Today is Thanksgiving Day in the US, so I want to take a moment to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving! No matter what part of the world you live in, I hope you will take time today to thank God for all the blessings in your life. Our Heavenly Father does so much for us, every single day. We have so much to be thankful for. May we learn to stop and look around, and we will see so much goodness in our lives. And we will see that every day is a gift from God!
My blogger friend, Rainer, over at The Devotional Guy, has shared numerous posts on gratitude over the last several weeks. In some of them, he listed out some of the blessings that he was thankful for. So I hope he doesn’t mind, I am going to do the same here today.
I am thankful for a new day. Something I try to remember to do each morning is to thank God for another day. We might have problems in our lives, but when God wakes us up each morning, He gives us a gift.
I am grateful for my family and friends. God places special people in our lives. They are there for us in the good times and the not so good. They bring joy and fellowship into our lives.
I am grateful that God has given me a job that I enjoy. And I am grateful that God has always provided and I have never had to do without.
I am grateful for Jesus. He is with me every day. He protects me and guides me every moment. I can look back and see ways He has miraculously been there for me. On this side of heaven we will not know all the ways the Lord has been working behind the scenes in our lives.
These are just a few things I am grateful for. I could list so much more. But I will limit my list so that you can take a turn too.
Before I go, I also want to take a moment to thank all of you for being here and for walking beside me on this journey. My heart overflows. I am so grateful for you and I can never tell you how much your presence means to me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I pray you and yours have a Happy Thanksgiving!
Please feel free to share in the comments some of the things you are grateful for!
Gratitude Challenge for 2022: If you want to end 2022 on a positive note, then perhaps you will consider finding several things you are grateful for each day, from now through December 31. You can either write them down, or simply say a prayer of thanks. Gratitude draws us closer to the Lord as we look around for the blessings He pours into our lives.
Do you want God’s best in your life? I bet the answer is “yes!” Keep reading and you’ll find out how to accept God’s best with open hands.
We are continuing the series of abiding in Jesus and learning what that looks like in our daily lives. When we started this series, we looked at some verses in John 15. Today we are going full circle and heading back to that same book and chapter. However, we are focusing on different verses today.
When we began this series, we started off with John 15:4-5, where Jesus said, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”
Today we are going to look at several verses that surround the above verses. Keeping in mind the analogy that Jesus used when He said He was the vine and we were the branches, the specific topic that we are dealing with today has to do with pruning.
Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit … If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.” (John 15:1-2,6)
In the first two verses here, Jesus is talking about branches that are attached, but they aren’t bearing fruit. The words here pertain to each of us. It might not be fun to think about pruning, but it must be done if we want to bloom.
The last verse reminds me more of an intrusive ivy that isn’t part of the plant, but it wound its way around the plant anyway. There are many people out there who pretend to be followers, but they really aren’t. The good news is that God sees our hearts. He knows if we are genuine.
But even genuine branches need to be pruned sometimes in order to produce more fruit.
In our yards, we pull weeds, we remove the dead plants and branches, and we sometimes even have to cut away living growth as well. All of this is done to help our plants flourish, to bring more growth, and to produce fruit. In the same way, God will pull weeds from our lives. He will remove things that aren’t benefiting us. And He will sometimes even cut away good things in our lives, if they don’t fit our purpose.
Pruning can be painful at times, but we are in the loving hands of the Lord. He can see the big picture. He knows what pieces of us should stay and what should go. Every day that we are on this earth, God is molding us to become more like Jesus. And at times that will require pruning.
Part of abiding means pruning. If we want Jesus to grow good fruit in our lives, we have to remove things that get in the way. God wants all of us. So that means we might have to lay down things in our lives that take our focus away from Him. Even good things in our lives might become an idol. But times of pruning can actually be a sweet time as we learn to lean on Jesus. Running into His arms will bring us much comfort and peace, as we grow and become stronger.
Through this process, we learn that Jesus is all we need and He is enough.
And in a way, it is really amazing to think about the fact that the Lord loves us that much to want to help us grow and change for the better. What a loving God we have!
When you find yourself in a season of pruning, take time to prayerfully seek the Lord. Ask Him what it is He wants to remove from your life. Hold everything with open hands. When we are willing to let go of the old, we will have room for God’s best.
Dear Jesus, we come to You with gratitude in our hearts. We admit that it is not fun to walk through a season of pruning, yet we know at times it is necessary. We are thankful that You love us enough to help us change and grow. And we are so glad to know that You will hold us in Your arms as we walk through a time of pruning. And most of all, we are so thankful that this means You will help us flourish as You grow good fruit in our lives. Thank You! We love You! In Your name we pray, Amen.
Gratitude Challenge for 2022
If you want to end 2022 on a positive note, then perhaps you will consider finding several things you are grateful for each day, through December 31. You can either write them down, or simply say a prayer of thanks. When we walk in gratitude, we are pruning the negativity from our lives. We are growing good fruit of thanksgiving and joy, as we praise God for the blessings in our lives.
© 2022 Bridget A. Thomas
In this series, we have been talking about abiding in the Lord. In the first four posts, we were in the book of John. The book of John was written by John, one of Jesus’ disciples. All of the Bible verses we have looked at so far were words that Jesus spoke when He walked the earth. Today we are moving over to the book of 1 John. 1 John, 2 John, and 3 John were books also written by the disciple John. And while the verses in these books will not contain words spoken directly by Jesus, “All Scripture is God-breathed” as it says in 2 Timothy 2:16.
I want to look at 1 John 2:6 which says, “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.”
The word abide here is the same Greek word which we have been talking about throughout this series.
I like the way this translation uses the word walk. This means “to regulate or conduct one’s life.” In this verse John offers some advice. When we claim to abide in Jesus, this should be noticeable by our actions. The New Living Translation puts 1 John 2:6 this way: “Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.”
In the words of Dr. Charles Stanley: “To make a commitment to Christ is to make a decision to do what Jesus commanded us to do and to pursue with the whole heart, mind, and soul, the pure, wholesome, godly, and holy life that He lived. Jesus commanded us to be ‘perfect’ – which means to be whole. He commanded us to love one another. He commanded us to be diligent in keeping His teachings. He commanded us to be His witnesses at all times in all places. He commanded us to walk boldly by faith and to trust God to meet our needs, regardless of what those needs might be. Jesus gave all of Himself to us, and in return, Jesus requires all of us. That’s what it means to take up our cross daily and follow Him. That’s what it means to truly ‘walk the walk’ and not just ‘talk the talk’ of being a Christian.” 
Perhaps you think this is a lot to ask. How can we possibly do all that? We are not perfect, like Jesus. But as we have been studying the word “abide” we have seen that when we continually stay tethered to the Lord, we pull our strength from Him and He helps us to walk uprightly and produce the fruit of the Sprit in our lives.
As our relationship with the Lord continues to grow, with each passing day, our hearts also continue to change. We are being molded to become more like Jesus. And on top of that, out of our love for Him, we will want to walk in obedience.
In the book of Genesis, I love the way the Bible says that Enoch “walked faithfully with God” (Genesis 5:22,24). And the Bible also tells us that Noah “walked faithfully with God” (Genesis 6:9). We too can make it a practice to walk with the Lord, every day. And as we walk with Him, we will walk like Him.
If we abide in Jesus, daily, we will naturally grow to be more like Him. God will lovingly mold us, like an experienced potter who molds the clay into a masterpiece. We just have to show up, every day. Spend time with Him. Make Him our number one priority. We will never regret it. We will find so much peace and joy in life when we learn to abide in Jesus.
Dear Jesus, thank You for revealing so much truth to us in Your Word. We learn so much about You when we read Scripture. We learn about Your character, and it guides us to become more like You. Help us to abide in You daily. And help us to walk like You did. We are so grateful for You, Jesus. And we love You! It is in Your amazing name we pray, Amen.
Gratitude Challenge for 2022
If you want to end 2022 on a positive note, then perhaps you will consider finding several things you are grateful for each day, through December 31. You can either write them down, or simply say a prayer of thanks. When we read about Jesus’ life, we see many instances where He gave thanks. If Jesus felt gratitude was important, that tells me that walking in gratitude is vital for us as well.
© 2022 Bridget A. Thomas
 When the Enemy Strikes by Dr. Charles F. Stanley. A must-read book!
We are continuing in the series of posts on Abiding in the Lord.
“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” – The words of Jesus found in John 14:16-17
In this series on Abide, we have been talking about what abiding in the Lord looks like. And we have been focusing on Bible verses that have a specific Greek word in them (μένω menō). If you have been following from the beginning of this series, then you might recall that this word means: “To stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy):—abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, tarry…”
In the passage above, Jesus is talking about the Holy Spirit. And He uses the Greek word for abide twice. When keeping the meaning behind the Greek word in mind, Jesus’ words shed new light on our relationship with the Holy Spirit. If you are a Christian, you have the Holy Spirit living within you. And Jesus basically says here that the Holy Spirit continually dwells in you. What an amazing gift we have!
Let’s take a look at the Amplified Bible version (AMP). In case you are not familiar with this version, it amplifies the text with additional wording and synonyms. You will see what I mean when you read John 14:16-17 below…
“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), to be with you forever— the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive [and take to its heart] because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He (the Holy Spirit) remains with you continually and will be in you.”
Look at all the ways the Holy Spirit is described here – Helper, Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor, Counselor, Strengthener, Standby, the Spirit of Truth.
You have the Helper, the Comforter, the Advocate, the Intercessor, the Counselor, the Strengthener, and the Spirit of Truth living inside you. He is with you every moment of every day. These verses in the AMP version also call Him the Standby. The definition of standby is “readiness for duty or immediate deployment.” The Holy Spirit is always ready to help!
I think many of us struggle to tap into the power of the Holy Spirit for many reasons. For one thing, we may not have heard a lot about Him in church. Some churches don’t talk about Him too much. God the Father and Jesus the Son are who we hear about most often. Or we might have heard Him mentioned, but we simply didn’t realize the immense gift we have.
When Jesus was talking to His disciples about the Holy Spirit in John 16:7, He said, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.”
Jesus told His disciples that it was to their advantage that He was going away, because He would send the Holy Spirit in His place. I bet the disciples were so grieved, they couldn’t imagine how Jesus’ departure would be advantageous. Yet those were Jesus’ words.
And now here we are, over two thousand years later; and we too have the advantage and precious gift of the Holy Spirit as well.
The Holy Spirit likely already helps you in so many ways each day. Many times, we might not realize it is Him. When you have a certain gut feeling about something, when you feel like God is warning you about something, when you seek wisdom, or when you seek strength – The Holy Spirit is there!
Max Lucado said, “For us not to consult the Spirit of God would be [foolish]. He is here to teach us. Our privilege is to stay in mindful communion with him. Day by day. Moment by moment.” 
Throughout this series we have talked about how abiding in the Lord helps us to grow good fruit in our hearts. And the Holy Spirit helps us in that regard as well. The Holy Spirit gives us discernment. He helps us to make better choices. He guides our actions and words, when we rely on Him. And when we mess up, the Holy Spirit convicts us, which in turn aids us in repenting.
In the words of Dr. Charles Stanley, “We must rely on the Holy Spirit if we truly are going to have a renewed heart and mind and be able to develop spiritual maturity so we aren’t led around by the devil as if we were on his leash.” 
This quote points out the importance of relying on the Holy Spirit when it comes to spiritual warfare. And this quote also tells us that the Holy Spirit will help us to have a renewed heart as we grow in our spiritual walk. Those are some of the same things we have been focusing on throughout this series, as we have talked about developing fruit in our lives.
And the good news is that we always have the Holy Spirit with us. Dr. Charles Stanley also said, “I often hear Christians pray to invite God’s Spirit to join them. The truth is, we don’t need to invite the Lord to come into our presence. We are always in His presence! We are never apart from Him.” 
Let us remember what a precious gift we have in the Holy Spirit. He is constantly dwelling within each of us. We are never alone. We always have a Friend right there with us, to help us, guide us, encourage us, and so much more.
Dear Lord, today we give thanks for the Holy Spirit that lives inside of us. What a priceless gift we have. Every single moment of every single day, the Spirit of Truth abides in us. We have the ability to seek wisdom and discernment in every situation in our lives, thanks to the Holy Spirit. And we have Someone who will alert us of danger. And Someone who will comfort us and strengthen us. But this is something we need to remind ourselves of daily. It can be easy to forget that we have the Holy Spirit with us at all times. So, Lord, we ask that you help us to remember this and to become more aware of His presence. Thank You. We love You. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
Gratitude Challenge for 2022
If you want to end 2022 on a positive note, then perhaps you will consider finding several things you are grateful for each day, through December 31. You can either write them down, or simply say a prayer of thanks. Gratitude is a great way to abide in the Lord as we look around for the blessings He pours into our lives.
© 2022 Bridget A. Thomas
 From the book Help Is Here by Max Lucado.
 &  Both quotes come from the book When the Enemy Attacks by Dr. Charles Stanley. Outstanding book, by the way. Very eye opening to the schemes of the devil.
We are continuing to study abiding in the Lord, and what that looks like in our daily lives. In the book of John, chapter 5, two things took place that are significant. Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath and Jesus also said He was the Son of God. Both of these things angered the Jewish leaders. Jesus was talking to them and went on to explain about those who testified on His behalf – God and John the Baptist. There are two verses from this conversation that I want to touch on today.
In John 5:38, Jesus said, “But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe.”
When I think about many of the people who lived during Jesus’s time, it is heartbreaking to think that they had the Messiah right there in front of them, yet they didn’t recognize Him. Many of them were religious leaders. They knew Scripture quite well. But in this verse, Jesus points out that the Word was not abiding in them.
In his commentary, Matthew Henry put it this way, “The word of God was not … in their hearts; not ruling in their souls … not constantly in them … If the word abide in us, if we converse with it by frequent meditation, consult with it upon every occasion, and conform to it in our conversation, we shall then readily receive the witness of the Father concerning Christ…” 
I think this is an important lesson for us as well. I would bet that many of us know someone who can quote Bible verses, yet they don’t truly have the Lord living in their hearts. Even the devil quoted Scripture when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness. (See Matthew 4:1-11.)
A few weeks ago, our assistant pastor gave the sermon at church. And he used words that I thought were fitting. He talked about how some people just “play church.” They might show up on Sunday morning, yet when they walk out the door of the church, they forget all about God. They live their lives for themselves, not for the Lord.
In Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus said, “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. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”
Personally, I don’t want to be among those that Jesus says those words to. And I don’t want to be like the people in Jesus’ day who missed the Savior that stood right in front of them.
The good news is that Jesus can see our hearts. He knows if we are sincere in our faith. However, even for those of us who truly love the Lord, I believe these words that Jesus spoke can help us to be vigilant when it comes to our walk with God.
The second verse that I wanted to touch on today comes from John 5:42 where Jesus said, “But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you.” The people who did not abide in the Word, also did not have the love of God in them. They were all about keeping rules and regulations, and much of it was to get recognition for themselves. They were not truly tethered to God. Our faith should not be about religious duties and checking off our daily to-do list. Our faith shouldn’t be something we “put on” for the sake of others or to impress our friends.
When we truly abide in Christ, the love of God is in us. The love flows both ways. He loves us and we love Him. And when we abide in Christ, the Word of God abides in us, because we abide in His Word daily.
Our walk with the Lord is all about staying in union with Him. When we meet with Him each day and seek Him out, we are getting to know Him. As we learn more about Him, our love for Him grows. We realize that He is all we want and all we need. Abiding in Jesus daily will help us to grow in this area. It takes effort and intentionality. We have to show up. God is a gentleman and He will not force us to spend time with Him. That is our choice. But the rewards are well worth it. Yes, it is true that when we abide in Him, He will help change our hearts. But we have to be diligent to do our part, and pursue God. The more we show up, the more we read our Bibles, the more we pray – over time we will see the fire for the Lord grow in our hearts.
Dear Jesus, we are so grateful for You. We want to learn to abide in You. We want a relationship with You. It is humbling and exciting to think about the fact that You actually want to spend time with us. But we need to show up. Every day. Please place a desire in our hearts for You. We know that You are truly all we need. We pray that truth encourages us to seek You and abide in You daily. Lord, help us to walk in gratitude for You. We have so much to be grateful for, including our relationship with You. Thank You. We love You. In Your Holy name we pray, Amen.
Gratitude Challenge for 2022
If you want to end 2022 on a positive note, then perhaps you will consider finding several things you are grateful for each day, through December 31. You can either write them down, or simply say a prayer of thanks. Gratitude helps us to keep the love of God and His Word abiding in our hearts.
© 2022 Bridget A. Thomas
We are continuing in the series on Abiding in the Lord. Love plays a big role when it comes to abiding in Jesus. Let’s take a look at what Jesus said in John 15:9-17:
9 As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.
10 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.
11 These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.
12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.
14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.
15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.
16 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.
17 These things I command you, that you love one another.
I am not going to dig into each verse. There are a few key points I want to look at in these verses, especially as they relate to abiding.
In the last post, we talked about abiding in Jesus. In verse 9 Jesus takes it a step further and tells us to abide in His love. If you recall, the word abide means: to stay, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain. We are to dwell continually in Jesus’ love. Think about that for a moment. What a beautiful thought. I can’t think of a better place to be than in the love of our Savior. And what a great love that is!
In verse 10 Jesus gives us guidance on how to abide in His Love – we are to keep His commandments. Perhaps that initially feels overwhelming to think about. We have to be careful about every little thing we do, day in and day out. But the good news is that it isn’t that difficult at all. If we simply spend time with Him daily, our Heavenly Father with mold us and change our hearts. We will naturally become more like Jesus, we will see sin as distasteful, and we will want to walk in obedience.
At the beginning of this post, I mentioned that love plays a big role when it comes to abiding in Jesus. And love plays a big role in keeping His commandments. In fact, in Matthew 22:36-40, Jesus told us that the first and greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. And the second commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. When we look at it from this angle, it simplifies everything. If we make it our main mission to walk in love, then everything else will fall into place. We will want to meet with the Lord every day, out of love. We will want to be kind to our neighbor, out of love. We will treat ourselves well, out of love.
In verse 11, Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” I want to point out that although this Bible translation uses the word remain, in the original Greek it is the same word we have seen for abide. Jesus wants His joy to continually dwell inside of us. And that joy is right there at our fingertips when we abide in Him. What glorious news this is! Yes, we will face trials in life. But we can still walk in joy when we abide in Jesus and His love.
I understand that some of you may be thinking how impossible it is to have joy when you are dealing with something difficult. I know. I get it. Sometimes our mountains are so big, it can be a struggle to see beyond them. But when we abide in Jesus, it helps us to have an eternal mindset. We will realize how the pain of this world is temporary, and how we have something so much greater to look forward to. When we abide in Jesus, we will know that even in our darkest days, He is beside us and He will get us through our trials. And when we abide in Jesus, we will remember that God works all things together for good.
In the last post, we talked about bearing fruit. And in today’s verses, Jesus mentions fruit again. In verse 16 He said, “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.” Jesus wants us to bear fruit and our fruit should remain. If you are wondering if the word remain here is the same Greek word for abide, you are correct. This should give us a sigh of relief as we consider all we learned about abiding. When we continually dwell in Jesus and His love, good fruit will continually dwell in us.
This doesn’t mean we won’t ever sin or stumble. We are still human and we will make mistakes. But the key is to abide in Jesus. Every day. We need to be intentional about seeking Him and clinging to Him. When we do that, we will see our hearts change. Remember we need to walk this out in the Lord’s strength. Holding onto Him is vital. When we are consistent, we will see the good fruit that Jesus talks about.
Dear Jesus, we are so grateful for You and all the amazing things You teach us through Your Word. We are so thankful to know that when we abide in You, we will have joy in our hearts, and good fruit in our lives. Help us to continually dwell in You and Your love. And help us to walk in gratitude. Because when we abide in You, our eyes are opened to how amazingly blessed we are. Thank You! We love You! In Your precious name we pray, Amen.
Gratitude Challenge for 2022
If you want to end 2022 on a positive note, then perhaps you will consider finding several things you are grateful for each day, through December 31. You can either write them down, or simply say a prayer of thanks. When we walk in gratitude, we are walking in Jesus’ love. When we see how blessed we are, we will see how much our Lord loves us. And our love for Him will grow and overflow.
© 2022 Bridget A. Thomas
You might recall that my one word for 2022 is “abide.” Over the next several posts, I will be talking about abiding in the Lord, using Scripture as our basis.
Let’s start with the definition of the word abide. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, abide can mean “to remain stable or fixed in a state; to continue in a place.”
The reason why I chose this word for 2022, is because I want to learn to abide in Jesus. I want to remain stable and fixed in Jesus. I want to continue in the Lord. I want to abide in Him and He in me.
I believe we often go through life in our own strength. We forget that we can rely on the Lord. When we learn to abide in Him, we also learn to live through His grace.
This year I have worked on memorizing John 15:4-5, where Jesus said, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”
For today’s post we are going to dig a little deeper into those two verses.
A note before we get started. The Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew. The New Testament was originally written in Greek. It has been translated to English and many other languages since then. The two main types of translations we read today are word-for-word (such as the New King James Version) or thought-for-thought (such as the New International Version). For these posts, I am going to focus on the New King James Version (NKJV) mainly because it uses the word “abide.” Some of the more modern versions, like the New International Version (NIV), have translated the word “abide” to the word “remain.”
“Abide in me and I in you.” – What did Jesus mean when He said that? When digging into Bible verses and their true meaning, it can be helpful to see what the original word was in the original language. In this case, since this is New Testament, we need to look to the Greek word used here – μένω. The Greek alphabet is different than the English alphabet. So when the word was transferred to the English alphabet (that is called transliteration) and we get the word menō. Then when the Bible was translated into English, often times this word was abide (but not always).
I realize that might be confusing and a lot to absorb. Don’t worry too much about remembering that. My whole point is that we need to look at the definition of the original Greek word.
Based on two of the things we referenced already (the Merriam-Webster definition and the word used in the NIV), the definition of the original Greek word is not a surprise:
To stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy):—abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, tarry…
I especially like the words expectancy and dwell in this definition. We should expect the Lord to remain in us and we are expected to remain in Him. No matter what is going on around us, we should make Jesus our dwelling place. We should stay by His side every day. We should never depart from Him.
In these two verses, Jesus calls us a branch and Himself the vine. We wouldn’t want to break a branch off of a vine, because that would kill the branch. This illustrates how vital it is to remain connected to Jesus.
Maybe you are thinking, Okay, but how do I do that? Simply, this means that we meet with Jesus every day. We are in a relationship with Him, so we should seek Him out, try to learn more about Him, and grow closer to Him. If you were engaged to be married, you would want to spend time with your soon-to-be spouse, right? You would want to get to know them better and strengthen your relationship with them. This might sound like a lot of work, but we know it’s not because if you love that person then you want to spend time with them. That is how it is with the Lord also. We make Him a priority out of love. Our relationship with Him will continue to grow naturally, if we merely show up every day.
Sticking with the analogy of Jesus being the vine and His disciples being a branch, Jesus goes on to talk about fruit. He says when we abide in Him, we will bear much fruit. And He also says that we cannot bear fruit on our own. We need our attachment to Him to produce fruit in our lives.
When Jesus refers to fruit, He is talking about our character, actions, and words. When others look at us, they should see a good character (fruit), not a rotten character (fruit).
In Matthew 7:15-20, Jesus says, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”
How do we know if we are displaying good or bad fruit? In Galatians 5:22-23, Paul tells us that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. When others look at us, do they see these qualities within us? One of my favorite quotes, which I heard a pastor say once, is “When you squeeze an orange, you get orange juice.” This makes me wonder, when I am squeezed (or pressured), what comes out of me? Is it the fruit of the Spirit? Or does impatience and irritability come out?
One point I want to make here is that many times we struggle to produce this good fruit on our own. But Jesus tells us in these verses, that we need Him to produce good fruit in us. We cannot do it in our own strength. When we abide in Him, and it will come naturally. Your relationship with the Lord will ultimately affect everything else in your life. When you spend time with Him daily, you will be a changed person.
This doesn’t mean that we are not accountable for our choices. Abiding in Jesus is a lifelong journey, as He molds us more and more to be like Him. Therefore, we need to be conscientious about our actions and words. It starts with us making an intentional effort to abide in Him. But know that day by day, the Lord is changing us and shaping us. Praise God for that!
Dear Jesus, we humbly come before You today with gratitude in our hearts. You are always there, always looking out for us, and always providing for us. Help us to focus on all that we have, not all that we lack. And help us to learn to abide in You. We want to produce good fruit in our lives. But we know it has to start by abiding in You. Please help us to cling tightly to You every day. Thank You! We love You! In Your beautiful name we pray, Amen.
Gratitude Challenge for 2022
If you want to end 2022 on a positive note, then perhaps you will consider finding several things you are grateful for each day, from now through December 31. You can either write them down, or simply say a prayer of thanks. Gratitude is an excellent way to abide in the Lord as we look around for the blessings He pours into our lives.
© 2022 Bridget A. Thomas
In my last post I talked about one of my recurring dreams. Today I wanted to mention another one. There are different variations of this dream. But it always has to do with water. I could be in an immense and deep indoor pool. Or I could simply know that there is a large indoor pool wherever I am, and I am eager to go in it. Or I could also be in a large body of water like the ocean, far from the mainland. In the dreams, there are always other people with me as well. Some people might think these dreams would be scary. But they are not. A lot of times I will dive deep into the water, just for fun.
In these dreams I feel a sense of freedom and safety. These dreams remind me that, thanks to Jesus, I am free. And they also remind me that I am always safe, thanks to the Lord. Even though life will have some scary circumstances and tough battles, the Lord is always with us. There is a deep security and peace in that knowledge and understanding. Sometimes we might know something in our mind, but we don’t truly feel it in our heart. And there is a big difference in that, especially in regards to trusting the Lord. We might have been told that He is always there, but until we get a deeper belief, we don’t have the same security.
One thing that helps me to have that deeper relationship and understanding of God’s love and protection is His presence. And in order to tap into that, I have been trying to remember to focus on the presence of God. “Trying to remember” is half the battle, because our lives keep us so busy and it is easy to forget. However, throughout the day, we can pause and remember that the Lord is with us. Just taking a moment to think about that brings comfort.
And we can also invite Him into all that we do. When we are working, we can seek His guidance and wisdom. This is something I do often when I am stuck on a difficult task.
We can also invite the Lord to join us as we are doing chores around the house. Thinking about Him and praying will make cleaning bathrooms less painful!
We can invite God into our conversations. Whether talking to a loved one or a stranger, we all have had times when we said the wrong thing. And we all have had times when we wish we had said something, but didn’t. If we simply remember that the Holy Spirit is there, this can help guide our words.
These are just few examples. But it is not only about seeking His help throughout the day. Merely remembering that He is beside us helps us to deepen our relationship with Him. James 4:8 says if we draw near to God, He will draw near to us.
Perhaps you have a feeling that there is more to Christianity? Maybe you don’t normally feel God’s presence in your life? Or maybe you just want more of God, but you are not sure where to start?
Tapping into His presence will help. We simply lean into His presence. We remind ourselves that He is right there. Throughout the day, we can pray or we can remind ourselves of promises found in the Bible or we can just acknowledge that God is in the room with us.
(Bonus: I have a series of posts coming up on abiding in the Lord that will also help!)
Focusing on God’s presence in our day is simple, but not necessarily easy. Our minds tend to wander and worry. So we have to steer our thoughts back to Him throughout the day. But if we are consistent, the rewards will be great.
This, in turn, will help us build on our relationship with Him. He will become a trusted Friend. We will have that feeling deep down of how much He loves us. And His love will bring us comfort, peace, safety, and freedom in our lives. No matter what we are going through, we can feel secure, knowing and believing that God is always there.
Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. – Psalm 91:1-2 NLT
Thank you for reading!
© 2022 Bridget A. Thomas
Do you have any recurring dreams? I have several. Some of them leave me feeling anxious, while others leave me feeling free. There is one in particular that I want to talk about today that fascinates me. In this dream I have a huge mansion. The part that I love is that the master suite is a house in and of itself. It has all of the rooms that you would find in a normal home – Bedrooms, bathrooms, living room, kitchen, dining room. When I enter the master suite, it feels like a safe haven where I can escape or hide.
In real life I don’t have a habit of visiting mansions, but personally I have never seen a house inside of a house before. And that part of the dream is what really intrigues me. As well as the safety I feel when entering the suite.
My husband and I were at a funeral a while back and the pastor referenced John 14:2. It really struck me because of the Bible translation he used (KJV). Jesus said: “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.”
Did you catch that? Inside this house there are mansions. The King James Version makes it sound like there are houses inside of a house. I normally read NIV, in which Jesus says there are many rooms inside His Father’s house. That is more along the lines of what we are used to in a home. But when the pastor read the words from the KJV, it jolted me, as I thought about my recurring dream.
(According to David Guzik’s commentary: “In light of the ancient Greek, mansions is better translated ‘dwelling places.’ The noun mone – connected to the verb meno, ‘stay’ or ‘remain’ – means ‘a place to stay.’ In light of God’s nature, it is better to translate it mansions. Whatever dwelling place God has for us in heaven, it will be as glorious as a mansion.”) 1
Jesus said these words to His disciples to comfort them. At different times, Jesus had told them that He would have to leave, He told them He would die, and He told them He would be resurrected. They couldn’t comprehend any of this. And, understandably, it grieved them.
So Jesus was leaving them with a promise. He was preparing a place for them. They would be able to join Him one day. They would be welcomed with open arms. They could stay in His Father’s house. They would have a safe haven.
This promise is true for us as believers, as well. I know it depresses some to think about our departure from earth, and I am sorry if that is you. But let it bring us comfort to know that we have a glorious home to look forward to. I can’t wait until we are all together in Heaven. We will be safe. There will be no more pain or sorrow. We will have all of our believing family and friends with us. We will be reunited with the loved ones that are waiting for us. For those of us who have family scattered in different places, we will have the joy of being together again, without worrying about travel. For those of us who blog, we will get to meet friends that we have only talked to electronically. And best of all, we will be with the Lord.
May we live with an eternal mindset. May we remain aware of the fact that this home is temporary. One day we will be in our forever home.
When we live with an eternal mindset we will put God first in our lives. In Matthew 6:33 (NIV) Jesus said, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Maybe you are wondering, what are “all these things?” In the verses prior to this one, Jesus says not to worry about things like food and clothes. He assures us that the Father will provide for our needs. In verse 26, Jesus said, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”
Reflecting on these verses helps us to see that having an eternal mindset also brings us peace. We remember that God is in control and He is trustworthy. We realize that the hardships of this world pale in comparison to what we look forward to. In Romans 8:18 Paul said, “Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.” (NLT)
When we live with an eternal mindset, we will be careful how things rank in our hearts. In Matthew 6:19-21, a few verses before the ones I mentioned above, Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
When we live with an eternal mindset, we are careful with our words and actions. We want to do everything for the glory of God. Colossians 3:17 (NIV) it 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.”
All of this leaves us with two key takeaways:
1 – Jesus has prepared a place for us. I hope this truth brings us comfort. This speaks loudly of the Lord’s love and care for us. He has adopted us into His family, and He welcomes us into His home. What joy awaits us!
2 – May we keep in mind what is eternal and what isn’t. This will help shape our actions, our words, our possessions, and so much more. Our time will be used wisely. We will become better stewards of our money. We will be more mindful of what items we allow in our homes. We will be quick to share the Gospel with others. Overall, I believe we will be more intentional in every area of our lives, when we have an eternal mindset.
(Side note… I have a blogger friend who has said to me recently that he doesn’t want to sound preachy in his posts. And I feel the same. So I wanted to take this opportunity to say that if I do happen to sound preachy, please know that I am always preaching to myself too. I am far from perfect. I want Jesus to make me more like Him. And as I learn and grow, I try to share those things with you. I appreciate you being here. I consider you all to be friends. And whether it be in posts or comments, I love when we can help each other grow. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17). Thank you for being here. I hope you know how much I appreciate it. I know there are a million other things you can be doing with your time. And it means more than you know, that you take the time to stop by and join me on this journey.)
© 2022 Bridget A. Thomas
At our church, we begin the service with worship before we move into the sermon. A few weeks ago during worship, the worship leader said that God was up to something good. Then we started singing a praise song with those words in the lyrics. But very quickly things took a turn. Suddenly, the power went out!
(Let me back up a bit by saying that the following day Vacation Bible School was starting. This means that a lot of extra equipment was set up and plugged in. So this obviously wasn’t a normal occurrence.)
But something wonderful happened. Despite the circumstances, the congregation continued worshiping. We didn’t let this hiccup stop us from praising God. For those that knew the words, they kept singing. And for those who weren’t familiar with the song, and had to rely on the television screens that normally displayed the lyrics, they clapped their hands in rhythm with the tune.
As we continued praising, different pieces of the electronics came up, one by one. And the rest of the service went on as planned.
But this service taught me a lesson. No matter what is going on around us, we have an opportunity to keep praising the Lord. We don’t have to let our circumstances stop us from singing God’s praises. God deserves all the glory and praise, no matter what. He is always good, He is always working on our behalf. He is always there.
Our problems might tell a different story. The enemy might try to whisper lies in our ears. But we don’t have to listen. We can choose to keep our eyes on the magnificence of our Father.
And something else I learned – it feels so good to keep praising God, even when things around us say we shouldn’t. I had a big smile on my face as we continued singing and clapping on that Sunday morning.
When we focus on the goodness of God, it helps our hearts to overflow. Praising God takes our attention off of any issues we might be facing. The more we focus on our problems, the bigger they seem to become. But on the other hand, praising God keeps our eyes on Him. And when we focus on Him and how amazing He is, our troubles seem to shrink in comparison to His greatness. Praising God also helps us to see that the Lord is our source. He is our strength, our provider, and our shepherd. Praising God reminds us that we don’t have to worry and fret because we have the Most High God by our side.
Some of my favorite Bible verses come from 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” They are words I know well, yet I was recently struck anew by them. I was reading a devotional – Fighting Words by Ellie Holcomb – and in one of the entries the author referenced these verses. The part that really hit me was that it is God’s will for us to rejoice, pray, and give thanks. I knew those three things were important, but these verses show us how vital they are. It’s no wonder we feel better when we implement these three practices into our daily lives – because they are in God’s will! Ellie put it this way, “Whenever I begin to direct my joy, my desires, my doubt, my cries for help, my worry toward Jesus, something changes in my heart. And I have a sneaking suspicion on why that happens—because I’m living right in the middle of God’s will for me! Did you catch that part about this passage? We don’t have to fret about finding what God’s will is for our life—it’s right here! When we rejoice, pray, and give thanks, there’s no question or doubt: we’re living in God’s will.”
This is something I want to tuck away in my heart each day. Whether things are going well or if problems arise, I want to remember to focus on God’s goodness. I want to focus on rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks. No matter what comes our way, let’s keep praising the Lord. Let’s keep seeking Him in prayer. And let’s keep giving thanks.
Thank you for reading!
© 2022 Bridget A. Thomas