i believe in miracles

do you? why not add your miracles too?


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Jesus’ Singular Message: Luke 3:19-20; Matt. 4:12-17; Luke 4:14-15 (how I would say it)

King Herod, the top Jewish official of the day, was shacking up with his brother’s wife, Herodias, and calling her his wife. And this was just the tip of the iceberg of his depravity. After John spoke out against Herod, in keeping with his corrupt character, he had John imprisoned.

When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he left Nazareth and withdrew to Galilee. He went to live in Capernaum, near the lake in Zebulun and Naphtali. This also fulfilled an ancient prophecy that said, “In Zebulun and Naphtali, along the coast, beyond the Jordan, the “Galilee” of non-Jews, on the unfortunates that live in that death valley, a light has dawned. The people there who lived in darkness have now seen a great light.”

From that point on, Jesus began broadcasting this message: “Switch sides now. The time to align yourselves with God is now, not later.”

Later, Jesus returned to Galilee, bolstered by God’s own Spirit, and boy, was he ever the talk of the town! He regularly taught in the synagogues and became wildly popular.

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The Best Man’s Speech: John 3:22-36 (how I would say it)

Can I have your attention please

Later, Jesus and his followers spent some time in the Judean countryside, performing spiritual cleansing rituals. John was there too, also dunking people near Salim at Aenon, where the water was suitable for this sort of ritual and there were no lack of people either. (This was before John was sent to prison.) Some of John’s followers started arguing with a certain Jew about this dunking ritual. Then they complained to John, “Teacher, everyone is going over to the other side of the Jordan River to be dunked by that man you kept going on about.”

John replied, “I’ll be happy with whoever God sends me. You already know where I stand on this; you heard me say he’s the one who is going to do the real spiritual cleansing, not just the symbolic act of dunking. I’m like this guy’s best man, if you will. The best man is there to do whatever the groom needs. And at that moment when the bride starts to walk down the aisle, she’s not heading toward the best man; she’s heading for the groom. And the best man isn’t jealous—if anything he’s overwhelmed with joy for the groom. And that’s what I feel right now. It’s time for me to bow out and let him stand in the spotlight, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

“Look, this guy is not from around here; he’s otherworldly and way more advanced than anything on this earth. I’m just a human and I can only relate to what I know from my experience. But someone from outer space? Who could possibly know more than he does? He speaks from a whole other base of knowledge and experience; and yet people aren’t believing him. The ones who do believe him are proving God to be real. God sent him and he speaks on God’s behalf. He has this direct line to God—no waiting on hold or being sent to voicemail. Father God loves his Son and gives him any and everything—on demand. And if you wrap your mind around that and accept the Son for who he is, you’ll live on even after you die; but if you think it’s a load of bull, you’ve got no chance of life after death, because you’ve officially ticked off God.”


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We’ve Been Following the Wrong Guy! John 1:35-51 (how I would say it)

The_pleasure_of_Night_sky_viewing_Sanyam_kumar_shrivastava,_MD_Star_astronomy_club,_Bhopal (this image only somewhat unrelated to text)

The next day John was there again with two from his entourage, and when he saw Jesus going by he said, “Look, there’s God in the flesh!”

When the two men he was with heard him say that, they packed up and started following after Jesus. Jesus turned around and looked at them and said, “Can I help you?”

They said, “We’d like to learn from you. Do you mind if we join you?”

“Sure, why not,” Jesus said. “You can see my ‘headquarters’ and then decide if you want to stick around.”

So the two followed him, saw his “headquarters” and hung out with him all day until about four in the afternoon.

One of these two men was named Andrew, and he had a brother named Simon Peter. Right off, Andrew went and found his brother Simon and told him, “We’ve found the One all the prophesies point to, God in human form.” And he brought him back to meet Jesus.

Jesus took one look at him and said, “I know you – you’re Simon son of John. I’m going to call you The Rock” (a.k.a. Peter).

Philip and Nathanael Join Up

The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. On the way, he met a man named Philip and asked him to join the group.

Like Andrew and Peter, Philip was from the town of Bethsaida. Philip went looking for his friend Nathanael and told him, “You’ve got to come see who we found – the very person that Moses and the prophets were writing about all these years. His name is Jesus, he’s from Nazareth, his father is a man named Joseph.”

“No way, Nazareth! I’m so sure that God incarnate is going to come out Nazareth.” Nathanael said skeptically.

“Just come and see for yourself,” said Philip.

Jesus saw Nathanael walking up and commented to those nearby, but within Nathanael’s hearing, “Now here comes a dyed-in-the-wool Israelite – as genuine as they get.”

“Who told you that?” Nathanael asked.

“Nobody,” Jesus answered, “I figured it out for myself from watching you under that fig tree earlier today.”

Knowing no one could have seen that, Nathanael blurted out, “Holy… you! You must be the son of God. You’re the rightful king of Israel.”

Jesus said, “Did that impress you – my ability to see what you were doing under that fig tree? That’s a drop in the bucket compared to what’s coming up.” Then he added, “The fact is, you’re going to see the atmosphere part and angels go up and come down to me from outer space.”

[Nathanael’s mind is officially blown!]


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It Ain’t Me, Babe: John 1:19-34 (how I would say it)

DSC02635 lo (another completely unrelated image that I just like)

When Jewish leaders from Jerusalem sent some religious big wigs out to ask John if he might be the Son of God come to earth, he told them straight out: You’ve got the wrong guy.

So they asked, “Then who are you? The prophet Elijah come back from the dead?”

“Nope.”

“Are you the Prophet?”

“Nope.”

Finally they said, “Who are you? We need to know what to tell the people who sent us out here. Give us a clue as to who you are.”

Quoting Isaiah the prophet, John said, “I am a lone voice in the wilderness that says, ‘Get ready for God, cuz here he comes!’”

Then the religious big wigs said, “Why are you dunking people in the water as some sort of symbol of spiritual cleansing if you’re not God’s Son or Elijah or some other prophet?”

“It’s true, I dunk people,” John replied, “but your goose chase is misguided. The guy you should be looking for – he’s out there somewhere – is way out of my league and much more fascinating.”

All of this was happening at Bethany, on the other side of the Jordan river, which is where John was dunking people, AKA baptizing.

The next day, John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Here he is! The sacrifice to end all sacrifices who will completely clear our account with God. This is the guy I was talking about when I said, ‘Even though he comes after me, he’s way ahead of me because he existed long before me!’ I really didn’t know who he was, I just knew that I needed to get out here and start dunking people in water as a symbol of spiritual cleansing and somehow that would flush him out.”

Recalling how he understood Jesus to be God’s Son, John said, “God’s Spirit came down from the sky as if it were a dove and it landed on Jesus and stayed with him. I didn’t even realize who he was until that moment. The same inner voice that compelled me to start dunking people out here told me, ‘When you see God’s Spirit come down and land on someone, you’ll know he is the one who is going to be doing the real spiritual cleansing – not just the symbolic act.’ I’ve seen it with my own eyes and I assure you, this is the one we’ve been waiting for. God chose him!”


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The Steamroller: Luke 1:80, Luke 3:1-14, Matt. 3:4-6 (how I would say it)

Fast forward to the 15th year of Tiberius Caesar’s administration—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea and it was split into four jurisdictions: Herod was over Galilee; his brother Philip was over Iturea and Traconitis; and Lysanias was over Abilene. The highest ranking priests among the Jews were Annas and Caiaphas. Zechariah and Elizabeth’s son John had also grown up and become a spiritual powerhouse. He was living in the wilderness as an ascetic recluse. He dressed like a caveman in camel’s hair tied on with a leather belt. He subsisted on honey and locusts.

The ancient prophet Isaiah had predicted: “There will be a voice in the wilderness that comes first to set the scene for God’s representative. He’ll clear the path for him; fill in the pot holes, level the ground. He’ll straighten out the winding road and smooth out the rough road so that it will be easy to get a clear view of God’s plan to salvage humanity.” This was John.

In due time, God gave John the spiritual gift of being able to speak on his behalf. Then John went all around the Jordan River area speaking to whoever would listen about changing their evil ways and making it official with the symbolic act of ablution. People came out from Jerusalem and all over Judea and the Jordan River area to confess their wrongdoings to him and allow him to dunk them in the Jordan River as a symbol of being washed clean.

John minced no words with the crowds of people who came to him, calling them a brood of snakes. [Snakes hatch from eggs like chickens hatch from eggs, so as a bunch of chicks is a brood of chicks, a bunch of snakes is a brood of snakes.] He said, “Who warned you to get right with God? If you’re going to come out here and say you’re sorry for all the things you’ve done wrong, you need to live like you’re actually sorry. Don’t think you can fall back on lineage, copping the “Abraham is my great, great-grandfather” line. See these rocks? God can make grandchildren for Abraham out of these rocks if he wants. God is ready to prune this family tree of yours and any branch that isn’t producing fruit is going to be cut off and used for firewood.”

“How do you suggest we live?” the people asked.

“All those extra clothes in your closet—give them away. All that food you waste—feed the hungry instead.”

Government workers had showed up to be dunked by John. They asked, “What about us, what should we do differently?”

“Don’t pad your pockets with the public’s money.”

Some Roman soldiers who had ventured out asked, “And what about us?”

He replied, “Be happy with what you get paid instead of expecting people to pay you bribes. And don’t bring people up on false charges.”


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Zechariah Finds His Voice: Luke 1:56-79 (how I would say it)

Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.

Elizabeth gave birth to a full-term baby boy. All their neighbors and relatives were overjoyed and touched by God’s gift to the couple.

When the baby was eight days old, they went for a circumcising and naming ceremony. The ones conducting the ceremony were just about to name the baby Zechariah, but Elizabeth spoke up and said, “No! His name is supposed to be John.”

The clergy replied, “You don’t have any relatives named John.”

Then, [as if they themselves were mute], they gestured to Zechariah to see what he wanted to name the baby. He indicated he wanted something to write on, and to everyone’s amazement he wrote, “His name is John.”

At that very moment, Zechariah was able to speak and the first words out of his mouth were praises for God. God’s Spirit possessed him and he foretold his son’s future:

“Isn’t God amazing? He’s back in action on behalf of the nation of Israel. And now he’s revealing a foolproof plan, involving one of David descendants, just like the prophets used to say. He’s going to save us from everyone who’s out to get us. He’s keeping his promise, people, the same one he made with Abraham. He’s going to rescue us from our enemies so that we can fearlessly be his people and live out our lives the way God prescribes.

“And you, my child, you’re a part of this. Your job will be to announce God’s plan, paving the way for God’s representative by teaching people that God isn’t going to hold our past wrongs against us. He’s having mercy on us and sending the sun from where he is into our world to shine light on our darkness—even illuminating death—and to guide us on to the path of peace.”

Everyone who witnessed this was dumbfounded, and the news spread through the Judean countryside. People wondered, “What kind of plans does God have for this child?”