i believe in miracles

do you? why not add your miracles too?

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The First Christmas Presents: Matt. 2:1-12 (how I would say it)


After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, some philosopher/astrologer dignitary types from somewhere farther east (possibly modern day Iran, Iraq, India or China) arrived in Jerusalem wanting to know, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We’ve been studying the stars and saw the cosmic sign that he was born. We want to pay homage to him.”

This was news to King Herod, and not the good kind. In fact, it had all of Jerusalem in a clamor. He called together all the top dogs of the church and the law and asked where this appointed child was supposed to be born, according to the ancient texts.

“In Bethlehem, Judea,” they replied. “An ancient prophet wrote, ‘Don’t belittle yourself, Bethlehem. Stand tall among the rest of Judea because you are going to be the hometown of a ruler who will guide my people, Israel.’”

Behind closed doors, Herod met with the visiting dignitaries and ascertained the exact time the star they mentioned had appeared. He sent them on to Bethlehem with instructions to, “Search out the child, and as soon as you find him, send news to me so I can come and pay homage too.”

With this, they left, and they were able to follow the celestial body right to the place where Jesus was residing. It just hung over the place. They could hardly believe their eyes and were overjoyed. When they entered the house, they saw Jesus with his mother, Mary, and they got down on hands and knees and pledged their confidence and service. Then, the first Christmas presents: gold, frankincense and myrrh—all really expensive stuff in those days.

Wise men that they were, after a dream warned them against Herod, they decided not to go back the same way they came, avoiding contact with Herod entirely.


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A Celebrity in Diapers: Luke 2:21-38 (how I would say it)

When baby Jesus was 8 days old, it was time to circumcise him. On that day, he was officially given the name Jesus, just like the angel had instructed before he was born.

The Jewish religion required a ritual of purification after childbirth. When it was time, Joseph and Mary took Jesus to Jerusalem to ceremonially present him to God in the temple. Their law stated that, “Every firstborn male is to be set apart as special for God,” and a special offering of a pair of doves or two young pigeons was to be made.

One particularly upright and dedicated man in Jerusalem, Simeon, had been waiting for some divine intervention [from the Roman occupation] for the nation of Israel. Simeon was fully possessed by the Holy Spirit of God, who had revealed to him that he would not die before seeing the one God had appointed to bring relief to the nation of Israel. On this particular day, the Spirit prompted Simeon to visit the temple. When Mary and Joseph brought baby Jesus to the temple, Simeon went to them, picked the baby up and started praising God, saying: “God, ruler of everything, just like you promised! Ok, I’m ready to die in peace now that my eyes have seen how you’re going to preserve your own people. The whole world will be witness to it. This will be a game-changer for non-Jews and bring honor to the nation of Israel.”

Mary and Joseph just stood there agape. Then Simeon turned to them and said to Mary, “This child is destined to shake up the social order in our country. He’s an omen—and a lot of people won’t like it because it’s going to reveal their duplicity. And that’s not all; he’s going to cause you great heartache as well.”

Also at the temple that day was an elderly lady named Anna Penuelson, of the Asher family. She had married young, but been widowed after just seven years. She had never remarried and now was 84 years old. She spent all her time at the temple, praying constantly and often missing meals, such was her devotion. Just as Simeon was concluding, she approached them and started thanking God. From them on, she couldn’t stop talking about the baby to anyone who was interested and anticipating the liberation of Jerusalem.

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Can’t Touch This: Psalm 91 (how I would say it)

Fort in Agra, India

Fort in Agra, India

Just came back from a month on the road – one week in Russia and three in India. I committed this psalm in NIV to memory during the trip and it was a source of peace throughout.

For the person who will remain in close relationship with the Most High, there is rest and comfort in the protection of the Almighty.

What can I say about my God? He’s my escape, my safe place, my rest and I have full confidence in him.

God tucks you in snugly under his protective wing; your defense is found in his care.

That’s where there is no fear of your house being burglarized while you sleep or drive-by shootings during the day; nor the boogie man at night; nor the malaria-carrying mosquito during the day.

A thousand people may die, ten thousand people in close proximity, but you come out unscathed. You’re just an eye witnesses to the consequences of degenerate human nature.

If you will admit that your comfort and protection are solely in God and you remain in harmonious relationship with him, no harm will overtake you; no disaster will come near the place where you lay your head.

He will command his angels to take care of you wherever you go—even to the extent of giving you a little boost to keep you from stubbing your toe on a rock.

You can walk right by a lion or a cobra; for that matter, you could step on a lion or snake.

“Because she loves me,” God says, “That’s why I watch out for her. I will protect her because she gives me the credit I deserve. When she calls, I’ll answer. I’ll be right there with her when things get scary, and I’ll see her through it, and honor her with my protection. I’ll give her a long and satisfying life, and she will see how I preserve my own.”