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Blog: God-in-a-Box—Your Inbox

 

    Welcome to God-in-a-Box

 

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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, Nov 26 2020 02:00AM

Did you know God doesn't motivate through fear? Not even fear of hell or punishment! They don't force. It's not Their way. And fear would be force.

 

And if you make God sound harsh and severe, demanding submission, you're "a thief coming to kill and destroy." That's what Jesus tells the people!

 

Satan was the first thief, stealing God's good name. And anyone who turns people away from him is robbing them of their true self and the true abundance in this life.

 

Jesus contrasts himself with restrictive Pharisees, calling himself "the shepherd and the door." Jesus' character attracts us, drawing us to choose the safety of acceptance and relationship with God, to believe that God is gracious like Jesus. Contemplating the love of God shown in Jesus will strengthen your mind and heart as nothing else can.

 

He teaches, "My sheep won't follow a stranger, they know my voice. I AM come here to give them abundant life. The good shepherd risks his life for the sheep. I'm giving my life. No one takes it from me. I have power to lay it down and take it up again."


(You didn't cause Jesus' death. He chose the rescue--Ruach and Abba painfully agreeing. Don't go to unworthiness. He loves you! God's love stirs your heart; you awaken and respond. Their love calls to relationship, makes you truly you.)

 

So the teachers discount him, "He has a devil, why listen to him?"

 

The people become divided, some disagreeing, "These are not the words of a mad man!"

 

Again the rulers try to take him, but he walks away, leaving Jerusalem.

 

John 10:7-20


By Arla, Nov 25 2020 02:00AM

The Pharisees have just driven from the synagogue one coming to God through another doorway than all their rules.

 

Compare that with Jesus saying he is our shepherd and the door to the sheepfold. He has described his effect on us as refreshing water, and life-giving sunlight. He has also compared himself to a shepherd for his disciples. Now he enlarges on this powerful shepherd metaphor for all the crowd gathered.

 

Eastern shepherds developed strong bonds with their sheep. They didn't drive them forcefully or treat them cruelly, but went ahead, leading them, naming each one, even when flocks were large. Often they spent frosty nights as well as long hot days with their sheep.* To be a shepherd then was to risk your life with lions, bears, or robbers--always lurking to steal sheep.

The sheep loved their shepherd and knew his voice, coming when he called. It created a picture of a strong, tender attachment the people understood and would always remember.

 

David, Isaiah, and Ezekiel had used this metaphor to describe Messiah's mission.** Jesus loves this picture of God's tender care for each one of us individually. He says, "I am the good shepherd. My sheep know my voice and follow me."

 

There is no fear or force. He loves you as though you are the only person on earth! God has that ability!

 

The pain too deep to share with anyone touches His heart. Unless you choose to leave, He will hold you securely; no one can take you away. He will never abandon you.***

 

John 10:1-6    *Genesis 31:40, Luke 2:8    **Psalm 23 etc., Isaiah 40:10-11, Ezekiel 34:11-16   ***Matthew 28:20, Hebrews 13:5

 

 

 

 


By Arla, Nov 24 2020 02:00AM

Trying to discredit him, Pharisees again interrogate the formerly-blind man, "Exactly what did he do?"


Satan assists them in thinking they can confuse and control him--he's uneducated-- so they suggest, "Maybe this is from the devil..."


But Ruach gives him words, "I've told you what happened, why do you ask again? Do you want to follow him?"


"We follow Moses! We know God spoke to him. We don't know this man!" They spit out.


"Why this is truly amazing!" he responds, "a man opened my eyes, something never done for one born blind, and you don't know if he's from God! But we know God doesn't hear sinners, so he must be."


For moments there is stunned silence.


Then in contempt, they gather their robes as if to avoid contact with him, "Do you teach us? You were born in sin!" and they throw him out of the synagogue.


Hearing what he has gone through, Jesus finds him, "Do you believe in the Son of God?" he asks.


"Who is he, lord?" he has defended Jesus character, so more light is given him. For the first time he looks on the loving, peaceful face of Jesus and contrasts the rabbis' frowns, the worried faces of his parents and he knows...


"It is I, who healed you," says Jesus.


He falls at Jesus feet in gratitude and worship.


"I have come to give sight to the blind, and to blind those who think they see."


Some Pharisees have gathered, "Are we blind?" they ask, catching the insinuation.


"You refuse to see the one God sent. Because of this, you are blind." Jesus answers, honest and direct as usual.


John 9:24-41




By Arla, Nov 23 2020 02:00AM

When the formerly-blind man goes back to his neighborhood, people say, "Is this the blind guy that begged? He looks so different!"


"It's me." He assures them, and tells how Jesus healed him.


"You've gotta have the Priests certify this!" they say, and they all accompany him.


The Pharisees are amazed at his story, but ask, "How can this 'healer' be from God when he doesn't keep the Sabbath?"


Their reaction causes so much excitement around town that they keep hearing, "How can a sinner do such miracles?" So the Priests call the man again and ask "What do you say of this man?"


"He's a prophet," he assumes.


Next they call his parents to verify that he was born blind.


His parents have heard that anyone believing Jesus is the Messiah, will be thrown out of the synagogue for 30 days. At that time this meant you were totally ostracized--no services of any kind--even medical. So they deflected, "He is our son, and he was born blind, but as to his sight, ask him what happened. He's an adult; he can speak for himself."


The Pharisees bring the son in and try to silence him, seeing the publicity their opposition is creating. "Don't say this man healed you; give God credit; we know Jesus is a sinner."


"I don't know if he's a sinner, but I know I was blind and now I see," the man responds.


Interrogating him more, the Pharisees try to confuse him, discounting his memory with many explanations and suppositions. False leaders steal joy.


John 9:8-26



By Arla, Nov 20 2020 02:00AM

Leaving the temple, Jesus and company walk past a man who was born blind.


His disciples, nervous over Jesus' near stoning and wanting to talk about anything else, ask, "Master, who caused this man's blindness? His own sin or his parents' sin?"


They have grown up steeped in a culture that believes suffering is judgment from God, so Ruach sets up this particular encounter with one born suffering...(because illness could come from cause and effect--poor choices).


"Neither," responds Jesus, "it's for God's glory to be shown in him."


Even though it is Sabbath, Jesus makes clay with his spit, rubs it on the man's eyes, and tells him to go to the pool of Siloam to wash it off.


The man didn't even ask!


But Jesus knows his disciples believe suffering is punishment for wrong-doing. And he is ready to destroy this doctrine of the devil especially on Sabbath--at least for them.


This is important, because in six months time they will see him suffer crucifixion. And many people will say (or think) God is doing it to him!


While it's true that suffering comes from living outside of God's law, Satan had twisted that truth into "God brings suffering as punishment for breaking Their law." Nothing could be further from the truth!


So Jesus prepares them to understand his death: God won't be killing him; He will be allowing and empowering Jesus to choose our natural future (death), so we can choose his natural future (life).


God gives good. Opening your mind to God brings desire for Him, naturally, as flowers turn to sunlight. Knowing Jesus, experientially and experimentally, makes you crave His life-giving love-energy.


John 9:1-7



By Arla, Nov 19 2020 02:00AM

The Pharisees have again attempted to discredit Jesus to the people by bringing up his questionable birth. saying, "God is our father."


Jesus doesn't give their insinuation any attention. "If God were your father you would love me because I came from Him. You act like your father, the devil--a liar and a murderer--and father to them. If I said I didn't know God, I would be a liar like you."

They won't admit they are wrong. For nearly three years they've been looking to destroy him because he didn't come in power and glory as they thought Messiah should. They don't love the truth, won't even investigate it, but close their minds to it, close their ears to Ruach's voice. Jesus says this proves they have no connection with God.


"You can't hear me because you don't know God. Abraham asked to see my day; he saw it, and was glad." (Abraham was the only man God asked to give his son as Abba was going to. He saw and completely understood God's suffering in giving us Adonai.)


"What! You aren't 50 years old, and you've seen Abraham?" they scoff.


"Seriously, before Abraham was, I AM."


Gasps escape many, then shocked silence. He used the name given Moses to identify himself as the Self-existent One! This poor, unassuming Galilean rabbi has just announced himself to be the Eternal Presence!


Now many of the people side with the rabbis, and being led by them, pick up stones to stone Him.


But Jesus, hidden from their sight, passes on.


John 8:36-59

By Arla, Nov 18 2020 02:00AM

Jesus isn't played by Pharisees to announce he is their Messiah. He goes beyond that-- claiming oneness with God.


"If you follow me, you will know the Truth, and the Truth will make you free."


"We are Abraham's descendants and aren't enslaved to anyone." The teachers are talking about spiritual freedom--Romans are all around reminding them of their occupation by Rome.


So Jesus picks it up, telling them they are in the worst kind of slavery--the unconscious kind. "If anyone sins, he is the slave of sin. If the Son makes you free, you are truly free. Abraham's children would be like him, and would recognize the one God sent. They wouldn't be trying to kill me." Again revealing he knows their hatred and plans for his death--instigated by Satan.


Now they sneer, "We weren't born bastards!" (Implying that he was.) They get ugly so fast! Satan controls the minds of those who refuse God. And God will not force our wills.


However, when we desire to be set free of Satan's control, when we understand that separation from God (sin) kills us, and ask God to free us from Satan's curse, Ruach empowers our choice with divine energy, restoring us.


Satan can only keep us captive by weakening our minds and destroying our freedom through mindlessness, confusion, and lack of choice. But in the change that happens when you choose surrender to God, there is the highest sense of freedom.


Submission to God restores your true self--your true glory and dignity.*



John 8:30-41, *Psalm 8


By Arla, Nov 17 2020 02:00AM

Later, after forgiving the adulteress, Jesus is teaching as the morning sun comes over Mt. Olivet and hits the gold and the white marble of the temple. Pointing to the dazzling reflection of sunlight he says, "I am the light of the world," a powerful declaration of his identity, recorded later by John.*


The night before had been the last ceremony of the week--the Festival of Light--when the temple courts were filled with dancing, and ablaze with lamps and lanterns commemorating the pillar of fire in the wilderness wandering of their ancestors.


Light had always been a symbol of Adonai's presence--in the cloud, on Sinai, covering the sanctuary and then the temple.


Here as Jesus, he continues, "If you follow me, you will have the light of life; you won't walk in darkness." His words are confident, convincing.


The forgiven woman, now in the back held there by a love she has never known, feels like he's talking straight to her. It's the best promise she's ever heard.


But in saying this, Jesus claims oneness with God, and the Pharisees who stayed are ready to challenge. "You can't testify for yourself."


"My witness is true because I know who I am. Your law requires two witnesses. I am one and my Father is the other."


"Where is your father?"


"If you knew me, you would know Him," answers Jesus. If their hearts were open to God's love they would have recognized him.


"Who are you?" They're pushing him to declare himself, thinking the people will reject a poor, homeless Messiah.


John 8:12-19 *John 1:1-5



By Arla, Nov 16 2020 02:00AM

The woman cowers before Jesus, eyes to the ground, waiting for rocks to start hitting her. His words, "The one who hasn't sinned may cast the first stone," sounded like a death sentence.


Eyes to the ground, she is amazed when feet turn and walk away.


Jesus stands up and says, "Where are your accusers? No one has condemned you?"


A small voice answers, "No one."


"Neither do I," says Jesus. "Go and live in Ruach."


Her heart melts and she falls sobbing at his feet. She can't believe what she has just heard.


A moment ago she was sure her life was over, but now it seems it's just beginning. Peace, love, and joy flood her as sobs release all the shame, guilt, and sadness of her life.


And never has Jesus looked better to those watching.


He has just performed a greater miracle than healing the worst disease. He hasn't set aside the law of Moses or infringed on the authority of Rome. Rather he has shown the love and forgiveness of Abba to one who is considered weak and worthless, an outcast.


She becomes an ardent follower of Jesus from that day on.


What a difference from the attitude of the Pharisees! They hate the sinner but love the sin. While Jesus hates the sin but loves the sinner.


Jesus' attitude towards her--slow to censure, quick to discern repentance, ready to forgive and encourage--develops naturally and is experienced in all those who follow him.


John 8:7-11

By Arla, Nov 13 2020 02:00AM

The Sanhedrin, frustrated in their plans and silenced by Nicodemus, leave and go to their homes.


Jesus turns to the quiet of the olive orchards on Olivet needing time alone with God. Spies have dogged his steps every day of the festival looking to trap him in a word or action. He's exhausted.


Early the next morning he is back in the temple. People gather around him and he teaches them. But before long he is interrupted by a commotion.


"We caught this woman in the very act of adultery" says the hard, triumphant voice of one Pharisee.


"Moses says we should stone her." Adds another. "What do you say?"


Seeing through their disguise, and knowing they set her up themselves, Jesus gives no sign he has heard them, but kneels and begins to write in the dust on the marble.


Impatiently they move closer, urging him to respond. But as their eyes follow his finger, their faces pale, seeing he has written how they got her there, who set her up, and that according to Moses, her husband should have accused and brought her.


Then rising, he fixes his gaze on the posers who know the law--that the one wronged begins the stoning. Jesus knows they have wronged her, and he says, "The one who hasn't sinned may throw the first stone."


Hoping against hope that he won't expose them, one by one they slink away, defeated again.


Religion was not intended for condemning. If you want to know what God is like, read tomorrow's blog...


John 8:1-9


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