25 Devotions – Day Fifteen

The Native: From Here To Eternity

Luke 2:3-4
3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

We make an assumption about Joseph, in fact we make a lot of assumptions about Joseph. One is that his path was somehow less important than Mary’s was. We look at him as if he just was drafted into this. However God had plans for Joseph, just as He had for Mary.

Prior to the birth in a manger, somewhere a little baby was born. His birth wasn’t heralded by Angels, but it was celebrated by God. The very God who would one day wrap Himself in flesh attended the birth of Joseph.

God attends every birth, He rejoices at the potential of every soul. To Him, there isn’t such a thing as an unimportant person. Joseph was integral to the adventure that was about to happen.

Yes, Mary was of the house of David, but that wasn’t enough. To transport them from Nazareth to Bethlehem in time for the birth, Joseph had to be a son of David. “All went to be taxed, every one into his own city.” If you had ask Joseph before this, “what city are you from?”, he would have said Nazareth. After this, his answer was, “my city is Bethlehem.”

When you’re life comes in contact with Jesus, it will change more than just your location, it will reveal your destiny. Like Joseph, you always were meant to come in contact with The Savior from the day of your birth. Your entire existence pointed to the day you meet Jesus.

Nazareth means the guarded one, maybe that’s you today. When Joseph first heard Mary’s news, he was guarded, and he had doubts, but then he met the Angel in a dream. That dream of a better hope changed his life, and it can yours.

Maybe you think salvation sounds to good to be true, like a dream or something. You’ve heard the message and the angel. In Revelation, God called His Pastors the Angels of the Church. You’re guarded, but you know what you’ve felt is real.

That feeling isn’t manufactured, it’s ordained. Just as Joseph’s lineage came from David, your life is no accident. You were born for this moment. God wants to translate you from Nazareth to Bethlehem. He wants you to experience the manger, not as a bystander, but as a participant.

Joseph’s pathway took him from Nazareth to Bethlehem, to Egypt and back, but he was never the same. Yes, there will be hard times on your journey, but Jesus will be with you. There will be precious things along the way, like gold, frankincense, and myrrh. God’s glory, His anointing, and His mission will transcend any obstacle you face.

Today, you may not feel important. You may look at your past as if it’s a dead ancestry of failures, but it isn’t. It just brought you where you are, it doesn’t dictate where you’re going. Let this meeting with Jesus take place in your life, isn’t it worth the trip?

Angels, Shepherds, and Wisemen awaited Joseph, but most of all, he cradled eternity in his arms. God will guide you, He has been waiting for you since you were born. He will Shepherd you through the hard times, and make you wiser for it. Most of all, you’ll see Jesus, as he cradles you from here to eternity.

25 Devotions – Day Fourteen

The Native: Augustus Doctrine

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.

The Monroe Doctrine, the Truman Doctrine, the word doctrine is not a foreign word in the halls of politics. We are more familiar with it from a Biblical perspective, but it’s not always a matter of faith. Ironically, it is, in a political fashion, found in The Book Of Faith.

The word decree in Luke 2 translates dogma and doctrine. A census was very much part of Augustus’ political doctrine. The reason for this goes back some years before the events of Luke 2. When we read of Augustus, we imagine that he became emperor at a specific time. His powers were actually consolidated over time. One of these periods included a compromise with the Roman Senate called the second settlement.

It was in this settlement, that he was granted powers normally reserved for only the Roman Censor. These included the right to supervise public morals and scrutinize laws to ensure they were in the public interest, as well as the ability to hold a census and determine the membership of the Senate.A Censor also, even in the days of the republic, would occassionally take a Census outside of Rome in the provinces.

One of the reasons for this compromise had been Augustus’ illness. The Senate realized that their entire government now was pinned to the health of one man. Ironically, the most powerful man in the known world, suffered with illness throughout his life. When we first read Luke 2, we imagine mighty Caesar and an infant Christ. While that is true, Caesar was not so mighty, and while Our Lord was a baby, He was more powerful in His infancy, than Augustus was in his strength.

The doctrine of Caesar demanded every man to give account of himself and his family. The purpose was for the pleasure of Rome. Make no mistake, one day, all men both small and great will stand before a Throne far greater than Caesar’s. We will all give an account, but that wasn’t the way that Christ began.

Before He ever asked us to give an account of our birth, of our parents, or of our heritage, He shared His own. He shared His lineage of faith from Abraham to David. As well as to all those who were faithful even though not famous.

We know that Christ’s Mother was just like us, flawed but unflinching. Joseph, while not His Father, loved Him as much as any son. Most of all, because Jesus shared, we can become the sons of God!

God wrapped in flesh, born to die, buried to rise, and alive to resurrect men’s souls! That is the doctrine of Christ. Augustus’ doctrine was birthed out of human frailty, they say he suffered ailments all his life. Our Lord’s doctrine was established to take away our diseases, to overcome our weaknesses, and to share His strength with us.

Thank God that the doctrine of God brings life in every arena. Whether your background is religious, non religious, political, or anything else, The Lord will meet you there. So this Christmas, spend some time getting to know a King who crossed worlds to reach you.

Matthew 11:29-30
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

25 Devotions – Day Thirteeen

The Native: He Keeps His Promises

Luke 2:2
2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

Can I ask you a question, contextually why does it matter who was governor of Syria? I ask this, not out of disrespect, but out of joy. If you say to give the setting a date, I would argue that Augustus’ decree in verse one could accomplish that. No, the reason for this, is intended, inspired, and inviting.

He recognized his own sins, his own mistakes, and he had received mercy.

Some argue about the date of Cyrenius rule as Governor of Syria.  Some scholars suggest that when should be translated before.  Others indicate that Cyrenius’ first responsibility in the region was the taxing, and that he would rise to governor.

No matter which opinion you are of, doesn’t lessen the importance of this verse.  Frankly, the important meaning of it is not who was governor of Syria, or when he was the governor.  The important part of this was that it reads governor and not king.

Isaiah 7: 1-2,13-16

1 And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, [that] Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel,
went up toward Jerusalem to war against it, but could not prevail against it.

2 And it was told the house of David, saying, Syria is confederate with Ephraim. And his heart
was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind.

13 And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; [Is it] a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also?

14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

15 Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.

16 For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.

To understand what I mean by this, we must go back many years.  To another king, one attacked and surrounded by a confederacy of kings. He was scared, he was not where he should be with The Lord, and he knew that he deserved to die.  Then the Prophet came to see him.

Isaiah could have brought news of judgement to the young king.  He could have told him that God was going to allow his destruction, he didn’t.  Isaiah one chapter before, had laid on his face before God.  He recognized his own sins, his own mistakes, and he had received mercy.

Uzziah was Ahaz’ grandfather, so these chapters were not chronologically organized, they were inely placed.  One would serve as a backdrop against another, you see Uzziah wasn’t perfect either.  However, God sent Isaiah with a message of mercy.  This was the same Prophet that The Lord spoke through saying, “Though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them white as snow.”

So Ahaz, fearful of destruction, was given a sign.  He would not die by the hand of these kings, instead, those kings would be defeated.  This was to take place before Immanuel would be born.  Prior to the coming of The Merciful King, the merciless ones would be dust and ashes.

What is it that is bombarding your life today?  Who, or what addiction reigns over you?  Sin whispers that you’ve failed before, why try, you’ll just fail again.  I submit to you, that is a lie.  Your past mistakes do not dictate your future.  Christ has come to make all things new.  He dethroned and discarded a nation that threatened a very flawed king.

He can dethrone everything in your life that binds you, no matter your mistakes.  His promise to Ahaz holds true to you and I today.  He has come to give you life, and life more abundantly.  If you are a believer, and your sins are behind you, do not spend your life regretting past mistakes.  He has forgiven them, you must forgive yourself.

That’s why it’s called a New Testament, a new beginning.

If you desire a new life, don’t worry about all the things in your life that are wrong.  First, come to Him, and let Him dethrone them.  He knows how to overcome everything that you are facing.  It all starts with a conversation with Jesus, it doesn’t end there, but that is your beginning.

Isaiah chapter seven goes on to say that Immanuel knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good.  He knows how to separate you from your issues, even when you can’t yourself.  I’ve seen the drug addict freed from his addictions.  I’ve seen so many souls made new at the feet of The Master.  That’s why it’s called a New Testament, a new beginning. This is the promise of freedom, and I can promise you from personal experience, He Keeps His Promises!

25 Devotions – Day Twelve

The Native: Silencing Our Doubts

We’ve talked about him before, but I would like to revisit the scene.  Zacharias, a Priest of God, a child of Abraham, is having a conversation with an Angel. He had his doubts, as a result, the Angel told him that he would not be able to speak until the prophecy was fulfilled. On the surface, we humans, might be puzzled at this, until you examine more closely.

Yes, Zacharias was human, yes, it was an extraordinary promise, but it was not an unprecedented one. Since David, the promise of Christ from the family of Bethlehem was well known. Also famous, was the birth of Isaac, to two elderly parents named Abraham and Sarah. If anyone knew the history of God’s people, it should have been Zacharias.

What we must be careful, not to misunderstand, was the reason for the silencing.Set aside for a moment, the fact that this was a Priest Of God, and that he was talking to an Angelic messenger.  Instead, look at where they were standing, at an Altar inside a building that had been destroyed once before.

At the time of the exile, many probably doubted that God would return His people to their land.  Perhaps, some thought they would never again see a Temple on that mountain, but they did.  God had prophesied, before the first Temple’s destruction, that He would return His people to their land.

Zacharias was standing in a place of miracles, talking to the Messenger of a Miraculous God, about God’s plan for our future.This son of Abraham, had a heritage of hope, and yet, fear attempted to drown out his faith.

Please understand, I’m not judging Zacharias, just identifying with him.  It would be easy to say, he should have known better, but then again, shouldn’t we? Every Sunday, we stand in a place of miracles while the Messenger Of a miraculous God reveals to us God’s plan for our future.  How often do I, do we, give more voice to our doubts than we do our faith?

Doubt is a form of fear, and it can be very deceptive.  In our minds we think, “It’s not that I doubt God’s ability, but the circumstances are so great.”  Or, “I know He can do it, and has for others, but will He do it for me?”  Fear comes to us disguised as doubt, it’s less aggressive, it is less blatant, but it is still fear.  It will take many forms before it is defeated.

I’m sure that the enemy tried to fill Zacharias’ head with doubts even after that day.  The thoughts of, “All that could go wrong …”, even after Elizabeth was going to have the baby. I admit, I would struggle with all the ‘what if’s’ just as he probably did.  We are human, and we are going to grapple with fear.  It’s a battle however, that we cannot afford to lose.

The difference between Zacharias and us, he couldn’t give voice to his doubts. He had no choice, but we must choose not too.  In the middle of the night, when whispers filled his brain, he only had to remember one thing. His vocal chords refused to communicate them, they refused to give fear a voice.

God did this for our example.  No, He doesn’t make a habit of stilling voices, but He was trying to teach us something.  If we will silence our doubts, and give voice to our Faith, then we will always be victorious.  Yes we will have fear, but no, we do not have to communicate it.  We must choose to speak our faith instead of our fear.

That isn’t to say we won’t have fear.  I’m not saying that we pretend that we’re not scared of, insert mental image here, but I am saying that we mustn’t focus on it.  I can choose to speak what God promised.

I can grab hold of the hope that is before us like the horns of an Altar.  Incense fills a room, the smell attaches itself to clothing.  Zacharias was surrounded by a cloud of faith, and fear still was successful in hindering him.  Why?  Because, while the room was filled with faith, his vision was filled with fear.

One of the greatest things that God did for Zacharias was silencing his fear.  It had spoken so loudly that it had drowned out his faith.  It took over nine months, but he watched as faith grew, and fear dwindled.  Zacharias was given his opportunity to speak again. He said first, “His name is John, (Grace), and then he praised God.

In verse 63, he spoke his son’s name, and in verse 64 he praised God. Last time he spoke fear, this time he spoke faith. As a result, in verse 67, he was filled with The Holy Ghost, and God spoke through him. When we refuse to verbalize our fears, and we speak faith, we become the mouthpiece of God.

Luke 1:70
70 As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began:

The Bible says that God prophesied through Zacharias. It’s no surprise that he uses the word spake in verse 70, and called in verse 76.  He went from doubter to Disciple long before Thomas was given the nickname.

God gave us an example in Zacharias, but today, God wants us to silence our doubts. He will cause the miracle, but we must do the practical. We must still them, not by the absence of doubt, but the purposeful rejection of it.

The Lord was essentially saying, “Not here, not now, and never again!” We must actively do the same to our doubts. When we do, like the child in Zacharias’ arms, something new will be born in our spirit. It will grow, and produce an even greater future in us, that points only to Jesus!

25 Devotions – Day Eleven

The Native: Before His Coming

(An excerpt from our new book The Native)

Matthew 1:22-23

22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by
the prophet, saying,

23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

We are a few months away from Christmas, a little over three months.  My mind went back to Mary, roughly a little over three months from seeing His face.  It’s been talked about before. We know that she was talked about. Mary was the subject of gossip, whispers flooded the neighborhood.

She had a few that believed her, Joseph, Elisabeth, and Zacharias.  We don’t know of many beyond that.  She knew she wasn’t crazy.  Mary knew that the gift that she carried was from God.  Jesus’ stirrings from the inside reassured her that this was very real.

I’m sure there had been hard times, unpleasant conversations, harsh rejection.  Yet, in the midst of it, Mary knew that she was fulfilling God’s purpose.  It wasn’t about the pain that she had, was feeling, or would endure.  It was about seeing His face.

Some might say that is was a lot to ask of Mary.  People might wonder why she was selected.  The greatest Bible Teachers I know will tell you the most important reason, she was willing.  God can work with willingness, He can do more with it than talent.

Willingness to take risk caused Him to create the world.  Willingness to spare man caused Him to give Noah the plans for an ark.  Willingness to suffer excruciating, temporary pain for an Eternal rescue mission, was the pathway to the Cross.

Mary’s son would spend thirty three and a half years preparing to rescue you and I.  At times, it was very hard.  He was the subject of much more than unpleasant conversations.  He was blasphemed, mocked, whispered, and shouted against. More rejected Him than accepted Him.  It was the most expensive price ever paid by anyone in history.

Still, He felt the stirrings on the inside of His soul.  The love, and the promise He had made to Eve, Noah, Abraham, and Isaac.  As cataclysmic as the price was, He had made a decision, He was willing to pay the cost.

Christ died for you and I, not because it was easy, but because He was willing.  He loved us enough to suffer untold pain, so we could experience unimagined joy.  I’m not sure how far we are from seeing His face, I believe it could be any moment.  I will tell you this, He knows that you’re facing battles until that day.

The Lord understands that you may be the subject of unpleasant conversation.  Perhaps you are gossiped, and whispered against.  He knows you’ve witnessed, and been rejected.  God knows how that feels.  The world will tell you the cost is too high, but don’t listen.

Listen instead to the stirrings in your soul, Christ is there.  One day soon, the pain will be behind us, the battles all ended.  Any moment, like Mary, we will hear Christ’s cry, and it will be worth a trillion times more than anything we’ve suffered.  On that day, The Native Of Bethlehem, will welcome the natives of Heaven to their brand new home!

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.