God-in-a-Box–Your Inbox… for appreciating God
Get a Cosmic View of Jesus' Life in Small Bytes

Apr
18

Image  Get to know God by meditating on Jesus’ life, 250 words a day, five days a week, Easter to Easter

Dec
08

The wealthy young official walks away and Jesus remarks, “How hard it is for those who trust in wealth to enter God’s kingdom! It is easier for a camel to go through the Eye of a Needle than for a rich man to enter God’s kingdom.”

I saw a PBS program showing a gate near Jerusalem that was so narrow it was called “Eye of a Needle.” It was very difficult for a loaded camel to pass through. Jesus compares.

The young man had to unload baggage. To choose between stuff and having his heart healed.

The young official couldn’t give up his lifestyle to surrender to God, even though his heart pulled him to. For a moment in Jesus presence he had felt truly loved, felt the acceptance and freedom of living in love, loving others. That’s why the sorrow as he walked away.

He really wanted love, but the price was too high, his life was too good. Only one thing was missing, but it was vital: without God’s love, selfishness would strengthen, ruining him.

It often happens that loving the outward life of fame and notoriety conflicts with getting your heart needs satisfied. Or perhaps the conflict is in waiting–having your wealth in the next life vs. having it now.

After one parable Jesus said, “Where you put your time and attention, you’ll find your heart.” After another he said, “It isn’t possible to serve both God and money.” Often after teaching the crowds he ended with, “Be careful how you see, …how you hear”.

Our perceptions create our reality.
Matthew 19:22-26,  Mark 10:22-31,  Luke 18:23-30

Dec
07

A wealthy young government official watches Jesus with the children. His heart stirs. A desire for the love and tenderness Jesus gives them causes an impulsive action. He runs after Jesus when he leaves, feeling drawn to him.

“Good master,” he begins unsure of what to say, “how can I get eternal life?”

Jesus confronts him, drawing out his true question, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God.” (In effect he says, Do you know who I am? Do you know it’s God’s love you want?) Then he cuts through, “If you want real life, keep the commandments,” and reviews the ones about loving your neighbor.

To which the official responds, “I have done that since I was a child. What am I missing?”

Jesus looks at the hunger in this man’s heart and loves him; he so wants to have him as a follower, to satisfy his heart longing, to develop teachableness in him, to use his many gifts and abilities to help others.

“You lack just one thing,” says Jesus, “Sell your stuff, give to the poor, and come invest with me.” He sees the flaw that will be his undoing. The man trusts his position, his possessions, his piety.

The ruler is stunned; the price is too high. He loves that he is young, wealthy and accomplished. Sadly he walks away.

Even more sadly, Jesus watches him go, saying, “How hard love is for men who are owned by their possessions!”

Matthew 19:16-22, Mark 10:17-22,  Luke 18:18-23

Dec
06

Jesus loves children, finding their pure openness and unaffected love refreshing. Little hearts are tender and impressionable, open to Spirit and strong to remember his stories–the kind of people he wants in his kingdom.

If parents give them every opportunity to learn of God’s love while they are young and their characters still adaptable, they won’t grow up hard-hearted.

Many regard true affection as weakness; their happiness is ruined because their better self was stifled in childhood. The expression of love toward God and each other wasn’t encouraged, but God’s love can melt the hardness.

A  mother teaching children to obey because they love her, is teaching them to obey God out of love.

Fathers representing God’s authority, don’t need to be harsh or unkind. Jesus wasn’t discourteous or disrespectful, even cutting to the heart with the rudest men.

His graciousness causes parents to treat their children as intelligent beings, as they would want to be treated, correcting them gently as a gardener trains vines and flowers.

Take them outside and teach them how the God of nature made an awesome creation as an expression of His love for us–that all living things are governed by laws protecting happiness and joy–everything designed to give.

Don’t keep your little ones from Jesus by being cold or hard. Don’t make them think he is joyless or negative if he is like you. Smile at them. God loves to give wisdom and tenderness to teach them, but you do have to ask for it.

Matthew 19:14-15,  Mark 10:15-16,  Luke 18:16-17

Dec
05
In Jesus time it was customary to bring children to rabbis to be blessed.
An unnamed mother gets the idea to take her baby to Jesus. Before leaving, she tells one of her friends, who decides to bring her child too.
By the time these mothers find Jesus there is a group of them, drawn by Spirit, and excited about their mission.
The disciples, usually seated directly in front of Jesus, for some reason are on the outskirts of the crowd, and stop them.
“We’d like Jesus to bless our children,” a mother says timidly.
“No, Jesus is busy teaching,” say his disciples, attitude implying that his time is too valuable for such things.
Eyes fill with tears, mothers turn away, but Jesus has seen this and calls, “Allow the children to come. Don’t stop them.” They run to him.
He takes them in his arms, sits them on his lap, smiling and blessing them. He enjoys their joy, is refreshed by their purity of heart after the crafty duplicity of adults.
Jesus has a heart for mothers, who are comforted and encouraged. He knows a mother’s love–it is closest to his own.
Mama, Jesus knows how difficult your job can be, especially if you are alone, or in poverty. He loves to help, so ask him, and trust that he will answer the best way possible.
He, who walked long distances to relieve a Canaanite mother’s anxiety, and again to restore the only son of a widow, still feels the same today, and he will help you. Ask.
Matthew 19:13-14,  Mark 10:13-14,  Luke 18:15-16
Dec
04
Lazarus is a man of strong faith and love. The first time Jesus met him there was instant connection.
Jesus often visits him in his home, shared with his sisters, Mary and Martha. Here he finds the tenderness and affection of a surrogate family where he can relax and speak openly–basking in the warmth of their love.
God’s incredible father-love for humans is Jesus’ favorite topic. And here he always finds attentive listeners–Mary will drop everything to sit and listen to him. It has, at times, gotten her into trouble with Martha.
One of those times Jesus and his disciples had just walked from Jericho. Martha barely greeted Jesus, she is so busy seeing to their comfort. But Mary sits down with him immediately, giving him her full attention.
Seeing them, Martha asks, “Lord, don’t you care that Mary has me doing all the work? Tell her to help me.” She feels sure of his support–she knows she’s right.
Gently Jesus answers, “My Martha, you are a great hostess; anxious about many things, but only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen that best thing, and I won’t take it from her.”
Imagine Mary’s delight, and Martha’s surprise.
But Martha didn’t feel criticized, she knew she was loved. She understood his direction to the things that last forever: building a relationship with God. Connection with Him comes before everything else we have to do. Jesus craved it. We all crave it, but we don’t all recognize it.  And according to Jesus, it’s the one thing needed in life.
Luke10:38-42
Dec
01
Many have wondered why Jesus didn’t address the corruption, oppression, and cruelty in the governments of his day. He didn’t even work to change inequities in his culture!
He didn’t correct the cruelty of Rome, although he addressed it. He didn’t talk about the oppression of women, but he treated them with dignity and respect.
He didn’t interfere with those in power because he wanted us to know that the remedy for our problems wasn’t in external fixes. The power to change our world wasn’t in power.
The reforms he came to set up had to start with the heart. Our regeneration must be individual and internal. He came to give spiritual heart transplants to everyone who realized they needed one and asked for it.
The only power that will work to bring about his kingdom is his Spirit healing and restoring the minds and hearts of broken humanity, bringing us back into oneness with God. All we have to do is want it and choose it.
To everyone who asks, he gives power to become truly you–a son or a daughter of the God of the Universe. That makes us majesty! This is our glory–to become fully alive in Him, fully our true selves.*
The glory of God is his character of love.** The power that heals our brokenness, changes our characters into love, is from Him, His Spirit, and His Word.
Meditating on Jesus life (imagining yourself there) allows you to know God, believe, and experience His love yourself. In the process you become truly you.
John 1:12-13,   *1John 3:1-2, **Exodus 33
Nov
30
“When is the kingdom of God coming?” some Pharisees demand of Jesus. “John preached its arrival three years ago…” They could see nothing to indicate the kingdom had come, and were insinuating that he had failed.
“You won’t see it, because God’s kingdom is within you,” Jesus answers, implying that neither of them had come to overthrow established authorities. They came to change hearts, not governments, to bring the transfomation of opening to God.
Turning to his followers he says, “The days will come when you’ll long to see one of these days and won’t see it.” They simply couldn’t appreciate his methods or what they had.
Fast forward a few months, Jesus has returned to heaven, the Holy Spirit has been given to them, they realize what they’ve been blessed with, how they’d had God hidden in humanity walking and talking with them. Now they really get it–Jesus came from God to reach the broken sons and daughters of Adam, and individually offer them new hearts.* Government can’t do that.
How they wish to have his presence again for just a day, asking him questions, having him explain Scriptures–just be with them!
They grieve at their self-centeredness and self-absorption, fighting over position, when they’d had the Lord of the universe physically in their presence for three years! Now they would listen!
Filled with remorse that they had doubted him, they exclaim over their dullness and confusion, that allowed the prevailing opinions to influence them. They never get tired of rehearsing his words, and often repeat his conversations.
Luke 17:20-22,   *John 1:14
Nov
29
Finishing his story of the good (but hated) Samaritan, Jesus looks at the lawyer, who feels like his mind is transparent, and asks, “Which do you think was a neighbor to the wounded man?”
The lawyer, won’t even say the word Samaritan, but answers, “The one that had mercy on him.”
Jesus simply says, “Go and do the same.”
“Who is my neighbor?” stands forever answered: it is anyone who needs your help, without thought of class, color, or creed. Everyone is the property of God by origin, and everyone has been robbed by His adversary.
Jesus is also giving a picture of himself and his mission. We were robbed of identity, beaten and bruised by Satan’s lies, and left to die without hope. Jesus left heaven to come and pick us up, put his robe on us, and take us to safety, tenderly caring for us at his own expense until we are well.
Sin is being separated from God with no identity, no hope. It is the worst of all evils.*
His object is to restore us and empower us to help others find their true selves.
Many are discouraged in their struggle with life and need hope. If you’ve felt God’s comfort, you can offer it with kind words assuring them of His love and encouragement. Speak faith and courage that will bring healing strength into them.
Knowing God’s compassion, we cannot pass by suffering thinking this doesn’t concern me. Push back the enemy, no matter what the suffering.
Luke 10:36-37
*The Worst Evil– Losing Yourself: How Evil Robs us of True Self, a book by Arla Caraboolad http://amazon.com/author/arlacaraboolad
Nov
28
The lawyer is sincere–he gets that God’s law is basically love for God, your neighbor, and yourself, and his answer completely ignores their rules.
But if that’s true…conviction suddenly brings clarity, and with it guilt, and the need to justify himself. So his need to clarify, “Who is my neighbor?”
The rabbis argued this question endlessly. It was accepted that Samaritans and outsiders were not “neighbors,” but what about the classes in their society? According to Pharisaic rules, contact with the “ignorant” and “unclean” required tiring effort to cleanse yourself.
Jesus sidesteps their controversy by telling a story that had recently happened–the participants in his audience.
“A  man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho was robbed, stripped and beaten, and left to die… “
You’ve heard the story, a priest and a Levite come by and cross on the other side.
These men held positions that represented God to the people, and God’s laws required them to relieve even the suffering of animals.* They were called to do what Jesus’ was doing, “binding up the brokenhearted and bruised.”**
But “defilement” and selfishness held them back. Perhaps they were thinking about all the time cleansing would require after contact with the wounded or dead.
“A Samaritan came along, saw the man and, feeling pity, put oil and wine on his wounds, lifted him onto his donkey, and carefully walked him to an inn and cared for him. The next morning he left money with the innkeeper, promising more if needed.”
continued tomorrow…
Luke 10:25-35    *Exodus 23:4,5,  Deuteronomy 10:17-19    **Luke 4:18
Nov
27
Bitterly, the Pharisees, scribes, and teachers follow Jesus into Galilee, intent on finding a reason to kill him. They are terrified of his influence, and try to condemn his teaching.
So he hides his meaning in symbols to prevent grounds for accusation. During these last six months of ministry, he speaks mostly in parables. Some of them are as clear as the father’s love in the story of the prodigal son, some require interpretation.
They get the message, but have nothing to use against him.
Only those whose hearts are tender and open to Spirit can receive truth. That’s what Jesus teaches.
The science behind God’s action to redeem earth is a mystery way beyond our ability–even that of our greatest minds. It cannot be explained, but it can be experienced. Human science is too limited to explain Jesus’ mission, especially since for us it begins with accepting our brokenness and need of God.
One day as Jesus is teaching, a lawyer questions, “Master what shall I do to be sure of eternal life?”
Jesus, knowing that the leaders believe he ignores the law, turns it back to him, “What has your study taught you? How do you understand the law?”
“You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart, mind, spirit, and strength, and your neighbor as yourself,” he answers.
“Good thinking,” says Jesus, “You’ve answered right, do this and you will live.”
But the lawyer isn’t satisfied. His learning commended, conviction suddenly grabs him…so he asks, “Who is my neighbor?” Unwittingly opening the way for Jesus.
Luke 11:25–28