Author: StephanieBBlake

I love to help others focus on the one thing that's most important in life through my ministry, teaching and writing. As Vice President of Xtend Ministries International -, I travel extensively with my husband. I maintain two websites: and On the One Focus site, you can find free Bible studies, devotionals and information about my first book, "The Prayer Driven Life". My book, "Money: How to Be Rich Without It and How to Stretch It Using Ten Hints from the Past and the Technology of Today" was the inspiration for Money saving hints are contained throughout the book and this site was created to continue to give helpful hints on stretching money or having the proper view toward money.

The Fear of the Lord in Action

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding

Proverbs 9:10

In 2015 my husband began building our home on a piece of property we bought a few years prior. He has no background in building a house. He is, in fact, a preacher/teacher. When I say he “built” our home, I don’t mean what people usually mean when they say that. He did not hire an architect or a builder. He bought some software and designed our home himself. Every square inch involved an important decision.

Through every stage of the construction process, he had to make a decision to hire a specialist (such as laying the foundation or installing the electricity) or doing the work himself. Each step of the way was an experiment. Sometimes he (with my help and the help of our sons taking some vacation time to help) did the work and sometimes he was led (for practical and financial reasons) to get a bid from someone else. We prayed about it all and God was in every detail. For instance, having made our choice of flooring and ready to get the wood in order to do the work, we were led to get a quote that resulted in being less expensive than doing the work ourselves. As they say – no brainer! At that time, he was also experiencing pain with his knees and I know that God was gracious to arrange that blessing for us. Likewise, when he was ready to buy and stain the boards for the ceiling in our very high great room ceiling, our dearest friends couldn’t stand the thought of his installing that ceiling and told us they wanted to pay for the labor. We only stained the boards!

Throughout this process, I was amazed at God’s direction and provision. What I firmly believe happened was that God enabled my husband to research and gain the knowledge about the next step, understand what all that entailed and then exercise the wisdom about how to proceed.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge….the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. A good understanding have all those who do His commandments…the fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7, Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 15:33). What seems like an abstract principle about what the fear of the Lord is became – right in front of my eyes – the evidence of that fear lived out in everyday life. It was, and remains, to me one of the most amazing evidences of the leadership of the Lord. Fear of the Lord is not intangible – it is very much evident in the life of a committed Christian.

In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence…(Proverbs 14:27).

Picture below is the work in progress and the scripture my husband inscribed.

Little is Much in the Eyes of the Lord

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Luke 12:6-7).

Gardeners know the value of compost and are thrilled when they discover small worms in the mixture. A seed can produce food for your family. The first bud on a plant brings a promise of beauty or provision.

Bakers know the value of yeast – so small yet so powerful. Again he asked, “What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough” (Luke 13:20-21).

Doctors know the danger of bad germs. Just think of what we went through with the COVID lockdowns.

David used a small stone to defeat Goliath.

Ask any parent whose much wanted baby was delivered premature what tiny means – incredible love in a small package.

Sometimes God makes sure we understand how valuable small increments of time are. We want to rush things, but He has reasons for a delay. Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased, and you inherit the land (Exodus 23:3).

God’s tiny creations understand His principles of putting a little away for the future. Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which, having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest (Proverbs 6:6-8).

People often think your value is determined by your wealth. It is God who determines a person’s value. A little that a righteous man has is better than the riches of the wicked (Psalm 37:16). As He looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small coins. “I tell you the truth,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on” (Luke 21:1-4). “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much” (Luke 16:10).

God’s children are often tempted to think that they should only take the big decisions of life to the Lord in prayer. God cares about every little detail of our lives – otherwise, why would He tell us He counts the hairs on our heads? If we talk to Him about everything, when it comes time for Him to guide us in the big decisions – job, marriage, a move, a career, etc. – we have a background of communication with Him that enables us to hear Him.

“Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear,
And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;
Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

The Bread that Jesus Gives

Feeding of the five thousand men (plus women and children): Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:31-44, Luke 9:12-17; John 6:1-14

Feeding of the four thousand men (plus women and children): Matthew 5:32-39, Mark 8:1-9

Aside from the resurrection, the only miracle recorded in all four gospels is the miraculous feeding of the five thousand. No one has tried to disprove that spontaneous picnic provided by our Lord Jesus – because there were thousands of people who could verify it! There were actually two miraculous feedings – both mentioned by Matthew and Mark. After the second one, when the disciples murmured among themselves about having forgotten to bring enough bread on the boat when they left with Jesus, He said to them, “Why do you ask each other about forgetting to bring bread, you of little faith? Don’t you understand yet? Do you still not comprehend? Are your minds still so dense? You have eyes – don’t you see? You have ears – don’t you hear? And don’t you remember? When I broke the five loaves for the crowd of five thousand, how many baskets full of leftovers did you gather?” They answered, “Twelve.” “And when I broke the seven loaves for the crowd of four thousand, how many baskets full of leftovers did you gather?” “Seven,” they replied. “So how can you still fail to understand? Why can’t you see that I wasn’t talking about bread when I warned you about the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees?” Then they finally understood that He hadn’t warned them about the yeast of bread but about the teaching of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” – Jesus Christ, The Greatest Life, A Unique Blending of the Four Gospels

This is October 2022. People all over the globe need to be fed by Jesus – spiritually and physically. That has always been true, but current events have brought people to a point of deep concern not only about their physical well being and being able to provide for their families, but withstanding the onslaught of false teachings and intrusion of evil forces in their lives and homes. The list of frightening circumstances goes on and on: war and threat of war, pandemic, food shortages, increased poverty, changing ideologies, insidious sexual perversions…

How do the ancient miracles of the feedings of thousands of people by Jesus -the Son of God, the Son of Man – help us today?

Several things come to mind.

Jesus understood hunger. He deliberately went through 40 days of it in the wilderness to prepare Himself for ministry. That’s why He told the disciples He didn’t want to send the crowd away hungry – they might faint on the way. He knew EXACTLY how that felt.

It is not necessary for us to separate the physical part of our being from the spiritual. That is also why He came. Loving God with all of your heart, mind, soul and strength is possible even when you are hungry, weary and threatened. He did it. We can, too.

He chose to use what the disciples had on hand.”How many loaves do you have?” Today’s miracles often work the same way. Sometimes God works through the resources we have available – healing with the aid of medicine, doctors and surgery; feeding some through wealthier people who have a sharing heart; having some share knowledge so that others can learn to provide for themselves. Other times we know that Jesus healed through a word or a touch, “thanked God” and increased the resources of bread and fish. Read the testimony of George Mueller – God can and still does work that way – miraculously. Whatever method God choses to bless His children in whatever circumstance they find themselves, we can rely on Him to do what He knows is right.

We cannot deny that many Christians are suffering greatly today – persecuted, starving, sick and injured. In the cases where God does not intervene with miracles, we know that He is still watching and rewarding them for their faithfulness. We also remember that Jesus never chose the miraculous for personal gain. He chose to suffer with His sheep for a greater purpose that only He and the Father knew.

Charles Spurgeon made the next point. “Next, learn that care is always taken of Christ of all the broken pieces. The Lord all-sufficient is yet the God of economy. Since Jesus could create as much food as ever He pleased, you might have thought that it was hardly worth His while to gather up the fragments, and yet He did so. Waste is of Satan, not of God…But what a wonderful thing this is. Omnipotence picking up crumbs! God All-sufficient, to whom the cattle on a thousand hills are nothing – who could make a whole sea of fishes or a thousand worlds of bread, by His bare will and nothing else, and yet He sets His disciples to gather up broken pieces! Surely it ill becomes us to waste a penny, an hour, or an opportunity. Let us be severely economical for the Lord our God.”

The crowds of 5000 plus and 4000 plus all received Jesus’ provision of bread and fish, but did they all receive Him as Savior? The scripture does not say, but it is doubtful. There were many examples of those who, with their own eyes, witnessed the miracles of our Lord and continued to deny Him. It is the same today. Many want what the Savior can give, but not Who the Savior is. Believers are commissioned to share His story and invite others to trust Him, but we know that many won’t. Many want to live by physical bread alone. It is the family of God that understands that we live spiritually by every word that comes from the mouth of God.

Our responsibilities as believers are to share the Truth of the Word of God with others. Not everyone will believe, but those who accept the gift of God through Jesus Christ will have spiritual resources to withstand the onslaught of evil that presents itself. We can do what Jesus did. Trust the Father, examine what we have, make good use of left overs, and if possible and if called upon by God, share our physical resources with others. Jesus feeds both our souls and our bodies.

Claiming the Promises of the Psalms: Our Part

Then they despised the pleasant land, having no faith in his promise …Then they despised the land [of Canaan], they did not believe in His word nor rely on itBut then they rejected the land that was so desirable. They did not trust God’s promise…They refused to enter the pleasant land. They did not believe what he said…Then they refused to go into the beautiful land of Canaan; they did not believe what God promised (Psalm 106:24 ESV, AMP, CEB, GW,NCV)

We have looked with wonder at a multitude of promises God made in the book of Psalms. As noted in the very first post on these promises in the Psalms, “God’s promises are built on a covenant relationship. The truth of God’s word is available to everyone – giving each person the chance to become a child of God. His promises are for those who love Him.”

Unlike the children of Israel who “despised the promised land, having no faith in his promise”, we must trust God. We know the rest of the story that Psalm 106 tells us about their lack of trust. Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against his people, and he abhorred his heritage, he gave them into the hand of the nations, so that those who hated them ruled over them (Psalm 16:40-41).

The promises of God give us comfort.

This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me lifeLet your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant

Psalm 119:50, 76

The promises of God direct us.

Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me.

Psalm 119:133

The promises of God give us life.

This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me lifeUphold me according to your promise, that I may live, and let me not be put to shame in my hope!…Plead my cause and redeem me; give me life according to your promise!

Psalm 119:50, 116 , 154

If you are like me, you have seen His promises fulfilled time and time again. Our part is to believe Him and meditate upon those wonderful, incredible promises He has made.

Your promise is well tried, and your servant loves it…My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise

Psalm 119:140, 148

Dare we doubt Him now?

Claiming the Promises of the Psalms: The Promise of God’s Lovingkindness

Show Your marvelous lovingkindness by Your right hand, O You who save those who trust in You…Remember, O Lord, Your tender mercies and Your lovingkindnesses, for they are from old…For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes, and I have walked in Your truth…How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings…Oh continue Your lovingkindness to those who know You, and Your righteousness to the upright in heartThe Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime and in the night His song shall be with me – a prayer to the God of my life (Psalm 17:7a, 25:6, 26:3, 36:7,10,42:8 NKJV)

God’s lovingkindness is mentioned 24 times in the book of Psalms – more than any other book.

I understand that God is holy – a God of justice and love. His justice must be met, sin must be dealt with but once I realized that and asked Him to save me, what I have experienced in my own relationship with Him is a keen awareness that everything He does and allows in my life is because He loves me. He is a caring loving Father who disciplines when necessary, but absolutely showers with blessings when I stand close to Him. Of all the promises of the Psalms, this one is the most precious to me. I can have peace during times of uncertainty and turmoil and I know I can count on Him to be there for me in every circumstance – not because of anything I have done, but simply because He loves me.

Since the above verses come from the NKJV which uses a lovely language that is somewhat foreign to us today, it helps to examine how other translations describe this word. Faithful love, wonderful love, amazing kindness, steadfast love, covenant love, marvelous mercies, miraculous deeds of mercy, gracious love, loyal love, strong love, wonderful faithfulness, great love, unfailing love – all these define the lovingkindness of the Father that I know and love.

When we move to the New Testament, we see the love of the Father expressed through the loving sacrifice of His Son. That was foreseen by the prophets of the Old Testament, but when God’s timing was perfect, God sent Jesus to do for us what we could not do for ourselves. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

Now THAT is lovingkindness.

Claiming the Promises of the Psalms: The Promise of Divine Friendship

The Lord has made himself known…The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant…Trust in the Lord and do good, dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness…God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble…My soul clings to you, your right hand upholds me…Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand, You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory…Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you...When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul…The Lord is on my side as my helper…Psalm 9:16a, 25:24, 36:10a, 37:3, 46:1, 63:8, 73:23-24, 94:19, 118:7a ESV

How would you describe your best friend? Someone you really know, not just an acquaintance but someone who shares life’s details with you and you do the same. Your best friend is there when needed, loves you in spite of knowing unattractive things about you, comforts you when you are down, lovingly corrects you when necessary; in other words, someone you can count on to walk beside you and tell you the truth – for your own good.

God is greater than all of us. That is indisputable. What is absolutely amazing is that He wants to be our FRIEND! He walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden and spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to His friend.

Friends talk to one another – that is what prayer is. God knows you and He wants to be known by you – you can grow in that relationship by prayer, listening to Him through His Holy Spirit and His Word.

Friendship is a covenant relationship and God’s friendship with you cost Him everything.

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends is you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing, but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you (John 15:13-15).

This is Holy Week. Everything Jesus endured during His lifetime and especially that week – the horrible and unimaginable torture He endured before the crucifixion and then the crucifixion itself – Jesus did it all for His friends. He is my best friend – is He yours?

Claiming the Promises of the Psalms: The Promise of Hope

Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope. My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life…I have sought your face with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise (Psalm 119:49-50, 58) NIV

The war in Ukraine breaks my heart. Slaughter of innocent people, including the deliberate attack on hospitals, schools and public places where people are seeking refuge is pure evil. I have to force myself to concentrate on anything else because this tragic situation occupies much of my thoughts and prayers – day and night since it began. I find it so consuming because I have friends in both Ukraine and neighboring countries that are helping its refugees. I feel so helpless.

I remember the struggles I had when I posted “Claiming the Promises of the Psalms: The Promise of Deliverance.” With all the examples of miraculous deliverances, we still had to deal with the reality of Christians being martyred for their faith. My conclusion for that promise was that indeed the promise of deliverance is real, and best found in Colossians 1:13-14. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. Even when God choses not to miraculously deliver one of His children from a trial in this life, in the midst of that trial, Satan has no power over him and a believer is ultimately delivered from all pain and sorrow.

In testimonies of Christians who are in Ukraine and those who are helping just across the Ukrainian border, the refrain is the same. God is a God of hope. How can they be so hopeful in a time of terror? Christian hope is not wishing for something that might or might not happen, but a certain assurance that the God of hope will someday make all things right.

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose hope is the Lord.

And now abide faith, hope, love….

…remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father.

But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.

Jeremiah 17:7, 1 Corinthians 13:13, 1 Thessalonians 1:3, Hebrews 3:6

The refrain of Kristian Stanfill’s song, Hope has a Name, is:

Hope has a name


The Light of the World

Who broke through the darkness

All hail the King


The Light of the World

The Glory of Heaven

Claiming the Promises of the Psalms: The Promise of Mercy

I love the Lord, for he heard my voice, he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live (Psalms 116:1-2 NIV).

“Mercy” is sometimes translated “loving kindness”. My husband, Richard, says, “Mercy is not getting what we do deserve”. A. W. Tozer puts it this way, “We who earned banishment shall enjoy communion; we who deserve the pains of hell shall know the bliss of heaven. And all through the tender mercy of our God, whereby the Dayspring from on high hath visited us…Mercy is an attribute of God, an infinite and inexhaustible energy within the divine nature which disposes God to be actively compassionate.”

The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy…. [here is God’s definition of mercy] He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him, for He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourishes, for the wind passes over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children, to such as keep His covenant, and to those who remember His commandments to do them (Psalm 103:8-18 NKJV).

Loving kindness defines God and His mercy. This promise of mercy bore flesh as Jesus, the mercy seat, provided redemption for those who would believe in Him. Christians, having experienced that mercy, have within ourselves the Spirit of God who can enable us to exhibit a sweetness of gracious compassion we could not do on our own. It is not within our sinful nature to do so; however, having taken on the nature of God as one of His children, we can then demonstrate what that is like in real life and real time. Non believers are not so much taken by what we say, but what we do. When our reaction to their unjustness toward us is compassion and kindness, it takes a little of the wind out of their sails. Merciful kindness is an unexpected response to cruelty and judgment.

Reflections on Christian Trials and Persecutions, Part 2*

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ – 1 Peter 1:6-7

Perhaps the lack of suffering for the cause of Christ in the modern Western church is due to the lack of nerve on the part of the church to challenge our contemporary world with the message of the cross and to live uncompromisingly according to the teachings of Jesus. Those who live faithful lives in an unbelieving world will find opposition to both their ideas and their practices, even if it doesn’t result in actual persecution or physical danger.

Peter also says there are “various trials, or “all kinds of trials.” The word is sometimes translated “manifold” (KJV). James uses the same word, “trials of many kinds” (Jas 1:2). It is lit. “variegated,” or “many-colored.” You’ll get through one trial, only to find that another of an entirely different hue is waiting around the next bend of life. 

From whatever the source, whatever their “color,” trials may sometimes come that are particularly hard, or crushing. When they do, there’s no point in trying to pretend there’s no pain, or to put on a brave front just to appear more “spiritual.” And neither should one ever try to minimize or explain away the suffering of another who is going through some fiery trial.

” . . . though now for a little while . . . you may have had to suffer.” (I Peter 1:6).

Trials don’t last forever. They are “for a season” (KJV).  One writer says, “When God permits His children to go through the furnace, He keeps His eye on the clock and His hand on the thermostat” (Wiersbe).

If we resist the trial, if we only seek a way out of it, then we work against God’s purpose in it. He may have to “reset the clock.” The important issue is not “that” we get out of a trial, but “what” we get out of it. If we submit to God, He won’t allow us to remain one moment too long in it. The important thing is that we learn the lesson He wants to teach us, and that we bring glory to Him in our trial.

These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed  (1 Peter 1:7)

Helen Keller said, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” That is certainly true of Christian character, and particularly true of the faith that undergirds it. God wants to strengthen your faith and make something beautiful of your life. He sees the impurities there, and He leaves you in the crucible long enough to burn away everything that mars you, or that keeps you from being perfected in your faith. This is because He sees your faith as being the most important thing in your life. 

… The person who abandons his faith when the going gets tough proves that he really had no genuine faith at all. God doesn’t allow trials to come to you to destroy your faith, but to validate it, to prove its genuineness to you.  He sees your faith as precious, and He wants you to see it that way also.  

…Whatever trials you may endure in this life can’t begin to compare to the glory that God has in store for you. And these very trials are an essential part of the process.

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls (1 Peter 1:8-9)

…We rejoice because we’re not just waiting for glory, we’re already receiving it. Such rejoicing is absolutely impossible apart from faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Believers, while perhaps not rejoicing over their trials, can nevertheless rejoice in their trials.  When you truly love and trust Christ, you can experience joy even in the worst of times. And each new trial can be an opportunity to learn more about Him, to learn how sweet and sure and sufficient He is. And in that experience He produces a joy that Peter says is “inexpressible and glorious.” Think of it! In your trial comes a joy so great you can’t describe it. Charles Spurgeon used to say, “Little faith will take your soul to heaven, but great faith will bring heaven to your soul.” No matter the trial, if you have the faith to love and trust Christ in the midst of it you can actually experience some of the glory of heaven.

The prophets foresaw the entire panorama of the ministry of Christ. They didn’t know how much time would separate the Lord’s sufferings from the full manifestation of His glory, but they clearly saw the future in those terms. Christ is the center of history! He is the One by whom history is defined. And Peter makes the history of Christ the pattern for the history of every Christian when he says, “But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” (1 Pet. 4:13). This is the meaning of history, the flow of history, this is the direction everything is headed, the final unveiling of the glory of Jesus Christ! Everything else is meaningful only in relation to the facts concerning the work of Christ. That ancient prophets can look forward to the coming of Christ with such accuracy should cause us to look back to His First Coming with confidence and forward to His promised Second Coming with assurance and hope. This is a matter of Divine revelation. 

*continuation of Richard’s study of 1 Peter  

©Richard L. Blake  

February 2022

Reflections on Christian Trials and Persecution

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls (1 Peter 1:6-9)

1 Peter was written to Christians who reside as aliens (NAS) who are elect exiles ((ESV) God’s elect, strangers in the world (NIV), pilgrims of the Dispersion (NKJV), God’s chosen people who are living as foreigners (NLT).

My husband, Richard, loaned me his notes on 1 Peter. With his permission, this month’s devotional contains his reflections – excerpts from that teaching – on trials and persecution for Christians. All of the following quotes are from this teaching.


It’s time for Christians to wake up to the fact that we’re not in a playground but a battleground. There is a form of Christianity that is acceptable to the world, a watered-down religion of niceness. But if you take a stand upon the truth of the Word of God, if you live according to its principles, you will pay a price. It could affect your career, your social standing, your relationship with friends and even with family members. But that’s inherent in your calling in Christ who said, “Whoever would be my disciple must be willing to die.”


As believers, we have an address in this world but our citizenship is somewhere else. We’re citizens of the land where King Jesus is in charge and who loves us with an everlasting love. Whenever we face rejection and persecution, we’re strengthened by the knowledge that we are His chosen ones.


God loves you and has a perfect plan for your life. He’s not sitting on a throne of perplexity, wondering how it’ll all turn out. All that happens to you, good or bad, is known to God. But our assurance is that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).


When you’re rejected or suffer ridicule for your values, you can know that God is at work in it to make you stronger, purer, more holy. It’s said that refiners of precious metals, gold and silver, heat the crucible until all the impurities have been burned away. They know the process is complete when they can see their reflection in the liquid. God is sanctifying your life, using the fire of rejection or affliction for His purposes though the world thinks it is in charge. And when He can see His reflection in your life, He’ll take you out of the fire.


The result of the Spirit’s sanctifying process in your life is obedience to Jesus. The hardest time to obey is when things aren’t going well. We want to take charge, to do something to get ourselves out of the trial. But you aren’t free to do as you please. In every trial, you must ask, “What does Christ want me to do?”  This may go against your natural instincts.

We’re being set apart for obedience to Christ. “You are not your own; you are bought at a price” (1 Cor. 6:20). You are to obey, no matter what the world says or thinks. “Why do you call me Lord, and do not do what I tell you to do?” God’s superior purpose in your life is that you obey Jesus.


No matter how many times you’re rejected or attacked, remember, those who reject you are not the final authority. You have been sprinkled with the blood of the Lamb of God. 


Whatever our trials, whatever our predicament, we have a new start in life. We face each day with a living hope because in Jesus “all things have become new.” You don’t have to be bound by your past. Jesus gives you a new start every day.  That’s shouting ground. Praise God that you’re born again.


…Only Christianity has a God of hope. In Rom. 15:13, Paul said, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope.” Our new birth into a living hope is “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Christianity is responsible for bringing to the world the possibility for real hope.

The reason our hope is living is because it’s based on a living Savior, because it’s founded on the historical reality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Hope makes no sense if Christ has not been raised from the tomb. The apostle Paul witnessed to that reality: “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living . . . Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also . . . ” (1 Cor. 15:3-8). 

Our hope isn’t built on the absence of difficulty, or a positive mental attitude. It’s built on the unassailable fact of the historical resurrection of Jesus Christ. We know living hope because Jesus lives. And for that, we can praise God even in the worst of times.


© Richard L. Blake

February 2022

Stephanie B. Blake

Reflective Focus