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6 happy-with-my-faith-event im-angry-feeling

David and the giant Goliath

From the book 1 Samuel: chapter 17

A young shepherd is standing face-to-face with a giant and challenges him. May the best man win! It looks like an impossible fight, but something special is going on here.
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Soon after Samuel had secretly anointed David to be the next
king of Israel, the Philistines gathered an army to fight the
Israelites. The two armies faced each other across a deep valley:
King Saul and the Israelites on one side and the Philistines on the
other.
The first morning, the Israelites stood on their side of the
valley. Suddenly, they saw a huge warrior step out of the
Philistine camp. He was a giant, towering above other men,
wearing a bronze helmet, a massive breastplate of bronze and
carrying a spear as long as a tree trunk.
His name was Goliath, and he struck terrible fear into the
Israelites. He roared at them across the valley, shouting his
challenge, “Choose one of your men to fight me! If he can kill
me, we will become your slaves, but if I kill him first, then you
will become our slaves and serve us forever!”
No man dared move, no one shifted a foot or a hand; they
just stared. Even King Saul, who was the tallest man in Israel,
looked small and weak against this fearful champion.
Goliath came striding down the valley, shaking his spear,
mocking the Israelites and shouting his defiance: “I am one
man against the whole army of Israel! Come on, pick your
champion and let me fight him!”
Still no one moved, and no one stepped forward to
volunteer. The Philistines jeered and laughed as Goliath
returned to their camp.
Every day, for forty days, Goliath repeated his act. He strode
down the valley, roaring his challenge, and stood there in his
gleaming battle gear. No one spoke a word or moved. No one
dared to make a sound.

Meanwhile, David was at home tending his sheep. His three
eldest brothers had joined the battle line with King Saul. Their
father, Jesse, began to worry about his sons, so he sent David
with supplies of food and to find out what was happening to
them.
When David arrived, he saw that the Israelite soldiers were
living in terror. He saw Goliath marching down into the valley,
shouting. And he saw how some of the Israelites were running
away in terror.
David was shocked and angered by this sight.
“Who is this worthless Philistine who dares to mock God’s
people?” he asked.
When David’s brother Eliab heard him talking like this, he
was very angry. “Why did you come here? Go back and guard
your little flock of sheep! You’re too full of yourself.”
“Is it a crime to open my mouth?” asked David, and he went
on asking the other soldiers about Goliath until someone told
King Saul about him. Saul sent for David.
When he saw the boy coming towards him, Saul was
amazed. He looked so young and so utterly fearless.
“Why should anyone lose heart over this Philistine?” asked
David. “I will go and fight him.”
“You?” said Saul, “You’re only a lad and this warrior has been
fighting all his life!”
“Your Majesty,” said David softly, “I have been fighting for
many years too. With my own hands I have killed lions and
bears who have attacked my sheep. Surely, the God who
delivered me from the jaws of the lion and the claws of the
bear can deliver me from the hands of the Philistine!”
“Go on then,” said Saul, “and may God be with you.”

Then Saul dressed David in his own breastplate and helmet,
but the boy said, “I am not used to all this. Let me go as I am.”
So David collected five smooth stones from a stream and put
them in his shepherd’s bag. He took his sling in his hand and
walked down the valley towards Goliath.
When the giant saw that a challenger was at last coming
down to meet him, he marched forward clutching his spear.
But when he realized that it was only a boy, Goliath was
furiously angry.
“You’re treating me like a dog…” he roared to the Israelites,
“throwing little sticks after me!” Then he cursed in the name of
his Philistine god and shouted, “Come here, boy, and I will
feed your flesh to the birds!”
“You are coming against me with a sword and a spear,”
shouted David, “but I am coming against you in the name of
the Lord God of Israel. Today, he will hand you over to me
because the victory is his – the Lord does not need spears and
swords to save his people!”

As Goliath steadied his spear to take aim, David calmly loaded
one smooth stone into his sling, swung it around his head and
let it go. With deadly speed, the stone flew through the air and
struck Goliath in the middle of his forehead.
The great Philistine champion fell to the ground, killed by a
single stone.
David ran forward, took Goliath’s sword from its sheath and
cut off his head. When the Philistines saw that their champion
was dead, they turned and ran off in fear, with the Israelite
army pursuing them.
The Israelites won a great victory that day, and King Saul was
leading them. But it was the shepherd boy David who was now
the talk of Israel.

Reprinted with permission of 'The Story'.
Murry Watts, Lion Hudson plc, 2006
7 im-jealous-feeling im-angry-feeling im-not-satisfied-event

Jonah and the fish

From the book of Jonah: chapter 1-4

Surviving three days in the belly of a fish? That won’t happen to us any time soon. It happened to Jonah because he didn’t feel like obeying God’s command. Back in the bright daylight, he even managed to start grumbling. A very ordinary guy, this Jonah.
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There was once a prophet named Jonah.

“Jonah,” said God, “I have a very special task for you. I want
you to go to Nineveh.”
“Nineveh? The evil empire of Assyria?” asked Jonah in
disbelief.
“Jonah, you must go and warn them because I have seen
their wickedness.”
Jonah walked out of his house. He did not want to go to
Nineveh, the capital city of their greatest enemies. An Israelite
prophet wandering the streets of Nineveh, warning of God’s
judgment? No, it was impossible!
So when Jonah got down to the port at Joppa, instead of
journeying to Nineveh, he jumped on a ship going in
completely the opposite direction – to Tarshish in southern
Spain.

When the boat was out at sea, God sent a hurricane. The
ship was hurled around in the huge waves, and the sailors
screamed out in fear. They prayed to their gods, but the storm
got worse. Then the captain discovered Jonah snoring in the
bottom of the boat. “Wake up!” he said. “How can you sleep
when we’re about to drown? Pray to your God at once and beg
him to save us!”
The sailors decided that the gods must be angry with
someone, so they drew lots. Jonah was chosen.
“Who are you? Where do you come from?” they shouted
against the roaring wind. “Tell us! What have you done?”
“I am a Jew, and I worship the God of heaven and earth, but
I have disobeyed him!” said Jonah.
“What shall we do now?”
Jonah knew that he could not escape from God anywhere in
the world. “There’s only one thing to do,” he said. “Throw me
overboard!”
The sailors did not want to do this, but at last they had no
choice. They hurled Jonah overboard.
Immediately, the wind died down and the sea became
perfectly calm. The sailors were amazed. They gave thanks to
Jonah’s God, who had saved them from death.
Meanwhile, there was no sign of Jonah, no hand waving –
only the vast emptiness of the ocean. But God had instructed a
great fish to swallow Jonah whole, and for three days and three
nights Jonah sat in the belly of the fish.
Then Jonah prayed to God, and God heard him. He made
the fish spit Jonah out onto dry land, and the prophet
found himself alone on the beach near the great city of
Nineveh.

There was no escaping the word of God now. So Jonah
marched through the massive gates, proclaiming, “In forty
days, Nineveh will be destroyed, and every single person will
be judged by God!”
The Assyrians were shocked at the sight of the wild, crazy
man wandering through their streets, but they listened.
They listened very hard to what Jonah said, from the poorest
to the richest in the land. The king put on sackcloth and ashes
and said, “We must all turn away from our wickedness, and
perhaps we can still be saved.”

Jonah carried on preaching judgment and doom on the
city until, on the fortieth day, he marched to the gates of
Nineveh and waited for fire to fall from heaven.
He watched the sun go down and thought, Now our
enemies will learn their lesson. They’ll see the power and
judgment of God!
Darkness came and Jonah waited. He looked up at the bright
stars, but none of them fell down. There was no comet, no
volcano, only the sound of the birds singing as the dawn
appeared. The people of Nineveh began to weep and hug each
other because they had been saved.
Jonah flew into a rage with God. “Why do you think I ran
away? I knew you would do this. I might as well die!”
“Jonah,” said God softly, “do you have a right to be angry?”
Jonah did not reply but walked off into the desert and sat
down in the blistering heat.
That night, God instructed a plant to grow over Jonah to
give him shade, and in the morning Jonah was delighted with
his shelter. But then God told a worm to eat the roots of the
plant, and it quickly withered. The next day, Jonah sat
miserably in the heat again as God sent a scorching east wind.
“Let me die,” Jonah said. “Finish me off like the plant.”
“Jonah,” said God softly again, “have you the right to be angry
with me about the plant?”
“I have every right. I am so angry I could die!” shouted Jonah.
“You are concerned for that plant which grew up overnight
and which cost you nothing. So why do I not have the right to
care for all the thousands of people in Nineveh and all their
animals? Is it wrong for me to show my love to them?”
Jonah sat there quietly, thoughtfully, and listened to the sound
of the people and the children singing in the streets of Nineveh.
All this was to remind God’s chosen people that God loved
other nations too. He cared for all his creation.

Reprinted with permission of 'The Story'.
Murry Watts, Lion Hudson plc, 2006

8 christmas-event

The birth of Jesus

From the book of Luke: chapter 2

This story tells us about one of the most important events in history: the birth of Jesus. A king comes to earth, for once without lots of glitter and glamour. How simple can things get: animals are kept in the place when he is born, a manger for a crib, and the first visitors are some crude shepherds. Why them?
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Just before Jesus was born, the emperor Caesar Augustus
ordered his officials to collect the names of every person living
in the Roman empire.
There was a strict rule that each man had to register in the
town his family came from, so that no one would be missed
and avoid paying taxes.
So Joseph needed to travel to Bethlehem, more than seventy
miles away. He was anxious about Mary because she was
heavily pregnant, but they had to make the journey.
On their way, they passed through ravines and wild places,
along desert tracks, up steep hills, until they reached the little
town of Bethlehem, high on the hills beside Jerusalem.

It was nightfall and very cold. The streets were full of
Roman soldiers and people from different places, men and
women running to and fro shouting, chickens squawking,
dogs scavenging in the rubbish. Joseph looked to the left
and to the right, but every home was packed with people;
every inn was overflowing with visitors. At last, they
struggled into an old courtyard at the back of the last inn in
Bethlehem.
“There’s only the stable for the animals,” said the innkeeper.
“That’s all the space I’ve got. You can sleep in the hay.”
“My wife’s expecting a baby!” Joseph called after him, but
the man had already gone back to his guests who were
shouting for food.
Mary smiled and said, “I’ll be all right here in the hay. It’s
very comfortable.” And as she lay down, she felt her first birth
pangs.
Soon, in the middle of the night, the baby was born.
In the darkness of that cold stable, Mary took her firstborn
son, wrapped him in cloths, and put him down to sleep in the
manger.

That night, there were shepherds out in the fields around
Bethlehem, guarding their sheep. They were sitting beside their
fire, keeping warm and watching the flames crackle and spit into
the darkness. There was no danger, no wild beasts prowling or
thieves breaking into the sheepfold; there was only the roar of
the fire and the smoke curling up to the stars.
They were chatting softly, making jokes, telling stories, when
suddenly a great light flashed from the sky. The shepherds leaped
up, terrified. They wanted to run, but there was light all around
them – above them, behind them. The whole sky was burning,
and the earth was on fire with glory and wonder. An angel towered
over them, and they fell to the ground in fear. “Don’t be afraid! I’ve
come bringing good news for you and for everyone in the world.”
The shepherds looked up slowly, peering through their
fingers as the angel continued: “Today in the town of David, a
saviour has been born for you. He is Christ the Lord, and here
is the sign that this is true: you will find a little baby wrapped
in cloths and lying in a manger!”
At that moment, the bright figure was joined by a great
company of angels from heaven, thousands of them filling the
sky and singing: “Glory to God in the highest and peace on
earth to all those he loves!”
Earth and heaven shook with sound, thundering music
echoed in the hills and rang from every stone until at last the
glory faded, and the singing drifted away like smoke into the
night air.
The shepherds were alone. They scrambled up nervously. “We’d
better go to Bethlehem and see all this for ourselves,” they said.
And so they ran to Bethlehem and went from house to
house, inn to inn, until they found the stable.
Inside, they gathered around, their scruffy faces staring from
the darkness into the lamplight that shone over the little family
– Mary sitting calmly, almost as if she expected them; Joseph
standing up, wondering who it was at this time of night and
the baby lying in the hay and gazing at them so clearly.
The shepherds told Mary and Joseph everything they had
seen and heard, and Mary kept the wonderful words of the
angel in her heart, like treasures, stored up forever.

Reprinted with permission of 'The Story'.
Murry Watts, Lion Hudson plc, 2006
9 im-in-love-feeling lets-celebrate-event

Water turns into wine

From the book of John: chapter 2

A wedding is a celebration where wine flows richly. So it is a major problem when the wine suddenly runs out. Fortunately there are some jars filled with water ánd Jesus is at the party too.
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One day, Jesus, his mother, Mary, and some of his followers
were invited to a wedding in the little village of Cana, not far
from Nazareth. It was a wonderful occasion with music and
dancing. Flower petals were strewn over the bride and groom,
filling the air with their perfume. There was laughter and
feasting and people sang joyful songs in the firelight as daylight
turned to dusk. The feast lasted several days. Everyone said
that the groom had spared no expense and that this was the
finest wedding celebration in Galilee.
But Mary overheard two servants whispering desperately.
“We’ve run out of wine!”
“Impossible!”
“There’s nothing left – only water.”
“We’re only halfway through the wedding. What are we
going to do?”
Mary knew that it would bring great disgrace on the
bridegroom’s family if the guests were forced to drink water
instead of wine.
“Don’t tell the bridegroom yet,” she said. “Wait here.”
The servants looked at her in amazement as she ran quickly
up to Jesus. “They’ve run out of wine,” she told him.
Jesus gazed at her for a long time. “Woman,” he said at last,
“why are you asking this from me?”
She said nothing, but looked at him quietly and humbly.
“You know that my time has not yet come,” Jesus said.
Mary knew that he was speaking of another time, when God
would show his glory and his power, but she felt sure that Jesus
would listen to her and save the family from their distress. She
waved the servants over. “Do whatever he tells you.”

The servants were puzzled. What could anyone do? No one
could go and buy wine at this time of night.
Jesus pointed to six huge water jars standing empty in the
corner.
“Go and fill those jars with water.”
There was something about his look that made it impossible
to disobey. The servants filled each jar to the brim.
“Now,” said Jesus, as if it were the most natural thing in the
world, “draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.”
Take him some water? they thought, but they did not dare to
question him. They simply followed Jesus’ strange instructions.
The master of the feast took the water from the servants,
tasted it and smiled.
“Excellent vintage! The best I have ever drunk.”
He hurried off, delighted, as the servants ran back to the six
jars. Every single one of them was brimming with wine.
The master of the feast whispered to the bridegroom,
“Usually people serve the best wine first and only serve up the
cheap stuff when everyone’s had a lot to drink and won’t
notice. You’ve kept the most expensive, the finest, until last!”
The bridegroom was astonished. Where had this wine come
from?
This was the first miracle that Jesus ever performed, and his
followers came to understand that it was a mysterious sign of
God’s love for the world.

Reprinted with permission of 'The Story'.
Murry Watts, Lion Hudson plc, 2006
10 not-enough-money-event im-a-failure-event im-sorry-feeling

The story of the lost son

From the book of Luke: chapter 15

A story about a son who turns his back on his father, throws lots of parties, and wastes his entire inheritance. After that he is totally broke and lonely. What does the father do when the son comes home, pleading to be allowed to work as his father’s servant?
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Jesus wanted people to understand more about God’s love, so
one day he told them a story about a person who was lost:
“There was once a man who had two sons. The eldest was
very dutiful and worked hard on his father’s farm, but the
youngest said, ‘Let me have my inheritance now – I want to go
out into the world and enjoy myself!’ So the father gave his son
the money he would inherit when he died, and the young man
went off to another country, determined to have a good time.
“He lived the high life, squandering all his money recklessly.
He filled his days with wild parties, throwing his money at
worthless friends, until he had nothing left. Then terrible famine
hit the land, and soon the youngest son was in desperate need.
His clothes were ragged, all his friends had disappeared long ago,
and he was forced to take the lowest job in the land.

“The young man had to look after some pigs, feeding them
and living in a hovel with them. He was so hungry he could have
eaten the pigs’ food, but no one gave him anything. One day he
thought, Even my father’s humblest servants have plenty of food,
and yet here I am starving to death! I will go back to him and say,
‘Father, I have sinned against God and against you. I am not fit to
be your son any longer. Just take me on as a servant.’ So the
young man crawled out of the filth and began to stagger home.
“While he was still a long way off, his father saw him in the
distance and ran to him.
“‘Father –’ the son began, but the old man kissed him and
hugged him.
“‘You’re home,’ he said, ‘you’re home!’ He wept and clung
to him.
“‘Father,’ the boy said, with tears streaming down his face, ‘I
have sinned against God and against you. I am not fit to be
your son any longer.’
“His father did not let him finish. He waved and shouted to
his servants, ‘Quick, bring the best robes and dress him, put a
gold ring on his finger and find sandals for his aching feet.
Prepare the biggest calf for a great feast.’ The servants gathered
all around as the father led his son into the home.
“‘Look,’ he called out, ‘my son was dead and he’s come back
to life! He was lost forever, but now he’s been found!’
Immediately, the celebration began.

“The elder son returned from the fields where he had been
sweating and working all day. He heard music in the air, he saw
lamps lit all along the house and around the courtyard. He
watched the shadows of people dancing and jumping for joy.
“‘What’s this? A party?’ he asked, and when he found out
that it was for his good-for-nothing brother, he stamped away in
a rage.
“His father came out to him. The elder son turned away. ‘All
these years I’ve worked for you, you’ve never given me a party!
Now this son of yours who has wasted his whole inheritance
on prostitutes turns up and is welcomed like a prince!’
“His father said to him softly, ‘Son, everything I have is yours
– everything! But I thought your brother had died and was lost
forever. Now he is alive; he is found. Is it wrong for us to
celebrate such wonderful news?’”

Reprinted with permission of 'The Story'.
Murry Watts, Lion Hudson plc, 2006
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