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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, Feb 19 2021 02:00AM

Peter, James and John hear his cries to God, and their impulse is to go to him, but they hesitate. He told us to stay and pray.

Jesus longs for comfort, some word of encouragement or understanding to break evil's spell. His agony manifests in sweat like blood from the stress.

Exhausted, he struggles to his friends for comfort; again they are sleeping.

The third time he goes to prayer in a horror of darkness. He could wipe off the bloody sweat, and let humanity suffer their own consequences, and return to his Father. Satan pushes the thought home.

Earth's fate trembles. Spirit and Father suffer terribly with him, not able to intervene. Angels watch, longing to console him. The unfallen universe watches intently, hardly breathing, as legions of satanic angels enclose around their beloved Lord.

Jesus feels the evil--our future without God, our pain and suffering, feels our helplessness, sees our hopeless end, and his decision is made. I will be the remedy to save man at any cost! With finality he cries, "If this has to be done, I will do it!" And he falls, dying, to the ground, experiencing the separation of "the second death."*

His decision made, now the Father sends the angel who took Lucifer's place in heaven to strengthen Jesus with assurance of the Father's love.

The disciples, awakened by the light, see the bright being holding him, are relieved, and give in to the stupor of sleep overpowering them.

His agony of abandonment continues, but his discouragement and depression are gone.

Matthew 26:42-44, Mark 14:39-40, Luke 22:42-45, Revelation 20

By Arla, Feb 18 2021 02:00AM

Jesus feels his Father's presence fading.

Satan is there to suggest that the separation will last forever. From now on you will be identified with my kingdom, never again one with your Father, he whispers. And for what? These people don't appreciate you anyway. They don't even understand you. They will fight wars and kill each other in your name. Your own people are seeking to destroy you! One of yours has betrayed you. Another of your closest friends will deny that he knows you. They aren't worth it. You can skip all this. Go back to heaven where you are appreciated.

"My Father, all is possible for You, please take this away!" Jesus cries, clinging to the ground as if to prevent the separation. "Nevertheless," he concedes, "I choose your will."

Longing for understanding and support to break the evil influence, he staggers to the three and finds them asleep. Peter had been ready to die for him, and Jesus asks, "Peter, couldn't you watch with me one hour?" He is afraid for them. They are so vulnerable.

They didn't intend to let him down. And they could have shaken off the spell if they had asked God for help. They awaken at his voice, hardly recognizing him in his anguish.

"Your spirit is willing, but your body is weak," he excuses them.

Exhausted, Jesus struggles back to his place.

Falling again, he sobs in agony, "My Father, if I have to drink this cup, your will be done."

Matthew 26:39-42, Mark 14:35-39, Luke 22:42-44

By Arla, Feb 17 2021 02:00AM

Jesus finishes his prayer for us as they approach the garden where they've been spending nights--Gethsemane.

He becomes strangely silent, and the disciples notice the change. They've never seen him like this. What is wrong? He staggers as if carrying a huge weight. His disciples catch him so he doesn't fall.

He has always lived in the light of his Father's presence, but now he feels it breaking up, and Satan whispers that he will be shut out forever as he becomes the guarantee for human freedom.

Near the entrance of the garden he leaves all but Peter, James, and John, telling them to pray for themselves and him. He leads the three deeper into the garden. Often they have spent the night with him here. After praying, they would sleep until he woke them in the morning.

This time he says, "Stay awake and pray with me, I feel like I'm dying." and he goes a little farther, collapsing.

He is going through the "wrath of God"-- God letting go of him, allowing evil to take control. As he feels their unity break up, he fears his human nature won't be able to handle the conflict.

Satan has come for the last struggle. For three years he has been planning for this--if he fails here, the world will belong to Jesus, men will become free to shake off evil's bondage, free to choose. But if he wins, the human race will be forever in the misery of evil.

The cup of human fate trembles in God's human hands.

Matthew 26:36-39, Mark 14:32-35, Luke 22:39-41, John 18:1-2

By Arla, Feb 16 2021 02:00AM

Jesus and his disciples sing the joyful Passover hallel* of praise, and leave the upper room.

As they walk to Mt. Olivet, Jesus tells them, "All of you will be ashamed of me tonight..."

Peter is adamant now, "Even if they all leave," his sweeping gesture takes in t the others, "I won't. I'm ready to die with you!"

Again Jesus tries to raise his consciousness, "Before the rooster crows you'll deny me three times." If only he'd believe his danger and ask for help!

But Peter thinks it's cruel to mistrust him, becoming more assertive in his self-confidence. "If I should die with you, I won't deny you!" And the others echo him.

Jesus looks at all of them with compassion, "I will meet you in Galilee after I am risen," he says. Then his eye catches a grape vine reflecting the bright Passover moonlight.

"I am the true vine, and you are the branches..." he says, illustrating connection with him--"If you have a constant flow of love from me, maintained daily, there is no danger you will wither. Only if you separate and leave me will you have no fruit and shrivel up. My Father prunes the branches for growth; it's painful, but He is careful, just enough so Spirit's power can flow and work."

Then he shifts to present circumstances and says, "Satan comes, but finds nothing in me." He anticipates victory.

He prays for them and for us, "Father, keep all of mine from evil; make them know You. Make their hearts one with Ours (at one ment) so we can live in Your eternal happiness together."

Matthew 26:30-35, Mark 14:26-31, John 14:27-17:26 *(Psalm 117)

By Arla, Feb 15 2021 02:00AM

Now finally they can hear, and instead of revealing the awful events ahead, Jesus gets them ready for his absence; he reveals who he is unmistakably, and their need for connection with him. Then he tells them his desires for them, and the resources available to them--that he hasn't had anything they can't have through the Holy Spirit!

As he speaks, his face shines, heaviness gone. They feel heaven is near, convinced they're hearing from God himself.

He longs for them to know his value of them, to experience how much he wants us to value ourselves. He says that God is happy when we make the highest demands on Him to show God's character of love!

He says, "Ask anything I would ask, and I'll do it!

"Your joy and power is living in submission to God as I have. The weakest of you can do this! Because I'm going to the Father, Spirit is my successor. If you invite Me in, Spirit and Father will live in you too. And if you spend time with Us, We will so blend our thoughts and desires with your wishes that Ours and yours will be the same. When doing what you want it will be what We want!"

They're transfixed, and he assures, "You won't feel orphaned. If you love me, my commandments will keep you,* and the Father will send you another comforter, the Spirit, to be your closest friend. He will provide peace, teach you truth, and remind you of my words to you."

It's win, win, win!

John 14:11-26

*This is the literal wording of verse 15 in the Greek text (notice that it fits the context of comforting them).

By Arla, Feb 12 2021 02:00AM

Jesus sees their confusion over hearing that he is leaving--they are baffled--don't even know what to ask. He knows discouragement and depression make an easy target for Satan, so he draws them out. "You know where I'm going and you know the way."

Thomas speaks the doubt he struggles with, saying, "Lord, we don't know where you're going, so how can we know the way?"

"I AM the Way... If you know me, you know my Father also. Now you know Him because you've seen Him; He is just like me. If you're drawn to me, you come to Him. If you don't like me, you won't like Him either."

They can't comprehend his words. How can the ruling, mighty warrior God of their scriptures and history be the same as their friend--this man who has taught them what love is?

"Lord, show us the Father, and we'll understand," Philip is sure his request will clear it up.

"You still don't know Me, Phillip? If you've seen me, you've seen the Father. I've been showing you Him for three years."

Philip looks confused, so Jesus speaks plainly, "The Father and I are one. We think exactly alike."

He needs them to see who he really is--God in human form--come to show us what God is truly like with no interpreters. If he can raise their low level of faith to experiencing this reality, their belief will soar, and they will have an anchor to get through the ordeal of grief ahead.

John 14:4-11

By Arla, Feb 11 2021 02:00AM

After Judas leaves, Jesus focuses on the joy of his mission's outcome. "It's time for Messiah to be known, and God in him." He's joyful that his suffering will vindicate God's name, showing His true character to the universe, redeeming man. Ruach shows him the joy and celebration that will spread from world to world throughout creation.

Knowing his disciples aren't prepared for the next 24 hours and will suffer without this understanding, he comforts them.

"My children, soon I will be leaving you. I want you to love each other, not as you love yourselves--that has been distorted, but as I have loved you. This will show you belong to me."

The disciples are suddenly filled with fear, He's leaving us?

Peter asks, "Where are you going?"

"Where you can't follow now, but you will later," Jesus answers.

"Why not now? I am ready to die with you!" Peter believes it, but he doesn't know himself.

"Really?" says Jesus. I tell you truly, before the rooster crows, you will deny that you know me three times."

Peter is offended that Jesus doesn't believe him and asserts more self-confidence. All eleven feel fear of the future. What will happen to them?

"Don't let your hearts be anxious," comforts Jesus, "you believe in God; believe in me. My Father has a huge place with many houses, I'm going to get yours ready for you, and when everything is complete, I'll come back and get you. This is not a final separation. I want you with me."

Jesus wants us with him!

John 13:31-14:3

By Arla, Feb 10 2021 02:00AM

Judas gets up and leaves supper. Until then, he could have changed his decision; but after he left, he had crossed a boundary, and Satan took control of him.

Jesus left nothing undone to reach him, even offered him the symbols of divine life working in us. But Judas hardened himself more, and Jesus reaches out to him one more time before he leaves, partly for him and partly for the others. He wants them to know that he knows what's coming, so they can believe he is the "I AM." He doesn't want them to think he is surprised by the betrayal and events following it.

Long afterwards, the disciples were amazed at the patience and mercy of God towards Judas. The King of the universe, to whom everyone on earth will bow, knelt and washed the feet of his betrayer!

Jesus' example shows us not to carelessly leave those choosing poorly to be a prey to temptation, driven onto Satan's battlefield. It also forbids us to be exclusive with our communion symbols. Who of us can read the heart?

A Judas may be at your communion, accompanied by messengers of darkness, but unseen angels of light are also present, and those who want to come shouldn't be discouraged. The one who washed Judas' feet longs to wash every heart, take our guilt and shame, and energize us with his presence.

In a very real special sense, this service connects dependent humans with God, meeting our needs and creating joy in us.

John 13:25-30

By Arla, Feb 9 2021 02:00AM

The system of ceremonies pointing to Jesus' death for 4,000 years is ending. The lamb provided by God is fulfilling it, offering the gift of His Life and Presence.

After accepting instruction that serving in no way detracts from dignity, and having their hearts washed, the disciples feel clean--forgiven.

In their new state of humility and love, Jesus gives them new wine to drink, saying it's symbolic of his blood. He also breaks unleavened bread and hands it to them calling it his body.

The Passover is celebrated as a reminder of God's protection from the Destroyer* and Israel's deliverance from Egypt, also the promise of His favor. Now Jesus sets up his memorial to remind them of what he has done and will continue to do for them. It symbolizes that protection from evil and true deliverance from brokenness is here.

"Do this to remember me," he says, fully conscious of his divinity.

And then sadly, "I said you are clean, but not all of you. One of you will betray me, as Scripture** says..."

The disciples don't suspect Judas, and are shocked. Which of them could do such a thing? Surely none of them who has been with him, who has been loved by him! Painfully, one after another asks, "Lord, is it I?"

Judas has been silent, and finally, to cover himself, asks the same question.

Jesus responds, "You have said it. Messiah goes as prophesied of him, but how sad for the man who initiates it. It would be better for him if he hadn't been born." Still trying to reach him!

Matthew 26:20-29, Mark 14:17-25, Luke 22:14-23, John 13:18-30 *Exodus 12:23 with Hebrews2:14 **Psalm 41:9

By Arla, Feb 8 2021 02:00AM

Jesus' so wants to wash contention and jealousy from the disciples' hearts. It always stops communion between him and them. Unless they can come into a state of love and teachability, they aren't ready to celebrate Passover, can't learn his memorial, and will be too weak to face his suffering.

Pride and self-elevation create separation and hate, but Jesus' radical humility removes all this. In washing their feet, he has washed their hearts as well. Now with grateful, teachable hearts they can hear his words.

"You call me Master and Lord, and that's good, because I am; but a servant is not greater than his lord. Do you know what I've done for you? You are clean now, but not all of you."

Through their cooperation he does what they can't do for themselves--change their perception. But Judas doesn't surrender his pride. And Judas doesn't receive Jesus gift; he doesn't change.

We can see the difference; Peter can't stand the thought of being separated from Jesus, but Judas always maintains a separateness.

It isn't humiliating to Jesus to clean us up. And our truest humility is to receive with gratitude anything he has to give us or teach us. Humility is receiving his gift! Becoming teachable.

Jesus doesn't want us misled by the selfishness so natural in us. We protect ourselves and our way of seeing things. Our self-exaltation, temper, and self-focus wound him. The only greatness is teachability, the only distinction is service.

Ruach uses this memorial of Jesus' to energize our minds, break alienation, and fill us with light.

John 13:1-11

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