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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, Aug 7 2020 01:00AM

As Jesus teaches in the synagogue at Capernaum, God's sweet presence rests on the people. The peace combined with the relaxed genuineness and confidence of Jesus wraps around them, and they feel as if they're in heaven.


He speaks of the kingdom of love he has come to establish, and his mission to free Satan's prisoners.


Suddenly, he is interrupted by a shriek, the people's minds are diverted from Jesus' words.


A feeling of terror replaces the tranquility, as a madman cries, "Let us alone! What do you want with us? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God!"


Who wants endosement by a devil? Satan had led his victim to the synagogue to disrupt the harmony, distract people's minds, cause terror, and leave an ugly feeling.


In Jesus' presence, the victim dimly comprehends Jesus' power and longs for freedom, but another's will holds him; when he opens his mouth to ask for help, all that comes out is the devil's words. The conflict between the power of Satan and the man's own desire is terrible. It seems he will die in the struggle.


Everything is confusion. Darkness and Light stand face to face again.


Jesus addresses the evil spirit, "Be quiet, and come out of him."


With another shriek, the man is thrown to the floor convulsing. Then he lies quietly.


All are sure he is dead.


But now Jesus' hand helps him stand before the people unharmed, his eyes alight with intelligence and grateful tears. Jesus' authority frees another of Satan's captives and restores joy.


Mark 1:21-28


By Arla, Aug 6 2020 01:00AM

Jesus loves Capernaum. It comes to be known as "his city," and its situation is a convenient center for his message. Being on the road that runs between Damascus, Jerusalem, Egypt and the Mediterranean, he can mingle with rich and poor, Jew or Gentile, either in their leisure or their business. From here his words and works will be carried to many countries.


Alive with beauty on the green shore of Galilee, the area revitalizes Jesus with its orchards and vineyards, green fields and profusion of bright flowers.


No matter the warnings of the Sanhedrin, when it is known that Jesus is there, the synagogue is packed, with many standing outside. After the officer's son was healed, his family were transparent about their faith and brought many to see Jesus.


His tone is clear and lively, full of love and compassion. His words are simple and full of hope. They break the spell of business-as-usual, and while not ignoring daily life, he teaches that it is secondary to heaven's priorities--that a relationship with God improves all of life. He talks with authority, as one who knows God intimately and is conscious of heaven's reality, and "not as the scribes".


People love listening to Jesus. His sweet, sympathetic attitude shows in every look of his face, every tone of his voice, and draws people to Him. Even in the midst of enemies, the peace and love that surround him touch everyone whose heart is not hardened by unbelief.


Matthew 4:13-16, Luke 4:32


By Arla, Aug 5 2020 01:00AM

Jesus chose men of natural talent as his followers, men who weren't full of tradition and false self or false theories. Jesus could teach them because they were teachable and open-minded.


He wasn't against education. When controlled by love, intellect is a blessing. But the educated in his time and culture were generally so self-focused and bigoted, they couldn't be taught.


Education is more than knowledge; it is the connection of mind with mind transferring impulses--vital energy. Jesus' heart inspires hearts. What privilege to be in Jesus' presence daily for three years!


John, "the disciple Jesus loved", or literally: "the disciple Jesus kept on loving" (at John's amazement)* gave himself, more than the others, to the influence and love of Jesus. But all of them grew like Him. Everyone could see that these fishermen had been with Jesus.


In the same way, if you deny yourself limiting beliefs, and invite the working of Ruach, submitting to the necessary discipline without complaining, God will teach you.


He longs to show us His love. We only have to remove the distractions. Our helplessness, weakness, reactivity, and fear can become His strength and beauty. Our controlling, my-way attitudes can become teachable. There are no limits for one who puts aside his own agenda and continually opens himself to Ruach.


Through constant contact, turning to Him again and again, you will have broader perspectives, better-balanced thinking, and clearer perceptions.


The highest education is the one obtained in Jesus' presence. If you want to enroll, He will come to you.


John 1:16-17, 1John 1:1-5, 1John 4:12-18 *John 13:23


By Arla, Aug 4 2020 01:00AM

Peter's discouragement smacks right into Jesus' supply, and seeing that Jesus has all of nature in his control, he forgets all about boats and fish. While the others secure the catch, he drops at Jesus' feet, holding on and exclaiming, "Lord, leave me, I am a sinful man!"


Daniel and Isaiah had exactly that same "undone" experience, feeling unworthy in response to realizing God's presence.*


He obviously doesn't want Jesus to leave, but he has connected with his unbelief and is ashamed of his doubt. He sees himself as he truly is. Peter sees there is no need to worry when he's with the One who can call fish from the lake into a net.


Self-distrust is important to learn, and a natural response to God-realization. You can't really trust God while thinking you can do it yourself. The paradox is that trusting Him calls to life abilities you never knew you had.


Until now they had still been going back to fishing, and before asking them to unite with him, Jesus gives them assurance that God will provide. Now, he chooses to ask them to work for him full time.


So with us, apart from Jesus it is easy to distrust and complain. But working in his presence, under his direction, his mind connects to ours, revitalizing us with energy and joy. Our weak, vacillating natures become strong and steady.


Satan is the one who works to discourage us. Jesus inspires with faith, hope and confidence.


Matthew 4:18-20, Mark 1:16-18, Luke 5:8-11, *Daniel 10:8, Isaiah 6:5



By Arla, Aug 3 2020 01:00AM

The sun is just beginning to make streaks across Galilee when Jesus walks down by the lake hoping for some time alone with God. But already people are coming to him. So much that there is hardly room for him!


Peter has been fishing all night--the only time net-fishing could really be done in the clear water of Galilee. He is coming ashore and Jesus asks if he may use his boat to sit in and teach from.


Finally after teaching, he dismisses the people, and turns to Peter, "Launch out and let down your net," he says.


Peter is tired and discouraged. He has fished all night with no catch, and during those long, lonely hours he thought about John the Baptist, about the opposition from the leaders against Jesus... How could he hope, how could they hope, for anything better...? It had been a relief to return to fishing again.


Now Jesus is saying 'Go fishing' in the day time? It's crazy!


But he is respectful, saying, "We've fished all night, and caught nothing, but if you say so..." And out they go.


They no more than put the net in the water and it is full. So full, that in pulling it in, the net made of rope starts to break.


They yell for James and John to come help, and fill both boats to the point of sinking. Heading for shore, it hits Peter who Jesus really is. Peter knows fishing. This miracle impresses him above all others--Jesus called fish into his nets!


Luke 5: 1-7, Matthew 4:18-22, Mark 1:16-20


By Arla, Jul 31 2020 01:00AM

(continued)

The church service breaks up and the people, inflamed by their self-importance, grab Jesus and take him out of town to the edge of a cliff intending to throw him over, (the first step in a stoning), when suddenly they can't find him. His guardian angels step in and hide him. He has disappeared!


That should have opened their minds if the love that surrounded him didn't. They were well aware that around them entire villages didn't have a sick person in them because Jesus had been there.


They didn't want a merciful God, they wanted a powerful One--and special favors.


Receiving depends more on responding to the light we are given, than the amount we already have. Those who don't know God, but choose the right as far as they see it, are sometimes better off!*


The illustrations he used, of Gentiles being healed and honored, roused their pride and conflicted with their beliefs of superiority.


Rather than challenging their beliefs, they challenged him. They weren't interested in joyful service to a loving God. They wanted to be right. They weren't about to question their teachers or their creed, or to ask God for truth. So they sided with the Destroyer--who took control of them.


One more time, at the end of his ministry, Jesus visited Nazareth, reluctant to give them up, he again appealed to them, but only a few responded. They didn't believe that their Messiah could be this poor carpenter they "knew", not realizing that real greatness is internal, not needing external display.


Luke 4:23-30 *Romans 2:14-15

By Arla, Jul 30 2020 01:00AM

When people think they know you, it can prevent really knowing you.


Jesus had grown up among the people of Nazareth, they had watched him develop from childhood, so they were resistant to seeing him as anything but "the carpenter's son." They'd heard about his miracles, and were hoping for some.


But there was another problem: when the Spirit moves on hearts, as He does when Jesus speaks, the effect either softens them or hardens them, depending on the response of the heart-owner.


And so it is when he comes again to Nazareth.


He goes with his mother, brothers and sisters to the synagogue on Sabbath, and is asked to read from Isaiah.


He chooses the first few lines of the passage, "The Spirit of the Lord has anointed me to preach the graciousness of God to the poor...deliverance to captives...to heal broken hearts...recovery of sight to the blind...liberty to the oppressed...and the year of the Lord's favor."*


Their hearts open to his graciousness and authority, and they respond with praises under the influence of God's Spirit.


Then he announces, "Today, this scripture is fulfilled in your presence..."


He continues, "but surely you want proof...so take Elijah and the widow or Elisha and Naaman."


Suddenly they realize, He is talking about himself! He's the Messiah? We need deliverance? sight? healing?...Drastically the mood changes.


Satan is determined; feeding resistance.


Comparing us with Gentiles! Who does he think he is? Claiming the glory of the Messiah for himself! We know him! He is no more than a carpenter's son!


Their hearts, momentarily softened and opened by Spirit's graciousness, are now slammed shut harder by doubt.


Luke 4:16-23

By Arla, Jul 29 2020 01:00AM

Jesus’ heart aches when he hears about John.


He knows their disciples will not understand John's call to martyrdom for the sake of thousands who will die for their faith. Spirit shows him that some, in dungeons for years, will be greatly comforted by the memory of John's imprisonment and death.


Jesus takes John's disciples to the desert to grieve.


Satan had schemed against John to discourage Jesus, but Jesus knows John is free from chains and pain—beyond Satan's reach.


God knows that we wouldn't choose to rewrite our stories, if we could see the end from the beginning as He does, and comprehend our glorious calling to help vindicate His character.


Now Jesus goes to the people in Galilee who are generally more receptive than the scholars and religious zealots. Jesus comes saying, “The kingdom of God is here now; turn, see and believe the graciousness of your God.”


Ironically, those who studied the prophecies, mapping a timeline to Messiah, were the most closed. Jesus so loves the Jews and wants them to fulfill their privileged purpose.


They have studied Daniel's prophecy,* but they haven't understood Gabriel's explanation:


“Four-hundred and ninety years are given to your people to accept their destiny... Understand that from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem, (457 BC)** until Messiah, shall be 483 years (27 AD—Jesus baptism). In the middle of the remaining seven, Messiah will be killed, not for himself...”***


God's call to Jewish leaders included honoring them as first to recognize God's graciousness in Jesus, and offering them the privilege of presenting their Messiah to the world.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



Matthew 14:12-13, Mark 1:14-15, *Daniel 9:21-27, **Artaxerxes Longimanus gave the last decree to rebuild in 457 BC, Ezra 6:14, *** 69 prophetic weeks is the same as 483 years, one week is seven years (see one day = one year in prophecy, Numbers 14:34, Ezekiel 4:6)



By Arla, Jul 27 2020 01:00PM

Herod's wife, Herodias, wants revenge. John has raised Herod's conscience to a new level and ruined her life.


She had been successful in getting Herod to put John in the dungeon, but she knew Herod wanted to release him, and now her husband often goes and talks with him--downstairs. She begins scheming to rid herself of John's influence. It becomes a passion.


Herod's birthday is coming, and she plans a huge event inviting all his dignitaries, even asking her beautiful daughter to dance.


The day comes, the guests feast, the wine flows, Herodias waits. When she is sure Herod has drunk enough to affect his judgment, her daughter dances. It's a huge compliment to Herod; he is pleased and vows to give her whatever she asks.


Overwhelmed, the girl goes to her mother, who is ready with her ghastly request--and the girl is shocked. But her mother is queen, and so, stunned, she asks for the baptist's head.


Herod is horrified, but too drunk to think. He waits for someone to object, to release him from his oath made to impress his guests, but silence reigns. They are stupified by alcohol as well, and Herod gives the order that ends John's life.


His disciples come, take John's body, and bury it in a tomb. In pain they go tell Jesus. Satan is happy to bring pain to Jesus; risking his own involvement getting clearer to the watching universe.


Herodias gets her revenge, but it's not sweet. Herod is more tormented by guilt after John's death, than he ever was in his life.


Matthew 14:1-12, Mark 6:16-27


By Arla, Jul 27 2020 01:00AM

John's disciples come to Jesus and ask, "Are you the One? Or should we look for another?"


Jesus doesn't answer immediately. He understands, but it's still disappointing that the one man who recognized him, announced him as the Messiah, should now question. So he lets them watch and experience His ministry.


They wonder why he doesn't answer.


They see blind ones receive sight and look lovingly at Jesus. They experience the rejoicing of deaf ones hearing him, the leaping of the crippled, the restoring of the dying, and the clearing of insanity from demon-possessed eyes.


At the end of the day, he calls John's disciples, saying, "Go tell John what you have seen; the blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk, the dead are raised, Satan's captives are freed, and happy is he who is not offended in Me."


They leave to take John their message. Jesus turns to the people and gives John the ultimate compliment on his integrity, "...There is none greater than he."


John hears Jesus' word for him, and it is enough.


Angels open his mind to understand Isaiah and Elijah: as God was not in the wind, earthquake, or fire, but in the still small voice, so Jesus' work is not the overthrowing of armies, but speaking God's character to hearts, letting mercy and self-giving love transform.*


Now John can rest, accepting either life or death for the cause he loves, realizing that Jesus will not be accepted and can win only the hatred of the rulers because they are wanting a different kind of Messiah. Sad, but reassuring.


Luke 7:24-30, Matthew 11:7-15 *Isaiah 61:1-2, 1 Kings 9:11-12


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If you like this series, see Arla's new series on the Bible>

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