As you can imagine, almost all of my meetings for work over the past year have been virtual instead of face-to-face. Even though we are all in the same office building, it is better for social distancing to meet over the computer at our respective desks, instead of in a conference room. Due to the fact that we interact less than we used to, my team has been doing fun activities in some of our meetings. At one recent meeting, we played “Two Truths and a Lie.” In this game, you provide three statements about yourself. Two are the truth and one is a fib. Then the group is supposed to guess which one is the fib. My three items were (1) I can say the alphabet backwards, (2) I know the alphabet in Spanish, (3) I know the alphabet in American Sign Language.
Which one do you think was the lie?
I will give you a moment to ponder…
…Insert Jeopardy! music…
The fib was number two. I do not know the alphabet in Spanish.
But the point of this post has more to do with the first item on the list – being able to say the alphabet backwards. You might wonder how this came about. When I was a child and had trouble sleeping, my grandmother encouraged me to silently recite the alphabet backwards in order to occupy my mind until I fell asleep. Before long, I had it memorized. As an adult, when I have had trouble sleeping, I have tried different things. Sometimes I will pray. Other times I might go through different Bible passages that I have memorized. Recently I did something new. I wish I could share it with my grandmother, because I think she would get a kick out of it. I went through the alphabet and thought of different words to describe God and His character. I have since done this on numerous occasions, picking different words. Sometimes I will go through this in my head as a way to praise God for His goodness, not just as a means to get to sleep.
Below is a list I have compiled, with Bible verse to go along with each word. However, when I put this particular list together, I did not create this list in alphabetical order, but added items to the list whenever I stumbled across a pertinent Bible verse. The last letter to get filled in was N. And when I found that particular Bible verse, I was a bit giddy with excitement. I felt as though God wanted me to find that one last so that it would make a big impact. And it did. Now anytime I hear the word “near,” it resonates in my heart like a sweet promise that God is near. I hope you enjoy going through the alphabet in this way, as you focus on how amazing our God is!
Awesome: “You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary; the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people. Praise be to God!” – Psalm 68:35
Beautiful: “One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.” – Psalm 27:4
Compassionate: “If you return to the Lord, then your fellow Israelites and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will return to this land, for the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.” – 2 Chronicles 30:9
Delightful: “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” – Psalm 37:4
Everlasting: “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.” – Isaiah 40:28
Forgiving: “You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you.” – Psalm 86:5
Good: “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” – Psalm 34:8
Healer: “He said, ‘If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.’” – Exodus 15:26
Immortal: “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” – 1 Timothy 1:17
Just: “He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.” – Deuteronomy 32:4
Kind: “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” – Titus 3:4-5a
Love: “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” – 1 John 4:8
Merciful: “For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your ancestors, which he confirmed to them by oath.” – Deuteronomy 4:31
Near: “But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.” – Psalm 73:28
Omniscient: “If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.” – 1 John 3:20
Powerful: “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come.” – Psalm 71:18
Quencher: “But whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” – John 4:14
Righteous: “For the Lord is righteous, he loves justice; the upright will see his face.” – Psalm 11:7
Spirit: “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” – John 4:24
Truth: “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” – John 14:6
Unchanging: “’I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,’ says the Lord Almighty.” – Malachi 3:6-7a
Victorious: “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 15:57
Worthy: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” – Revelation 4:11
eXalted: “God is exalted in his power. Who is a teacher like him?” – Job 36:22
Yours: “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.” – Psalm 143:10
Zealous: “Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” – Isaiah 9:7
© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas
The past had times of darkness
Some days were hard to bear
Other days held peace
A breath of fresh air
But looking back we can see
Jesus was always there
The present has some struggles
Some days are filled with fear
There are also many blessings
So much to hold dear
But we can rest assured
Jesus is always here
Of what’s to come in the future
We are not yet aware
There could be ups and downs
As we cling to the Lord in prayer
But one thing is certain
Jesus will be there
No matter what you went through in your past, no matter what you are going through now, and no matter what the future holds, please know that Jesus is always there for you. Jesus said to His disciples in Matthew 28:20, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” What a comforting verse this is, and one that we can hold onto as well. As long as you have accepted Jesus in your heart, you can be certain that He is there. (If you have not accepted Jesus in your heart, then I pray that today is the day you will do so. Please read the prayer on this page. This will be the best decision you have ever made.)
In my life, I have made many mistakes. Most of us will, because we are not perfect. But looking back over times that I regret, I can still see that Jesus was there, calling me out of the darkness, like calling Lazarus out of the tomb.
In our preset lives, many of us are facing difficulties. It is part of living in a fallen world. But one thing we can hang onto is the beautiful truth that Jesus is with us every day. And even more than that, it says in Romans 8:34 that Jesus sits at God’s right hand interceding for us. Knowing this brings me so much peace. I know that no matter what I am facing, Jesus is seeing me through it all. And He does the same for you and all of God’s children.
I hate to admit that I have worries about the future. But Jesus tells us not to worry about the future. In Matthew 6:34, Jesus said, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” We have to hand our fears over to Him, knowing that no matter what may come, Jesus will be with us.
Jesus should be a constant in our lives. He should be our default, not our last resort. It is vital to cling to Him, every moment of every day. When you do, you will walk every day with peace, knowing your life is in the hands of your precious Lord and Savior.
I pray you all have a Happy Easter, celebrating what matters most – the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Poem and Post © 2021 Bridget A. Thomas
In my last post, I wrote about the messy subject of forgiveness. In that post, I mainly dealt with forgiving another person. But today I want to talk about something that goes a bit deeper – forgiving ourselves.
Sometimes it can feel easier to forgive other people than it is to forgive ourselves, if we have sinned or made a mistake that we deeply regret. We tend to hold ourselves to a higher standard than we do other people. We tend to be our own worst critic. And we tend to beat ourselves up when we stumble.
Why should we forgive ourselves?
1 – Grace through Jesus
We all are going to make mistakes because we are human. It says in Romans 3:23 that we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” But God offers us a beautiful gift called grace. If we have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, that means we are forgiven. It says in Psalm 103:12 that “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” And it says in Micah 7:19, “You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” And it says in Romans 8:1, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Please know that if Jesus is your Lord and Savior, then you are forgiven. You have been washed clean. There is nothing from your past that can entangle you anymore.
2 – God wants you to
Forgiveness is a command. If we are commanded to forgive others, then doesn’t that mean we should also forgive ourselves? God wants you to live in peace. He didn’t send His only Son to die for your sins so that you could live in misery for the rest of your life. God loves you with an immeasurable love. And that means He wants you to live with contentment, not regret. If one of your children made a mistake, wouldn’t you want them to move on with their life and live in peace? Then how much more does your heavenly Father feel the same about you?
3 – You are not higher than God
If God has forgiven us, shouldn’t we also forgive ourselves? Some might think that is too easy and that we shouldn’t let ourselves off the hook. But God no longer condemns you, so you should no longer condemn yourself either. When we do not forgive ourselves, it is like saying that we know more than God does, we are smarter than Him, and we know what can and can’t be forgiven. Jesus already paid the full price for your sins. There is no balance on your debt. Yet, too often, we live our lives as though we must continue to pay.
4 – Satan doesn’t want you to
I love what R.T. Kendall says in his book How To Forgive Ourselves Totally, “I have believed for a long time that one of the ways to know the will of God is to imagine what the devil would want you to do—then do the opposite.” This is so true about so many things in life. And one in particular is the matter of forgiveness, whether we are forgiving someone else or forgiving ourselves. The devil is the father of lies (John 8:44) and the accuser (Revelation 12:10). So he is going to use any lie and accusation he can to keep you from living freely in Jesus. The enemy will tell you that you can’t possibly forgive yourself because what you did was too awful. The enemy will also tell you that God hasn’t really forgiven you, because that would be too easy. We must stand strong against the enemy and his tactics. And one way to do that is to forgive yourself.
If you are plagued with guilt and unforgiveness towards yourself, please prayerfully release it to the Lord. Explain to God how you are feeling about your regrets. Tell Him that you are ready to move on with healing. Let Him know that you are handing all your sins and past mistakes over to Him. And you are not going to pick them back up again. Each time the devil tries to remind you of your failures, tell him that Jesus has already forgiven you and that he cannot hold that over you anymore. If you are consistent and determined, you can find peace. Remember that you are forgiven and deeply loved.
© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas
When I was a child we attended a Methodist church. Each week I remember reciting the Lord’s Prayer:
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
The Lord’s Prayer is found in two places within the Bible. Matthew 6 is a little longer than Luke 11. Interestingly, some versions of Matthew 6 do not have the last line at all – “For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever.” But it is in the KJV. (When I initially posted this, I misspoke and implied that it was not in any version. My apologies for that!)
I would dare say that many of you reading this remember the Lord’s Prayer from your childhood. Or perhaps you heard of it later in life, if you didn’t attend church as a youngster. Still, most of us are familiar with it. Yet many of us struggle with something touched on within this prayer – forgiveness.
When Jesus taught the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6, He went on to say in verses 14 and 15, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Forgiveness is actually something we are commanded to do in the Bible. And there are many verses, besides these, that talk about the subject of forgiveness. Yet, we still struggle. We might even be tempted to breeze over verses such as these because they don’t align with our self-seeking nature.
Why is forgiveness so difficult?
Well, for one thing, when there is an action that requires forgiveness, there is also a boatload of pain that goes with it. When someone hurts us, the cut might go very deep. It can be a challenge to heal that wound. I am not minimizing any pain that someone else caused you. I agree that on our own we might struggle to heal from this pain. But the good news is that we can heal with the strength of the Holy Spirit living inside of us.
Another reason why forgiveness is an issue is because we believe it equates to letting the other person off the hook. We think we are essentially saying that what they did was okay. But that is not the case. When we forgive, we are freeing ourselves from carrying a heaven burden. We are allowing ourselves to move forward with newfound peace.
Unfortunately, when it comes to forgiveness (and so many other areas of our lives), our pride gets in the way. We want to hold a grudge against someone out of principle. But holding a tight fist around our painful encounters will only cause bitterness and resentment to fester deep inside. In the long run, we are truly only hurting ourselves.
Why should we forgive?
As I mentioned earlier, forgiveness is a command from the Lord. Jesus talked about forgiveness many times in the gospels. And He says that we are to keep forgiving, even when another person continues to offend us. In Matthew 18:21-22, Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” This is a tough pill to swallow for our flesh. But it is possible. If it were not possible, then God wouldn’t instruct us to do it. We have to be willing to forgive out of reverence for God.
We should also forgive because we have been forgiven. While it might be true that the person who hurt you doesn’t deserve forgiveness, it’s also true that you and I don’t deserve forgiveness either. Yet God is so quick to extend grace and mercy to us when we humble ourselves before Him. It says in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” What a gift we have been given! We are happy to accept it when it’s extended towards ourselves. But when it’s extended to someone who hurt us, then it’s a different story. When dealing with forgiveness, remember how much your Heavenly Father has forgiven you.
And as I touched on earlier, holding onto unforgiving feelings only hurts us. It causes us to harbor acidic emotions inside of us, which will affect our relationships, our character, our actions, and many other areas. Who really wants to live like that? No one. We all want to live in peace. Peace is possible and peace is beautiful. This is a journey mainly between you and God. You might not necessarily reconcile with the other person. But you still can move forward.
As Lysa TerKeurst says in her book Forgiving What You Can’t Forget, “For me to move forward, for me to see beyond this current darkness, is between me and the Lord. I don’t need to wait on others to do anything or place blame or shame that won’t do anyone any good. I simply must obey whatever God is asking of me right now. God has given me a new way to walk. And God has given me a new way to see. It’s forgiveness. And it is beautiful.”
If you are struggling to forgive, I hope this post helped you to take a step in the right direction. Remember the reasons why forgiveness is so important. And prayerfully seek the Lord’s help in extending forgiveness on your road to healing. In the long run, you will be happy to finally have peace in your heart again.
© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas
He loved her with an unfailing love
She tried to love Him in return
He gave her an abundance of gifts
Her heart was stirred but didn’t burn
He longed for her whole heart
She was weak and ran away
He chased after her
She tried to hide day after day
He knew she was in trouble
Finally she called out to Him
He came running to her side
And hoped her love wasn’t a whim
He knocked down doors to get to her
He busted walls to reach her side
She was never too far away for Him
There was nowhere she could hide
He laid down His life for her
Even though she kept turning away
Finally she accepted His love
And sits at His feet every day
He wiped away her shame
He left no trace
She asked what she had to do
He said it was a gift of grace
This poem is meant to illustrate the Lord’s unfailing devotion towards His beloved. He chased after you and me when we were lost. His love is beyond our comprehension. We don’t deserve it, yet it is a gift we can freely receive.
When we read the Old Testament, we can see how far and how often the Israelites strayed from God. Yet He loved them and rescued them, time after time. In the Garden of Eden, when sin first entered the world, God made a plan to save His children.
Take some time today to sit with Jesus and think about His precious love. Take note of all the ways that the Lord has loved you throughout your life, even when you least deserved it. Let yourself feel the embrace of Your Savior, like a comforting blanket wrapped around your shoulders.
“…I have loved you with an everlasting love…” – Jeremiah 31:3
Poem and Post © 2021 Bridget A. Thomas
This is not the post that was originally scheduled to go out today. But something happened last week in my community, which prompted me to write about this subject. Please note that I am not a licensed counselor or medical professional. If you are dealing with depression, anxiety, thoughts of suicide, or the like, please please please seek professional help. And I am sorry that this topic is not a pleasant one to think about. But it could potentially reach and help someone who needs it.
Death by self-harm (suicide) has increased over the last couple of decades. This is a testament to the world we live in, and how much the devil’s grip has spread. Suicide affects people of all ages, races, and backgrounds. Most of us can say that we have a friend of a friend who has died by suicide. And anytime we hear about someone dying this way, it breaks our hearts. Why do people commit suicide? Generally speaking, depression and life’s circumstances have overwhelmed the person. They might believe that is their only solution. They might believe they are all alone. They might believe no one cares for them and everyone would be better off without them.
If you or anyone you love has had these thoughts or feelings, I want to reassure you that you are not alone. I don’t know what your life looks like. I don’t know what circumstances you are facing. I don’t know what kind of relationships you have. But there is another answer to your problems. It might sound cliché, but the truth is that Jesus loves you with a very real and deep love. If you turn your heart to Him, He will be there for you. He will help you get through whatever it is you are facing. And there are people in your life who care about you too. They would be heartbroken if you left them.
In Charles Stanley’s Handbook for Christian Living, Dr. Stanley says that suicide is wrong because:
• It violates the Ten Commandments.
• Nowhere does the Bible condone a person ending life to escape circumstances.
• Life is a gift from God.
• Suicide is an expression of self-hatred, and the Bible says we are to “love our neighbors as ourselves.”
• Suicide usurps the power that belongs only to God.
• A person who commits suicide short-circuits God’s will for his or her life.
• It is an expression of lack of faith. Philippians 4:19 states, “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” This applies to financial, emotional, and physical needs.
• Suicide is an act of selfishness.
• It hurts the cause of Christ.
Webmd.com gives the following tips if you believe someone you know is in immediate danger of killing themselves:
• Do not leave the person alone. If possible, ask for help from friends or other family members.
• Ask the person to give you any weapons they might have. Take away or remove sharp objects or anything else that the person could use to hurt themselves.
• If the person is already in psychiatric treatment, help them to contact the doctor or therapist for guidance and help.
• Try to keep the person as calm as possible.
• Call 911 or take the person to an emergency room.
• Call your local suicide prevention hotline or the Substance Abuse and Mental Health (SAMHSA) National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-TALK (8255).
The numbers above are for the U.S. Here’s a list of suicide crisis lines by country: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_suicide_crisis_lines.
If you are the one who is struggling, please:
• Cry out to God. Start talking to Him and tell Him how you feel. Ask Him to help you overcome the emotions you are battling.
• Remember that it is satan who is putting these dark thoughts in your head. They would never come from God.
• Please seek professional help. You can start by calling the hotline for your country. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_suicide_crisis_lines.)
• Talk to a friend and tell someone how you are feeling. It would also help to surround yourself with positive Christian people. Joining a church would be a good place to start.
Many of us are familiar with John 3:16 (KJV), “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Jesus came to save all of us. That means you too. He loves you so much that He gave His life for you. In John 10:10 (MSG), Jesus said, “I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.” What a beautiful promise this is. And this promise is for you too. But you have to accept Jesus as the Lord and Savior of your life. If you have never done that, then I invite you to do so today. Please read the prayer on this page: Accepting Jesus Into Your Life.
As I said above, I am not a licensed counselor or medical professional. But I am someone who Jesus has helped. I have gone through times of darkness in my life. I am sure most people can say the same. No one can walk through life without dealing with trials. Yes, the trials in life do bring us down. I am not minimizing your situation. But I can tell you first hand that Jesus is the answer. He can and will help you find peace in your life, if you cling to Him. When I am feeling down about something, it helps me to: pray, read from the Bible especially the Psalms, and listen to praise music.
The Bible tells us countless times to not be afraid. Why? Because when we have Almighty God in our court, there is nothing He can’t handle. And it says in 1 Peter 5:7 to cast all our worries and anxieties on the Lord because He cares for us. The Passion Translation puts it this way, “Pour out all your worries and stress upon him and leave them there, for he always tenderly cares for you.” When we are intentional about seeking Him, He will not fail us. Please know that you are deeply loved and there is no circumstance that you cannot overcome, with God by your side.
Drink deeply of the pleasures of this God. Experience for yourself the joyous mercies he gives to all who turn to hide themselves in him. – Psalm 34:8 (TPT)
© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas
There is a certain story in the book of Genesis that fascinates me. I have read it numerous times, but recently it has been pulling at me and I can’t get it out of my head. Let’s look at Genesis 32:22-32 (NKJV).
And [Jacob] arose that night and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven sons, and crossed over the ford of Jabbok. He took them, sent them over the brook, and sent over what he had. Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.”
But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!”
So He said to him, “What is your name?”
He said, “Jacob.”
And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.”
Then Jacob asked, saying, “Tell me Your name, I pray.”
And He said, “Why is it that you ask about My name?” And He blessed him there.
So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” Just as he crossed over Penuel the sun rose on him, and he limped on his hip. Therefore to this day the children of Israel do not eat the muscle that shrank, which is on the hip socket, because He touched the socket of Jacob’s hip in the muscle that shrank.
Here is a little backstory. After many years, Jacob is about to be reunited with his brother, Esau. Jacob is scared because when they parted ways, it was not on good terms. He spends the night wrestling with “a Man.” Some scholars believe he was wrestling with Jesus. Others say it was an angel. Generically, you might hear he wrestled with God. He was definitely wrestling with someone sent by God.
I have been pondering this story and asking God why it has gripped me so much. One aspect has to do with prayer. Many commentaries point to the thought that we may wrestle with God in prayer. I don’t know that I wrestle in prayer. But I would say I struggle with prayer. I do pray daily and often. But I admit that at times I feel defeat in prayer. I allow doubt to creep in. Of course, this comes from the enemy. He knows how powerful prayer is and he will try to stop us from connecting with our Father. But Jesus reminds us in Luke 18 that we “should always pray and not give up.” Even when we feel like our prayers aren’t being answered, God always hears us. E.M. Bounds said, “Prayers outlive the lives of those who uttered them.” So, this story about Jacob wrestling does nudge me to cling to God in prayer and to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
Also, in the book of Hosea, this story is touched on. In Hosea 12:4, it says that “[Jacob] struggled with the Angel and prevailed; He wept, and sought favor from Him.” This illustrates that Jacob truly poured his heart out to God that evening. When we meet with God, do we pour our hearts out to Him? Or do we rush through this precious time so that we can get on with our day? Even though Jacob had important matters to tend to that day, he wasn’t eager to let God go. Do we cling to the Lord this tightly?
Another aspect that grabs my attention is the broken hip. It is believed that Jacob walked with a limp for the rest of his life. Of course, this not something we would ask for. But it still intrigues me, nonetheless. Every single day, Jacob could not forget this encounter with God. He had a tangible, constant reminder. I think this pulls at me because much of our faith is not tangible. That is why it is called faith. According to Oxford, faith can be defined as, “Strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.” This goes hand in hand with what I mentioned about prayer. Sometimes things will not go the way we like. Sometimes the unexpected with smack us in the face. When we do not see tangible results of our prayers or our efforts, or when life throws us a curve ball, the enemy will sneak in and plant seeds of doubt. That is why we must stand strong against the enemy’s schemes. We must remind ourselves who our God is. We must remind ourselves of His promises found in the Bible. We must remind ourselves that God is in control, no matter what.
Another viewpoint regarding Jacob’s hip that speaks to me has to do with the breaking in general. Sometimes God has to break us down to get us to a point where we finally depend on Him. All of Jacob’s life he struggled to make things work out the way he wanted, and he struggled in his own strength. I believe this was a turning point in Jacob’s life to finally lean on God’s strength. What does it take for us to finally lean on God? In the words of Tony Evans, “Sometimes God lets you hit rock bottom so that you will discover He is the Rock at the bottom.” And as Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:10, “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
In case you were wondering what happened with Jacob and his brother, Esau – they did reunite on good terms. Did the praying, wrestling, and blessing from this encounter help? Perhaps they did. After all, Esau was headed towards Jacob with four hundred men, which could mean that he originally meant to harm Jacob. Overall, while this encounter did leave Jacob with a limp, he walked away with a better relationship with God and a renewed relationship with his brother. And there are deeper meanings with his new name, as his descendants would form the tribes of Israel.
And what can we take away from this story? This story nudges us to pursue a deeper prayer life. It reminds us to stand strong against the enemy and to hold tightly to our faith. And this story also helps us to turn to the Lord and to full rely on Him and His strength. May we walk with a strong faith all of our days, as we remember we have our Almighty God by our side.
© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas
He will never leave us nor forsake us
Every single moment He is always there
We can always count on Him
And cling to His endless care
He laid down His life for us
And paid a price we can never repay
He did the unimaginable for us
And never dreamt of walking away
There is nowhere He won’t go for us
Nothing He won’t do
He will go to the ends of the earth
To orchestrate our rescue
His divine and unfailing grace
Greater than anything we can think of
What a priceless gift we have
In His immeasurable love
Valentines Day is something traditionally dedicated to couples. Many people across the globe give gifts and go out on a special date. Countless others have become engaged and many have married on this day. But thinking about love always makes me think of the Lord and the greatest love story ever told. We cannot find a perfect love in human beings. But we can find a perfect love in the Lord. However, while none of us are prefect, we can still learn to display the love of our Lord and Savior to those around us. We need to tap into the strength of the Holy Spirit living inside of us. Take a moment today to thank God for His unfailing and immeasurable love. And also ask for His strength to help you live out His love in your life.
The Bible has quite a lot to say about love. I will leave you with a few verses to reflect on.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:13
“We love because he first loved us.” – 1 John 4:19
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends…” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” – 1 John 4:8
“Let all that you do be done in love.” – 1 Corinthians 16:14
“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” – 1 Peter 4:8
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34-35
© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas
Over the last several weeks I have been writing about the subject of reverence and ways we can show God our respect. When you hear the phrase “fear of the Lord” – this means to have reverence for Him. and having reverence for God means that we respect Him. R.T. Kendall said, “What is missing in the church more than anything in the world at the present time is the fear of God and a sense of sin.” I do believe this is true and I believe that is why our world is in a whole lot of trouble right now. We need to turn our hearts back to Him. And one way we need to revere Him is through obedience.
Philippians 2:12 tells us to “…[obey] God with deep reverence and fear.” I find it very telling that when Paul wrote this, he associated obedience with reverence. When we obey the Lord, we are showing Him that we fear Him and respect Him. I understand that sometimes obedience can be scary, especially if God is asking us to take a big step or do something that seems unreasonable. But when we do what He asks, we are proving our devotion. We are telling Him that we are committed to Him.
Obedience is an important aspect of our relationship with God. But it is also a key that will unlock the doors we have been struggling to open. Do you remember the hymn “Trust and Obey?” Obedience and Trust go hand in hand. When we trust God, we obey Him. When we obey God, we will see that He is trustworthy. Trust increases our obedience and obedience increases our trust. It is a beautiful cycle that grows stronger over time.
Obedience also brings us blessings. God has a reason for each thing He asks us to do. With our human eyes, we might not be able to see the big picture. But God always sees the big picture. He sees the beginning and the end. He knows what is best and He works things out for our good. So even when what He asks seems difficult, we have to have faith that He knows what is best.
“Walk in obedience to all that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.” – Deuteronomy 5:33
We also obey God out of love. Just think about how much God pours His love, blessings, protection, guidance, comfort, care, and strength over us. How can we not want to honor Him and love Him in return with our obedience? Remember the words that Jesus spoke in John 14:15, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” That statement alone makes me want to show God my reverence, honor, and love through obedience.
I pray we all can turn our hearts towards Him, with proper reverence and respect. I pray we all can learn to wholeheartedly trust and obey Him. Humbling ourselves before God, and clinging to Him through each day, will ultimately bring us a sense of peace. We will know that our lives are in the hands of Almighty God, and that is the safest place to be.
I will leave you with a song: Trust and Obey performed by Big Daddy Weave
© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas
Over the past couple of weeks, I have been talking about reverence. I have mainly been focusing on how to show God reverence by kneeling in prayer. But another aspect I want to talk about today is our attitude. Although I try to be positive, I must confess that there are times when I still grumble. I have gotten a lot better in this area, but I still have room for improvement. Complaining is common in our culture. Sadly, it has become the norm, is fully accepted, and even encouraged. Happy people are often frowned upon these days.
But as Christians, we are called to a higher standard. We are called to be a shining light in a dark world. We are called to be the salt of the earth. But something that has been pulling on my heart recently is how this relates to reverence.
One thing we discussed over the past two weeks was that reverence is all about the heart. Well, Jesus tells us in Matthew 15:18, “But what comes out of your mouth reveals the core of your heart” (TPT). So, if reverence is a reflection of our heart’s posture, and if our words reveal what’s in our heart, then that tells me our words and attitudes are important when it comes to reverence.
I imagine it must grieve the Lord to hear us gripe all the time. In fact there is a Bible verse that mentions grieving the Holy Spirit. It says in Ephesians 4:29-32, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” When I think about my attitude grieving the Lord, this breaks my heart.
God is so good to us and showers us with blessings every day. Yes, we all face difficulties in life. However, God is still watching over us, protecting us, and caring for us through it all. He is faithful and trustworthy. He never leaves us, nor forsakes us. So, how can we possibly grumble when we know how good God is to us?
There are many Christians who just want a ticket to heaven and that is all. But there is so much more than that. Our lives belong to Him. Our words and actions should honor Him. Sometimes our pride puffs up when we hear things like this. We don’t want to let go of some things and live for the Lord. But I promise you that you will only find peace and joy, once you finally decide to fully surrender.
I heard Pastor Jentezen Franklin say something a few months ago that really resonated in my heart: “God doesn’t owe you anything. But you owe Him everything!” (Sermon heard on TBN June 21, 2020.) That statement says a lot. And it makes me want to have more reverence for the Lord. And one way we can do that is by changing our attitudes.
Reading through the Psalms specifically written by King David, it amazes me how he always praised God, even in the worst of times. He faced so many trials in his life, but he continued to praise God and to cling to God. He knew God was a good God. He knew God was faithful and trustworthy. David didn’t let his complaints stop him from full reverence for the Lord.
Psalm 144 is a good example in which David was facing something difficult. In some of the verses, he is asking God for his help. Yet he praised God through it all. He opens the Psalm with “Praise be to the Lord my Rock” (v 1). And in verse 9 he says that he “will sing a new song” to God. To read all of this Psalm, click here.
I pray our hearts can be like David’s (who was said to be a man after God’s own heart). I pray we too can show God our reverence, even in the midst of a storm. God does so much for us, every moment of every day. And He deserves all the honor, glory, respect, and reverence. Take some time today to praise God, either in your own words, or by reading a Psalm. Show Him reverence, and in turn your heart will soar.
© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas