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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 12 2019 01:00AM

A paralyzed man in Capernaum is completely helpless and dying. Friends tell him of the healing power of Jesus, but he doubts Jesus would want him in his presence. He knows his illness came from his sin and so refuses hope.


Finally, his friends convince him to let them carry him to Peter's house where Jesus is teaching.


When they get there, the crowds are so large and dense they can't get near Jesus. They attempt to push through in different places, but can't.


Hope rises in him feeling this close to Jesus. If he could just tell me I'm forgiven! he thinks. It would be enough.


Now motivated, he suggests they go up to the roof, break up the tilesof earth, and let him down in front of Jesus.


What friends! They actually do it! Tear up Peter's roof! Debris and dust falling on those below. Imagine Peter's surprise! It's a wonder he didn't say something.


But Jesus is not disturbed. Ruach has shown him this man's desire to be forgiven; drawing him to Jesus who understands this need.


"Son, you're free, your sins are forgiven," He says to the man.


Relief floods the paralyzed man, who rests on his stretcher, serene and happy, his face glowing.


The Rabbis, who pronounced God's curse with the diagnosis, are there watching, and exchange he-can't-forgive-sin glances, thinking, Thls is blasphemy.! Only God can forgive sins; something must be done!


Many diseases begin in guilt, shame, and worry. Jesus heals his mind and then his body, destroying Satan's work.*



Luke 5:17-23, Mark 2:1-9 *1John 3:8


By Arla, Aug 9 2019 01:00AM

The crowd is shocked! Nobody touches a leper! But Jesus does! Just reaches right out and touches him!


Instantly white scaly skin becomes as smooth and pink as a child's, the muscles firm with no sign of atrophy.


It's the same when we come to Jesus asking for cleansing from our past, his response is immediate and passionate, "I want to! Be clean!"*


Tenderly Jesus looks into the man's eyes and focuses the joy-giddy healed leper, "Say nothing about this to anyone, but go show yourself to the priest with the offering Moses commanded for cleansing...."


And there is good reason behind it. He doesn't want news of the healing to reach the priests and their hatred before the newly-healed leper does, setting up resistance in announcing him clean, cheating him out of restoration to his family.


Jesus sends him to the very ones who had diagnosed him, as evidence of Jesus' power over even leprosy, giving testimony to him as Messiah.


It also answers their charge that he is opposing Moses' laws. While many priests reject it, others are moved, who later give voice to their faith.**


Another reason for the requested silence: Jesus knows priests and Pharisees will twist perspective, making it look as if he is breaking down their ritual laws. If lepers start flocking to him, they will use "contamination" to frighten people away.


The healed leper doesn't listen; thinking Jesus modest, he broadcasts his healing, and Jesus has to discontinue teaching and healing for a while because of crowd-control.



Matthew 8 :2-4, Mark 1:40-44, Luke 5 :12-16 *Galatians 1:4, 1John 5:14-15, 1John 1:9 **Acts 6:7


By Arla, Aug 8 2019 01:00AM

Leprosy was the kiss of death. And not only were you doomed, but the diagnosis came heavy with humiliation--everyone believed it was God's judgment for sin. There were no exceptions, even priests and kings had to leave society and live only with other lepers. Most Lepers didn't seek healing. That hadn't happened since Elisha, centuries before.


But one leper hears of Jesus and dares to hope. He has heard how he heals every disease, even raising the dying, and he dreams of finding him. But how? He has to cry "Unclean" if ever he comes around normal people. How could he get close enough for healing?


Even if he does, would Jesus heal him? or treat him like the Pharisees, as under the curse of God, and warn him to flee? He determines to find Him somewhere between cities.


Spirit guides this poor, decaying man to Jesus. He finds him teaching a large crowd beside the lake. He watches from a distance as people are healed.


Moved with desire, he approaches, forgetting all caution, all fear of rejection.


Someone sees him and cries out. They jam into each other escaping contact. His rotting body is terrible to look at, awful to smell. Some try to prevent him from approaching Jesus.


He doesn't notice, all he sees and hears is Jesus. Falling at his feet he cries, "Lord, if you want to, you can make me clean."


"I want to!" says Jesus and touches him! The people are horrified!


Mark 1:40-45, Matthew 8:2-4, Luke 5:12-15


By Arla, Aug 7 2019 01:00AM

Jesus leaves the synagogue crowd, still awestruck, and goes home with Peter for rest. When they arrive, Peter's mother-in-law is sick with a "great fever"-- a manifestation of Satan's rage? Jesus heals her, she gets up and helps serve lunch to him and his friends.


Word spreads, and at sundown, crowds of sick and possessed people are at Peter's door. They didn't dare come on Sabbath--fearing church authorities.


Sadly, the church leaders are in more danger than the demon-possessed man because they feel no need. They don't value scripture because they study it to support their views and traditions. They deny its truth and power leaving them unchanged and powerless against Satan.


Jesus uses scripture to learn who he is, who God is, who Satan is and defeat him.


God isn't into control, and will not control our minds; but if we want truth, we are promised we will know what is true, and the truth will set us free.*


Jesus heals people late into the night. Hour after hour they come, and He responds to their need, happy to restore so many to health and happiness.


Finally, the long exciting day is over, Peter's house is quiet. Jesus sleeps too, but waking "a great while before day" he goes outside, needing recharging in time alone with God even more than sleep.


Peter goes outside and finds him before breakfast--already people have come. But Jesus isn't satisfied to be a wonder-worker. He wants people to see who God is. So he says, "Let's take our message on the road."


Mark 1:29-39, Matthew 8:14-16, Luke 4:38-44 *John 7:17, 8:32



By Arla, Aug 6 2019 01:00AM

The possessed man never intended to be a spectacle, an embarrassment to his family. He was captivated by pleasure and thought he would make life delightful. He had been attracted into enemy territory and now they have complete control.


When he would sacrifice everything to regain personal power, he is helpless. Satan has nearly taken over his power to think and decide. He can’t even speak his own words to ask for help! Israel is ignorant of their worst enemies. They want a Messiah to conquer their Roman oppressors; but the only army Jesus takes on is Satan’s, whose success with Eve, empowered evil angels to try and take over the minds and bodies of humans, blaming their resulting misery on God.*


Jesus hears what the man can't say. His words break Satan’s power, who summons all of his forces to oppose Jesus at every step.


Jesus is revealing God’s character, bringing freedom and new life, but causing feverish intensity in the dark side.


No cry to God, no attempt to reconnect with Him, goes unnoticed, even it if doesn’t have words. No matter how broken or weak we are, as long as we want a relationship with God we are not left to Satan’s power or our own helplessness.**


This is a universal conflict that climaxed with Jesus, but is building into one final confrontation to come. Now Satan’s side works most effectively disguised as angels of light, and people listen. The only means for recognizing deception and defeating evil spirits is knowing God personally.***

 

*Genesis 6:5, 12-13  **Matthew 28:20, John 7:17  ***2Corinthians 11:14, 1Timothy 4:1, 2Thessalonians 2:8-10, John 17:3


By Arla, Aug 5 2019 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 2 2019 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 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 1 2019 01:00AM

Jesus chose men of natural talent, who weren't full of tradition and false self or false theories, as his followers. 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 His Spirit, 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 the Holy Spirit.


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, Jul 31 2019 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 sea 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, Jul 30 2019 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


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

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