Did you ever play Follow the Leader in school?  Or how about this: were you ever blindfolded and had to navigate solely by someone's voice commands?  In both cases there is a necessary ingredient to being a good follower: you have to trust the leader!  

In my last blog I talked about being a Godly leader.  Whether you are in a leadership position or not, all of us have been called to follow Christ.  If you've answered the call to follow him, there are two things you must do: trust him and obey him. 

In Proverbs 3:5-6 the Bible tells us to trust God in all our ways and to not lean on our own understanding.  Our trust in God must move us beyond a casual approach to following Christ.  Because we trust him with our very life, we trust his motives.  We move when he says move and we stay when he says stay.  God, your will be done becomes the truest desire of our heart.  Our trust in Jesus steers our actions we take and the words we use; the places we go and the things we do.  We don't waste time doubting God's character.  We read God's Word for direction.  We do what it says, even when it challenges us and goes against our flesh.  

Secondly, we must obey.  A natural offshoot of trusting is obeying.  You see, all disobedience is sin, and all sin is rooted in an attitude that doubts God's Word and God's character.  Obedience is 1) the right way (attitude), 2) right away (punctual), and 3) all the way (100%).  Anything less than that is not true obedience. 

Jesus is the best example for one who lived an obedient life.  Philippians 2:6-8 tells us that Jesus became obedient to death on a cross.  Why?  Because he loved us!  As he followed the will of the Father, so should we.  

For more on this, watch the full message!

Arrogant.  Wealthy.  Powerful.  Unapproachable.  Intimidating.  Busy.  Perhaps these are a few words that come to mind when you think of leadership.  Many of us have had leaders in our life that displayed a less than honorable character.

Unfortunately, because of that, our mindset towards being a leader or following a leader may be more worldly than Biblical.  However, as Christ followers, we must have a Biblical understanding of leadership.  God has called many of us to lead, whether in our homes, our churches, our communities, or our places of business.  We're all called to be followers of Jesus Christ.  Good leaders are good followers of Jesus.  But what does that mean?  How does that look?  Maybe it's time we renew our mind towards leadership.  Here are 6 realities about Godly leadership:

First take a few moments to read Acts 20:17-24.

  1. Godly leaders have unwavering integrity that is constant.  One of the most valuable assets we have is our word.  One of the greatest gifts someone can give us is their trust.  When we are honest, people trust our word.  When our actions match our words, we have integrity.  Others under our leadership will pay way more attention to our actions than our words.  It's been said, "More is caught than taught."  That's so true.  When people observe our actions, they should see God's Word being lived out.  
  2. Godly leaders serve with humility.  The greatest model of Godly leadership was Jesus himself.  And how did he lead?  He served.  How did he serve?  With humility (Philippians 2:6-8).  On the night before he was crucified, Jesus shared a very special meal with his friends, his disciples.  At that meal, he assumed the role of a servant and washed their feet.  Then he told his disciples to serve each other in the same manner.  Godly leaders are not "too good" to do anything they would ask anyone under their leadership to do.  
  3. Godly leaders carry a burden for God's people.  Fact: if Godly leaders don't have a burden for those under their leadership, they won't lead effectively.  What motivates a parent to train and discipline her child?  A deep desire to see that child grow, learn and mature, and to learn lessons that will benefit her and protect her later in life.  In other words, a burden for the child motives the parent to lead!  When we have a burden for people, as leaders we resist the urge to become impatient and short-tempered.  When we carry a burden for others, we understand that leading is a process and we practice patience and understanding.  
  4. Godly leaders will be tested.  Leading is not easy.  For many it doesn't come naturally.  Leading is a skill and in most cases has to be learned.  Therefore, there will be tests along the way.  Some people will challenge your leadership.  Some will refuse to follow.  Others will mock you.  But in every test there is an opportunity to learn, grow and mature as a leader. Just as stress on our bodies builds strong muscles, the stresses of leadership can build us into strong leaders.  Resist the urge to take everything personally.  In most cases, others' poor behavior towards you usually has more to do with them and nothing to do with you at all!  Keep your focus on Christ.  And that leads me to the next crucial point:
  5. Godly leaders don't compromise God's Word.  God's Word is truth.  According to Jesus, if we put his words into practice we are like a wise man who built his house (life) on a foundation of rock so that when life's storms beat against the house, it would stand strong.  There will be times we have to confront those under our leadership because of something they are doing that is wrong.  Don't shy away from confrontation.  Lovingly and firmly approach them and point them to God's Word.  The truth is not always easy to communicate, but it always set us free!
  6. Godly leaders remember they belong to Jesus.  Any authority we have is because God has put us in a position of leadership.  We should never become arrogant about our position.  Ultimately, we have to answer to God for how we lead.  Every action we take and every word we speak to those around us should be wrapped firmly in love (I Corinthians 16:14).  Leaders are not defined by their role as leaders, but have willingly lost their identity in Jesus Christ.  That means God gets the glory for anything a Godly leader accomplishes.  Why?  Because without God, nothing is impossible; especially being a Godly leader!

For more on this, watch the full message!  

 

Let's face it:  we value good service above most things.  Think about it.  You can go to a restaurant that serves incredible food, but if the service is lousy, chances are you won't go back.  We appreciate good customer service no matter who we are doing business with.  As much as we value good service, Jesus values it more.  As a matter fact, he valued it so much, he did something radical, and then told us to do the same thing!

In John 13:1-15 we read where Jesus washed his disciples' feet.  As they were preparing to share a very special meal together just hours before Jesus would be arrested and eventually crucified, Jesus displayed an incredible act of love:  he took the role of a servant and washed the dirty feet of his friends.  Don't miss that!  The King of the Universe refused to grieve for himself over the agony he would face later that night and instead turned his focus toward serving.  After he washed their feet he asked them a simple question: "Do you understand what I have done for you?"  He explained that just as he, their Master, took the role of a servant and humbled himself to wash their feet, they were to do likewise.  

Galatians 5:1 tells us that Jesus died for our freedom!  In Galatians 5:13 we're told that we are not to use our freedom to indulge in our own selfish desires, but to use our freedom to serve one another!  This is contrary to the patterns of this world's thinking.  Many use their freedom for selfish gain.  Many use their freedom to say hurtful things or behave in cruel ways all the while flaunting their freedom to do so.  But as Christ followers we are to use our freedom to serve one another.  Let me give you three simple takeaways from this:

  1. You are FREE in Christ!  Jesus stated that he was the truth, and the truth indeed sets us free.  Freedom is the removal from illegitimate bondage so that you can maximize your full potential.  Sin entangles you.  Jesus sets you free.  Guilt entangles you.  Jesus sets you free because there is no condemnation for those in Christ (Romans 8:1).  Sin leads to death.  Jesus sets you free and gives you eternal life!
  2. Because we are free, we need to help set others free!  Imagine you and a friend have been kidnapped, tied up and left alone to die.  Miraculously you slip out of the bondage of being tied up and are freed!  What's your next move?  Do you help free your friend or leave him or her there to die?  Of course you help set him or her free!  If you are in Christ, Jesus has set you free from the bondage of sin and guilt.  You should actively pursue opportunities to set those around you free who are still in bondage.  This is called ministry!  And the greatest act of serving someone is pointing them to the Word of God.  Jesus promised us that if we build our life on his words, we can withstand the storms of life and not be destroyed.  Do you have a friend hurting right now?  A family member in bondage? Serve them!  Point them to the Word of God, teach them, encourage them, and pray for them!
  3. Authentic serving happens when we are actively involved, not sitting on the sidelines watching others serve.  When we "sit in the stands" instead of being on the team that's playing on the field, it's easy to become very critical of the team and practice a good dose of "Monday morning quarterbacking."  When we sit in the stands, we don't see and hear what the team sees.  When we're not on the team, we don't have a relationship with the coach.  When we're not on the team, we don't take ownership and responsibility.  If you want to authentically serve others, you must get on the team and take ownership of what's happening in your church.  It's very difficult to become overly critical of that which you've taken ownership of.  Serving people are happy people.  Serving people are on the field.  Disgruntled people stay in the stands. 

For more on this, watch the full message.  And don't forget to "like" my Dr. Jeremy Gates Facebook page!  

A couple of weeks ago I was having "one of those days."  Nothing really bad was happening.  I was just tired, I had a lot on my plate, and feeling a little "blah."  That afternoon I received a card in the mail from a young lady who was a former youth of mine many moons ago when I was a youth pastor. 

In the card was written some of the sweetest and most encouraging things a person could say to me.  As I read the letter she inserted into the card, I began to tear up.  I called my wife and told her what a blessing it was to receive such encouragement.  

Encouragement.  We all need it.  The Bible even tells us to encourage one another.  Let's face it: life is hard.  And we all need a little encouragement from time to time.  It seems we are lacking that today in our busy and self-focused culture.  But encouraging someone is good for the other person and for you!  One of the most powerful ways we can be an encourager is found in Romans 12:15, "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn."  That, quite possibly, could be so simple that we miss it!  So let's not miss it...let's look:

  1. Rejoice with those who rejoice.  Remember when you were a kid and you accomplished something you thought was amazing?  What did you do?  If you were like me you wanted to show someone!  "Look what I did!"  I was blessed to have parents who celebrated my victories and shared in my excitement.  It was encouraging to me for someone else to rejoice with me!  On the contrary, have you ever been enjoying your favorite food and had someone come along and say, "Ewww....you like that?!"  As someone once told me, don't yuk someone else's yum!  It's rude and not encouraging.  We much prefer it when someone rejoices with us when we are rejoicing.
  2. Mourn with those who mourn.  If you've ever been in the midst of grieving and had someone come along and sit with you, maybe even cry with you, you understand the power in mourning with those who mourn.  In other words, we are to help bear the hurt and pain of others.  One of the most powerful ways we can mourn with those who mourn is to share our own story of hurts and pain.  Some of the greatest moments when I've been encouraged is when someone would come alongside me and share with me stories of his or her own times of testing and hurts.  It relieved me to know that others have gone through pain just like me and came out victorious.  I've learned as a chaplain in law enforcement, after having delivered a number of death notifications, the greatest ministry I can do for the hurting family is to sit beside them and be with them.  I don't have to say much if anything.  There's value and comfort for the family in just my being there.  Don't try to solve all the issues or feel you have to answer all the questions when you're with someone who is mourning.  Just mourn with them and be.  There'll be time in the future to go deeper.
  3. You can't rejoice with them, or mourn with them, if you're not with them!  So build relationships!  We're created for relationships.  We need each other.  We need to laugh together, cry together, joke with one another, laugh at each other, tease each other, comfort each other, rejoice with each other, and mourn with each other.  We're not designed to go through this life alone.  So choose to connect to God's people.  Be part of a church where you can find encouragement and be an encourager!  

So who do you need to encourage today?  Live with an awareness that at any moment you may be called on to encourage a hurting person.  Rejoice with them.  Mourn with them.  Connect with them.  For more on this, watch the full message!

 

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.