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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, Oct 8 2019 01:00AM

The people believed Moses had fed manna to their ancestors in the wilderness for 40 years. But they had been mis-educated to expect more from the Messiah. They couldn't understand why Jesus would refuse to be their king--if he was the Messiah.

So now a rabbi questions, half in jest, "What sign can you give us that you are the Messiah--just as Moses gave our fathers manna in the desert? It is written that Moses gave them bread from heaven."

"The truth is," answers Jesus, "that Moses didn't give you that bread, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven now."

It was he, their Messiah, in another form, who had given them manna and led them through the wilderness, and "He" is standing here with them now!* He continues, "The bread of God is he who comes from heaven and gives life to the world."

Still focused on material blessings, some said "Lord, give us this bread always!"

So plainly Jesus says, "I am the bread of life."

It was a familiar symbol. Moses had said, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word...** and Jeremiah had said, "Your words were found; I ate them, and they were the joy and rejoicing of my heart."***

Using their symbol, he gives them their "sign" calling himself the bread of heaven, and the Word of God, the pre-existent One.

Then he adds, "Whoever comes to me shall never hunger or thirst."

But the rabbis are playing a game. They are sure of a majestic, conquering Messiah.

John 6:30-36 *1Corinthians 10:4 **Deuteronomy 8:3 ***Jeremiah 15:16

By Arla, Oct 7 2019 01:00AM

Disappointed people will turn against you.

Jesus knows that not fulfilling Israel's expectations of him will cause a turning point, changing their praises to curses. But it can't be avoided. Their misperceptions of his kingdom have to be corrected, they must be undeceived. Their desires are for power, wealth, and greatness. He came to give new hearts.

The next day the people cover the area looking for Jesus, knowing he had stayed behind. They finally find him at Capernaum in the synagogue and ask how he got there.

And even though the disciples recount their whole story of the storm with Jesus walking to them across the water, they want to hear it from Jesus.

He doesn't oblige. He wants them to seek spiritual food rather than miracles. Sadly, he confronts them, "You follow me for what I can do for you. Don't work for physical food, but for food that provides spiritual life."

"What work does God want us to do?" they ask, for the moment interested in how they can gain God's approval.

"The work of God is to believe me, the One He sent." God's favor comes through recognizing God's character in Jesus. Heaven's price is believing that God is like Jesus.

The people don't choose to accept this as coming from God. It doesn't fit their picture of who the Messiah will be, and what he will do for them.

They think, If he is our Messiah why doesn't he provide health and riches for all his people and freedom from oppressors? We don't need love!

John 6:22-29

By Arla, Oct 4 2019 01:00AM

Peter is given an opportunity to learn his need of dependence from walking on water, to avoid the painful failure coming.

This is God's answer to Jesus' prayer. He hopes this experience will teach all of them their need to depend on God. He knows the disillusionment that is ahead for them, and has shared with Jesus the temptations that Satan has contrived, especially for Peter, who will need to distrust himself and rely completely on God.

Not learning it, he will fail the test Satan is designing for him... Peter is weakest where he thinks he is strong, and until he realizes it, and really understands himself, he cannot be helped.

Self-dependence, fear and unbelief could have cost him his future, and that is what Jesus hoped to teach them through the storm and Peter's walking on the water--their need of complete dependence on God. But they are slow to learn, as are we.

Depending on another person makes us codependent and unhealthy; depending on ourselves sets us up for failure when the dark side attacks; depending on God makes us truly ourselves.

In focusing on Jesus we are safe. He doesn't call us to follow him and then leave us. He says, "I have called you by your name, you are mine. When you pass through the water, I will be with you...when you walk through the fire you will not be burned..."* I am always with you even through the end of the world."** We can know we are safe.

*Isaiah 43:1-3, **Matthew 28:20

By Arla, Oct 3 2019 01:00AM


"Don't be afraid; it 's me!" Jesus says, just as they recognize him. They can't believe it! He walked to them across the water? Within the storm?

Peter, overjoyed at seeing Jesus, says, "Lord, if it is you, let me come to you on the water."

"Come," says Jesus.

Peter gets out of the boat, and looking at Jesus, walks on the water! But he turns to smile at his friends behind, and then turning back, a wave hides Jesus. Fear grasps Peter and he begins to sink into the water.

"Lord, save me!" he cries, reaching up.

Immediately, Jesus grabs his hand and pulls him up, smiling and hugging him. "Why did you doubt?" he asks.

Together they walk on the water to the boat, Peter holding onto Jesus.

There is no self-sufficiency in any of them now, least of all Peter. They acknowledge Jesus to be the Son of God--the Messiah.

Immediately they arrive at Capernaum and it is dawn.

They had failed to trust him. They took their eyes off of who he was. But he never took his eyes off of them. He knew where they were and what they were going through the whole time--like a caring, but non-interfering parent watching precious children. These are the men who will light the world when he is gone.

At the moment their hearts were humbled and turned toward him, asking for help, returning to faith; he came and rescued them.

And that is all it has ever taken or ever will take for us to get rescued, too.

Matthew 14:27-33, Mark 6:50-52, John 6:19-21


By Arla, Oct 2 2019 01:00AM

The people leave, frustrated.

Jesus gets much-needed alone time with God. The misunderstanding of people, especially his closest friends, is painful to him. He knows how hard his coronation of suffering will be for them. Plus the pain and temptation their misperception will bring on them. Their hopes are based on popular opinion, and they will soon be dashed--rocked by the opposite and almost impossible test of his crucifixion. He prays for them with tears. Without Ruach's eyes, they won't get through Satan's deceptions.

The disciples had left Jesus impatient with him, complaining to each other. Imagine their conversation, "We shouldn't have let him down. If we had been stronger we could have made him king. We had all that support!"

"We may never have another crowd like that! Will He never assert his authority and show the rabbis who he really is?"

And at least one doubtful voice asks, "Is he really the Messiah?"

Negativity is poisoning their perspective with unbelief, bringing on themselves spiritual darkness. They so want him honored, and them with him. Disappointment swallows the heaven-like joy of the day. They are unreasonable and God allows something real to focus their minds. A storm, they haven't noticed approaching, strikes suddenly with them unprepared.

They struggle against the wind and walls of water, getting way off course, and finally about 4 a.m. give themselves up as lost. They long for Jesus presence and of course, then he comes to them, walking across the water.

They see a light, think he's a ghost, and terrified, cry out in fear.

Matthew 14:22-29, Mark 6:45-49, John 6:14-19

By Arla, Oct 1 2019 01:00AM

All day the conviction grows that Messiah is among them. By evening the people eat their fill of the bread God supplies, and can only think of what Jesus could do for their nation -- heal soldiers, feed whole armies, break the power of the hated Romans... And the disciples agree with the multitude that they should take him and make him king, force their leaders to honor him.

They believe that modesty keeps Jesus from exalting himself. They don't understand God's plan, but Jesus understands theirs, and what the results of it would be--violence and cutting short his work---this is not the Passover where He will be the lamb, that is another year away.

He acts decisively. Calling his disciples he tells them to take the boat to Capernaum at once, and he will dismiss the people and meet up with them later.

Never had his command seemed so hard to do. They are upset and frustrated with him, and can't stand that nothing should come of all this great enthusiasm. They protest, and now Jesus speaks with an authority not used on them before. Surprised, they comply, but they are not happy.

With kingly bearing Jesus commands the people, "It's time to go now." Even as they are coming toward him to take him physically and make him king.

Men of strong mind and muscle stop, praises fading, questioning looks replace determination, recognizing an unearthly power before them.

A few decisive words, the energy drops, and they leave, powerless.

Matthew 14:21-23, Mark 6:44-47, John 6:14-16

By Arla, Sep 30 2019 01:00AM


"What do we have?" asks Jesus, "Find out."

Soon Andrew is back, "There is a boy who hasn't eaten his five pitas and two little fish, But that's nothing!"

"Bring him to me," Jesus says, "and have the people sit down in groups of 50."

He smiles at the boy they bring, "How about sharing your lunch with all of these?" he asks with a sweeping gesture.

Eagerly the boy nods, looking skeptical and awed, and they all watch as Jesus looks up, holding the little lunch, thanking God for providing, and then begins breaking the barley pitas and dried fish and giving them to the disciples to give to the people. It is simple distribution and common food. Jesus knows God has led him into this situation and he depends completely on Him to supply the necessity.

He could have asked Abba to provide a feast, but he used what they had and asked God to bless it. Never did food taste so good as that simple every-day food.

Of course, people want to take some to their families and friends and tell their wonderful experience. So Jesus has his helpers pick up the leftovers so nothing will be wasted; they fill that lunch basket and 11 other empty ones!

God is generous--physically as well as spiritually. If you're working with Him, ask and listen; then trust and use what you have. It may not seem to be enough, but through giving you will receive. If you're working with Ruach, He will supply what you need from His abundance. You will always have enough to be generous.*

Matthew 14:16-21, Mark 6:38-44, Luke 9:13-17, John 6:9-13 *Philippians 4:19, 2Corinthians 9:6-11

By Arla, Sep 27 2019 01:00AM

Jesus and his disciples go to the north shore even as a crowd follows, but they pass unnoticed to a retreat alone. For a few blissful hours they have him all to themselves.

Then looking out on the thousands waiting to see him, his heart goes out to them. Though cheated of rest, he is not impatient. Leaving his retreat he finds a place where he can speak to them.

The people have come from miles around to hear him and to be healed--five thousand--only counting the men! (An actual 15-20,000?) The day seems to them like heaven has come to earth, and they don't even realize that the whole day has passed with nothing to eat! They love listening to his words, so plain and simple about God's love for them. Many of them have stood all day without thinking to sit down.

As the sun is sinking in the west, Jesus himself is tired and hungry, he becomes concerned for the people, many who have come great distances and have eaten nothing all day.

The disciples, seeing how pale he is, know he's tired and urge him to send the people away so they can go to the nearby villages and find food.

"Let's give them something to eat," Jesus says, and then asks Philip, "Where can we buy bread so these people can eat?"

Philip looks over the crowd and replies, "It's impossible. There's no way to feed all of them!"

So Jesus shows that with God all things are possible.

Matthew 14:13-16, Mark 6:32-34, Luke 9:10-13, John 6:1-13

By Arla, Sep 26 2019 01:00AM

Jesus' disciples were putting everything into their work for the people, and Jesus knows they are physically and mentally exhausted. So he teaches them to rest; that God requires mercy for ourselves, not sacrifice. He is compassionate and has tender care for all in His service.

Jesus' life demonstrated his need for alone time with God. Here he released the discouragement that stalked him, and here he found comfort and joy. In the one life that was totally dependent on God, and lived completely for the good of others, there was necessity for hours of time alone with God.

His disciples must also learn that success and ability come from God. They continually need to depend on their relationship with Him because Satan takes advantage of human weakness, especially our desire to get credit. The false self continually seeks honor.

Jesus doesn't want us always under the stress of work--even good work and good stress. And when your work is for the spiritual welfare of others, it isn't wise to be always at it. Self-denial is needed so your spiritual and physical health isn't neglected, and the work of God ruined.

Jesus went into God's presence until his humanity was charged with a divine current connecting man with God. He asked Abba to give us this experience.*

If we have more simplicity, more trust, more confidence in God we will not be disappointed. We need, each of us, the experience of hearing God speaking individually to our hearts. Sitting quietly with God, the silence makes His voice clearer.

Isaiah 30:15, 32:17-18, 40:31, 50:4 Hebrews 4:16, *John 17

By Arla, Sep 25 2019 01:00AM

The disciples return having so much to share with Jesus, but they can hardly get a few words in without someone interrupting. People are coming and going, bringing their sick ones for healing; there isn't even a chance to eat!

Jesus desires time alone with them, and suggests they go up to the uninhabited northern shore of the lake for much-needed rest and relaxation. It is spring and this deserted area is green and blooming, offering restful change from the crowds and city. Here they can be alone and can share everything they are bursting to tell him.

Their intimate relationship with Jesus enables them to share failure and success. They are awed and excited that demons obeyed and left in Jesus name, that they had power over death and illness. They share their stories and ask him questions.

He is eager to hear their mistakes and weaknesses as well as their joys. He knows they need instruction and rest.

John's disciples have joined Jesus also. During John's life they had sided with the Pharisees, but now they have come to him needing comfort and understanding, and time alone with Jesus.

He wants them all to know that they must take time to relax and reflect. He models that their strength is not in themselves but in God, and they must have regular times of meditation and prayer.

Even Jesus' correction revitalizes them with hope and courage! He builds people up, instructing his disciples and sharing how best to reach people, filling all with hope and courage.

Matthew 14:1,2, Mark 6:30-32, Luke 9:7-10

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

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