I have to brag on my daughter:  she is a giver!  From the time she was barely a toddler to now a teenager, she's always been a giver.  My office is wall papered with her drawings she's given me.  I drink out of a coffee mug that she gave me.  My wife and I are constantly finding love notes and small gifts left around the house from her.  And it brings her so much joy to give!  It should bring us joy when we give to God and others!  

In II Corinthians 9:6-8 we're given some realities about giving.  Let's look:

  1. You reap what you sow and only how much you sow.  If you plant an apple seed, you're going to get an apple tree!  We would be foolish to expect a rose bush if we plant an apple seed!  In Galatians 6:8 we are told that if we sow seeds of our selfish nature, we will reap death.  If we sow seeds of the things of God, we will reap eternal life.  In II Corinthians 9:6 we're told that whoever sows sparingly will reap sparingly and whoever sows generously will reap generously.  That makes sense.  If we want a field of corn we must plant a field of seeds!  We are foolish to think we can give of ourselves little and and yet reap lots.  If you want to reap many blessings, you must sow many acts of giving.  
  2. Giving is a thought out decision based on love.  We shouldn't give because we're guilted in to it or for any other reason than because we want to express our love.  If you don't believe giving is an act of love, consider this:  Several years ago my daughter needed open-heart surgery.  When the cardiologist diagnosed her with ASD and told us he could correct the issue, we didn't ask "how much is this going to cost us?"  Our response was "How soon can you get her in to surgery?!"  Our love for our daughter overshadowed any thought of the expenses the surgery was going to incur.  Fast forward, my daughter's pet rat got sick.  Believe it or not, I called the vet and was informed that for several hundred dollars we could have the rat seen, diagnosed, and treated.  Hundreds of dollars?!?!  Our love for the rat was certainly different than our love for our daughter.  Because we didn't love the same, we didn't invest the same.  We made the rat comfortable its last few days on earth.  Giving is an act of love.  What we love and hold dear, we invest in.  Jesus said to love God and love others.  We should give to others because of our love for God and man.  II Corinthians 9:7 says we should give based on what we have decided in our heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion.  
  3. God loves it when we give with joy in our heart.  II Corinthians 9:7 goes on to say "God loves a cheerful giver."  When we give, it should be done with the same spirit my daughter gives to us.  She can't wait for us to open her gifts.  She's eager to please and it brings her so much joy to bless us.  Our Father delights in our joy of giving to Him and in His Name. 
  4. God gives to us so we can give to others.  We're blessed to be a blessing.  II Corinthians 9:8 says God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work."   God loves you.  He gives to you because He loves you.  But He also gives to you so you can give to others.  When we do that with joy in our heart, it pleases Him and positions us to receive even more blessings from Him.
  5. If you have a need, plant a seed!  Do you need encouragement?  Be an encourager!  Do you need a friend?  Be a friend!  Do you need financial help?  Give to others in need!  When you ask God for something, tell Him how what you are asking for will be a blessing to someone else.  

What seeds will you sow?  For more on this, watch the full message and make sure you "like" me on my Dr Jeremy Gates Facebook page!  

Several months ago I was helping some friends clean out a house.  The lady that lived in the house had to be moved to an assisted living home.  She had been widowed for a number of years and the house was full of reminders of her late husband and their marriage of over 60 years.  

After several hours of hard labor, we were about ready to wrap things up and leave when I noticed some items left in a loft area above the garage.  I grabbed a ladder and climbed to see what was there.  Way in the back, almost escaping my view, I noticed something.  I reached for my flash light and discovered it was an old footlocker.  I brought it down and opened it.  What I saw was amazing!  The footlocker was filled with old love letters the man had written his wife while overseas during WWII.  I also found pictures of them and even his old military uniform.  For several minutes it was like stepping back in time.  What was almost lost and forgotten had been found.  I was able to pass these treasures on to the family who was unaware of this footlocker.  

Jesus tells 3 stories in a row about lost things: a lost sheep (Luke 15:1-7), a lost coin (Luke 15:8-10, and a lost son (Luke 15:11-32).  In the story of the lost sheep, the shepherd leaves the flock of ninety-nine to go and find the one missing.  In the story of the lost coin, the woman empties her house until she finds the coin.  In the story of the lost son, the father gave to the son his inheritance only to be disrespected.  After squandering all of his money, the son comes home in hopes of being able to work as a servant for his father.  Instead, the father welcomes him home as his son and throws a banquet in his honor!

In each of the stories the object lost was something precious to the owner.  The owner did what was necessary to find the lost object.  The same is true for you and me...

There are some beautiful takeaways from this:

  1. God loves you and created you so He could have a relationship with you.
  2. Because of sin, you were lost.  Because of the mankind's fall, your heart which was created to be filled with love for God and others instead was filled with love of self and selfish desires.
  3. God, the Creator, the Owner, did what was necessary to find you.  He came in the flesh (John 1:14), lived a perfect life for us to model, and then laid down His life for you to pay the penalty of your sin (Romans 6:23; John 3:16).  He then rose from the grave, conquering death and sin, and offers to you the same victory over that which would seek to destroy you.
  4. You have to accept His gift.  You have to come to a place in your life where you admit you've messed up (Romans 3:23), believe that Jesus died for you (Romans 6:23) and confess that belief to Him (Romans 10:9).  
  5. You belong to Jesus!  When you receive Him as your Savior, you belong to Him (I Corinthians 6:19-20)!  You are valuable.  You matter.  

Something is only as valuable as one is willing to pay for it.  Jesus paid for you with His life!  You belong to Him!  For more on this, watch the full message.  

Happy New Year everyone!  2017 is here!  Most of us think about making some changes in our life during this time of the year.  Some call it New Year's resolutions.  I don't know about you, but that word congers up some unpleasant memories of my past failures.

 

So this year instead of making resolutions, I've made some new, fresh commitments.  Making a commitment seems to make it "stick" because I'm making a commitment to myself and to the Lord.  

If you've ever played Tug-O-War, you were either on the winning team or the losing team.  The losing team is always pulled into the mud pit in the middle.  No fun.  This year, I don't want you to be on the losing team.  I don't want you to be pulled into the mud pit.  

We can read about a spiritual tug-o-war in the Bible.  In Romans 7:21-25 we read where the Apostle Paul struggled in his faith.  He desired to do good, but acknowledged that evil was always close by tempting him.  He confesses that this spiritual tug-o-war leaves him feeling like a wretched man!  How does he resolve this?  He gives thanks to God for grace given through Jesus Christ.  That, my friend, is our hope!  Not that we will live perfectly.  Not that we won't be pulled into the mud pit from time to time, but that when we mess up, we are covered by God's love and grace, forgiven and allowed to move forward with a fresh start!  

So how can we avoid the mud pit?  I Corinthians 16:13-14 gives us a simple yet powerful formula:  "Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.  Do everything in love."  To be on guard is to be aware you have an enemy who comes only to steal, to kill, and to destroy you (John 10:10).  Living with an awareness is not living in fear.  We aren't to fear our enemy, the forces of evil, but we must live with an awareness of our enemy so we can properly pray for protection and prepare for battle (Ephesians 6).  To stand firm is to not be swayed by anything that would compete for your obedience to God's Word.  To be courageous is to have the spiritual "guts" to do the right thing even when it's not the easy thing.  To be strong is to have the attitude you can do all things through Christ who is your source of strength (Philippians 4:13).  Doing everything in love keeps your motives in check.  Love wins.  Love never fails (I Corinthians 13:8).  

Finally, let me encourage you with this from God's Word.  Don't live in the past.  Quit condemning yourself over past failures.  There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1).  Self-condemnation will get you nowhere.  It will only leave you in the mud pit.  Embrace the "now" that God has given you.  Anticipate with excitement the future that God has for you.  In Philippians 3:12-14 the Apostle Paul writes, "Not that I have already obtained all of this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."  

Make sure you check out my Dr. Jeremy Gates FaceBook page.  I'll be posting more videos and challenges.  I'd love to hear from you.  ALSO, for more on this article, watch the full message!

 

 

For many of you, when I say the name Job you immediately think of a man in the Bible that lost everything and eventually was blessed because he wouldn't forsake God.  The book of Job in the Bible is a fascinating story.  But if all we ever knew about Job was what we read in the very first verse of the very first chapter, we would know enough to admire this man.  

In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job.  This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil (Job 1:1).  Notice he was blameless.  He was honest.  He had a holy and healthy fear and respect for Almighty God.  He stayed away from things connected to evil.  In other words, Job had integrity.  

Oh how we lack integrity in our culture today.  We've renamed sin so that a lie is no longer a lie but a slight fudging of details in order to preserve feelings or gain acceptance.  Adultery is no longer adultery but an innocent little fling on the side.  Stealing is no longer stealing but rather a taking of what was rightfully mine in the first place.  However, when we have steadfast integrity, we begin to affect people for Jesus and we build a Godly legacy to leave for our children and our children's children.

Some truths about integrity:

  1. Integrity is maintaining a Godly perspective on everything that happens in our life.  It's easy to get self-absorbed and lose sight of what matters in life.  When tough times come it's easy to feel sorry for ourselves and sulk instead of seeing the potential for our situation to strengthen our faith, teach us more about God and ourselves, and see the greater purpose and plan that God has for us.  Integrity demands that we abide in Jesus and not doubt God's Holy Word.  Integrity avoids arrogance and pride and keeps a healthy perspective on who God is and who we are. 
  2. Integrity is not about perfection; it's about character.  In other words it's not about living a sinless life.  It's about recognizing one's own sin, turning from that sin, and facing the consequences of sin in a way that is honorable and open to God's will.  Many times when we mess up, we simply want to confess our sin, seek forgiveness and move on as if nothing happened.  I was once counseling someone who had broken the law.  He was arrested and issued a court date.  In the mean time, he recognized his need for Jesus and got saved.  Several months later in court he was sentenced: a hefty fine, community service and mandatory rehab.  Initially my friend was upset.  He thought once he became a Christian all of his problems would magically disappear.  Not so.  Eventually he faced his sentence with integrity and God began to teach this young man valuable life lessons.  Today that man in influencing many for Jesus Christ and helping those who struggle with the same things he struggled with.  
  3. Integrity opens the door for us to advance the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  When others see us walking in truth and having integrity, they respect us and will be much more apt to listen to us.  We have awesome opportunities to influence those around us when we walk with integrity.  

In this day when steadfast integrity is so rare, will you walk with integrity?  Will you hold steadfast to living a life that others see Christ in you?  For more on this, watch the full message.

 

As a nation, we are coming out of another heated political season.  The Democrats have their agenda and ideas on how our nation should function.  The Republicans, likewise, have their agenda and ideas.  Other political parties and independents all have what they believe to be solutions to

challenges that face our nation.  In a season where the focus seems to be on man's solution to domestic and world problems, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that as Christians we don't have to worry about what may or may not happen.  Our faith lies not in man, but in God who has proven His character, His love, His goodness, His grace, and His mercy.  

If we're not careful, when we face tough situations, we will create, orchestrate, and then manipulate our plans without ever consulting God.  There's nothing wrong with hard work and creativity, but those should never be a substitute for prayer.  And because God's plan is tailor-made for each person, each family, and each church family, and not a one-size-fits-all, it only makes spiritual sense to pray and seek God in all things (Jeremiah 29:13).

In Luke 11:1 we read where Jesus' disciples witnessed Him praying.  Afterwards one of the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray!  Indeed they had witnessed the miracles and teachings of Jesus.  They were there when He fed the thousands with a few fish and loaves of bread.  They were there when He raised dead people back to life.  They saw Jesus heal sick people and turn water to wine.  No doubt the disciples connected the dots between Jesus' prayers and His displayed power.  The Bible says in James 5:16 that the prayers of a righteous person is powerful and effective!  Because of this realization, the disciples wanted to learn to pray!  As Christ followers, we should desire the same.  Let me give you some truths about prayer:

  1. Prayer is an invitation for God to get involved in your life!  It brings God-solutions to man's impossibilities.  God won't force His way into your life, but by praying you are asking the God of the universe to step into your world and work for your good.  
  2. Prayer is an invincible weapon in spiritual warfare.  In Ephesians 6 we are told that we are in a spiritual battle against the forces of evil.  Therefore, we are to put on the full armor of God, which is salvation through Jesus Christ, and then pray!  Remember, when you pray, not only does God hear, but the forces of hell hear you praying to the One True Power, the Living God of the Universe!  
  3. Prayer is an act of humility.  When we pray and seek God's will, we are admitting that we are limited in our knowledge, power, and abilities.  We're not big enough, smart enough, or capable enough to handle things on our own.
  4. Prayer is an act of faith.  When we pray we are also believing God will hear us and answer us according to His will.  When we submit to His plans we are putting our total faith and trust in Him.  
  5. Prayer may not always change your circumstances, but it always changes you!  Prayer keeps our hearts positioned to receive God's answers.  Prayer keeps our hearts free from hate and our spirits free from pride.  When Jesus told us to pray for those who persecute us, He knew that it was spiritual impossible to hate someone and pray for them at the same time.  The more we pray, the better we are positioned to accept God's will for our life.  

So how do we pray?  Jesus gave us the formula in Matthew 6:9-13.  When we pray we should:

  1. Recognize God's sovereignty and praise Him for who He is.
  2. Pray for His will to be done above all else.
  3. Pray for daily provision.
  4. Pray for forgiveness of your sin and for the strength to forgive others.
  5. Pray for protection from the evil one.  

There is power in prayer!  In prayer we learn to trust God more and more!  For more on this, watch the full message!  

Right now you are in a battle!  And while you may quickly agree, let me assure you that your battle is not with another person.  According to the Bible, your fight is with the spiritual forces of evil (Ephesians 6:12).  Yet so many people waste time fighting with others while ignoring how to have victory over the real enemy.  

Jesus called our enemy a thief who comes only to steal, to kill, and to destroy human life (John 10:10).  The good news is we don't have to be victims of this enemy.  Because of the redemptive work of Jesus on the cross, you and I can experience victory in our fight against evil.  In James 4:7 we're given the formula for success in spiritual warfare.  

James 4:7, "Submit yourselves, then, to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you."  Look closely.  There is an order given.  Submission comes before resisting.  We must first submit to God.  In other words, we must live with a desire to do His will over our own.  We must die to selfishness.  We must forgive others and relinquish our perceived right to hate others or seek revenge.  Submitting to God also means we have to acknowledge that the Bible is correct and that we are, indeed, in a spiritual battle.  Acknowledging the battle prepares us to take action to secure victory.  If we ignore the reality of this battle, our ignorance will lead us to defeat.  

Resisting the devil comes after submitting to God!  Resisting means we identify the "footholds" or "gates" we've given the enemy into our life.  Once we identify the attitude, the habit, the sin, we can resist it.  Resisting the enemy means forsaking our own will at times we'd like to indulge our flesh.  Resisting means forgiving others when we'd like to seek revenge.  Resisting means holding our tongue when we'd like to blast someone with our words.  Resisting means getting help in conquering the addiction that has stolen from us.

In addition, if you want victory over evil in your life, you must pray.  The Bible tells us in Ephesians 6:13-18 to put on the full armor of God which is wrapping yourself in the person of Jesus Christ.  With the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth, the shoes of the Gospel, the shield of faith, and the sword of the spirit, you are covered in Christ.  When the enemy looks at you, he doesn't see you.  When you are fully dressed in God's armor, the enemy is forced to see Jesus, the One who defeated the him on the cross!  After suiting up, we are to pray.  Pray for yourself.  Pray for others.  Pray for wisdom.  Pray for God's protection. Pray for people who you perceive as your enemy.  You'll be amazed how prayer changes YOU!  

Don't walk around in defeat!  You can be victorious through Jesus Christ.  For more on this, watch the full message.  

Did you know one of the most recorded songs in history is Amazing Grace?  And while it's a great song, have you ever stopped to ponder what is so amazing about grace?  Grace is a concept that we can partially understand, but to fully understand it, we have to look at our sinful self and a righteous King Jesus.

I want you to think about one person you are having a hard time forgiving.  Now, with their name in mind, answer this: did Jesus die for that person's sin?  Did His grace extend to them or stop with you?  Several weeks ago as I was reading I Timothy 1:12-17, God revealed an amazing concept to me and I want to share it with you.  But first, take a few moments to read the passage from I Timothy.  

In this passage the Apostle Paul is saying that he was the worst of all sinners, and yet Jesus poured out His grace on Paul's life.  Jesus saved Paul so that others could see that salvation is for all, even the worst of the worst sinners.  In Paul's early life he was named Saul.  He was so zealous for Judaism that he participated in killing Christians.  On his way to persecute Christians in Damascus, he was blinded and Jesus revealed Himself to Saul.  Because of that experience, Saul trusted Jesus, received a new heart, a new life's direction, and even a new name!  Reflecting on that experience, in this passage Paul is saying, "If grace was for me, it's for anybody!"

As I was soaking on this passage, this is what the Lord brought to me: unless I see myself as the worst of sinners, in need of God's grace, I will have a hard time advancing the Gospel and extending grace to others.  Don't miss that!  Unless I see myself as the worst of all, I will be tempted to have spiritual pride or somehow reason that there are those not worthy of God's forgiveness.  

So let me ask you again, who is the one person you are having a hard time forgiving?  Who is the one person you are having a difficult time extending grace to?  With that person in mind, let me give you some action steps on how you can successfully extend grace and find forgiveness in your heart:

  1. You have to surrender your life to Jesus Christ.  You and Him can't both fit on the throne of your life.  You're either calling the shots or you're letting Him.  But you can't have it both ways.  You have to surrender your will, your right to hold on to anger and bitterness, your hurt and your pain.  Surrender it to Jesus.  The easiest way to do this is to thank God for your own salvation.  Once you see yourself as the worst of sinners, you will see that the person you are having a hard time forgiving needs God's grace too.
  2. Turn your focus to the real enemy:  Satan and his evil legions of demons.  Ephesians 6:12 reminds us that our fight is not against other people but against Satan.  Jesus called him a thief that comes only to steal, kill and destroy.  When we stop battling other people and turn our focus to the real enemy we are able to extend grace to others. 
  3. Do your fighting in prayer!  Ephesians 6 goes on to tell us that we are to put on the full armor of God to stand against our real enemy and to PRAY!  The Bible says in James that the prayer of a righteous person is effective!  Pray for that person you are having a hard time forgiving and you'll be amazed how much easier it will be to extend grace to them.

Grace is amazing!  And it is God's desire that you and I extend grace to others just as Christ did to us.   

In 1978 in Honolulu, Hawaii the Ironman event was born.  This is a grueling endurance race that includes a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile bike ride, and a 13.1 mile run.  The elite who finish join the rank of those who call themselves an Ironman.  If you are a follower of Jesus, you are called to join such a rank. 

No, I don't mean competing in the Ironman event.  I'm talking about being willing to hold those you love accountable.  

Proverbs 27:17 says, "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another."  In a day where tolerance is preached and "live and let live" is the motto, accountability seems to be lacking from many relationships.  One in the relationship has a difficult time putting boundaries in the relationship while the other finds it challenging, almost impossible, to respect such boundaries. Relationships without boundaries are destined to suffer and fail.  Relationships without accountability opens the door for that relationship to become toxic.  

I think the biggest reason we don't do a better job at holding those we love accountable is because we tend to associate accountability with negativity.  Biblical accountability is not about lording over someone, being a "goody-two-shoes", thinking you're better than anyone else, or having a license to put others down.  Biblical accountability:

  1. Has no selfish agenda.  Holding someone accountable is making others take responsibility for their actions.  In the long run, holding someone accountable may actually save their life!  A friend of mine who is a police officer arrested someone one time for DUI (Driving Under the Influence).  As he was handcuffing the drunk person and putting them into the backseat of his patrol car he said, "I know you don't realize this now, but I'm saving your life."  My sober friend knew the drunk man was safer in the backseat of the patrol car than in the driver's seat.  Holding others accountable is not driven by selfish motives. 
  2. Seeks the other's best interest.  Since accountability is not driven by selfish motives, it seeks what is best for the other person.  Sure it's vulnerable to hold another accountable.  They may get mad.  They may reject you.  They may refuse to remain your friend.  That's the risk we take when we love others enough to hold them accountable.  
  3. Speaks the truth.  We have a saying in our home: say what you mean and mean what you say!  There's no room for "beating around the bush."  Be direct and to the point.  Speak the truth in love and with respect, but speak the truth!  Those you love deserve nothing less.  
  4. Always points the other person to God and His Word.  Accountability is not about imposing your opinion on someone else.  Accountability is about seeing something in another person you love that could bring harm or devastation to him or her and challenging that person to allow God's Word to intersect that behavior.  Not long ago I was counseling someone who was in a dilemma.  She said to me, "My coworkers think I ought to do this, and my family tells me I ought to do that...what do you think Pastor?"  I answered her, "It doesn't matter what I think.  My opinion is not really important.  What's more important is what does God think?  Let's see what the Bible says..."  If we really love others, we will point them past our opinions and to the truth of God's Word.

Do you want to be an Ironman?  Are you willing to hold others accountable and to be held accountable?  For more on this, please watch the full message.  

I love coffee!  Every day begins with a fresh, piping hot cup of the delicious beverage.  I've had it cold and I've had it hot, but never once have I desired to have it lukewarm.  Not too long ago I poured me a cup of coffee at work and set it on my desk.  Moments later I was interrupted and left my office for 30 minutes or so.

Upon returning to my desk, I flipped open my computer and still staring at the screen without looking at the cup of coffee, instinctively picked it up to take a sip.  As it touched my lips, I spit it out!  The coffee had become lukewarm.

In Revelation 3 we read where Jesus told a church that they were lukewarm.  He longed for them to be either hot or cold, but because they were lukewarm He was about to spit them out of His mouth!  Hot water kills bacteria and is useful for bathing.  Cold water is refreshing to drink.  Lukewarm water is useless.  Spiritual lukewarmness is just as useless.  Let's look at some dangers of being lukewarm:

  1. You lose connection with Jesus and others.  This doesn't mean Jesus doesn't love you.  But it does mean that the relationship suffers.  Lukewarmness allows you to be spiritual and shallow at the same time.  Lukewarmness allows you to be non-commital in your relationship with God and God's people without ever desiring to go deeper.  
  2. You lose credibility.  Lukewarmness offers you comfort when the potential for having to sacrifice is on the horizon.  Lukewarmness points you to the path of least resistance and aids you in bailing out when the going gets tough.  Lukewarmness allows you to go back on your word and never allows you to call that a lie.  Because of this, others begin to lose trust in you and your word begins to mean little to nothing.  
  3. You lose battles in spiritual warfare.  Let me be clear:  our enemy is not our spouse, our friend we've had a fallen-out with, an unfair boss or a grumpy person working behind the counter at our favorite store.  Our real enemy is Satan.  Jesus calls him a thief that comes only to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10).  Lukewarmness handicaps us in our efforts to pray and seek God's wisdom, strength, power, and plan.  Lukewarmness convinces us that spiritual warfare is not real.  Therefore, we fall victim to Satan's tricks and suffer devastating consequences.  
  4. You lose safe ground.  Walking with Jesus may not be easy but one thing is sure: He carries us so we don't step on land mines.  But lukewarmness focuses on convenience instead of commitment.  Therefore, we go the way we think we should go without ever consulting the One who can carry us safely around land mines such as: addiction, apathy, a joyless life, passionless pursuits, unrepentant sin, lack of forgiving others, unwholesome talk, rote prayers, pride, worry, fear, hypocrisy and half-hearted worship just to name a few!

Did you notice lukewarmness makes you a LOSER?  But Jesus wants you to be VICTORIOUS!  And you can be:

  1. Heed conviction from the Holy Spirit.  If you are a Christ follower, you have the Spirit of God living within you to give you wisdom, direction, and to gently remind you of His Word when you step out of living within its boundaries.  Don't resist taking the right action when you know in your spirit you need to make necessary changes.
  2. Be honest about your sin.  Don't make excuses, blame others or call your sin by a cute name so you don't have to deal with it.  Gossip is gossip, not sharing.  Lying is lying, not "just protecting their feelings."  Addiction is addiction, not "just having a good time" or "indulging once and awhile."  Until your honest about your sin, you will do nothing about it.
  3. Step off the mine field!  Determine today to trust in Jesus and let Him carry through the things that have been "blowing" you up.
  4. Engage in prayer.  The Bible says in James 5:16 that the prayers of a righteous person is powerful and effective.  Prayer should never be a "go to" when all else fails.  Prayer should be our first response to situations that arise.  Prayer is seeking God.  While prayer may not change our situation we're in, it always changes our heart and positions us to accept God's will.

For more on this, please watch the full message

I live in the Sunshine State, but it's not always sunny!  Along with the beaches and beautiful sunsets, we also have to endure our fair share of storms and even hurricanes.  From June to November we live with an awareness that one could strike any time.

Part of being a Floridian is being prepared for storms.  To not be prepared would simply be foolish.  In life there will be storms.  We need to be prepared so we can not only survive but thrive.  Let me give you 4 keys to getting through adversity:

  1. Prosperity is temporary, so be thankful.  Many times friends in other states will ask me, "Living in Florida, aren't you afraid of hurricanes?"  To be fair, if we dealt with hurricanes everyday of the year, I'd be moving!  But thankfully we enjoy great weather most of the year.  Hurricanes are interrupted by months of sunshine, warm days, water sports, beach walks, seashell collecting, and fresh sea food!  I never take those incredible moments for granted.  I'm very thankful for the abundant sunshine.  So when storms do happen, I simply reflect on the advantages of living here.  
  2. Adversity is inevitable, so be prepared.  Hurricanes will happen.  Every June we're reminded to be prepared: have plenty of water, non-perishable goods, batteries, a generator, and when all else fails, a good evacuation plan!  When I mentally prepare for a storm, I remove the surprise element from it and am able to use good and sound judgement.  I don't react out of panic, but simply put my plan in motion when appropriate.   This alleviates stress and anxieties and allows me to function in a healthy manner without obsessing that I may blow away with the storm!
  3. Failure is not always failure.  When we look at our failures through the eyes of our enemy, the devil and his legion of demons, we see nothing but our own inadequacies.  Our focus is on ourself and we wrestle with self-condemnation.  However, when we look at our failures through the eyes of Jesus, we experience grace and mercy and we see our need to abide in Him.  When we look at failure through His eyes, we see an opportunity to grow, learn and mature in our faith.  True failure would be not learning from our failure.  
  4. God is faithful, so you be faithful and DON'T GIVE UP!  II Corinthians 4:16 says in light of our adversity, we do not lose heart!  Jesus said in John 16:33 that we can expect adversity, but not to lose heart because He has overcome all adversity!  

You need help getting through adversity.  Psalm 121 reminds us that our help comes from God, the Maker of Heaven and Earth.  We're not meant to do life alone.  We need God and we need God's people.  If your in a storm right now, I hope you'll take a few minutes and watch the full message!