Friday, March 31, 2017

Are you disobeying God?

If I tell my children to clean their bedroom, that is a reasonable request. My daughter is 15 years old and my son is 9. My children are healthy and completely competent to make their beds, change the trash, pick up their dirty clothes, and straighten up their rooms. They both can sweep their floors. These are not difficult tasks for them, but if you watch their reactions when they are told to do this, you would think that I asked something nearly impossible.

After telling my children to clean their rooms, I give them some time and then I check in on their progress. If I find them sitting on their bed, playing video games or watching television, then I will be upset with them. They heard what I asked them to do. They understood what was expected of them. They chose not to do what they were told. They have become disobedient!

What does the Bible say about obedience? Does it talk about disobedience? Are there any rules or instruction from God on this subject? The answer my friends is yes, the Bible has plenty to say on obeying/disobeying. We will look at this together and see that it is a heart problem, not a head problem.

Let's start with the basics of children obeying their parents as in the example I am using in this post. Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Colossians 3:20 Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. Children are instructed in the Word of God to obey their parents because it is the right thing to do and because it pleases God. The obedient child makes God happy. As a mother, I can say that when my children obey me it pleases me very much! We parents, are to look to God our Heavenly Father for the example on how to parent our children. Right? He is full of unconditional love and unfailing compassion. He is full of love, grace, and mercy. If we parent our children like that, it sure makes it easier for our children to want to obey us and please us, doesn't it?

Children are not the only ones who must obey. God created man and in Genesis 2:15-17 we see that God gives instruction to be obeyed. And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." We all know that man disobeyed and sin entered into the world, separating us from God. So disobeying has serious consequences.

Romans 5:19 clearly illustrates this point. For as by one's man disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous. We know the one man is Adam (and Eve) and that through their disobedience all of mankind is born into sin. We also know through the scriptures that by the obedience of another man, Jesus, we are all made righteous. Jesus came to set things right between God and man. Hebrews 9:28 says So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation. Because He overcame sin and death on the cross and through His resurrection, we are now able to have freedom from sin and death when He cleanses us from all unrighteousness as we walk in obedience.

Hebrews 5:5-10 So also Christ glorified not Himself to be made an high priest; but He that said unto Him, "Thou art My Son, today have I begotten Thee." As He saith also in another place, "Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchisedec." Who in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save Him from death, and was heard in that He feared; though He were a Son yet learned He obedience by the things He suffered; And being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him; Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec." Jesus learned obedience from His suffering. Isn't that incredible? God allows us to have suffering sometimes in order to teach us how to be obedient, how to crucify our flesh, how to feed our spirit and starve our flesh.

Before we come to know Jesus as our Lord and Savior, the Bible says we are the children of disobedience. Ephesians 2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Before we come to accept Jesus as our Savior, we walked according to the way the world tells us. We look at magazines, television commercials, store advertisements, billboards, television programs, movies, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, our classmates, people we work with, family, friends, neighbors, sports figures, and on and on.... We look to the ways of the world to see if we have any worth, if we measure up, and then we conduct ourselves so that we can be just like the world. The Bible says the same spirit that caused us to do those things is the prince of the power of the air. Is there any wonder that satan controls the wavelengths and satellite signals? Of course those types of media can be used for good, but the control over most of those platforms is the devil! He is our enemy and he hates the things of God. He does not want us to walk in submission to God so he works in the hearts of the children of disobedience.

How can you tell if you are disobeying God? Maybe you think you do a pretty good job of obeying the ten commandments, and you go to church. Maybe you have a special group at church you attend or help with, you could be in ministry. Are you doing the things that are right; those things that please God? Let's look at the teachings of Paul to find out more.

2 Corinthians 10:3-6 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 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; And having a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled. So Paul is saying that we are flesh and bones, but we don't need to go after the things our flesh desires. We are not fighting a war against people and against ourselves, but rather we are in a spiritual battle with weapons of the Spirit. Our weapons are powerful because they are from God and they can break those strong holds that the devil likes to just tie us up with. It may look like he is wrapping you with pretty bows and strings, but it is an illusion and you are really being tied up into bondage of sin. We are to throw down the things we imagine and believe that exalts itself against the Word of God. So many times we just choose to remain neutral or we won't speak up when we know the truth should be told, but friends do not be fooled, that is the work of satan. He wants you to stay silent. He wants to stifle your cry in the wilderness because then you can be in disobedience. We are disciples sent out into the world to share the gospel message to the hurting, the sin-sick, the dying, the halt, the blind, the maimed. We have an obligation to be obedient, even if we stick out or if we are singled out, and yes even if we are persecuted!

We have a choice in this life. Some people get really upset at the thought that our religious freedoms may be stripped away from us. I get that! I understand! But, I also know that even if they take away my freedom, they cannot take away my Jesus from my heart! I will still speak of Him and share my faith with those around me because this world needs Jesus. Plain and simple, Jesus and the power of the cross, is the message we need to get to every single person on this planet. We get to choose. The Bible tells us in Romans 6:16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants are ye to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? He says don't you realize that you will choose to obey something: good or evil. You will obey sin and receive death and eternal separation from God or you will obey God and become His righteousness. Hebrews 2:1-4 warns us to be careful about the choices we make and the lasting effects that result from those choices. Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the Word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to His own will? We have proof. We know the Bible is true! We need to hold tight to what it says and do what it tells us to do so we can be obedient. 

Maybe you would rather not obey God and you think you can do some big service for God instead. You know what God has called you to do, but you want to skirt around what he told you to do and you think that you can just obey in part and then somehow make it up to God with a special sacrifice of your time or service on down the road. I Samuel 15:22 And Samuel said, "Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and than to hearken than the fat of rams." It's better to obey the Lord and walk in what He told you to do rather than giving up something that means something to you later on in life. You see, it doesn't have the same value to God as it does to you. It's far better to obey because your sacrifice doesn't mean as much to Him as it does to you. Your willing heart to serve Him and do what is right means so much more to Him.

If my children go ahead and clean up their rooms after they have been told to, I am so happy! I am quick to reward their obedient behavior! They will get hugs and kisses. I will tell them thank you and brag on their efforts. I will bless my children. If they disobey they still have my love. I will still hug and kiss them. I will still tell them that I love them, but the relationship will be strained a bit because they know they did wrong, and I will not feel respected by them. Their obedience in doing the task I have set before them is far better than doing something "extra for me" later on.

Pray and ask the Lord to show you areas of your life that you may be in disobedience. He will do it! He wants to help you and correct you with His great love and unfailing mercy. He will give you the grace and strength to complete each task He has given you. Don't put it off! Ask Him today and let His Spirit lead you. God bless you!

~Bridgett Owens

Friday, March 17, 2017

Loaves and Fishes

When I was on my medical mission trip recently, I had the opportunity to get to know members of our group a lot better. One of the women who went stated she really wanted to know the Bible better. She had a basic understanding of some things, but she didn't have the experience of learning the Bible stories like so many of us who have grown up in the church. I started to think, I wonder if she would know the story of the loaves and fishes. It's a great message to build faith and look inward at our hearts to check our motives. We can read it together.
JOHN 6:1-14

Jesus had been healing people of different diseases. By speaking His Word after seeing one's faith, if they had an illness or infirmity, Jesus would heal them. Obviously this started to get people's attention. Some may have been curious. Some may have been skeptical. Some may have wanted to be healed, too. The Bible says regardless of the reason, many followed for the miracles (verse 2). Are you following Jesus? What is your motivation? Is it to get something you want? Check your heart. Are you drawn to Jesus because you want more of Him or you want more from Him?

Jesus went up into a mountain and sat down with his disciples. I just came back from my medical mission trip in a mountainous region. It was magnificent to see mountains everywhere I looked. They were all around me. I was in the valley, but how amazing to have scaled the mountain with Jesus, my Savior, and sit down with him like the disciples did. Jesus is with us when we have to climb the spiritual mountains in our lives too. He doesn't leave us in the valley, he takes us up higher.
The passover feast of the Jews was coming up. Jesus was up on the mountain and from that view he could see the crowd approaching. When you are on the mountain with Jesus, following where He leads, you can see things coming at you from afar off and start preparing for it. Jesus starts preparing the disciples for the crowd of people who are coming after Jesus.

Jesus looks right at Philip. He could have asked any of the disciples but he questions Philip as to what should be done. This is a time of feasting. These people will be hungry. Jesus asks the disciple how he can provide food for them. Jesus has a plan! He always has a plan! But He wanted to see what Philip would do in this situation.

Philip looked at it from a financial standpoint. He knew it would cost a lot of money. If they had the money, how could they afford to feed everyone? Has God placed something in your heart to do and you start wondering how you can afford to do it? There is something very important God has placed in my heart to do and I know that we will but I do not know how we will get the finances we need to make it happen. It's easy to look at our situations from a financial perspective, and start to worry, but the Bible says in Philippians 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Another disciple, Andrew, looked at the physical situation. He sees a young boy and thinks it might work but there just isn't enough. He sees something that if there was just more of it, it would do. What do we need God to multiply in our lives to fit the great need? There is nothing that God cannot do. In Jeremiah 32:26-27 we read, Then came the Word of the LORD, unto Jeremiah, saying, "Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for Me?" I can answer that! No, LORD! There is nothing my God cannot do!

Both of these men, Philip and Andrew, are sitting right next to the answer! Jesus already knew what He was going to do. I wonder if any of the other disciples had ideas of how to feed that many people. That is a lot of people to feed! In verse 10, the number is 5,000 men. That's a lot of appetites to fill! This doesn't even say how many women and children were with these men. That is a lot of food to prepare. A small dinner party can cost a lot of money, but to feed 5,000 men...Philip was right to think it would be astronomical to pay for the food. So how could they minister to these people and help them if they couldn't feed them?

The Bible doesn't say if there was an exchange between Jesus and the boy. Was the boy willing to give up his five loaves of barley and two small fishes to Jesus? Did he just offer it up? Or was he asked of Jesus and then quickly obeyed? Did the boy hesitate and wonder how he was going to explain things to his mother when he had given all the food away. All we know is that Jesus took what the boy had, all that he had to offer, and multiplied it to meet a greater need!

In verse 11 it says they ate as much as they wanted! They were full. They didn't just get a bite or nibble. They didn't have an appetizer or snack to "tide them over" until they got somewhere else. No, they were with Jesus and He is the God of more than enough! He will fill up empty stomachs and bless hearts and lives until they overflow!

I love that in verse 12, Jesus tells the disciples to gather up the remaining fish and bread so that nothing is lost! He didn't want one crumb to go to waste! There was a big blessing in store for the obedient boy and Jesus wanted to make sure he got it all!!!

The boy gave all that he had. This must have taken a lot of faith, but we are to have that childlike, trusting faith to just simply obey! The boy may have been on his way home to feed his family with whatever fish he caught that day and some bread, but instead the boy obeyed Jesus and there is no mention of the child even being a little reluctant to give all that he has to Jesus. Yet when we are asked to give something up, or to give something away, how quick do we obey? How quick are we to make excuses and only want to give a portion, not the whole thing? This boy was rewarded for his obedience and by giving all that he had, he was blessed with even more than he started with. God is so good like that!

We can't forget the other people in the story. We talked about the disciples and we talked about the boy. But what about all those men who ate the food? They had to see the bread and the fish multiply and multiply, row after row, man after man grabbing and eating until they are full! In verse 14 it says they believed in Jesus after seeing this miracle. That should make anyone a believer! Sometimes God allows us to get our backs against the wall and seemingly no way out, so we can put our faith in Him and watch Him work it all out for our good and for His glory. It increases our faith! It builds our confidence in Him. It teaches us that He is for us, not against us. He is our ever present help in our time of need. He will bless us with what we have need of. He loves us. He cares for us. He can do exceeding abundantly more than we can ask or think!

Let me encourage you with these scriptures in closing! Don't be afraid to take your needs to Jesus. Give Him all you got and watch Him multiply it to meet the needs of you and so many all around you! You cannot outgive God!

Psalm 68:19
Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.

Romans 8:31
What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

Psalm 46:1
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

I John 4:19
We love Him, because He first loved us.

I Peter 5:7
Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.

Ephesians 3:20
Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.

~Bridgett Owens

Friday, March 10, 2017

Victory In Jesus

My 15-year-old daughter and I recently were invited to my sister-in-law's church for a women's event where they were #CelebratingVictory. 

The church is about an hour away, give or take, and even though we wanted to go, it felt like everything was coming against us. My husband had to work late, I had to meet him, I didn't have the directions, we were trying to hurry, there were severe thunderstorms, and it seemed like the perfectly logical thing to do was just not go! I started to tell my daughter that we were not going to make it, but she was so excited about going that I just didn't have the heart to tell her no.

We walked outside and on three sides of us was gloomy, dark clouds full of rain ready to pour out any moment but on one side there was a big, beautiful, bright ball of sunshine and I thought, 'There HAS to be a rainbow somewhere!' and I was determined to find it! As we drove towards the place I was to meet my husband, the clouds just covered the sky until it was completely gray and no sign of bright, beautiful, blue sky! We started out from home, not really knowing where we were going. We just stepped out in faith that we would get the directions in time and it would all work out.

We drove further and that's when I saw it...a rainbow! It was a small one at first, just kind of faded but it was still there and I thought it was a good sign that the Lord wanted us to keep on going! The kids and I were getting excited!
We were able to communicate with my husband about where to meet. So we continued driving in the direction we were to meet him and that's when we saw it...a DOUBLE rainbow! We were laughing and singing praises to God! We knew that even though it looked like a bad storm and I wasn't very confident that I knew where to go, I was confident that God would get us where we needed to be!
I told my daughter, "The devil sure doesn't want us to go to this event tonight. There must be a blessing waiting there for us!" Kadesia agreed and we kept going on. Then to the left of us, was a glimpse of another rainbow! THREE RAINBOWS! A sign of God's promise and God's faithfulness!!
We were blessed at that event and God did overtake us with blessing after blessing! The picture below is one of the cards they gave away.

And as I sit here in my mother's home, using her computer, I am reflecting on that message! A tornado blasted through where we live and we lost power. It's been three days now with no power and it's cold in our house and it's dark. My mother offered to let us stay with her until it gets back on and while it is hard to stick with a routine, it's very much appreciated to have a warm place to stay.
My children had spent the night with my in-law's. Paul had already left for work and I was in bed asleep. There had been thunder and lightning for hours and I was sleeping well. I love sleeping during thunderstorms. Then a little before 5:30 a.m. the power went off. There was a strange, eerie stillness. Everything was silent. I saw the lightning flash a few times but I did not hear any thunder. I started to feel scared. I am not afraid of storms and yet I knew this was different. I prayed aloud, "Jesus please help me. I am scared and all alone." I heard a loud noise as if my bedroom door had been closed and then I felt the presence of Jesus enter my bedroom. I was saturated in complete peace and I laid down on my bed and went back to sleep! I woke up a little later to find out an EF2 tornado had gone through. I was safe. Our home was safe. Our vehicles were safe. The only thing we didn't have was electricity! I am praying it gets turned back on today! 
So this morning as I prepare to face the day ahead, I am thinking about the things I must do and wondering how it can happen! I have to leave in the morning for a medical mission trip and I need to do laundry, pack my bags, and do those last minute things that always seem to get pushed to the back of the to-do list. As I plan ahead, I turned to my Bible and opened it to Philippians 4:4-13:
Rejoice in the Lord alway; and again I say, Rejoice.
Let your moderation (*gentleness) be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.
Be careful (*anxious) for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest (*noble), whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think (*meditate) on these things.
Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.
Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to 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.

That just really lifted my spirits. My sister who lives a couple of states away from me is praying for us and praying our electricity would be restored and she encouraged me this morning. She really blessed me and helped me! Then I read this and it was wonderful and then I found that card I had received at the women's conference and it gave me even more hope and encouragement this morning.

I know the Lord has called me to go on this mission trip. I know this is His Will for my life and the enemy doesn't want me to go. He doesn't want me to help those people I will be ministering to; and he doesn't want me to obey the Lord and walk in my calling. The devil is a liar and Jesus defeated him when He died upon the cross so I do walk in victory today! I claim the promises of God's Word for my life!

I Corinthians 15:57-58
But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

I have victory in Jesus, just like the song says! I am going to work for the Lord and I know I will go on that mission trip! I will not be hindered by the enemy. Just like when we were on our trip to the women's conference. There were all kinds of obstacles in our way; we even got our communication crossed with Paul and kept missing each other, but it all worked out and we weren't even late! Kadesia and I held hands, kept our eyes on the rainbows in the sky, and with smiles on our faces we sang an old familiar song, "I won't let nothing down here hinder me, oh Lord I won't. For someday His blessed face I'm going to see. It makes no difference about the cost, nor how heavy be my cross. I'll not let nothing down here hinder me." And by His grace I won't!

~Bridgett Owens

Friday, March 3, 2017

Finding Jesus

We have a new home!

It's almost surreal to even type those words. It is something we have prayed about many, many times. I must admit, there were several times I even wondered if we would ever have our own home again. But in typical fashion, God came through for us in an unexpected way and we are in the home of our dreams. It is honestly the home we were searching for but never could find.

Searching for a new home is not unlike our journey before we are saved. Let me preface this post by saying I was "born and raised" in the church, as some might say. I grew up with my maternal and paternal grandfathers being ministers. My dad was a minister and several of my uncles. I have never not known that God loved me and Jesus died for me, however; I believe that we all have our moments of questioning who we are, who God is, if He exists at all, and ponder the meaning of life.

We all must get to the point where we believe it for ourselves because we have had an encounter with God. So in my own spiritual journey to find out if there is a God, I also wanted to know what He created me for. What is my purpose? Is there a plan for me somewhere that will just happen to me and I get NO say in it, or is there something more meaningful about this life and I am a part of making the decisions that shape my journey?

How is this similar to buying a home? I think it is closely related in that when one is looking to buy a home for the first time, or even the third time, there is an expectation. You know some of your requirements, some things that are deal breakers. You know where you are willing to compromise and most importantly what you are looking for. So you take your list of what you think your dream home would be like and you start searching. You compare every home you see to that list of your ideal home and if there are details about each home you look at that doesn't match up to your expectations, you cross that home off your list of possibilities and keep searching. Paul and I searched through countless homes. We dogeared the pages of countless Home Finder magazines. We scoured the Internet looking at homes online, always looking at the flooring, the number of rooms, the location, price point, wall color, layout and design of the interior, and whether or not there was a garage... and on and on... We always ended up feeling frustrated and at times we lost hope that we would ever find what we were looking for.

When we search out who God really is, and if He even exists at all, we can do the same thing. We have this idea of who God is. He is big and scary, or He is kind and loving. He is either ready to condemn and punish us for every wrong thing we ever did or will ever do; or we see God as a kind ruler of the universe, showing love, grace, and mercy. We look for Him in all kinds of places. We look for Him in those who call themselves Christians. Sometimes those Christians mess up because they are human after all and are not perfect, but we says things like, If that is what God is like I don't want any part of that! We might go to a church and if the songs are not to our liking, the preaching is "too cheerful and sweet" then we may have an opinion like one woman I heard talking, God wasn't in that church! They were just trying to serve themselves! Maybe the complaint was that the church was "too quiet" and the sermon is more like a poetry reading. I've heard opinions about that, too. Some of us searching for God are not really looking to find a church that preaches the Truth of God's Word, because it hurts when we look at our reflection in the mirror of God's Word and see that we aren't measuring up. We can storm out of there quickly and cross that location off the list.

Maybe we want small groups...or perhaps we are intimidated by churches with large congregations. We want to find God on our terms, right? It has to be in the setting we want it to be. But that is a pretty limited view of God. You see in Genesis 1:1 it says "In the beginning GOD...". Isn't that awesome? He was in the beginning. He started it all. So He can be found anywhere. Psalm 139:7-10 sums this up to say, "Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from Thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there: If I make my bed in hell, behold, Thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me." 

He is everywhere! We can experience Him in the way the trees sway back and forth almost in worship to their Creator just before a rainstorm. We can feel Him in the blazing heat of the afternoon sun on a summer's day. The Bible says He made the stars and He knows them all by name! Psalm 147:4 We think we are so clever when we discover a new star or solar system and God is just breathing stars and naming them whenever He wants. He sees the whole of His creation and somewhere, very small in the grand scheme of things, you and I are strategically placed by the God of the universe in the very place we are today. He designed the birds to fly high above us and the Bible says that He feeds the sparrows and takes care of them, and yet He loves us even more than them! Matthew 10:29-31 We see His handiwork in the creation of the sea, the mountains, the air, the clouds, the dust.

So while you may have an idea in your mind of who God is, you just might find that who He really is will surprise you! We don't look just to Christians and churches for God, though, do we? No, we also look at the ugly, horrific, outrageous deeds of humanity and we wonder where God was. We suddenly entertain the idea that there is a God and think He should have stopped the evil in the world and leave only the good. We throw our fists in the air and declare, If God was real, He would never have allowed this to happen! Yet, we don't take the time to truly learn about Him at all.

When we find the home we have been dreaming of, we typically get a home inspection. Someone goes into the home, looks around, maybe gets under the crawl space, up into the attic, and looks at the house from every angle to let you know what flaws you might have overlooked or was unseen. We go to great lengths to find out all we can about the home and its' surroundings. We check out the neighborhood, fun places to hang out nearby, homeowner perks and amenities, but then we neglect to ask those important questions about our own salvation. There are blessings waiting for you! There is healing, hope, freedom, love, joy, peace, and great things waiting for you! It's all found in Him! Get to know the King of kings and Lord of lords. He wants to introduce Himself to you and I promise you will never be the same!

I asked God to reveal Himself to me if He indeed was real. I was in a stage of my life where I just wasn't sure about anything. I had read the Bible and had gone to church all of my life. I knew what the stories had said, I could quote numerous Bible verses and I sang many, many hymns and worship songs, but inside I was just not sure it was true. I had never truly experienced Him and could know for myself that He is real, so I asked Him to show me. I wasn't angry. I didn't threaten Him. I wasn't trying to be snide. I truly wanted to know if there was a God in Heaven.

My life was not free from tragedy and pain. I have some deep scars that I wasn't sure would ever heal. I was broken. I was sad. I was down in the bottom of a pit spiritually and I just needed to know if there really was anyone bigger than myself that thought I might be worth saving. And He showed up for me! He revealed Himself to me in a way that I cannot even describe. He answered questions that I didn't realize I was even searching for answers to. He comforted me from all the pain and sorrow and loss that no one but God even knew about. He touched my heart and the broken pieces all fell into place and I was healed. The heaviness lifted and the dark clouds parted. There was nothing but radiant light surrounding me and filling up my soul. He spoke to me in a language I could understand.

I was free. I had encountered God and I began to embrace the Word of God. I searched for Him and found Him in the pages of the great mysteries. He was there and I knew that He accepted me. I belonged to Him and I was free!

When my family and I toured this home, we just knew it was home. We all loved it. We all felt it. We knew this one was different. This time it was just the right home for us. It actually didn't even have all the things we wanted but even still it is perfect for us. It is our home and we knew God had His fingerprints all over this! And when you truly experience God and ask Him to meet you where you are, you will have that same feeling of knowing deep in your soul. You will not have to look to anyone to confirm it. You will know!

I love that God is so big and so powerful and yet the Bible says in Psalms 139:3 "Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways." He knows where I am going, when I rest, and He is familiar with everything about me. He knows me better than I know myself and He knows you that way too!

I learned that God is not sitting in heaven pulling spiritual strings connected to all of us. He isn't forcing us to live a life we don't want, but He is a planner. He thinks about the future and He has us in mind when He does. It's precious! Jeremiah 29:11 says "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you and expected end." Psalm 139:17 says "How precious also are Thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!" Did you read that? He has MANY PRECIOUS THOUGHTS about YOU! You are on the mind of God and He wants to give you peace and not evil! He wants you to get the end that He is expecting for you! He wants to help you get all the blessings He has in reserve for you! He wants to bless and love you!

Since moving into this house, I am eager to get home. I want to be home. I want to spend time at home with my family. I am happy and feel at peace at home. That is how it is when I am in the presence of the LORD. I just want to know Him more. I want to spend more time with Him. I don't want to leave His presence. I want to read His Word until I fall asleep and then I want to hide those words in my heart! He is the first one that I talk to when I wake up and He is the last one that I talk to when I lay down. He is my everything. He is my provider! He is my healer! He is my reason for being on this earth and I want to tell the whole world about His goodness, His mercy, and His love!

It's a brand new year! Make this your best year ever by seeing how close you can get to the Master! Learn as much as you can about Him. Read the Bible and lose yourself in the scriptures. There is nothing more fulfilling in this life than learning that we are made by God and to love and serve Him all the days of our lives. He will never leave us. He will never abandon us. He will never forsake us. He will go with us every single step of the way this year. Hebrews 13:5 and Matthew 28:30

He wants this to be the best year of your life. God bless you!

~Bridgett Owens