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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 5 2021 02:00AM

The selfish, grasping attitude of his disciples hurts Jesus deeply. But instead of talking, he acts.


Judas has pressed in to be on Jesus' left at supper, determined to have one of the two best places. John, always close, is on the right.


Jesus begins washing their feet with Judas. His love for them is not easily disturbed, but for Judas his heart cries as over Jerusalem, "How can I give you up?"


While Jesus touches his feet, Judas' heart is moved. He wants to confess and open himself to the Master, but it's too embarrassing. He hardens himself and gives his old thoughts control. Taking offense at Jesus' action, Judas thinks, He can't be a king--there's no gain in following him, and resolves to force him to act like their Messiah. This choice allows Satan to take control.


They all are touched by Jesus' action, but Peter feels horrible that one of them hadn't provided the service. So at his turn he says, "No Master, you shall never wash my feet."


To which Jesus responds, "You don't understand now, but you will later, if you can't receive from me, you're not mine."


"Well then, wash everything, my hands and head too," says Peter.


Jesus smiles, understanding Peter's love, "If you're clean, you only need the travel dust removed..."


John is served last, but he doesn't take it as a slight; he isn't offended. He is in awe at the ease of Jesus' humble strength.


Now they are ready to listen.


John 13:4-11



By Arla, Feb 4 2021 02:00AM

On Thursday Jesus sends two disciples to prepare for Passover in Jerusalem. By the time everyone else celebrates Passover, he will be dead--God's true sacrificial lamb. He wants to spend these last quiet hours before the drama begins with the twelve. He wants to prepare them.


But sitting with them, his words of warning and comfort stop on his lips. He sees they cannot hear him in their present state of mind.


But at least they are enough in tune to notice his heaviness and sorrow, and feel compassion.


However, the mood abruptly changes when they notice that there is no servant to use the pitcher, basin, and towel provided for their comfort.


Jesus watches for a while as their discomfort grows. It's obvious that vying-for-position is very much alive. Not one of them will be caught dead doing the servant's job. They're all in self-promotion mode. All of Jesus' teaching about service giving the highest position; all the modeling of his life: "I've come to serve, not to be served," seems lost on them. Somehow I must get through to them, he prays. Their struggle after his death is his top concern.


"I wanted to celebrate this Passover with you before I suffer..." he begins, and then rises, lays aside his cloak, takes the towel, wraps it around him tucking the top, and pours water into the basin.


They watch, scandalized. What is he doing...? How can he be the servant?


Jesus knows who he is.


Identity gives anything dignity.


John 13:1-4, Luke 22:7-16


By Arla, Feb 3 2021 02:00AM

Take a few minutes to feel you are one of those who doesn't know Jesus' love; what would you want those who know Him to do for you?


Jesus says go do that. This is the gold standard. This is what God asks of his friends.


If you have felt the warmth of knowing God's love and forgiveness, than you can find something to do for others. Your group may be poor, uneducated and unknown, but you have influence with results that reach into eternity.


We don't need to go to Nazareth, Capernaum, or Jerusalem to walk in Jesus steps. Wherever there is human need, you will find Jesus footprints.


Many hearts need consoling; and because this is neglected, many disciples of Jesus never get beyond the mere basics of accepting God's love. The fire He started glowing in their hearts, could have been kept alive by helping others. Those who help are helped by Jesus.


As He promised Moses, "My presence will go with you and give you rest."* At that time, Moses was desperate for God's presence; are you?


That "rest" or confidence in God's goodness and love, will meet the restless need for excitement which so often derails the young. Love will bond their hearts together as they plan how to reach people who need God's love and help. His promises spoken to each other will ignite and consume the fear that the enemy brings up in them.


Working with God and the angels keeps us close to Him and to each other. Yes, you are good enough to help.


*Exodus 33:14, Matthew 6:30-33, 25:44-45,

By Arla, Feb 2 2021 02:00AM

That night on Mount Olivet, Jesus tells parables of ten virgins and ten talents to show his disciples that judgment is based on relationship with God, estimated by one thing--how we relate to the suffering of others. Those who spend time with God will love Him and people, and expect Jesus' return. Those who are afraid of God or deny His existence will be deceived.


He said there will be those who think they have served him and he will say to them, "But I never knew you." And yet others will be surprised to hear his commendation saying, "But when did we serve you?" And he will say, "If you did it for any human being, you did it for me."


He lets us know that even those who never had an opportunity to know about him or his Father, had the influence of the Spirit, and how they responded to Him and the people around them, shows their relationship to God. They worship God ignorantly, and they will not be left out of His kingdom. Every kindness they did is as done to Him.


Angels are continually passing through the earth seeking to comfort, protect, and inspire every person with God's love for him or her. All of us may work with them.


Millions have never heard that God loves them, yet Jesus willingly suffered so he could implant his love in our hearts. He came into our world, became one of us, to make us capable of caring for others.


Matthew 25, Romans 1:



By Arla, Feb 1 2021 02:00AM

In love to his disciples, who don't comprehend what is just about to happen, Jesus veils the future and the centuries of suffering his people will pass through because of the hatred of his enemies. Looking far ahead, he says there will be trouble such as never before.


But he does specifically address the end of Jerusalem saying, "When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, know its destruction is near, and leave." (Historian Eusebius recorded that the Christians remembered his advice and not one died during Jerusalem's fall in 70 A.D.!)


Then Jesus describes his coming, "If anyone says I am here or there, don't go to see, because the deception will be good enough to deceive even my friends if I allowed it. But as the lightening is seen in the east and west, so shall my coming be.


Global? How can that be on a spherical planet?


It will be so big it will fill our solar system, maybe our galaxy! It will engulf our world.


Jesus says, "Stay alert, aware of me, because if you become mindless, or preoccupied with problems, worries, or pleasures, it will come on you as a thief in the night. For it will be as the days of Noah; men were going on with their lives and weren't expecting the flood...didn't believe it would happen. But when you see signs in the heavens, and the 'abomination of desolation' spoken of by the prophet Daniel,* know that my coming is near, at the very door."


Matthew 24:9-44, Mark 13:9-37, Luke 21:12-36 *Daniel 9:25-27, 11:31



By Arla, Jan 29 2021 02:00AM

Fear strikes the hearts of the priests and rulers as Jesus leaves the temple. His words of warning have hit their target, awakening concern. Will this really be destroyed?


Even his disciples are worried. As they walk past the massive white marble stones, fit together seamlessly where a piece of wall had withstood Nebuchadnezzar's army, (perhaps the piece with the cornerstone?) they point them out to Jesus, hoping he will comment.


And he does, "They look beautiful and indestructible, don't they, but the day will come when not one stone will be left on another."


Later, when they are alone on the Mount of Olives, Peter, Andrew, James and John come to Jesus asking, "When will the destruction of Jerusalem be? And what will be the sign of your coming and the end of the world?" Finally some of them are ready to ask about the warnings he's been giving!


Ruach has shown Jesus the dark centuries intervening, and he knows it will be much easier on them if they don't know the time span. And since they put the two events together, he does too, leaving his later followers to understand its duality.


"Don't let anyone deceive you, because false messiahs will appear, apparently working miracles and preaching deliverance to the Jews. You will hear of wars and threats of war, nation will rise against nation, and there will be famines, diseases, and earthquakes in many places, but the end is not yet. This is just the beginning of sorrows."


Matthew 24:1-8, Mark 13:1-8, Luke 21:5-11



By Arla, Jan 28 2021 02:00AM

Three times the Abba has spoken endorsements of Jesus from heaven: at his baptism; at his transfiguration; and even now after Jesus describes doom on priests, temple, and Israel as a nation.


This last voice is for a much larger crowd including the Greeks and the religious leaders. God is validating Jesus' words as truth, and affirming him as Messiah and Son of God.


This time Jesus says, "The voice was for you. Now is the judgment of this world; now is the prince of this world cast out. If I am lifted up I will draw all to me." The significance of the cross goes far beyond human redemption--everyone in the universe is drawn to Jesus as God's Truth.


Ruach shows him the dreaded cross shining with glory as a symbol of triumph over evil. He sees Satan's power over the minds of men, broken. The whole universe sees God's self-sacrificing love and understands. Satan's accusations are seen to be lies, and the slander against God's government falls as nothing.


Elohim is shown as clearly not responsible for sin or our suffering. The choice to be loved or turn against Them is the opportunity given to everyone. Every question about God's selfishness or severity is answered before the universe.


Many humans now believe on Jesus, even of the ruling class who are afraid to admit it for fear of being separated from the synagogue. Truth and opportunity will be their judge. Separation from the synagogue is nothing compared to separation from God. If open to it, they will see.


John 12:30-50



By Arla, Jan 27 2021 02:00AM

Jesus' disciples have seen him in meditation before, but this is different, there seems to be a cloud of gloom settled on him.

 

He has just finished speaking with the Greeks, and Spirit shows him his mission--the whole plan from his decision to redeem man, made in heaven before our creation, to his death in two days.

 

They watch him move from joy to dread; they feel his pain, and wait uneasily.

 

Finally he speaks, "I am full of anxiety," he says, "but shall I say 'Abba, deliver me from what's next'?" His humanity shrinks from feeling abandoned by Elohim, knowing it will seem God has left him, and everyone will think God is killing him.* He has lived in Abba and Ruach's presence all of his life, and feels faint just anticipating the burden of guilt that will make him feel separated from Them as he experiences God's wrath--Elohim letting go.

 

Then comes the submission, as he remembers that only through his death can he overthrow Satan's kingdom, "For this cause I came. Abba, glorify your character, and clear your name."

 

Immediately light shines from the cloud and encircles Jesus, as if the Father put his arms around his son. A voice from heaven speaks, "I have glorified it and will glorify it again."

 

The people hold their breath. Some say it thundered, others that an angel had spoken to him, but the Greeks get it, that he is the Messiah, the Son of God sent into the world to redeem it from evil.

 

John 12:27-30   *Isaiah 53


By Arla, Jan 26 2021 02:00AM

As Jesus is leaving the temple, some Greeks approach Philip in the outer court saying, "We want to see Jesus." Philip tells Andrew and they go to Jesus.


Jesus hears the message, and his face lights up, "Now is Messiah glorified," he says. To him it is God's sign, a promise of results from the sacrifice he is about to make. Just as wise men came from the East to worship after his birth, so now men come from the West to acknowledge and learn from him just before his death. Jesus is encouraged, his work is finished; the world knows, and he goes to meet the Greeks.


The disciples are discouraged. Even though Jesus has silenced Pharisees and Sadducees, they know he will never be accepted by them. They don't understand that giving up his life is the only way to offer life to broken humanity and vindicate Elohim. But now they listen as he shares with the Greeks, and them, trying to prepare them for the shock ahead.


"Unless a grain of wheat falls in the earth and dies, it remains alone..." In this hour-long interview he is teaching the laws of the universe: Self-preservation is not protecting yourself, actually it results from self-giving love.


"Whoever serves me, will be with me forever, and my Father will honor him before the universe." Jesus' joy is knowing his sacrifice will bring us joy--allow us to become who we truly are, and bring us honor for eternity. We will always be celebrities!


Conversely, the law of self-destruction is self-serving, self-preoccupation, self-protection. What seems intuitively correct to broken people is actually backwards.


John 12:20-26



By Arla, Jan 25 2021 02:00AM

Jesus, revived by the widow's heart, continues his warnings against the Pharisees. But even as he speaks harsh words, "You Poisonous snakes!" there are tears in his voice.


"Blind guides!" He denounces their pretense of making some sins worse than others, and for money ignoring the worst. Similarly, he condemns taking oaths with degrees of sincerity.


He calls them on tithing, endorsing tithe as God set it up, but reprimanding them for not allowing the people to carry out their own convictions with it. Their system has become so complicated, it is impossible for people to know if they've met the "obligation," creating worry instead of trust. "You focus people on trivia, and forget all about the important values of love, justice, and mercy."


He even addresses their dietary practices which God gave to protect their blood from toxins. They had gone over the top, requiring straining of water in case an insect fell in it. "You strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!" he says.


Religion, meant for giving life and protecting liberty, has become a curse. It breaks his heart. Turning to leave, his voice chokes with anguish, "Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem... how I have longed to protect you as a hen gathers her chicks under her, but you would not let me. Your house is left desolate."


The people witness the mysterious separation struggle of the Deity in divine love letting go. Israel has divorced herself from God.* Abba, Ruach and Jesus can do nothing more for her except give her the truth. As a chosen wife, They have to let her go.


Matthew 23, *Isaiah 50:1-2



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

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