Blog, Devotionals, Life, Family, Encouragement

Born This Way

What if I told you we are NOT born naturally good? In fact, that is EXACTLY what I am saying. We are born wicked and it is only through Christ alone that we can produce good fruits.

What?! How could you?

I think I am a pretty good person…

I would then have to ask you– measuring by what standards are you counting yourself as a good person?

At this point in time most people go on about how they help people, feel like they are a good friend/parent/etc., and say things like I mean I haven’t killed anyone.

Well, yes that is good and I am certainly glad to hear murder isn’t on the table. (insert chuckle)

However, if we measure by the ultimate judge on weather we are good or wicked, I think you may come up with a different conclusion.

I now ask you to be completely honest with me, yourself, and God. Answer the following questions.

  • Have you ever told a lie? Even a little white lie?
  • Have you ever taken something that was not yours or that you didn’t pay for? Think hard, because it happens on accident a lot! (a pen, something you carried home from work, something you found at a public location)
  • Have you ever said something about another person out of anger, hurt, etc.?
  • Have you ever talked about someone else to a third party, when it was not your place to tell?
  • Have you ever looked at another person in a lustful way?

If everyone is being honest, the answer should be ‘yes’ to all of the above questions. It is common for mankind (men and women) to naturally do these things because we are NOT naturally good. So, if we measure by God’s standard, which He has the ultimate say, then we are liars, thief’s, unforgiving, gossiping, adulterers.

YIKES! When you put it that way… we are not naturally good.

Which is precisely why the Bible tells us in John 3:3-7 that we need to be born-again.

John 3:3-7

Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”

Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’

Why are we born this way?

God created mankind (Adam and Eve) and called it all very good. He gave mankind freewill and CLEAR instructions, in this case they could eat from any tree in the garden except NOT from the forbidden tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Adam and Eve were tempted by the serpent and disobeyed God’s instruction and ate the forbidden fruit. If you read the whole story of the creation and fall of mankind in Genesis 1-3, God tells us that the land and mankind is cursed from the time we are born until we die because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience.

From here the Bible is full of stories about the wickedness of mankind’s hearts. Stories of murder, stealing, betrayal, adultery, and so much more. (Doesn’t sound much different from what we hear today on the news and in social media.

As the story goes on you will read about periods of time that mankind used animal sacrifices in attempt to atone for our sins. However, nothing was good enough to cover the disobedient wicked ways of our sinful nature. None of these sacrifices were able to bridge the gap of separation between God and mankind (us).

This is where Jesus comes in and radically changes EVERYTHING from that point forward!

John 3:16
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Jesus came and fulfilled many prophesies spoken. He is fully God and fully man, which is how he lived the perfect life during His time walking the Earth. Jesus’ purpose was to be the ultimate example for us to follow and to ultimately be crucified on the cross as an atonement for our sins.

Jesus conquered sin and conquered death. He was buried in a tomb and rose from the dead on the third day. He is alive today and will return for His people. Those who are born again– that repent of our sins, ask for forgiveness, and confess Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior

Just as John 3:3-7 says born again is by spirit and water. This is our new birth or re-birth. This is not just a stated prayer. It should be followed by devout study of God’s Word. It should be a life changing radical moment in a person life.

Being born again doesn’t mean we are instantly perfect and will never sin again, it means we are forgiven by the blood of Jesus.

Born again also doesn’t mean we are free to sin when and how we please or that we should continue down the same paths, making the same choices, it means the old has passed a way, we are free from the bondage of sin and we are a new creation in Him.

A born again Christian who has had true repentance and a life changing renewal spiritually will want to seek God’s direction and to know Him more. They will be intentional when it comes to prayer time and reading the Bible.

Reading the Bible and prayer is our way of communication with God, to learn His instruction and renew our minds and soul. An internal noticeable change.

There is a common misconception that ‘most people are naturally good. have your best interests at heart’. This is just NOT the case, the Bible tells us so and not in a ‘because I said so’ type of way. The Bible clearly explains why the evil and wickedness is in the hearts of mankind from birth. It goes all the way back to the original sin of disobedience to God’s Word.

What is the root of disobedience to God’s Word or disobedience in general? Pride, thinking we know better then God or someone else who has given clear instruction for our safety, health, and well being.

Proverbs 11:2

When pride comes, then comes shame;
But with the humble is wisdom.

Proverbs 16:18

18 Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before a fall.

This is why in Luke 9:23 we are to to deny ourselves daily, and take up the cross to follow Him. Our ways are wicked and will lead only to destruction and death (an eternal separation from God).

23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.

A born again believer is a new man, a new creation, and you should see changes in their life as evidence of that.

Ephesians 4:17-24

17 This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; 19 who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

20 But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

2 Corinthians 5:17

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

Matthew 7:15-16

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles?

Galatians 5:22-26

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 
23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Fruits of the spirit are NOT produced by our flesh naturally. We are not naturally born with these traits. They are produced by and through the Holy Spirit from a relationship with Jesus Christ. Just as the Bible tells us we must be born again through water and spirit to see the kingdom of God.

Blog, Devotionals, Home, Life, Family, Encouragement

Daily Devo- Examine Your Heart

Proverbs 4:23 NIV

23 Above all else, guard your heart,
    for everything you do flows from it.

Our hearts are fragile and unfortunately pain is not something anyone can escape. At some point or another in your life, you will experience broken relationships. This is a direct effect from living in a broken world that is full of sin.

People who have been diagnosed with serious heart conditions need to change their unhealthy habits to help improve their overall heart health. Those that are diagnosed with ‘hardening or blockage or the arteries’ have recurring heart examinations with their doctors.

Just as a person with a heart problem diagnosed by a medical professional has to monitor their condition and identify any potential problematic areas, so should we on a spiritual level.

Proverbs 4:23 tells us to guard our heart that everything in life flows from it.

Think about that for a moment– EVERYTHING flows from it.

That means the good, the bad, the bitter, the joy, the pride and selfishness, and the love or hatred that comes out through our actions and words. To live a truly joyful and blessed life– we need to intentionally examine our hearts (with God’s help) to identify any areas in which we need to grow and change.

Lamentations 3:40 Let us search out and examine our ways, And turn back to the Lord;

Examine your heart and pray– ask God to show you the areas in which need attention. Ask Him for discernment with your actions and words, that He would expose to you when you are reacting out of the flesh and not according to His will.

Psalm 26:2 NIV Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind;

Take a look at these 8 potentially problematic areas in our hearts when examining our spiritual health

  1. Pride: Do I focus on how much I’ve been wronged? Do I have a problem admitting my faults?
  2. Faultfinding: Do I rehearse the faults of others in my life?
  3. Avoidance: Do I avoid being around people with whom I have conflict?
  4. Silence: Do I shut down and refuse to speak about my problems or feelings in a healthy way?
  5. Isolation: Do I withdraw from those around me emotionally?
  6. Unfaithfulness: Do I worry and fret of circumstances outside of my control?
  7. Hopelessness: Do I lack faith that God can and will work out my situation?
  8. Resentment/Bitterness: Do I hold on to my anger and hurt until it turns into resentment or bitterness towards the one who the conflict is with?

The heart examination only works if you are truthful with yourself and God about your feelings and results from ‘your exam’. Finding problematic areas in your heart does not mean you are a bad person or even that God is displeased with you. The condition of our heart and circumstances never surprise God– nor change His love for us.

True freedom and happiness in Christ comes when we acknowledge our problematic areas and seek to change them. Pulling each bad habit, thought, or opposition to God’s Word and will out by its roots and planting new healthy habits; creating new root systems based on His word.

Psalm 139: 23-24 NIV  Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Prayer

Heavenly Father,

Thank you Father for giving Your direction and help throughout every day of our lives. Lord, it is because of You and You alone that I am able to share Your love and truth with others. These words are not mine but Yours and I pray that all the glory be brought to Your kingdom. Lord I confess that I have not put much thought into my heart health on a spiritual level, forgive me God, for I only want to please You. Help me to search my heart Lord and expose to me problematic areas. Show me where I am lacking and help me to seek and understand Your truth and will. Lord, I pray You will guard my heart and give me discernment and peace, so that I will not hold on to hurt or anger and allow it to take root in my life. I pray for Your strength to help me to change from the inside out; owning my faults, and seeking to make each right according to Your will. In Jesus mighty name I pray
Amen

Blog, Devotionals, Home, Life, Family, Encouragement

Daily Devo- The Problem with Pride

There is a fine line between the balance of confidence and being prideful of oneself. Confidence is on the positive side- you need confidence to be successful. However, on the other hand, pride falls on the negative side- often leading to self-destruction.

We want to be confident in what God tells us to do and who He says we are- we should have a healthy and positive self-image. But we have to be careful not to get a ‘big head’ about it and become prideful.

Pride motivates people to do what is best for themselves- even at the expense of others. Pride tells people they deserve to be rewarded, promoted, or acknowledged in some way. Pride stops people from admitting their weakness and reaching out for help. Pride is the greatest factor that stops one from seeking counseling, because they do not think that they need anyone else’s help to fix their problem.

Some people are so prideful they refuse to consult God with anything in their lives- instead they prefer to trust their own abilities and instincts.

Some people will have a healthy balance of confidence that leads them to success and then become prideful. They begin behaving in a way as to say that no one else could ever do what they do- giving themselves an exaggerated sense of importance and becoming prideful.

Pride is the root expression of our sinful nature. Pride is so full of itself that it can not listen to any other voice that is contrary to its’ opinion.

Pride is used in a negative sense in both the Old Testament and New Testament. Pride was the reason Adam and Eve violated God’s command- and choose to eat from the tree of knowledge. (Genesis 3:4-6) It was also the cause that motivated Lucifer to rebel against God- known as the fall of Satan. (Isaiah 14:12-15) Pride is what motivated Lucifer- a powerful angel of God- to set his will against God’s- he is said to be the culprit of sin. (Ezekiel 28:11-19)

In the New Testament Paul warns against several different expressions of pride. Pride can be dangerous to non-Christians and new Christians alike- when seeking salvation. Salvation must be a work of God and can not be earned through our own works. Reliance on our self to accomplish salvation distorts the message all together.

Salvation is a gift from God. It is because of His works alone- through faith in Jesus Christ- that we can be saved. There is no room for self-achievement within it- so that no one can take pride or boast.

Paul said it like this in Ephesians 2:8-9
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

Humility overcomes Pride

Pride tells people that you do not need anyone’s help. Humility tells people that they can not do anything without God. Humility is always looking for someone to help and listen to, not for someone to talk to. Humility is near to those who are hurting, focusing on the need.

Humility reminds people that God is the source of all gifts and abilities- that God can equip those that He calls. Pride is the arrogant refusal to allow God to be God. Pride tells people I am something without God- Humility says I am something because of God and nothing without Him.

How do you trade your pride in for humility?

Most importantly you will need a healthy view of God. Understanding who He is and who we are with and without Him. Spending time in His word- praying- and worshipping Him through all seasons of life.

Stop focusing so much on your own needs and wants and start praying and asking God how you can serve someone else’s needs. Be on guard- keep your eyes and ears open to situations around you through-out the day- purposely SEEK to bless and lift up others.

Give God thanks in ALL things- big or small- He has blessed you with them all!


Prayer

Heavenly Father,

Thank you Lord for your many gifts and blessings. Thank you for being a patient Father who is quick to forgive. Forgive us for having prideful attitudes and for relying on our own ways and our own abilities. God I pray You fill us up with Your Holy Spirit- we want to be confident in You and not prideful in our own ways. I pray that You would help each of us to be humble and look to help others. I pray You use us to lead others to Your love. God I pray for each person that does not know you personally- that they would seek You and find You. I pray for our nation as a whole remove the pride in us all and replace it with humility and confidence in You. It is in Jesus mighty name I pray.

Amen

Blog, Home, Life, Family, Encouragement

3 Mental Barriers preventing a relationship with Christ

In times like we are in today, when the world is turned upside down, as fear and panic are being pumped through the media due to the Covid-19 Pandemic- the nation and its people need to be running to God, not from Him.

I find myself in an awe of disbelief when reading comments and posts from local news stations. The amount of people that are belittling, mocking, and/or denying God and His almighty power is shocking to say the least.

This is a time to stick together, to rise stronger than ever before, to call upon our Savior for help, and to spread the love and truth of Jesus Christ.

Easter was this past Sunday and I don’t find it coincidental that at a time like this we are all having to “carry our own cross.” God is faithful, trustworthy, powerful, and He is the only hope we have to rise above and be saved from our own sinful nature.

It’s hard for me to read comments from others that are bashing and mocking God and His power, when I myself have seen God at work first hand in my life. This brought me to the question of why.

Why are people fighting His love, His power, and His ever present help when we are all in need of something?

The world may be full of uncertainty right now, but one thing remains certain and that is God’s plan. God has already won the battle- He already knows how all of this will end.

So what is holding us back from the relationship with God?

These 3 mental barriers likely have a lot to do with the “why” in your life.

1. Pride
Thinking I got this, I can figure this out, I don’t need anyone’s help

2. Fear
Thinking about what others will think of you, fear you will turn into a “Jesus freak”, fear God will not want a relationship with someone like you

3. Bitterness
Holding on to hurt from the past, growing your heart hard from all of life’s disappointments, and closing your mind and heart off from allowing anything new or positive in

Can you relate to any of the above mental barriers?

I know that even as a devout Christian and follower of Jesus, when I find myself having a “dark season” full of problems and uncertainty, I can usually take a look at my inner being and recent interactions or lack of with God and pinpoint exactly which of the three barriers above has me blocked from overcoming and moving forward.

I’m encouraging you today to do a soul search on yourself.

Do any or all of the above mental barriers exist within you? Are you avoiding a relationship with God because of one or more of these barriers?

Maybe these barriers exist within other relationships as well, not just your relationship with God.

It’s time to break the barriers!

Seek God’s word and His guidance- read the Bible, starting in the areas that you struggle with most and Pray, Pray, Pray!

God can and will redeem and restore you. It takes time and fervent prayer but God is faithful- He is a promise keeper!

Prayer

Heavenly Father,

Thank you Lord for all You do and all You are. Thank you for this message and for Your promises. Lord, I am a sinner and I need Your help, I can’t do this on my own. Lord save me from my sinful nature and wrap my in Your arms. I struggle with mental barriers of pride, fear, and bitterness. Lord, renew my mind, remove the fear, pride, and bitterness. God, show me if there are barriers I am not recognizing. Lead me and guide my paths. God, I need You, I want to run to You first, I want to feel Your love surround me. Lord, deliver me from the enemy and protect my mind, body, and soul. I pray for good health, restoration, and protection over myself, my family, and every nation effected by this pandemic. God we know you have the whole world in your hands and do not wish for any to perish but all to have everlasting life. I pray all the glory be given to You and Your kingdom in Jesus mighty name I pray.

Amen


Daily Bible Verses

D.B.V.- January 29, 2018

Ecclesiastes 7:8- The end of a thing is better than its beginning; The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.

Life, Family, Encouragement

Scripture on Lying

*Revelation 21:8- But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.

*Proverbs 14:5- A faithful witness does not lie, But a false witness will utter lies.

*Proverbs 14:25- A true witness delivers souls, But a deceitful witness delivers lies.

*Proverbs 19:5- A false witness shall not go unpunished, And he who speaks lies will not escape.

*Proverbs 19:9- A false witness will not go unpunished, And he who speaks lies will perish.

*Romans 3:4- Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar. As it is written:
“That you may be justified in Your words, And may overcome when You are judged.” 

*John 8:44- You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.

*Exodus 20:16- You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

*Proverbs 6:16-20- There are six things the Lord hates, Yes seven are an abomination to Him;  A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, A heart the devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren. My son, keep your father’s command, and do not forsake the law of your mother.

*Note: Pride is at the root of lying. As most will lie to be perceived in a better light by whomever they are speaking. In fact, Pride could be considered the root of all sin. Wanting to rely on our own mindset and understanding doing what we “feel” is right, instead of what God has shown us and instructed us to do.