Friday, March 16, 2018

5 Joy Killers

What does every believer have that the enemy wants to take? Why does he want to steal it? The answer is joy! Such a tiny word, only three letters, but makes a great impact on those who possess it. What is it? According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of joy includes emotion, expression, a state of happiness, a source or cause of delight. What does the Bible say about joy? Galatians 5:22 names it among the fruits of the Spirit. Nehemiah 8:10 tells us that the joy of the Lord is our strength. Satan wants to steal our joy because it strengthens us. He did not give it to us and he cannot take it away. Our joy comes from God! There are things we can do as Christians to give our joy away. We are going to look at five of the most common joy killers today.

Comparing Yourself With Others Theodore Roosevelt said, "Comparison is the thief of joy." Social media demands we compare ourselves all day every day. Think about it for a moment. Someone posts a beautiful family portrait on Instagram and you immediately have a reaction. You may be one of the few who sincerely appreciates the photograph for what it is, but many others will compare their own family to that picture. Someone on Facebook shares a paragraph about what a great time they had on vacation and may share an album for friends and family to share that time with them, but feelings of jealousy, anger, and judgment rise up so quickly. We may wonder how they can afford such an elaborate vacation. We may be upset that we do not have any vacation plans in mind, or be jealous that our finances won't allow us to take a trip like that. How many likes do you get on a post? How many thumbs up on a video, or new subscribers is enough to feel happy? I have watched videos from YouTubers who have subscribers in the millions and at the end of the video they continue to ask for more subscribers, likes, shares, and comments. Is this where we find our validation?

2 Corinthians 10:12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. Please read this carefully! When we measure ourselves against each other, and when we compare our stories, our lives, our families, our blessings, our homes, our jobs, our spouses, our children, the Bible says we are not wise! Let's outsmart the enemy! Let's compare ourselves to God. How do we line up? We are not God but we are to reflect God's image by the things we say and do.

Matthew 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.  We are human and we mess up, make mistakes, say and do things we regret. Our Heavenly Father is perfect and as a Christian, we are supposed to become more and more like Him as we continue this journey. Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Read the Bible, reflect on what it says about your circumstances, your health, your family, yourself. This is how to become perfect like the Father. You will never be perfect until the day God calls you home and completes the work He is doing inside of you, but we must strive to be perfect and work toward becoming more like our Father every single moment.

Discontentment This joy killer holds the hand of Joy Killer #1. Discontentment does not make us want to count our blessings; rather, discontentment makes us look at the things others have that we do not. There is a popular quote that says, "Happy people do not have the best of everything, they make the best of everything they have." See the difference? A truly happy person may not own the nicest vehicle, but they will be thankful for the automobile they have that takes them and brings them. We are warned by Jesus in the Scriptures to be careful about doing this. Luke 12:15 And He said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. Jesus tells us not to look around at the things others have and begin to think we are somehow lacking, because our lives are not valuable because of the things we own. It steals our joy when we see ourselves as lacking. The Apostle Paul says he knows what it's like to have things and what it's like to have to do without things, but the key to holding on to joy is contentment. Philippians 4:11-13 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am in, therewith to be be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Paul got it! He said just be content with whatever circumstance you are in, whatever trial you may be facing, whatever thing you think you are lacking. Then he adds the underscoring statement, that it is only possible to be this way through Jesus Christ as He gives us the strength to be content.

Ungrateful For Blessings We live in the greatest country on earth. In America we have freedom that citizens in many other parts of the world do not. You would think that we would be a grateful nation, but it turns out, we have become the "spoiled brat" nation and God is not pleased. I am not saying every American is ungrateful, but I am saying that in our culture, the attitude of gratitude is often mocked and seldom practiced in our society. A few years ago I was on Facebook and participated in a Gratitude challenge. It was in November and for all 30 days we were to post about one thing we were grateful for. Many people joined in the challenge and it was beautiful, but then there were so many posts that month from others taunting and poking fun at those of us who shared our blessings online. Somehow when we were grateful, it offended those who weren't. As a family, we bow our heads before a meal, and often we hold hands. It's a quiet act, no big drama or display, but simply a moment to thank God for allowing us to be together as a family and enjoy that meal. We get looks from some on occasion and some pretty mean glares at times, too, which is so odd to me. Why wouldn't we want to see others expressing gratitude? Could it possibly be a mirror into their own life and they don't like the reflection?

Christians in this nation can change that. We have so many reasons to thank God for all He has done and given to us. When we are truly grateful, we will have joy that flows from deep inside our souls and bubbles over. We are told in the Psalms to be thankful. Psalms 92:1 It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto Thy name, O Most High. This is a great way to display our fruit, when we are thankful we are honoring God. He is due all the glory and honor and praise. He alone is worthy of our thankfulness. We should bless the Lord at all times, not just on Sunday, not just in front of our "church friends" but at all times. Psalm 34:1 I will bless the LORD at all times: His praise shall continually be in my mouth. 

Gratitude is an attitude that we all should have, as followers of Jesus. He expects it from His children and I know this because the Bible tells us what group unthankful people are put in. 2 Timothy 3:1-3 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good. I don't know about you, but I read this list and I can see signs of the time everywhere I look! Notice that in these last days that we are living in, God said people would be unthankful. I have witnessed this so many times in my own life, but there are those who are unthankful to God. If we want to keep our joy, we must remain thankful to God.

Unrealistic Expectations I once heard a man say that to be happy in life, we just need to have our expectations met, and to be really happy, those expectations must be surpassed. I worked for a healthcare organization and they taught us to always under-promise and over-deliver. It works great! For example, I had an appointment for an outpatient exam. I was told what time to arrive, what to bring, what to wear, whether or not I was supposed to eat or take medications, and how long the procedure would last. I went to the appointment at the time they said, they got me in right away with no waiting, everything happened just as they said it would, and I was out of the department a while before I thought I was going to. That gave me a sense of joy and I was very pleased with the visit. Those extra moments to get there early for registration was not necessary that day but they couldn't predict that, so they gave me the standard 15 minutes early bit. By chance, there were a couple of cancellations so I was able to get my test done sooner. Because the test itself didn't take long, I was able to leave quickly after I had arrived. So these things were all lined up. What if I had to wait longer than I expected? I would have been upset and maybe I would have started to complain. I would not have been happy if my expectations were not met. So, what expectation should we have?

Proverbs 10:28 The hope of the righteous shall be gladness: but the expectation of the wicked shall perish. Our hope or expectation should be gladness. We know that our only expectation should be when we expect God to keep His promises. Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, that He should lie; neither the son of man, that He should repent: hath He said, and shall He not do it? or hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good? Straight out of the Scriptures! If God tells us He will do something, He will do it. If He says it, then He is speaking it into existence. You can count on it!

Psalm 62:5 My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from Him. When my dad had stage 4 colon cancer with mets, I was trusting God to heal him and make him better. I watched miracle after miracle that God did for my dad. One day when we were in the doctor's office, I was reading through a radiology report and I knew the medical terms and what the note said. It was worse than my parents were being told and I was upset. I remember feeling so desperate for answers and for any source of hope and I said, "Dad! Why aren't they telling us anything? What kind of hope do we have?" And my dad who had been a minister for all of my life and most of his, looked up at me with almost shock on his face, and he said, "My hope is in the LORD and not in these doctors!" It sucked the air right out of my lungs! How could I have so quickly dismissed the Scriptures at such a time as that. More hope in doctors than in Thus Saith The LORD. What a shame! I have NEVER forgotten that conversation. Yes, my soul will only wait on God and my expectation is surely from Him. My dad had his expectations surpassed I am sure when he became face to face with our blessed Savior, but I will keep expecting until the day I go home and with me I have joy! This scripture makes me think of the way my dad handled all that he went through. Philippians 1:20 According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.

Forgetting The Source Of Joy I shared a story about how I forgot the source of my joy. The truth is, that in this society we live in, in America, it truly is easy to forget. We look to our friends, our spouse, our children, our career, our home, our finances, our possessions, our church, our pastor, our families to be our joy giver, but they are not, because they cannot be. Joy is given by the Heavenly Father to His children so all will know they belong to Him. Joy is contagious and many people will see our joy and want it too.

Many times people questioned me about how I could hold so tight to my faith when I was going through so much with my dad. I found that so strange! The only reason I did not crumble into a million pieces was because I had my foot upon the Rock of Ages. He carried me when I was at my darkest. He held me as I cried so hard for my sweet daddy that I will never get to embrace again this side of heaven. He strengthened me when I felt as though I may faint at one more poor report from the doctor. He sustained me when I was not sure how to even pray anymore. He sent the Comforter to me when I was told to take the rest of my dad's life moment by moment, not day by day, not week by week, not year by year, but moment by moment.

God is the giver of joy. He gives it to us full and free. Romans 15:13 Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. It truly is a precious gift from God. Jesus said in John 16:24 Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. When we go to God with our sincere requests, He will answer us and give us what we desire, and we will be full of joy!

In times of great suffering, loss, or pain, God will give us great joy. I Peter 4:12-13 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. God will get you through those very tough times and He will get the glory. You will overcome and that will give you great joy!

We have joy in our hearts as we think of the blessed day when we will be with our Savior for all of eternity. 1 Peter 1: 6-9 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. This tells us that when our faith is going on trial, being held to the flames of fire to purify us, praise, honor, and glory can still be found at the thought of when our Lord Jesus Christ will return for us. We don't know what He looks like, but we have experienced Him through His Word and Holy Spirit as we are ministered to. We know Him and we love Him. As we continue in our faith, believing, we can rejoice with joy so amazing that we cannot even speak about it!

In closing, please hold on to your joy! The devil wants it, but he cannot have it. God gave it to you. If you have noticed a lack of joy in your life lately, perhaps it's due to one of these joy killers. Get your joy back! It is yours for the taking and for the keeping. I'd like to close with these beautiful words in Jude.

Jude 1: 24-25
Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling,
and to present you faultless before the presence of His
glory with exceeding joy,
To the only wise God our Saviour,
be glory and majesty,
dominion and power,
both now and ever.

God bless you!

~Bridgett Owens

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

God Is Setting You Free, Tell Somebody!

Have you ever prayed for something and then were surprised at the answer? Is that faith? The Bible gives us an example of some people who were praying to God and were needing a miracle, but when their prayers were answered, they had trouble believing it.

Herod is the king and he decided to persecute the church. He killed James with a sword and because that made the Jews happy, he thought he would kill someone else that had strong influence in the church. Herod set his sights on Peter. He arrested Peter and threw him in prison with four groups of four soldiers guarding him. That seems like an excessive amount of prison guards for one man, but Herod knew Peter was a pillar of the church.

Acts 12:5 Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.

So, let's break that down a little further. Peter was landed in jail, not because he had done something wrong, but for the simple fact that he followed Jesus and lived his faith out loud. He was a Christian and he encouraged others to serve the Lord, too, so Herod wanted to destroy him. The Bible says that the church continuously prayed for Peter. They gathered together and prayed fervently for God to intervene. They called upon the God that Peter served. They knew that Jesus performed many miracles and they had faith that God COULD do it, but did they really believe that He WOULD? Maybe Peter's fate would be like James. Maybe God would not grant their request for Peter to be delivered from this horrible situation. Are you fervently praying for something you need? Are you praying without ceasing? Are you trusting God will answer your prayer?

King Herod thinks he has this all figured out, but God is getting ready to foil his plans. He is getting ready to set Peter free! Herod decided what day he was going to present Peter to the Jews and ultimately would kill him, but the night before that happens God comes to Peter's rescue.

Acts 12:6 And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison.

Do you know what Peter was doing the night before he was going to be murdered? He was in prison and bound with not one, but two chains, and sandwiched between two soldiers. He was sleeping! He was not crying. He was not distraught. He was not asking God, "Why me?" He was not looking at his circumstances. Peter was asleep! God can give you the peace that surpasses all understanding as you keep your mind on Him. (Philippians 4:7) If you are in the middle of a dark circumstance and you don't feel like you have much chance of breaking out of the prison cell you are locked in, hold on to faith because you are about to be delivered! Rest in God's Word!

I love this story of how God sets Peter free. The angel of the Lord slaps Peter on the side to wake him up and tells him to get up quickly. When God tells you to do something, don't question it, just quickly obey. When Peter got up the Bible says the chains fell off from his hands. Obedience will always be the key to unlock the chains that have you bound. The angel instructs Peter to get dressed and take his sandals. Why? Because he was going to walk into freedom! Do you have your sandals with you? 

Now Peter had just been sleeping, so he didn't know this was even really happening. He wasn't sure if it was a dream or he was imagining this but he is going to find out very quickly that it is real! You may have been praying for so long and when the answer finally comes, you may be questioning whether it is real, whether you are really going to be loosed from the fear, the pain, the hurt, the loss, the chains that have held you bound for so long, but you are going to quickly discover that your victory is at hand!

The angel of the Lord takes him past the first ward of the prison, and then the second, and then they came to an iron gate which opened by itself. Don't stop in awe of what is happening. Don't try to figure it out. Keep moving! Peter did not stop to investigate the gate and wonder how it opened itself. It was made of iron, so we know the wind wasn't going to just blow it open. God opened the gate for Peter to walk through. God has the gate open for you, too. Go through!

Peter and the angel walked through the gate and passed on through one street, and then the angel left. God has set people in your path to help you get through one obstacle after another that is hindering you from being free. He has sent someone to tell you an encouraging message and that has got you through the first ward. Someone else may share a Bible verse and now you have moved beyond the second ward. Another person comes alongside you and now you are at the gate. The gate is opened and you are led further still. Keep moving forward. Don't let the fear, the pain, the hurt, the disappointment, the failure linger with you. Don't let those feelings convince you to go back into the prison cell. Do not let the enemy blind you to the fact that you are free.

Acts 12:11 And when Peter was come to himself, he said, "Now I know of a surety, that the LORD hath sent His angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews."

You have to get to the place where you come to yourself. Look at all that God has told you already. Hold on to those scriptures of faith and encouragement. When you do, you will be like Peter, who finally realized his prayers had been answered and he was free!

What now? After he considered all that had happened, what was he going to do? Where would he go? Where do you go when you are delivered? Where will you run to when your chains fall off? Peter went to Mary's house where many people were there praying. He wanted them to know their prayers had been heard and answered by Almighty God! Tell others when God has blessed you and helped you and delivered you. Tell them that their prayers were answered.

Peter knocks on the door and Rhoda responds by going to the door. She hears the knocking and she goes to see who it is. The others are in the other room praying for Peter. She is the only one who gets up to answer the door. They all could have heard it, but she takes the steps necessary to go to the source of the noise.

Acts 12:14 And when she knew Peter's voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate.

Peter knocks on the door, Rhoda goes to see who it is, Peter responds with the request to be let in, and she recognizes his voice but she is so excited that she failed to take action and receive the answer. She left him standing outside the gate so she could go tell the others. Do you think they stopped praying, got up with gladness, and let him in? No! They called her crazy! She insisted she had just been talking to him and they didn't get up even then, they just dismissed it by saying she saw his angel.

Remember these are the very people praying for a breakthrough for Peter. They wanted God to help him and when God came on the scene, Peter was set free. Peter wants to tell them the amazing things that just happened, but no one will let him in because of disbelief and contention. How much faith did they have to believe God would hear and answer their prayer? It does not look like they believed God at all. Sometimes people, even in the church, dismiss what you know God has revealed to you. Keep standing on what you saw, you heard, you know to be the answer God has given to you.

We know that prayer works because Peter is standing at the gate! The Bible tells us that the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. It says we are to pray for one another. (James 5:16) We must believe that God will answer our prayer if we have the audacity to ask Him. Jesus had died and rose from the dead and had revealed Himself to the disciples but Thomas wasn't with them. They told him what they saw and he was like the ones who didn't believe Rhoda. He said that unless he saw the nailprints for himself and could put his hand in the Lord's side, he would not believe that Jesus was alive. Jesus is so loving and compassionate that He paid a special visit to Thomas and told him to touch the nailprints in His hands and thrust his hand into Jesus' side. Thomas responded with, "My Lord and my God." Jesus told him in John 20:29 Jesus saith unto him, "Thomas, because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."

Rhoda did talk to Peter, but the people tried to make her think she was crazy or just seeing things. Rhoda stood her ground because she knew she just talked with him. The disciples wanted to share the good news with Thomas that Jesus was alive and they had been in His presence, but doubting Thomas dismissed their claims and in skepticism claimed he would never believe it unless he saw it for himself. Rhoda and the disciples did not let the naysayers change their mind on what they knew to be true. Do not be persuaded. If God delivered you, don't take a vote, just rest in the truth found in God's Word and walk in your freedom!

Faith is the opposite of doubt. But what is faith? Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Faith is believing you will have what you are hoping for even though there is no proof that it is going to happen. Faith is taking God at His Word and believing Him even when the circumstances look like it will never happen. Do not get discouraged. Stop looking at the circumstances and look at what God has said about it. Whose report will you believe? 

I am not suggesting you believe everything you hear. We are not to trust everyone because some people's intention is to deceive. The Bible says in 1 John 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. The Holy Spirit that dwells in all of God's children will let you know when you are being deceived and when you are not.

Acts 12:16 But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished.

Peter kept knocking! Sometimes you just have to keep telling your story and God will open their eyes to see the truth. Don't give up! Peter could have been insulted when Rhoda ran off instead of opening the door. Fear could have come upon him that the prison guards would discover he had escaped and come after him, but instead he stood there and kept knocking. Don't let fear come back on you when God has delivered you. Look at what the Lord has done for you!

Finally they hear the knocking for themselves and open the door. There stands Peter and they were shocked! They could hardly believe their eyes. Faith says they should have opened the door expecting to see Peter standing there. 1 John 5:14-15 And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us: And if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions we desired of Him. The Bible says we have confidence that God will hear and answer our prayers when we pray according to His will. Of course it was God's will to rescue Peter. 

Acts 12:17 But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, "Go shew these things unto James, and to the brethren." And he departed and went unto another place.

Peter motioned for the group to be silent. It is difficult to hear what is being said if everyone is talking at the same time. Peter wanted to share his testimony with them. He knew they had been praying for him and he wanted to encourage them and help their faith to grow. They had to be quiet so they could receive the message and increase their faith.

Notice that after Peter testified of the miracle working power of God, he left. The glory was for God, not for Peter! You are delivered from the bondage of fear, discouragement, anger, abandonment, or failure, but you are not the hero in that story. Always give God the glory and share with others how He set you free because your testimony can help set others free. Peter knew there was no reason he should be seen as a hero. He shared his faith and removed himself from the situation so they could glorify God. Do not let pride rise up in you when God restores you to a good place. Psalm 100:4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.

If you are struggling with an addiction, feelings of guilt, worthlessness, depression, anger, fear, anxiety, betrayal, or rejection give it to God. He will remove those feelings from you and give you something far better to help you live your life to the fullest. He will give you peace and His joy to strengthen you and help you on this journey toward home.

God bless you!

~Bridgett Owens

Friday, March 2, 2018

Repeatedly In The Word

Some people have watched their favorite movie so many times they can quote lines from it. In fact, you may have a conversation with a person like this, and something you say might trigger their memory to recall a particular line from the movie. You may even be that person!

My daughter is a teenager, and she has many "favorite" songs. My son is ten years old, and even he can hear the first few notes of the song and immediately burst into singing every word of the song.

How do we memorize so many lines or lyrics? The answer is simple: repetition. I am often questioned how I know so many Bible passages of scripture. The answer is the same: repetition. We all do it. Maybe your morning routine is strict and you are productive because you do the same things every single morning. Maybe your morning routine is chaotic and stressful because you do the same things every single morning: keep hitting the snooze button, oversleep, didn't prepare the night before, etc. Repetition.

Children are great at this, aren't they? My children could watch the same DVD over and over and over. They demand, "Again!," as soon as they see the credits at the end of the video. They love toys that repeat phrases over and over again. Anyone remember Tickle Me Elmo? While this may be annoying to the child's parents, it is actually a wonderful tool to teach our children letters, numbers, colors, danger signs, help with pottying, and so much more.

We shouldn't be surprised to see the call for repetition in God's Word. Scripture is very clear that Christians are not to use vain repetition, so we must exercise caution. Jesus said in Matthew 6:7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think they shall be heard for their much speaking. Jesus cautions us to not just memorize an elaborate speech to pray over and over so others will hear us and think we are more holy or to bring us glory. Instead, we are to pray from our heart, speaking to the King of kings and Lord of lords. We teach our children to pray with repetition to help them learn to talk to God, but it is so important to teach them as they grow older to pray from their heart.

There is not so fine a line between vain repetition and the repetition the Bible calls us to do. We are taught in the Scriptures to get in a habit of reading God's Word, studying the truth found in the Scriptures, and to memorize them so we can use them in our spiritual warfare. We learn scripture from reading the Bible daily.

Joshua 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt mediate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. This is crystal clear that we are to read the Word of God, speak the Word of God, and think about the Word of God every moment we are awake. Why would this be important? So that we may observe to do just what it says to do. We are to make ourselves aware of what the rules are God has laid out for His believers to do. The blessing is that when we do this we are making our way prosperous and we will have good success. Do you want to be blessed? Do you want to prosper? Do you want to have good success? Stay in the Word of God!

Hard times come to everyone, whether they are a Christian or not. No one lives long without some source of pain, disappointment, hardship, or strife. Sin came into the world and the result of that disobedience to God has been a life of struggles and difficulty. How can we hope to encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ if we don't know what God's Word says about tough times? We must strengthen ourselves in God's Word to help those around us. 1 Thessalonians 4:18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words. The Bible is full of hope, encouragement, strength, joy, freedom, and love. These scriptures are the message God wants to bring to a dying world, a hopeless world, a hurting world. We comfort each other with the Words of God.

We are in a spiritual battle! If you have not been attacked lately, thank God for it, and begin to prepare, because believe me it is going to happen! How can we defeat the enemy, the devil, if we don't sharpen our sword and use it? Ephesians 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Friends, God gave us weapons to use for this fight and if we use the tools He gave us, we will overcome!

It's evident that followers of Christ cannot look to the world for any consolation, any hope, any help to get us through these spiritual storms. God knew that! He has given us an incredible book filled with ordinary people overcoming insurmountable odds to do extraordinary things for God as they put their trust in Him. We may never know that unless we read it for ourselves. Our pastors and teachers are great at what they do, but they are limited as to what they can share with us in a church setting, but we have the great fortune in America to open our Bible anytime we want and dig deep into the Word of God. It is a wonderful freedom that I am so grateful for. Hebrews 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. Look at all the mighty men and women of God in the Bible, read their story, get to know their great struggles, and then set aside the sin and the things that weigh us down so we can RUN! We are to run with patience the race God has set before us. Stay in your own lane and RUN!

The Bible says in 2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth. This studying is to equip us with the knowledge we need to help others. It builds our own faith, as well. Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.  You may follow along during the sermon, maybe even take notes, but you have to study the Word of God for yourself. Familiarize yourself with the what the Scriptures say so you are not deceived. Bring your Bible to church. Read it daily.

Sometimes we are discouraged from reading the Bible because we may not understand it. The Bible has hidden meanings and nuggets of truth waiting to be discovered, but it's not on the surface for just anyone to have it. We must pray that God will minister to us and help us to understand what He is saying to His people. He wants us to ask for wisdom. James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. God is not going to be harsh with you for asking for wisdom. Scripture tells us that God is generous to all men and women who ask for wisdom. Look at the end of the verse, when you have asked God for wisdom, it shall be given to you! That is a promise!

If you doubt that God truly wants to show you the hidden mysteries of His Word, I have one more scripture to offer you. Jeremiah 33:3 Call unto Me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not. He is waiting for you to make time for Him. He gives us His time when we pray. He is faithful to us even when we are not. We should strive to be more like Him and we cannot truly know who He is unless we spend time in His Word, at His feet, learning of Him.

God bless you!

~Bridgett Owens

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Encouragement or Deception






To the world, these phrases are proclaimed to empower all of us, but often it is geared toward  women. Some of you may have said these things. It's often displayed with cute graphics in bold font. It's easy to get caught up in this movement, but let me caution you to weigh these words against the Scriptures. Will they line up to the teachings of Jesus? Is this another sneaky way for the devil to trip us up in our efforts to improve ourselves? When does it cross the line from encouragement to deception? Today I am going to unveil some of the lies the enemy is using to deceive the church, and it all starts in our thoughts.

Thoughts are powerful! Proverbs 23:7a For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he. I was 16 years old when my grandfather planted the idea in my mind that I should become a nurse because of the way I cared for him in the hospital. I never forgot it. I imagined myself as a nurse. My life took many different turns and it was many years later when I actually realized that dream, but today I am a nurse. What are you thinking about?

Successful people use a strategy to ensure they are going to do well on a project, they envision themselves completing the project with great success. Thoughts can also bring disaster! I have known someone very close to me who always told me, "No one in my family lives past 60. I know I won't make it past that." Keep in mind, these family members died for different reasons: no inherited disease process. This person died at age 60. I heard this person repeat that phrase so many times in my life and it came to pass.

What if negative thoughts continue flooding into our brain? How can we combat the subtle lies the enemy is whispering to us all day on social media and in feminist groups? What does the Word of God say about taking back our thoughts?  2 Corinthians 12:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.  So this is how we do that: absorb the Word of God. Educate yourself on what your Bible tells you. Hold the thought up against what the Word of God says. What is the real message behind these "empowering" statements? Let's look together.

Lie #1 Girl Power! What does that statement really mean? What is the message it is sending out? On the surface, it appears to be a statement to females that they have the power to do anything they want. I have a daughter and many times I have told her to dream big and encouraged her to be everything she can be! But is the real agenda behind Girl Power to help girls have a positive self-esteem, or is Satan trying to water down the gospel message found in Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me? You see our power is not enough. John 5:30a I can of mine own self do nothing. With this scripture, Girl Power! becomes a movement that leaves God out. It's God's Power!

Lie #2 LIKE A BOSS! So many people are launching businesses, side hustles, multiple streams of income, and with the help of social media, the Internet, and marketing, so many are being successful! It is so easy to start thinking you are successful because of your own doing. Sure, you put the hours in, you made the calls, had the meetings, put in the work, but how many others do the same thing and yet do not find success? Perhaps God has given you His favor. Psalm 121:1-3, 8 I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: He that keepeth thee will not slumber. The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore. The Bible says that it is God who is keeping His hand on you as you go to those appointments, and it is God that has His hand on you as you come back home. He is our help. He is God and He is BOSS!

Lie #3 I Can Do It! This could easily be countered with Philippians 4:13 or John 5:30a like mentioned before, but there are other scriptures that we can use here, as well. This is a lie from the enemy that says you have everything you need to succeed deep within you, and if you will simply look hard enough, you will not fail. The Bible says, Psalm 37:5 Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass. This is very clear that God is the one who will bring it to pass. It will not be in your own will, your own power, your own intelligence, or your own time. God wants you to commit your ways to Him, trust Him to give you the best outcome, and leave the rest to Him. The devil wants you to believe the lie that it's all about you. It's all about God! It's all about sharing the gospel message with the hurting, the sick, the lonely, the dying, the lost. Don't let the devil twist your thoughts. Proverbs 16:3 Commit thy works unto the LORD; and thy thoughts shall be established. Give it to God and He will give you the thoughts you need, the ideas, the plans, the ability to succeed with His will for your life.

Lie #4 Believe In Yourself! The Bible clearly addresses this issue in many verses. I am going to include several scriptures so that you can fully understand why this lie is so harmful to those who call themselves Christians - born again believers. Satan tries to hinder God's plan for you and nullify the work of the cross by taking your eyes off Jesus and instead looking to yourself to be the champion.  Psalm 78:21-22 Therefore the LORD heard this, and was wroth: so a fire was kindled against Jacob, and anger also came up against Israel; Because they believed not in God, and trusted not in His salvation.  When we believe in God for salvation, He also needs to become the LORD of our life. Isaiah 43:10 Ye are My witnesses, saith the LORD, and My servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He: before there was no God formed, neither shall there be after Me. God takes it personally when His own creation, the very servant that He has chosen, chooses to put their faith in themselves instead of God Almighty!

Why would the enemy want you to believe in yourself? He is a thief who wants to steal your power. John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His Name. We have the power to become the children of God but it is when we put our trust in Him and not in ourselves. If we could do it on our own, why did He send Jesus? John 3:16 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. We must believe in Him, but not for our salvation only. We must give Him everything. 1 Peter 5:7 Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you. It was never something you could do on your own. Believe in Him!

Lie #5 Do More Of What Makes You Happy! This has been around for a while. The devil changes the words from time to time but the meaning is still the same. It's the ole "If it feels good, do it" mentality. The terrible advice to "follow your heart." Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding, In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths. We are not to seek our own pleasure, but we are to delight in Him. Psalm 37:4 Delight thyself also in the LORD: and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart. In fact, Jesus clearly tells us to deny ourselves. Mark 8:34 And when He had called the people unto Him with His disciples also, He said unto them, "Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." Jesus didn't just do whatever made Him happy. Do you think He was excited about being crucified? Of course, He wasn't! He prayed that if it were possible, that this moment would pass Him by, but He submitted to the will of God. Matthew 26:39 And He went a little farther, and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt." 

I have a sticker that said Do More Of What Makes You Happy, and I just put alphabet stickers over the word YOU and replaced it with the word GOD and it always puts a smile on my face. Do More Of What Makes God Happy.

Friends, please don't be discouraged if you have fallen into these traps set by the devil. He is always trying to tear Christians down and cause us to compromise and fall. It's those little foxes that spoil the vine. The Bible says this about the devil: Daniel 7:25 And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time. We can see that happening already. I beg you, please don't be deceived. These slogans are popular because they are intended to empower us to think more highly of ourselves than we ought. God is in control. He has all power in heaven and in earth. He is the one to get the glory, the praise, and the recognition. To Him be glory and power for ever and ever!

God bless you!
~Bridgett Owens

Friday, October 20, 2017

How To Have Your Heart's Desire

When was the last time you were truly happy? Can you think of a time when you just felt full of joy? How about the last time you were thrilled about something? Think of a scenario in your mind when that occurred. Now, let me ask you something else. Were you delighted in your walk with God? In that moment of bliss, was it because of your relationship with Jesus?

Sometimes we pray and ask God for a long list of things we want or need. We start asking for things that we desire. Sometimes we do not get those things. We think that God just decided to deny the request, but could it be that the Bible tells us how to have our heart's desire? Let's look at the text.

Psalm 37:4
Delight thyself also in the LORD: and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

So there it is! The formula for getting your heart's desire: delight thyself in the LORD. How do you delight in the LORD? It means to "please (someone) greatly" according to the dictionary. Who are we supposed to please greatly? God! 

Do we know what it takes to please God? Hebrews 11:6 says But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. So we have to believe, or have faith in God. We believe He is able to do what we ask of Him. We believe that He will reward us as we earnestly seek Him. So the first thing we must have is FAITH!

Next we see that God rewards us when we diligently seek Him. It is not enough to go to church once or twice a week. In fact, church is very critical in a Christian's walk with God but it is not where we are actively seeking Him. We should be engaged with Him through the Holy Spirit in church. We need to be seeking Him throughout the week. To diligently seek Him means to constantly make an effort to find Him. It also means to be attentive and persistent. So it's not just reading a memory verse here and there; saying a quick prayer when you get into trouble; or reading a simple devotion book and ten minutes later you can't even recall what you read. No, it's an ongoing effort to seek Him out with your focus solely on Him. The Bible says when we look for Him in that way, not only will we find Him but we will be rewarded. Deuteronomy 4:29 But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find Him, if thou seek Him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.

When we look for God in every area of our lives, we will find Him. He will be there! He will manifest Himself to us. When we sacrificially look for Him for the sake of finding Him, being in His presence, learning more about Him, then we will begin to see our lives changed in ways we could never imagine!

Have you been doing those things? Do you have the faith to believe He is going to give you your heart's desire? If you are in His presence, constantly looking for Him in every area of your life, and giving the reigns over to Him, to make the decisions for you in the areas that matter most, you will begin to see those heart's desires realized. If you want God to move, demonstrate your faith in Him, and chase after Him like nothing else in your life and I promise you that you will lack no good thing!

God bless you!

~Bridgett Owens

Friday, October 13, 2017

Have Compassion


Do you know what it means to have compassion? According to, it means: a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering. That is so interesting to me, that it goes beyond just feeling bad for someone. According to this definition, compassion is joining the feeling of sadness because someone is suffering or going through a hard time with the urge to do something to help them!

Would you agree that we all have a duty, as Christians, to show compassion? Not just to one another, but we must have compassion for everyone. Jesus did and He is our example! We must care about those who are hurting and show them them!

I wanted to be a nurse since I was 16 years old. I knew I wanted to be a registered nurse but God had other plans for me. I am a licensed practical nurse and currently I am in the nursing program to transition into a registered nurse. I have always had compassion for people. My grandmother taught me from a very young age to pray for compassion and so I did. God answered that prayer and has blessed me with a LOT of compassion for others. My heart breaks for those who are hurting. I cry along with those who are hurting. So naturally, I am in a role (as a nurse) to have compassion on my patients. It is a great honor to serve in this way.

Sometimes, though, the nurse becomes the patient. We are not all perfectly healthy all of the time. We get hurt. We get sick. We need to see the doctor for various issues and in those times, we need compassion. I was the patient today. I have a chronic condition that I didn't ask for, that I don't want, and that hurts me every single day. The big fix is a major surgery. The problem is that I am a student and really cannot have the surgery until May, when school is over with. So I went to get a "holding solution" in the form of an injection today. I would say that maybe the nurse was just having a bad day, but the past two times I was in that office, the doctor and the nurse have been cold and indifferent to me. I am not excusing the doctor, but he is known to not have the best bedside manner. The nurse; however, I am surprised and disappointed in. She used to be so kind and friendly.

While I cannot hold the world to God's standards of being compassionate to others, it sure does sadden me to think that a nurse would not be very compassionate. I am in severe pain most days with this issue and I don't want to face surgery. I don't want to have injections. I don't want to deal with any of it. It's been since I was a teenager and I have put off the surgery so long but now my "other options" are running out. I just need someone to be kind to me when I go into that cold, sterile room and have to be so vulnerable. It's a scary thing to do alone but I must! So, a friendly face, or kind word is so appreciated in that moment.

I'm not perfect. As a nurse, I have bad days, too, and probably don't show as much compassion as when things are better, but I honestly try. I make a conscious effort to show compassion and put my feelings and pain aside. It's the reason I went to nursing school. It's the reason I am going back to become an RN. I want to make a bigger impact than I can as an LPN.

Psalm 86:15 But Thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, long suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.

Lamentations 3:22 It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.

Zechariah 7:9 Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and show mercy and compassions every man to his brother:

Matthew 9:36 But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.

Matthew 14:14 And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and He healed their sick.

1 Peter 3:8 Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:

Jude 1:22 And of some have compassion, making a difference

1 John 3:17 But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?

Maybe the nurse was just having a hard time at work the past couple of times I was in there. Maybe she is overworked, overwhelmed, or going through personal battles herself. I am not sure. I did not ask. I will pray for her that she is strengthened in the way she has need. God knows all about her and what she is facing. God can help her and see her through. Hopefully the rest of her day will be good. Maybe things will start improving for her. I will ask God to see her through and help her. That would be a way I could show her compassion. She may never know I prayed for her and that is okay. God works it all out and He gets the glory.

Let's look for opportunities to show compassion today. We all need it and want it for ourselves. Others want it, too. God bless you!

~Bridgett Owens

Friday, September 29, 2017

Tell Someone: 7 Reasons To Testify

Are you one of those people who do a lot of research when they want to buy a product? If you are shopping online, it is crucial to read reviews of the item you are looking to purchase. These other consumers are sharing their experiences which can persuade you to buy, or not buy, an item. Personal experiences are a wonderful way to get information about anything.

Have you ever wanted to see a movie, but not really sure if it's worth buying the ticket, the popcorn, the drink, the snacks... so you ask your friends if they have seen it, and what they thought? Movie reviews are another "testimonial" that you can read to gain insight.

Infomericals are notorious for having "testimonials" for sharing positive experiences and rave reviews for whatever new item they are touting. Some people are so moved by these lavish claims that they buy the merchandise sight unseen and hope for the same results!

The Bible encourages the believer to share their experiences as well. We are told to testify of God's goodness and mercy. I am going to give you my top seven reasons you should testify!

1. Never stop talking about the goodness of God. Psalm 34:1 I will bless the LORD at all times: His praise shall continually be in my mouth. Always watch for ways the enemy will try to stop you. Fear, doubt, anxiety, worry, feelings of inferiority are all tools of the enemy to stop you from sharing the good things God has been doing in your life. Do not let anything stop you from telling others what God has done for you!

2. Don't wait for an opportunity "someday" or "one day" to share how you have been blessed. Don't expect to go abroad and do great things for God as the only means to be His witness. Share your testimony in  your own community; right where you are now, even if it's hard. It could not have been easy for the woman at the well to have shared her testimony but after she had an experience with the Master she wanted to share it with everyone! John 4:28-29 The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, "Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?"

3. God gives you the power through the Holy Ghost to testify. Look for the people no one else is reaching. Who are the broken, the hurting, the desperate? Find the people who really need to experience Jesus' love and saving power. We have the ability to do this through the power of the Holy Ghost. Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

4. It should be a joyful thing to praise the LORD. It should be a happy time of sharing the goodness of God with fellow Christians. Let's tell saints and sinners alike of all the ways we have been blessed, helped, saved, delivered, set free, redeemed, and renewed because of our wonderful God. He is worthy to be praised and we should be happy to brag on Him and His great deeds. Psalm 32:11 Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.

5. We get a testimony to share with others after we have gone through a trial. James 1:3-4 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. Some things we go through will be hard, but God will be glorified when we tell others how we overcame. This can can increase the faith of others observing us, and in turn can strengthen our own spirit.

6. The Bible teaches us how we ought to share our faith with others. Mark 5:19 Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, "Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the LORD hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee." This is Jesus' response when He had healed a man from demon possession. The man was so happy to be restored that he was willing to follow Jesus anywhere to proclaim what He had done. Jesus didn't let him do that. Jesus had another plan. The man was to go back home and tell his friends and those who knew him and knew what he had been like before he had been restored to health. He was to go back and tell them how Jesus had compassion for him and what all he had done. Jesus did a miracle for this man who had been living in the cemetery, among the dead, and clothes torn to shreds. He was a mess! Jesus completely transformed that man's life and he was never the same again! That was worth sharing and going back home to tell. He had a mission!

7. The importance of testifying about the goodness of God is so we can defeat the devil. Revelation 12:10-11 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, "Now is come salvation, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto death." We are told in this passage of scripture that the devil accuses us day and night before God. He is constantly running to God and telling on us for any bad thing we do, say, or think. He is trying to trap us so that God will be angry with us and cast us away, but we are born again believers so God will never do that! We apply the blood of Jesus to our lives and we live in the shadow of the cross. We proudly proclaim how God healed us, saved us, met our needs, made a way where there was none, provided the money for the bills we had to pay, put food on the table, clothed us, gave us a clear mind. There is no shortage of ways to thank Him. We must tell others. We have a duty to God to tell those who are discouraged and hurting that there is hope and Jesus is the way!

We were given the great Commission to tell others about the Lord. The final scripture for today's devotional is found in the book of Matthew. These are the words of Jesus!

Matthew 28:19-20 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

~Bridgett Owens