The Baby

It was a windy night, and my friends and I, being shepherds were on extra alert. We didn’t want our sheep spooked and decide to run away. The dark made them almost impossible to find.

I huddled in my blanket, starving. We didn’t make much money from the market place. What I did have on hand, I had decided to wait till morning to eat.

My brother and I began a light conversation about the skies. How luminous the moon looked, though distant, it seemed to cast its shimmering light in the fields. It’s like it’s attention was just on us. Shepherds in a dirty, windblown field.

As my eyes grew heavy, I decided to lie by the fire and get some sleep.

Suddenly, my brother gasped! As I turned my head to face him, there stood a man. Though not a man.  It was, I believed, an angel! He was as beautiful as the sky, and shone brighter than the sun.

Terror raised in my dry throat. I might have screamed. I was petrified!

“Don’t be afraid! The man said. I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.

The Savior, yes the Messiah, the Lord, has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! You will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

Before I could breathe again, there appeared an army of others and they began praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in highest Heaven, and peace on earth to those whom God is pleased.”

As quickly as they came, just as swiftly, they left us.

I stood in complete astonishment!

My heart raced, but after that scene, I believed! I grabbed the other shepherds and yelled, “We must go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord told us about!”

We ran as fast as we could! Leaving our sheep and belongings at camp!

We found the village. There stood a couple. Tired and worn. Their names were Joseph and Mary.

Then I saw Him;  a baby sleeping in a manger. A feeding trough for the animals. My heart was heavy and light at the same time. I was speechless!

We began to explain to Mary and Joseph all we had seen in the fields. The light, the angel, the armies of the Lord singing in the night. They stared at us, as if they already knew. I believed that they did.

We went back to our fields, to our flocks. We couldn’t help but praise God, glorify God on our way, for all we had seen and heard! Word had gotten out and all the surrounding people were astounded!

It was true. The angel was real, the Messiah was real. I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next.

Taken from Luke 2:8-20

NLT

 

The Boy and The Evil Spirit

It began with an argument.

Some of the 12 were fighting with teachers of the law.

Suddenly a man shouted! “Look, there He is! That is Jesus coming our way!”

I looked up, and surely it was Jesus, walking up to us in the crowd.

We were so overwhelmed and in wonderment to see Him!

What are you arguing with them about?” Jesus asked.

A man yelled out.

“Teacher! I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit! It has robbed him of his speech! Whenever it seizes my boy, it throws him to the ground! My son foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out this spirit, but they could not.”

Oh unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.

Suddenly the boy began to jerk and go into convulsions. The evil spirit inside him recognized that it was Jesus approaching. The boy fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.

How long has he been like this?” Jesus asked the father.

“Since childhood! It has often tried to kill him by throwing him into water or fire! But please! If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

IF you can?” said Jesus. “ Everything is possible for him who believes.”

“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” yelled the father, tears in his eyes.

Jesus stood over the boy. Knowing crowds were coming soon, He looked toward the the man’s son. He began to rebuke the spirit.

You deaf and mute spirit! I command you, come out of him and never enter him again!”

The spirit shrieked and convulsed the boy violently. Then it left him.

The boy lied there motionless, unresponsive.

“He is dead.” I replied.

But Jesus reached down and took the boy’s hand. He lifted him to his feet, and the boy stood up. We all froze, completely speechless.

I watched the man grab his son, and hold him tight. He lifted him up in his arms and wept. Wanting to thank Jesus, he couldn’t, for Jesus had already walked away.

 

Taken from Mark 9:14-28 NIV

 

THE BLIND MAN

The Blind Man

There was a man I knew well. He lived in the streets, and often sat on the roadside near my home in Jericho. On many occasions I would go to him, put a few coins in his hand, and say a silent prayer over him. He would always grab my hand, and thank me. I would look into his sightless eyes, and have such pity upon him. Always thanking God that I could see. Secretly wishing that he could too.

I watched his hands in the past, holding them up, and begging passersby for money or food. The sorrow on his face, how he closed his eyes when the sun was brilliant…I imagined he was bathing his face in the warmth of the sun.

On this day, I saw Jesus walk by, with His disciples, to leave our town of Jericho. I didn’t know where they were going, but He had a large crowd about him. People were following Him closely.

 

Suddenly, Bartimaeus began to cry out to Jesus!

 

“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

 

Jesus turned toward the beggar, and as he did, many men from the crowd yelled out to the blind man.

 

“We rebuke you! Be quiet!”

 

Bartimaeus did not listen to them. He yelled louder!

 

“Son of David, have mercy on me!”

 

Jesus stopped. He stood still. He told the people,

 

Call him”.

 

So the people approached the blind man, and said,

 

“Take heart. Get up; He is calling you.”

 

Bartimaeus stood up, threw off his cloak, and surprisingly walked straight to Jesus. He had such assurance that this Jesus would heal him!

Jesus asked,

 

What do you want Me to do for you?”

 

With anticipation he answered,

 

“Rabbi, let me recover my sight.”

 

Jesus stared at his face, such a sincere look in His eyes. He then said to the beggar,

 

Go your way; your faith has made you well.”

 

Immediately Bartimaeus could see! He stared at the people; looking deeply in their eyes. He looked at the shades of green in the grass, the brown dirt, he looked into the sky, seeing the sun. The smile on his mouth, contagious. I couldn’t help but be in wonder!

Can he really see? I thought to myself. No sooner than his sight was restored he began to follow Jesus.

Stopping, just long enough, to look at me and smile.

Taken from Mark 10:46-52 ESV

Withered

withered

It was the Sabbath, and my brother and I had gone into the synagogue.

My brother had been in a lot of pain, and was appalled at how his hand looked. Twisted, deformed and withered since birth. I remembered how many people would gaze and gawk at him. It made him feel so useless. I felt so miserable for him. All his life he was ashamed. He tried to hide it in his coat, but I knew it was there, and so did he.

Suddenly a man walked into the synagogue. He looked around, and his eyes became fixed on my brother. I noticed many people in there staring at this man called Jesus, and they had hatred in their eyes. My brother looked at me with curiosity and I could only stare back at him, completely astonished. Jesus began to walk towards us. My heart raced. Calling to my brother, Jesus shouted.

“Come he said, and stand in front of everyone.”

My brother being very shy and humiliated, looked down at his feet. He stepped slowly to the middle of the room.

Jesus turned to crowd. They were all staring. Some with loathing, some with love.

Jesus spoke.

Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?”

The room was silent. No one talked; they would not answer his questions.

Jesus looked at them angrily, but he was deeply sad. I could tell in his eyes. They were like I book I had read a thousand times.

He turned towards my brother, “Hold out your hand.”

My brother pulled his hand from his coat, and it was fully restored!!! He was astounded!

A smile spread on my face. I grabbed his hand and studied it. It was perfect! No curved fingers, no twisted wrist. Fully made and functional. I was about to embrace my brother but I watched the men, with insufferable hate in their eyes, and unsentimental looks on their faces, leave the room. One by one.

Outside a man had heard that they were going to the supporters of Herod! They were plotting to kill Jesus!!! All because he healed my friend on the Sabbath day. I looked at my brother’s face. Full of tears, and thankfulness he stared at Jesus. Before he could tell him of his appreciation, Jesus turned away. I looked around me, and everyone in the synagogue was watching us.

I grabbed my brother’s hand firmly, and we ran out.

Taken from Mark 3:1-6 NLT

The Red Sea

A hard heart.

An empty camp.

What must Pharaoh be feeling? I watched as hundreds of us fled, astonished that he had even let us go. It felt like a dream. Tears of joy and jubilation!

A man named Moses, now drew us out of a painful place to a promised place. I was amazed!

But then the sound. The sound unlike our footsteps, sheep and horses.

This was a rage. A stampede.

My heart stopped in dread. I feared it was the Egyptians coming back! They had changed their minds and wanted us back as slaves again.

A far off we saw them. Like a burning fire they came, FAST!

My people were now in a panic! A man near me screamed at Moses! “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness!!??”

Another man yelled, “What have you done to us!”

I searched for a place to run. There were only two options. Run towards the Egyptians and hope that they would spare me, or drown into the Sea! Either way I was dead. I was stricken with fear! I looked towards Moses.

He studied us as we pushed. His eyes staring over us, listening to the God that was saving us from slavery. We swarmed to him for answers. We were so afraid to die!

We, like the same stampeding chariots of the Egyptians, rushed toward him.

Moses turned toward the water. I saw his hand tremble, holding his staff. He turned back toward us and said,

“Fear not! Stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

He lifted up His staff and stretched his hand over the sea. The water began to divide! Dry land appeared in front of my eyes! I could not believe! In the dark behind me, I could see that the cloud we had followed, now had kept our enemy at bay. We were told to cross. Through the night we walked. We walked through the Sea.

I could hear the fish, smell the salt. Feel the cold wind. I was almost deaf from the thundering water as it roared! My feet were completely dry as I looked up to my left and saw a great wall of water towering over us, staying there! Also one to my right! Many were running, yelling to hurry. I could only stare in disbelief. I was pushed down, kicked and felt like I was to suffocate! In my panic I picked up my pace. As I was a part of the last group to step out, I leapt from the bottom of the sea onto the opposite shore from the Egyptians.

Moses then spread his hand over the waters once we were safe, and the walls of water fell down!

The Sea was back together again…it was calm.

Now it being the morning, I looked and saw the dead.

Thousands of Egyptian men  and animals lay strewn over the shore. I guessed that they attempted to run through the Sea too. They didn’t make it. They died in their pursuits to kill us. But God was protecting us.

Being safe on the other side we began to praise!

“I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the Sea…”

Taken from Exodus 14 and 15 (ESV)

The Widow

widow

 I first noticed the widow. Her head bent low, she was weeping. My heart broke for her; for who lie in a coffin ahead of her was her only son. Her husband had died, and she had no one now. She was a widow, a widow without her son.

I already knew that not having a husband or a son, could potentially leave her homeless or a victim of crime. With no one to care for her, I felt such mercy; all I could do was cry.

I looked to Jesus. He had already noticed her. He walked up to the procession, to follow the coffin, to its resting place.

His eyes intense, with compassion.

Many in the crowds did the same. As he walked up to her frail body he said, “Don’t cry.”

His heart ached for her. She looked up at him, and her face showed such sorrow. Jesus felt sympathy and walked up to the coffin, a stretcher of sorts holding the wrapped body of a young man.

“Young man, I say to you, Get up!!”

Suddenly, the wraps began to budge, crumple and fall away.

The crowds gasped, some ran away, terrified!

The young man began speaking, and Jesus helped him to his mother. She grabbed him, wailing and holding him tight! She stroked his tussled brown hair; she kissed him over and over. They began to laugh! They were filled with wonder and began praising Jesus!

A man yelled into the crowd, “A great prophet has appeared among us, God has come to help His people!”

Jesus looked at he woman adoring her son. The boy got a second chance at life. Once dead in an old body, he was brought back to life, through Christ. I stood staring at this man, called Jesus. “He really is the Messiah.” I thought aloud. And I grabbed my pack tighter, as we walked on…

The Temple

pharisee

I had gone to the temple for prayer. It was a cool night, and I was excited to go on the walk. I wasn’t feeling well, and I was hoping for a miracle.

While deep in thought, I almost missed the entrance. I walked up slowly. I heard voices. I didn’t want to be rude, and disturb anyone.

I walked in and what I saw puzzled me.

A man, I knew as a Pharisee, was praying aloud. He stood alone. His voice was unsympathetic, and sure. He even had a smile upon his face.

He looked up into the night, and said, “ God? I thank you that I am not like other people-robbers, evildoers, adulterers- or even like this tax collector!” He pointed to the back of the temple, with disgust.

There in the dark, in the back of the room on his knees, was a man.

The Pharisee continued his prayer. “I fast twice a week, and I give a tenth of all I get!”

He stood, arrogantly, and walked slowly back and forth. I watched as his robe moved slowly upon the stones, and his shawl was covered tight upon his head.  I looked back to the man.

He hid in the shadows. His hands covered his head. He wouldn’t even look up. Not to the Pharisee, or to Heaven. Suddenly he yelled, “God!”

He beat his breast hard. He wailed. “God? Have mercy on me…I am a sinner.”

He bowed his head as tears streamed from his eyes. His body shook with emotion, and fear.

At first I was angered.

A tax collector is nothing but a thief. I thought of how they stole so much from my family. How could God even love a man like this? I looked at the religious man. I knew he loved God, honored God, and dedicated his life to God. But he was so proud… My stomach turned, as I heard him boast about himself. Again, I looked at the tax collector. I had sympathy, and my heart broke for him. I knew. He was humbled where the Pharisee was exalting himself.

I couldn’t help but feel that God heard the tax collector, ever so clearly. To the Pharisee, He did not. I walked out of the temple. Even forgetting to pray. I learned a lot from that night. I learned that being humble is so much more precious to God, than pride.

Taken from Luke 18:10-14