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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, Feb 19 2020 02:00AM

Now finally they can hear, and instead of revealing the awful events ahead, Jesus gets them ready for his absence; he reveals who he is unmistakably, and their need for connection with him. Then he tells them his desires for them, and the resources available to them--that he hasn't had anything they can't have through the Holy Spirit!


As he speaks, his face shines, heaviness gone. They feel heaven is near, convinced they're hearing from God himself.


He longs for them to know his value of them, to experience how much he wants us to value ourselves. He says that God is happy when we make the highest demands on Him to show God's character of love!


He says, "Ask anything I would ask, and I'll do it!


"Your joy and power is living in submission to God as I have. The weakest of you can do this! Because I'm going to the Father, Spirit is my successor. If you invite Me in, Spirit and Father will live in you too. And if you spend time with Us, We will so blend our thoughts and desires with your wishes that Ours and yours will be the same. When doing what you want it will be what We want!"


They're transfixed, and he assures, "You won't feel orphaned. If you love me, my commandments will keep you,* and the Father will send you another comforter, the Spirit, to be your closest friend. He will provide peace, teach you truth, and remind you of my words to you."


It's win, win, win!


John 14:11-26

*This is the literal wording of verse 15 in the Greek text (notice that it fits the context of comforting them).



By Arla, Feb 18 2020 02:00AM

Jesus sees their confusion over hearing that he is leaving--they are baffled--don't even know what to ask. He knows discouragement and depression make an easy target for Satan, so he draws them out. "You know where I'm going and you know the way."


Thomas speaks the doubt he struggles with, saying, "Lord, we don't know where you're going, so how can we know the way?"

"I AM the Way... If you know me, you know my Father also. Now you know Him because you've seen Him; He is just like me. If you're drawn to me, you come to Him. If you don't like me, you won't like Him either."


They can't comprehend his words. How can the ruling, mighty warrior God of their scriptures and history be the same as their friend--this man who has taught them what love is?


"Lord, show us the Father, and we'll understand," Philip is sure his request will clear it up.


"You still don't know Me, Phillip? If you've seen me, you've seen the Father. I've been showing you Him for three years."


Philip looks confused, so Jesus speaks plainly, "The Father and I are one. We think exactly alike."


He needs them to see who he really is--God in human form--come to show us what God is truly like with no interpreters. If he can raise their low level of faith to experiencing this reality, their belief will soar, and they will have an anchor to get through the ordeal of grief ahead.


John 14:4-11


By Arla, Feb 17 2020 02:00AM

After Judas leaves, Jesus focuses on the joy of his mission's outcome. "It's time for Messiah to be known, and God in him." He's joyful that his suffering will vindicate God's name, showing His true character to the universe, redeeming man. Ruach shows him the joy and celebration that will spread from world to world throughout creation.


Knowing his disciples aren't prepared for the next 24 hours and will suffer without this understanding, he comforts them.


"My children, soon I will be leaving you. I want you to love each other, not as you love yourselves--that has been distorted, but as I have loved you. This will show you belong to me."


The disciples are suddenly filled with fear, He's leaving us?


Peter asks, "Where are you going?"


"Where you can't follow now, but you will later," Jesus answers.


"Why not now? I am ready to die with you!" Peter believes it, but he doesn't know himself.


"Really?" says Jesus. I tell you truly, before the rooster crows, you will deny that you know me three times."


Peter is offended that Jesus doesn't believe him and asserts more self-confidence. All eleven feel fear of the future. What will happen to them?


"Don't let your hearts be anxious," comforts Jesus, "you believe in God; believe in me. My Father has a huge place with many houses, I'm going to get yours ready for you, and when everything is complete, I'll come back and get you. This is not a final separation. I want you with me."


Jesus wants us with him!


John 13:31-14:3



By Arla, Feb 14 2020 02:00AM

Judas gets up and leaves supper. Until then, he could have changed his decision; but after he left, he had crossed a boundary, and Satan took control of him.


Jesus left nothing undone to reach him, even offered him the symbols of divine life working in us. But Judas hardened himself more, and Jesus reaches out to him one more time before he leaves, partly for him and partly for the others. He wants them to know that he knows what's coming, so they can believe he is the "I AM." He doesn't want them to think he is surprised by the betrayal and events following it.


Long afterwards, the disciples were amazed at the patience and mercy of God towards Judas. The King of the universe, to whom everyone on earth will bow, knelt and washed the feet of his betrayer!


Jesus' example shows us not to carelessly leave those choosing poorly to be a prey to temptation, driven onto Satan's battlefield. It also forbids us to be exclusive with our communion symbols. Who of us can read the heart?


A Judas may be at your communion, accompanied by messengers of darkness, but unseen angels of light are also present, and those who want to come shouldn't be discouraged. The one who washed Judas' feet longs to wash every heart, take our guilt and shame, and energize us with his presence.


In a very real special sense, this service connects dependent humans with God, meeting our needs and creating joy in us.


John 13:25-30


By Arla, Feb 13 2020 02:00AM

The system of ceremonies pointing to Jesus' death for 4,000 years is ending. The lamb provided by God is fulfilling it, offering the gift of His Life and Presence.


After accepting instruction that serving in no way detracts from dignity, and having their hearts washed, the disciples feel clean--forgiven.


In their new state of humility and love, Jesus gives them new wine to drink, saying it's symbolic of his blood. He also breaks and hands them unleavened bread calling it his body.


The Passover is celebrated as a reminder of God's protection from the Destroyer* and Israel's deliverance from Egypt, also the promise of His favor. Now Jesus sets up his memorial to remind them of what he has done and will continue to do for them. It symbolizes that protection from evil and true deliverance from brokenness is here.


"Do this to remember me," he says, fully conscious of his divinity.


And then sadly, "I said you are clean, but not all of you. One of you will betray me, as Scripture** says..."


The disciples don't suspect Judas, and are shocked. Which of them could do such a thing? Surely none of them who has been with him, who has been loved by him! Painfully, one after another asks, "Lord, is it I?"


Judas has been silent, and finally, to cover himself, asks the same question.


Jesus responds, "You have said it. Messiah goes as prophesied of him, but how sad for the man who initiates it. It would be better for him if he hadn't been born." Still trying to reach him!


Matthew 26:20-29, Mark 14:17-25, Luke 22:14-23, John 13:18-30 *Exodus 12:23 with Hebrews2:14 **Psalm 41:9


By Arla, Feb 12 2020 02:00AM

Jesus' so wants to wash contention and jealousy from the disciples' hearts. It always stops communion between him and them. Unless they can come into a state of love and teachability, they aren't ready to celebrate Passover, can't learn his memorial, and will be too weak to face his suffering.


Pride and self-elevation create separation and hate, but Jesus' radical humility removes all this. In washing their feet, he has washed their hearts as well. Now with grateful, teachable hearts they can hear his words.


"You call me Master and Lord, and that's good, because I am; but a servant is not greater than his lord. Do you know what I've done for you? You are clean now, but not all of you."


Through their cooperation he does what they can't do for themselves--change their perception. But Judas doesn't surrender his pride. And Judas doesn't receive Jesus gift; he doesn't change.


We can see the difference; Peter can't stand the thought of being separated from Jesus, but Judas always maintains a separateness.


It isn't humiliating to Jesus to clean us up. And our truest humility is to receive with gratitude anything he has to give us or teach us. Humility is receiving his gift! Becoming teachable.


Jesus doesn't want us misled by the selfishness so natural in us. We protect ourselves and our way of seeing things. Our self-exaltation, temper, and self-focus wound him. The only greatness is teachability, the only distinction is service.


Ruach uses this memorial of Jesus' to energize our minds, break alienation, and fill us with light.


John 13:1-11



By Arla, Feb 11 2020 04:30AM

The selfish, grasping attitude of his disciples hurts Jesus deeply. But instead of talking, he acts.


Judas has pressed in to be on Jesus' left at supper, determined to have one of the two best places. John, always close, is on the right.


Jesus begins washing their feet with Judas. His love for them is not easily disturbed, but for Judas his heart cries as over Jerusalem, "How can I give you up?"


While Jesus touches his feet, Judas' heart is moved. He wants to confess and open himself to the Master, but it's too embarrassing. He hardens himself and gives his old thoughts control. Taking offense at Jesus' action, Judas thinks, He can't be a king--there's no gain in following him, and resolves to force him to act like their Messiah. This choice allows Satan to take control.


They all are touched by Jesus' action, but Peter feels horrible that one of them hadn't provided the service. So at his turn he says, "No Master, you shall never wash my feet."


To which Jesus responds, "You don't understand now, but you will later, if you can't receive from me, you're not mine."


"Well then, wash everything, my hands and head too," says Peter.


Jesus smiles, understanding Peter's love, "If you're clean, you only need the travel dust removed..."


John is served last, but he doesn't take it as a slight; he isn't offended. He is in awe at the ease of Jesus' humble strength.


Now they are ready to listen.


John 13:4-11



By Arla, Feb 10 2020 02:00AM

On Thursday Jesus sends two disciples to prepare for Passover in Jerusalem. By the time everyone else celebrates Passover, he will be dead--God's true sacrificial lamb. He wants to spend these last quiet hours before the drama begins with the twelve. He wants to prepare them.


But sitting with them, his words of warning and comfort stop on his lips. He sees they cannot hear him in their present state of mind.


But at least they are enough in tune to notice his heaviness and sorrow, and feel compassion.


However, the mood abruptly changes when they notice that there is no servant to use the pitcher, basin, and towel provided for their comfort.


Jesus watches for a while as their discomfort grows. It's obvious that vying-for-position is very much alive. Not one of them will be caught dead doing the servant's job. They're all in self-promotion mode. All of Jesus' teaching about service giving the highest position; all the modeling of his life: "I've come to serve, not to be served," seems lost on them. Somehow I must get through to them, he prays. Their struggle after his death is his top concern.


"I wanted to celebrate this Passover with you before I suffer..." he begins, and then rises, lays aside his cloak, takes the towel, wraps it around him tucking the top, and pours water into the basin.


They watch, scandalized. What is he doing...? How can he be the servant?


Jesus knows who he is.


Identity gives anything dignity.


John 13:1-4, Luke 22:7-16


By Arla, Feb 7 2020 02:00AM

Take a few minutes to feel you are one of those who doesn't know Jesus' love; what would you want those who know Him to do for you?


Jesus says go do that. This is the gold standard. This is what God asks of his friends.


If you have felt the warmth of knowing God's love and forgiveness, than you can find something to do for others. Your group may be poor, uneducated and unknown, but you have influence with results that reach into eternity.


We don't need to go to Nazareth, Capernaum, or Jerusalem to walk in Jesus steps. Wherever there is human need, you will find Jesus footprints.


Many hearts need consoling; and because this is neglected, many disciples of Jesus never get beyond the mere basics of accepting God's love. The fire He started glowing in their hearts, could have been kept alive by helping others. Those who help are helped by Jesus.


As He promised Moses, "My presence will go with you and give you rest."* At that time, Moses was desperate for God's presence; are you?


That "rest" or confidence in God's goodness and love, will meet the restless need for excitement which so often derails the young. Love will bond their hearts together as they plan how to reach people who need God's love and help. His promises spoken to each other will ignite and consume the fear that the enemy brings up in them.


Working with God and the angels keeps us close to Him and to each other. Yes, you are good enough to help.


*Exodus 33:14, Matthew 6:30-33, 25:44-45,

By Arla, Feb 6 2020 02:00AM

That night on Mount Olivet, Jesus tells parables of ten virgins and ten talents to show his disciples that judgment is based on relationship with God, estimated by one thing--how we relate to the suffering of others. Those who spend time with God will love Him and people, and expect Jesus' return. Those who are afraid of God or deny His existence will be deceived.


He said there will be those who think they have served him and he will say to them, "But I never knew you." And yet others will be surprised to hear his commendation saying, "But when did we serve you?" And he will say, "If you did it for any human being, you did it for me."


He lets us know that even those who never had an opportunity to know about him or his Father, had the influence of the Spirit, and how they responded to Him and the people around them, shows their relationship to God. They worship God ignorantly, and they will not be left out of His kingdom. Every kindness they did is as done to Him.


Angels are continually passing through the earth seeking to comfort, protect, and inspire every person with God's love for him or her. All of us may work with them.


Millions have never heard that God loves them, yet Jesus willingly suffered so he could implant his love in our hearts. He came into our world, became one of us, to make us capable of caring for others.


Matthew 25, Romans 1:



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

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