Sunday, December 4, 2016

26 Devotions Focusing on Christ in the Nativity Alphabet--Journey

Nativity Alphabet by Krista Hamrick

Krista Hamrick’s beautiful original art print, Nativity Alphabet, has so inspired me. Each of the 26 words in the Nativity Alphabet are so intricately painted, almost like stained glass windows. My heart has been drawn to write 26 Devotions Focusing on Christ in the Nativity Alphabet.


While pondering the word, “journey,” I was inspired by listening to this beautiful hymn by Michael W. Smith, Almost There (featuring Amy Grant)…Mary full of innocence, Carrying the Holy Prince, You're Almost There, You're almost where the journey ends, Where death will die and life begins, The answered prayer, Emmanuel, You're Almost There…

Pastor Nelson Price writes: “Have you ever wondered what the few days before the historical event that initiated Christmas would have been like for Mary and Joseph? Walk through them with me. From Nazareth, they would have journeyed over the mountains through Cana to the southern shores of the Sea of Galilee. There they would have joined others journeying south. It was the norm for people to travel these routes in groups to avoid robbers. Usually a self-appointed guide or protector was paid a fee in order to go along with his group. There is no donkey in the Bible account for Mary to ride. Walking, though drudgery, might have been easier for a woman nine months pregnant than riding a donkey. Mary would have been a teenager at the time and doubtless a hardy one as most people of the time had to be to survive. The route started on the west shores of the Jordan River. Just south of Beth Shean they crossed the river into what is now Jordan. The route was easier and safer from there to Jericho where they crossed back. The temperature in this fertile green valley would have been more mild than would be found on the mountains around Bethlehem. Up until this point, the route would have traversed mostly smooth terrain. From Jericho to Bethlehem would have required going through the barren Wilderness of Judea. Here especially the protection afforded by group travel would have been essential. It was along this road the Good Samaritan encountered the man who had been beaten and robbed. Once they arrived in Bethlehem, they found no fancy hotel. An “inn” was simply a caravansary. There was one in Bethlehem which King David named for one of his generals. Such consisted of a plot of ground cleared of most stones out of which a perimeter “fence” would have been made. It restricted animals within it. An inn was in no way anything like a hotel or motel. It was an outdoor walled off place where people and their animals slept together as they often did in the field. Within they were protected and had a bit of shelter. The mountains around Bethlehem are porous providing many caves. Some of these caves were used to shelter livestock. Often a cave would have more than one chamber. The animals were kept in the outer chamber and provided warmth for the family deeper within. Such caves were called mangers. There is no innkeeper in the Bible narrative but there must have been some proprietor to allowed Mary and Joseph to use the manger. It afforded more privacy than would have the inn itself. I have visited that cave in Bethlehem many times. It is a humbling thing to stand there and think here, right here, the Word became flesh and came and dwelt among us. Just outside that night an angel appeared with a special message that was good tidings of great joy. It entailed the potential for what we all long: “Peace on earth, Good will toward men.”

We may never make the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, but just like the psalmist who journeyed to Jerusalem, in Psalm 121:1-4, our strength and help don’t come from the mountains, but from the One who made them. He who created us is able to sustain us. He enables us to finish whatever journey we’re on, even if there is weariness, sickness, or trouble along the way. He who guards us never falls asleep on the job. He is up all night protecting his own, guarding our lives. This psalm is sometimes called the traveler’s psalm because it assures us that no matter where we are, whether we journey by car, airplane, train, or on foot, whether we are awake or asleep, we are not alone. We can pray this psalm aloud whenever we start on a trip. As we proclaim God’s watchful care over our comings and goings, our heart is calmed. As we, like Mary, remind ourselves of the One who stands beside us, watches over us, prepares the way before us, keeps us from harm, we can rest in His loving arms as we travel over mountains and hills, fly over clouds, and as we make our final journey from this life into eternity.

Lord Jesus, just like Your mother, Mary, looked into Your eyes at the end of her long journey and saw the face of God, as the psalmist prayed, I look up to the mountains, but my help does not come from there! My help comes from You, who created the heavens and the earth! Because You hold me, I will not stumble and fall. Because You watch over me, I will not fear. Thank You for Your constant care and protection. My security is in You. Please bless my going out and coming in, both now and forever. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.


Look Up—meditate on Psalm 121:1-4 … pray to see what it reveals about the character of God.

Look In
—as you meditate on Psalm 121:1-4 … pray to see how you might apply it to your life. Be propelled to ask galvanizing questions about your discoveries: "Because God is_________, I will_____________."

Look Out—as you meditate on Psalm 121:1-4 …pray to see how you might apply it to your relationships with others. Let the nature of God impact on every relationship, for your good, and for His glory.


* If you liked this post, you’ll love this book – 
Name Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ


Weekly LinkUps…

2 comments:

  1. Beth, I never really thought in-depth about the journey Mary and Joseph took to Bethlehem. Pastor Nelson Price's account drew me in. He created a wonderful word picture to really help the reader feel and see what Mary and Joseph must have saw. I never knew about what an Inn truly was in those times or the true sense of a manger and the fact that Mary and Joseph were actually better off in the manger than at the Inn. (Something I always had turned around.)

    Beth, I always come away from your blog posts having gained some new insight and truly edified.

    Blessings.

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    1. Karen, I so appreciate the thoughtful and very specific way you respond to my posts and so many others! You are a wonderful encourager. Sometimes we wonder if anyone is being encouraged by our posts, and then we receive your comments, and it's like a reassuring hug from our Heavenly Father. Many blessings to you sweet friend ❤️

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