In the book of Luke, there is a story about a man named Zacchaeus. It might be easy to quickly read this story and move on. But I think if we spend some time here, we might discover some key takeaways for our own lives.
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
– Luke 19:1-10
Let’s dig a little into this story…
1 – [Zacchaeus] wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
This part of the story makes me wonder – do we try this hard to seek Jesus? Do we do everything in our power to spend time with Him and soak up His presence? Do we try to seek His face every day?
I fear that we have many missed opportunities to seek Jesus. We are too distracted or too busy or just plain apathetic. Personally, I don’t want the wonder and awe of the Lord to be lost on me. Every day of our lives we get to have a relationship with the King of kings!
This means we have to make an effort every day to spend time with Him. The enemy might try to plant excuses in our minds about why we don’t have time today. However, I really believe we need to be intentional with our time, despite our feelings.
When we make an effort to be with Jesus, little by little, we will discover a love that is immeasurable. We will find the only One who can love us unconditionally. And we will be amazed by “how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.” (Eph 3:18)
But even more than that, we will find we have a trustworthy Friend who is with us every moment of every day. We will know that we can rely on the Lord and His strength, no matter what we are facing. What a comfort that brings!
2 – Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
Note that during Jesus’ time, tax collectors were generally not liked. And as you can see in this verse, it was implied that Zacchaeus cheated the people. This was the norm for many tax collectors of his day.
But after spending time with Jesus, Zacchaeus was a changed man!
We might spend time with Jesus daily, reading our Bibles, and praying. But do we allow His presence in our lives to change us from the inside out? Or perhaps when we first became Christians did we appear to be on fire for God, but now our devotion has waned?
There are many out there who are just going through the motions of life. They checked off their Christian duties for the day, but they forget about Jesus during the remainder of the day. They grabbed their ticket to heaven, but they live life with worldly pleasure. They are the god of their own lives.
Truly when we become Christians, it is important to learn to fully surrender to the Lord. Seek His face daily. And allow Him to mold us and change us.
Maybe you wonder what is the point? Why can’t I have fun and do things my way?
First, Jesus did so much for us. Our hearts should want to live for Him in return. As I heard a pastor say once, “God owes you nothing. But you owe Him everything.”
Also, God has our best interest in mind. So when we learn to live life with Him as our Lord, we will find peace and joy. And we will save ourselves from a lot of heartache when we place our lives in the hands of the only One who is forever trustworthy and faithful.
We have so many blessings and so much beauty in the world around us. When we give the Lord our whole heart, it will open our eyes to the amazing things God does for us. Every day He is looking out for us, protecting us, and caring for us. I don’t want to forget that or take it for granted.
May we learn to seek Jesus with fervor, every day. And may we allow Him to change us and mold us daily. In the end, we will find true contentment and fulfillment in life.
Thank you for reading!
© 2022 Bridget A. Thomas
Something I have been thinking about lately is how Christians are called to have a servant’s heart. Having a servant’s heart might come naturally to some. Others might have a hard time with it. In our world today, we are taught to look out for ourselves and live rather selfishly. And it is telling. When we look around us, we see a lot of hate in our world.
As Christians, we are called to be like Jesus. And when we read Scripture, we see how Jesus put others first. One story that always gets me is found in Matthew 14.
Jesus had just learned that John the Baptist had been beheaded. It says in verse 13, “When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.” Jesus wanted to be alone, possibly to pray and to grieve. That is likely what any of us would have done as well.
However, verse 13 goes on to say, “Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns.” This sentence always bugs me. I wonder why the people couldn’t give him some privacy on this one occasion.
But then in verse 14 it says, “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” And then I am humbled all over again. Every time I read this, I seem to go through the same emotions. I see how Jesus had a servant’s heart in this story. He set aside His own feelings and sought to comfort those around Him.
This story reminds me that sometimes what we want isn’t always what God wants for us. As it says in Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
I have always appreciated the way some have translated the word Joy into an acronym:
This is a needed reminder to put Jesus first, then put other people next, and put yourself last. (This doesn’t mean that we don’t take care of ourselves. God didn’t intend for us to be doormats and allow other people to walk all over us. Sadly, there are people in this world who will gladly do that, if we allow them to.)
But we are called to serve God and serve others. This way of living is not intuitive to our human nature. Thankfully we have the greatest role model of all to follow – Jesus. Keeping God first place is key. He will guide us and help us and show us how to live with a servant’s heart.
This week, let us look for ways to live with a servant’s heart. It might be something simple, like making dinner for someone who is feeling low, helping a coworker with a project that has been stressful for them, or babysitting in order to give a weary parent a day off.
Honestly, for those of us who do not live alone, we have tons of opportunities every day to serve the members of our household. Cooking, cleaning, laundry. Any normal household chore can be done with love.
And truly I believe that when we live with a Servant’s Heart, we are honoring and worshipping the Lord. Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” When we have a heart that wants to honor God, it can be seen in all that we do. We worship Him, not just with our words, but also with our actions.
Let us look for ways to help those around us and spread the love of Jesus. In the end, not only will we bring a smile to someone else’s face, but we will find ourselves smiling too. That is because when we are kind to other people, this fills our own hearts with joy as well. When we selflessly give, we receive back more than we anticipated.
“But be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.” – 1 Samuel 12:24 NIV
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Mark 10:45 NIV
Thank you for reading!
© 2022 Bridget A. Thomas
Some days might feel
Like we are on the waves
Tossed around in a boat
Looking for a hand to save
Splash after splash
We get soaked
We can’t catch our breath
With no anchor of hope
Our muscles are weak
From moving the oars
We’re getting nowhere
From an endless chore
Walking on water
A figure comes near
He gently asks
If we’ll allow Him to steer
When we hand Him the oars
We can finally breathe
Our worries dissolve
And our fears leave
Now we can rest
In His loving care
For each day we know
He will be there
April 20, 2022
One night when I was in bed, trying to go to sleep, these words came to me. I had to get up and make sure I captured them before they were lost. I was thinking about how so many of us struggle in life. Day after day, we use all of our strength to tread water and stay afloat.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. We try to fight our circumstances, when what we really need to do is allow Jesus to carry us. Jesus is our lifeline, and He is there to help us. However, the key is allowing Him to do so. We can walk in peace knowing that our lives are in the hands of Almighty God. It doesn’t mean we won’t have trouble. But it means we can rest because we know He is handling our battles.
I admit that it can be difficult to get to this point. It means learning to trust Jesus and remembering how faithful our Savior is. And it takes a conscious effort of relinquishing control over to Him. We might have to remind ourselves to do this daily. But in the end, the rewards are well worth it.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – the words of Jesus found in Matthew 11:28-30
© 2022 Bridget A. Thomas
Over a year ago I posted on the topic of Freedom from Perfectionism. In the comments section of the post, my blogger friend, Judy, and I talked books. I told her that I planned to read a book called For An Audience of One: Seek the Praise That Comes From God Alone by R.T. Kendall. I told Judy I would write about it on my blog at some point. But I also warned her that it would take me awhile to get to it. And I was right! I didn’t think it would be over a year. But here I am. And you guys get to come along for the ride. But I think you will enjoy this too.
About the author: The author of the book is R.T. Kendall, who was born in Kentucky. But for twenty-five years he was the Minister at Westminster Chapel in London. He is now retired in Florida. You can read more about him here. This is the second book I have read by this author. And I have to wonder why I have not heard a lot more about him. I have loved both books that I read by Kendall. He writes in a very down-to-earth manner. His words are clear and easy to understand. Yet he also provides a wealth of insight and information. He looks at the topic of each book from so many angles, some of which that take the reader by surprise. And he really knows his stuff. I will definitely be reading more of this author’s books.
About the book: The title of this book should help you to see what this book is about. Basically the idea is that we should live our lives for an audience of One. Everything we say, everything we do, everything we think – we should keep God in mind. He knows all. And He knows our motives. So even if we do the right thing, we might need to question “why” we are doing it.
We should live for God’s glory alone, and not seek the glory of people. The author referenced a particular Bible verse throughout the book. It is one the author has tried to live by all his life. “How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” – John 5:44
Mr. Kendall says, “If we could intentionally imagine an audience of One—Jesus Himself—is eavesdropping on our every conversation, it could save us from a lot of regret and stress.”
However, the author also points out the fact that “the knowledge that He knows is the most comforting thought I can think of. He knows when I am low. When I am mistreated. When I am spoken evil of. When I am lied about. When I am under financial pressure. When I am ill. When I am depressed. God knows. Hallelujah!”
Minister Kendall touched on various tentacles of this topic. And honestly, some surprised me. He went down avenues that I would never have considered. But everything he touched on was intriguing. For example, there was a chapter in the book dedicated to America’s Second Great Awakening in the early 1800s. This was a time when many people were turning away from God. However, the Holy Spirit moved through certain communities and caused a great revival. This was interesting to read about.
The author touched on numerous other key points. He wrote about the integrity of Jesus, the Heroes of faith that are mentioned in Hebrews 11, and the day of judgement, just to name a few points.
One story that really blew me away in this book came from the Bible. I have read it before. But when the author of this book wrote about it, it really struck me. The story is found in 2 Kings 5. Naaman, who was the king of Aram, went to the prophet Elisha to seek healing from leprosy. Long story short, Elisha gave him advice to wash himself seven times in the Jordan. The king initially didn’t like the advice. But he ended up doing it, and he was healed. He tried to give Elisha a gift to show his gratitude, but Elisha didn’t accept it. As Naaman was traveling home, Gehazi, the servant of Elisha, got a little greedy. He went after Naaman and told him that Elisha changed his mind and did want a gift after all, and the king gave the servant a gift. But Elisha being an anointed prophet, knew what his servant did. And the servant was punished with the leprosy that had left Naaman.
But this is the point that Mr. Kendall made that really hit me – “Elisha does not command Gehazi to go and tell Naaman the truth. This would seem to be a natural thing for Elisha to do—to make sure that Naaman did not believe that Elisha put Gehazi up to what he did. But Elisha did nothing. He did not even bother to protect his own reputation with Naaman; he let him think whatever he willed. This to me is amazing. Elisha knew that God knew the truth. Even though Elisha wanted to teach Naaman a lesson, namely, to let Naaman see what the God of Israel is like, Elisha still did not try clear his name before Naaman. All Elisha did was for an audience of One. That is what mattered to Elisha—that God Himself knew. Elisha wanted the praise that comes from God only.”
I think most of us would want to clear our names in this kind of a situation. But this brings home the point of what living for an audience of One really looks like. There is such freedom in not caring what other people think. We need only worry about what our Almighty God thinks.
In the book, the author even shares a prayer towards the end of the book for nonbelievers to accept Jesus into their lives. I really appreciated that, and I often wonder why we don’t see more of that in Christian nonfiction books.
Conclusion: This book is outstanding and is now among my all-time favorites. I highly recommend it for all Christians, and really for anyone. This book will help believers and nonbelievers alike to think about their lives and their actions. One way to consider the value of a book is to ask the question – Did this book change me for the better? If you can say yes, then the book is well worth the read. And this book most definitely falls into that category. I will end with a quote from the book – “… if we could remember to speak and act as though there were no one else present but Jesus Christ Himself, it could be life-changing.”
Thank you for reading!
Last week I wrote about what I learned during Lent. And today I wanted to share about something else that I learned during those weeks. Towards the beginning of Lent I was feeling restless. Antsy might be a good way to put it. Sitting still was hard. And all of the normal activities that I enjoy couldn’t hold my attention.
Why am I so restless? I wondered. It wasn’t a pleasant feeling. So I was determined to get to the bottom of it.
Here are some thoughts on why we might have a restless spirit:
Perhaps God wants to tell us something. A couple of years ago I heard a sermon by Dr. Charles Stanley on the radio in which he talked about restlessness. He pointed out a story in the book of Esther. “That night the king had trouble sleeping, so he ordered an attendant to bring the book of the history of his reign so it could be read to him.” (Esther 6:1) Could it be that this sleepless night was divine intervention? When the king read the book, he discovered that a man named Mordecai had exposed a plot to kill the king. Mordecai’s good deed went unnoticed at the time. But now that the king was aware, he planned to reward him. (There is a lot more to the story than that. If you never read the book of Esther, it is a quick read and intriguing as well. You can find it here.) But this story points out that sometimes in our restlessness, God is trying to get our attention.
Maybe we are too distracted. In the Martha and Mary story found in Luke 10, Martha was distracted in preparing dinner. She wanted to make a good impression for Jesus, who was a guest at their house that day. But her distraction caused restlessness, and she missed out on quality time with the Messiah. While this particular scene was a temporary distraction, in our current culture we live in a state of constant distraction. Something is always dinging or pinging on our phones. We cannot remove ourselves from being accessible. I think the constant chaos definitely plays a role on our frayed nerves. Learning to lay down distractions, one by one, can help free us from the agitations we feel.
Sometimes the answer is obvious. It could be that we are worried about something. Often when we have a big issue we are facing, it is hard to think about anything else. We cannot reel our minds in, because we are too busy concocting a variety of “what ifs.” In such cases, the best thing to do is pray. 1 Peter 5:7 tells us to “Cast all your anxiety on [God] because He cares for you.” What a comfort it is to know that we can hand our troubles over to the Lord, because He cares about us and He cares about everything we are going through.
There might be other reasons why we are feeling restless. And it might take some time in prayer to figure it out. I had to pray about my situation and God gave me the answer pretty quickly. He told me that I needed quiet time in my day. When I say “quiet time,” I actually mean it two ways.
One way refers to literal sound. I am an introvert and an HSP. In case you are not familiar, an HSP stands for highly sensitive person. An HSP is easily overwhelmed by a lot of sensory overload. It’s not just noise. It’s all the senses. For example, certain strong smells might give me a headache. Check out this website if you want to see if you might fall into this category.
So this means that usually a person like me thrives on peace and quiet. I realize that some people actually like a lot of noise, those who need to have the TV or radio on all the time.
However, when I say quiet time, I am also referring to time with God. My Bible reading time had been rushed, due to various circumstances. And I wasn’t taking the time to relax in the Lord’s presence. Even when I was exercising, I was multitasking by reading my emails and such while I moved my feet. All of this was causing extra jitters. I learned that in order to find peace, I had to intentionally seek peace. I had to be deliberate about carving quiet time into my day. My solution was to get up earlier in the day, so that I had time before the rest of my household got up. This space in my day and time with God was comforting and helped me to start my day in a better frame of mind.
I have learned that what we feed ourselves first thing in the morning can dramatically change our day. If we reach for social media or email first thing, then our day might feel scattered. But if we reach for things that refresh us, this will help us to face the day with peace and productivity.
Quiet time, especially quiet time with the Lord, can help shape our days and bring peace into our hearts. He fills us like no other. All the other things that we reach for will only give us temporary satisfaction. It’s like eating a piece of candy. It might taste good in the moment, but it will soon leave our stomachs growling for more. But when we reach for Jesus, the bread of life, we will find true satisfaction and fulfillment.
For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. ~ Psalm 62:1 ESV
You move us to delight in praising You, because You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they can find peace in You. ~ St. Augustine
© 2022 Bridget A. Thomas
Admin Note: I am moving my posts from Tuesdays to Thursdays. I post every other Thursday on the Christians Read blog, so this will help keep things a little more organized on my end. Also, due to some extra projects on my plate, in the coming months I might start posting here on the opposite Thursdays from when I post on Christians Read. Thank you for understanding. I am trying to allow God to lead this journey, because it is all about Him and not about me…. I also want to take a moment to thank you for being here. I truly appreciate it. I know there are a million other things you can be doing with your time. So it means more than you know, that you take the time to read my posts! Now onto the main topic of this post…
In my last post prior to Lent, I talked about Fasting, as I was planning on fasting from certain things during Lent. Today I want to share a bit about what I learned over the past couple of months.
Constantly “doing” is an addiction. In our culture, we all wear “busy” like a badge of honor. We make comments about being “too busy” with pride. We feel that we are proving our worth when we are constantly busy. And I honestly believe that our devices (smartphones, tablets, etc.) make us even more addicted to always doing something. When we get an alert on our phone, it gives us a dopamine boost. Therefore, in our culture, it can be extra difficult for us to learn to slow down and be present in our lives.
We have to retrain ourselves to be bored. Devices have cluttered our minds so much that we are never bored anymore. Being bored is actually a good thing, especially when it comes to creativity. When our minds have space, we have the ability to create and dream and flourish.
Quiet time is soothing for the soul. Once we get past the struggle with boredom, if we can truly embrace some quiet time in our day, it will soothe the soul. A lot of “noise” (whether literal or figurative) has a way of cranking us up like a wind-up toy. Too much of this can really fray a person’s nerves. When we intentionally add quiet time into our day, we will find a new sense of peace.
God refreshes us if we allow Him to. In our quiet time, it is also helpful to ask God to join you there. If you sit quietly in the Lord’s presence, He will help refresh your soul. Different versions of Psalm 23:3 verify this. “He restores my soul” (NKJV). “He refreshes my soul” (NIV). “He renews my strength” (NLT). What comforting words!
It is not about perfection. Any kind of fasting, whether during Lent or otherwise, is not about perfection. This is important to remember because if we strive too hard, we can fall into a trap of thinking that our works make us worthy and even assure our salvation. In Romans 8:1 it says, “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” And the enemy might really try to wrap a chain around us in this area. The enemy will tell us if we don’t do it perfectly, then we are not worthy, and God is disappointed in us. Please don’t listen to his lies.
It is about drawing closer to God. Whether we are fasting or not, whether it is Lent or not, every day, the bottom line is that we want to draw closer to God. We can make decisions to do that daily, based on our own unique paths. This has the potential to look different for each of us. Prayerfully seeking God’s guidance is key.
It doesn’t always have to be about removing things. Sometimes adding things can help us grow too. One of the things that I added to my routine was a Lenten devotional Uncovering the Love of Jesus by Asheritah Ciuciu. This was a truly rich devotional that helped me to savor the Savior in a fresh way. However, adding things isn’t necessarily key either. It is about being intentional with our time and leaning into Jesus.
Follow God’s lead in finding a balance. As with most things in life, we need to find a balance. One of the things that I have been trying to do each morning is to squeeze in some exercise. However, as I write this, I am staying up past my bedtime to watch a baseball game on TV with my hubby. The result could be that I might get up later than I want to in the morning. But that’s okay. I am learning to balance things that honor God, while still loving others, and also paying attention to my own mind, body, and soul. As I mentioned above, I am trying to follow God’s lead. And that is important with every decision we make.
The past few weeks have taught me a lot, as I have been intentional about abiding in Jesus. It doesn’t have to be a special time of year to draw close to God. He is always there, waiting for us. We are always moving in one direction or another – towards God or away from God. Let us choose to move towards Him.
© 2022 Bridget A. Thomas
Jesus arrested with no cause
His own disciple betrayed Him
A robe placed on His shoulders
A crown of thorns made on a whim
Jesus was flogged and ridiculed
Instead of Him, a murderer set free
Jesus had to drag His own cross
As He marched uphill to pay our fee
Jesus paid the price willingly
He did it for me and for you
Many have been invited
But acceptance is by but a few
They placed Jesus in a tomb
A stone secured it tight
But the stone rolled away
Darkness couldn’t hold the Light
Jesus defeated sin and death
When He rose from the grave
It was out of pure love
That His one life He gave
I hope and pray that you have accepted Jesus into your life. If you haven’t, but you are ready to do so, see the prayer HERE. This will be the most important decision you ever make.
Happy Resurrection Sunday!
© 2022 Bridget A. Thomas
Please don’t skip this. I know the thought of fasting makes many of us groan with discomfort. Food is something our culture puts a lot of buzz around. Food is at the center of every social gathering. We see an abundance of food and drink pictures on social media. When we are eating something particularly tasty, we might take a picture of it and text it to our friends. We plan out our daily schedule around our meals. When we feel like we had a rough day, we treat ourselves with something sweet. Food has a strong presence in our lives and our culture.
I admit that I like to eat. And when we all saw empty shelves during the pandemic, this put a fear in me – a fear of not being able to find food when we need it. And in 2021 when I went through a lot of stress, I found myself eating more food, more frequently. I used food as a crutch. All of this makes the thought of fasting even more uncomfortable to me.
But my husband and I have been participating in fasts each January for the past couple of years. And I have learned so much each time we go through these fasts.
When we take the time to fast, and set aside our anxiety surrounding less food on our plates, the results can be amazing. The point of fasting is to draw closer to God. You might wonder how laying aside food can do that. When we are hungry, we have an opportunity to run to the Lord and seek His presence and comfort. When we do this, we learn that He is truly all we need.
Does fasting have to be only from food? I suppose this is a matter of opinion and you might have to pray about it to see how the Lord convicts you. I have heard one pastor mention before that he felt cutting back on food was the only real fast. Personally, I am a big advocate of fasting from anything that might hinder your relationship with the Lord – social media, television, radio, alcohol, video games, frivolous shopping, etc. There are tons of things in our lives that we might turn to as an idol or a crutch.
Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts. – 1 John 5:21
Some questions you might ask yourself to help discover your idols or crutches:
Do I have to have this item or activity in my life?
What would happen if I had to do without it?
Do I run to this item or activity when I am feeling down?
Do I spend more time thinking about this / doing this than with the Lord?
Does this bring me more joy than the Lord?
Okay, I will be honest. I love coffee. This is something I don’t want to give up. But I have done so at times, just to prove a point to myself. I showed myself that I can live without it, if I had to.
However, I don’t believe God necessarily wants to deprive us of the joys of life. It’s okay to drink a cup of coffee each morning. We just can’t value it more than we value Him. We shouldn’t run to it for comfort, when instead we can run into the arms of Jesus.
But it goes deeper than the obvious things we see at surface level. Sometimes an item or activity might merely be a distraction. In my opinion, this can be even more dangerous than things we know have a hold on us. That is because we might feel this thing in our lives is innocent, and therefore we might not realize how much it keeps us from the things of Jesus. For example, I am convinced that our enemy is laughing over how much time so many of us spend with our heads down as we look at our devices. Social media and smartphones are completely destroying our society.
Perhaps you think I am exaggerating. I cannot blame you. I appreciate having my smartphone and tablet on hand when I need them. But I also know how much of a distraction they are. Many times I will reach for my phone just to do something. I don’t really need to check my email again, when I just checked it within the last hour. Yet I habitually still grab my phone and do so anyway.
Recently my husband and I were at a store. In the parking lot we saw a vehicle pull in and park. Out of the vehicle came the adults and their teenage daughter – all who had a phone in their hands and heads down. It was comical and sad at the same time. This is the kind of generation we are living in. Some people aren’t truly living. Instead they are stuck in a fake world of filtered pictures as they scroll and tap.
It is my opinion that we each might need to fast from different things in our lives periodically, in order to get back to basics. When we lay aside things that tempt us or distract us, we have a chance to run after the Lord and hold tightly to Him. When we do this, we will never regret it. He will fill us and satisfy us.
In the Bible, often times we see full fasts from food as a way of seeking God’s guidance or deliverance from a certain situation. This is something to keep in mind as we fast. You might want to bring a certain prayer request before the Lord. But don’t merely fast as a way of getting something from God. Fasting should draw us closer to Him, even if we don’t get what we want.
With all that being said and since tomorrow is the first day of Lent – I will be fasting from some things over the next several weeks. I will be fasting from social media completely. Also, I will not be posting here on my blog. I also plan to lay aside / cut back on anything that I tend to reach for out of habit.
(Side note – I used the words “cut back” here, but I will be setting specific guidelines for myself. And I suggest you do the same, if you plan to fast from anything. If we say that we are merely “cutting back” then in many cases we might wind up doing that “thing” more than intended and therefore get nowhere. I am just being a little vague because this post is long enough. Haha!)
You might recall that my word for 2022 is Abide. I want to abide in Jesus and His love. I don’t want to abide in food, social media, gadgets, or anything else that won’t truly fill me.
I encourage you to also prayerfully consider anything that you might fast from over the next few weeks. If you do decide to fast, let me know. I would love to hear about it and cheer you on!
Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you. – Anne Lamott
© 2022 Bridget A. Thomas
Over the last few weeks I have been talking about showing others God’s love and kindness. But I think it can be a challenge for us to do that, if we don’t fully embrace God’s love in our own hearts. It’s ironic that many of God’s own children go through life without truly knowing how much He loves them. But it’s also completely understandable because God’s love is so great, and difficult for our human minds to grasp.
When writing about the love of God, Andrew Murray stated, “God is love. Love is His very being. Love is not an attribute, but the very essence of His nature, the centre round which all His glorious attributes gather. ”
How can we grow in this area? How can we firmly grasp His love and also extend love back to Him? There are some things we can do in our daily activities that will help.
1 – Spend time with Him. Reading the Bible, praying, and listening for God’s voice will strengthen our relationship with Him. As we spend time with Him, His love will become evident.
2 – Make gratitude and praise daily habits. These two practices will help us to focus on God’s goodness. When we see how good God is to us, then we will be able to better comprehend that He is good to us because He loves us. And when we see how good He is to us, we will overflow with love for Him in return.
3 – Don’t let the enemy win. The enemy will try to get in your head and tell you that you are not good enough for God’s love. He will tell you that your sins are too great. He will tell you that God’s love might be tangible for other people, but not for you. These are all lies. Stay strong against the enemy’s tactics.
4 – Invest in truth. Read books and find Bible verses that proclaim God’s love and goodness. Write down anything you find that speaks to you. As you keep feeding yourself truth, you will be able to push out the lies that you have believed for too long.
Here are some words of truth to get you started. Reflecting on the verses below will help you to embrace the love of God…
• For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him. ~ Psalm 103:11
• And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. ~ Romans 8:28
• Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. ~ Psalm 143:8
• For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. ~ John 3:16
• I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. ~ Psalm 121:1-2
• So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. ~ Genesis 1:27
• The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing. ~ Zephaniah 3:17
• For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 8:38-39
• For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. ~ Ephesians 2:10
• The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” ~ Jeremiah 31:3
• See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. ~ 1 John 3:1
• And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. ~ Romans 5:5
• Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. ~ John 15:13
• Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ~ Lamentations 3:23
• For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. ~ Psalm 139:13-14
• But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds. ~ Psalm 73:28
• You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. ~ John 15:16
• We love because he first loved us. ~ 1 John 4:19
I pray that every day we can remember just how much we are loved by our Lord. He loves us like no other. And when we cling to His love for us, we can more freely share that love with those around us.
© 2022 Bridget A. Thomas
My husband and I have an acquaintance whom we have known for many years. Recently, though, this person’s attitude has seemed to take a turn. Long story short, his communications have been vulgar at times. I told my husband he should stop communicating with him. But he hasn’t. When I asked my husband why he still talks to him, he explained that he fears for this person’s soul. He truly believes this person is not saved, and he hopes that his connection with him will help alter that. I must say that I admire my husband’s character to forge ahead, for the sake of the Kingdom of God.
When Jesus walked this earth, we see how He too often associated with people who were not believers.
While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” – Mark 2:15-17
Jesus came so that all might be saved. And as His followers, we are to help bring people to Him.
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20
In the words of the late writer, teacher, and pastor, Andrew Murray, “What the Church and the world both need is this: men and women full of the Holy Ghost and of love, who, as the living embodiments of the grace and power of Christ, witness for Him, and for His power on behalf of those who believe in Him.”
Yet Jesus also warns us that if we are not accepted, it might be appropriate to move on. When sending out His disciples, He told them, “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.” (Matthew 10:14).
It is also important to not put ourselves in situations that we know are wrong or might tempt us to sin. Proverbs 4:23 tells us, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” So we have to be careful how we approach people or situations. For example, my husband might still talk to this person, but that doesn’t mean he will spend time with him in undesirable places.
So how can we know when it is right to persist and when we should move on? If we stay in tune to the Lord and listen to His promptings, He will lead us. Sometimes the Holy Spirit will lay a burden on our hearts for certain people. I believe that is what He has done with my husband in regards to this acquaintance of ours. And whether we continue to associate with certain people or not, we can always keep praying for them.
We can also be a witness to those around us, just by being ourselves. I have a coworker who has told me before that when we witness to others, it is not always with our words. And he is right. Just by being kind, we are showing people the love of Jesus. Eventually it will make an impact. Especially in our world today. When someone is always nice, it stands out.
Like my husband is in this situation, we can keep being nice to those around us. We are called to show others the love of Jesus. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:17)
© 2022 Bridget A. Thomas
© 2018-2021 Bridget A. Thomas