of Christ is life giving, whereas sin brings death.  Our redemption is the sole purpose He came in flesh.  He valued us more than life itself.  More than the pain of carrying our sins on a rugged Cross as His blood covered both it and them.

In the end, we return to the three cities.  Gath-hepher, the winepress of the pit, Nazareth, the home of The Builder, and Sepphoris, the bird.  Between the pit and the insignificant sparrow stood two.  One abused us, used us up, and left us for dead.  Sin, parading as the best this world has to offer, promised much, but instead, it took all we had to give.  Then, the gentle hand of The Nazarene picked us up. He gave His life for ours, and three days later, Christ walked out of the pit.  His blood produced life in you and I.  Now, we soar, not at the whim of our captors, but in honor of our Christ.

25 Devotions – Day Eight

The Native: The Shepherd King

Luke 7:11-17
11 And it came to pass the day after, that he went into a city called Nain; and many of his disciples went with him, and much people.
12 Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow:and much people of the city was with her.
13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not.
14 And he came and touched the bier:and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.
15 And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother.
16 And there came a fear on all:and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited his people.
17 And this rumour of him went forth throughout all Judaea, and throughout all the region round about.

There are four words I’d like to focus on in this event in the life of Jesus. They are Nain, Widow, Not, and Rumor. The first comes from a Greek word for beauty. It says that the word is originally from a Hebrew word meaning pasture. In the definition it uses a phrase, “abode of shepherd”.

This village, located at the mountain called Little Hermon was not far from Nazareth. This lady, and her son had lived in the vicinity of the Shepherd King for an untold period of time. They spent their lives in a place known as beauty, and pasture, oblivious of the fact that He was so near.

When we look at the word widow, it’s definition appears very obvious. However, the translator added a footnote that gave a new insight to it. It explained that, metaphorically, a city stripped of its inhabitants, and it’s riches, is represented in the figure of a widow.

It’s no coincidence that to this day, when we think of Nain, we think of her. The Scripture even says that much people of the city was with her. You see it wasn’t only the Widow who needed a miracle. The city needed a Shepherd.

The problem is of course, Shepherds don’t usually live in cities. They may pass through them, but Shepherds are usually found in the fields. There were exceptions, one in particular comes to mind. It was a different city, Jerusalem by name, that had a resident Shepherd. His name was David. What Nain probably didn’t know, was that this Shepherd and that one had a lot more in common than a birthplace called Bethlehem.

The Root and The Offspring Of David didn’t wonder into this city. If you’ll excuse the pun, He flocked to it. You see, The Shepherd always goes where the sheep are hurting. He went there to quiet the cries of a Mother. I find it interesting that, not too far in the future, another Mother would need her tears wiped away. That Momma would be His own.

There is no reference of an interaction with Joseph the Carpenter after The Lord is twelve years old. While we don’t know for certain, it is highly possible that Joseph passed before Christ started His Ministry. If that’s the case, the One who returned the widow’s son to her, may have been the Son of a widow Himself.

We know that God is strategic, we know His first Miracle was at the wedding in Cana. That means, if Joseph died before that, He had to stand by His own grieving Mother and allow it to happen. We feel helpless so many times when we are powerless to change something. Can you imagine how hard it was to have the power to alter something and have to let it happen for our sakes? The timing of the start of His Ministry was no accident, it was ordained.

When the reference is to a Shepherd, I can’t help it, Psalm 23 comes to my mind. It also brings with it a problem. If the city Nain, in the Hebrew means pasture, then we have an issue. According to Psalms 23, there is rest in the pasture.

Death is in a valley, not on the side of a mountain. Like the Widow, what do you do when your mountain turns into a valley? It is then that you need someone who knows how to deal with tragedy, no matter where it happens, or what it is.

If you are already in a battle when a crisis occurs, it’s not easy, but you’re a little prepared. What do you do when one minute you’re on the mountain of victory, and the next you’re picking up the pieces of a broken future? That is when you need The One who returned Isaac safely to Abraham on Mount Moriah.

He had compassion on the Widow. He had compassion, told her to weep not, and touched the coffin. The word not there is translated “God forbid.” Need I say more? Death, you may one day part these two, but not today, and not this way! To paraphrase, The Lord Jesus was saying, “If it had happened yesterday, you may have gotten away with it. If you had tried, it may have worked. The problem is that today is the day of Salvation!”

The people carrying the dead stopped, and then He spoke. Christ didn’t come to only raise the dead, but to alter the route of those heading for the grave yard. If you’re on your way to trouble, I would advise you to stop and listen to The Master speak. He will not only save, He will prevent some battles, when we listen.

Jesus said, “Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.” Notice that, He didn’t just say Arise. He said “Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.” First, He never spoke to death. Death had the young man, but the only recorded conversation between Christ and death was reported by Paul later. “O death where is thy sting?”

This tells me that death had no choice in the matter. God spoke to the soul of the young man. He returned him to his body. Whatever is holding you, has no power to keep you, once The Master releases you. That doesn’t mean we won’t fight battles, but it does mean that our victory is secured!

Second, He was saying to the young man, “You need to know who is speaking. This isn’t a hireling talking, this is The Messiah. The same One who created life, still knows how to restore it. The Lord Jesus is still powerful enough to walk into the trial that you think will bury you, and turn it into a celebration.

John 1:1
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Last of all, is verse seventeen, and the word rumor. The amazing thing is that the Greek for rumor here, shares it’s meaning with a word found in John’s first chapter. The word rumor comes from Logos, just like in John one concerning The Word.

Too often, I’ve wondered why a battle had to happen, or why I had to face a certain trial. That was until the completion brought The Gospel to another soul. Judaea comes from Judah, which means Praise. If you’re fighting for your survival, and can’t understand why you’re facing what you are, take courage. Perhaps the tears you’re crying isn’t for you, but for someone who needs to see you still abiding in the city, even when it’s far from easy.

God wants His word to feel every heart, that is why He endured Calvary. If my trial will further The Gospel, then let us walk it with joy. Joy, not for the suffering, but for the result. The Lord wants every man and woman to know what it feels like to go from death to life. To meet their new Mother called the Church, and to rejoice in the kingdom of The Shepherd King!

25 Devotions – Day Seven

The Native: The Gypsy Robe

Psalms 24:7-10
7 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
8 Who [is] this King of glory? The LORD and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.
9 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift [them] up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
10 Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he [is] the King of glory. Selah

The Jews had formed their opinion of what The Messiah would look like. Prophecy after prophecy had been passed down. They felt they would know Him when they saw Him. Israel longed for a Conquering King. One that would sweep in, and flood Rome out of existence. They expected Jerusalem to rule the known world. Israel wasn’t looking for a Shepherd to reveal the unknown, and to open up the Eternal.

John 7:46

46 The officers answered, Never man spake like this man.

I suppose that the twelve year old setting in the Temple was not what they had expected. If He had looked like David, perhaps they could have understood better. Young David had killed a lion, and a bear. This was a Carpenter’s Apprentice. To look at Him, was not to see the regal King they wanted, ah, but when He spoke.

The Bible says that He both asked, and answered questions of the Doctors. Is it possible that some of those veterans said, “He doesn’t look like what I expected?”  If so, they followed it with, “He sounds like more than I could have ever hoped!”

It’s not unusual for a King to hide in pauper’s clothing. To visit His subjects, He donned a fleshly robe. To borrow from the theater, He donned what they would call a Gypsy Robe.

In the American theater, specifically Broadway musicals, there is a tradition that dates back to the fifties. It started with members of the chorus, or ensemble. They were known as Gypsies, because they passed from one show to another.

Theater people consider this to be a good luck charm. The youngest recipient was twelve year old Brynn Williams in 2005. The member of the chorus, or ensemble, who has been in the most shows is awarded it.

The robe is then  passed on to another actor in another show, until the robe was filled. Then it would be retired at one of three locations, including the Smithsonian.

Matthew 2:15

15 And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.

The word Gypsy is appropriate because of the history surrounding it’s meaning.   Groups of the Romani people were mistakenly referred to as Gypsies, thinking they originated in Egypt. The legend is that they were exiled as punishment for harboring the infant Jesus. While this is probably just a myth, the analogy is apt.

We were spiritually trapped in Egypt, bound and scarred, needing someone to rescue us.  To do that, He had to become one of us.The Lord Jesus spent thirty three and a half years on this Earth in a robe of flesh.

For the majority of that time, He limited Himself to the boundaries of mankind.  As a man He slept, as a man He ate. On the outside, He looked like everyone else.  The Robe was accomplishing it’s mission. It concealed His greatness until He was ready to reveal it.

Then, at a Wedding in Cana, it started.  From there, people realized that He was unlike any other.  At 12, The Doctors of the Law had gotten a preview of what was now unfolding. As God, He raised the dead, walked on water, and healed the leper. God in a Gypsy robe walked among men.  He revealed something far greater than an Earthly King, the revelation of an Eternal Savior!

The Ruler Of Heaven, wrapped in a fleshly robe, born in Bethlehem to die for us. Prophets had simply passed away. Moses transitioned to Joshua. They all said goodbye, folding up their earthly robes and closing their eyes. Jesus was different. Unlike David, He didn’t need His own grave. Jesus borrowed one from Joseph of Arimathaea. He used it for three days and three nights, and gave it back.

Jesus said, “…lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen.”  Jesus went to the grave to destroy our sins. He walked out of it to give us a new life. He put on a Gypsy Robe so that one day, we could put on an Eternal one.

1 Corinthians 15: 53-54

53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal [must] put on immortality.

54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

25 Devotions – Day Six

The Native: And It Came To Pass

Luke 2:1

1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.

We hurry pass them, those first five words, but Isaiah would have paused.  Every Old Testament Saint would have rejoiced with a combination of tears and shouting.  After thousands of years, and numerous prophecies, God was now wrapped in a fleshly body, carried in a Virgin’s womb!

They would have all been at the birth, no one would have missed that night.  Our response is of course, neither would we, but how many calls have we ignored?  We may not be at the manger side, but He has called us to prayer in the night.  At times, we have answered, too many others, we turned over and went back to sleep.  When we say, “I’ll pray for you.”  Do we write it down?  Will we remember it past five minutes later?

Thankfully, though so many overlooked, He still came.  Even though, we have failed at times to heed His invitation, there is still time.  I don’t believe that there is much time left. I believe we are near the end.  If you’re reading this though, let me encourage you. Whether you seek to draw closer, or you’re miles away from His presence, He is still near.

The journey with Jesus starts with a conversation. Like any relationship, there is more to it than that, but it is a beginning.  We call it Repentance.  It’s a first step in every walk with God.  It means that you’re not only sorry for the past sins, since Adam we all have sinned.  It means that you want to leave them behind.  You choose to follow, not the road of man, but the path of God.

Luke 2:10-11

i10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

i11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

If you are scared, for Eternity is a heavy subject, don’t be.  It was the promise of the Angels, “Fear not… For unto you is born this day … a Savior, which is Christ The Lord.” Start your journey today, let Him do for you what He did for Bethlehem.  Christ turned a small, forgotten town into the birthplace of The King Of Kings.  Let Him do the same today for your heart.

25 Devotions – Day Five

The Native: More Than A List Of Names

Day Five…

Matthew 1:4
And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon;

Have you ever noticed the two lists, one in Matthew, and the other in Luke? They are genealogies. According to Scofield, Matthew lists Joseph’s lineage, and Luke lists Mary’s family. Luke mentioning Joseph because he was her husband.

Some may wonder why The Lord took time to recite them all. Others may have wanted it to be filled with information about the Infant Christ. The wonderful thing is, God intentionally made a place for what others may think as just a register.

To Him, this is more than a list of names. These were living, breathing members of His family. Men and women that He had walked with, people who committed their lives to God. He would no more forget them than He would ignore us. They are an illustration of His promise, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.

This Christmas, a lot of people are suffering, it’s been a wonderful year, but incredible doesn’t always mean easy. Whatever battles you’ve faced this year, whatever trial you’re dealing with, remember this. He never forgot the names of friends long gone, those covered in the dust of history, so He will remember us.

You and I don’t know much about Aram, but God can tell you what were his greatest dreams, and hardest battles. Every tear that others ignored, The Savior collected. Just like you and I, He carried those tears from a wooden manger to a timber cross. The God who always remembers, made it possible to forgive, and forget all of our sins at Calvary. Casting them, as The Bible says, as far as the east is from the west.

Malachi 3:16-17
16 Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name.
17 And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.

Four hundred years separated The Old Testament and The New Testament, but time didn’t weaken God’s memory. Centuries didn’t destroy God’s promise, nor circumstances alter it. If armies couldn’t stop it then, they can’t silence your hope now.

He remembers you as much as He remembers them. He recalls, He cares, and He will cause you to give birth to your promise. One day, as He did in Matthew and Luke, He will read our names out of The Lamb’s Book Of Life. He loves you and I so much, He wrote down our names! Merry Christmas!

25 Devotions- Day Four

The Native: His First Words

This is the continuing celebration of The Native, in words and pictures.  

Matthew 3:15
And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now:for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.

A child’s first words are huge. I would guess that every parent remembers them. We don’t know what The Lord Jesus’ first words were, each Gospel chooses a different phrase to introduce us to The Master’s Voice. In Matthew, He is talking to John The Baptist. Suffer in the original means allow. Jesus is saying, Allow this now, for we are called to fulfill all righteousness.

Mark 1:14-15
14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand:repent ye, and believe the gospel.

The verse before it is very important as well. The catalyst of this setting is John’s imprisonment. In the Hebrew John means “Jehovah Has Graced”, or the Grace Of God. Man had sinned, and fallen into despair and degradation. For us, the possibility of Salvation was non existent before Calvary. That was when The Lord Jesus walked into the center of the world preaching The Gospel.

In Mark He mentions fulfillment again.”The time is fulfilled, The Kingdom Of God is here, repent, and believe the Gospel. ” In other words, Grace is here, it’s time to make a choice, discard your sins, and believe.

Luke 2:49
And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?

Luke gives us the earliest words of Jesus, at twelve years old. This is not the bearded face of The Carpenter, this is Christ in transition from boy to teen, the age that began the journey from child to man.

Sought: g2212. ζητεω zeteo; of uncertain affinity; to seek (literally or figuratively); specially, (by Hebraism) to worship (God), or (in a bad sense) to plot (against life):— be (go) about, desire, endeavour, enquire (for), require, (x will) seek (after, for, means).

He made statements in Matthew and Mark, in Luke and John He asks a question. Jesus uses a word, sought. He had experienced it’s meaning, in both a positive and a negative way. The Shepherds and The Wise Men sought to worship Him. Herod sought to kill Him. Every one will seek in some way. Either to join Him, or to attempt to destroy Him out of their life.

The Lord Jesus second sentence clarifies our options. If you seek Me, then it’s going to be about the work of God, the work of Redemption. Everything else is secondary. Jesus later said “Seek ye first The Kingdom Of God, and His righteousness …” Prior to saying it, He lived it.

John 1:38
Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye?– They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou?
39 He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where He dwelt, and abode with Him that day:for it was about the tenth hour.

In the fourth Gospel, He is followed by two disciples of John. They were Andrew and John. His simple question, “What Seek Ye?” The answer, was, where you dwell, or abide. Jesus’ response to them is His answer to us all. “Come and see.” His life, death, and resurrection made it possible for us to be with Him. Something that was impossible until a child cried in Bethlehem.

When you combine the message of all four of “His First Words”, you see The Kingdom’s Mission Statement. The Lord Jesus allowed Himself to go through all that He suffered so that He could impart His righteousness to man. He made it possible for us to choose Heaven as a future. To leave all our sin, and all our past at an altar. To join Him in the work of The Gospel. Asking others in pain, like we were, what are you seeking? When they ask if this is really an option? We can smile with the hope of Heaven, “Come and see.”

25 Devotions- Day Three

The Native: In The Order Of His Course

Luke 1:5-8
5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife [was] of the daughters of Aaron, and her name [was] Elisabeth.
6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.
7 And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were [now] well stricken in years.
8 And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his course,

He was “of the course of Abia”. This is something that I had skipped most of my life. However, as we have been taught, The Word Of God has a reason for everything within it’s pages. Years before, King David separated the Levites into twenty four courses, one under Abia. This family of priests, showed no record of returning from Babylon in the captivity.

In Nehemiah’s days, the remaining families of Priests were separated to fulfill the twenty four courses. This meant that Zacharias was a substitute for a family that no longer had a record of existing. It may not seem like much, until you view it this way. God appointed a man to serve at His altar in a substitute capacity for someone who no longer had rights to the altar.

Aren’t you glad that God sent a High Priest to intercede at the altar when sin had cost us our place? The difference is this, there is no record of Abia’s family ever returning.

The Lord Jesus didn’t come to Earth to adapt to our sinful ways, but to graft us in to Him through His blood. So that we could triumphantly enter with Him into glory one day. The name Abia means My Father Is God. We can come before the altar because God has adopted us into His family. That is what makes the next verse so rich as well.

8 And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his course,

The word order in Luke 1:8 comes from the Greek word taxis. It means a fixed succession, observing a fixed time. It’s no coincidence that this was when God chose to reveal the coming of Zacharias’ son. Zacharias was the son of a priest, who had been the son of a priest, and so on.

So many times, I allow myself to become overwhelmed by my current problem that I forget all the answers to the ones behind me. Zacharias longed for a child, and it didn’t seem possible. Then again, it doesn’t seem possible that a nomadic people who were slaves in Egypt could be liberated. It doesn’t seem possible that a people who were given a promised land by God, and lost it due to sin, could ever have come back to it.

How often we forget that our God is The God Of The Impossible! That, just as ordinary is common for us, impossible is His daily routine. What is amazing about our God isn’t that He performs the impossible. It’s that for thirty years on Earth, He would choose to limit Himself to the ordinary.

When you view God through this thought, giving an old couple a baby isn’t hard for Him. After all, that’s how this people started to begin with. How often we forget Abraham when we’re facing a trial. Isaac was just the first of many children of Israel produced in a miraculous way.

James 1:4
4 But let patience have [her] perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

Notice, Patience is referred to as a female, and it references maturity. Much like the picture of a Mother giving birth to a baby. Tribulation worketh patience, just as contractions produce a child. Trials are the contractions of a Christian. They are used to give birth to the Ministry that God has placed in us, for a specific time.

Our Lead Pastor, Pastor Livingston, from Point Of Mercy in Nashville recently shared an incredible message on Hannah. In it, he brought out a life altering point, Samuel was given at exactly the right time. Years earlier, and he would not have been in time to anoint and train two kings, one of those kings was David.

Hannah had to wait for an appointed time. Zacharias and Elisabeth also had to wait to have John when they did. Years earlier, and he could not have been the forerunner. He would have missed the very purpose of his existence, had he have been born sooner.

Whatever battle you face today, ignore your clock. We look at second hands, and panic. God takes His hand and stops time to bring His people out of a valley. It’s all done when we serve, before God in the order of His course.

25 Devotions – Day Two

In The Days Of Herod/Hero

This is our second post in our new Bible Study “The Native”. We hope that you enjoy, and follow along with us, as we explore the greatest birth in the history of the world.

Luke 1:1
1 Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,

This verse both refreshes and energizes me. It contains three words that are lacking from many parts of our culture. The phrase, “most surely believed among us,” reflects the conviction of the New Testament Church. Sadly, “most surely believed”, is noticeably absent from much of the modern world.

Politicians have their opinions, focus groups, and pollsters. Their position seems to shift with the wind. Sadly, many religious organizations are doing this as well. Some things can be debated, others argued, but core beliefs should be held to fiercely, and never compromised.

The word believed, in this passage, comes from a Greek word, plerophoreo. Meanings for this word include to bear or bring full, to fulfill the ministry in every part. It also means, to fill one with any thought, conviction, or inclination, and to make one certain.

As we begin our study of “The Native” Of Bethlehem, we must be reminded that His very existence was due to conviction, a Heavenly one. A heartfelt commitment that man, though unworthy, sinful, and fallen since the Garden, would receive an opportunity for redemption.

Luke 1:1, 5
1 Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,

5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife [was] of the daughters of Aaron, and her name [was] Elisabeth.

Luke 2:1
1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.

For a moment, let’s compare Luke 1:1 with Luke 2:1. Many people can quote the beginning verses of the second chapter, but few can quote the beginning verses of the first. One is a declaration of belief from a simple Christian, the other is a command from the head of an empire. The difference is this, the Christian is part of a living, breathing, active Kingdom of light. The emperor is a forgotten relic of a long dead government covered in the dust of history.

Often, we get discouraged when we see injustice. To hear us talk, you would think that sin would continue to rule unchecked indefinitely, but how quickly we forget. God is not intimidated in the face of evil. When the ungodly rule, it is an invitation for a change orchestrated by The Hand Of God. Such was the case in both Luke 1:5 and 2:1, “There was in the days of Herod”, and “a decree from Caesar Augustus”, two totalitarian rulers with blood on their hands. It was in this atmosphere of despair that two babies would be born.

People’s names in The Bible are important, their meaning is not by chance, or insignificant. We know this when we’re discussing a prophet. If his name means God is glorified, we point to his ministry. If however, the person is a wicked and harmful person, we only pay attention to their name if it is a negative. It is the times that either a wicked person has a good name, or a good person has a wicked name which confuses us. This brings us to “the days of Herod.”

Any Bible scholar knows the wickedness of Herod the Great. His long list of crimes include the murder of the innocents. Herod’s name however, reflects a different image. It is a compound of two words, heroes and eidos. Eidos means the external or outward appearance, form figure, and shape. Together they form the word heroic, but if you look at the compound, it is a reflection of Herod, he appears a hero.

Herod wanted people to look at him as a hero, a champion of his people. He feigned himself a seeker of The Messiah in front of the Wise men. Herod had a smile on his face, and murder in his heart. Our reputation must reveal our hearts, and not reflect a façade that we hide behind. Otherwise, our relationship with Jesus will go from seeking Him, to attempting to extinguish Him from our lives completely.

5 There was in the days of Herod (Heroic), the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias (Remembered By Jehovah), of the course of Abia (My Father Is Jehovah): and his wife [was] of the daughters of Aaron (Light-Bringer), and her name [was] Elisabeth (Oath Of God).

Setting aside Herod’s character for a moment, how exciting is the statement on face value? Look not at the names, but their meanings. Without taking the Scripture out of context, let’s view it this way. In the days of the heroic, a certain priest was remembered by Jehovah. God had not forgotten them, and He has not forgotten us either.

25 Devotions – Day One

In celebration of our new Christmas Bible Study Devotional, we will share a devotion from The Native.  The Native is a very special combination of words and pictures, inspired by The Lord Jesus.  Today is our introduction to The Native …

It examines the miraculous plan of God. The fact that the First Citizen Of Eternity became a citizen of Earth. He, whose innocence was so foreign to man, became The Son Of Man. We call it simply “The Native”.

It will look at a combination of Scriptures. These include the first two chapters of Matthew and Luke, and the first chapter of John. Also the prophecies of His birth in The Old Testament, and Paul’s reference to Christ’s birth in Hebrews.

In your mind, walk with me as we catch up with some travelers on a desert road. What’s that they are looking at? In their hands is a Star Chart. Ancient and yellowed by time, it is a map of more than the stars, it’s a treasure map. It tells how a group of men held onto a promise, older than time itself, and found it fulfilled in a small baby, newly born.

We’ll meet these wise men, a group of shepherds, an old man, and a couple whose sole purpose is to protect a newborn Savior. PruittWrites is very excited about this project, and we hope that you will join us for the study of “The Native”.