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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, May 29 2020 01:00AM

We know from the remarks of the rabbis that Jesus did not attend their schools. Yet they were amazed at his knowledge and understanding of the scriptures. The story of his first Passover in Jerusalem gives evidence of his original mind and independent thinking.


Jesus was homeschooled by his parents and God. His mother was his first teacher, the Holy Spirit and Joseph her aids. From them and God he learned the lessons He himself had written in nature and inspired in scripture. He studied the life of plants, animals, and man, always trying to understand the way things worked; and always with the desire to help others, especially relieving their suffering.


We don't know how his parents decided to by-pass the rabbis' schools, but we know we can teach our children to seek God, and Spirit and their angels will help. We know Jesus loved being outside alone with God.


God had asked parents to teach children about Him, the great I AM, from infancy, helping them establish their own relationship with Him.*


In Jesus' day, the town that neglected religious education of children was regarded by the religious authoritiesas cursed. But the schools of the prophets had become focused on behavior. Students were kept so busy that they had no time to pursue a personal experience with God in Scripture--there was no teaching them to get alone with God and experience His Presence.


So His chosen people missed the most important education--the one coming from connecting with the Source of Life. Their religious training actually took them away from God!



Luke 2:41-52, John 7:15-17, *Deuteronomy 6:6-7, 11:18-20


Now on You Tube as The Desire of Hearts



By Arla, May 28 2020 01:00AM

After Herod's death, Joseph was directed to return home to Nazareth. In this poor mountain village, Jesus developed according to the natural stages of childhood, learning who he was.


Significant is the brief account of His early years. "The child grew...strong in spirit, filled with wisdom, and...in favor with God and man."


Two statements that speak of the simplicity and balance and human development of His life, and ten verses about the Passover trip when he was 12, are all there is on his early years. But we know from his character as a man that he learned patience, courtesy, and kindness. His thinking developed a depth and a breadth beyond his years, a firmness and an unshakable identity.


He didn't choose to come to a home of wealth where privilege and insulation would have made His life easier. He showed that ease and plenty are not the best environment for a child.


In planning his path through our world, he chose a simple life. He learned from his mother, his father, and from God in nature. Loving, honest parents modeled dependence on God, and daily connection to God, as well as necessary, useful work--indicating the elements most needed for child development.


Simple, free and joyful, yes, but not easy, Jesus' childhood days were shadowed by every scheme Satan could devise to trap him in conflict and make his life hard. Satan took offense that even one life on this planet should be free from evil on the inside, so he worked his worst, instigating others to make him miserable on the outside.


Luke 2:40 Luke 2:52



By Arla, May 27 2020 01:00AM

Unlike the shepherds, the Magi haven't been prepared for Jesus' poverty. They still expect, at the least, a royal entourage.


Arriving in Bethlehem, they again wonder at the absence of any sign of preparation for this awesome event or any guard for this baby king. This is highly irregular for the birth of royalty. He's a descendent of the great King David--so yes, David's hometown for his birthplace makes sense, but why doesn't anybody know?


They are open to the Spirit of God and when they see Jesus, their hearts are melted and moved. They know Him. Spirit enlightens them to recognize divinity. They worship Him and delightedly give Him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.


Once again God provides. These gifts will finance Joseph and Mary's stay in Egypt. Through a dream, God directs Joseph to go there because Herod will soon try to kill the child.


The Magi are also directed in a dream to not return to Herod, but to go home another way.


This gives the baby and his parents time to leave Bethlehem before Herod's fear and anger sends soldiers to tiny Bethlehem to destroy all babies and toddlers under two. The "slaughter of the innocents" in Bethlehem was the first of Satan's attempts to take Jesus' life.


The point is made, that had the people in Bethlehem been walking with God and looking for their Messiah, God could have, and would have, protected them from Herod's wrath, ignited by Satan in this cosmic war.


We are still in that war.


Matthew 2:10-18


Now on You Tube as The Desire of Hearts


By Arla, May 26 2020 01:00AM

These Magi entering Jerusalem on their camels, decked out for royalty, look spectacular and make the news of their questions and their mission spread like fire. They are scholars, honest-hearted men, but the priests in Jerusalem cannot concede that God would pass by them and tell these "heathen." They won't be taught by them! They won't even go to Bethlehem to investigate!


The vivid account of the shepherd's angelic vision had also reached them and was discounted. The priests label it "fanaticism," feeling slighted and unwilling to believe, forgetting that God had given them the first sign in Zacharias' son, John, (the Messiah's forerunner.)


But Herod is not derailed by the priests' dismissive attitude. His road to the throne was paved with the blood of murder. He takes every threat to his rule seriously. When he questions the priests, he thinks they are purposely hiding information and goes straight to the Magi.


"Messiah is born?" he questions eagerly, "How wonderful! Please find him and come and tell me so I can worship him too!" Pretending to be truly seeking and joyful like they are, his act fools even these wise men.


Disappointed, and questions growing, they leave Jerusalem at evening. This is not at all what they expected.


Little do they know what kind of king they seek. Then as the sky darkens, they see the star and their joy and confidence revive. The stars they know. They are being guided by God!


Sometimes God's guidance doesn't bring what we expect.


Matthew 2:1-10


Now on You Tube as The Desire of Hearts


By Arla, May 25 2020 01:00AM

One night three students of the stars see an explosion of light in the far sky that seems to leave a new star. They know it isn't anything fixed or familiar. And the conviction that it is special begins to grow. Have we seen it for a reason? They wonder.


God is always looking for people in every nation whose hearts are in synch with His. Such are the magi of the East who study the stars with a desire to know their Creator. They are wealthy, educated, men of character.


They know from tradition that a Messiah is coming who will fill the world with a knowledge of God. With excitement they discover the Hebrew prophecies pointing to their time. Their delight explodes as they read Balaam's prophecy of a star rising in Israel,* and that night dream they are supposed to follow it!


Quickly they prepare and leave. Traveling at night, towards the star, their conviction of guidance deepens.


So imagine their surprise when they arrive in Jerusalem to ignorance of the Messiah's birth! Where are the guards we expected to contend with? Why are there no celebrations? How can we be the only ones to know? The more they ask, the more mystified they become.


Could we have been wrong in our calculations? They ask themselves. No one, not even among the religious leaders of this king's own country, seems to know anything about his birth! How can this be? Gratefully they sleep.


A few hours later Herod hears of their arrival and summons them.


Matthew 2:1-2, * Numbers 24:17



By Arla, May 22 2020 01:00AM

Simeon turns from praising God, to Mary, "This child is destined to be a sign which men reject. The sword of sadness will pierce your heart also," he begins.


God is speaking prophetically through Simeon to prepare Mary for the rejection of Jesus. He continues, "Many in Israel will fall and rise again because of Him, and the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed."


Truly, the thoughts of all, from God to Satan, are exposed by Jesus' life and death. We are living at the end of a cosmic struggle between good and evil. In the beginning of this war, Satan had accused God of being selfish, wanting power and worship, claiming all, but giving nothing for Their creatures.


What would you do if you were falsely accused? God put Themselveson trial before the universe.* Full disclosure.


In Adonai's willingness to give, He becomes the human Jesus, the expert witness.They all suffer for love, and the Father's heart is clearly shown (in joyful obedience to Him).


By dying Jesus shows that evil causes death, even His. But He reverses death for all who choose love over evil.


By instigating Jesus death, Satan's true character as the selfish one is evident, his hatred and jealousy of God (and us) is made plain.


By our response to the character of Jesus we decide our future.


Even though evil discourages us, shocks us, and tries to destroy us, God heaps favor upon favor to restore us and says to Spirit, "Use My gifts to convince them that in loving Me will be their greatest happiness."


*Romans 3:4 (NEB, KJV, RSV, NET, CEB), Ezekiel 18:31, Jeremiah 29:11, Hebrews 2:14


Now on You Tube as The Desire of Hearts


By Arla, May 21 2020 01:00AM

Simeon just happens to walk into the temple while Jesus is being dedicated.


Just happens? No, Simeon has such a connection with God that he has heard Ruach tell him he will not die before he has seen the Messiah.


This morning he feels unusually drawn to the temple. Entering, he suddenly "knows" why he has come--here is the One he has waited for. With a joy surging up inside him, like nothing he's ever felt before, he takes the baby from Mary and lifts him to God, exclaiming, "Lord, now let Your servant die in peace. Your promise is fulfilled for I have seen Your Anointed, a light for all the nations and the glory of Israel."


An old widow named Anna, having the gift of prophecy and also responding to Ruach, hears Simeon. She, too, comes over giving thanks and praise to God that she has been allowed to see "the Christ", and begins telling everyone that Messiah has come.


The priest is astonished, shaken. Will he have the courage to share his experience?


Jesus' parents are affirmed. But all is not bliss.


Most of Simeon's words obscure Messiah's suffering, but in kindness God prepares Mary with a hint of the pain ahead. He knows she does not understand her child's mission. Right now she is joyfully remembering the shepherds' words.


Even though she has already suffered because of him, she has no idea what is ahead. She expects him to be crowned king and sit on David's throne.


Luke 2:25-38


Now on You Tube as The Desire of Hearts (read by the author)



By Arla, May 20 2020 01:00AM

A baby's cry pierced the stillness of the temple. It was Jesus' eighth day and He had just been circumcised as a promise to obey God's law. An infant promising? It was for the parents to promise to teach him God's law. Boundaries are so important to child development and safe feelings.


Every first-born son of Israel was circumcised and dedicated to God as a priest and a symbol of the expected Messiah, God's first born. After Moses, the tribe of Levi were priests, but each first-born was still dedicated to God.


This was symbolic. Before our creation God had promised to have a son who would reclaim earth's inhabitants, should that be necessary if Satan seduced them into evil. So every first-born son was dedicated as a reminder of that promise.


Before He came, God called Israel His "first born." And because Pharoah wouldn't recognize or release God's "first born" from Egypt, God allowed the Destroyer (Satan) to kill Egypt's first-born sons. Cries pierced the night of the Exodus also. Yet Satan couldn't enter any home marked with blood, symbolizing the power of Jesus' blood to protect, save from death, and give us His life.*


Jesus came as Earth's "second Adam" and God's "first born" even though unrecognized by Israel.**


A month after Jesus is circumcised, the priest officiating at Jesus' dedication doesn't recognize Him as Messiah either. He has no idea he's holding God's son. His parents are poor; no sign of wealth, rank, or power alerts anyone. They bring the poorest offering allowed the poorer classes, though still without blemish--signifying that Messiah is perfect physically and spiritually.


But God does give a sign. An old man who knows God, Simeon who lives in His presence, is sent as a herald.


Luke 2:21-25, *Exodus 12:23, Hebrews 2:14, **Colossians 1:15(KJV)



By Arla, May 19 2020 01:00AM

The shepherds collect themselves in the darkness, still seeing the brightest picture in their minds, still hearing the sweetest music, and say, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see what God has shared with us!"


They find Joseph and Mary and the baby in the manger under the star just as predicted. When they see Him they can't keep the angel, his words, and all the singing angels to themselves. "...There were thousands of them!" they say, "...singing music like we've never heard!"


Mary recognizes Gabriel's words to her* and tucks these away inside also.


In their honor and excitement, the shepherds share with anyone who will listen. And everyone who hears is amazed.


Such radiance, joy, and excitement ironically begins Jesus' "dark night of the soul" experience.


God becoming human would have been incredible to the universe when Adam was innocent and perfect in Eden, but Jesus took on our tattered humanity after 4,000 years of separation from God! Abba allowed His son to be born into the world Satan claimed as his, to fight our battle at the risk of failing.


Satan had become jealous of Adonai in heaven (before he became Jesus). He hated Him especially when, as Michael, He and his loyal angels had defeated Satan and his dissidents, and they'd had to leave.**


He can't believe it. Save heaven? Yes. he thinks. But this! It is unthinkable--that God would become a human named Joshua*** to rescue broken and ungrateful humanity! How can I fight this? He won't even say his Aramaic name, but he trembles. This "man" must not succeed!


Luke 2:15-20 *Luke 1:26-38 **Revelation 12 ***(Hebrew for Jesus)


Now on You Tube as The Desire of Hearts



By Arla, May 18 2020 01:00AM

In the same fields where David watched sheep as a boy, shepherds are lying by the fire, talking of the promised Messiah, unaware that a massive angel choir is waiting for their signal to burst into sight and song announcing the Christ's birth. God sets up such sweet surprises for those who care.


Why shepherds? The messengers are sent to seekers.* Those who want to know, regardless of class.


The dark night is illuminated by one angel in dazzling light and the shepherds shake.


"Don't be afraid I bring you joyful good news...today in the city of David, Messiah has been born." Gently he regards their need to adjust to the radiance by appearing alone first.


The angel knows that the shepherds immediately think of power and glory, exaltation of Israel, deliverance from Rome; such has been their conditioning. So he prepares them for Jesus' poverty, "This will be your sign: you will find Him as a baby, swaddled, and lying in a manger."**


Suddenly the whole hillside is brighter than day as the huge choir of angels can stay hidden no longer, and the shepherds are bathed in radiance and music. Awed, they hear, "Glory to God in the Highest! Peace and favor have come to men!"


In a few minutes the brilliance and angels have disappeared.


The shepherds look at each other, "What was that?" asks one, awe in his voice.


"A manger?" asks another.


"Was that what I think it was?" ventures a third. "Isn't that what we were just talking about?"


*Isaiah 44:3 **Luke 2:8-12


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