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 - www.xtendinternational.com, I travel extensively with my husband. I maintain two websites: www.onefocusministries.com and stretchmoney.wordpress.com. 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 stretchmoney.wordpress.com. 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 Cure for Loneliness

The Cure for Loneliness

Furthermore, if two lie down together to keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart (Ecclesiastes 4:11-12).

We are made for companionship and we feel it keenly when it is absent.

The refrain of the Beatle’s hit song, Eleanor Rigby is:

All the lonely people.

Where do they all come from?

All the lonely people.

Where do they all belong?

Some of the most popular pop songs have had this lonely theme: I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry by Hank Williams; Only the Lonely by Roy Orbison; Lonely Man by Elvis Presley and many others. Why are those songs so popular? Many people can relate to the lyrics.

Being alone and being lonely are two different things. You can be by yourself but not be lonely. You can be in a crowd, but the loneliness can be devastating.

A February 2014 article in The Guardian says that loneliness has found to be more deadly than obesity and is now being defined as a disease.

In a report called Rewarding Social Connections Promote Successful Ageing that Professor John Cacioppo presented in Chicago… the effect of satisfying relationships on the elderly was measured.

Cacioppo’s team found that friendships helped older people develop their resilience and ability to bounce back after adversity, as well as an ability to gain strength from stress rather than be diminished by it.

Not surprisingly, there is no corresponding good news for those less well connected to other people. Loneliness has dramatic consequences on health. Feeling isolated from others can disrupt sleep, raise blood pressure, lower immunity, increase depression, lower overall subjective wellbeing and increase the stress hormone cortisol (at sustained high levels, cortisol gradually wears your body down).

Elderly people can often be so lonely that they will keep telemarketers on the phone just to have someone talk to them, but it is not just the elderly who are prone to loneliness.

Social media is not always beneficially social. Occasionally the harsh comments made through twitter, Facebook and other sources can cause great damage to the targeted person – often a young person.

God knows we need fellowship. He made us that way. Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18).

Loneliness is a malady that can strike even God’s choicest servants. Elijah had performed great miracles in the name of the Lord, but then had a spell of depression when he thought he was alone. Then Elijah said to the people, “I alone am left a prophet of the Lord, but Baal’s prophets are 450 men” (1 Kings 18:22). With that declaration, Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal to a demonstration. Each one would place a bull on an altar but put no fire under it. Elijah said, “Then you call on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord; and the God who answers by fire, He is God” (1 Kings 18:24). After much pleading, the prophets of Baal were unable to get their gods to consume their offering. Elijah then poured water over the sacrifice and the wood and called upon the Lord who then consumed the sacrifice. The people saw, fell on their faces before God, and seized the prophets of Baal.

Even with the miracles that God had performed through Elijah’s hand, Elijah continued to believe that he was alone. When Jezebel sought him out to kill him, he ran away, crying for God to take his life. When God confronted him, Elijah twice said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life” (1 Kings 19:10,14).

God did two things to help Elijah understand he was not alone. He informed him of seven thousand in Israel who had not worshiped Baal. He sent Elijah to meet his own successor. Elisha became his servant and served the Lord with him. Cured of his disease of loneliness, when the Lord told Elijah He was going to take him to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah tried to leave Elisha behind. He wanted to go on alone. Elisha begged him to allow him to go with him, saying three times, “I will not leave you!” 

What made the difference for Elijah? God became enough. He had believed in God and performed His miracles. Elijah wanted companionship. God gave him Elisha. In the time between his bout of depressing loneliness and his ride on the flaming chariot, Elijah realized that with God, he was never alone.

Jesus knew rejection, but He never gave in to the disease of loneliness because He knew that His Father was always with Him. “Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me (John 16:32).

Alone, but not lonely, could describe many people I know. Like Anna, who was a widow eighty-four years and was so dedicated to God that He gave her the special gift of seeing the Christ Child, I know widows who spend most of their time in prayer. I have friends who are so sick they cannot do the things they would like to do, but give glory to God because they totally trust Him.

Jesus knew His disciples would be confused and lonely after His death. He told them it would be to their advantage that He went away because He would be sending His Holy Spirit to be with them always.

All the lonely people – where do they all come from?

They come from all ages and all nationalities. They come from every sex and every vocation. They come from every walk of life.

All the lonely people – where do they all belong?

In the loving presence of Jesus, who said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5b).

© Stephanie B. Blake

May 2015

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That Special Someone – A Friend

We all need friends.

I have some very special friends – some that I don’t see very often, but when I do, we take up right where we left off.

DSC03454 Cuba Oct '08 153 Stephanie, Sharon and Tina Photo on 8-10-14 at 4.56 PM IMG_1255I am an American. Some of my friends are American but many of my friends live in other countries. We communicate by phone, email, or Facebook but there can be great lapses of time between each message. I often wish for a chance to catch up – to have a cup of coffee or tea with that special someone – a person I feel comfortable with, I can relate to, who understands me.

Although I consider myself a friendly person, not everyone I meet falls into that “special someone” category. There are those who do not share my interests, my values, or my faith.

God is the creator of all people, but not every person wants to be close to Him. I take encouragement from those who do and learn from their special relationship with God, such as these biblical characters:

  • Noah who found grace in the eyes of the Lord and he and his family were saved from the flood.
  • Abraham who was called a friend of God.
  • Moses who could talk with God face to face.
  • Job whom God called a blameless and upright man.Oma and her friend Lisa
  • Elijah who was known as a man of God.
  • Isaiah who was given prophetic visions by God.
  • Ezekiel who had the hand of the Lord upon him.
  • Daniel who was protected by God in the lion’s den.
  • The virgin Mary who was highly favored, chosen to be the mother of the Savior.
  • John, the apostle, who called himself “the one whom Jesus loved”.

Jesus makes it possible for each of us to have a personal relationship with Him. His miraculous birth, His sinless life, His sacrificial death and His bodily resurrection is a gift of grace to those who chose to believe in Him. There don’t have to be any lapses of time for communication – we can talk with Him constantly.  Especially comforting is – like Abraham – we are His friends. And like John, He loves us completely.

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if 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 heard from My Father I have made known to you” (John 15:13-15).

 

Rest From A Completed Project

My life is full of projects to be completed – little ones and big ones.

Every day is full of the little projects:

  • Laundry is not complete until I have folded it, put it away and ironed items that require it. After a trip, that particular project may take all day.
  • If we want to eat a meal, it is not enough to decide what to cook, cook it and serve it. The dishes must also be washed and put away.DSC03514
  • If yard work needs to be done, I have found it best not to do it in stages but to devote enough time to get it completely done including weeding flower beds, cutting the grass, trimming and cleaning up afterwards.
  • I maintain a couple of blogs. The article is not complete until I have finished writing it, added an image or two, proofed it and posted it to the internet.

IMG_2127When I am able, I help my husband with some of our household projects. These are more lengthy in nature and may take days or weeks, but I am always aware the project needs to be completed. If I do choose to “enter into the project” with him and follow through to the end, I can take delight in the fact I had a part in finishing it.

Some projects are part of something larger. If we are building a house, we may finish building a bathroom, but the remainder of the rooms may need to be finished as well. It is not completely finished until the last nail has been driven and the last paint brush has been put down.

I need to rest when I get tired, but I want to rest as well so that I can enjoy the result of the project.

God never gets tired but He does take time to enjoy what He has created. And God rested on the seventh day from all His works (Hebrews 4:4).

If you are a child of God, God is in the process of completing His work in you. When you believe, His rest becomes your rest. … we who have believed do enter that rest (Hebrews 4:3a).

There is a future element to that rest. There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from His works, as God did from His (Hebrews 4:9-10). Together, for eternity, we will enjoy all that God has planned for those who have chosen to believe in Him.

since a promise remains of entering His rest… Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest…(Hebrews 4:1, 11).

The World Clock and Sleep

I am often waiting on an international flight. The last time I did that, although my flight was more than twelve hours long and the door to door time in route was to be over seventeen hours, according to the calendar and the flight schedule, I arrived before I left – part of the curious life of working and living on the world clock.

I know the advantages we have our predecessors did not. Businesses are now able to work around the clock. Communication and business transactions can be conducted twenty four hours a day.

454px-C_Krohg-TrettI can also keep track of friends and family no matter what time of day or night it is. I may send a message late in my day knowing a friend or family member will receive it the next day when they arise. Often when I am overseas, I wake to a message about a loved one – some good, some bad, but the occasion for the message occurred during their daytime – my night.

This lifestyle leads to an interesting attack on my body. I often have serious problems with jet lag. Having tried every solution there is to conquer this, it still takes me days – sometimes weeks – to recover.

Angelo_Agostini,_1887,_El_Rey,_nosso_senhor_e_amoOur bodies are structured to need sleep. It is so important that people have even died from the lack of sleep. It is an effective torture tactic. Loss of sleep can cause you to lose your reasoning ability or become dangerously disoriented.

Often when I am sleep deprived or recovering from a long overseas trip, I thankfully reflect on the fact that my God does not need sleep. The world clock is not an issue for Him – He created time and is in time for all of us. He is as available to me during the night as He is during the day. When I am concerned about a loved one on the other side of the world, I know that when I talk to Him about him or her, He immediately hears.

In fact, because He never sleeps, my sleepless hours can be some of the best time to talk to Him about everything – those I love and my needs as well.

I will lift up my eyes to the hills – from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand (Psalm 121:1-5).

The Lead Character

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made (Genesis 1:1, John 1: 1-3).

In the film industry, they are called lead actors. In literature, they are known as main characters. It should never be hard to pick out the main character in a story. He is the one the story revolves around. For instance, in the movie Gravity, there would be no story without Dr. Ryan Stone, played by Sandra Bullock. Les Miserables is about the life of Jean Valjean. Gone with the Wind tells the story of Scarlett O’Hara. Casablanca focuses on the character of Rick Blaine.

The creators of these stories put great effort into developing the main character. As the story progresses, the reader or viewer discovers more about the main character and why the story is about him. Through proper character development, the reader or viewer becomes aware of the significant role of the main character.

Alfred de Vigny, poet, playwright, and novelist (1797-1863) said, “History is a novel whose author is the people.” Respectfully, I believe de Vigny was wrong. History is not a fictional novel. Authored by God Himself, it is a factual record of His creation and His redeeming love for His people through His Son Jesus Christ. He is creator, author and the One the story revolves around.

History is His story.

The telling of God’s story in the Bible literally comes alive through Jesus. He is the Word of God. He is also the main character in every event in the written word of God. God’s story begins with Genesis 1:1. Jesus was there. John’s gospel makes that clear. The Bible ends with The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen (Revelation 22:21).

In an article on crupressgreen.com (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ), Seeing Christ in All of Scripture, it is expressed this way: “The good news doesn’t just reside in part two of the Bible, the New Testament. The entire story of the Bible is about one person, one plan, one goal. That person is Jesus, that plan is redemption, the goal is the glory of God. It’s really a pretty simple story line.”

It is possible to miss that simple story line. If we view God’s Word as a collection of stories about people, we miss the point. Many stories in the Bible are well known, even to those who do not follow Christ but the reader’s perspective can sometimes be different than the Author’s intention. Some might erroneously give a supporting character the role of the main character.

God and Noah

Noah was not the main character in the story of the ark and the flood.

God made man. God was sorry He had made man. God was grieved. God sent the flood, but God miraculously saved the one man who walked with Him. God’s grace saved Noah and his family and enough of the animals to give mankind a new start. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord…. Noah walked with God (Genesis 6:8-9).

God and Moses

Moses was not the main character when the people of Israel crossed the Red Sea on dry land.

God chose Moses to lead His people out of bondage from Egypt. He revealed Himself to Moses and promised He would be with him. So He said, “I will certainly be with you…And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.”… So the Lord saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians…Thus Israel saw the great work which the Lord had done in Egypt; so the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord and His servant Moses (Exodus 3:12, 14; 14:30, 31).

God and David

David knew he could not kill Goliath with just a slingshot, but God could use him to do it.

God prepared David, the shepherd boy, to do what the army could not do. His armor was not the armor of metal and war. It was the armor of faith. “This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand…Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands” (1 Samuel 17: 46-47).

 God and Jonah

Jonah was a reluctant participant in God’s plan to offer salvation to the people of Nineveh. He was definitely not the main character.

In the New Inductive Study Bible, the preface to Jonah states, “The focus of Jonah is not a man trapped in the belly of a great fish; the focus is people engraved on the heart of God.” As a result of forcing Jonah to go to Nineveh, many repented and turned to God. “And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons… (Jonah 4:11).

God and Daniel

Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den and remained untouched, but Daniel could not save himself.

The officials of Darius became jealous of the favor Daniel, a foreigner, found with the king. Through their conniving, Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den. It was Daniel’s refusal to worship any God but the true God. It was his God who rescued Him. The king spoke, saying to Daniel, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths, so that they have not hurt me, because I was found innocent before Him”…So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no injury whatever was found on him, because he believed in his God” (Daniel 6:20-23).

In Jesus, God’s story comes alive. …Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and … He was buried, and … He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Through faith in Him, our names are written in another book – the Book of Life. What a privilege it is to be part of His story.

© Stephanie B. Blake

April 2015

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We Chose Adoption

Once again adoption is more than an idea in our family – it is a reality.

10929019_10206604680294704_245956839076266793_nMy second Chinese granddaughter is now in the family. I was reminded, as I was with the first adoption, that the entire family made a choice. Every member – daddy, mommy, two brothers and a sister – wants Ava to know how much she is loved and wanted. So do my husband and I. The rest of the extended family feels the same.

Ava and I have yet to meet, but once I was aware she would be joining the family, she earned a special spot in my heart. She doesn’t know me yet, but I love this precious girl.

Prior to leaving to pick Ava up from China, the family made preparation for her10665191_10207033896384959_5610547872014842076_n at home – shifting things around and making sure that she had her own spot in which to sleep and keep her belongings. Time, thought, effort and expense were given willingly – all because having Ava in the family was worth it. She has been and will continue to be loved sacrificially, unconditionally and completely.

Ava has yet to fully realize the depth of love that brought her into the family. I think someday she will.

Adoption is a choice God made. As part of His adopted family, I am blessed. I feel His love. I know that bringing me into His family cost Him immeasurable sacrifice – the death of His only begotten Son. God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit knew the cost of offering me an eternal home with His family. I will never be able to fully comprehend the depth of His love, but the reciprocal and grateful love I have for Him is very real.

Our lives have been immeasurably enriched because my son and his family chose to adopt. This has helped me come a little closer to understanding God’s love for me and all of my Christian brothers and sisters.

We love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). “I go to prepare a place for you…I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you….He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him….If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him…”(John 14: 2b, 18, 20-21, 23).

Dressing Properly

When I am attending an event in another country or even my own, I try to make sure I am dressed properly and know what is expected of me. Some civic events or worship services are very formal. Others are quite informal. When traveling, I always carry a skirt with me. I can never go wrong wearing a modest blouse and a skirt.

Anyone visiting the President of the United States, the Queen of England or any other national head of state would first be taught the proper protocol to exercise while in their presence. This would include how to dress, what to say and what not to say. No one would expect otherwise.

DSC07083

When it comes to entering the presence of God, however, that is another story. Disrespect toward Him abounds. He is often referred to as the Man Upstairs or worse still, His name often comes in front of a curse. There is even a nonchalant attitude about coming to the house of God.

If we would dress differently visiting Buckingham Palace, what statement does it make to God when we wear shorts and flip flops in His house? Certainly we should not judge those who have nothing else to wear and they should be welcomed in church. Sometimes, however, those who do have nicer clothing are encouraged to come to church in their beach clothes so they will feel more comfortable. That makes me sad.

It is also wrong to wear fancy clothes to church just to be noticed but our dress reflects our attitude. God knows our hearts and whether we respect Him. By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy and before all the people I will be honored (Leviticus 10:3 NAS).Nigeria 225

In Jesus’ parable of the wedding feast, the man without the proper wedding garment was cast away into darkness. Access to God came at a high price – the price of His Son. Jesus provided pure white garments for us. We need to wear them.

And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son…But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have a wedding garment. So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness…(Matthew 22:1, 2, 11-13).

The Perfect Student

Every teacher must be a student first. Jesus, well known as the Master Teacher, was also a student.

The Bible is fairly silent about the years between Jesus’ birth and public ministry – with one exception. In his orderly account of the life of Jesus, Luke includes a unique story in his gospel. He must have had a reason.

His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover (Luke 2:41).

Jesus’ family had a custom of traveling to Jerusalem yearly to observe the feast of the Passover. There is no other occasion where Jesus’ exact age is given, but here Luke makes a point to tell Theophilus that on this journey to Jerusalem Jesus was twelve years old.

And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast (Luke 2:42).

The twelfth year was very important to Jewish boys. At the end of that year, Jesus would go through a ceremony where He would become a bar mitzvah or “son of the commandment”. At age thirteen, he would have the same rights and responsibilities as an adult.

His heavenly Father had been preparing Jesus for this day. “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49). Jesus was already aware of His role in the Godhead to provide salvation for sinners. He had voluntarily emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:7-8 NASB).

Jesus went through the human process of learning just as we all do. He had to learn to walk, talk, feed Himself and how to apply what He was taught in His home and in the synagogue to His life.

And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him (Luke 2:40).

On this trip, Jesus sought out the teachers in the temple, listening to them, asking questions and responding to theirs. They were so engaged in conversation that they sat together for several days. As His family had traveled to Jerusalem in a large caravan, it was not unusual that He had not stayed by their side. When the caravan left the city, His parents supposed He was with their group. When they realized He was not, they searched for Him, finding Him sitting in the midst of the teachers – absorbing all they had to say.

When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know it; but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances. So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him. Now it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers (Luke 2:43-47).

The type of conversation Jesus engaged in with the teachers was common then and is a great teaching style even today. If you have ever taught a lesson of any kind, you know that when your student listens intently and asks questions that he is interested and is “getting it.” The interchange between teacher and student helps cement the lesson material in the student’s mind. It is also very gratifying to teachers when they observe this depth of understanding.

Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them…. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men (Luke 2:51-52).

Just as others grow and learn, so did Jesus. He grew and He increased in wisdom.

Later in His adulthood, the Jews marveled because of His teaching, wondering aloud, “How does this Man know letters, having never studied?” (John 7:15).

Jesus’ reply to this query was similar to the psalmist: I have not departed from Your judgments, for You Yourself have taught me (Psalm 119:102). God the Father taught Him.

Jesus answers them and said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority. He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him (John 7:16-18).

Jesus, as the Son of Man, was always a student of the Father. And, having become man, he humbled himself by living a life of utter obedience, even to the extent of dying, and the death he died was the death of a common criminal (Philippians 2:7-8 J. B. Phillips New Testament).

…though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him (Hebrews 5:8-9).

There should never be a time when we stop learning. Even teachers need refresher courses; professors need to study to keep abreast of current affairs; doctors and scientists must be aware of the latest research; preachers and Bible teachers can always discover something new as they study. Throughout life, we are students.

Jesus was the perfect student and gave us an example of how to be one as well. He was humble, obedient, and totally focused on knowing and doing the will of the Father.

Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: [Let Him be your example in humility:] (Philippians 2:5 Amplified).

If Jesus, who was God and perfectly fulfilled the law, learned obedience from the things He suffered and stayed focused on the will of God the Father, how much more should we be determined to be humbly obedient to God and do His will?

Stephanie B. Blake

March 2015

Unless otherwise indicated, scripture references are from the New King James version.

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Biographies and Personal Testimonies

If I admire someone for their strong ethical principles in public life or have enjoyed reading an author’s works, reading their biography often adds to the depth of appreciation I have for that person. For instance:

22541929Billy Graham’s integrity throughout the years of his ministry are inspiring. The biographies I have read about him have cemented my admiration of him.

26779My favorite daily devotional book is My Utmost for His Highest. Reading Oswald Chambers Abandoned to God: The Life Story of the Author of My Utmost for His Highest added to my appreciation for Oswald Chambers. Many things about his life surprised me, but nothing disappointed me.

705983The poetry of Helen Steiner Rice is simple, clear and compassionate. We gave a copy of In the Vineyard of the Lord: Lights and Shadows from the Life of Helen Steiner Rice to my husband’s grandmother in 1982. After my husband’s father passed away, I found that book in his mother’s trunk and brought it home. I’m glad I did. It is a great testimony of a woman who used her talent for God.

1059875I thoroughly enjoyed reading We Had Everything But Money, a collection of true stories of people who lived through the Great Depression. Many of these testimonies were written by family members who were proud of their loved ones, their attitudes, their contributions to others and their examples of the truth that happiness doesn’t come from money. These people were not famous, but their stories impacted my life.

Few of us will have a biographer ask to write our story. It is usually famous people who receive those requests.

We are, however, well known to God. Those of us who are His children have our names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. I believe there is also a possibility that He has written the stories of His children down in another book – a collection of stories about those who love Him.

You number my wanderings; Put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in Your book? (Psalm 56:8).

Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them (Psalm 139:16).

Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, And the Lord listened and heard them; So a book of remembrance was written before Him For those who fear the Lord And who meditate on His name (Malachi 3:16).

The Biblical Principle of Thrift

Although God’s resources are unlimited, His word records a basic principle of thrift.

In Old Testament times there was a custom of allowing the poor to follow behind reapers in order to pick up grain that was left behind. This is still practiced among some grain farmers. Even generous owners of vineyards may allow free access to their vineyards after their workers have gathered the grape harvest.

boaz_and_ruth__image_9_sjpg1141Illustrated beautifully in the story of Ruth, Boaz told her, “Do not go to glean in another field, nor go from here, but stay close by my young women. Let your eyes be on the field which they reap, and go after them” (Ruth 2:8-9).

Waste is the careless use or expenditure of goods for no purpose and is never commended in scripture.

On two separate occasions, Jesus publicly practiced this principle of stewardship.

thAfter a day of ministering to a multitude, the disciples suggested Jesus instruct the people to leave so they could go into the villages and buy food. Instead, Jesus fed five thousand men plus women and children with five loaves and two fish – miraculously multiplying the food. After they had all eaten and were full, they gathered up twelve baskets of leftovers.

In a similar circumstance, Jesus fed four thousand men plus women and children with seven loaves of bread and a few fish. As before, after they were all full, the disciples took up seven large baskets of what was left.

We do not have the ability to multiply our resources. That is God’s prerogative. We can apply His principle of thrift and make the most of what we have – being careful not to waste what He has provided.

Jesus had a spiritual application in mind as well as the practical provision. When the disciples misunderstood His admonition to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees and thought it was because they had forgotten to bring bread, His response was:

“O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread? Do you not yet understand, or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up? Nor the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many large baskets you took up? How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread? – but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Matthew 16:8-11).

(This was first published on my other blog: http://www.stretchmoney.wordpress.com)