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.”

Keep Singing

People who know me, know I can’t sing, it’s very true. However I keep on singing, no matter how bad it is.  That’s my message to you today. No matter how bad your circumstances, or how heavy your load, keep on singing. In just a little while, the trouble will be over, and we’ll be at home.  That’s the song that came to mind this morning too by the way.

Soon this life will all be over
And our pilgrimage will end
Soon we’ll take our heavenly journey
And be at home again with friends

Heaven’s gates are standing open
Waiting for our entrance there
Some sweet day we’re going over
And all the beauties there to share
That’s why I’m saying

Just a little while to stay here
Just a little while to wait
Just a little while to labor
In the path that’s always straight

Oh, just a little more of sorrow
In this low and sinful state
Then we’ll enter heaven’s portals
Sweeping through those pearly gates

Just a little while to stay here
Just a little while to wait, oh
Just a little while to labor
In the path that’s always straight

TCSC Ep 8 – Not So Wicked Stepfather

They would certainly be watching any vehicle that drove into the prison that day. So I was worried about what would happen after Monty left visiting the prison infirmary. My clever stamp collector had a plan for this.

“It’s the one car they won’t suspect. I’ll ride in with him, and he can drop me off when he leaves for a prescheduled luncheon engagement he made. They’ll know I’m coming, but they won’t see me. What’s safer than being with the warden?”

I felt better, but would have preferred for myself and my gun to have been with him. Instead I was bored to tears looking for a thief who stole by a way of forty page contracts. It was necessary, but slow paced work. It was like cleaning a bathroom, it was horrible, but it had to be done.

That’s why I took the call I guess, boredom. It was Sven. “Hello, not much time. What have you let that husband of yours get into? He’s got to stop, it’s endangering his Mother, Brendan, himself, and you for that matter. I’m doing everything I can, but warn him. If he doesn’t stop, I’ll do what I don’t want to do to keep this family alive, most of them!”

He didn’t hear my anger, having hung up as soon as he was through. I often wondered how much my Cinderella Stamp Collector had in common with the stamp’s name sake. What a family! Of course he loved them. Then thought of my siblings and our holidays. Every family is crazy, but I wouldn’t spend a day without them in my life.

The more pressing question was this. Do I share Sven’s threat? Monty wouldn’t stop, I wouldn’t want him too. The only thing it would do is cause him to worry about me. The debate didn’t last long though Monty called while I was arguing with myself.

“Hello Lottie, I’m here with Sven. He has something to say to you.” The next voice had a very different tone than before. “I’m sorry I worried you Charlotte. What I said didn’t mean what it sounded like. I just needed you to think it did.”

Monty came back on the phone. “I’ve figured out a few things old girl. Sven is not a bad guy, as wicked Stepfathers go. He just wants everyone to think he is. By the way, it wasn’t for effect that I said that. Sven married my Mother about twenty years ago. We owe them an anniversary present, turns out it’s next week.”

“Monty what’s that I hear in the background?” I hoped I had been wrong, but I wasn’t. I knew by his sigh. “Sorry Honey, got to go. Getting shot at again, love you!”

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!

iPainting Letter Writing Day 2017

Today is Letter Writing Day, and while no one seems to know how it started, it’s a great idea.  Write, text, or email a friend Today something kind. Let them know they’re not alone.