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

May
09

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 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
06

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 woman 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 occasion–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

May
05

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
04

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 carefully 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, Adonai  would come as Jesus, 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
03

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 rescue. 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 Creators.

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

May
02

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 pleasing 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, They could have made them “the wise and understanding people” in the eyes of all the nations, as Moses described.* That was what They wanted–a nation that would represent Them as They really were.

They 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. Finally learning that favor depended on obedience. But they obeyed for the wrong reason—for gifts and protection. They didn’t know God intimately, didn’t long to hear Ruach speaking to their hearts.

Only by experiencing God in human form would broken humans be drawn to love Them and choose Them. 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

Apr
29

Nearly 2,000 years after creating earth, God’s plan was in trouble. Most humans were angry, blaming God. They decided to make their own rules, they didn’t need God–they were good enough.

Other people began creating gods like them–angry gods–violence was everywhere, even in religion.

God was seeking someone to really know and trust Them, someone through whom to offer an escape from what They were about to do–start over! It had gotten that bad!

They found Noah, who only saved his own family from the flood after preaching for 120 years! Talk about feeling like a failure!

Satan did his own preaching to the universe after that, “See! I told you! Either obey God, or They’ll kill you.” It was effective.

Ten generations later Abraham was willing to trust God enough for God to show the truth–Their true blueprint: Blessed Beyond Belief.*

The whole mosaic of Judeo-Christian Scripture gives a picture of God trying to be known, trying to show faithfulness and goodness. trying to find people who would trust Them enough to do it God’s way, so the universe could see Their true character. It was difficult with fearful, untrusting, independent beings.

God’s strategy was to draw everyone into trusting Them by showing blessing–what They could and would do for a person who trusted Them. Protection from Satan and the dark side was just the beginning.** It wasn’t easy with broken humans. Satan’s side made even His best kings miserable: David, and Solomon–God’s brief version of “Camelot”. But at least there were glimpses of God’s goodness–decades of  blessings.

Genesis 3:14-15, Genesis 6:5-13, 18, *Deuteronomy 8:7-10, **Genesis 15:1-6

Apr
28

We are living the unraveling of events after the climax of the plot—also called the denoument in literature–when everything becomes clear.

Satan has misrepresented God as scary, exacting and vengeful, saying, “He demands ‘Serve Me or I’ll kill you’.”

That is why God had to keep Satan and his sympathizers alive. Separated from God they would have died. And because no one in the universe had seen death, they would have wondered if God had killed them. Fear would have left bigger questions than watching defectors develop evil characters and the world die from entropy.

Jesus came to undo Satan’s work. He was a man connected to God just as we can be. It was God taking responsibility for creating a system that runs on freedom, where choice is honored, and evil is allowed until choices are clear.*

Jesus’ giving attitude contrasted sharply with Satan’s grasping attitude. He vindicated God’s government and Their right to rule. Jesus is God’s incredible gift–“God with us”–unjustly treated as the worst evil, so we might receive His honor.

Our world, which Satan claimed as his, has been ransomed, and will be forever honored in God’s vast universe. It is where the war was won.

Because of Jesus we will always be special to Abba, his Father, and to Ruach. Here God fathered a son: He was born, grew into a man, and by dependence won back the world Adam forfeited.

By Jesus’ loyalty, trusting God even when going through death, the universe sees who is telling the truth. Clearly there is a difference between God’s purpose and Satan’s purpose–between God’s character and Satan’s.

John 1:1-18,  Philippians 2:5-11,  Isaiah 52:5-10

 

Apr
27

Introductory note: “In the beginning was God.” Literally the Hebrew is “Elohim”–plural–there is one God and three beings fill that position. So I call Them–Abba [aka Father], Adonai [aka Jesus], Ruach [aka Holy Spirit] in my series Love’s Playbook the Bible with backstory. These blogs reflect that. You may find it different in the beginning. I hope you grow to love it as I do.

We were created in love, and for love, but free to choose against it—this was God’s blueprint for the universe, this was our beginning.

Lucifer, in becoming Satan, had defected, had lied, and had seduced a human to “…be like God and know what He knows,” breaking the genetic code for the whole human race.

God could not force them back. Force is contrary to His character and government.

Love cannot be forced; it can only be awakened by love.

So in the planning of our creation, Adonai* had offered a remedy since love and freedom had been challenged. If humans failed, He would become a human and succeed. Then disadvantaged, broken, dual-natured beings could still see and choose God’s love.**

Satan’s purpose was to separate God from man. Succeeding with the first two, he worked to twist our perception of God into anger and fear, or distract us with pleasure.

However, separation from Elohim brought suffering, and the suffering made us look for God. Even though Satan blamed it on God.

Adonai proposed if He became a man (Jesus), He could enter our world without destroying us. Attraction to Jesus, believing that God is like Him, would reunite us with God, transforming us.

So God put Themselves on trial.*** And Jesus became the expert witness. His life and his willingness to suffer and die showed the effect of unselfishness (God’s love and character), the effect of selfishness (Lucifer’s true character), and the effect of evil (sin or separation from God causes death.)

*Exodus 6:3 (in the Masoretic text) Adonai is named as the one of three who fill the position of One God, who became our sovereign messenger before He became Jesus)   **Ephesians 1:1-10    ***Romans 3:4

Apr
25

Why would God come here?

And how could He?

If Adonai had to stop the warm hugs, the harmonious conversations, the joyful, affectionate laughter of Eden so His presence wouldn’t cause death to Adam and Eve, how could He be “God with us”?

And why would He want to?

Remember the perfect world God created? When God says something is “Very good,” it’s incredible!

But an enemy was present. How?

A beautiful creature, Lucifer, had become dissatisfied with being God’s perfect work. He wanted to be God.* Long before us, he began to separate himself from God and launch a deceptive campaign to exalt himself. Sin started in God’s home. Why?

Lucifer (later, Satan) became infatuated with his own beauty and jealous of God’s power. He insinuated against Love and caused doubt about Elohim and Their way of governing, eventually resulting in war. His malicious deception undermined and ruined many of his own kind and spread to ours.

God had a problem. Who They are had been challenged, Their character maligned.

But They were ready.

Elohim (Hebrew and plural!) had chosen to create beings who were capable of reason and choice because They wanted love and freedom. God’s one desire was to have children who love Them and each other. And only love that is chosen is true love. If choice is required, there must be real freedom where choices are honored.

So They weren’t surprised, just sad. And They were ready with a plan in place.

*Isaiah 14;12-17, Ezekiel 28:12-17

My new series Love’s Playbook tells this story in episode 1 The Real Story of Cosmic Love and War and is available at http://amazon.com/author/arlacaraboolad in both paperback and kindle.