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.

Barley Candy And Chicken Bones

“Barley candy and chicken bones for Christmas, it’s a Canadian tradition. It’s stick sugar candy that looks like Santa and Snowmen.” Zack told an unbelieving Emiko. “In Tokyo we drink barley tea, and eat fried chicken on Christmas.”

This dumbfounded Zack. “What do you eat for dessert, tuna ice cream?” Which he knew she had tried, but didn’t care for.

“It’s a whole lot better than fruit cake I’ll tell you that. Christmas dessert for us is what you call Strawberry Shortcake. Sponge cake shaped like a Christmas tree, with strawberries and whip cream.”

Zack smiled at his college bride. They had dated for six months before he proposed, and had planned a small wedding, with mostly family and a few friends. Through no fault of them, or their family, only friends made it to the wedding.

An emergency landing kept Emiko’s parents from making the ceremony. Thankfully they were all right. Zach’s Mom and Dad were both doctors at the same hospital, and emergency surgeries called them back at the last minute.

The couple had tried to postpone, but each parent insisted that the wedding not be ruined. The wedding was beautiful, and the Zach and Emiko’s friends had photographed and videoed every aspect of the wedding for each set of parents.

Anne and Marty, Aika and Hisashi had both felt horrible about it. So they reached out to the others and came with an idea to make it up to the two young people. They had went on a small honeymoon, putting most of the money towards a future home.

The Hobbs and Ishikawa families promised to give the couple a Christmas trip to anywhere they wanted. Now Zack and Emiko were dreaming of where that would be. They ruled out place by place, as they realized that this was one of those once in a lifetime family memory trips.

Family Memory Trips were what Marty had always called those adventures that Zack and his family talked about years later. Like the time they had went to Colorado to ski. It was the most fun he remembered anyone having with a broken leg.

His Dad had fell off the ski lift the first day, but he did his best to keep everyone else laughing. He didn’t find out til years later that his Dad was in severe pain, but didn’t want to ruin everyone’s trip.

Then there was the time they went camping in September. They didn’t tell the kids, but the reason for that trip were cut backs at the hospital, which eliminated the vacation budget that year. The kids didn’t know the difference.

Emiko listened for awhile, then added her own stories. Her Dad opened his own business when she was 13, and worked a lot of long hours. Still, for her birthday, he closed the shop, and spent the entire day with the family. He didn’t say anything, but her Mom told her he had lost a major client because of this.

Then she talked about the time her Mom had went through major surgery. That Christmas, they expected to be very low key, but her Mom decorated every room in the house. Story after story, they realized the sacrifices their parents had made for them.

“We can’t take the trip we were thinking about a few minutes ago can we?” Zack said, knowing her answer. “No, but we can do something much better.” As she picked up her phone to text her brother.

That night they both talked to their siblings, and worked out a plan. Instead of a major trip to some exotic place, they chose a small bed and breakfast near their home. Hank Crenshaw cut the price he charged Zack’s parents to almost nothing, just enough they hoped, for Marty not to make the connection. They split the remaining cost of the rooms with Sally, Zack’s sister.

Emiko called the local travel agent, and orchestrated her parents booking their tickets through her. Her brothers helped them with the cost for Aika and Hisashi.

Each set of parents didn’t say anything to them, but they were both suspicious. Still, they had promised to do whatever the kids wanted. So the four of them prepared for the Christmas trip.

Each were a little disappointed when the other siblings made excuses to keep their parents from buying their tickets. The two couples arrived a little sad, afraid the whole family wouldn’t be together for Christmas. It was a week before Christmas, but the kids had a plan.

Zack and Emiko knew they were the offspring of mystery lovers and crossword enthusiasts, so they had to give them an ‘aha’ moment without spoiling the entire surprise. So, when they got in the car that had been sent for them from the airport, Emiko’s oldest brother was the driver.

When they got to the hotel, Zack’s sister greeted them from the desk, where the hotel clerk would normally have been. Over the course of the first hour, each child surprised the parents with their presence. This was sure, they reasoned, to throw the four off their guard.

The next few days were a whirlwind of activity. Zack and Emiko had planned different things, but those turned out not to be more monotonous than memorable. It was the unexpected moments that became special.

Marty couldn’t sleep that night because of his acid reflux, so he slipped downstairs to sit in the lobby and look at the decorations. Zack’s sister got her Mother’s looks, but her Father’s stomach. She was popping antacids as she walked down the steps. “Dad, why are you up?”

Seeing the pills in her hand replied. “I didn’t have those. Share with your Father.” Then after a few minutes he pulled out his phone. Sally was disappointed for a minute, afraid the special moment would be ruined by distraction.

“I’m not tweeting, I’m getting your brother and his pre-middle aged stomach out of bed to join us.” It took three rings, but soon he joined them, unshaven and hair out of place, still smiling.

The three of them didn’t go to bed until long after the antacids had kicked in. The only detriment was, breakfast became brunch for everyone the next morning, precautionary meds were the first course. Late nights were one thing, burping up dinner was another.

After this, Aika and Anne decided they were going shopping. The men thought they’d stay back while all the girls attacked the mall. The ladies didn’t think so. For love of their spouses, Hisashi, Genzo, Haruto, Zack, and Tom, Sally’s husband, all went to a mall before Christmas.

These are the men who ordered everything online two months ahead just to avoid this nightmare. They walked into every store, were attentive as the women found nothing to wear, then carried the bags of “nothing” all through the mall.

Coffees, popcorn, and all sorts of sweets were sampled. Pictures were taken with Santa, and yes, they all waited in line for an hour to get the pictures. The men even purchased the ugliest Christmas sweaters they could find. Much to the detriment of each spouse. It was a wonderful afternoon.

That night, Zack surprised them all with a sleigh ride through the snow that he had scheduled. It was ok, but forgettable, until Tom lost his balance getting out of the sleigh, and tumbled into the snow.

That sparked a snowball fight, started by Genzo’s wife, Mina, which turned out to be the highlight of the night. It was another late night, only this time everyone joined in. Soon it was Christmas Day, and everyone gathered for a huge feast, spontaneous holiday karaoke, with very bad, off key, wonderful noise, and gifts.

True to tradition, the parents insisted the kids go first. The four had pooled their resources to give Zack and Emiko got two tickets to Hawaii. The parents had guessed the plan, and planned accordingly.

Not to treat the daughter any differently, Sally and Tom got the European trip they had dreamed about. Aika and Hisashi got their two sons, and daughter-in-laws each a trip. One to Alaska, and the other to Australia.

The last few years had been good to the elder Hobbs and Ishikawa’s businesses. They were able to give their kids what they hadn’t been able to years before. Each had raised good children, and were now able to reward the wonderful adults they had become.

After the money they knew had been spent on this special trip, they didn’t really expect large gifts from the kids. An while they weren’t that expensive, they were very special.

Marty got a banjo from Zack. Though an old one, it was a fairly inexpensive, used one, with one special feature. Zack had found it online, then brought it with him to a local bookstore to get an autograph from a musician that he knew his Dad loved. The banjo player had just wrote a book, which was the reason for Zack’s purchase of the banjo.

He knew his Dad would love an autographed book, but he’d love the autographed banjo more. Zack made sure it was just vintage enough to earn the interest of the musician and author, and he was right. Zach even got a song played by the artist on the banjo, and a video for his Dad.

Marty had tears, not so much at the gift alone, but the love behind it. Anne expected something more commercial, knowing it was hard to capture lightning twice. So she prepared herself for the huge smile, regardless of what was in the box.

What she didn’t expect, was a pack of assorted notes wrapped in ribbon. Confused at first, she recognized the writing almost instantly. It was from her best friend of over thirty years. The next was from another friend she hadn’t seen in almost that long.

“I emailed, called, and text everyone I could get a hold of. You never were much for gadgets, so I thought this may be special to put a little old fashioned into your Christmas. The last few letters are from each of us.”

Anne’s face soon matched Marty’s, as hugs were exchanged to everyone. Emiko handed her Mom her gift first. It was large, and Aika couldn’t figure out what it was. When she opened it though, she was ecstatic.

It was a portrait of her Mother in the traditional Nihonga style. “It was from that old photo you love. I think the artist did a really good job, but it’s unsigned.”

Her Mother laughed through tears. “It doesn’t have to be signed. I recognize my daughter’s brushstrokes. Don’t you know I’ve been a fan of your art since preschool crayons?”

Emiko blushed. Not used to painting this way, she was saving this little tidbit of information until she saw whether or not her Mother liked it. Her Mom insisted she sign it right away. Aika knew her daughter, who like most artists, were never far from their tools.

Emiko handed Hisashi his gift. Like Anne, he was prepared for, not a lesser gift, but a less spectacular one let’s say. He too, was pleasantly surprised. Hisashi, a Jazz fan, opened the box to see an original record and cover of “Ella and Louis”. Plus one of those portable turn table that he could hook to his laptop.

Each of the other siblings had gifts just as special, and the parents treasured each one. A vintage pocket watch for Marty from Sally. Plus, a doctor’s bag from the turn of the century for Anne.

Each of Hisashi and Aika’s boys, and their wives, got their Dad special records, including one of Bing Crosby’s Christmas records. Aika was given a classic typewriter for her office, plus a limited edition fountain pen. After telling each child they spent too much, records were played, and gifts were enjoyed.

The treasure though wasn’t the crackles of vinyl, clackety typewriter keys, or banjo strings. The real art in the room wasn’t even the painting, or the letters. It was the children, each parent looked at their most precious contribution to their legacy. Which was the happy faces of the gifts that God had given them.

Because of a Child, Christmas became a reality. An while no other is quite like Him, I do believe He intended for Christmas to always be filled with children. May your home, and heart, be filled with both Christ and the children, those precious gifts, He gives this Christmas.

Merry Christmas from PruittWrites!

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.

Abstract Art Piece Announcement In The Heavens

Over 2,000 years ago, there was an Announcement In The Heavens of a Life so significant, that He is most completely relevant today.  You know of Him, but do you know Him? Have you met Him at more than a manger?

There is an altar where The Child Of Christmas becomes the Savior of both your today and tomorrow. Because Jesus was born, we celebrate, because Jesus lives, we rejoice with life evermore!