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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, Sep 16 2020 01:00AM

Jesus has spent the day by the lake telling stories to a huge crowd. Day after day he has taught and healed, meeting their needs, answering their questions. The crowd pressed him until he barely had time to eat.

Today he told parables illustrating his work and the growth of his kingdom: the sower, the mustard seed, yeast in bread dough. He illustrated the value of knowing Him with the pearl of great price and the treasure in the field.

He even explained the natural consequences of rejecting goodness in the parables of the wheat and tares, and the fishing net.

Now he is tired. He loves teaching, but the antagonism and constant criticism of the Pharisees makes his work much harder, and by evening he is exhausted.

"Let's cross the lake to rest." He says to his disciples. He dismisses the multitude and the disciples quickly launch their boat. Even then other boats follow.

Hungry, tired, and finally relieved of the pressure of the crowds, Jesus lays down on a pile of fishing nets in the stern and falls into a deep sleep. The evening is calm and peaceful, for a while all is quiet.

Satan can't stand this peace. And God allows him to do his thing because He plans to make a teachable moment from it. Suddenly wind blows down from the mountains off the eastern shore, and the sky grows black. The little boats flounder amid high, powerful waves. The disciples struggle with the storm trying to keep their boat from sinking. Not until they despair of their own ability and ask, can Jesus give help.

Jesus sleeps peacefully undisturbed on their fishnets.

Mark 4:1-37, Matthew 8:23-24, Luke 8:22-23

By Arla, Sep 15 2020 01:00AM

Jesus explains his metaphor. God's love is His yoke. Cattle were yoked together to keep them in step, in synch, make their pulling easier, more efficient, their work lighter.

Linked with Him, aware of His closeness, our lives become simple, satisfying, and rewarding.

His goodness will hold us and be enough. When challenges come, His presence and love surround us, giving rest. Studies show rest increases efficiency. Jesus invites us to rest in His love and care, trusting that God has our best interests at heart always.*

We create anxiety by being afraid to trust God. Worry is blind and can't see the future, but Jesus can. Those who seek Him first, will see the way open up.**

For every difficulty, God has a plan to untangle the worst snarls you've created without embarrassment, including the challenges created for you.

Satan pushes you to protect yourself, to fear surrender to God, to trust only what you can see. But worry brings unrest--steals your energy.

Need wisdom? strength? healing? God is willing to supply. He has resources and ideas you can't even imagine--a thousand ways to provide where you see none.

Trusting brings positive attitudes. Surrender makes you glad. Peace is in His presence.

The better you know Him, the more intense is your happiness. The more time you spend in His presence, the more bliss you will have, the more glory you will see.

He's amazing to work for, and if you make Him your priority employer, you will see problems disappear, your way become clear.

*Exodus 33:14 **Isaiah 48:18 ***Psalm 147:3,4, Colossians 2:3,9,10

By Arla, Sep 14 2020 01:00AM

Most of those who followed Jesus were not critical like the Pharisees or His brothers. Some were just curious, but many were spiritually hungry, honest-hearted seekers. To them He said, "Come to me all you who work hard and carry heavy loads. I will give you rest."

He wants all of us to feel loved, to rest in His love.

His invitation includes everyone--no exceptions: those who work for acceptance with God and carry a load of guilt, those who work to be loved and don't feel good enough, and those who just plain work hard to produce a meager existence, and struggle to feel God's care and believe His love.

Whether we are aware of it or not, we are all tired and weighed down. Disappointment and worry produce heaviness in us. The heaviest burden is separation from God. It would kill us if we were left to ourselves.

So Jesus uses a metaphor his followers see every day-- cattle yoked together to make their work eaiser--to show how God wants our life with Him to feel and to work. He says, "Put on my yoke and learn from Me. I am easy to please, and you will find rest for your heart and mind. My yoke (work) fits your true self perfectly and feels good."

Many "Christians" have anxiety and fear. They fear complete surrender, thinking they have to keep control. They shrink from imagined consequences of surrender to God, not fully understanding surrender to Love--that our ways bring unrest, where His ways are peace and joy.

We can live in His smile and thrive.

Matthew 11:28-30

By Arla, Sep 11 2020 01:00AM

Jesus' brothers shudder at His plain words to the Pharisees who are attributing His work to Satan. Jesus says they are cutting themselves off from God.

The leaders hear Spirit inside urging them to accept Him. They feel longing for His rest. But after rejecting Jesus, it is too humiliating. Pride keeps them tied to unbelief, resisting His love, creating barriers in their hearts.

The strongest power on earth is drawing them, but they will not yield. Having chosen that path, they now have to work to misrepresent Jesus' words and his work.

God does not harden hearts or blind eyes. His love softens, enlightens, draws us to safety. Surrendering makes us His "fortress" in this war. Resisting His love, His light, hardens our hearts and blinds our eyes.

Not yielding to, or ignoring Spirit, can sweep us into enemy territory, leaving us open to hostile takeover. False self is extremely vulnerable to separating from God. We cannot be our own kingdom, but we must choose God's. We either surrender to God, or are taken over by the enemy.*

If we resist, ignore, or flat out reject the work of Spirit, we are cutting off God's channel of communication. Completely and finally rejected, there is no way God can reach us; further attempts are useless.

Satan takes advantage of our neglect or resistance to God, telling us lies that sound true to us, and if accepted turn into beliefs and deceive us.

But those who want a personal relationship with God will be safe, and experience His continual love which far outshines the most tender human love possible.**

Matthew 12:22-50 *1Peter 5:6-10, **Isaiah 43:1, John 10:10,28

By Arla, Sep 10 2020 01:00AM

Jesus' brothers are indignant. They don't believe he is the Messiah. His patience and kindness aren't lost on them. But these stories! "He doesn't take time to eat, spends whole nights in prayer, defies the Rabbis..."

"What will people think? Something must be done." They urge their mother to help them do an intervention.

"Jesus will listen to you," they say, convincing her to go to Capernaum... but a surprise awaits.

He has returned from two days in Galilee, and has just cast out a demon when they arrive.

His exorcism kindles anger from church leaders who accuse him of casting out demons by Satan, so He turns to them with logic.

"If I cast out Satan by Satan, his kingdom is doomed, but if you are speaking against God's Spirit, beware."

Jesus explains God's boundary. "Every resistant word you speak, against even Messiah, can be forgiven, but resisting the Holy Spirit cannot be forgiven because He gives you the desire for forgiveness." Essentially, you cut off your heart from God, from help.

"Be careful, words have power," says Jesus. "You create good or evil in your own hearts through words, thoughts, and choices."

Jesus is told his family is asking for him.

He knows why, they want control; and he draws another boundary, stating that the closest tie to him is a chosen relationship of faith in God and acceptance of him as Messiah.

They understand his message--no control party today.

He likes being where his critical brothers aren't. Sometimes His only relief from doubt and criticism comes in getting alone with God.

Matthew 12:22-50, Mark 3:20-35

By Arla, Sep 9 2020 01:00AM

The next morning Jesus and many followers leave for Nain, a mountain village about 20 miles from Capernaum. Spirit is sending him there. All along the way people join them, wanting to be in Jesus' presence, bringing their sick for healing.

This joy-filled crowd nears the gate of Nain and meets a funeral procession coming out on the way to the cemetery. In front is the body, followed by a weeping mother, accompanied by the whole town and their wailing. She is a widow, and this was her only son, her comfort and only means of support.

Even though Jesus knows he has been guided here to raise her son, and that he is about to turn her pain into joy, he can't resist comforting her. "Don't cry," he says tenderly, as he touches the coffin. (Nobody touches coffins for fear of defilement! But Jesus isn't afraid.) The pall bearers stop. And in a clear voice of authority Jesus says, "Young man, wake up!"

The son opens his eyes!

Jesus takes his hand and he sits up and sees his mother's tear-stained face beside him. "Mother!" he cries as Jesus unites them in a long embrace. A hush falls on both crowds, awed at feeling the presence of God.

Soon the silence turns into expressions of joy, as in triumph they turn back to Nain, saying, "God has visited us!"

Satan can't hold you in spiritual or physical death if Jesus says, "Wake up!"* His word is just as powerful today if you want it.

Luke 7:11-16 *2Thessalonians 4:15-17, Hebrews 2:14-15, Ephesians 5:14

By Arla, Sep 8 2020 01:00AM

The Centurion is special, but not because he's decked out in plumed helmet and Roman regalia, not because he's an officer--a commander of Roman troops. Jesus celebrates his faith! He is one of the pure-in-heart, the genuine Jesus had just talked about.

Educated in Rome, and trained as a soldier, he knows little of the true God. But his heart is drawn to Jesus' kindness. He recognizes God in the love of Jesus.

He doesn't wait to see if the Jews will accept Jesus as the Messiah. When his need presents itself, he asks, even though he sees himself as an outsider, and not worthy of special gifts. He has confidence in the goodness of God which he sees in Jesus, and he acts.

Jesus is overjoyed and can't help stopping to remark to the crowd. Not only does he commend his faith, but adds that the Centurion is a symbol of those from all other countries, all other religions, that will recognize God in Him and come take their places in his kingdom with Abraham and Isaac. This is how everyone comes to God through Jesus.

Our helplessness is our greatest claim to the power of God. Our need makes His power a necessity, touching His heart of compassion.*

When Satan's agents make you feel unworthy of God's care or intervention, tell them that Jesus came into the world to save sinners--you don't have to be perfect. You require no other recommendation to God than your great need, now or ever.**

*James 1:5 **1John 2:1-2

By Arla, Sep 7 2020 01:00AM

A Roman Centurion approaches the Jewish elders. His servant has palsy and is dying. (Today's Parkinson's?) The officer loves his servant and begs the elders to ask Jesus to heal him, feeling unworthy to ask himself, he thinks they will know best how to approach their Messiah.

Typically, Roman servants were property and treated cruelly. But this Roman has character and has been impressed that the Jews' religion is superior to his own. He's heard of Jesus' words and healings and the need in his heart responds.

A delegation meets Jesus as he enters Capernaum after his sermon on happiness. They urge him to fill the Centurion's request because "He is worthy--he loves our nation." Jesus sets out for the Centurion's home, but moves slowly because of the crowd.

The Centurion sends another message, "Don't trouble yourself to come to my home," and then shortly goes to Jesus himself to finish the message. He presses through the people to reach Jesus, saying,

"I am not worthy to come to you, but I am a man under authority and I understand power. Just give the command and my servant will be well. For I myself give commands and they happen." He perceives in Jesus the divinity and power of the universe.

Jesus turns to those following and with wonder says, " I haven't seen faith like this in all of Israel!" Turning back to the Centurion, he says, "As you have believed, so it will be."

And so it was. Going home, he found a healthy servant.

Matthew 8:5-13 , Luke 7:1-10

By Arla, Sep 4 2020 01:00AM

Pretending to be God's is worthless. Unless you love truth, it becomes a curse, twisting and strangling love, and making you judgmental.

Jesus shows how far God's principles reach: If you indulge pornography, you violate women and yourself--you will soon be addicted. If you hold on to hate and anger, you are starting down the path of murder. There is righteous anger at seeing innocents hurt or oppressed.

But feeling free to "go off" over any slight, opens the mind to Satan's way. Retaliation hurts us--programming us into hurtful people. Even agreeing with the thoughts demons suggest (negative ones you think are your own) allows the dark side to take control.

Jesus pushes it further. If you come to God and remember someone has something against you, go and do what you can to restore harmony. Then let go.

Those who walk with God are surrounded with the atmosphere of heaven. Jesus knows this because he is. It's a choice. He shows that the source of joy is God's mind and heart! "He enjoys being kind even to the unthankful and the evil." The people are stunned.

"Don't be anxious for tomorrow," says Jesus. "You have a loving Father, believe His love, rest in His care." We are never absent from his mind, and He loves to give us good things--everything we need, one day at a time. Just as sunlight reveals the color in the world, so God's presence reveals the beauty in us.

"Everyone who hears my words and does them," ends Jesus, "is a wise man...building on a strong foundation."

Matthew 5:27-7:29

By Arla, Sep 3 2020 01:00AM

The religious leaders are mistaken; to them it sounds like Jesus is destroying their law.

They hear him say, "I haven't come to destroy law but to fulfill it..." but they don't get that they have muddied obedience. He's merely clearing away the trash they've piled on top of the law's principles.

God gave his law to shield humans from the results of living what comes naturally--broken relationships, broken health, broken dreams and finally death.

God wants us to be happy! Obeying Him brings happiness naturally. The song of the angels at Jesus' birth, "Glory to God, and good will toward men..."* proclaimed the two principles of God's law: love God, love yourself and others.

His law is His thoughts of love, and when embraced become our desires, keeping us from ruining our lives.

They were explained at Sinai to protect the people from themselves, each other, and separating from God. No one who hates God's ways can live with Him. Broken humans are only right if they maintain a connection with God, otherwise fear or entitlement contaminates their obedience.

So after sharing God's love for them, Jesus says, "Be careful how you see... your thoughts fill you with light or darkness."

Your perception creates your interpretation of law. Your thoughts create your reality. They turn into your beliefs affecting your choices and actions.**

God's law is love, it protects your life, your future, your happiness, and your choices.

The law of sin and death--entropy--is the law Jesus died to destroy, not God's. His law ordered a perfect universe.***

Matthew 5: 17-6:24, *Luke 2:14 **Matthew 6:21-24, ***Romans 7:21-8:4, Hebrews 2:14

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