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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, Jun 18 2019 01:00AM

While Jesus is gone to the wilderness, John is drawn back to study the prophecies in Isaiah. His own words "Lamb of God" had surprised him, and had put new meaning on Messiah's work, and while he still doesn't understand that the Christ's suffering ministry precedes a later conquering one, he knows there is more than he realized.


The Jewish leaders study scripture, too, and they know Messiah's time is near. Some remember Zacharias' vision and the birth of John, but things get lost in 30 years. Humans forget.


The people wonder, Is John the Messiah? His geographic position is near sites where God had worked miracles of deliverance in their history, helping to revive interest in the Messiah.


The Sanhedrin, the Jews' religious governing body, feel they have to make some statement about John. So they send examiners to question him.


John says clearly, "I am not the Christ...or Elijah...or Moses..."


"Then who are you? And why are you baptizing?"


"I am the one Isaiah spoke of 'preparing the way of the Lord.' I baptize with water," mid-sentence, John stops, sees Jesus again in the crowd, and announces the Messiah to his questioners, "but among you is the One who comes after me..."


But they can't receive it.


Most of those who had seen Jesus baptized couldn't hear the voice or see the Spirit given. Now they look around but can't recognize Him; He is poor and not what they want, so they don't "get it." Spiritual things are discerned through a connection with God and they aren't connected.*


John 1:19-27, *1John 5:20



By Arla, Jun 17 2019 01:00AM

Satan now shows his true identity. He admits that he is that banished angel--only he calls himself the god of this world--and somehow makes the world pass before Jesus in beauty. ( 21st century technology?)


"Rule and authority have been given to me," he says, "and I can give it to whomever I please. All you have to do is bow down to me."* He knows Jesus wants this world and so he offers him the easy way: Go around the suffering. Just worship me and I'll give it to you! (He often comes to us with the easy way as well.)


But Jesus knows the scriptures and he knows what Satan doesn't say--that God owns the world by right of creation. He had given Adam rule and authority as long as he remained faithful. Satan was a usurper. He stole Adam's kingdom by deception and intrigue, but its real owner is God.


Beside that is the fact, Jesus doesn't want it under sin's curse, so with his last strength, he dismisses Satan, "Get away from me, Satan!" and again quotes his own words to Israel, "You shall worship God, and serve Him only."


Satan has no power to resist Jesus (or us when we take a stand in Jesus' name), and he leaves raging.


Jesus falls to the earth at death's door. Angels come with food and assurance of Abba's love. They tell him that all of heaven is cheering and applauding his win! He passed where Adam had failed!


Matthew 4:8-11, Mark 1:13, Luke 4:5-8



By Arla, Jun 14 2019 01:00AM

Satan now "wows" Jesus with a show of power, transporting him to the highest point of the temple. Still in disguise, Satan compliments Jesus' faith and invites him to prove God by putting His word to the test.


"If you are the son of God, throw yourself down from here for it is written, 'He shall give His angels charge over you to keep you'..." he quotes scripture!* But the twist he gives it shows his true identity...Go ahead, push God to prove Himself and His Messiah--wow Israel into believing you. Again he insinuates that Jesus is not God's son.


Jesus knows that the true motive of testing God is unbelief. God had already given evidence of His love and approval. Asking for proof would be doubting what He'd already done and said.


So responding, Jesus cites Exodus 17, where Israel tested God after having evidence of His care, "It is also written, do not put the Lord your God to the test." Using God's words or His love to back your self-serving behavior is not faith. It's presumption. It presumes God will tolerate evil. He may or may not for now, but evil changes you. Doubt gives evil entrance.


If God allows you to be tested, He has a reason for your good, don't doubt Him...He's refining the gold in your character. An escape is ready--and it is giving thanks for God's love and care. No matter how things look. He still loves and cares.**


God asks us to trust because He loves us, to ask for proof proves unbelief.


Matthew 4: 5-7, Luke 4:5-10 *Psalm 91:11-12 Notice he stops before verse 13--giving us power over him! **1Corinthians 10:13


By Arla, Jun 13 2019 01:00AM

So, evil comes to us at our weakest. When we are tired, stressed, frustrated, fearful, or grieving, the dark side comes with their suggestions. They blame us or God; accuse Abba of evil or neglect. We are tempted to break with Ruach who allows this ____ to happen.


The on-looking universe cheered wildly as Jesus won, proving it is better to suffer than to doubt Abba's care. They'll cheer for you, too! If you know God's way; do it, even if it's hard. You have a fandom! And you'll get to see Ruach act, but you may have to wait.


Earth's final exam will be over trusting God when everything goes wrong, separating  the real faithful from posers.*


A test on appetite is not just about food, it's about everything we think we need to be happy. By ourselves we can't hope to deny the urges and desires of our broken selves. But we can choose the happiness of trust and His presence, even in suffering, just because we can. And because God is worth it.


Jesus knew that every weakness of ours would be used to advantage by the dark side. He doesn't want us disadvantaged in this cosmic war between good and evil. He says "Be confident I have overcome the world." Claim His win! It's yours for the choosing!**


When harassed, don't look at your circumstances or your weakness, but to the power of God's word. "By the word of Your lips I have kept myself from the paths of the Destroyer."***


*Habakkuk 3:17-18,  Isaiah 33:16,  Psalm 37:19,  Rev 13:11-17  **John 16:33  Isaiah 50:7-10  ***Psalm 17: 4 (NKJV)


By Arla, Jun 12 2019 01:00AM

Satan comes pretending to be an angel of light sent to Jesus by God to end his fast. His scheme: If I can get him to use his power for himself, I'll win the war. If I can shake his confidence in God, their whole plan to save man will fail.


Imagine Satan saying a powerful angel has been banished from heaven and Jesus looks like that angel, suggesting that God has forsaken him. Why else would he be so weak and raggedy?


The struggle is fierce inside Jesus. The suggestion--you are not who you think you are, you are not the object of God's care but have deluded yourself--looks true.


So Satan invites him to make bread from the stones around him, which look like the loaves Jesus has eaten his whole life. "If you are the son of God, turn these stones into bread. Prove it."


As soon as Satan says "if" Jesus knows him. Negativity and asking proof have shown his true character.


Nothing will be gained by proving identity.


He remembers his Father's words at his baptism and rests in His love. I won't even argue with the enemy, he thinks. Jesus knows how Moses and Elijah had been overcome by weariness and deprivation. He will trust God.


And so he quotes words he himself had spoken centuries before, "Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from God."


He thinks God brought me into the wilderness; God will keep me here and bring me out.


Matthew 4:2-4, Mark 1:12-13, Luke 4:1-4


By Arla, Jun 11 2019 01:00AM

Jesus' rises from his prayer after baptism longing to be alone with God. Ruach guides him further into the wilderness where he is completely engaged in the glory of God, being shown his ministry. In the connection with God he feels no need. But then the glory departs because he must pass the test of doubt where Eve, and then Adam, had failed.


Satan was at the baptism intently watching. He senses that man's direct connection with God, which he had broken through Eve's doubt and so kept from all men, has been restored by the Father's words of approval to Jesus. So he follows Jesus to the wilderness, waiting, scheming how best to overcome his perfect rival, now a man. He sees that he must conquer or be conquered.


Though Satan has stalked Jesus indirectly throughout life, I imagine he asked for one direct encounter as he was allowed with Eve, then Job, and later requested with Peter. Perhaps all of us?* Permission granted, the stakes are high. Whereas Eve, had no need of food, her test was simply on trust and appetite ("You should have more"), Jesus needs food.


So Satan waits. Watching for human need to take over His mind. Satan has won many battles this way (Elijah standing against the priests of Baal and then running from Jezebel is one of the best-known.**)


Jesus is in extreme need, extreme weakness. Defenses are down--not a good time for a test.


Satan approaches, waiting until he must act, or God will take over.


Matthew 4:1-2, Mark 1:12-13, Luke 4:1-2, *Luke 22:31, **1Kings 19:1-4


By Arla, Jun 10 2019 01:00AM

Angels have never heard such a prayer as Jesus prayed after his baptism!


He desperately feels the need of divine power to accomplish His mission. He calls to his Father, Abba, in faith, craving assurance of His approval and blessing.


He knows the conflict will now become intense. He who lovingly gave the law will be accused of destroying it. He who came to defeat Satan will be called a devil! Being misunderstood was something he had lived with his whole life, so now he must know that what he has believed is fact.


He knows how hard-hearted men have become. He has seen the power Satan holds over them. He must know that He will have help to change their belief from a harsh, demanding God to a God of love.


Angels eagerly ask to be sent to him, but God Himself will take this message. Ruach goes to Jesus as a dove of light, enveloping his whole being in light. The Father's voice is heard, "You are my Son, My Beloved, and I am very pleased with you."


Straight from God comes His gift of approval.


John catches the signal and says "Look, the lamb of God..." though even he doesn't fully grasp the meaning of his words.


But Satan does--he gets that Jesus is humanity's do-over, the second Adam, fully reconnected with God. And he shudders knowing Jesus reconnects us to God's love! God's approval--His delight--comes to everyone who wants it--no matter how broken and weak.


You are accepted. You, also, may hear those words, "You are My beloved child, and I am very pleased with you," if you listen.*


Luke 3:21-22, *Ephesians 1:6


By Arla, Jun 7 2019 01:00AM

Jesus is 30 and still working in what had been Joseph's carpenter shop, when he hears it. Perhaps he is bent over a chair, repairing it, and a friend stops by,


"Have you been to hear the baptist in the wilderness? Everyone is going."


Jesus feels his heart jump as He recognizes the signal. John has begun to preach.


Though cousins, God has kept them apart so no one could say they had conspired to set Jesus up as the Messiah. John had heard from his parents the stories about Jesus, but in his solitary years he has wondered could he really be the Messiah?


Spirit has revealed to John that the Messiah would come to him for baptism, and he would be given a sign so he could present him to the people.


Then Jesus comes.


And John feels a presence like he has never felt. He feels inadequate to baptize so authentic, so pure a human being. Here is one who is whole, who though separated physically from God as any of us, diffuses a oneness with God that could be seen and felt! No cleansing is needed.


"You come to me? No, You should baptize me!" is John's automatic response to Jesus' request.


Jesus is firm. "Allow it for them." He nods toward the crowd. "It's a good thing for us to model an example for them."


Coming out of the water, Jesus lifts his face, kneels on the riverbank and pours out his heart to Abba and Ruach.


Matt hew 3:13-15


By Arla, Jun 6 2019 01:00AM

Why and how the people come to the wilderness to hear John the Baptizer is a mystery. Word of mouth, the times, and the Spirit are the draw to hear this startling preacher who confronts his audience with their need for righteousness.


They want change and John is preaching "Prepare the way of the Lord." Is he announcing the Messiah? Is he the Messiah?


They believe that being descendants of Abraham gives them the right to God's favor and blessings. But they ignore the conditions: a desire to belong to God, to have His desires and his ways written in their hearts.*


Right off, John confronts, not catering to the priests, calling them snakes for their deception and entitlement. He calls them to give up their self-centeredness and pretense if they want to be part of Messiah's kingdom.


He says everyone must stop the violence, cruelty, and hating--even the Romans.


Kindness, honesty, respect from love are God's law--the desires He wants to put in them--or they are not His children, not like Him. He cannot use them as representatives to show His character.


John calls them "chaff"--no substance, no virtue, combustible in the presence of fire. He says, "Messiah is coming and will baptize you with fire."


Fire assays--purges metal of impurities--shows its true character, purifies it. In fact, the energy of God's presence not hidden in humanity would, and eventually will, consume the pretenders along with His enemies.** A new way of seeing hell?


Luke 3:7-18 *Ezekiel 36:26 **Hebrews 12:29, 2Thess. 2:8, Malachi 3:17-4:3


By Arla, Jun 5 2019 01:00AM

Before John's birth his father had been studying Daniel's prophecy and knew it was time for the Messiah's appearing.


Zacharias is praying for Messiah's coming when Gabriel, the angel who had spoken the prophecy to Daniel 500 years earlier, is sent with the news that his son will be the forerunner of the Christ!


He is given special instructions: John will be his name, he will be filled with Ruach even before birth, a prophet "in the spirit and power of Elijah." He is never to have alcohol. It is important that he is clear-minded and self-controlled. Habits developed in childhood and youth have a greater affect on the character of a man than natural ability. John has to be rock solid to the core, standing against the church leaders with a message of reform, as unmovable as a mountain.


Here again, John does not attend the schools of the prophets. God prefers to teach him in nature. John chooses the wilderness as his home so he can be more aware of God's presence, less affected by the collective consciousness.


Self-indulgence has become the norm, even in Israel. Eating and drinking are numbing sensibility and spiritual perception. John knows that self-discipline will be necessary for mental strength and spiritual insight. He lives and loves the words and metaphors of Isaiah. No wonder he prefers the simplicity and solitude of the desert as preparation.


Judea is in an uproar over the newly installed Roman governors. Clashes are deadly. The Jews are angry--ripe for revolution. The time is right for change.


Luke 1:13-17, 57-80


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