Do you ever have days when it seems like everything is against you? Every step you take seems to result in failure? Even when you try to do the right thing, or try to do something nice for someone, you are greeted with defeat?
Sometimes when we have days like that, it is the enemy who is trying to discourage us. (I am not saying every difficulty comes from him. Sometimes God allows difficulties in our lives for specific reasons, such as growing our character. And sometimes life just happens on its own. But I do believe that there are more obstacles coming from the enemy than we realize.) The enemy wants to take away our joy and our peace. He wants us to get angry or depressed. Jesus said in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” The thief is the devil, and he comes to steal, kill, and destroy anything he can get his hands on. This includes our peace, our joy, our dreams, and much more.
But in John 10:10, Jesus didn’t end His statement there. He went on to say, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
I am sorry to say that sometimes I forget these truths. I forget that the enemy is out to get me. And I forget that Jesus has my back. Sometimes I fall into the traps the enemy sets out for me.
But one particular day not too long ago, I had a breakthrough. I was working from home and needed to get a particular task completed. I didn’t have the option to work late that day because my husband and I had something we needed to take care of that afternoon.
Enter the enemy… my internet went down around lunch time. I used my phone to check with the company and saw that they knew of an outage and they were working on it. Since it was around noon, I decided to take a lunch break while the company worked on the issue. Later the internet came back up and I got back to work. Or so I thought. The internet seemed to sporadically go down here and there for the next couple of hours. Each time I checked my internet provider’s website, they had a new time on when they estimated the issues would be resolved. I was so frustrated!
But then I remembered that there is an enemy who is out to get us. The enemy was trying to stop me from working, trying to ruin my day, trying to steal, kill, and destroy. So I took three steps that transformed my day.
1 – I prayed.
Most of the time my prayers are far from formal. Rather, I simply talk to God throughout the day. In this case I don’t remember my exact words, but I probably merely asked for the Lord’s help.
I am finding more and more that God loves for us to chat with Him during our day. We don’t have to use fancy words, or pray at length. Throughout the day we can just talk about what’s on our mind. And He is always there! Ready and waiting.
Yes, we can pray in the morning, and/or whenever we have quiet time with God. But let’s not think of prayer as a once a day task. Instead we have the privilege to communicate with God all day. Perhaps that is what Paul meant when he said, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
2 – I told the enemy, aloud, to move on. I verbally told him to flee, in the name of Jesus.
James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” In this case, I believe James was telling us to turn from sin. But I think it is also good to keep these words in mind when the enemy attacks. That is because his attacks can still lead us down a slippery path. We might be tempted to get angry, especially when we don’t realize it is the enemy that is working against us. How often do we allow the devil to get to us, without us even realizing it? But when we realize he is behind many of our difficulties, that helps us to take the right steps to move forward. As they say, “knowledge is power.” So once we realize what we’re up against, we can resist the enemy’s tactics, and he will flee from us.
Notice that I said that I told the enemy aloud to move on. He cannot read our thoughts. That is why I spoke aloud.
Also notice I said “in the name of Jesus.” We don’t have power on our own. In Matthew 28:18, Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
Our victory comes from Jesus. That is why we often end our prayers by saying, “In Jesus’ name we pray.”
The name of Jesus is the highest name there is. Philippians 2:9-11 (NLT) says, “Therefore, God elevated [Jesus] to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
All of our authority and victory comes from what Jesus did on the cross for us. He has already defeated the enemy. Jesus said in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Notice Jesus didn’t say, “I will overcome the world.” He said, “I have overcome the world.” That means He already did. So we have nothing to fear.
3 – The next thing I did was put praise music on my phone, playing it out loud. And I sang along with the songs.
Praising God helps our heart, our attitude, and our mindset in a miraculous way. Why is praise so powerful?
– God is in the midst of our praises. Have you ever heard the saying that “God inhabits the praise of His people?” That comes from Psalm 22:3 in which the King James Version says, “But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.”
– Praise takes our minds off of our problems and helps us to focus on the Lord. God becomes bigger and our problems become smaller. I like how Psalm 69:30 (ESV) says, “I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving” (emphasis added).
– The enemy hates our praises, so he runs in the other direction. It is believed that before his fall, the enemy played a big part in the heavenly music (see Ezekiel 28:13). But his pride got the better of him and he wanted to be exalted (see Isaiah 14:12-15). So it makes sense that he wouldn’t like hearing the songs we sing to the Lord. (Side note: I know this will not be something we all agree on and that is fine. But this is why I rarely listen to worldly music. There is a lot of great music out there from talented musicians. But I feel like if it is not of God, then it could be against God. We don’t realize how much spiritual warfare there is around us. C.S. Lewis said, “There is no neutral ground in the universe. Every square inch, every split second is claimed by God, and counterclaimed by Satan.”)
After taking these steps, things turned around. My internet issues improved, I was able to complete the project I was working on, and most of all I felt so much better. I had joy and peace.
When things don’t go well in our day, it’s important for us to remember that the enemy could be behind it. That is half the battle. And even if our problem is not something that the enemy sent our way, prayer and praise are always a good idea. These two steps in particular will transform our outlook. When our minds turn in the right direction, we can focus and use our energy more efficiently. Too often we are tempted to allow circumstances to defeat us. Instead we can cling tightly to the Lord in prayer and in praise.
Thank you for reading!
© 2022 Bridget A. Thomas
Who am I that
The King of kings
Would care to listen
To the song I sing
Who am I that
The Lord of lords
Cares so deeply
And lets His love pour
Who am I that
The Holy Savior
Stands strong by my side
And does not waver
Who am I that
The Name above all names
Called out to me
Causing my heart to flame
May 18, 2022
How amazing it is to know that the King of the world loves us so deeply. He delights in us and cares for us. I fear that we might forget this sometimes. But when we keep our eyes on the cross, it helps the magnitude to settle in our hearts. May we take time to thank Jesus for taking our place on the cross. May we not overlook the enormous sum He paid for our sins. But may we also remember just how deeply loved we are.
I want to share a beautiful song with you. “Me On Your Mind” by Matthew West. If the video below does not work, try this link.
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
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