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Surviving or Thriving?

Are you living your life feeling like you are barely surviving or are you living a thriving life through a relationship with Jesus Christ?

We have to allow God to work in us just as much as we want Him to work through us in helping others. We cannot pour from an empty cup. A lack of spiritual guidance through God’s Word will often leave us feeling like we are barely surviving this crazy thing called life.

FaithAnchored Ministries podcast FaithAnchored Speaks- Anchored in Truth Podcast past episodes are now on YouTube!

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.

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The Poison of Bitter Fruit

Matthew 7:15-20 NKJV

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 thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

Life has a way of handing each of us less than ideal circumstances when we least expect it. These difficult life events can have an astounding impact on our character and the results we produce throughout life. Our circumstances, trials, and tribulations can make us better or bitter.

Just as the scripture above states, a good tree (a person who is spiritually sound, rooted in the truth, and connected to God) bears good fruit, but a bad tree (a person who is spiritually lost, rooted in the ways of the world, and disconnected from God) bears bad fruit.

A good tree cannot bear bad fruit just as a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.

In Galatians 5:19-21 we are warned that those who produce works of the flesh (bad fruit) will not inherit the kingdom of God.

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

The Bible tells us what the fruits of the Spirit (good fruit) are in Galatians 5:22-23 and then warns us again in Galatians 5:24-26 to not walk or live outside of the Spirit as this produces bad fruit.

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.

Our purpose and role in the world is to be a good tree that consistently produces good fruit; sharing the love of Christ with every person we encounter daily.

If we are attempting to carry our burdens alone, apart from God’s help, power, and authority, we will quickly begin to see the poison of our bad fruit seeping into the lives of those around us.

Maybe you are thinking; that is me, the fruits I am producing are not good. Perhaps you think I am ‘mostly good’ but I do not think you need God to be a ‘healthy tree that produces healthy good fruits’. Some of you may even be thinking I have accepted Christ that makes me a good tree only producing good fruit.

We need to look at the details of what make a tree ‘good and healthy’, producing good fruit. When comparing to our spiritual life a good tree would need particular care that a bad tree would not have.

A good tree would first start off as a ‘good seed’ in this case it starts with the acceptance of Jesus Christ into your heart as your Lord and Savior. From this seed, the tree begins to sprout roots which will be what supports and strengthens the tree to be able to stand throughout its life.

Once the tree has a set of strong roots it slowly begins to sprout up towards the sun, in attempt to get the light and nutrients it needs to continue to live, grow and thrive. Another important part of a ‘good tree’ (spiritually speaking or literally speaking) is proper care. Seedlings and full grown trees alike must be watered daily. The water in our spiritual life is the constant pouring in to our hearts of God’s word.

As the tree grows and branches begin to form we must prune out anything that is harmful or hindering it’s growth. Sometimes pruning is necessary in our life as we grow spiritually, to eliminate possible trouble areas that threaten the quality of our fruits and our overall tree health.

Tree Lifecycle

Good seed – water/light for nutrients -roots form and tree is growing – branches sprout – pruning to shape the tree and remove anything threatening its fruit production – finally produces good fruit consistently

A quick overview of a solid healthy good fruit producing tree would look like this spiritually.

  • Person accepts Jesus Christ into their hearts as their Lord and Savior. (the good seed)
  • Then the person would water their seed daily by reading scripture and seeking God daily; inputting the necessary nutrients needed to ensure the tree has strong roots and continues to grow. (the water/nutrients)
  • The spiritual tree forms with roots deep in biblical morals, beliefs, and truth. From there the tree continues to be watered, the tree continues to grow, and branches begin to sprout.
  • At this point the tree has a stable core and root system. Enabling it to stand and withstand any storm that comes its way. The branches are forming and it is time to prune out any branches that are hindering our growth. (removing and healing parts of our life that are damaged and/or sinful to ensure our tree stays strong and healthy preparing to produce good fruit.
  • Finally good fruit is produced from a good and healthy tree: love, peace, joy, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control

I am pretty confident in saying most people have heard the saying “you reap what you sow”. In other words you do good you get good; you do bad you get bad. I could not agree more; however, I would like everyone to look into this claim a little deeper.

The fruit we produce are the seeds we are sowing into the lives of those around us, including those that we love. Children, spouses, siblings, parents, and grandparents are some of the most influenced by the seeds we sow.

Now that we have seen what it looks like to be a good tree bearing good fruit, take a look at what it may look like to be a ‘bad tree’ bearing ‘bad fruit’.

  • Failure to accept God or denial of His existence. (bad seed)
  • Failure to water and give seed the proper nutrients to grow healthy, strong, good roots. (no biblical truth inputted into their lives)
  • Tree sprouts but the core and roots are weak and unable to hold the tree firmly upright. Causing it to sway, crack, and feel the pressures of life’s storms. (core and root system is not built on sound truth, leaving it vulnerable when difficulties strike.)
  • Tree begins to form branches and preparing for fruit, however the tree cannot hold the weight of the newly formed branches (life circumstances, pressure, and emotions) and we do not have the proper tools to ‘prune’ the tree. (leaving the damage and sinful ways still attached to the trunk/core; weighing it down causing its fruit to be far less than ideal.
  • The tree produces bad fruit; fruit that is damaged, diseased, unhealthy, and destructive. The Bible gives us the examples of bad fruits; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like.

When we are living a life that is not centered around God and rooted in the truth (His Word-the Bible) the fruits (actions and results) we are producing lead to our own self destruction and it plants ‘bad seeds’ in the lives of those we care about.

Just as the good fruit plants seeds of hope, love and truth. Bad fruit will poison the life of those around us causing bad seeds to take root in their lives or cause their good fruit to transform to fleshly bitter fruit.

It is true that we act, speak, and even think like those who we are spending majority of our time with. What we take in, is what we put out. This is why it is key to plant the good seed of salvation into your life and properly care for it by watering it with God’s Word.

The great news is it doesn’t matter how big your ‘bad fruit tree’ is; there is ALWAYS the option to stop feeding the bad fruit tree and plant a new good seed, the seed of salvation and truth in Jesus Christ. Just as a typical fruit tree will die off if you stop watering it; so will your internal spiritual fruit tree.

Reflection

Everyday we make the choice as to which tree we will water and the type of ‘fruit’ we will produce. Look within yourself and think of the ways you act, speak, and think.

What kind of fruit are you TRULY producing?

  • Is it positive?
  • Is it God centered and truth based?
  • Does it line up with the fruits of the spirit in Galatians 5:22-26?

Is your inner spiritual tree a ‘good tree producing good fruit’ or ‘is it a bad tree producing bad fruit’?

  • What kind of tree do you want to have?
  • What changes if any do you feel you need to make to produce ‘good fruit’?
  • What areas of your life do you think could use some ‘pruning’ (perhaps an area you struggle in)?

Call to Action

Do you want to start over and plant the ‘good seed’ of salvation within you?

  • Say a prayer for salvation and accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.
  • Start watering the seed daily by reading your Bible.
  • Pray and Study God’s Word to ensure your new tree is well rooted and strong.
  • Seek God’s guidance on any ‘pruning’ or changes that you may need to make to protect your tree from producing bitter, fleshly fruit.

Prayer

Heavenly Father,

Thank you Lord for sending Your Son to save us, to live within us, and enable us to produce good and healthy fruit in our lives and those around us. Lord God, forgive me for not properly caring for my inner spiritual tree, for not studying Your Word and seeking Your guidance in all I do. Lord if there are any areas in my life that I need to prune out for the sake of Your kingdom and to ensure I am producing good fruit and sowing good seeds into the lives of my loved ones. Lord God, help me to know where I may have poisoned others fruit by my bitterness and show me if and how I can sow new good seeds.

I pray that each person who reads this blog has open ears, open eyes, and most importantly an open heart to hear Your truth. I pray that You would help each person to truly seek their heart and have discernment on the type of fruit they are truly sowing into the lives of others. I pray that they would feel Your love and the Holy Spirit would move within them and help them to take the step of faith to accept the seed of salvation if they have not already and to ignite the desire to water it with the truth in God’s Word.

I pray You will bless each and every person who seeks You with all their heart and lead their steps in the way you want them to go. It is in Jesus mighty name I pray.

Amen

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Daily Devo- 6 Characteristics of Strong Families

Think about the last time you remember facing a situation that threatened your life– what were you last thoughts? Were you fearful for your job– bank accounts– status– or dirty dishes in the sink?

Probably not! Aside from our relationship with Jesus the next important thing in our life is family. Our family is our most important responsibility, achievement, and legacy. What we teach our children daily– through our words and actions– is crucial. The quality of family is important to our happiness, emotional well-being, and mental health.

Happy strong families have these 6 characteristics in common.

Commitment

The warm fuzzy feeling and loving environment in a home comes from commitment. It offers a shelter for family members against the destructive feelings of fear, anxiety, and loneliness.

Ephesians 5:25-28 NKJV

The heart of the commitment to a family unit is the dedication to the marriage relationship. God sees the commitment so important that He strongly condemns any violation of that marital relationship. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.

Commitment means to be there and never abandon each other– doing whatever it takes to love one another as we should.

Appreciation

Expressing appreciation and affection strengthen relationships and build strong families. God has made it known that He wants to be appreciated. One example in the Bible tells of Jesus hearing the pleas of ten lepers who cried out for healing– and He healed all ten. However, only one of them came to say thank you. Jesus was pleased with the one that came back to give Him thanks and glory– He was displeased by the nine who did not.
(Luke 17:11-19)

Members in strong families express appreciation for even the small things. Showing gratitude– pointing out the good qualities in one another– encouraging each other– and sharing humor and affection.

Communication

Every person needs to know they are part of a whole. No one wants to feel alone. Elijah was becoming in low spirits when he was the only one standing up for God. Feeling alone carries its own mixture of feelings of fear and hopelessness. God assured Elijah that he was not alone.

Healthy communication is key in the process of having the sense of belonging– it helps us to feel connected to one another by exchanging information. Healthy communication also helps us with problem solving and conflict resolution in constructive ways.

Quality Time

Typically our best memories are from simple quality time spent with our family and friends– time that did not require a bunch of money or some form of elaborate plans.

Solomon warns us in Ecclesiastes that the energy, time, and talents that we extend to things that are not of God’s will is a waste of time. Members of strong families spend a lot of time together playing, talking, laughing, having fun, and just hanging out. We need large quantities of good and healthy quality time together for families to flourish.

Our time is in high demand, which is what makes the quality time together such a precious gift.

Coping with Stress and Crises

People who are part of strong families are not exempt from stress or crises– they face the same daily challenges and frustrations as everyone else. The difference is that those in strong families call upon their commitment to one another and their communication abilities to resolve the issue. They manage to find good in the situation regardless if the only good they see is having each other. They rely heavily on their faith in God through times of difficulty.

Spiritual Well-Being

The importance of having a spiritual center in God cannot be stressed enough. Strong families rely upon the power above and beyond themselves– it is the glue that keeps them strong and holds them together. Jesus talks about how important it is to have a foundation in Christ.

Matthew 7:24-15

24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

Spiritual foundations give meaning and purpose to our lives– giving us freedom from fear, guilt, anxiety, and low self-esteem– as well as giving us hope, encouragement, and a confident outlook on life.

Spiritual foundations are the basis of all the guidelines we follow for daily living. Honesty, forgiveness, patience, kindness, and helping others. Families that have strong spiritual well-being know that God is there watching, guiding, and helping them every step of the way. They know they can turn to God at any time for help. (James 1:5)

When people believe in these basic truths and abide in God’s Word– they know their life has direction and with God’s help, they can know what is right and wrong. They have found value in putting God’s Word into practice.

James 1:22 tells us that we are called to ‘be doers of the Word, and not only hearers’

Prayer

Heavenly Father,

Thank you Lord for this message. Open our hearts and minds to hear your Word and your direction. Thank you for giving us the tools to build strong foundations that no storm can destroy. Forgive me for not seeking Your word and direction in my life and for my family from the beginning. Restore the relationships that have been affected by my lack of faith and willingness to stand upon your truth. Help me to grow in the six characteristics for strong families. God, we need your guidance and direction to know how to guide our children in the right direction– passing along Your foundational truths to building strong families. It is in Jesus name I pray.

Amen

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Daily Devo- Spiritual Formation

Salvation is a new beginning for our life and should not be viewed as an event that has occurred. It’s a starting point for our reborn spirits and we are called to grow in our salvation– to deepen our relationship with Christ.

Just as babies are not meant to stay small and helpless– we are not meant to stay spiritually immature. As new believers, we are babies in God’s family and should be growing in our relationship with Him.

As a part of our fleshly desires we look forward to when we can start driving– go to college– get married– or grow up in general. We should also feel this excitement and look forward to growing in our spiritual life as well. Seeking His direction and will for our life as we study His word (the Bible).

The process of which we strive to become more like Jesus in our attitudes, characteristics, thinking, and actions is called spiritual formation.

It’s not enough to simply believe in Jesus– we are called to live, act, and think like Jesus. Spiritual formation should effect everything in our life– health- finances- family- relationships- occupation- social issues- and death.

Spiritual formation comes with being in a place where God- His love- His grace- and His forgiveness can work within us. It is important to consistently surrender ourselves, our time, and our wills to God. This is not done by trying harder but by having an appetite for the things of God.

How do you start growing and forming an appetite in Christ?

4 areas of Spiritual Communication

  • We speak to God through prayer (Philippians 4:6-7)
  • God speaks to us through His word-the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16)
  • We speak to other believers about Christ (Hebrews 10:24-25)
  • We speak to non-believers about Christ (Romans 1:16)

Prayer

Heavenly Father,

Thank you God for the gift of spiritual rebirth and salvation. Lord I pray that You will help me to have an appetite for Your word and to grow in You spiritually. Lord, I want You to direct my path and lead my life in all areas. I want to grow in all four areas of spiritual communication and fulfill my calling. Lord help me to live, act, and think like Jesus putting all my trust in You. In Jesus mighty name I pray.

Amen

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Daily Devo’s Coming Soon!

Here we are in 2020, life is certainly anything but “normal”. There is a world pandemic known as the coronavirus or Covid-19 happening, there are civil rights movements for “Black Lives Matter” and the LQBTQ Community Pride, there is rioting and violence through-out the streets all across America, some are protesting to defund the police, and we have a never seen before divide in America over the upcoming election, the good and evil in the world surrounding us is butting heads. Good being called evil and evil consider good and acceptable.

With all of the misconstrued ideas and information, I thought going back to the basics of Spiritual Life was necessary. It seems as if we get wrapped up in the world around us and are hanging on every word from the media and we neglect to look for the answers in the Bible, to recognize the bigger picture, and learn to look within ourselves.

Let’s take a look at what has lead us up to the current situations in the world today.

In order to do this. we must start at the beginning, which is why I have decided to do daily devotional’s– a short reading each day to help you grow in understanding and truth.

The core of the Christian faith is belief that one God revealed Himself in the flesh, as Jesus Christ and throughout the Bible- that He and His word are alive today.

Prayer

Heavenly Father,

Lord God, I thank You for Your guidance and mercy over my life. I thank You for using me to help spread Your truth and love. I pray You prepare the hearts of every person who reads the daily devotionals and other articles on this blog. God open their heart and minds to Your truth. Use me, oh Lord and help me to spread Your word in truth and a way that is understanding to all. God, I thank You for all You do and all You are. I pray You will protect us all in the uncertain days ahead. Lord, we trust in You alone and take refuge beneath Your wings. I thank You for being a forgiving and gracious God, in Jesus mighty name I pray.

Amen