Category: One Focus Blog

Veteran’s Day 2019

There are no adequate words to thank our veterans for the price they have paid for our freedom, but nonetheless, we must try. In their sacrifice, they reflect the heart of our Savior, who said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Those who have died in our wars and those who have been willing to die have demonstrated the love of a true friend. For all those friends in our nation who have put themselves in that position, we say with a heart of gratitude, “Thank you for your love and your sacrifice. May God richly bless you.”

Our freedoms always have been and always will be costly. It takes watchful diligence to keep those freedoms which have been fought for in the past and are needful for today and for tomorrow’s children.

Many of our leaders recognized this. In America’s God and Country Encyclopedia of Quotations, we find these quotes:

History failed to record a single precedent in which nations subject to moral decay have not passed into political and economic decline.

General Douglas MacArthur

But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious Hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.

President Abraham Lincoln

Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of the Redeemer of mankind. It is impossible that it should be otherwise; and in this sense and to this extent our civilization and our institutions are emphatically Christian.

United States Supreme Court 1892, Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States

All must admit that the reception of the teachings of Christ results in the purest patriotism, in the most scrupulous fidelity to public trust, and in the best type of citizenship.

President Grover Cleveland

Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.

Alexis de Tocqueville

Stephanie B. Blake

November 2019

Stewardship: Our Greatest Calling – The Owner of It All

…Everything under heaven is Mine (Job 41:11). 

The earth is the Lord’s and all of its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein (Psalm 24:1).  

For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the mountains, and the wild beasts of the field are Mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you; for the world is Mine, and all its fullness (Psalm 50:10-12).

The most important fact about stewardship or being a steward is that we are NOT the owners. We are not in charge. We do not have the whole picture of what is needed to keep things running. 

God is the owner. Everything originates with Him. He is the source of life and everything associated with it. He is in charge. He sees all – what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, how it needs to be done and who He has assigned to do each task. It is for His glory that we live as stewards. That is where discipleship comes in. That is where prayer comes in. Unless we follow the Lord and unless we get His guidance, we accomplish nothing of eternal value.

Each of us is unique. Every one of us has specific talents, spiritual gifts, personality traits, temperaments, backgrounds, heritage, strengths and motivations that make us who we are. My assignment in God’s world is not exactly like your assignment and your assignment is different from anyone else’s. Even in marriage, our differences complement each other and complete the unity that God wants to demonstrate through the home. Your calling from God is yours alone and mine is also unique. 

What we do have in common is the administration of our callings – the stewardship of our lives. The principles of stewardship apply to every believer. How do we live our lives in order to give Him the greatest praise? 

Stewardship is the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.  A good steward is careful to make the right choices about what God has entrusted him with. 

Good stewardship does not come naturally. Lazy people are not good stewards of God’s gifts. Right choices can only be made when we focus on God and ask for His wisdom to accomplish His plan for our lives. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways (James 1:5-8). A double-minded person is unstable. He will not receive anything from the Lord and thus will not be able to DO anything for the Lord.

What can God trust you with? When God created you, He knew everything that would happen to you, also knowing whether He could trust you to trust Him during each day. He knows your thoughts which is why He can hear your silent prayers. He knows your heart. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). He knows the number of your days….In Thy book they were all written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them (Psalm 139:16). 

We do have a Master that we are accountable to for our stewardship of His resources, but He is not a typical master. He is our Father and He loves us. Stewardship is a consciousness of being loved by the One who gives us everything we need and much more. Gratitude will lead you to be careful to give back to Him what He wants.

There is no greater joy than accomplishing the purpose for which God created you – the stewardship of your life. God is the One who will accomplish His purpose in you. …He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6).

Stewardship: Our Greatest Calling

So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.

Romans 14:12

Usually the first thing that comes to mind when we hear the word “stewardship” is the proper use of material resources, money or tithing. Although that certainly applies to this word, an examination of Webster’s definition reveals how far reaching stewardship is for the Christian.

Stewardship is the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary

John Hall, pastor, Field Street Baptist Church, Cleburne, Texas (my pastor) revealed just how all encompassing stewardship is when he said,

We will answer to God for the stewardship of our lives.

John MacArthur, pastor-teacher, Grace Community Church, Sun Valley, California, declared that:

All Christians are but God’s stewards. Everything we have is on loan from the Lord, entrusted to us for a while to use in serving Him.

R. T. Kendall, pastor of Westminster Chapel for 25 years, further clarifies this point in his book Imitating Christ when he said,

Finally, the sign of the servant is that he is one who can be trusted. My friend Joseph Ton put it like this to me: “Nothing is given to us on the basis of ownership, only stewardship.” It is required among stewards that a man be found faithful. Each of us has been entrusted with a gift. You have something nobody else has. The very gift you have, when it is used at the right moment, could be the very crux of all that is happening. Your gift, used at the moment when God wants it used, can be the hinge on which everything turns. God has trusted you with it. It is yours to perfect, develop, and to use whenever you are called upon to do so.

Richard L. Blake, Founder and President of Xtend Ministries International (my husband), also clearly made this point in his lectures on “How to Manage Money”.

God is observing what we do with our time, our talent, and our treasure. What may seem such little things to us are major factors in God’s decision to commend and promote us—or reprimand and demote us—in his Kingdom. Therefore, we must ask ourselves, “What opportunities are we missing, or one day will miss, because we have failed to use our money and other resources wisely?”

For the next few blog posts, I am going to share portions of my introduction to a full day’s teaching on the subject of stewardship. In examining how far-reaching our stewardship really is, we will look at a biblical foundation for our calling as stewards.

The amazing thing about being a Christian is that God Himself has entrusted His resources to us. He doesn’t need us to manage anything for Him, but because He loves us, He wants us to. He has made us part of His family and as such, delights in watching us use and enjoy the gifts He has given.

Remembering


And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this  in remembrance of me.” Luke 22:19

Today is Memorial Day in America – a day when thoughts turn toward those who have given their lives for this country – the ultimate sacrifice. We are capable of observing such a day because we are still living. We are the ones who remember – who observe a special day – who place a cross on each grave and who create memorial statues and monuments so that future generations will not forget. The ones we remember may have, in their last moments, been aware of their sacrifice for loved ones or their lives may have been taken from them so quickly that there was no time for reflection. Either way, we honor them and realize that without them, life would be very, very different for us. It is for us they died.

Jesus, whose very purpose in coming as our Savior was to lose His life as a sacrifice for ours, pondered on this assignment throughout His entire life. He knew what was coming because He willingly chose to die in our stead. His life’s work was completed in His sacrificial death and His miraculous resurrection.

As we remember those whom He created who followed His example and died so that we could have a chance to live a full life here on earth, we must keep ever present in our hearts the truth that Jesus Christ chose to die so that we could live eternally.

We are the reason He died. We are capable of enjoying eternal life with Him because of His sacrificial love.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;  and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)

Every Day Should Be God Awareness Day

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines “aware” as knowing that something (such as a situation, condition, or problem) exists; feeling, experiencing, or noticing something (such as a sound, sensation, or emotion); knowing and understanding a lot about what is happening in the world or around you.

A doctor’s job is made easier when his patients obtain a greater knowledge about how to be healthy. Among the items on the American healthcare awareness calendar are national birth defects prevention month in January; heart awareness month in February; brain injury awareness month in March, national Parkinson’s awareness month in April and National High Blood Pressure Education Month in May.

Christians know that the problem of sin exists; we know our condition is hopeless without Christ; we have experienced the saving grace of His love and because we have His word, we see His hand in what is happening in the world around us. 

Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves. We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His courts with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him and bless His name. For the Lord is good: His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations (Psalm 100).

Our spiritual health depends on our awareness of God and our dependence upon His presence and guidance in our every day lives. Worship is the reverent awareness of God’s presence – acknowledging to Him that He, and only He, is Lord of Heaven and Earth – expressing that awareness though prayer, song, meditating on His word, obedience to Him and serving Him with joy.

The Joy of Knowing “I AM”

If I believe that Jesus is everything He says He is,

then I have the security of knowing that my needs (physical and spiritual) are met because He is the Bread of life,

the warmth of His revelation because He is the Light of the World,

the confidence that I am safe because He is the Door to the sheepfold and

He will protect me because He is the Good Shepherd.

I have peace because He is the Resurrection and the Life and I know that I am going to Heaven when I die.

I have a sense of direction because He is the Way, the Truth and the Life and

I trust that He will use me because I am a branch connected to the True Vine.

I do believe these things. Do you?

 

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Biblical Mindset about Money: Ownership and Stewardship

I have another blog on “how to stretch your money”. For the last few weeks, my husband has been the guest blogger on that site. I have shared posts from a conference he led on how to manage money. I shared the last post here in full about the biblical principles on how to manage money.

I would also like to provide a link to the next three posts I have placed on http://www.stretchmoney.wordpress.com as they a800px-Foster_Bible_Pictures_0065-1_The_Israelites_Gather_Manna_in_the_Wildernessre also applicable for this One Focus blog.

 

How to Manage Money: Why a Biblical Mindset Matters: https://stretchmoney.wordpress.com/2016/03/25/how-to-manage-money-why-a-biblical-mindset-matters/

 

 

 

 

Silver-Coins-Public-Domain-300x225

 

How to Manage Money: What the Bible Says About Ownership: https://stretchmoney.wordpress.com/2016/04/02/how-to-manage-moneywhat-the-bible-says-about-ownership/

 

 

And

 

How to Manage Money: What the Bible Says About Stewardship: https://stretchmoney.wordpress.com/2016/04/08/how-to-manage-money-what-the-bible-says-about-stewardship/

finance_tree_growth_45EA7BC7B6870

 

How to Manage Money: Biblical Principles

This post was written by a guest blogger, my husband, Richard L. Blake. It is also on my other website – stretchmoney.wordpress.com as the second part of a seven part series.

The_Black_Death

I ask you to come with me 669 years back in time to Lubeck, Germany. In 1347, as the Black Plague swept across Europe killing over 30 percent of the population, the people of Lubeck were terrified. The wealthy citizens sought to enter the huge fortified monastery for shelter. But the monks, afraid of contamination by the disease from the outside world, locked their gates and strictly refused admission.

The nobles and the wealthy pleaded in vain. They then took their money, jewelry and valuables and threw them over the wall, pleading for admission that they might find safety. Within a short time, the money and valuables piled up a meter high. Yet the contaminated treasure was left untouched and the gates remained closed.

Now, why did all these monies and valuables lie at the base of the monastery walls? Because the rich thought that money thrown away would save their lives, and the monks thought that contaminated money accepted would kill them.

There were two entirely different views of wealth. What is your view? This is a very important issue for us to consider.

Develop a Biblical Mindset About Money

When it comes to money and material possessions we find three different views in the church.

Poverty Theology

The premise of Poverty Theology is that money is inherently evil and thus to be poor is to be spiritual. The orientation then is towards shunning wealth. This makes no sense because some of God’s most godly saints are wealthy. Job was the richest man in the ancient east (Job 1:3; 42:12). Abraham was exceedingly wealthy (Genesis 13:2). It’s not a sin to be rich, nor to enjoy the things wealth may bring. In 1 Timothy we are told that God is the one who “who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (6:17). Solomon, famed for both his riches and his wisdom, wrote, “As for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, and given him power to eat of it, to receive his heritage and rejoice in his labor—this is the gift of God” (Ecclesiastes 5:19).

Some may ask, “Doesn’t the Bible say that money is the root of all evil?” No, it does not. Rather, it says, “The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). Money itself is not evil but evil resides in people who love it. People may be moral or immoral, but money is morally neutral and can be used for good things or for bad. Therefore, we must reject the idea that money or material things are inherently unspiritual.

Prosperity Theology

The premise of Prosperity Theology is that money is a signature gift of God and thus to be rich is indicates God’s special favor. The orientation then is toward splurging wealth. Prosperity theology looks exactly like materialism but it professes to be based on God’s word and is therefore not only permissible but also desirable. Following God through giving and other forms of obedience become a formula for abundant provision and the celebration of prosperous living. There are some Christian leaders that exhort their listeners to give liberally while they live in palatial mansions, own private jets, and pay for luxurious hotel suites while they travel to spread their message of prosperity.

Of course, there are scriptures that seem to link material prosperity with God’s blessing. For instance, God gave material wealth to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Solomon, and Job because he approved of them. Some passages offer material rewards for faithful financial giving:

“You shall generously give to him, and your heart shall not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all your undertakings” (Deuteronomy 15:10).

      “Honor the Lord from your wealth, and from the first of all your produce; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine; The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered” (Proverbs 3:9-10; 11:25)

      “‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘if I will not open for you the windows of heaven, and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows’” (Malachi 3:10).

God does do those things these scriptures promise, but that’s not the whole picture. The scriptures also warn against the dangers of wealth—especially that in their prosperity people often forget the Lord (Deuteronomy 8:7-18). But even when people love and obey God they still may suffer. In fact, they’re promised suffering (Acts 14:22; 2 Timothy 3:12). Jeremiah, a righteous man who lived in adversity, complained to God, “Why are the wicked so prosperous? Why are evil people so happy? (Jeremiah 12:1). His question echoed the psalmist who wrote, “This is what the wicked are like— always free of care, they go on amassing wealth” (Psalm 73:12).

If, as prosperity theology maintains, material wealth is a reliable indicator of God’s reward and approval, then crime bosses, drug lords, and embezzlers must be his most favored people, while Jesus and the apostle Paul must be on his blacklist. So, prosperity theology does not square with the teaching of scripture.

Provision Theology

The premise of Provision Theology is that money belongs to God but He has entrusted wealth to us to be used wisely. The orientation then is towards stewarding wealth. This is the biblically correct view of wealth. Our good God has promised to provide for all our needs according to his riches in glory (Philippians 4:19). His provision is therefore good and not to be shunned or apologized for. Neither is it to be coveted or boasted about. The right approach is to see money and all materials resources as God’s property placed under our management. We are stewards of his provisions.

The Importance of Clean Water

635887959829433922-GTY-505416754The water crisis nightmare in Flint, Michigan began in April 2014 when the state decided to switch the source of the city’s water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River until a new supply line to Lake Huron was ready. Apparently ignoring the fact that the Flint River had a history of being noxiously unclean and neglecting to treat its water with an anti-corrosive agent to protect the pipes resulted in a huge dilemma in trying to restore drinkable water to the city. The toxins in the water were so bad that the water turned brown from the corrosion in the lead water mains. On top of that lead from those water mains began seeping into the tap water coming into approximately half the homes in the city. The toxins and the lead resulted in a water disaster of historic proportions in America. Residents cannot safely bathe in the water, much less drink it.

The original problem was caused, in part, in an effort to save money. The resulting catastrophe will continue to result in dire health problems among the citizens of the city – especially the children – and will in turn cost the city and the state untold millions in repair and reparations.

Had those in the decision making process of this change from Lake Huron to the Flint River anticipated the horrible outcome, they would not have hesitated to have spent the money for the anti-corrosive materials and would have possibly come up with another solution other than using the Flint River in the first place.

We cannot live without water. Worldwide contaminated water has always been a concern. Many get sick and die long before they should when they drink contaminated water. Many mission organisations exist just for that one purpose – to provide clean water for people to drink.

Contaminated water is symbolic of what Satan wants to do in our lives. You can’t always see the contamination, but when he adds his nasty and noxious toxic influence to what God has created, it brings about something harmful and impure. Contamination can be deadly. Purity is the only healthy spiritual choice. 800px-Flint_River_in_Flint_MIchigan

Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart (Psalm 24:3-4).

For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn for themselves cisterns – broken cisterns that can hold no water (Jeremiah 2:13).

“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water (John 7:38).

 

I See Home

In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you (John 14:2)

DSC_2040I am blessed with six amazing grandchildren. The most recent addition is another precious girl from China. She was three and one half when she came into the family and was a little over four when I met her for the first time. During my second visit with her and her family, I took her and her sister to the park where her dad, Opa, and her brothers were playing basketball. On the way back, I carried her on my back. As soon as we were in sight of their house, Ava said, “I see home!”

When my son’s family picked her up in China, Ava spoke no English. As any young child can, she has learned fairly quickly although I believe some concepts are still a little confusing to her. In time, everything will make sense. What is so gratifying is that now, after just a few months, she knows exactly what “home” is. It is not only the house she lives in; it is the safe place she shares with the family that is giving her constant and unconditional love.

I am also adopted into God’s family. The older I get, the more I think of Heaven on a daily basis. I have many loved ones who are waiting for me. Jesus promised He is preparing a place for me there. With joyful anticipation, I know that not only will I have a place to forever call home, but it will be a safe place where I can continue to experience God’s constant and unconditional love. As I approach, it is my Brother and Savior who is the one carrying me on His back – every step of the way.

heavenrainbowLike Ava, I see home.

For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee (2 Corinthians 5:1-5).