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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, May 25 2020 01:00AM

One night three students of the stars see an explosion of light in the far sky that seems to leave a new star. They know it isn't anything fixed or familiar. And the conviction that it is special begins to grow. Have we seen it for a reason? They wonder.


God is always looking for people in every nation whose hearts are in synch with His. Such are the magi of the East who study the stars with a desire to know their Creator. They are wealthy, educated, men of character.


They know from tradition that a Messiah is coming who will fill the world with a knowledge of God. With excitement they discover the Hebrew prophecies pointing to their time. Their delight explodes as they read Balaam's prophecy of a star rising in Israel,* and that night dream they are supposed to follow it!


Quickly they prepare and leave. Traveling at night, towards the star, their conviction of guidance deepens.


So imagine their surprise when they arrive in Jerusalem to ignorance of the Messiah's birth! Where are the guards we expected to contend with? Why are there no celebrations? How can we be the only ones to know? The more they ask, the more mystified they become.


Could we have been wrong in our calculations? They ask themselves. No one, not even among the religious leaders of this king's own country, seems to know anything about his birth! How can this be? Gratefully they sleep.


A few hours later Herod hears of their arrival and summons them.


Matthew 2:1-2, * Numbers 24:17



By Arla, May 22 2020 01:00AM

Simeon turns from praising God, to Mary, "This child is destined to be a sign which men reject. The sword of sadness will pierce your heart also," he begins.


God is speaking prophetically through Simeon to prepare Mary for the rejection of Jesus. He continues, "Many in Israel will fall and rise again because of Him, and the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed."


Truly, the thoughts of all, from God to Satan, are exposed by Jesus' life and death. We are living at the end of a cosmic struggle between good and evil. In the beginning of this war, Satan had accused God of being selfish, wanting power and worship, claiming all, but giving nothing for Their creatures.


What would you do if you were falsely accused? God put Themselveson trial before the universe.* Full disclosure.


In Adonai's willingness to give, He becomes the human Jesus, the expert witness.They all suffer for love, and the Father's heart is clearly shown (in joyful obedience to Him).


By dying Jesus shows that evil causes death, even His. But He reverses death for all who choose love over evil.


By instigating Jesus death, Satan's true character as the selfish one is evident, his hatred and jealousy of God (and us) is made plain.


By our response to the character of Jesus we decide our future.


Even though evil discourages us, shocks us, and tries to destroy us, God heaps favor upon favor to restore us and says to Spirit, "Use My gifts to convince them that in loving Me will be their greatest happiness."


*Romans 3:4 (NEB, KJV, RSV, NET, CEB), Ezekiel 18:31, Jeremiah 29:11, Hebrews 2:14


Now on You Tube as The Desire of Hearts


By Arla, May 21 2020 01:00AM

Simeon just happens to walk into the temple while Jesus is being dedicated.


Just happens? No, Simeon has such a connection with God that he has heard Ruach tell him he will not die before he has seen the Messiah.


This morning he feels unusually drawn to the temple. Entering, he suddenly "knows" why he has come--here is the One he has waited for. With a joy surging up inside him, like nothing he's ever felt before, he takes the baby from Mary and lifts him to God, exclaiming, "Lord, now let Your servant die in peace. Your promise is fulfilled for I have seen Your Anointed, a light for all the nations and the glory of Israel."


An old widow named Anna, having the gift of prophecy and also responding to Ruach, hears Simeon. She, too, comes over giving thanks and praise to God that she has been allowed to see "the Christ", and begins telling everyone that Messiah has come.


The priest is astonished, shaken. Will he have the courage to share his experience?


Jesus' parents are affirmed. But all is not bliss.


Most of Simeon's words obscure Messiah's suffering, but in kindness God prepares Mary with a hint of the pain ahead. He knows she does not understand her child's mission. Right now she is joyfully remembering the shepherds' words.


Even though she has already suffered because of him, she has no idea what is ahead. She expects him to be crowned king and sit on David's throne.


Luke 2:25-38


Now on You Tube as The Desire of Hearts (read by the author)



By Arla, May 20 2020 01:00AM

A baby's cry pierced the stillness of the temple. It was Jesus' eighth day and He had just been circumcised as a promise to obey God's law. An infant promising? It was for the parents to promise to teach him God's law. Boundaries are so important to child development and safe feelings.


Every first-born son of Israel was circumcised and dedicated to God as a priest and a symbol of the expected Messiah, God's first born. After Moses, the tribe of Levi were priests, but each first-born was still dedicated to God.


This was symbolic. Before our creation God had promised to have a son who would reclaim earth's inhabitants, should that be necessary if Satan seduced them into evil. So every first-born son was dedicated as a reminder of that promise.


Before He came, God called Israel His "first born." And because Pharoah wouldn't recognize or release God's "first born" from Egypt, God allowed the Destroyer (Satan) to kill Egypt's first-born sons. Cries pierced the night of the Exodus also. Yet Satan couldn't enter any home marked with blood, symbolizing the power of Jesus' blood to protect, save from death, and give us His life.*


Jesus came as Earth's "second Adam" and God's "first born" even though unrecognized by Israel.**


A month after Jesus is circumcised, the priest officiating at Jesus' dedication doesn't recognize Him as Messiah either. He has no idea he's holding God's son. His parents are poor; no sign of wealth, rank, or power alerts anyone. They bring the poorest offering allowed the poorer classes, though still without blemish--signifying that Messiah is perfect physically and spiritually.


But God does give a sign. An old man who knows God, Simeon who lives in His presence, is sent as a herald.


Luke 2:21-25, *Exodus 12:23, Hebrews 2:14, **Colossians 1:15(KJV)



By Arla, May 19 2020 01:00AM

The shepherds collect themselves in the darkness, still seeing the brightest picture in their minds, still hearing the sweetest music, and say, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see what God has shared with us!"


They find Joseph and Mary and the baby in the manger under the star just as predicted. When they see Him they can't keep the angel, his words, and all the singing angels to themselves. "...There were thousands of them!" they say, "...singing music like we've never heard!"


Mary recognizes Gabriel's words to her* and tucks these away inside also.


In their honor and excitement, the shepherds share with anyone who will listen. And everyone who hears is amazed.


Such radiance, joy, and excitement ironically begins Jesus' "dark night of the soul" experience.


God becoming human would have been incredible to the universe when Adam was innocent and perfect in Eden, but Jesus took on our tattered humanity after 4,000 years of separation from God! Abba allowed His son to be born into the world Satan claimed as his, to fight our battle at the risk of failing.


Satan had become jealous of Adonai in heaven (before he became Jesus). He hated Him especially when, as Michael, He and his loyal angels had defeated Satan and his dissidents, and they'd had to leave.**


He can't believe it. Save heaven? Yes. he thinks. But this! It is unthinkable--that God would become a human named Joshua*** to rescue broken and ungrateful humanity! How can I fight this? He won't even say his Aramaic name, but he trembles. This "man" must not succeed!


Luke 2:15-20 *Luke 1:26-38 **Revelation 12 ***(Hebrew for Jesus)


Now on You Tube as The Desire of Hearts



By Arla, May 18 2020 01:00AM

In the same fields where David watched sheep as a boy, shepherds are lying by the fire, talking of the promised Messiah, unaware that a massive angel choir is waiting for their signal to burst into sight and song announcing the Christ's birth. God sets up such sweet surprises for those who care.


Why shepherds? The messengers are sent to seekers.* Those who want to know, regardless of class.


The dark night is illuminated by one angel in dazzling light and the shepherds shake.


"Don't be afraid I bring you joyful good news...today in the city of David, Messiah has been born." Gently he regards their need to adjust to the radiance by appearing alone first.


The angel knows that the shepherds immediately think of power and glory, exaltation of Israel, deliverance from Rome; such has been their conditioning. So he prepares them for Jesus' poverty, "This will be your sign: you will find Him as a baby, swaddled, and lying in a manger."**


Suddenly the whole hillside is brighter than day as the huge choir of angels can stay hidden no longer, and the shepherds are bathed in radiance and music. Awed, they hear, "Glory to God in the Highest! Peace and favor have come to men!"


In a few minutes the brilliance and angels have disappeared.


The shepherds look at each other, "What was that?" asks one, awe in his voice.


"A manger?" asks another.


"Was that what I think it was?" ventures a third. "Isn't that what we were just talking about?"


*Isaiah 44:3 **Luke 2:8-12


Now on You Tube!

By Arla, May 15 2020 01:00AM

No fanfare of trumpets, no royal display of human majesty accompanies God's entrance into our world. God wants His character to be the only attraction.


Prophecy had said Messiah would be born in David's City.* And Caesar Augustus was God's unknowing agent to bring Jesus' mother to Bethlehem. Both Mary and Joseph are descendants of David and have come to register.


Evidently the donkey ride from Nazareth (about 90 miles) makes Jesus' birth a bit sooner than Mary anticipated. From the city gate along the whole length of the street they inquire, but find nowhere to stay except a stable--most likely a cave.


Joseph is beside himself, Mary is having contractions!


A stable? Really, God? he thinks.


This, too, is by design; Joseph will be there. At home he would have been excluded, but Jesus must be birth-bonded to Joseph because "God is a loving father" will be his favorite teaching.


Humanity is mostly unaware that the greatest event in history is taking place. God is being born on earth! Staged in a tiny town a few miles from Jerusalem, among the poorest class.


Already his forerunner is born. That news has spread through the priests to prepare them. But Jerusalem is not preparing! Hearts calloused by love of money and honor are unaware, untouched by the joy thrilling through heaven.


Angels are amazed at the indifference of human beings. They can hardly wait to tell somebody! But they have orders and can only announce him to those who expect Messiah's coming.** Coming to earth--even to "the chosen"--they find only a few (and not leaders) who are looking for their Messiah.


Luke 2:1-6 *Micah 5:2 **Isaiah 44:3, Psalm 112:4



By Arla, May 14 2020 01:00AM

How do you say, "An angel has told me I'm going to have the Messiah?"


"What?" says her father. "Messiah, a baby? You're a good girl, Mary, but...?"


"Are you sure?" asks her mother. It was a lot to take in. Who could blame them for doubting?


I'm sure Mary had her own doubts. Did I dream that? Did it really happen? What will people think when I start to show? Will they believe me? Will they think I'm crazy? What will Joseph say?


What a relief it is to go visit her Aunt Elizabeth who is herself six months pregnant after being unable to conceive for 20 years. And then what a confirmation when her greeting brings a beautiful acknowledgement of her as the mother of the Messiah!


Elizabeth says the baby inside her jumped for joy when he heard Mary's voice. Then she blesses Mary saying, "Happy is the women who believes that the Lord's words to her will come true."


It is just what Mary needs. How good it is to be completely believed! To know that God has told someone else her secret--that she has been chosen--blessed beyond belief!"


And she responds with her own praise to God. "My whole self rejoices in God my Savior..." Zacharias realizes the significance of the occassion--that God's Spirit has spoken through them and records it.*


Mary blooms in Zacharias' and Elizabeth's emotional support, which surely helps Jesus' development, and she thoroughly enjoys three months of assisting Elizabeth before facing her struggle at home.


Luke 1:41-55



By Arla, May 13 2020 01:00AM



Mary is doing her chores. She loves it when she is alone and can think, imagining all the old stories of God's mighty leading, when suddenly a bright being, an angel, appears before her.


"Greetings, favored one, the Lord is with you." Not a strange greeting for the time, but Mary is stunned, and can't think what to say. So the angel continues, "Don't be afraid. "Don't be afraid Mary, I am Gabriel who stands in God's presence. I have come with a message: you have found favor with God and are going to have a baby. You are to call him Jesus because he will be Messiah. God will give him David's throne and His kingdom will have no end."


Now Mary really doesn't know what to say, but she knows where babies come from, so she asks Gabriel, "How can this happen since I am still a virgin?" (even though she is engaged to Joseph).


Gabriel reassures her that the Holy Spirit will take care of that because her child will be the son of God. And to help her believe him, he tells her that her barren Aunt Elizabeth is six months pregnant herself "...for nothing is impossible with God."


When Mary hears this her response is simple and beautiful, "I am the servant of the Lord. May it happen to me as you have said."


Imagine Gabriel's beautiful smile to her response before he vanishes.


Mary is overwhelmed with the enormity of what just happened. Gabriel sent to me? Did he really say I will be the mother of the Messiah?


Luke 1: 26-38



By Arla, May 12 2020 01:00AM

The universe held it's collective breath. God had started over before, would He do it again? The vast creation was on high alert--it was obvious humans couldn't lift themselves out of evil.


It appeared that Satan was winning his campaign, misery and evil were unrestrained. If God cleared the world again, as He certainly must, Satan was ready to blame God and spread rebellion to the rest of the universe.


But God had been carefullly planning for this time. The universe had needed to see that humanity could not regenerate itself.


Now God was ready. The nations were mostly under Roman rule, and one language was dominant, especially in literature. Roman roads made transportation easier. Dispersed Jews returned yearly to Jerusalem, and would take back news of their Messiah.


Religion was corrupt. The Jewish system of symbols had become meaningless. Suffering and deception were intense. People longed for a God of love, who would address the pain of their existence and their fear of death.


Among the Jews were some who still looked for the One who would fulfill Isaiah's prophecy, "...to proclaim liberty to the captives, and to bind up the brokenhearted."*


Outside of the Jewish nation were men who had studied the prophecies of the Messiah and were expecting him.


Satan was confident he had won the war, when God stepped into human history.


Instead of wiping us out again, Adonai would come asJesus, humanity's do-over, a helpless infant who would restore us to sanity and free us from demons that control choices.


Genesis 49:10, Daniel 2:44 *Isaiah 61:1


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

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