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Blog: God-in-a-Box—Your Inbox

 

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We hope this becomes a dependency. Strange thing for a therapist to say. But we are dependent on God for life and peace and joy. Spending time with Him every day (imagining these vignettes) will enhance your life and growth as nothing else can.

 

Misinformation about God is rampant out there today. This is good stuff--agreeing with the best interpretation you can put on Scripture.

 

  Below, Love's Playbook, Arla's new series, is the first interpretive version of the Bible -- it's God's love story like you've never read it--written to keep you reading! (Images are Amazon linked )

 

By Arla, Nov 22 2019 02:00AM

Trying to discredit him, Pharisees again interrogate the formerly-blind man, "Exactly what did he do?"


Satan assists them in thinking they can confuse and control him--he's uneducated-- so they suggest, "Maybe this is from the devil..."


But Ruach gives him words, "I've told you what happened, why do you ask again? Do you want to follow him?"


"We follow Moses! We know God spoke to him. We don't know this man!" They spit out.


"Why this is truly amazing!" he responds, "a man opened my eyes, something never done for one born blind, and you don't know if he's from God! But we know God doesn't hear sinners, so he must be."


For moments there is stunned silence.


Then in contempt, they gather their robes as if to avoid contact, "Do you teach us? You were born in sin!" and they throw him out of the synagogue.


Hearing what he has gone through, Jesus finds him, "Do you believe in the Son of God?" he asks.


"Who is he, lord?" he has defended Jesus character, so more light is given him. For the first time he looks on the loving, peaceful face of Jesus and contrasts the rabbis' frowns, the worried faces of his parents and he knows...


"It is I, who healed you," says Jesus.


He falls at Jesus feet in gratitude and worship.


"I have come to give sight to the blind, and to blind those who think they see."


Some Pharisees have gathered, "Are we blind?" they ask, catching the insinuation.


"You refuse to see the one God sent. Because of this, you are blind." Jesus answers, honest and direct as usual.


John 9:24-41




By Arla, Nov 21 2019 02:00AM

When the formerly-blind man goes back to his neighborhood, people say, "Is this the blind guy that begged? He looks so different!"


"It's me." He assures them, and tells how Jesus healed him.


"You've gotta have the Priests certify this!" they say, and they all accompany him.


The Pharisees are amazed at his story, but ask, "How can this 'healer' be from God when he doesn't keep the Sabbath?"


Their reaction causes so much excitement around town that they keep hearing, "How can a sinner do such miracles?" So the Priests call the man again and ask "What do you say of this man?"


"He's a prophet," he assumes.


Next they call his parents to verify that he was born blind.


His parents have heard that anyone believing Jesus is the Messiah, will be thrown out of the synagogue for 30 days. At that time this meant you were totally ostracized--no services of any kind--even medical. So they deflected, "He is our son, and he was born blind, but as to his sight, ask him what happened. He's an adult; he can speak for himself."


The Pharisees bring the son in and try to silence him, seeing the publicity their opposition is creating. "Don't say this man healed you; give God credit; we know Jesus is a sinner."


"I don't know if he's a sinner, but I know I was blind and now I see," the man responds.


Interrogating him more, the Pharisees try to confuse him, discounting his memory with many explanations and suppositions. False leaders steal joy.


John 9:8-26



By Arla, Nov 20 2019 02:00AM

Leaving the temple, Jesus and company walk past a man who was born blind.


His disciples, nervous over Jesus' near stoning and wanting to talk about anything else, ask, "Master, who caused this man's blindness? His own sin or his parents' sin?"


They have grown up steeped in a culture that believes suffering is judgment from God, so Ruach sets up this particular encounter with one born suffering...(because illness could come from cause and effect--poor choices).


"Neither," responds Jesus, "it's for God's glory to be shown in him."


Even though it is Sabbath, Jesus makes clay with his spit, rubs it on the man's eyes, and tells him to go to the pool of Siloam to wash it off.


The man didn't even ask!


But Jesus knows his disciples believe suffering is punishment for wrong-doing. And he is ready to destroy this doctrine of the devil especially on Sabbath--at least for them.


This is important, because in six months time they will see him suffer crucifixion. And many people will say (or think) God is doing it to him!


While it's true that suffering comes from living outside of God's law, Satan had twisted that truth into "God brings suffering as punishment for breaking Their law." Nothing could be further from the truth!


So Jesus prepares them to understand his death: God won't be killing him; He will be allowing and empowering Jesus to choose our natural future (death), so we can choose his natural future (life).


God gives good. Opening your mind to God brings desire for Him, naturally, as flowers turn to sunlight. Knowing Jesus, experientially and experimentally, makes you crave His life-giving love-energy.


John 9:1-7



By Arla, Nov 19 2019 02:00AM

The Pharisees have again attempted to discredit Jesus to the people by bringing up his questionable birth. saying, "God is our father."


Jesus doesn't give their insinuation any attention. "If God were your father you would love me because I came from Him. You act like your father, the devil--a liar and a murderer--and father to them. If I said I didn't know God, I would be a liar like you."

They won't admit they are wrong. For nearly three years they've been looking to destroy him because he didn't come in power and glory as they thought Messiah should. They don't love the truth, won't even investigate it, but close their minds to it, close their ears to God's voice. Jesus says this proves they have no connection with God.


"You can't hear me because you don't know God. Abraham asked to see my day; he saw it, and was glad." ( Abraham was the only man God asked to give his son as God was going to. He saw and completely understood God's suffering in giving us Adonai.)


"What! You aren't 50 years old, and you've seen Abraham?" they scoff.


"Seriously, before Abraham was, I AM."


Gasps escape many, then shocked silence. He used the name given Moses to identify himself as the Self-existent One! This poor, unassuming Galilean rabbi has just announced himself to be the Eternal Presence!


Now many of the people side with the rabbis, and being led by them, pick up stones to stone Him.


But Jesus, hidden from their sight, passes on.


John 8:36-59

By Arla, Nov 18 2019 02:00AM

Jesus isn't played by Pharisees to announce he is their Messiah. He goes beyond that-- claiming oneness with God.


"If you follow me, you will know the Truth, and the Truth will make you free."


"We are Abraham's descendants and aren't enslaved to anyone." The teachers are talking about spiritual freedom--Romans are all around reminding them of their occupation by Rome.


So Jesus picks it up, telling them they are in the worst kind of slavery--the unconscious kind. "If anyone sins, he is the slave of sin. If the Son makes you free, you are truly free. Abraham's children would be like him, and would recognize the one God sent. They wouldn't try to kill me." Again revealing he knows their hatred and plans for his death--instigated by Satan.


Now they sneer, "We weren't born bastards!" (Implying that he was.) They get ugly so fast! Satan controls the minds of those who refuse God. And God will not force our wills.


However, when we desire to be set free of Satan's control, when we understand that separation from God kills us, and ask God to free us from Satan's curse, Ruach empowers our choice with divine energy, restoring us.


Satan can only keep us captive by weakening our minds and destroying our freedom through mindlessness, confusion, and lack of choice. But in the change that happens when you choose surrender to God, there is the highest sense of freedom.


Submission to God restores your true self--your true glory and dignity.*



John 8:30-41, *Psalm 8


By Arla, Nov 15 2019 02:00AM

Later, after forgiving the adulteress, Jesus is teaching as the morning sun comes over Mt. Olivet and hits the gold and the white marble of the temple. Pointing to the dazzling reflection of sunlight he says, "I am the light of the world," a powerful declaration of his identity, recorded later by John.*


The night before had been the last ceremony of the week--the Festival of Light--when the temple courts were filled with dancing, and ablaze with lamps and lanterns commemorating the pillar of fire in the wilderness wandering of their ancestors.


Light had always been a symbol of Adonai's presence--in the cloud, on Sinai, covering the sanctuary and then the temple.


Here as Jesus, he continues, "If you follow me, you will have the light of life; you won't walk in darkness," his words are confident, convincing.


The forgiven woman, now in the back, held there by a love she has never known, feels like he's talking straight to her. It's the best promise she's ever heard.


But in saying this, Jesus claims oneness with God, and the Pharisees who stayed are ready to challenge. "You can't testify for yourself."


"My witness is true because I know who I am. Your law requires two witnesses. I am one and my Father is the other."


"Where is your father?"


"If you knew me, you would know Him," answers Jesus. If their hearts were open to God's love they would have recognized him.


"Who are you?" They're pushing him to declare himself, thinking the people will reject a poor, homeless Messiah.


John 8:12-19 *John 1:1-5



By Arla, Nov 14 2019 02:00AM

The woman cowers before Jesus, eyes to the ground, waiting for rocks to start hitting her. His words, "The one who hasn't sinned may cast the first stone," sounded like a death sentence.


Eyes to the ground, she is amazed when feet turn and walk away.


Jesus stands up and says, "Where are your accusers? No one has condemned you?"


A small voice answers, "No one."


"Neither do I," says Jesus. "Go and live with God."


Her heart melts and she falls sobbing at his feet. She can't believe what she has just heard.


A moment ago she was sure her life was over, but now it seems it's just beginning. Peace, love, and joy flood her as sobs release all the shame, guilt, and sadness of her life.


And never has Jesus looked better to those watching.


He has just performed a greater miracle than healing the worst disease. He hasn't set aside the law of Moses or infringed on the authority of Rome. Rather he has shown the love and forgiveness of God to one who is considered weak and worthless, an outcast.


She becomes an ardent follower of Jesus from that day on.


What a difference from the attitude of the Pharisees! They hated the sinner but loved the sin. While Jesus hates the sin but loves the sinner.


Jesus' attitude towards her--slow to censure, quick to discern repentance, ready to forgive and encourage--develops naturally and is experienced in all those who follow him.


John 8:7-11

By Arla, Nov 13 2019 02:00AM

The Sanhedrin, frustrated in their plans and silenced by Nicodemus, leave and go to their homes.


Jesus turns to the quiet of the olive orchards on Olivet needing time alone with God. Spies have dogged his steps every day of the festival looking to trap him in a word or action. He's exhausted.


Early the next morning he is back in the temple. People gather around him and he teaches them. But before long he is interrupted by a commotion.


"We caught this woman in the very act of adultery" says the hard, triumphant voice of one Pharisee.


"Moses says we should stone her." Adds another. "What do you say?"


Seeing through their disguise, and knowing they set her up themselves, Jesus gives no sign he has heard them, but kneels and begins to write in the dust on the marble.


Impatiently they move closer, urging him to respond. But as their eyes follow his finger, their faces pale, seeing he has written how they got her there, who set her up, and that according to Moses, her husband should have accused and brought her.


Then rising, he fixes his gaze on the posers who know the law--that the one wronged begins the stoning. Jesus knows they have wronged her, and he says, "The one who hasn't sinned may throw the first stone."


Hoping against hope that he won't expose them, one by one they slink away, defeated again.


Religion was not intended for condemning. If you want to know what God is like, read tomorrow's blog...


John 8:1-9


By Arla, Nov 12 2019 02:00AM

On the morning of the last day of their Thanksgiving festival is the ceremony symbolizing the water that flowed when Moses struck the rock in the wilderness. A beautiful and impressive feast of color and sound, it teaches that God provides.


Afterwards, Jesus' heart aches for the people, weary from festivities that dazzle them but do nothing to satisfy their thirsty hearts, longing for assurance of God's love and care.


Standing up, his voice ringing through the temple, he cries, "If any of you is thirsty, come to me and drink. If you believe in me, living water will flow from you!"


The people are startled. It's as if he reads their minds, his words reach into their sad, dissatisfied, tired hearts, stirring hope again. Ruach impresses their minds with the connection between him and what they have just watched, and many believe he is the Messiah.


Even the temple guards, sent by the Pharisees to bring Jesus to the Sanhedrin, are awed and return without him.


"Why didn't you bring him?" the "authorities" ask.


"We've never heard anyone talk like him," they reply simply--slightly embarrassed.


"You're just like these cursed people! Have any of our leaders believed?" Enraged, the priests are ready to go fetch him themselves.


Then a voice of reason speaks, "Does our law condemn anyone before hearing him?" It's Nicodemus.


The whole assembly is checked and silent. Surprised by him, they react with sarcasm, "Are you a Galilean? Go search scripture; no prophet comes from Galilee!"


They act ignorant of prophecy, but it is enough to stop the madness.


John 7:30-53


By Arla, Nov 11 2019 02:00AM

Jesus' words hold the people spellbound. His knowledge of the sacrificial service, the law, and the prophets far exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees--his understanding brings the true meaning alive. As they were in Capernaum, the people at Jerusalem are enthralled.


The priests observing this, try to discredit him, "You haven't attended our schools; what authority do you have to teach in the temple?"


"My teaching is from Him who sent me," answers Jesus. "If you want to do God's will, you will know whether it is from Him."


Jesus says that receiving truth depends on your heart's openness to God. They are hiding from God because ever since Jesus healed on the Sabbath at the Pool of Bethesda, they have been plotting his death.


"Moses gave the law you accuse me of breaking by making a man whole on Sabbath, but you break it by wanting to kill me." He confronts them, showing he knows their hearts.


For an instant terror fills them, they see they are fighting Infinite power. Somehow they must disparage him. "You have a demon! Who wants to kill you?" they scoff.


Many believe Jesus; others are mislead by the pretense of the Pharisees. If the people would study the prophecies for themselves they wouldn't be fooled. Ruach would help them understand. Abba wants them to recognize His son.*


But God won't force us to believe. He leaves us free to choose between light and darkness; He desires us to investigate the evidence and decide. He will open the minds of those seeking truth.**


John 7:16-30 *The Pharisees know Isaiah 53, 59 and 61 which give a clear picture of Jesus life, work and death **John 7:17,




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