Conclusion of the 2021 Gratitude Challenge

Hello, Friends! As you might know, I normally post on Tuesdays. But today is a special day, so I am interrupting the regular schedule. On Tuesday, September 21 we started a 100 day gratitude challenge. And that makes today day 100 of that challenge. Congratulations! You did it! You made it though!

Now what? Should we dismiss gratitude and go on with our lives? Personally, I plan to keep gratitude in my heart, and I hope you do too.

Every day is a gift from God. And gratitude is a decision that we can make every day, as a way of extending our thanks to the Lord. We will always have ups and downs in life, but we can choose how we face them.

I love the quote below by Charles Swindoll. While he talks about our attitude in general, I think we can also apply it to gratitude. After all, as we have learned over the past 100 days, having an attitude of gratitude impacts our overall mood and outlook.

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company…a church….a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude…I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you…we are in charge of our attitudes.” – Charles Swindoll

I hope that we all continue to embrace gratitude. I hope we see ourselves being more optimistic and joyful. And I hope that gratitude helps us to praise God for His goodness. If you participated in the challenge, please let me know how it went. Even if you missed some days, that’s okay! It’s all about the heart.

And I pray you all have a Happy New Year and a blessed 2022!

Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me. – Psalm 103:2 NLT

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© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas

Luke 24

Read Luke 24 in your Bible. Or you can also read it here. I can’t believe we have reached the end of the book of Luke! I sure hope you have enjoyed going through this journey with me!

A few days after Jesus’ death, some of His friends had the privilege of seeing Him again. Jesus is alive!! While Jesus’ death is important, His resurrection is even more significant. If we do not believe He was raised from the dead, then we do not believe the Gospel.

Why is it so important? For one thing, it proves that Jesus really was the Son of God. If He hadn’t been raised from the dead, then He would have been merely a man who died a cruel death. That happens to others, doesn’t it? Being raised from the dead, Jesus has been set apart.

Also, in His resurrection, Jesus defeated death. And not only did He defeat death for Himself, but He defeated death for you and me and anyone who chooses to believe.

I know this is a lot to wrap your head around. Even the disciples were confused. It says in Luke 24:11 that it seemed like nonsense. They didn’t have any context because what occurred was not normal. But when they saw Him for themselves, everything changed. Their minds were opened (v. 45), they had great joy (v. 52), and they praised God (v. 53).

Jesus couldn’t stay with them forever. But after He left, the disciples were like new creatures. They had a renewed sense of passion and purpose. They preached the Gospel and brought thousands to Christ. And generation after generation, here we are. Children of God. Thanks to Jesus’ death and resurrection.

I am sorry to say that sometimes we forget the magnitude of this. We might take it for granted. But this truly is something that should fill us with joy, every day. I know we all face trials on earth, but this life is so very temporary. And what we have to look forward to is nothing short of paradise.

I pray that as you celebrate Christmas, you are filled with hope, love, joy, and peace, as you remember the gift that Jesus brought to us. And I pray you and your loved ones have a very Merry CHRISTmas!

If you are also participating in the Gratitude Challenge, today is day 95 of 100. I pray that the Gratitude Challenge and the Luke Bible study have been a blessing to you! Keep going with your gratitude list. Only 5 more days to go!

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© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas

Luke 23

Read Luke 23 in your Bible. Or you can also read it here.

There are a couple of things in this chapter that reveal how magnificent God’s grace is. What Jesus did on the cross means we have access to the unmerited favor of God. Although we deserve the worst, we can have the best, if we accept Jesus. The grace of God is the most amazing and precious gift we will ever receive. And in this chapter there are a couple of incidents that show us how big His grace is.

One example is in verse 34 where Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

Jesus’ mercy is so great. These men had no idea that they were crucifying the Messiah. And we too have done things that we don’t realize how awful they are in the moment. Especially before we gave our lives to the Lord, when we didn’t have the Holy Spirit living inside of us. Now the Holy Spirit helps us to discern right from wrong. But that wasn’t the case before we were saved. We might have followed along and done worldly things, thinking it was okay because that is what everyone else was doing. But now that we have fully committed our lives to Jesus, we can see more clearly the difference between right and wrong. And Jesus willingly erases all of our mistakes in one instant.

And the second example is seen in verses 39-43. There are two criminals being crucified, and they hung on each side of Jesus. One mocks Jesus, but the other says, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

This man was a thief and didn’t deserve grace. But we don’t deserve grace either. Yet all we need to do is ask for forgiveness, and that’s it. Jesus paid our debt in full. We owe nothing else. And we instantly become a child of God and an heir to the Kingdom.

This gift of Grace is truly … The… Best… News… Ever!

It doesn’t get any better than this. This is bigger than anything we can imagine. We should live each day on cloud nine, knowing that our sins were forgiven and our slate was wiped clean.

Today take some time to thank the Lord for what Jesus did on the cross and for the unparalleled gift of grace.

Dear Lord, words cannot express how glorious Your gift of Grace is. I deserve nothing. I deserve the worst. Yet thanks to Jesus, I have so much. I have eternity in Heaven to look forward to. My sins have been erased. I have been adopted into Your family. This is the best news ever. The magnitude of it is overwhelming. In one instant You turned me into Your beloved child. I thank you for this priceless gift. In Jesus’ holy name, Amen.

If you are also participating in the Gratitude Challenge, today is day 94 of 100. We are so close!

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© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas

Luke 22

Read Luke 22 in your Bible. Or you can also read it here.

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. – Luke 22:42-44

In this part of the story, Jesus’ death is approaching. I can only imagine the torment that He went through, knowing what He was facing. Yet, for several reasons, I am also inspired by the verses above.

1 – Jesus knew full well that He was up against terrible pain and torture. However, He still was able to say in essence, “Thy will be done.” Seeing Jesus’ attitude in this moment can help us to face life’s difficulties differently. Many of us tend to gripe over much smaller matters, myself included. But no matter what we are facing, we too can say, “Thy will be done.” When we have a close relationship with Almighty God, we know there is no safer place to be, and we can trust Him. As it says in Psalm 4:8, “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.” And even in the midst of difficult circumstances, when we have this attitude, we can even embrace the peace that surpasses all understanding (Phil 4:6).

2 – I appreciate the fact that Jesus prayed when He was facing an unbearable situation. When we are dealing with painful circumstances, turning to God in prayer is vital. We are not merely praying to seek His help, but we are seeking His presence and His comfort. When we pray, and place our troubles in the Lord’s hands, we are acknowledging that our God is bigger than the mountain in front of us.

3 – I also want to point out that it says, “An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.” When we turn to the Lord, He will be faithful to comfort us and strengthen us.

No matter what trials you are facing in your life, I encourage you to seek God. He will be your safe place. He will comfort you and strengthen you. He will bring you peace.

If you are also participating in the Gratitude Challenge, today is day 93 of 100. Continue to write down ten things you are grateful for today!

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© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas

Luke 21

Read Luke 21 in your Bible. Or you can also read it here.

As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” – Luke 21:1-4

Christmastime is about giving. People seem to be more generous around this holiday than any other time throughout the year. We give our loved ones gifts. We support charities and slip some bills in The Salvation Army’s red kettle. We make sacrifices for things that we might not normally consider during the rest of the year. We freely give, just as Christ freely gave His life for us.

I pray we can keep this Christmas spirit in our hearts all year. But giving is not just about money or gifts. We can give of our time, our help, a listening ear, and our attention. The miraculous thing about giving is that it not only blesses the recipient, but it also blesses us as well. We feel so good about helping someone.

I love this story in Luke 21 about the widow’s offering. Jesus saw her heart in what she gave, and that’s what it’s all about. The heart.

In 2 Corinthians 9:6-8, Paul wrote, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”

What an encouraging word to help us remember to give generously! Throughout the coming year, let’s look for unique ways we can give. You can give to your spouse by cooking their favorite meal. You can give to your child by taking time to play a board game together. You can give to a coworker by helping them with a difficult project. Call someone on the phone and just listen. Buy a stranger a cup of coffee. Surprise a friend with a small gift. The possibilities are endless. When we give out of love, whether it’s money or time or anything else, we are reflecting the love of Jesus to those around us. And giving will also bring joy to our own hearts.

If you are also participating in the Gratitude Challenge, today is day 92 of 100. Keep going! The finish line is in view!

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© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas

Luke 20

Read Luke 20 in your Bible. Or you can also read it here.

In Luke 20 we see different instances where the people tried to trick Jesus into saying something wrong. These people were from an influential group during that time, yet they often disagreed with Jesus and His views. They should have been a group that was respected, but Jesus warns us against them.

In verse 20 it says, “Keeping a close watch on him, they sent spies, who pretended to be sincere.”

And in verses 46-47, Jesus said, “Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.”

Although we are living over two thousand years later, we too have to be careful. Some people who appear to be highly religious and influential might not be sincere. Some people throw around Bible verses and they think this makes them appear like a devout Christian. But we must remember that even satan quoted Scripture. See Luke 4:1-13. (And this is also something to keep in mind in spiritual battles as well, because satan will distort scripture at times and try to get us to see things from the wrong angle.)

This might make us fearful when we realize that we have to stay on guard and keep our eyes open for wolves in sheep’s clothing. How do you know who to trust and who to believe? Honestly, there are so many things in this world that can make us fearful, and we might worry that we cannot navigate our way around the unknowns.

But as Christians, we don’t have to fear. Thankfully we have the Holy Spirit living inside of us, and He helps us to have discernment. In John 14:16-17 (AMP), Jesus said, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), to be with you forever— the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive [and take to its heart] because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He (the Holy Spirit) remains with you continually and will be in you.” Look at all the ways the Holy Spirit is described here – Helper, Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor, Counselor, Strengthener, Standby, the Spirit of Truth. What joy this brings our hearts to know that God has planted this very same Holy Spirit inside you and me and all of His children.

What a precious gift we have. We have an amazing Friend who is with us every single day. He can help us in every area of our lives. And when we have a strong relationship with the Lord, we will know His voice well. We will be able to recognize a certain feeling in our core when He speaks to us and directs us. How comforting it is to know that we have this loving Friend with us at all times.

If you are also participating in the Gratitude Challenge, today is day 91 of 100. Have you felt happier over that last couple of months?

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© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas

Luke 19

Read Luke 19 in your Bible. Or you can also read it here.

In Luke 19:28-44, we read about Jesus arriving in Jerusalem. When I read about Jesus’ life and get to this point in the story, it makes me sad because I know the end is near. The events that happened on this day are what we now observe as Palm Sunday, one week before Easter Sunday.

Perhaps I should be glad to read how the people praised God and said, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

But I have to wonder if some of these people are the same ones who later demanded that Jesus be crucified.

The people in Jesus’ time had such a special gift. They had The Messiah right there in their presence. But they failed to see what was right in front of them. And in verse 44, Jesus said, “…you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”

I also have to wonder if we are much different? How much does our world miss out on, when it comes to the Lord and His presence? Even God’s own children are preoccupied and don’t always see Him working in their lives. It’s important to be intentional about humbly seeking the Lord, every day. The more we train ourselves to stay in tune with Him, the more we will see how many miracles there are all around us. I am convinced that God does so much in our lives, every single day. But we don’t always notice, because we aren’t looking.

Jesus has many names, such as Prince of Peace and Lamb of God. I especially love that Jesus is referred to as Emmanuel (also spelled Immanuel) because the meaning of this name is “God with us.” How beautiful is that? This is something we should keep in mind on a daily basis. God is with us, every moment of every day. No matter what we are facing, He is there. Let us take comfort in that.

And may this truth also encourage us to be more aware of His presence. May we fix our hearts on Him and seek Him in all of our daily actions. May we be more mindful of all the ways He is working in our lives. May our eyes remain open to His goodness and His love, every day.

If you are also participating in the Gratitude Challenge, today is day 90 of 100. Almost there!

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© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas

Luke 18

Read Luke 18 in your Bible. Or you can also read it here.

I really appreciate the story found in Luke 18:1-8. And I truly love the way it starts off by saying that “Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” (v 1). If you have been following my blog this year, then you know I wrote a lot about prayer this past spring. (If you missed those posts, you can find them all here.)

I learned so much about prayer through those posts. And one thing in particular is the sense of peace that we get when we cling to God in prayer.

Some people give up on prayer too easily. They complain that God isn’t listening or answering. And yes the truth is that our prayers might not always be answered the way we want or as quickly as we want.

However, when we stay anchored to God in prayer, we feel peace because we know that the One and Only Almighty God is on the other end of our prayer line. He is listening, so Don’t Give Up! And that is what Jesus is trying to tell us in Luke 18.

Pastor Robert Morris has an encouraging and amazing book entitled, Why Keep Praying. I highly recommend it. It is not a long book. So even those who don’t like to read can digest it. In this book he says about Luke 18:1-8: “Jesus was saying, ‘Dear friends, I want to encourage you to pray and to keep praying. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be discouraged. Don’t become weary or tired. Don’t give in to despair. Keep seeking God because (unlike the cranky old judge in the story) He cares deeply about you and will certainly hear and respond.’”

Prayer is vital in our walk with God. Staying in connection with Him, every day, affects all areas of our life. Our relationship with God will strengthen. God will guide us down the right path. Our character will develop in a beautiful way, as we become more like Jesus. And we will experience God’s love like never before. May we remember to pray, every day, and never give up.

If you are also participating in the Gratitude Challenge, today is day 89 of 100. Don’t forget to write down today’s blessings.

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© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas

Luke 17

Read Luke 17 in your Bible. Or you can also read it here.

In this chapter, Jesus talks a bit about forgiveness. In verse 4 it says, “Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”

It can be difficult to offer up this level of forgiveness, especially when we are relying on our own strength. Our pride will want to hold onto a grudge when someone hurts us. But the truth is that when we hold onto unforgiveness, we are harming ourselves. Bitterness grows in our hearts and turns us into a sour person.

Forgiving others isn’t easy. But as children of God, we have the power of the Holy Spirit living inside of us. When we tap into that power, we can reach new heights and achieve things we can’t achieve on our own. Including forgiving others.

When forgiving other people, it also helps to remember how much God has forgiven us. We do not deserve the free gift of forgiveness. Yet it is handed to us anyway. We don’t have to do anything to earn it. When we keep this in mind, it helps us to also forgive other people who do not deserve it either.

If forgiveness is something you need to work on, check out these two posts: Forgiveness – Part 1 and Forgiveness – Part 2.

I know just saying “you need to forgive” is a lot easier said than done. When people hurt us, it cuts deep. But it is important to remember that forgiveness helps our hearts to heal. It helps us to move on and let go, because we are freeing ourselves from a heavy burden. If you need to forgive someone today, perhaps taking time to pray about it will help you on the road to freedom.

If you are also participating in the Gratitude Challenge, today is day 88 of 100. Keep up the good work!

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© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas

Luke 16

Read Luke 16 in your Bible. Or you can also read it here.

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” – Luke 16:10

This verse reminds me to be a good steward. Often when we hear this phrase, it is in reference to money. But I think we should aim to be good stewards of more than money. We can be good stewards of our time, our relationships, our health, our resources, our talents, and so much more. We have countless opportunities to show God that we can be trusted with the things He places into our care.

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.” This is such a great verse to keep in mind on a daily basis. Whatever task we are doing, whether at work, at home, or anywhere else – if we do it for Jesus, we will do our best. We will show God that we are faithful and can be trusted with little or with much.

Dr. Charles Stanley puts it this way, “Faithfulness in the small assignments the Lord gives us qualifies us for the opportunity to serve in greater and more influential ways. Be obedient and faithful where God plants you and watch what awesome things He does through your life.”

Let us take time today to evaluate different areas of our lives. Are we being good stewards? Are we showing God that we can be trusted with little and with much? If not, how can we make changes to show God that we are faithful and taking good care of the resources He has given us?

If you are also participating in the Gratitude Challenge, today is day 87 of 100. I hope the challenge has helped you to see God’s goodness in your life.

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© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas