Luke 8

Read Luke 8 in your Bible. Or you can also read it here.

“No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light.” – Luke 8:16

This verse is a great reminder of how we should live each day of our lives. We live in a dark world that seems to get darker every day. Over the past couple of years, we have seen so much rioting, hate, and fear. As children of God and believers in Jesus, we have the Holy Spirit living on the inside of us. We do not have to succumb to the negativity in this world. Instead, we have the power to spread light.

Picture a single candle with its flame glowing. We can use the wick on that candle to light another candle. Then we can use those two candles to light two more candles. Now we have four candles, flames glowing. We can continue to multiply light to those around us in a similar way. We can be a positive influence on those around us. And hopefully, in turn, those people will also positively influence others.

I love the prayer by St. Francis of Assisi. It is a beautiful reminder of how we can spread light to those we encounter today and every day.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
—St. Francis of Assisi

If you are also participating in the Gratitude Challenge, today is day 79 of 100. I hope you have been enjoying the challenge!

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© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas

Luke 7

Read Luke 7 in your Bible. Or you can also read it here.

When I was reading Luke 7, I found a key theme among the verses. That theme is Faith. In verses 1-10 we see the great faith of the Centurion who knew that all Jesus had to do was say the word and the Centurion’s servant would be healed. In verses 11-17, Jesus’ act of raising someone from the dead likely caused the witnesses faith to grow. In verses 36-50 we also see the sinful woman whose faith saved her.

We can see throughout this chapter how important faith is. Our faith should be the center or our lives. We shouldn’t try to work faith into our lives. Everything we do in life should revolve around our faith.

Even the story of John the Baptist questioning Jesus, found in verses 18-35 touches on faith. But it might seem a little odd to us that John the Baptist’s faith seems to waver here. Everything we already know about this man screams of his great faith. So why did he question Jesus at this point? Well, at this time John was in prison. Things in his life and environment were bleak. It can be easy for our faith to falter when it is not properly fed. So this shows us the importance of feeding our faith, no matter what we are going through in our lives. If we don’t feed it, it will deteriorate. Whatever we feed in our hearts will grow. We can feed our faith or we can feed our doubt. We have a choice.

But there is something else I want to point out about this story. John questioned Jesus, and Jesus reassured John. When our faith does waver, there are times when we will recognize that our faith is not what it ought to be. And we might realize we want to have more faith and less doubt. During these times, we can reach out to the Lord and tell Him how we are feeling. We can ask Him to help strengthen our faith and He will be there every time to encourage us and restore us. Remember that Jesus walked this earth and understands everything we are going through. He is caring and compassionate and will see you through your doubts, if you reach out to Him.

If you are also participating in the Gratitude Challenge, today is day 78 of 100. We are getting there! I hope you will find much to be thankful for today!

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© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas

Luke 6

Read Luke 6 in your Bible. Or you can also read it here.

It was tough for me to pick what to talk about in this chapter because there were a number of passages that I loved.

Verses 27-31 speak about loving your enemies. The words in these verses can be hard to swallow from a human perspective.

And verses 43-45 talk about the fact that we are recognized by our fruit, telling us that “the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” Ouch. That can be very humbling. In the Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, Dr. Stanley wrote, “Your speech says a lot about you. Is your conversation tainted by complaining and cursing? Or is it characterized by praise for the Lord and sound wisdom? This shows what is stored in your heart, and if it is negative, you should reevaluate what you’ve been focusing on. Set your heart on God because then good, helpful speech will flow from you.”

And this leads to where I intended to go with this post. Another verse from Luke 6 that spoke to me was verse 12: “One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.”

The secret to being able to walk out the things that Jesus mentions in this chapter (loving your enemies and having a heart and mouth overflowing with good things) is our relationship with the Lord. I love how Jesus spent time with God quietly. We see often in the gospels where it says that Jesus withdrew to a quiet place to pray. And the words I shared above from Dr. Stanley agree, as he encouraged us to set our hearts on God.

I do want to point out that the next three verses (13-16) we see that Jesus chose His twelve disciples immediately after this night in prayer. So in this case, He was making a big decision. And we too should turn to the Lord when we are facing a big decision. The Holy Spirit will guide us, if we take the time to listen.

But seeking God should be a daily habit, no matter what we are facing. Spending time in the Bible, praying, and sitting in His presence are vital to our walk and well-being. Then we will have the power of the Holy Spirit flowing inside of us. Then we will be able to follow the words of Jesus. We will be able to love our enemies, we will display good fruit to those around us, and the words of our mouths will be a reflection of a pure heart.

If you are also participating in the Gratitude Challenge, today is day 77 of 100. Don’t forget to record your blessings today!

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© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas

Luke 5

Read Luke 5 in your Bible. Or you can also read it here.

I love the story found in Luke 5:17-26.  Long story short, a paralyzed man and his friends came to see Jesus one day. But the place was so crowded they couldn’t get in. The man’s friends “went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.” (v. 19) And Jesus healed the paralyzed man that day.

“There are two things I want to point out in this story. First of all, this story is just one of numerous examples of how Jesus helped others. Jesus didn’t tell the paralyzed man that He was too busy to help him that day. He didn’t tell him that He was in the middle of teaching. He didn’t tell him to come back another day. Jesus always made those around Him a priority. Jesus was selfless and loving, always. When He walked the earth, Jesus looked out for others. He helped anyone He could, He healed all those who were sick, and He spread love everywhere He went. Jesus should be our role model and who we try to be more like in our earthly walk.

I also want to point out the friends of the paralyzed man. The place was too crowded for them to bring the man through the door. So they climbed on top of the roof to lower the man down! This just blows me away. How many people do you know who would do that? Most people today would just say something like, “Sorry, man, we can’t get in. We tried. Today is not your day. Maybe some other time.” But these men decided to do whatever it would take to help their friend and they didn’t allow anything to stop them.

This story really makes me reflect on my own behaviors. Would I be that tenacious to help a friend in need? Would I do whatever it took? I hope that we all would. Imagine how beautiful the world would be if we all remembered that we were working for the kingdom of God, if we all served the Lord with our whole heart, if we all were kind to those around us, and if we all spread the love of Jesus. I think we would see miracles take place.”1

If you are also participating in the Gratitude Challenge, today is day 76 of 100. Keep going! You’re doing great!

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© Bridget A. Thomas. 1Excerpt from Giving God Your Whole Heart by Bridget A. Thomas.

Luke 4

Read Luke 4 in your Bible. Or you can also read it here.

When reading about the way the devil tried to tempt Jesus in the desert, I love how Jesus always came back with an answer. And not just any answer, but He used Scripture every time. This reminds me that studying the Bible helps us when we face battles in life.

“The truth is that we live in a fallen world, and as Christians we are going to see adversity. Much of it, I believe, comes from Satan. He is our enemy whose desire is to bring us down, which means we have to be prepared. When a young person joins the army, he goes through training. In the beginning he has to go through boot camp, which gets him into shape quickly. Even when boot camp is over, he doesn’t cease to keep his body fit. He doesn’t stop his target practice. He has to stay sharp and ready in case of battle. The same is true for Christians. We have to be ready every single day. Our enemy doesn’t stop. He doesn’t take a nap, and he doesn’t declare peace. So we too need to be on guard at all times, and the Bible is our weapon. Hebrews 4:12 says, ‘For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.’ This verse shows us how powerful the Bible is. When we are faced with any adversity, we can use Bible verses as our armor. This is precisely what Jesus did when the devil tried to tempt Him, in Luke 4:1-13.”1

In this passage of Scripture, we see how Jesus stood on the truth found in the Word of God. And we can do the same. When we are facing a difficulty, we can use the truth found in the Bible as our defense. But I encourage you to start reading the Bible on a daily basis now. Don’t wait until you are in trouble. When you make reading the Bible a consistent and solid habit in your life, you are allowing the Word of God to flow through your heart and soul. Then you will be strong and ready for battle when you need to be.

The Bible is a precious gift that the Lord has given us. It is our guidebook and our love letter. We have so much to gain from reading it. And when we are consistent, it is amazing how we draw closer to God and find a new sense of peace in our lives.

If you are also participating in the Gratitude Challenge, today is day 75 of 100. You are three quarters of the way there. I hope you have seen how gratitude is helping improve your outlook!

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© Bridget A. Thomas. 1 Excerpt from Giving God Your Whole Heart by Bridget A. Thomas.

Luke 3

Read Luke 3 in your Bible. Or you can also read it here.

When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” – Luke 3:21-22 NIV

There is something that we tend to forget, as children of God. In our day to day lives, we forget that we are already loved. We forget that we are already redeemed. We forget that we are already forgiven. We tend to subconsciously work for our salvation. We work to please God. Yes, it is true that our actions should be done for God’s glory. But we do them out of love, not to gain His approval. We already have His approval. Once we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we cannot become move loved than we already are.

A couple of years ago, pastor Louie Giglio released an exceptional book called Not Forsaken. It is an eye opening book, that helps us to see our relationship with our Heavenly Father in a new light. Around the time when he released this book, the morning show on my local radio station had him on the air (The Morning Cruise on the Joy FM). You can hear one of the clips here. It was two years ago, but something that Louie Giglio said stuck with me:

I think so many people are living FOR something, instead of living FROM something. When Jesus was baptized the Father didn’t say, “This is my beloved Son and we’ll see how He does. This is my beloved Son, and you know what? We’re gonna give Him three years.” He said, “This is my Son, in Him I am well pleased.” He hadn’t walked on water, He hadn’t fed five thousand, He had not raised the dead, nor healed the sick, or died for our sins. What had He done? Oh, He was a Loved Son. That’s who He was. So Jesus moves out into this public ministry FROM acceptance and FROM the blessing, not FOR acceptance and FOR the blessing. And so many people are confused about who they are. And they’re floundering looking FOR the acceptance, looking FOR the blessing. When God wants them to know they already HAVE the acceptance and they already HAVE the blessing. And that’s where they live FROM now, as they move out to do and be the people he’s created them to be. – Louie Giglio

How amazing it is to know that we are fully loved and fully accepted. I pray we can keep this in mind today and everyday. Let our words and actions be for God’s honor and glory. But let us remember that we are not working for approval. We already have it. Thanks to Jesus. God loves us beyond measure. It is not something we earned. His love is a precious gift that we received, as His children.

If you are also participating in the Gratitude Challenge, today is day 74 of 100. We are getting close to the finish line!

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© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas

Luke 2

Read Luke 2 in your Bible. Or you can also read it here.

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. – Luke 2:6-7

Mary was not married, yet she found herself expecting a baby. Joseph, Mary’s betrothed, felt blindsided and betrayed. He wanted to end the engagement. Mary was nearing her due date when there was a census being held. This meant they had to travel to Bethlehem, as that is where Joseph’s family line came from. Imagine Mary traveling on a donkey with a round belly. When they arrived, they were told there was no room at the inn, no place to lay their heads. They had to make due elsewhere. And this is where Mary had her baby. Not in the comfort and familiarity of her own home.

With all these obstacles, did Mary and Joseph wonder if God had deserted them? If this baby was from God, wouldn’t all their plans work out perfectly? Was God still there? Or did He forget about them? Was He going to let them figure this all out on their own?

Many things in this story appeared to be going “wrong.” There were many unexpected moments and events that occurred. Things were a bit unorthodox and messy. Perhaps some of us would have felt frustrated, or maybe even angry, if we had to face these issues. Yet out of this unusual and messy scenario came a Savior. A small baby named Jesus was born. The Messiah. The Prince of Peace. Emmanuel. God with us. In time, He would save us from our sins. Out of an unusual and messy situation came the perfect Lamb of God.

When I think about all the inconveniences that occurred around the first Christmas, it gives me peace. Why? Because our lives can be very messy too. There are many things in our lives that appear to be wrong or unconventional on the surface. We face many issues, big and small, day after day. There are a lot of things that come our way which we would rather not face, if we had a choice. At times we might get irritated with life. We might wonder if God forgot about us. We might think He deserted us. But just like with the events that occurred over 2,000 years ago, we can rest assured knowing that God is in control. God is working all things out for good. God is still on the throne.

If you are walking in His will and if you are seeking Him with all your heart, you can have peace when life hands you difficulties. God will be by your side, just like He was by Mary and Joseph’s sides. He is there, even when it doesn’t feel like it. Peace can be yours in any situation when you place your life in the Lord’s hands. Christmas is one day out of the year when we celebrate the birth of our Savior. But on the remaining 364 days in the year, we still have Jesus, we can still worship our Savior, and we can still have peace

If you are also participating in the Gratitude Challenge, today is day 73 of 100. Continue to write down ten things you are thankful for each day!

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© Bridget A. Thomas. Originally posted on Christians Read entitled Peace on Earth by Bridget A. Thomas on December 12, 2019.

Luke 1

Read Luke 1 in your Bible. Or you can also read it here.

Luke 1 gives us a lot of details that lead up to Jesus’ birth, details which we do not see in the other gospels. It talks about the foretelling of two births – John the Baptist and Jesus.

First, we read about the foretelling of the birth of John the Baptist. John’s parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth, were old and had no children. Zechariah was a priest. Both he and Elizabeth were “righteous in the sight of God” (Luke 1:6). One day Zechariah “was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense.” (v 9)

This was a special day for Zechariah. Not only because of the duties he was to perform that day, but also because of something extraordinary that happened while he was in the temple. The angel, Gabriel, appeared to Zechariah while he was inside and told him that Elizabeth would soon bear a son.

What an amazing promise this must have been. Was hope bubbling up inside of Zechariah? We don’t have the answer. But as the story unfolds, it does appear that doubt had creeped in. “Zechariah asked the angel, ‘How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.’” (v. 18)

Due to Zechariah’s questioning, things take a slight turn. Gabriel tells him, “…you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.” (v. 20) Yikes. How scary it must have been to not be able to speak for many months.

Later in this chapter we read about the foretelling of Jesus’ birth. The same angel, Gabriel, appeared to Mary and tells her that she too will have a son. “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.” (v 32)

I wonder what emotions ran through Mary when she heard this news. Was she fearful or hopeful? Was she in awe or confused? In verse 34, Mary does question Gabriel by asking how this can happen since she is a young, unmarried girl.

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So, the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. …For no word from God will ever fail.” (v 35,37)

How did Mary reply to that? I am amazed by her response. In verse 38 Mary says, “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.” Mary’s words are inspiring. Would any of us have been able to submit to the Lord in this situation? Do we submit to the Lord this easily in less consequential situations? How I wish I always had this attitude. In fact, this story makes me cringe at my reaction to much smaller circumstances, when something comes my way that I did not plan for.

And reading through this chapter in Luke, I am struck by the contrast in these two different stories. Zechariah who doubted versus Mary who surrendered. Reading this shows me the importance of speaking faith with our words. It is not always easy to speak faith, but it is possible because we have the Holy Spirit living inside of us. It must start in our hearts. We must fully trust in the Lord first, and then our words will better reflect our faith. May the words that come out of our mouths be pleasing to the Lord. May our words show God, ourselves, and those around us that we have strong faith in our trustworthy Father.

If you are also participating in the Gratitude Challenge, today is day 72 of 100. Keep up the good work!

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© Bridget A. Thomas. Adapted from original post on Christians Read entitled Speak Faith by Bridget A. Thomas on December 10, 2020.

Happy Thanksgiving 2021

In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NKJV

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States of America, so I want to take a moment to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving! Even if you are not in the U.S.A. I hope you will take time today to thank God for all the blessings in your life. Our Father is so very good to us, each and every day. We have so much to be thankful for. We just have to take the time to stop and look around. When we do, we will see how blessed we are. And we will see that every day is a gift from God!

I wanted to take a moment to thank all of you for being here and for walking by my side. This Thanksgiving I am so grateful for you and I can never tell you how much your presence means to me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I pray you and yours have a Happy Thanksgiving!

I will leave you with some music. Enjoy! Thanksgiving Medley by Saddleback Worship

I hope you are continuing with the Gratitude Challenge. Don’t forget to write down at least ten things you are thankful for today.

And don’t forget we have the Luke Bible study starting on December 1st. See you then!

Photo by Bridget A. Thomas. Looking down on Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. This may be my favorite spot on earth.

© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas

Gratitude is Medicine for the Soul

Are you a cynical person? If you would have asked me this, I would have emphatically said, “NO!” Then I read a book by Jennie Allen called “Get Out of Your Head: Stopping the Spiral of Toxic Thoughts.” In this book Allen writes:

“Here are some questions to ask yourself to see whether cynicism has invaded your headspace:

  • Do you get annoyed when people are optimistic?
  • When someone is nice to you, do you wonder what that person wants?
  • Do you constantly feel misunderstood?
  • When things are going well, are you waiting for the bottom to fall out?
  • Do you quickly notice people’s flaws?
  • Do you worry about getting taken advantage of?
  • Are you guarded when you meet someone new?
  • Do you wonder why people just can’t get it together?
  • Are you often sarcastic?”

Wow! These questions stunned me. What about you? Can you say yes to many of these? Surprisingly, I can. But I guess we shouldn’t be too surprised because of the culture we live in. We are surrounded by negativity and complaining at every turn. And in fact, it is actually encouraged and applauded.

It is no secret that living with toxic thoughts is bad for our mental health. According to Cleveland Clinic, “Psychologists link negative thinking to depression, anxiety, chronic worry and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).”

But it might surprise some to hear that negativity is also bad for our physical health as well. According to the University of Minnesota, “Negative attitudes and feelings of helplessness and hopelessness can create chronic stress, which upsets the body’s hormone balance, depletes the brain chemicals required for happiness, and damages the immune system.”

However, I have some good news that will fight this downward spiral. Gratitude can help turn all that around! According to the Mayo Clinic, “A daily gratitude practice has been shown to significantly increase your happiness — and your physical health. Practicing gratitude improves sleep, boosts immunity and decreases the risk of disease.”

In other words … Gratitude is medicine for the soul.

Our mental and physical well-being should prompt us to choose gratitude. We have this one body for our entire lives. And we have to live with ourselves for decades. So why not take care of yourself, for your own health’s sake, and choose gratitude?

(Side note: I realize some of you might be dealing with difficult situations or grief and cannot focus on gratitude right now. That is understandable. We all need to evaluate what works for us in different seasons. Personally, I needed to do this gratitude challenge to help my heart and soul to stay in a positive direction. And I encourage you to prayerfully seek God’s guidance and assess what things might benefit you in the current season that you are in.)

… Don’t forget we have the Luke Bible study starting on December 1st! I hope you will join in!

My heart and soul explode with joy—full of glory! Even my body will rest confident and secure. – Psalm 16:9 TPT

© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas