The Sheep, the Flock, and the Shepherd

A sheep on his own can face many dangers. He could wander and get lost. He might face wolves or poachers. And he could struggle to find food and water. As a result of these dangers, a sheep can feel fearful, stressed, and depressed. The best thing for a sheep is to stay with his flock and to stay with his shepherd.

Humans are not so different. We face trials of many kind on this earth. Some are large and some are small. And often times our problems seem to pile up all at once. As a result, we feel fearful, stressed, and depressed. The best thing for a human is to have a community and to stay focused on the Good Shepherd.

Let’s take a look at flock (or community) first. A couple of weeks ago, I shared this poem by Daryl Madden. I want to take a look at it again today. Specifically, I want to focus on these words.

“As brothers and sister
In community
It is in our shepherd
We become one body”

When I read Daryl’s poem, this stood out to me because I was focused on learning about the Shepherd. But Daryl had a great point here and helped me to realize that I also needed to take the flock into consideration. And when I dug a little further I found that Jesus subtly reminded us of the importance of the flock.

In Luke 12:22-34, Jesus says some comforting words, reminding us not to worry and reminding us to trust the Lord. But I love how in verse 32a He said, “Do not be afraid, little flock…” This is a twofold reminder. Yes it reminds me that we need not be afraid, as we trust the Shepherd. But it also reminds me that we are part of a flock. Sometimes we feel we have to do life on our own. Sometimes we feel the weight of our worries on our shoulders. But we have an opportunity to surround ourselves with family, friends, and the church. Our flock will be there for us during difficult times.

Keep in mind that when Jesus refers to His followers as His flock, He included the Gentiles as well. He is not just singling out the Jews. In John 10, this is where Jesus talks about being the Good Shepherd. But one thing I want to point out is verse 16 where Jesus said, “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” The Good Shepherd welcomes anyone and everyone into His flock who will accept Him as their Savior.

We are the flock and as such, we can learn from sheep. They feel comforted when they are with their flock and other sheep are in their line of vision. We too need to have a community of believers we associate with. When we are alone, we are in danger of the enemy getting into our minds and wreaking havoc on our thoughts.

Bonus: If you have twenty-four minutes to spare, watch this sermon by Jentezen Franklin: Three Steps to Victory. He not only talks about the dangers of doing life alone, but he also talks about how geese that fly together in a V formation are at an advantage. I will not go into all that he said because he said it much better than I could. If you have time to watch, I think you will be blessed by his words.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

~ 1 Corinthians 12:27 NIV

So it is important for us to stay with the flock, but it is also vital for us to stay with the Shepherd.

A sheep trusts the shepherd and we too need to trust our Shepherd. Trust might be something we have to continually learn. At least that’s how I have felt lately. But I am guessing I am not the only one? When worries come our way, it’s easy for fear to take over.

In John 10, not only did Jesus say that He was the Good Shepherd, but He also said He was the gate.

“…shepherds in the ancient world typically slept in the fields with their flocks to protect them from predators. Also, they usually herded their sheep into a small pen or enclosure that had four walls and a small gap that allowed the sheep to get in and out. However, instead of a gate, the shepherd himself laid across that gap, which meant nothing could get in or out without going through him. In other words, the shepherd was the gate…” (Excerpt from At the Table with Jesus by Louie Giglio.)

Picturing a shepherd doing this for his sheep is amazing. It shows what lengths he will go through to protect them. But take it a step further and picture The Good Shepherd as the gate and you are one of the sheep in the pen. He is protecting you from harm. He will do whatever is necessary to keep you safe. When we think about that, that should take our trust in Him to a higher level.

As Daryl mentioned in his poem, our Shepherd is:

“A leader of our life
To follow faithfully
To trust for sustenance
Rest in security”

This life will bring us difficulties, but when we remember the immeasurable love of our Shepherd, we can face those difficulties with confidence. (Or as my friend Lorraine would say, God-fidence!) When we keep our eyes on the Shepherd, instead of the worries that surround us, we can stand strong in our faith and have that peace that surpasses understanding.

I don’t know what is worrying you today. But I imagine you have something weighing on your mind. It seems life has been a bit stressful for everyone lately. So I just want to encourage you to keep your eyes on the Good Shepherd. He loves you and is always looking out for you. He will do whatever it takes to protect you and provide for you.

Dear Jesus, I admit that I have worries weighing me down. It can be so easy to focus on the problems and allow anxiety to creep in. And the unknown of what lies ahead is another stressor in my life. I don’t know what I will face each day. But You do, and that is comforting to remember. When I focus on the fact that You are my Shepherd, and You will go to great lengths to protect me, it helps me to put all my faith and trust in You. It helps me to face each day with strength. I know Your love is unfailing, and that You will do whatever is necessary to work on my behalf. I am so thankful for You. Help me to keep my eyes on You. It is in Your name I pray, Jesus. Amen.

Show me your unfailing love in wonderful ways. By your mighty power you rescue those who seek refuge from their enemies.

~ Psalm 17:7 NLT

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© Bridget A. Thomas 2023

One Prayer at a Time

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“Everyone has problems,” my husband said to his sister, who was on the other end of the phone line. My husband was sharing with her some of the things that we were walking through. And my sister-in-law also shared some of the things that her family was dealing with.

We all do have different problems on different levels. Some seasons of our lives feel harder to bear than others. Some days feel hopeless. Some days our faith waivers. Some days we are weak with the weight of our worries.

However, it doesn’t have to be this way. Yes, there will always be problems on this earth. But we don’t have to lose our hope or our faith.

But the question remains how do we make it through? You have heard the saying “one day at a time.” Well I am adopting a different spin on that – “One Prayer at a Time.” That is the key to surviving through tough times.

One thing I have discovered is that in troubled times we have a choice. Problems can either tear us down, or we can choose to draw closer to God. We can choose to cling to Him in prayer. We can choose to trust Him.

I know it’s not always easy. Especially because it seems like when it rains it pours. Many times it’s not just one problem we are dealing with, but several. It makes us feel like we can’t keep our heads above water. That’s when we choose to stop fighting the waves and to surrender into the arms of the Lord.

He is our lifeline. According to Oxford, a lifeline is “a thing on which someone or something depends or which provides a means of escape from a difficult situation.” That is exactly what God can be for us during difficult times. But we have to make that choice to draw near to Him. And I have found that prayer is vital during these times.

Prayer brings us comfort during difficulties. Throughout any given day we will face tasks that we don’t want to deal with, bumps that suddenly arise in the road, unexpected situations that come our way, and more. So how can we survive when we feel like we’re walking through a landmine? One prayer at a time.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:17 it says to “pray without ceasing.” We might wonder – how do we pray without ceasing? That seems like an impossible task. But I have found that talking with God all throughout the day, praying for strength and guidance in each situation, brings the peace that surpasses understanding (Philippians 4:6-7).

Fight all your battles on your knees and you win every time.

Dr. Charles Stanley

I may not know what you are facing today. I may not know what you have been dealing with in this season of your life. But one thing I do know is that God is only a prayer away. He is there for you. He is ready and waiting for you to call upon Him. He loves you beyond measure. And He wants you to cast your cares on Him. (1 Peter 5:7)

Dear Heavenly Father, I admit that stress has been bringing me down. But I turn to You in prayer, today and every day. You alone can help me. You give me strength, hope, and courage. I put my trust in You. I hold onto the words in Psalm 118: 6 – “The Lord is with me” (NIV), “The Lord is for me” (NLT), “The Lord is on my side” (NKJV). What comfort those words bring. Thank You for always being there for me. I hand all my stress over to You. I know this doesn’t mean I will never have any problems. But it does mean I can lean on You through it all. Thank You, God. I am so thankful for You. I praise Your Holy Name and I love You. In Jesus‘ beautiful name I pray, Amen.

© Bridget A. Thomas 2023

Faith = Hope = Strength

Hi Friends! Today I am sharing a post that I originally wrote as a guest post for The Devotional Guy’s blog. This is a topic that the Lord had laid on my heart a few months ago. I intended to put it in writing at some point, but kept delaying. Then when my friend and fellow blogger, Rainer, asked me to write a guest post, I knew it was meant to be.

I have the link to the post below. While you are there, feel free to browse Rainer’s posts as well. I am sure you will find a few gems. I enjoy following Rainer’s blog, and always walk away encouraged. I especially love what Rainer has as the subtitle for his blog – “Living a Life of Worship.” Amen! I love that.

Here is the link: Faith = Hope = Strength. I hope you enjoy the post and get some insight out of it. I will be reading it again myself, as I still need this reminder.

Photo by Bridget A. Thomas 😁 last night 1/18/2023.

Following the Shepherd’s Lead

I want to start off today by sharing a moving poem by Daryl Madden. Check it out here. Daryl wrote this specifically for my one word of the year – Shepherd! I was truly touched and I really love the words. (And by the way, Daryl shares a poem every day. So if you enjoy insightful poetry, I recommend following Daryl’s blog.)

AND before I dive into my post, I wanted to wish my parents a very Happy Birthday! (Yes, they share the same birthday.) Here’s to good health, many blessings, and happiness in the year ahead! 😘💕🙌🥳 (And if you want to wish them a Happy Birthday as well, I can tell you that my father will see this. My mother might if she didn’t have an array of challenges with technology. 😁)

And an admin note before I move on – If you follow the Christians Read blog, you might have noticed that I have not been posting there the past few weeks. This may be a temporary thing? That is what I foresee right now. There has been a lot on my plate recently, and I had to make some adjustments. Regarding this blog, I do hope to post weekly. But this might not always be possible, as I continue to juggle things around. So thank you in advance for your grace. I am trying to follow the Shepherd’s lead, which is what we are talking about today…

Here are a few things that have been on my mind and heart over the last few weeks…

1 – When we remember that the Lord is our Shepherd, this means we follow His lead. It means we listen for His directives and proceed accordingly. This should be true whether we are on the mountain top or in the valley. But in different seasons of our lives, the ease of this might change. In good times we run the risk of forgetting we need a Shepherd. And in the bad times, we run the risk of growing cold in our relationship with our Shepherd. No matter what season you are in right now, take the time to listen for your Shepherd’s voice and follow His lead. This is a daily decision. Maybe even a moment by moment decision.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. – Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV

2 – When we follow the Shepherd’s lead, this might not make sense to other people. We might make decisions that some will disagree with. And sometimes the path doesn’t make sense to us either. But we have peace because we heard the Shepherd’s voice, and we are following Him. We can seek godly counsel and we can seek God in prayer to make sure we heard right. Then we follow His lead. In a way, this is similar to what we talked about last spring, to live for an audience of One. We cannot live to please people. We must live to please God alone.

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. – Galatians 1:10 NIV

3 – Allowing God to be the Shepherd might mean stepping back and adjusting our focus. This will be a time of going back to basics, and removing distractions. We choose to be intentional with our time. The lures of the world don’t sway us. We know He is all we need. With some of the things I have been dealing with, I have many unknowns ahead. And that is true for all of us. This can be scary. Yet, in a way, this is also ideal. God knows what lies ahead. So we have an opportunity to focus on the Good Shepherd, follow His lead, and learn to trust Him.

Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust Him, and He will help you. – Psalm 37:5 NLT

4 – No matter where you are, our Shepherd is there beside you. He will guide you and encourage you. But sometimes this means being intentional about looking around. Over the last few weeks, I have been encouraged by reading other people’s blog posts, reading my Bible, prayer, and much more. These all remind me that God is with me, even when I don’t feel it. Sometimes encouragement might come through other people as well. My husband and I received a Christmas card in the mail that was so special. And it wasn’t the card itself that hit me, but what the sender wrote on the inside. When I attended college, I worked in the library, and Gloria was my boss. I haven’t seen her in over two decades, yet we still exchange Christmas cards. On the inside of the card, she wrote: “Dear God, Give them joy, love, laughter and peace! Amen.” This touched me so much because she had no idea that we really needed that. But God knew! In the words of my friend and fellow blogger, David, “God seeks us out before we even know we need Him.” It is comforting to know that God is always near, ready to encourage us.

I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. – Psalm 139:7-10 NLT

I know the year ahead will be long. Seasons and circumstances will continue to fluctuate. It is easy for me to seek the Shepherd now because I am still in the quiet lull that follows New Years. But as things change, I hope I can remember to continually follow the Good Shepherd and listen for His voice. Thank you for taking the time to read my post today. I spent more time than I want to admit writing and deleting 😅, as I tried to organize my thoughts and share some of the things that were on my heart. We are just getting started in 2023, but I hope in the months ahead, we will grow and learn together. 🐑 (And as you can see, I am having fun with the emojis. Hey, you gotta live a little!)

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© Bridget A. Thomas 2023

My One Word for 2023

It’s that time of year again, when everyone feels hopeful and expectant for good things to come. We have a blank slate in front of us, filled with potential. Many people make New Year’s resolutions or write down goals. Personally, during this time of year, I like to reflect on habits I would like improve, or habits I would like to break. And I especially like to pick a word for the year. This word is my anchor for 365 days. One word (or phrase) can be an encouraging reminder to help us become better people or make lasting habits.

My one word for 2023 is Shepherd.

Most years my one word comes easily to me. And this year was no exception. In fact, I knew in October what my word was going to be. When I thought of this word, it really resonated with me. And then I asked God to confirm and He didn’t disappoint, as this word came up several times in a couple of days.

If possible, I also like to pick Bible verses to go along with my word. I will be focusing on Psalm 23. (Is it a coincidence or is it God ordained that the year is 2023 and I will be focusing on Psalm 23?) These are verses we all know well, as they are some of the most popular in the Bible. I also want to remember that Jesus is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11 & 14); and His sheep hear His voice and follow Him (John 10:27). Shepherd and sheep are found dozens of times in the Bible. Therefore, I might also dig into other verses, as the year unfolds.

I have three books on hand that I plan to read. One is a Psalm 23 Bible Study by Jennifer Rothschild. I have gone through this before several years ago, and got a lot of insight out of it. I also have A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller. This one has been on my TBR pile for awhile. My father’s cousin told me about this book three years ago. The main reason why I haven’t read it yet is because I wanted the large print version, which I finally have in my possession. And perhaps this was divine intervention that I would be able to read it when the timing was right? I also have a devotional called The Good Shepherd with entries by Pastor Robert Morris and other writers. (Side note – I am excited that all three of these books are paperbacks, since the majority of my reading is ebooks. I didn’t plan this, but maybe there is something underlying here? Perhaps it is one way God is calling me to slow down, and lead me to green pastures?)

As I mentioned earlier, I also look at habits I want to work on. Here are some of the items I wrote down on January first:

1 – PRAY, PRAY, PRAY! I heard a sermon by Pastor Jentezen Franklin recently in which he mentioned this Bible verse that really struck me: “As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right.” – 1 Samuel 12:23

2 – I want to walk in God’s will and remember to “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

3 – I want to immerse myself in the Bible. “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” – Psalm 119:105

I also wrote down a lot of other things that pertained to spending habits, reading habits, time on devices, getting outdoors, and so much more. I admit much of this can be overwhelming to try to incorporate. Which is why resolutions often fail… However, that is why having one word of the year can be a huge asset. It pulls everything together and helps you make better choices each day. In this case, with my word being Shepherd – when I remember that the Lord is my Shepherd and I am one of His sheep, this means my only need is to follow Him. He will guide me, care for me, lead me, protect me, and nourish me. Everything else will fall into place. I will make better choices and build better habits when I keep the word Shepherd in the forefront of my mind.

If you have one word (or phrase or resolutions) for 2023, please share in the comments. I would love to hear. Whatever the case may be, I pray your 2023 is filled with blessings, love, and joy.

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© Bridget A. Thomas 2023

Conclusion of the Gratitude Challenge for 2022

If you have been reading my posts this fall, then you are likely aware of the gratitude challenge. It wasn’t the main focus of my posts, but I did mention it at the end of each post as a reminder.

Since I was encouraging you to continue through December 31, I am stopping by today to check in. But don’t let this stop you from continuing for as long as you like!

As we flip our calendars from one year to the next, this is a perfect time for us to reflect on gratitude. When we look back at the year that has gone by, we might see some struggles we encountered. But if we dig a bit, we can also find ways that God has helped us, been there for us, and provided for us.

Each year is like that. In fact, some days are like that too. On this earth, will walk through a mixture of trials and blessings. However, when we are intentional to practice gratitude, this helps us to focus on the good and keep our eyes on Jesus. Even though we face difficulties, gratitude helps us to see that the Lord has been beside us every step of the way. And this brings a peace that surpasses understanding.

Okay I know some of you are thinking about how difficult life can be, and finding peace seems impossible. I get it. Life can be really hard. In fact, I said something along those lines in prayer earlier this week. But while some days it is difficult to look for the good, there is always something good to be found. Each day has beauty in it. Sometimes it is easy to find. Other times we have to be intentional and look for it.

And I have found that when we are intentional about looking for the good in our lives, and giving God thanks for the blessings, it can change our hearts. And when we have a changed heart, this helps alter so many other areas of our lives. We have the opportunity to walk in joy, instead of bitterness. We are more apt to mold lasting relationships, instead of breaking them down with resentment. We can walk in love, instead of hate.

It’s true – all of this seems backwards from the world we live in. But we are not of this world. We are set apart. And while gratitude will not change our circumstances, it will change our outlook. And our outlook affects more than we realize.

“It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.” – Charles Spurgeon

Therefore, I hope that we all continue to embrace gratitude as we step into the new year. Gratitude draws us closer to God and brings joy into our lives. When we walk in gratitude, we are walking in God’s will. And when our gratitude is part of our walk with God, it helps us to praise and worship Him, because we are thanking Him for all of the blessings in our lives.

I have found that praise and gratitude go hand-in-hand because our praise increases our gratitude and our gratitude increases our praise. And they both lift our spirits!

Dr. Charles Stanley said, “If it’s not already your practice, praise God throughout the day. Exalt Him when you wake up, when you eat, when you leave the house and when you return. An attitude of adoring trust in the Lord will make an amazing difference in your life.”

I hope this gratitude challenge has helped you to find a deeper trust in God. Because when we continually keep our eyes open for the blessings in our lives, we will see how God truly is working all things together for good.

If you participated in the gratitude challenge, let me know how it went.

I pray you have a safe and Happy New Year and a blessed 2023!

“It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High, proclaiming your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night.” – Psalm 92:1-2

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© 2022 Bridget A. Thomas

Merry Christmas!

Hello, my friends! I just wanted to take a moment to wish you all a very Merry CHRISTmas! Today is a special day for us as Christians, and for the world, as we remember a little baby born over two thousand years ago. The Son of God came to earth, in the form of a vulnerable infant. Emmanuel – God with us. He would grow up and ultimately die for our sins. He would pay the price we could never pay. The Prince of Peace would bring peace, hope, joy, and love to the world. May we celebrate all that Jesus means and all that He has done. I pray you and your families have a blessed day.

Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men! – Luke 2:14

A Year of Abiding

As you may know, my one word for 2022 is abide. I love the beauty of this word, especially in relation to abiding in Jesus. Here are some ways this word helped me to grow this year.

In January I read a book called Abide in Christ by Andrew Murray. This is a 31-day devotional, but it took me about 6 weeks to read due to the old language. (It was originally written in 1864, I believe.) But pressing through was worth it, as this book was very insightful.

Throughout the year, I read the gospels. I also studied other books of the Bible at times, but the gospels were my main focus for my daily reading. This helped me to keep my eyes on Jesus, and learn more about Him.

I memorized Jesus’ words found in John 15:4-5: “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.” I would often recite this in my mind at night when I went to bed and was trying to fall asleep. When we memorize Scripture, we are tucking it away in our hearts. We are storing The Truth inside of us. Life can be difficult and we have a real enemy who is out to get us. But the Word of God is one of the weapons we can use to fight our battles and to remind us of how we are to face each day.

Something that I started last year, and continued this year, was to have a monthly check-in. When the month changed, I would take a look at my life to find areas where I was growing, and areas that needed improvement. This pertains to things like reading my Bible, prayer, what I was learning in my studies, my health, etc. This gave me twelve opportunities through the year to make adjustments.

This fall, on the blog, we studied what abiding in Jesus looks like, based on Scripture. I thoroughly enjoyed this study and I hope you did as well. We helped each other grow through those posts. As is often the case, your comments gave me more to reflect on. And I am reminded that “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17)

Ultimately, focusing on the word “Abide” has helped me to draw closer to the Lord. Each day I was reminded to lean into Jesus. Of course I am not perfect and still had moments where I stumbled. Life is like that. We will have potholes in the road. And that is okay. Those moments help us to learn, grow, and do better next time. But when we look back over the months and years, we should still see an overall improvement. And that is how 2022 was for me.

Abiding doesn’t end here. It is a lifelong journey with the Savior as we abide in Him, each and every day. That is how I often see a “one word” for the year. It might be something we put more focus on for 365 days. But the result should be that it changes us and molds us as we continue on our path. Therefore, although I will have a different word for 2023, I will continue abiding in Jesus as I step into each new day.

When we abide in Jesus, day by day, we find a deep sense of peace and contentment in our lives. We see that He is the center of our lives. We build a deeper relationship with Him. And He ultimately becomes our sustenance.

If you had a word for 2022, I would love to hear how it shaped your year.

Gratitude Challenge 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 one way of abiding in Jesus, as it draws us closer to Him.

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Books to Add to Your Christmas List and A Giveaway

Hi Friends! I wanted to share some book fun with you. I have read many books this year, and I pulled out my favorites for you to add to your Christmas shopping list. These books weren’t necessarily published in 2022, they are just books I read this year (for the most part). These are all Christian books, as that is pretty much all I read. So no need to worry about content. I have them broken into several categories. I hope you find something that sounds interesting. And make sure you read to the end for information on a giveaway.

(Note: I do not receive any compensation through these links.)

For anyone looking for a good Christian Non-Fiction Read:

Winning the War in Your Mind: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life by Craig Groeschel. This book is so powerful. It contains vital information that every Christian needs. We all have battled lies from the enemy at one time or another. And for some of us, it’s a chronic issue. This book will help you take back your life and win the battle.

Abide in Christ: A 31-Day Devotional for Fellowship With Jesus by Andrew Murray. This book is truly a gem. There are many golden nuggets throughout, and I highlighted tons of passages that spoke to me. One thing to note – since Andrew Murray lived in another era, the language was dated. Personally, I had to read this book slowly to absorb what Murray was saying. Many sentences are very long, and one can get lost along the way from beginning to end. But if you put in the time and effort, you will be rewarded. Abiding in Christ is vital in our walk with Him. If we can grasp this one thing, day by day, our lives will be transformed.

For An Audience of One: Seek the Praise That Comes From God Alone by R.T. Kendall. I wrote a blog post on this book earlier this year. If you missed it, check it out here.

Don’t Give the Enemy a Seat at Your Table: It’s Time to Win the Battle of Your Mind by Louie Giglio. Excellent book that will help you strengthen your faith, take every thought captive, and ultimately keep your eyes on Jesus, no matter what you are facing. I have highlighted so many exceptional lines throughout the book, as the content was overflowing with key truths. This is such an important topic for all Christians. Too often, we allow the enemy to invite himself to our table, our lives, and our minds. It is time to take a stand. Jesus, our Good Shepherd, is there beside us. We need only to turn our focus to Him, and He will help us overcome this battle.

Get Your Life Back: Everyday Practices for a World Gone Mad by John Eldredge. This book is amazing. It is not like any other book I have read. In our fast-paced world, we are all moving at an unhealthy speed. We are burnt out and frazzled. This book will help you in two major ways. It will help you to intentionally find a slower pace. And it will help you to receive more of God in your life. Both of these, in turn, will help restore your soul. I highlighted many passages in this book, which isn’t abnormal for me. But in this case, I took it a step further and wrote down some key points from each chapter as well. I wanted to make sure I retained what I read, and put it into practice. I highly recommend this book. I can see myself coming back to it again.

When the Enemy Strikes: The Keys to Winning Your Spiritual Battles by Dr. Charles F. Stanley. A must read for every Christian. This book is phenomenal. Charles Stanley is my favorite pastor because he really knows his stuff. He always provides great insight and practical tips. This book is no exception. This book is so eye-opening and will help you see the ways the enemy has sneakily wormed his way into your life. But this book will also help you to stand strong against the devil’s tactics, as you cling to Jesus. I cannot say enough good things about this book.

For women. Often when it comes to Christian Non-Fiction, books by female authors are written for women:

Fervent: A Woman’s Battle Plan to Serious, Specific and Strategic Prayer by Priscilla Shirer. (Note that this link goes to the imitation leather format of the book, because I really like that version. However, you can search for other formats if you prefer.) One of the best books you will read as a Christian. Seriously. This book will open your eyes and help you to see how so many struggles in your life have been coming from the enemy. This book will help you to formulate prayers to fight against the enemy’s tactics. You will walk away with a stronger faith, as you become the prayer warrior that you always wanted to be. I have this book in the leather edition, I have it in e-book, and I have the audio book. And I went through it several times in the various formats. Priscilla shares stories, Scriptures, and inspiring words to help you in your faith walk. She is not wordy at all. But she does have a gift with words that will make you think about things from new angles. She is to the point and spot on. The audio version is wonderful because Priscilla narrates itself. She is a gifted speaker and very encouraging. I feel that it would benefit us to read / listen to this book on a regular basis. I cannot say enough about this book. I highly recommend it. Get it. You won’t regret it.

Fighting Words Devotional: 100 Days of Speaking Truth into the Darkness by Ellie Holcomb. I absolutely love this book. Each day brings a powerful Scripture verse, an encouraging devotional from the the author, reflection questions, and a prayer. Each passage has made me think deeper, as I sit quietly with the Lord. Ellie has a beautiful gift with words. In so many of the passages, she was able to articulate exactly how I was feeling. She filled each entry with truth and insight. Each day, I walked away feeling encouraged and hopeful. There is usually enough room to write in the book under each day’s entry, if you wish. And that is what I did. I wrote my own prayer each day, as I reflected on God’s Word and the hope I found. I highly recommend this book.

Sanctuary: Cultivating a Quiet Heart in a Noisy and Demanding World by Denise Hughes. This book was just published earlier this month, but I was honored to be a part of the launch team. This book was a much needed respite. We live in a fast-paced world, with a lot of “noise” everywhere we go. These days, much of our noise comes from our devices. Being constantly connected deflates us, pulls us away from the people around us, causes us to miss out on our own lives, and affects our relationship with God as well. This book helps us to lay aside the distractions, find unique ways to restore our souls, build the relationships with the loved ones in our lives, and have a closer walk with God. This book is a treasure.

The 40-Day Feast: Taste and See the Goodness of God’s Word by Wendy Speake. This book will not be published until January. However, I am on the launch team, so I had a sneak peek. This is a 40-day devotional all about the Word of God. This book helps us to get an appetite for the Bible, savor each bite, and apply biblical truths to our daily lives. Whether you read your Bible daily or not, this book will have golden nuggets for you to enjoy. I have read each of Wendy’s 40-day devotional books and I have found each one to be rich with insight and encouragement.

For Advent. The books in this group I didn’t necessarily read this year. But I felt it would be appropriate to share my favorite Advent devotionals in case you are looking for a rich December read:

Waiting Here For You: An Advent Journey of Hope by Louie Giglio. I loved this Advent devotional. Each day’s reading was short, so you could squeeze it into a busy schedule. Yet, each day also held so much meaning and impact.

The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas by Ann Voskamp. This book was so rich as it walks through the genealogy of Jesus and helps the reader to savor the Savior.

Prepare Him Room: A Daily Advent Devotional by Susie Larson. I’m currently in the midst of reading this book, so I can’t give my full thoughts yet. But I can say that I am deeply enjoying it so far.

If you’re looking for a unique Bible:

Illustrating Bible NIV: The Gospels. I love this Bible. It contains only the four gospels, in NIV translation. There is plenty of space on the side of each page to write or draw or whatever your creative side wants to do. It is spiral bound, which means no awkward issues when trying to write (as you find in regular paperback type books). If you want to spend time with Jesus, this would be a perfect place to start. Of course this is not my main Bible, since it only contains the Gospels. But I really enjoyed the time I spent in this Bible as I sat at Jesus’ feet.

For Lent:

Uncovering the Love of Jesus: A Lent Devotional by Asheritah Ciuciu. This is the best Lent devotional that I have ever read. This book was divided out into 7 weeks, intending to take the reader from Ash Wednesday through Resurrection Sunday (and beyond). Each passage talks about a different Biblical story from the Gospels. The author provides a lot of rich insight, amazing details, and helps the reader to read each of these stories with fresh eyes. At the end of each devotional passage, there is also a challenge, a prayer, and Bible verses for further reading. The author also provides activities for the weekend days. These are things that help you to focus on Lent and Easter and all that they mean. You can do them alone, or with your family. The devotions can be read at any time of year; they don’t have to be reserved for Lent. This book is absolutely wonderful. I cannot recommend it enough. You will grow closer to Jesus and see His love for you from a new perspective.


All of the above sections were Christian Non-Fiction. But I also wanted to take a moment to recommend some fiction reads. Mainly the Holiday series by my friend Laurel Hawkes. Laurel has written a series of novellas, each set around a different holiday. These are each quick reads for those with a busy schedule. All of them are available in e-book format. But if you prefer paperback, that is an option as well, with several novellas printed together in one book. Here is a link to the first e-book in the series: Happy New Year? (Holiday, USA Book 1). And here is the link to the first paperback in the series, which contains the first four novellas: Holiday, USA Anthology 2014.

If you want some Christmas fiction reads, check out my friend Summer’s recent blog post – Christmas Reads 2022. Each December, Summer will write a post that outlines her favorite Christmas reads from the year.

And now for a giveaway!

As a way of spreading Christmas cheer, I am giving away copies of my first two books – Every Day is a Gift and You Are Redeemed. (For more info on my books, check out this page.) * I’m sorry but U.S. addresses only, and while supplies last.* If you would like a copy of your own, please send me your name and address via this form.

Thank you for your time! And thank you for being here! I am honored to walk this path with you! Let me know in the comments if you have any great book recommendations.

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Abide Series Recap

If you have been following for the past couple of months, then you know that we recently went through a series regarding Abiding in Jesus. There are more Bible verses we could look at with the word abide in them. However, I felt the verses that we studied were the best in guiding us to grow in our Christian walk. I hope you enjoyed the series as much as I did.

Side note: I also enjoyed looking for different pictures of vineyards or grapevines to go with each post. They were all so beautiful to me. Grapevines always reminded me of my Hungarian great grandmother, as she had grapevines in her yard. But now I have new meaning to add to those memories. Grapevines and vineyards will now also remind me of the beauty we find when we abide in Jesus and His love.

Here is a short recap of some of the points we touched on in this series:

We have to be intentional about abiding in Jesus. We can do this by making our relationship with Him a priority. Day by day He will mold us to produce good fruit in our lives.

Not only are we to abide in Jesus, but we are also to abide in His love. We do this by keeping
His commandments. The greatest two commandments are to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. And to love your neighbor as yourself. When we continue in His love, we will have joy in our lives. And He will continue to grow good fruit in us.

When we truly abide in Jesus, the love of God will abide in us. And His Word abides in our hearts, because we abide in His Word every day. We don’t merely go through the motions of religion. And we don’t try to impress those around us, as the religious leaders in Jesus’ day did. It is all about being in union with the One who loved you enough to die for you.

We have the Holy Spirit abiding in us. He is always with us. He is always there, ready to help us. I fear too often we do not tap into this priceless gift. We might not fully understand how much the Holy Spirit can do for us. Or we might simply forget that we are never alone. But He is there, and He will gladly help us in a myriad of ways.

When we truly abide in Jesus, we walk like He did. As we abide in Him daily, not only does He help mold our hearts to be more like Him, but we also want to be more like Jesus. When we read our Bibles, we learn about Him, and this helps us to follow in His footsteps. But again, there is a responsibility on our part. We have to show up. We have to pursue Him. When we do that, He will change us, day by day.

This week I heard a good sermon by Jentezen Franklin where he touched on wanting. He said, “Here’s how you know if you’re saved or not – you want it. You want to live for Jesus. You want to worship. You want to come to church. You want to be around Christians. You may have all kinds of issues, but you want it. If you just want it, that means life has filled you. The good news is you might be all messed up, but if you just want to be saved, if you just want to be like Jesus, if you just want it, you’ve got it.” These words remind me of what we learned about abiding in Jesus and growing good fruit. Part of the battle is our desire for it. If we have that desire, then we are on the right path. (The sermon was an excellent one and talked about ways Jesus’ blood brings us healing. If you have time, here is the link to the entire sermon – The Everlasting Covenant.)

Abiding in Jesus might also mean we will have seasons of pruning. But the end result will help us to flourish and grow good fruit, as we lean into Jesus and His love.

Thank you for joining this abiding journey. I hope you enjoyed the series. Let us know in the comments what your key takeaway was.

Dear Jesus, thank You for showing us how to abide in You. Sometimes we feel a bit lost, not knowing exactly how to grow in our walk with You. But over the last several weeks, we have learned that our top priority should be pursuing You and spending time with You. And You will naturally help change us, day by day. Help us to lean into You, Lord. There is no place we would rather be. Thank You! We love You! In Your extraordinary 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 learn to abide in Jesus because gratitude naturally pulls us closer to the Lord, as we see how much He blesses us.

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© 2022 Bridget A. Thomas