i believe in miracles

do you? why not add your miracles too?


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Can I Get a Witness? John 5:31-47 (how I would say it)

DSC05233fb (totally random Maypole)

I’m telling you straight up who I am, but nobody believes it. But I’m not the only one, there’s someone else saying the same thing, and it’s all true. You asked John about me and he told you the truth. Not like he’s any real authority, after all, he’s just human, but I’m just trying to help you to understand this for your own eternal good. John was like a beacon pointing to me, and for a while, it looked like you might see the light.

What I say about myself carries a lot more weight than what John says about me. Every time I do what I’ve been sent here to do, I prove I’m from the Father. Even the Father has proven that I’m for real. But I guess you’ve never really seen God or never really internalized his word if you don’t believe the proof he’s offering you. You burn the midnight oil analyzing the ancient texts, thinking in some way this is going to make you good with God. Those same texts prove my identity, and yet you refuse to come to me to save your life!

It’s not like I’m looking for people to fall all over me, I’m just saying, I’ve got your number. There’s no love of God in your hearts. Here I am, representing my Father, and you just don’t buy it. But along comes someone else with absolutely no backing other than his name printed on a business card and you’re welcoming him into your club. How could anyone expect you to believe in the real deal when you’re so busy congratulating yourselves, and spending zero effort to discover what God can award?

Don’t worry about me telling my Father, though. Moses has that covered. After all, he’s the one you’re counting on, isn’t he? Then again, if you really believed what Moses said, you’d believe in me, because he was the first to write about me. But you don’t believe what he wrote, so how could you possibly believe I say?

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What Gives Him the Right? John 5:16-30 (how I would say it)

DSC05172 fb (random pic from my recent trip to Hohenschwangau)

The Jewish authorities really had it out for Jesus because he had broken the laws about working on Saturday (their holy day). In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father works nonstop and so that’s how I work.” This only made things worse. Then they were really hot because not only was he breaking the law, he was also calling God his Father in a literal sense, which in Jewish custom is as good as saying you’re equal with that person.

Jesus tried to explain: “It’s like this: the Son can’t do anything on his own; he can only follow the example of his Father. Like father like son. And since the Father loves the Son, he shares everything with him. That’s right, and you haven’t seen the half of it. What’s still to come is going to blow your mind. Just like the Father can even bring people back from the dead, give them another chance at life, the Son can also give life away to whomever he feels like giving it to. More than that, the Father has delegated to the Son the authority to declare someone guilty or not guilty. Dis’ the Son, you dis’ the Father—the one who gave the Son his marching orders.

Listen, it’s like this: If you will just open your minds and accept the Father’s decisions, you’ll get life after death. You won’t be declared guilty because you’ve crossed over into the camp of the living. Real soon, in fact the wheels are already in motion, dead people are going to hear the Son of God, and the ones who do are going to cross over into the camp of the living. Just like God has the power to give life, he’s also delegated to the Son the power to give life. And he delegated to him the authority to declare someone innocent or guilty because he’s the Son of Man.

Don’t let this shock you. It’s mild compared to what else is going to happen—the day of the living dead, when everyone comes back to life at the sound of the Son’s voice. Then those who are declared innocent will live on forever, and those who are found guilty will come back to life to get what’s coming to them. So, you see, I’m no maverick. I’m just calling ‘em like I see ‘em and I always make good calls, because my sole motivation is to follow my marching orders.


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Bummed out by Bethesda: John 5:1-15 (how I would say it)

Jerusalem Bethesda BW 1 (Pool of Bethesda today. Not much to look at…)

Later on, Jesus went to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem, there’s a pool called Bethesda (an Aramaic word). The pool is encircled with five rows of columns, which are shaded. A lot of people with various disabilities—blindness, mobility challenges, paralysis—hung out there. One of them was a man who had been disabled for 38 years. Jesus saw him lying there and struck up a conversation. When he found out how long he had been disabled, Jesus asked him, “Do you want to be free of your disability?”

“Sir,” the man replied, “When the water starts to bubble, I try to get in the pool, but I never make it in time because I don’t have anyone to help me. Other people always beat me to it.”

Then Jesus said, “Just get up already! Take that mat you’re lying on and get going.” Immediately, the man stood up, picked up his things and off he went.

It was a Saturday, the Jewish holy day, and the Jewish religious leaders busted the guy for walking with a mat, saying, “Hey, you can’t carry that today! It’s a holy day and it’s against the law to carry anything.”

But he replied, “Listen, I just got healed and the man who made it happen told me to pick up my mat and get going, so that’s just what I’m going to do.”

They asked, “Who was this guy who told you to pick up your mat and get going?”

The man looked around but couldn’t spot Jesus because he had slipped away in the crowd, and he hadn’t bothered to ask his name.

Later Jesus ran into him at the temple and said, “Look at you, you’re all better! Now you better start living right or you’ll be worse off than before.”

The man went off and found the Jewish leaders and reported to them that Jesus was the one who had restored his abilities.


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The Case for Caring for Your Grandparents: John 13:4-17 (how I would say it)

After dinner, Jesus got up, took off his Sunday clothes and tied an apron around his waist. He poured some water into a bucket and went around, one by one, washing the grime (dust, goat goo, etc.) off of the feet of his closest followers.

When he got to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, should you really be doing this?”

Jesus answered, “I know you don’t get this right now, but it will make sense later on.”

Peter replied, “There’s no way you’re washing my feet!”

Jesus said, “Peter, if I don’t wash your feet, we’re finished. We have no future together.”

Peter replied, “In that case, wash my hands and face too!”

Jesus said, “Peter, did you take a bath today? Then all we need to do is get the grime off your feet. Besides my followers are always clean. Well, not all of you…” (He was referring to the one who was going to betray him.)

After he finished, he sat down and asked, “Any idea what just happened here? You call me ‘boss,’ ‘teacher,’ ‘master,’ yadda yadda, and that is exactly what I am to you. So if your master will perform for you the most menial hygienic service which we allow another person to do for us, is there any reason why you shouldn’t do this kind of thing for each other? I did this to set precedence for you to do likewise. Are any of your better than I am, that you can’t do this kind of thing? Is there such a thing as a disciple who is greater than his teacher? Of course not. You know that, so just do it—any and every kind of service that any brother needs. Serving each other in even the most humbling ways will give you a deep sense of contentment.

 


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The Cat is Officially out of the Bag: Matt. 4:24-25; Mark 1:40-45 (How I would say it)

Jesus became a household name all over Syria. People sought him out with their suffering friends and family in tow. Jesus healed all kinds of diseases, chronic pains, seizures, paralysis, as well as exorcised demons. He had crowds following him from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the other side of the Jordan River.

There was one guy with leprosy that came to Jesus and threw himself on his knees in front of him and said, “I know you can heal me if you want to.” 

Deeply moved, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man, saying, “Of course, I’m willing! Be fully restored!” Immediately, all signed of leprosy were gone and the man was healed. Jesus sent him on his way quickly with a strong caution: “Don’t tell anybody else about this. Just go see the priest and complete the ritual that’s required to make you ceremonially clean, so that they will see it.”

The man promptly ignored Jesus’ warning and told anyone who would stop long enough to hear the story. Consequently, the crowds became unmanageable and Jesus couldn’t enter towns. He set up in really remote places and still there were mobs of people coming out to see him.


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Put Some Effort into It: Proverbs Chapter 2 (How I would say it)

reach

If you would accept wise teaching and follow wise instruction eagerly and voluntarily, tuning into anything wise you might hear, and sincerely mulling it over in your mind and spirit; if you would get as excited about new insights as you do when your team scores a goal, and be as desperate to understand as you are to get signal on your phone; if you would seek out wisdom as if you’re looking for a free WiFi hot spot, and really dig for it like you do for your size on the 75% off rack, then, then you would understand what it means to respect and fear God; then you would finally acquire some knowledge about our God. Thing is, you gotta really want it.

God doesn’t charge a premium for His wisdom—getting to know Him and understanding spiritual things is absolutely free. But that doesn’t mean it’s cheap. It’s hidden and you have to put some effort into finding it. He’s tucked it away, sealed it up tight, reserved in particular for people who have a healthy parent/child relationship with Him. He protects people of integrity and strong ethics. He safeguards them because they are the guardians and keepers of right and moral living, justice and right dealing, and they teach others how to live this way, in perpetuity. Their students and disciples will internalize God’s wisdom and learn to value, respect and even love the things they are taught. Their direction is like a guardian angel and their understanding is like a short leash, keeping you from running wild like evil people do, and protecting you from becoming collateral damage of people bent on deception and perversion—men who reject morality and rational teaching to live a messed up life. That kind of person actually enjoys hurting himself and others. He doesn’t deal fairly with people; he is a compulsive liar and just plain immoral.

The discretion and understand you have acquired through discipleship will keep you from falling prey to smooth-talking seducers—these people are completely foreign to God’s kingdom. Not only have they rejected any good teaching they might have received, but they also deliberately become promiscuous—sexually, morally, spiritually—and they are hell-bent on dragging other people into the same promiscuity. Anyone who goes that way is out of the Kingdom—and once out, there’s no getting back in.

This is why I want you to keep a healthy parent/child relationship with God. Do what He asks and what He has made clear through good teaching in His word and via godly mentors in your life. The kind of people who will live in His Kingdom are those who do the right thing voluntarily—even when no one is watching—and those in whom Christ-like character has been developed to their personal max. Mean, evil people will have no access to God’s Kingdom. He will have pulled up the troublemakers by the roots and tossed them into the burn pile.