Tag: Jesus

Weeds or Flowers?

Yard maintenance is a must in the spring – especially in the flower gardens. If a few days go by before I work on removing weeds, they can easily overtake the plants I want to keep. Unfortunately, there have been times I have waited too long. Occasionally when I pull a weed, a good plant comes out with it. Their roots had become intertwined. I also have learned that I must dispose of the weeds by bagging them up for trash removal or burning them. If I just toss them aside, I have to deal with them again later.

1024px-2007_echinacea_purpureaI have noticed that not everyone pulls the same plants as weeds. I was at a friend’s house recently and her garden had several plants in it that I pull out of mine. On occasion, my husband will call something a weed that I thought was a flower.

So…some weeds are flowers to some people and some flowers are weeds to others! It takes knowledge and a discerning eye to know the difference.

I guess it is a matter of personal preference and what kind of garden you want to have. It is a case of “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

God does not have the same issues we do with our gardens. He knows exactly which items should be destroyed and which ones should be kept. He is, for now, allowing them to grow together. When harvest time comes, He has readied an army of angels with discerning eyes to sort them all out.

“The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow goo240px-Wheat_close-upd seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’

He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let them grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.’ (Matthew 13:24-30).



Precious Nails

Nails are so common today few people realize how precious they once were. Although I sometimes think a box of nails is expensive, at one time they were valuable enough to be used as a medium of exchange. Until the 18th century nails were made by hand using a very slow process. A fairly common practice during those days was to burn down an old house in order to retrieve the nails. They were that scarce.

In 1794 Thomas Jefferson added a nailmaking operation to his blacksmith shop at Monticello. In 1795, he wrote a letter to Jean Nicolas Demeunier informing him of this new enterprise. “In our private pursuits it is a great advantage that every honest employment is deemed honorable. I am myself a nail-maker…. My new trade of nail-making is to me in this country what an additional title of nobility or the ensigns of a new order are in Europe.”

Jefferson purchased one of the first nail cutting machines in 1796. Several inventors spent large sums of money producing various cutting machines. It has been estimated these men spent over $1,000,000 before a machine made in 1810 was able to produce about 100 nails per minute.

Cut nails are still being used, but after the invention of a wire-nail-making machine in 1851, wire nails are common today because they are so much cheaper. Nails went from being rare and precious to being mass-produced and relatively inexpensive. That fact enables my husband to buy them to build or repair something.

Satan intended the nails that pierced Jesus on the cross to destroy His life, but they were really used to create new life for those of us who trust Him. Jesus took my place on the cross. Through His blood He repaired the relationship between God and man that was marred when sin entered the world (Colossians 1:13-23). Without His allowing those nails to penetrate His innocent hands and feet, I would be facing judgment. Those nails cost Him dearly but it was a price He was willing to pay for my salvation – and yours.

jesus_nails_1Those nails represent God’s sacrificial love and eternal life. They are most precious to me.

As you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so continue to live in him….When you were spiritually dead because of your sins and because you were not free from the power of your sinful self, God made you alive with Christ, and he forgave all our sins. He canceled the debt, which listed all the rules we failed to follow. He took away that record with its rules and nailed it to the cross. God stripped the spiritual rulers and powers of their authority. With the cross, he won the victory and showed the world that they were powerless (Colossians 2:6, 13-15 NCV).

In The Father’s Throne Room

Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens . . . But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises (Hebrews 8:1, 6).

Jesus has always been God (John 8:58, Revelation 1:8).  He was the God of creation (John 1:1-3).  He was the God Man in His incarnation (Matthew 1:23). He is now and always will be God (Hebrews 13:8). The writer of Hebrews tells us that Christ is now seated at the right hand of the throne of Majesty. Since this was always His privilege, why is this so important to you and to me?

The significance is that through His sacrifice as the Lamb of God, He, our High Priest, has done what no other High Priest had ever done.  He completed the work of redemption and sat down. Now because He is there, you and I as believers in Him, can come boldly to the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16).  This is not a future promise.  It is a present reality.

Realizing that access to God’s throne room is readily available should give Christians an excitement about prayer and cause us to use that privilege constantly.  Who would not want to have an audience with the King at any time, seek His advice and know that His presence is only as far away as a thought?

I am on a quest to learn more about prayer. If I had the opportunity to talk with the writer of Hebrews, my question to him would be: “What can your letter teach me about prayer?” The answer to that question is the subject of this study.

The Life and Words of God’s Son

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son (Hebrews 1:1).

Although the beginning verse of this letter does not reference prayer itself, there is an application to prayer.  Prayer is a conversation with God. A conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue.  If you are truly interested in hearing from God (His side of the conversation), you must be able to know how He speaks and recognize His voice when He does.

In the Old Testament, He prepared us for the coming of His Son. He spoke to the fathers by the prophets promising the redemption that would come through Jesus Christ. Abraham was justified by faith, not by works (Romans 4 and Genesis 15:6).  The men and women mentioned in Hebrews 11, the great “Hall of Faith,” were justified by faith.  Their faith was in the promise to come.

In the New Testament, we have the account of Jesus’ birth, life, sacrificial death, resurrection, ascension and presence in His body as well as additional prophecies about His second coming.  If you are a believer, like Abraham, you are justified by faith, not by works (Romans 5).  Your faith is in the promise fulfilled.

God, who chooses to speak with His children, speaks to us clearly through His Son. Jesus told His disciples, “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. . . . But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things that I said to you” (John 14:23,26). 

If you want to hear God speak to you, listen to Jesus.  If you do your part (love Him and keep His word), God will live with you and in you and His Holy Spirit will remind you of the things that you need to hear Him say to you.

Reflections for further study:

  • What were some of the ways that God spoke in the Old Testament?

Examine the accounts of Abraham, Moses, Job, Elijah and others.

  • Since God has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, give examples of ways that you can hear Jesus speak to you.

The Throne of Grace

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

As has been mentioned, because of Jesus, believers have access to the throne of grace. Every need you have is met at this place of privilege. Prayer is the means by which you come boldly to the throne of grace.

Reflections for further study

  • This verse begins with Let us therefore . . . What does the writer of Hebrews say in the preceding verses that help you know that you may come boldly to the throne of grace?
  • Can you picture yourself at God’s throne?  Are you dressed appropriately?  Do you have any need for cleansing before you come to His throne?  What will you say to Him today when you approach Him?  Do you need forgiveness . . . help. . . instruction. . .insight. . .wisdom for a task?  Whatever your need is, He is there to meet it.

Christ’s example in prayer

In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety (Hebrews 5:7 NASB).

Read the gospel accounts of the life of Jesus and note the many times it is mentioned that He spent time in prayer.  He prayed for others, He prayed for Himself, and He taught about prayer.

Reflections for further study 

  • Read Matthew 6:5-15, 7:7-11, 7:21-23.  What does Jesus teach about prayer in His sermon?
  • What does Matthew 9:37-38 tell you about prayer and evangelism?  Are you faithful to pray for God to send laborers into His harvest? Is He speaking to you to become a laborer?
  • Read Jesus’ prayer of Matthew 11:25-26.  Read the chapter in its entirety.  Why did Jesus pray, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes?” 
  • Before Jesus fed the four thousand men with seven loaves and a few fish, He took the loaves and the fish and gave thanks (Matthew 15:36). Have you ever experienced the multiplication principle in your own prayer life?  If so, share with someone what God did.
  • When Jesus addressed the scribes and Pharisees as hypocrites, what did He have to say about their prayers (Matthew 23:14)? What prayer principle is He teaching here?
  • Matthew 26:36-46 is the account of Jesus and the three disciples in Gethsemane. What did He pray? What did He ask His disciples to pray?
  • Compare Jesus’ prayer of Matthew 27:46 and Hebrews 5:7-8.
  • Read John 17 and “The World’s Most Majestic Prayer” (another Bible study on this website).  Answer the “questions for reflection” at the end of that study.
  • If Jesus found it necessary to pray, how much more do you and I need to pray?

The Intercession of Jesus

Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them (Hebrews 7:25).

Picture the throne room of God.  Visualize God the Father and God the Son talking about you: someone made in Our image, according to Our likeness (Genesis 1:26).  Since Jesus can sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15), He stands ready to intercede for you.  Now, imagine yourself approaching the throne of grace boldly asking for His mercy and grace to help in your time of need (Hebrew 4:16). Pray “in His name” (John 14:13-14) and let Him do the rest.

  • How comforting is it to you that your risen Lord is still interceding on your behalf?
  • Compare Romans 8:26, 8:34 and Hebrews 9:24 with Hebrews 7:25.

Clean and Pure

Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus. . . let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water (Hebrews 10:19, 22).

How can you approach God’s throne of grace boldly?  No one can approach God through any personal merit; only through the shed blood of Jesus. The apostle John says that the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. . . . If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:7b, 9). In Psalm 24:3-4, David says, 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. . . .

Before the coming of Jesus, only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies.  There was a veil that separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies.  The historian Josephus reported that this veil was 4 inches thick and that even horses tied to each side could not pull it apart.  Yet, at the death of Jesus (Mark 15:38), this veil was torn in two from top to bottom.

Reflection for further study

  • What is the significance of the veil being torn from top to bottom?
  • If you have come to Jesus, confessed your sins, received His forgiveness and serve Him as Lord, you can have boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus.  What does being welcomed into the presence of God in the Holy of Holies mean to you?

Pleasing and Praising God 

…without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).

Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name (Hebrews 13:15).  


  • Is it your desire to please God?  If it is, the answer is simple.  Trust Him.  Prayer, communication with God, is the means by which to diligently seek Him.
  • The Old Testament records the sacrifice of animals to God. This was a prelude to the sacrifice that Jesus would offer as He submitted Himself to the cross for us.  It also was a tangible witness to the pagans that the people of Israel worshipped the one true God. Now, verbal witness of God’s working in a believer’s life, the fruit of our lips, is the sacrifice of praise. Do you tell others of God’s involvement in your life?

Privilege of Praying for Others

Pray for us; for we are confident that we have a good conscience, in all things desiring to live honorably (Hebrews 13:18-19).

No one knows for sure who wrote the book of Hebrews.  From this request it appears that there may have been more than one contributor to this letter.  They all had a clear conscience before God.  That would have only been possible through the blood of Jesus (see Hebrews 10:19, 22 above).  These men desired to live honorably and for the glory of God.

God designed the family of God to care for one another.  It is a privilege to pray for our brothers and sisters.  If someone asks you to pray for them, do so.  Just as parents are thrilled when their children watch out for each other, God is pleased when we care enough about each other to bring someone’s request to His throne room.

Question for Reflection

  • Is your conscience clear before the Lord? Do you confess sin as soon as you are aware of it?
  • Do you desire to live honorably before the Lord?

A Prayer and a Purpose 

Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ to whom be glory forever and ever (Hebrews 13:20-21). 

This summarizes the body of the letter itself.  The God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead provided through His Son a way for us to come back to Him; to have peace with God.

            . . . that great Shepherd of the sheep

The letter states that it was Jesus, who being our High Priest, gave Himself as the ultimate sacrifice.  He accomplished what animal sacrifice could not. He completed the requirement for justification.  At His crucifixion, He said, “It is finished” (John 19:30). In John 10, He said as the Good Shepherd, He willingly laid down His life (John 10:17-18). He is the Priest who offers the sacrifice (Hebrews 2:17).  He is the Lamb of God, the sacrifice itself (John 1:29).  He is the Shepherd who protects his sheep (John 10). Everything that was required to reconcile sinful man back into relationship with righteous God was accomplished through Jesus (Romans 5:1-11).

            . . . through the blood of the everlasting covenant,

This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days,” says the Lord:  “I will put My laws into their hearts and into their minds I will write them,” then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more” (Hebrews 10:16-17).  This is the final everlasting covenant.  Jesus fulfilled it when he offered one sacrifice for sins forever (Hebrews 10:12).

            . . . make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ to whom be glory forever and ever.

God has a purpose for your life.  He has given you all the resources in Jesus for you to accomplish that purpose, please Him, and bring glory to His name.

Questions for Reflection 

  •  Is your life pleasing to God?  Does it bring glory to Him?

The Benediction of the Letter to the Hebrews 

Grace be with you all (Hebrews 13:25).

This was the type of benediction that Paul used to conclude his letters. Since the other letters of the New Testament written by James, Peter, John and Jude do not conclude this way, this may be one reason that some scholars suppose that Paul penned this letter or was one of its authors.

Questions for Reflection 

  • Are you willing and able to share God’s grace with others?
  • Is prayer a duty or a privilege to you?
  • What has Hebrews taught you about prayer? Are you encouraged to pray more?

© Stephanie B. Blake

Download In The Father’s Throne Room

Jesus Explains His Words to His Friends

John’s gospel gives us a lengthy account of the last visit Jesus had with His disciples before His betrayal, trial and crucifixion. After Judas left the group to betray Jesus, He was left with the faithful few.  Even though they did not understand everything He had to say or was about to happen to Him, they were true disciples and loved Him.  These conversations are recorded in John 13:31 through John 16. He concluded this time with a prayer to His Father on their behalf in John 17. 

It is striking to note that several times in the midst of His discourse, He gave them reasons for what He was telling them.  These are the passages examined in this study.

Now I tell you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe that I am He (John 13:19).

These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you (John 14:25-26).

And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe (John 14:29).

These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full (John 15:11).

These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble (John 16:1).

But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them.  And these things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you (John 16:4).

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world (John 16:33).

Read John 13 through John 17 in their entirety.  Examine the statements above and answer the questions below.

John 13:19, 14:29, 16:4: Jesus knew that His time had come for God to be glorified in His sacrificial death on the cross (John 13:31-32).  Before Judas left the room, John remarks several times that Jesus was about to be betrayed and that He was troubled in spirit. Still, Jesus included Judas in the foot washing.  Can you imagine how Judas must have felt as He watched the Master wash his feet, knowing that he was about to betray Him?  Only a heart that had been hardened by the world could experience such an act of kindness and still carry on his horrible plan. Jesus even warned the others that one of them would be excluded from their blessings (John 13:17-18).

Later, Peter denied Christ just as He predicted (John 13:38); however, Scripture tells us that Judas and Peter were worlds apart in their allegiance to Jesus. What was the difference?

John 14:25-26: In the very presence of the Lord, these disciples were warned of the trials to come as well as encouraged that Jesus would give them all the resources they would need for the challenging days ahead.  The Holy Spirit did indeed remind them of the things that Jesus said.  See Luke 24:8, John 2:22 and John 12:16.

Believers today have the indwelling of the Spirit of Jesus and His recorded words.  Have you spent enough time listening to Him (reading His word) so that His Spirit can bring His words to your mind when you most need them?

John 15:11: This is one of the most incredible statements Jesus made to His disciples. How could Jesus feel joy at this time in His life?  Compare Hebrews 12:2 with this passage. See another Word Focus, “Focus on the Fullness of Joy,” on this website for more insight.

John 16:1: One of His followers had deserted and betrayed Him. Judas was not a true disciple, but had followed Him along with the rest of the disciples for some time. The rest, although they were true believers, would have many chances in the future to leave as well.  Although Jesus knew that they would not stand with Him during the days to come, He also knew they would band together after His death and become what He had trained them to be – witnesses to Him in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8). He was now giving them adequate warning that the temptation to stumble would come and He was preparing them for that eventuality.

How does His warning affect Christians today? Was it harder to be true to Christ then or now? In what areas of your life are you tempted to stumble?

John 16:33: This was the last thing Jesus said to His disciples before His prayer.  If you are a Christian, you know that in the world you will have tribulation. But be of good cheer, [Jesus] has overcome the world. In the midst of tribulation, do you experience the peace of Christ?

© Stephanie B. Blake

All Scripture quotations are from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

  Download Jesus Explains His Words to His Friends

The Master Communicator

How do teachers get their message across to their students? If they are really concerned that their students learn something from their teaching, how is it best done?  Some use humor, some interject stories, some lecture and some interact with the students through questions.  Many do a combination of all of these.

Jesus was the master communicator, using every good form of teaching style. His favorite was story telling – those remarkable illustrations of life He called parables. Since this world is His creation, it was easy for Him to make the spiritual applications. His parables were also intended to have special meaning for His followers (His true students) while sometimes confusing the ones who refused to believe (see Mark 4:11-12). But without a parable He did not speak to them. And when they were alone, He explained all things to His disciples (Mark 4:34). Those that wanted to hear what Jesus had to say (Mark 4:9) bonded more closely to Him through His lessons as He talked about things they observed every day.

Many preachers try to follow His example with the traditional “two stories and a poem” in their sermons.  Often the stories are what the congregants remember.  The preacher hopes they will also apply the spiritual principle.  Jesus taught us that a good story is memorable and can bring the teaching point back to mind again and again.

Students are more engaged in the learning process when they personalize the lesson: how does this apply to me? Often this identification results from a teacher’s questions. Even when the context cannot result in a verbal response to the question (the class is too large, the teaching is done through print, etc.) questions can put personal emphasis on the subject.  Why do I need to study this? Will knowing more about this subject improve my life?

Making a personal application comes through proper use of questions. Jesus’ use of questions often set the stage for His teaching although He interspersed them among His discourses as well.  Examine the selected teaching venues from the gospel of John and see how His questions were designed to draw the hearer closer to understanding His teaching.

–        What do you seek? (1:38). Jesus’ first question recorded in John’s gospel was directed to two disciples who were following Him.  Why do you think He phrased His question just so? What did He not say, “Whom do you seek?” What do you want out of life – what do you seek?

–       Because I said to you, “I saw you under the fig tree,” do you believe? (1:50). Read His encounter with Nathanael (1:45-51).  Nathanael had a change of mind from verse 46 to verse 49.  What caused his change of mind? Did you ever have an erroneous idea about Jesus? What changed your mind?

–       Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? (3:10). Nicodemus was a ruler of the Jews.  Why do you think he was having a hard time understanding the spiritual concept of being “born again?”

–       Do you want to be made well? (5:6) At first glance, Jesus’ question to the lame man is a strange one.  The man had evidently been coming to the pool for some time. The Bible tells us that we are in need of the Great Physician (Mark 2:17); however, does everyone want to be made well?

–       But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words? (5:47). The Jews took pride in their knowledge of Moses and his teaching.  Why did Jesus say they did not believe his writings? See John 5:45-46.

–       Does this offend you? What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? (6:61-62). Do you also want to go away? (6:67). Some following Jesus became confused and offended because of His lessons. After they went away, Jesus asked the twelve if they also desired to leave.  Christians are often persecuted and ridiculed for believing in Him. How hard is it for you to stay with Jesus even when others are not with Him?

–       Did not Moses give you the law, yet none of you keeps the law? Why do you seek to kill Me? (7:19). If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath, so that the law of Moses should not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made a man completely well on the Sabbath? (7:23). If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why do you strike Me? (18:23). Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me? (10:32). Why was Jesus ridiculed, attacked and ultimately crucified?

–       Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you? (8:10). Was the woman guilty or innocent of the charges made against her? Why did Jesus refuse to condemn her?

–       Why do you not understand My speech? (8:43). Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? (8:46). Jesus often said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Matthew 11:15, Mark 4:9, Mark 4:23, Luke 8:8, Luke 14:35).  Why did He say certain people did not understand or believe in Him? See John 8:47.

–       Do you believe in the Son of God? (9:35). Read the entire chapter.  What else was healed in this man besides his eyesight?

–       Are there not twelve hours in the day? (11:9). Jesus made the most of His time, doing more in three years of ministry than anyone else has ever done in a lifetime.  Do you feel an urgency to accomplish something for Jesus with what time you have on earth? James said . . .You do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away (James 4:14).

–       And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this? (11:26).

Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God? (11:40). One of His most amazing miracles was the raising of his friend, Lazarus, from the dead. However, Lazarus did ultimately die another physical death.  What promise did He make to Martha when He said, He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live? (John 11:25).

–       Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? “Father, save Me from this hour”? (12:27). Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me? (18:11). Jesus is the God-man, all God and all man at the same time.  His anguish and His suffering were real. He did nothing to deserve death on the cross. He chose to live His perfect life and die a sacrificial death for you and me.  How does that put any suffering that you may encounter into perspective? If God can be glorified through a circumstance in your life, can you say, “Shall I not drink from that cup?”

–       Do you know what I have done to you? (13:12). Jesus answered this question in verses 14 and 15.  Is it possible to follow His humble and sacrificial example?

–       Will you lay down your life for My sake? (13:38). Have you ever made a rash claim to God and then fallen back on that promise to witness to His goodness in your life?

–       Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father, so how can you say, “Show us the Father”? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? (14:9-10). Even the disciples who walked and talked with Jesus face to face had a hard time understanding His identity and His mission.  With the completion of the Bible and the passing of time, there is more than enough evidence to support Jesus’ claims about Himself and His relationship to God, the Father.  Do you believe?

–       Are you speaking for yourself about this, or did others tell you this concerning Me? (18:34). Do you base your judgment on who Jesus is by what others say about Him or by what He has said about Himself?

–       Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these? (21:15, 16, 17). Three times Jesus asked Simon Peter the same question.  What about you?  Do you love Him?

Jesus asked probing questions of those around Him. Some believed in Him, some deserted Him, but His questions remain for everyone to answer.  If you ask the Good Teacher (Mark 10:17, Luke 18:18), What shall we do, that we may work the works of God? [His answer is] This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent (John 6:28-29).


© Stephanie B. Blake

All Scripture quotations are from the New King James Version.

Download The Master Communicator

What Jesus Says About God the Father

Jesus constantly talked about God the Father. He was sent by the Father to redeem man, but although He chose for a time to be confined to earth, He was never separated from the Father except for one time.  His greatest suffering came from being alone on the cross, feeling forsaken by the Father.

Throughout His life, Jesus was about His Father’s business. He reminded His mother of that when He stayed behind in the temple at twelve years old. His mission and work was to do the will of His Father.

My Father, Your Father, Our Father

Jesus used personal possessive pronouns when referring to God, the Father. In every way, God is His Father. Jesus, as part of the Godhead, has a more intimate relationship with the Father than any other human being could have. He has always had an intimate relationship with “My Father.”

He and the Father are One. “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God” (Genesis 1:26, John 1:1-2). His declaration of His relationship to His Father was what led to His death on the cross.

We have access to God the Father through God the Son. When addressing those who believe in Him, He refers to God as your Father. A Christian’s relationship to God the Father is intimate because of his adoption into God’s family. Jesus came to add to HIs family. When someone comes to Him in faith, He acknowledged that God is now your Father.

In conversation with His disciples, He talked about our Father. Jesus gave His life in order to share His Father with us. God the Father is our Father.

To Jesus, God the Father is My Father. He refers to your Father when talking to His disciples. Together with Jesus, as His brothers and sisters, God the Father is our Father. God our Father loves the Son, and loves those who love 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 14:23)

Reflection and Discussion

How does each verse below address your relationship to God as your Father?

  • “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
  • “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).
  • “But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly” (Matthew 6:3-4).
  • “But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly” (Matthew 6:6).
  • “In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven. . .” (Matthew 6:9).
  • “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you” (Matthew 6:14).
  • “But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly” (Matthew 6:17-18).
  • “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or “What shall we drink’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things” (Matthew 6:31-32).
  • “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:11).
  • “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).
  • “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).
  • “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him” (John 14:7).
  •  “You have heard Me say to you, ‘I am going away and coming back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, ‘I am going to the Father,’ for My Father is greater than I” (John 14:28).
  • “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser” (John 15:1).
  • “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” (John 15:8-10).
  • “No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what a 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. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you” (John 15:15-16).
  • “He who hates Me hates My Father also” (John 15:23).
  •  “I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father” (John 16:28).
  • “Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. . . But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. . . I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be One in Us, that the world may believe that You sent me” (John 17:11, 13, 20-21).

What does it mean for you to have God as your Father?

© Stephanie B. Blake

Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version

Download What Jesus Says About God the Father

Prepare to Be Surprised

The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.” Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?” “Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.” Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few.” Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.” She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.” But he replied,” There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing. She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left” (2 Kings 4: 1-7 NIV).

Notice that when Elisha told the widow to ask her neighbors for empty jars, he said, “don’t ask for just a few.” What happened next was a surprise. It was something only God could do. If this widow had known how God was going to bless her, would she have asked for even more jugs?

Elisha’s mentor Elijah had a similar experience with the widow at Zarephath (1 Kings 17: 7-16). As she was preparing what she believed to be her last meal for her and her son, Elijah approached her. All she had left was a handful of flour and a little olive oil in a jug. Elijah asked her to prepare something for him first and then for herself and her son. Although the drought in the land lasted for years, Elijah promised that the food would not run out until the day the Lord sent rain on the land.

These women were destitute because they had lost their husbands and thus their support. One went to a man of God hoping for help. The other was not even aware help was available. Neither of them could have imagined how their circumstances could have turned out well. They were surprised by God’s miraculous provision for them.

In each case, God called upon His servants to use what little the widows had to bring about the blessing. A little oil filled all the jugs the widow had collected. Only then did it stop. A little flour and a little oil were not depleted until the rain came.

Jesus surprised more than one tremendous crowd by feeding them from a tiny supply of bread and fish. In these circumstances, not only was there enough for the people, but an abundant supply remained. Jesus had these gathered up so there would be no waste.

Similar stories of provision can be found all over the world today. No story is identical to another, but one thing is clear. God loves to surprise His children. He knows our special wants and needs and delights in arranging surprises for us.

Sometimes we miss out on the best of God’s surprises because we are not prepared to receive them. How can we prepare ourselves for the surprises God has for us? Simply by living expectantly in faith that what God allows in our lives is best for us. Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the certainty of things not seen…Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him (Hebrews 11:1,6).

Some people would like to believe that God promises blessings because we deserve it. These are those who would preach and teach that Christians should never be ill or poor. That is not the teaching of the Bible. Story after story proves that God blesses and provides for His people in adverse circumstances.

If what we hope for is to honor God – loving, obeying and trusting Him – His rewards will be both temporal and eternal.

Daniel remained untouched by the lions when he was thrown into their den. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were not even singed when they were thrown into the fire, but the men who tossed them in burned to death. Stephen – in the midst of being stoned for proclaiming Jesus – saw Him standing at the right hand of God. Paul and Silas – jailed for preaching Jesus – sang and prayed and then the angels opened the doors of the prison.

In “Making Each Moment Count: 21 Reflections on a Fulfilled Life”, Anne Bryan Smolin says in a chapter entitled “Expect Surprises”:

What surprises are waiting for me today? What graces will come my way? Who will carry the message? What will it be and how will it be packaged? Will I recognize it as gift?

Instead of deciding what my day will be like and what needs to happen, let me live this next 24 hours with abandon, open to the possibilities that dangle before me.

Anne has a good point. We often expect nothing or too little from God. We ask for small blessings when he desires to pour out His richest blessings upon us. Our God is not just a big God. He has no limitations. He delights in blessing His children who can give the glory to Him and who can in turn bless others.

George Mueller, a great man of prayer whom God supplied with the means – daily – for running the orphanages He had led him to establish, said, “Why should we limit either the goodness or power of God by our own knowledge of what we call the law of nature?” George Mueller lived expectantly and was accustomed to seeing God’s miracles on a daily basis.

Squire Parsons, a very gifted gospel artist, in his song “He will” expresses this idea perfectly.

“I don’t how He’s gonna make this trial a blessing…. I don’t know how He’s gonna do it, but I know He will.”

Wake each morning with eager anticipation. Have faith in God and be prepared for His abundant surprises. Give Him what you have and He will multiply it or give you something even better.

Stephanie B. Blake

April 2013

 Download Prepare to Be Surprised

The Best Free Gift Ever

There is sometimes a little letdown when Christmas is over. Family members go home and the house feels somewhat empty. The decorations need to be put away (not nearly as fun as putting them up). There is a possibility that some of the gifts need to be returned – either because they don’t work, you can’t use them, you already have one just like it or it doesn’t fit.
The opposite might also be true. If you have received a gift card or money for a Christmas present, now is the time to be able to choose something you really want or need for free. Redeeming the gift card or spending the money after Christmas often stretches your money because there are many after Christmas sales which are deeply discounted.

Everyone likes something free. The gifts you received didn’t cost you anything. You may have gotten something you have been wishing for and because it is something you would not have purchased for yourself, it is a true luxury. Some of my favorite belongings remind me of Christmases past and the thoughtfulness of a loved one.

Regardless of what you received this Christmas or past Christmases there will be a point where you will no longer use it. It will either wear out or you will leave it behind when you die.

The best free gift ever offered and received will never wear out or be left behind when you die. It was the most costly gift ever because it required the Son of God to die on the cross for your sin. Our free gift cost Him everything. His sacrifice enables you to spend eternity with Him in Heaven.


Just like the gifts you got for Christmas, the only thing you have to do is receive this gift. As He offers it to you and you receive it by faith, you are able to have fellowship now with Him on earth and forever with Him in Heaven. If you have not received this most precious gift, why don’t you do so today?

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).*

*This post is duplicated on my other blog, http://stretchmoney.wordpress.com as well. As I try hard to give advice on how to obtain what you need for free, this post was also appropriate for that blog. Jesus Christ offers the best free gift ever!

Jesus and Money

When possessions become more important than God or people, your perspective in life is backwards. It is God who gives us all things to enjoy. Without Him, we would have nothing. He puts such a value on us as people that He sent His Son to die in our place.

That’s why, I think, that when Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment is, He replied, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself'” (Matthew 22:37-39).

Obeying this commandment enables us to view life the way God intended. Giving Him first place in your life does not rid you of anything. Instead, it enriches you.

Those who are truly rich are those who can love – they can receive love and they can give love.


“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).

Jesus demonstrated how to prioritize.

His choice of earthly status was deliberate. The Son of God chose to be born in a humble stable with a manger for His crib. He did not choose a princess to give Him an earthly body, but a young peasant girl. The man who raised Him as a child was not a lawyer, a teacher or a rich man. He was an ordinary carpenter.

Jesus mingled with both rich and poor. He did not condemn the rich, nor accuse the poor. His teachings, especially the Sermon on the Mount, address attitudes toward money – always emphasizing that a person’s heart will be bound to what he treasures.

The group of twelve disciples that followed Him throughout His ministry came from all walks of life. Most were fishermen. One was a tax collector. Some of their occupations were unknown, but once committed to following Jesus, they left behind their old lives. They lived as their Teacher lived – without dependence on worldly goods.

At one point, Jesus appointed seventy other disciples to go to cities ahead of Him. His instructions were specific. They were to go out two by two carrying no supplies with them. The willingness of those they visited to supply their needs with an open home and shared possessions would be evidence of their reception to the message of the disciples.

Jesus often spoke about material things and money, knowing that was always an issue on the minds of men. Many of His parables were about money, property or wealth.

He wanted to drive home the point that what you do with the material resources you have been given is very important and has consequences.

© Stephanie B. Blake

October 2012

* an excerpt from “Money: How to Be Rich Without It and How to Stretch It Using Ten Hints from the Past and the Technology of Today”

Download Jesus and Money

Little Children Love Jesus

One year I was the missionary speaker at Vacation Bible School at my home church. What a delight it was to watch the children listen with rapt attention as I talked about serving Jesus around the world.

The first thing I told them was, “Jesus loves you and He has a plan for your life. Do you know that Jesus loves you?” Practically every head nodded yes. I believe they do know that Jesus loves them and in return, they love Him back.

gbtas0018Jesus understands this about little ones. His delight was in the children who came readily to Him. The picture that comes to our minds when we think of Jesus and children is one of peaceful abandon. The children ran to Him, sat in His lap, listened to Him speak and soaked it all in. They had nothing better to do than enjoy time with the One who loves them the most. There is no other situation in the life of Jesus where the circumstance is more joyful. Unlike the adults who questioned Him, doubted Him, tested Him, persecuted Him and eventually killed Him, in their sweet innocence, the little children felt His love, accepted it and returned it.

Unless they are mistreated or neglected, children naturally trust those in charge. Adults in their lives make them feel safe and secure. It is later in life that people discover that not everyone is trustworthy. Jesus, however, is totally trustworthy. He will never disappoint you, nor fail you.
If we could only stay like little children in our love for Jesus, we would avoid becoming calloused, doubtful and fearful. Resting in His love, trusting His guidance and staying close to Him, just like the little children, makes all the difference in our perspective on life. What joy being in His presence brings.  Little children love Jesus. So should we.

Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will be no means enter it” (Mark 10:13-15).