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

May
11

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 His Spirit tell him he would 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, let me die in peace, now that Your promise is fulfilled, for I have seen Your Anointed, a light for the Gentiles, and the glory of Israel.”

An old widow named Anna, having the gift of prophecy and also responding to Spirit, 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. 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

May
10

A baby’s cry pierced the stillness of the temple. It was Jesus’ eighth day and He had just been circumcised as a pledge of obedience to God’s law.

Every first-born son of Israel was circumcised and dedicated to God as a priest and a symbol of the expected Messiah. 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, since Satan had already introduced evil. So every first-born son was dedicated as a reminder of that promise.

In the exodus, God had called Israel His “first born.” And because Pharaoh wouldn’t recognize or release God’s “first born” from Egypt, God allowed the Destroyer to kill Egypt’s first-born sons. Cries pierced that night also. Yet Satan couldn’t enter any home marked with blood, symbolizing the power of Jesus’ blood to protect and save from death.*

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, who lives in His presence, Simeon, is sent as a herald.

Luke 2:21-25,  *Exodus 12:23, Isaiah 33:1, Hebrews 2:14, **Colossians 1:15 (KJV)

May
09

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 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* in theirs, 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, who 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 Jesus to rescue fallen and ungrateful humanity! How can I fight this? He trembles. This “man” must not succeed!

Luke 2:15-20  *Luke 1:26-38  **Revelation 12

May
08

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 earth.”

In a few minutes the brilliance and angels have disappeared.

The shepherds look at each other, “What was that?” asks one.

“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

May
07

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?

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 humans. They can hardly wait to tell somebody!  But they have orders and can only announce Him to those who are expecting 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

May
04

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 she 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 enormity of the occassion–that God’s Spirit has spoken through them and records it.*

Mary blossoms in Zacharias’ and Elizabeth’s emotional support (which surely helped Jesus’ development), and she thoroughly enjoys three months of assisting Elizabeth before facing her struggle at home.

Luke 1:41-55

May
03

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 oh 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, I am Gabriel; God sent me to you 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 came 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. Then 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

May
02

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 rampant.

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 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 predominant, 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, Jesus would come as 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

May
01

Emotional filters keep us from hearing and seeing what’s right in front of us. That’s how the Jewish religion could be all about the Messiah and yet miss him.

Their religion was tweaked by the pain of being conquered and controlled by the Romans. It made them long for physical and political deliverance. Some records show their taxes as high as 75%! They were oppressed, and wanted a conquering Messiah who would exalt their nation and defeat Rome.

So they overlooked the prophecies of the Christ’s suffering* and focused on those of His second coming in power and glory. It agreed with what they wanted—national exaltation–the recognition they had been so long promised for obedience.

But humans have always had heart problems it seems–at least when it comes to obeying.

The priests multiplied rules to force all of them to obey because they had learned that blessings followed obedience. And the leaders control served their fear and lined their pockets. They made idols out of their rules. Their motivation was hatred of the Romans, not love of God. They had lost the understanding that true obedience comes from delight in the law and its Creator.

Ironically, the lowest classes, “the ignorant poor” who suffered most from oppression, were looking for deliverance from evil, and they saw God’s goodness in Jesus. They saw the love they longed for in him, and they hoped that God was like him—meeting their emotional needs and making life secure for them and their children.
*Isaiah 53,  Psalm 22, and many others sprinkled through the Old Testament, especially in Psalms and Zechariah

Apr
30

God is always on time, but never in a hurry.

The nation who was known as His chosen people had gotten far from Him. Originally, the Jewish system of sacrifice was to show that separation from God caused death. And all the symbols showed that God would come himself to make a rescue.

Satan twisted it in human minds; his whispers suggesting, the animals are taking your place—so God won’t kill you. Satan was once again busy creating religions where “worship” was appeasing angry gods. To the extent of getting humans to sacrifice their children–literally!

Even the Jewish religion, the one God designed, had become so different from what He wanted. If they had stayed close to God, He could have made them “the wise and understanding people” in the eyes of all the nations, as Moses described.* That was what He wanted–a nation that would represent Him as He really was.

He did have a few “real” men like Joseph and Daniel who won high positions and the respect of kings. But mostly Israel turned to God through suffering.

They finally learned that favor depended on obedience to God. But they obeyed for the wrong reason—for His gifts, favor, and protection. They didn’t know God intimately, didn’t long to hear Him speaking love to their hearts.

Only by experiencing God in human form would broken humans be drawn to love Him and choose Him. Only love awakens love. Only in changing our perception of God would we change.

*Deuteronomy 4:6-9  Isaiah 1:2-4,  John 1:1-18