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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, Jul 19 2019 01:00AM

Jesus is brought before the Sanhedrin for healing the cripple; he begins by saying, "Sabbath healing is consistent with God who maintains the universe--even on Sabbath. And I work with Him."

The priests are shocked, "He claims equality with God! This is blasphemy!"

They get it. He is not claiming to be God's son as they do. He is claiming to be One with God in will and in nature.

Jesus refuses their charges telling them he doesn't make his own plans, but depends on his Father to show him his work day by day. He teaches dependence on God--that we may have it, too, and see ourselves as always under His care. As long as we give ourselves to God, He will guide us.

He tells them his authority is doing the work he came into the world to do--the very thing he's arraigned for--adding, "God has committed all judgment to the Son, and those who believe in him don't even come into judgment." (v. 24) God's Spirit inside is resurrection power working in you now!* He boldly tells them he will raise the dead!

He charges them with unbelief, "Moses will accuse you...for Moses wrote about me, but if you don't believe Moses, how will you recognize me?"

They are incensed! They know Moses words! But Jesus' authority is unquestionable... and they are spellbound and speechless.

However, they recover and send warnings of him, "the imposter Messiah", throughout the country.

He has violated their traditions, and they will not be taught. As they close their hearts to God, Satan takes control of them.

John 5:17-47 *Ephesians 1:19, 3:20

By Arla, Jul 18 2019 01:00AM

In the temple, Jesus sees the healed man and says, "Now that you're well, see you don't go back to your old ways or something worse could happen."

The man is overjoyed at seeing Jesus again. Ignorant of the hatred or the plots of the priests against him, he eagerly gives him credit and directs the church leaders to him.

The Pharisees want to publicly discredit Jesus and break his popularity because the people crave his picture of God as a loving Father; it heals their wounded hearts and oppressed spirits. If the leaders hadn't opposed him, he would have worked an incredible transformation of their whole religious system.

Far from being a delight, Sabbath had become heavy with rules. The penalty for Sabbath breaking would have been enough to put Jesus to death had the Sanhedrin been independent of Rome. But because they were subject to Roman rule, and this charge wouldn't stand in their courts, they couldn't execute him.

So they arraigned him, instigated and fueled by another council: the dark side. Since Satan's wilderness defeat, all of his forces were concentrated on opposing Jesus' influence.

How ironic that religious leaders were used to accomplish the schemes of the powers of darkness, becoming weapons in the war on the side against God.

Jesus chose to heal on the Sabbath saying, "pick up your bed..." to bring up the question of Sabbath keeping, and free it from the restrictions that had cursed it. God does not desire suffering, and relieving it on any day is in harmony with God's law.

John 5:14-16

By Arla, Jul 17 2019 01:00AM

The healed man might have sabotaged his chance for healing. He might have recited all the reasons why he believed he was doomed. Jesus hadn't offered help. He just told him to get up and walk.

But the man sets his will to do what Jesus says, and new life surges as he acts on Jesus' words.

Take this in if you're longing for healing. Don't wait to feel it, act on Jesus' words to you--His promises in scripture coming alive to you. Set your will to follow His instructions and His power will flow through you. He longs to heal you every bit as much as any at Bethesda, but you have to cooperate.

The healed man bent to pick up his bed (a rug and a blanket) and straightens up in delight, only to see that Jesus is lost in the crowd. He's afraid that he won't recognize his healer again, but he leaves, elated.

Soon he meets some Pharisees, and shares his joy with them. He can't understand their cold attitude. They even interrupt him,

"It's against the law to carry your bed on the Sabbath." (They had made two-hundred-plus rules to control Sabbath activity.)

Healed on the Sabbath? That's strange, I forgot it was Sabbath, he thinks. But he hadn't asked for healing, and feels no condemnation at doing what Jesus had commanded. "The man who healed me told me to," he asserts.

"Who healed you?" They know, but want evidence to accuse Jesus.

He doesn't know. "I don't know who he is, but he had the kindest face!"

John 5:9-13

By Arla, Jul 16 2019 01:00AM

Jesus has come to Jerusalem for a special Sabbath. Walking alone in meditation, he comes to Bethesda. Five porches were built around a pool for protection of the sick who flocked here because of superstition: It was believed an angel agitated the water in certain seasons--and the first person to enter was healed. (It must have been an evil angel mocking them and God? Many were trampled and made worse as everyone waiting rushed to get in--it was surely not God's idea.)

Looking around him, Jesus longs to heal every person in the place, but he knows and Ruach confirms that doing so on the Sabbath would cause such hatred that his life and ministry would end.

One man however, captures his heart. His suffering is the result of his own bad choices and is considered God's judgment. For this man, Ruach gives permission as he has no friends or family and for 38 years has been a cripple. A kind-hearted person leaves him at the pool each day, but someone stronger always enters before him. Disappointment is stealing his remaining strength.

He is lying on a rug at the edge of the water, when he sees a kind face bend over him.

"Would you like to be well?" Jesus asks.

Hope springs up and then quickly dies, "Sir, I have no one to help me, so someone always reaches the water before I can."

"Get up, pick up your bed and walk," says Jesus.

Can I do this? he wonders. Something in Jesus' face makes him try. And he does!

John 5:1-8

By Arla, Jul 15 2019 01:00AM

Jesus can't turn away from anyone who clings to him in need. He sees the officer's horror in confronting himself, and with tenderness says, "Go home. Your son lives."

Relief floods the father with a peace and joy he has never felt. He could have ridden hard and reached home that night, but so great is his confidence in Jesus now, that he spends the night along the way and goes home the next morning.

At home, those with the child saw a sudden turn in his condition. At the hottest part of the day, the fever left, and he began sleeping peacefully. The family sent messengers to meet the father the next morning, knowing his anxiety when he left.

But everything has changed for the gentleman. The sunshine and birdsongs that seemed cruel the day before, now share God's praise. When the messengers meet him, they tell him excitedly, "Your boy lives! He is going to be ok!"

"When did he get better?" asks the father, already knowing.

"Yesterday after mid-day the fever left."

The father remembers and smiles.

Sometimes Jesus delays answers until we see our true motives.

God longs to give us His best gifts, but he wants us to believe He hears us because He loves us. Every prayer of faith enters the Father's heart, and He will answer our requests in the best way at the right time.

So relax and believe He has heard you. Know you are loved, and will have His best answer bringing no regret.

John 4:50-54

By Arla, Jul 12 2019 01:00AM

After Samaria, Jesus heads back to Cana, but passes by his hometown of Nazareth, saying a prophet is honored everywhere but his hometown.

Word quickly spreads that Jesus is back in Cana. A Jewish gentleman, an officer of the king in Capernaum, has a son who is dying. The doctors have given up on him, when his father hears that Jesus is near by. The desperate father determines to find Jesus and ask his help.

He arrives in Cana, presses through the crowd, but Jesus is not what he expected. His faith waivers. Could this common, travel-worn, dusty man be his hope? Still, he is his last hope. So he asks.

Spirit had already shown Jesus the father's pain and his conditions for faith before he left Capernaum: If he heals my son, I'll believe he is the Messiah. Jesus wants more for him than his son's health; He needs the gentleman to feel his own spiritual poverty so he can heal him, and gift him with faith and everlasting life, before giving his son temporary life.

It was painful to Jesus that his own people failed to hear God speaking through him, so he says, "Unless you see a miracle, and get your request, you will not believe."

In a flash of insight, the horrified father sees his conditional believing as arrogance, his own crippled heart, and his motives. He realizes that his doubt could cost him his son's life. In agony he cries out, appealing to Jesus' love, "Please Sir, come before my son dies!"

John 4:43-49

By Arla, Jul 11 2019 01:00AM

As Jesus' friends walk up, the woman leaves.

Forgetting Jesus' thirst, what she was doing, and her water jug, she runs to the leading men of the city with her discovery, "Come and see a man that told me my life, could this be the Messiah?"

Only looking at her they perceive a change; she looks different.

At the well, the disciples see Jesus' face and hesitate to interrupt his meditation. But remembering how He needed food, they urge him, "Master eat."

He loves their concern, and reassures them that he's been nourished.

They wonder did the woman give him something to eat?

He catches the teachable moment and shares with them the effect he feels from having one person respond to him in faith. As a mother delights in the smile of recognition from her baby, so he delights when we "get" who He is.

Jesus knows the woman believes in Him, and as he sees the sun reflecting white on green fields, he comments, "You think there's four months to harvest, but there is one ready here now."

The Samaritan men come to the well and crowd him with questions, begging him to stay and teach them. What a difference from the skepticism at home!

For two days Jesus and his friends stay, eat, and sleep as guests of Samaritans, who don't even need miracles to believe.

The disciples are stretched--extremely uncomfortable, but years later are so grateful for the experience and Jesus' example to them.

John 4:27-42

By Arla, Jul 10 2019 01:00AM

Jesus' answer to the Samaritan woman is full of courtesy but he doesn't hide. He allows her to steer the conversation away from her, and he steps right into centuries of controversy with decisive words, watching for an opening to get back to her heart.

"The time is coming when the place of worship won't matter, what matters is knowing God. Your idols show you don't know Him; but we know Him because Messiah comes through the Jews. It's time for true worship to show itself in delighted obedience. These are the worshipers God wants, and it requires your willingness and God's working."

She has never heard anything like this from any religion. But never has she felt such a "thirst" for something better. She has read scripture and desired to understand it. Could this man be the Messiah? she wonders, as Spirit opens her inner eyes.

"I know Messiah is coming and will make everything plain," she says.

"I am your Messiah." Jesus reveals.

God trusts his clearest revelation to an outcast woman because she is receptive. He can't be this open with the self-satisfied priests and rabbis back home. But he knows the heart he has given his secret to, knows she will share the honor and the joy bubbling up like a spring inside her.

Just then his disciples return, amazed that he is speaking with a woman--a Samaritan. Even though shocked, they say nothing, and it is months before they understand Jesus' actions.

John 4:20-21

By Arla, Jul 9 2019 01:00AM

Jesus knows this woman is seeking. So his answer engages her, "If you knew what God has for you, and who I am, you would ask me, and I would give you living water."

She is intrigued and takes the bait. "How can you offer me water when you have nothing to draw with? Are you greater than our father Jacob...?" (She's spiritual and open.)

"Everyone who drinks here, gets thirsty again. The water I give satisfies. In fact, it becomes a spring inside you making new life."

"Sir," she replies, "give me your water so I don't have to come here to get water..." (alone, at noon--obviously avoiding others).

"Call your husband and come back." Jesus invites.

"I have no husband," she answers, hoping to end this turn of conversation.

"Well said," he notices, as if reviewing her life, "you've had five husbands, and the one you're with now isn't your husband."

She stares at him; a shiver runs through her, "You must be a prophet." she reverently observes. "So why do you people say we should worship at Jerusalem?" she asks. (Changing the subject to distract him from her past.)

The Samaritans had been denied the privilege of helping rebuild the temple at Jerusalem in the days of Ezra. Rebuffed and insulted, they built their own temple om Mt. Gerazim, and the two groups had hated each other--and had not spoken--since. But Jesus shows he holds no prejudice.

God singles out a woman, a Samaritan, an outcast in her society (a three-time loser) for her ability to draw others!

John 4:10-20

By Arla, Jul 8 2019 01:00AM

When Jesus hears about the Pharisees stirring up jealousy, he and his few disciples leave Judea and go to Galilee. He "needs" to go through Samaria to meet someone, and avoid dissension.

In the beautiful valley of Shechem is a well, the pride of the people, built by Jacob. Jesus is thirsty, tired, hot, and hungry after walking all morning. It's noon, so his friends offer to go into the city and buy food. This they will do, but no other reason would get them to converse with a Samaritan. Jews and Samaritans hate each other--a feud over identity and the place of worship dating over a thousand years.

Jesus rests by the well, the heat of the sun and the inaccessible cool water intensifying his thirst. He has nothing with which to draw water. He who created water is dependent on another's kindness for a drink!*

Fortunately, a woman comes to draw water. (Most women come in the cool of the morning or evening--for friendship. Her timing suggests her unpopularity--or shame.) She pretends not to notice him, and as she prepares to leave, Jesus asks for a drink.

Easterners call water "the gift of God", and no one refuses it to another. She intends to comply, but is so surprised when she looks at Jesus, that first she has to ask,

"How can you, a man and a Jew, ask me for a drink?" A divine appointment, set up by God and shown to Jesus early that morning, because God sees honest hearts, and He is not prejudiced.**

John 4:1-9 *John 1:1-3 **John 5:20, Isaiah 50:4

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

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