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DAILY DEVOTIONAL 02/21/18

Uncompromising Truth

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 02/21/18

One formerly evangelical leader complains that orthodox, conservative Christianity has "shown a pervasive disdain for other religions of the world," whose members we should view "not as enemies but as beloved neighbors, and whenever possible, as dialogue partners and even collaborators."

Although Jesus was a master at listening and asking questions to get to people's real needs, He never compromised the Truth.

In a post-Truth world, embracing all belief systems as equal may sound like an open-minded, openhearted idea. But Jesus was intolerant of falsehood. That's why He declared, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6, emphasis added).

When I see speakers and authors working so hard to force God's Word to say what it clearly does not say, I hear the apostle Paul whispering in my ear, "The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits" (1 Timothy 4:1). In Jesus' high priestly prayer before going to the cross, He prayed, "Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth" (John 17:17). All too often, however, we have polluted God's Truth with borrowings from the false religions and philosophies of our culture. No one is sanctified by adulterated "truth."

If we as individuals reject or distort God's Truth, we rob the Truth of its power to set us free. The result: We become morally and spiritually enslaved. And when an entire culture rejects God's Truth? That culture opens itself up to bondage.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for the power of Your Truth to set me free—to set free every soul who calls on the name of Jesus. Help me to proclaim salvation to my community through the unadulterated Gospel—boldly and without fear. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners" (Isaiah 61:1-2).

DAILY DEVOTIONAL 02/20/18

Is God’s Judgment Inevitable

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 02/20/18

When we speak the Truth to our post-Truth world, we should expect opposition and persecution. We should expect to be treated no better than the prophets in Old Testament times. Before God sent Judah into exile in Babylon, He sent the prophet Jeremiah to remind the people that God had promised judgment if they fell away from Him. When Jeremiah delivered his message to the people, there was still time for them to turn to God for healing and forgiveness.

But the people of Judah didn't believe judgment was coming. They didn't believe God would keep His word. Perhaps they thought that God no longer punished disobedience as in times past. Perhaps they thought that God had evolved, that He had changed with the times. Perhaps they even thought, God won't punish us. After all, we are His people. There is no need for repentance. Love wins!

But the day eventually came when God's patience ended. The vast army of the Babylonians encircled Jerusalem and laid siege to the walls and gates. The people prayed for deliverance, but it was too late. They had passed the point of no return. Many were slaughtered, and the rest were led away in captivity. The city and its temple were laid waste.

For some reason, we in America think that our country is invincible. America will always be wealthy, powerful, and free. In spite of all the immorality, violence, rebelliousness, and sin in our nation, even many Christians think we're immune to God's judgment—just as the people of ancient Israel once thought.

Is God's judgment inevitable? No—there is still time to repent. How much time? I don't know. But I do know this: We can repent right now. Today. This very moment. And we must.

Prayer: Lord, forgive me for the ways I have presumed on Your grace. I know You have called me to die to self and to live a holy life as You are holy. Help me to be a beacon of Your Truth to my nation for our blessing as we turn to You. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land" (2 Chronicles 7:14).

DAILY DEVOTIONAL 02/19/18 to 02/18/18

Hang in There

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 02/19/18

In Athens, the Spirit of God empowered Paul to present the Truth of God to an unbelieving audience of Greek philosophers. Standing on Mars Hill—which was viewed as the seat of worldly wisdom—he brilliantly proclaimed God's Word.

However, after his proclamation, he became emotionally shaken. He had prayed that the hearts of those who heard his words would be changed, but his message had received only a lukewarm reception. By the time he sailed for Corinth (see Acts 18), he was struggling with discouragement, and God knew it. Therefore, He spoke words of encouragement to His servant:

Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city. (Acts 18:9-10).

In other words, "Paul, you are not alone. I am aware of your circumstances. I am with you, and others who know Me are with you, too."

Paul realized the key to success was not human strength or ability but faith in an unshakeable God. His responsibility was to do what God had called him to do. God's responsibility was to bring the right results from Paul's ministry at the right time.

Though he may have fought feelings of fear and discouragement, Paul knew God was faithful and the work he had been given to do would be accomplished. The message he had been called to preach would bear fruit at the proper time. Worry, doubt, and fear about the future only lead to sorrow and disappointment. Trust God right where you are, and He will bless you as you praise Him.

Prayer: Lord, I give all that I am to You—all my work and all my talents belong to You. Fill me with Your strength to do the work of Your Kingdom. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it" (1 Thessalonians 5:24).

Truth Will Triumph

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 02/18/18

What do you fear? You may have ongoing fears, such as the fear of abandonment, failure, or rejection. You may have new fears that are tied to current circumstances—the fear of losing your job or a relationship. Jesus told us, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me" (John 14:1).

Read Matthew 10:24-31. Three times in this passage, Jesus calls us to not fear—to not be afraid. While the world around us slips into panic, Jesus says not to live like them. We have no reason to allow fear to intimidate or defeat us. What reasons does Jesus give us for not fearing the people and circumstances of this world?

We ought not to fear because Truth will ultimately triumph: "So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs" (Matthew 10:26-27).

Today we see the Truth silenced for political correctness to avoid criticism, to gain popularity, and even to keep the peace. Yet those of us who have trusting fellowship with God have no reason to fear.

In the end, wickedness will be judged and righteousness will be exalted. We cannot allow the fear of ridicule or rejection to deter us from speaking God's Truth in love to those who need to hear it.

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened." But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. (1 Peter 3:13-15).

Prayer: Father, thank You that I can rest in the knowledge that, ultimately, Truth will triumph—that Your perfect will cannot be thwarted. Thank You that I have no reason to fear. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me" (Psalm 23:4).

DAILY DEVOTIONAL 02/17/18

The Best Way to Serve Our Culture

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 02/17/18

By fall 2017, the debate over same-sex marriage was front and center in Australia. Despite the opposition raging against them there, many Christians refused to hide during this cultural storm. These Australian believers can teach us much about how to respond with grace and Truth during a societal storm.

Many churches across Australia got involved in the national conversation over same-sex marriage, including one near Sydney that convened a panel discussion designed to equip members to discuss this issue with friends, family, and coworkers. The panel emphasized the importance of "speaking the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15)—making a firm and uncompromised stand for the Truth, yet doing so not out of anger or stubbornness or hate, but out of genuine Christian love for all people.

This church emphasized Truths we must all take hold of: We must speak the Truth in love—even to those who reject the Truth. We must speak the Truth in love—even at the risk of our lives, our livelihood, and our reputations. We must speak the Truth in love—because that is what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

When we speak the Truth in love, we are serving our culture. Like the Good Samaritan, we are reaching out to our wounded enemy, an enemy who has been beaten and bloodied by sin, an enemy who does not want to be helped, an enemy who does not want our Gospel or our Savior. It's risky business to offer aid to a wounded enemy. But that enemy is our neighbor, and Jesus calls us to serve our enemies, love our enemies, and be salt and light in a decaying and darkened culture.

God's design for families, for marriage, and for salvation leads to healing and hope for anyone who will receive it. Our Gospel may fall on deaf ears. Our love may seem wasted on cold hearts. That's okay. God is responsible for the results—not us. Our only duty is to be faithful.

Prayer: Father, thank You for the example of my Australian brothers and sisters who are standing boldly for Your Truth. Grant me the courage and wisdom to do the same today that I might win souls for Your Kingdom by Your Holy Spirit. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ" (Ephesians 4:15).

DAILY DEVOTIONAL 02/16/18 to 02/15/18

Loving Sinners

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 02/16/18

God expects that those who love Him will also hate sin. He wants us to turn from our wicked ways and to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with others. This Good News includes the fact that we can have power over the things that once held us in bondage. So part of our message should be to proclaim freedom to those who cling to sin and the sorrow that it brings.

Yet while God hates sin, He loves sinners so much that He sent His Son to save us. Paul wrote, "Christ died for the ungodly. . . . God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:6, 8). Likewise, we are to love those who reject the absolutes of God's Word, even if they reject us.

To show our love and His, we must pray for those who are in error. We must speak the Truth and be bold witnesses to the Truth that we know. We must refuse to repay evil for evil. If we are maligned, slandered, or mistreated for standing strong for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we must continue to stand in peace and refuse to seek retaliation.

Paul wrote, "Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord" (Romans 12:19).

When you are called intolerant for proclaiming Jesus as the only Savior and Lord, smile and refuse to back down, refuse to give in. Speak the Truth lovingly and persistently, and then trust God to move in the hearts of those who are in error.

When you're called 'intolerant' because of your faith, remember that the Gospel is for everyone—regardless of age, gender, nationality, culture, or race. The gift of the Gospel is a treasure of great worth—it is a promise of eternal life for all who believe.

Prayer: Father, help me love those who don't know You, just as You do. Help me pray for them and lovingly speak the Truth to them. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).

Enduring Love

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 02/15/18

The church in Corinth lost its first love for Jesus Christ. They maintained their spiritual activities but did them without love.

Many people in today's church face the same problem. They have become so consumed by committees, rules, programs, and personal agendas that they have forgotten about love. So many Christians today have lost their vision and mission because they do not serve in love. This is the same reason Jesus rebuked the church in Ephesus, saying, "Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first" (Revelation 2:4).

What does agape love look like? Paul tells us: "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails" (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).

Paul's description paints a picture of the love of Jesus Christ. He is the one against whom we are to measure ourselves. We are to love others as Christ loves us. Jesus said, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:34-35).

Has your love been met by rejection? By betrayal? Has your love been met by cold indifference or by anger? Has your love been met with hatred? Has your love been met with selfishness, jealousy, and resentment? So has Christ's love. He understands, so go to Him for strength to continue loving the unlovable, remembering the miserable state from which God called you out by His enduring love.

Prayer: God, help me to love others the way You do. Help me to never stop loving. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever" (Psalm 118:1).

DAILY DEVOTIONAL 02/14/18

Agape Love

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 03/14/18

First Corinthians 13 is one of the most well-known passages in the Bible. It is often quoted, yet seldom comprehended. It is routinely read at weddings, but is soon forgotten.

Hollywood only shows passionate, romantic love. Friends talk about having warm feelings toward each other. Yet the type of love that Paul is describing in this passage is far greater than any emotions-based love.

Agape love is a self-giving and self-sacrificing love. The focus is not on how we feel about the other person, but on how we can give of ourselves in love. Agape love has no room for pride, vanity, arrogance, or selfish desires.

Without this kind of love, any accomplishment, activity, or relationship we have is in vain. Paul describes the futility of loveless action:

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).

Proclaiming the Truth of God is nothing without love. Immense knowledge is worthless without love. Whatever we do—even if it is in the name of God—is meaningless if it is not motivated by agape love. We are told, "Do everything in love" (1 Corinthians 16:14).

Prayer: God, I pray that my motivation for all I do would be agape love. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"Do everything in love" (1 Corinthians 16:14).

DAILY DEVOTIONAL 02/13/18

How to Exemplify Grace and Truth

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 02/13/18

The word grace is widely misunderstood in our culture. In the Bible, grace simply refers to God's gifts of goodness and blessing in our lives that we do not deserve—gifts of salvation, eternal life, forgiveness of sin, mercy, protection, material blessings, family, and so forth. All of these things come from the grace of God.

That is why I first approach others with news about the saving grace of Jesus Christ. I share with them the good news that God loves them and sent His Son to die for them as an atonement for sin. Sinners need grace, but they also need Truth. The world loves grace—but hates Truth. The world wants us to embrace and affirm not only the sinner, but the sin as well. Today the world even says we must take what God forbids and turn it into a sacrament—the unholy "sacrament" of same-sex marriage. But I love God, I love His Word, and I love people too much to compromise God's Truth.

As Christians, we must never diminish God's grace, and we must never compromise God's Truth. Whatever sins you may have committed, I do not hate you for them. I will not condemn you for them. But I will tell you the Truth about your sins from God's Word.

Here is the Truth—the absolute Truth—that you will probably never read in any newspaper or hear on any news broadcast: A genuine Christian who follows the example of the Lord, who speaks God's uncompromised Truth, and who shares the good news of God's lavish grace is the best friend a sinner could have. A genuine Christian is the best friend a drug addict or alcoholic could have, the best friend a workaholic or liar could have, the best friend an adulterer or fornicator could have, and, yes, the best friend a homosexual man or woman could have.

If you are a Christian, I appeal to you in the name of Jesus to be an example of Christ to the people around you. Be an example of grace and Truth to everyone you meet, no matter their sin, no matter how they mock you or hate you, no matter how they revile His name. Pray for them. Love them. Be the grace of Christ and the Truth of Christ in their lives, and someday they may come to love the Lord Jesus too.

Prayer: Lord, help me to be the best friend for those around me who need to hear Your Truth and experience Your love. Grant me Your wisdom and Your words by Your Holy Spirit as I build these relationships. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him" (John 3:17).

DAILY DEVOTIONAL 02/12/18

The Truth Is Costly

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 02/12/18

Truth always provokes hostility. The Truth can cost you your career. A day is coming when it may cost you your life. Don't let threats or intimidation silence you. Speak the Truth. Provoke a confrontation. Lay out your evidence and demand a verdict.

Don't accept the nonsense that Jesus was a "good moral teacher." C. S. Lewis observed that by claiming to be God, Jesus made it clear that He was either a liar, a lunatic, or the Lord God. Jesus has not left any other option open to us.

I once heard an English bishop say, "When the apostle Paul came into a town, he either incited a riot or triggered a revival. When I go into a town, they give me a high tea. In all truthfulness, I don't want high tea. I would settle for either revival or a riot. At least the riot would prove I had proclaimed God's truth without compromise."

If you compromise the message of Jesus, the world will love you. But if you proclaim Jesus and His Gospel without compromise, the world will hate you. Proclaim it anyway, just as the witnesses in Revelation 11 proclaimed the Gospel. For when we do, we share the saving grace and love of Christ. It is a message everyone needs to hear. It is a message the Holy Spirit will guide us in sharing, and one He will quicken hearts to receive.

Prayer: Father, help me boldly and lovingly proclaim Your Truth both to bring salvation to the lost and to encourage my brothers and sisters in Christ. Holy Spirit, go before me and prepare the way for Your Word to make the spiritually dead alive again and grant me courage to obey Your Great Commission. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"It is written: 'I believed; therefore I have spoken.' Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself" (2 Corinthians 4:13-14).

DAILY DEVOTIONAL 02/11/1/ to 02/01/18

Defeating Spiritual Terrorism

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 02/11/18

Truth and freedom are inextricably linked. Many Christians are concerned about the systematic loss of religious and political freedom in our times. History has shown that as the church goes, so goes the society. Jesus said it clearly in John 8:32: "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." We cannot afford to be casual about attacks on Truth, for they are attacks on our freedom as individuals as well as on our nation.

What might be the consequences to our nation if Christians falter in fighting for God's Truth to prevail? Is God's Truth an important factor when you make business, financial, or political decisions? What do you need to do to help guard Truth and freedom? Develop more intimacy with the Lord in prayer? Learn more about the Truth from the Bible?

Spiritual terrorists work the same way military terrorists work—they infiltrate the territory they want to take over and do harm from within. Thankfully, God gives us clear clues for identifying and defeating them in Jude 1:8-16.

The first step in defeating spiritual terrorists is to know one when you see one. Jude 1:8 states that "these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings." These dreamers are apostates who preach redemption without the cross, peace without repentance, happiness without holiness, and a God who is not the father of Jesus Christ. These beliefs "reject the authority" of God as well as His very identity and sovereignty. Here are some tips that will aid you in recognizing the apostasy of false teaching.

First, do not fall for the idea that you can have a do-it-yourself religion. Apostates will tell you that there are many roads to God. One popular lie is that you can achieve eternal life through humanitarianism. Christians have been leaders in caring for the sick, hungry, and abandoned; however, the only way to acceptance by the Father is through the shed blood of Christ.

Second, be aware that playing on emotions is a strategy of the enemy. If your basis of believing a half-truth over God's Truth is that the apostasy just feels better, then you do not have a solid basis for your beliefs. Only God's version of the Truth counts.

Prayer: God, help me to be aware of spiritual terrorists. Teach me how to recognize deception and respond with Truth. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God's holy people" (Jude 1:3).

Seeking Truth in a Fake News World

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 02/10/18

The Bible is filled with admonitions and principles about Truth. From Genesis to Revelation, God's Word warns us not to be ignorant, but to seek the Truth. Certainly, the most important Truth we are to pursue is the Truth contained in God's Word. Yet God does not want us to be ignorant or misled in any area of Truth. His Word contains valuable insights into how we are to approach any Truth claims.

We see this principle in a scene from Acts 17. Paul was on his second missionary journey when he met stiff opposition in the city of Thessalonica. Many of the Jews there rose up in anger because he preached that Jesus is the Messiah who was prophesied in the Old Testament. The angry crowd rioted and chased Paul out of the city. The people of Thessalonica had been deceived by their biases. Many refused to listen to the Gospel because it didn't agree with what they already believed. Paul had come to give them the Good News, but they thought that the Gospel was "fake news."

So Paul and his friend Silas moved on to another town, Berea, and there Paul again preached the Good News of Jesus Christ. Acts 17:11-12 tells us, "Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men."

Why were the Bereans of "more noble character" than the people of Thessalonica? It's because they were willing to set aside their biases and preconceptions, and they were willing to listen to Paul's news. Now, they weren't gullible. They weren't going to take Paul's word at face value. The Bereans were open-minded but skeptical. They were willing to listen, but they fact-checked every claim Paul made to see if what he said was true.

People who seek the Truth are noble in God's eyes. The search for Truth is an important quest. The Berean people didn't merely want to have their biases confirmed. They were willing to set aside their biases and prejudices—but only if Paul's message was backed up by evidence from Scripture.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for the example of the Berean people in Scripture. Help me to discipline myself to seek Truth and to understand Your Word so that I can explain clearly the hope that is found in You alone. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"They received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true" (Acts 17:11).

Tempting Questions

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 02/09/18

If you believe in God, you have probably experienced times of doubt and questioning. You have wondered if He is really wise and perfect, if He really wants the best for you, if He really loves you, or if His commands are truly good and worthy of your obedience. You may have questioned whether God is telling you the Truth or whether He really is God.

Jesus said He is "the way and the truth and the life"—the only path to God the Father (John 14:6). But what if that is a lie? What if there are many paths to God? What if there is no heaven or no hell? What if we are simply reincarnated and keep coming back to live a succession of lives—the quality of which depends on the karma we accumulate?

Such questions tempt, intoxicate, and lure us. These suggestions and questions ultimately come to us from one source: the serpent in the Garden of Eden, Satan himself.

Bowing to alternative views that appeal to us has always been a temptation. We refuse to believe there is only one way of salvation, only one way to the Father. We choose to believe there are many paths to God.

Why? Because if there are many paths to God instead of just one, then we can willfully and selfishly choose the path we want. We can live the way we want and never be held accountable by God. We can choose a religion that appeals to our own pride and vanity.

Have you been tempted to believe that God has lied to you and that there is more than one way of salvation? Recognize that just as the serpent deceived Eve, Satan is trying to deceive anyone who will believe his lies.

You don't have to fall for his deception. You can know the Truth, and God's Truth will set you free (see John 8:32).

Prayer: Father, forgive me for ever doubting that there is only one path to You: Jesus Christ. Help me to recognize the lies and deceptions of Satan and to stand firm on the Truth. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32).

Filtering Messages

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 02/08/18

When Daniel was being trained in the Babylonian palace, he was fed lies about spirituality and the meaning of life. Just as we face lies every day from our society, Daniel was being indoctrinated into the pagan culture in which he was held captive. Yet Daniel held on tightly to God's Truth. God's Word permeated every ounce of Daniel's being, and he refused to let that go. And because God was the center of Daniel's identity, he did not lose focus.

Like Daniel, we must take every message we hear and filter it through God's Word. No matter how appealing a message may sound or how often we hear it, if it does not bring glory to God, we cannot let it in. We must discern the difference between man's "truth" and God's Truth. We must recognize what will provide only temporary happiness and what will bring eternal joy.

If we fail to hold on to God's teachings, we will become vulnerable to worldly messages and lose our effectiveness for Christ. Make a commitment to understand thoroughly what you believe—and why. Spend time in God's Word and learn who you are as a child of God. Standing up for your beliefs will help you become a powerful tool for God.

Prayer: God, help me spend more time in Your Word so that I will be confident in my beliefs and able to easily filter any message through Your Word. Give me the discernment to recognize the difference between man's "truth" and Your Truth. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ" (Philippians 1:9-10).

Daniel’s Courage

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 02/07/18

The Old Testament prophet Daniel had plenty of reasons to be afraid. He was captured as a teenager and taken to a foreign land. He was separated from his godly family and forced to live among pagans. He was routinely tested both academically and spiritually. He met face to face with the greatest ruler of his day. Yet Daniel did not allow fear to control him. Daniel focused on God, not on his circumstances. Daniel obeyed God's laws, not the pagan laws. And through Daniel's love, faith, and obedience to God, he thrived in an ungodly land.

We are also living in a foreign land. On a daily basis, we face temptations to conform to the world's standards. God's love for us is called into question every day by the world. We are routinely tested in our faith and character. But like Daniel, we must remember the love of God and put faith above fear in order to survive these obstacles. But how do we overcome our fear with faith in a practical way?

First, we need to prepare for the test by studying God's Word. We learn the Truth by studying what God says in Scripture. And the more we make reading the Bible a part of our daily routine, the more we desire and appreciate it. "How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path" (Psalm 119:103-104).

If you are paralyzed by fear and something is holding you back from stepping out in faith, ask for the Holy Spirit's guidance to help you overcome fear. Commit to studying God's Word and applying it to your life. Ask for God's help as you begin to trust Him more and more.

Prayer: God, help me to follow the example of Daniel and to put faith above fear. Help me to focus on You and to spend time in Your Word. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble" (Psalm 119:165).

Overcoming Obstacles to Obedience

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 02/06/18

One of the most satisfying rewards of obedience is a clear conscience. When we try to hide our sins, when we live an incongruent life, when we routinely fail the test of obedience, we burn all our energy in fighting guilt and shame. Sin has a way of clamping down on our heart and creating a sense of imprisonment and suffocation.

But when we live in obedience to God, our heart and mind are focused and clear. There is great relief and freedom in living a godly life. Without the emotional baggage of sin weighing us down, we are able to pass the tests that come our way.

The benefits of obedience to God are clear. But one of the first obstacles we face is figuring out what to obey. How well do you know the Word of God? Can you name the Ten Commandments? Can you discern the difference between human traditions and Scriptural principles? To follow God, we need to know His Word, and we need to know God personally.

Before Daniel's capture, he not only studied the Scriptures, but he memorized them. When he was tested spiritually, he could make the right decisions because He knew the laws of God. Daniel was prepared for his test. Did you ever try to take an exam in school without knowing the material? It's easy to fail when we're not prepared. Knowing God's Word is crucial for successfully navigating the tests we face.

Remember—to pass the test, you must prepare for the test.

Prayer: Father, help me to study and memorize Your Word. I want to be prepared for every test of my obedience. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you" (Psalm 119:11).

Give God Credit

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 02/05/18

As you pass your tests in life, be careful not to fall into the temptation of giving yourself the credit for your success. God is the one who has prepared our path and provided us with a book full of wisdom. God alone has motivated us through the Holy Spirit to seek Him and to obey Him. God alone has provided godly, encouraging friends. God alone has enabled us to solve our problems through the discernment, experiences, mentors, and Scriptural insights that He has given to us.

In Daniel 2, the king threatened to execute every wise man, including Daniel and his friends, because no one could interpret his troubling dream. As Daniel and his friends prayed through the night, God intervened on their behalf. "During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven and said: 'Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his'" (Daniel 2:19-20).

The very first thing Daniel did when God gave him this vision was to praise Him. Daniel did not claim to have extraordinary knowledge or discernment. He knew that whatever insight he gained into King Nebuchadnezzar's dream came solely from God.

How often do we fall into the trap of thinking our success comes from our own efforts? Yet without God's gifts of health, intelligence, opportunities, and resources, we would never be able to accomplish anything.

As you step out in faith and obey God, praise Him for His strength and guidance in leading you in the right path. As you succeed in helping others, give God the glory for giving you the right words to say. As you overcome your fears with faith, thank God that His love is faithful and enduring.

Prayer: Father, forgive me for the times I fall into the trap of thinking I have accomplished something on my own. I realize that without You, I am nothing. Help me to praise You for the many ways You help me each and every day. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory" (Deuteronomy 20:4

Facing Temptation

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 02/04/18

Sometimes battles come from bullies or situations. But other times, struggles come from within as we face temptations. A temptation is a test of our value system and resolve to serve God. While God may give us tests, He never tempts with sin. "When tempted, no one should say, 'God is tempting me.' For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed" (James 1:13-14).

Temptations are Satan's way of damaging our reputation and witness, leading us away from God and His blessings, and planting seeds of doubt concerning God's love and faithfulness.

Daniel and his friends faced many challenges as they lived out their beliefs and their love for God. But one of their greatest temptations came soon after they became leaders within the kingdom. King Nebuchadnezzar built a giant gold statue of himself, requiring everyone to bow down and worship it. The consequence for refusal was death in a blazing furnace (see Daniel 3:1-6).

No one is immune to temptation. Proverbs 16:18 warns us, "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." With an attitude that says, "I can handle temptation," we become careless in guarding against it. We may not have golden statues of kings before us, but we have plenty of false idols in our society. An idol is anything we trust for security, provision, or fulfillment. Many times, idols hide in our hearts. Whether it is wealth, relationships, or career, we all face the temptation to give too much power to things.

When Daniel's friends were faced with this idol, they didn't have days to consider the situation. They immediately determined the right course of action because they had spent so many hours of their life in communion with God. Their relationship with Him was key to their decision. They knew that in following God, He would remain with them no matter the consequences.

Prayer: God, I long to have such a close relationship with You that I immediately respond with Your righteousness when faced with temptations. Help me to be aware of the idols around me and to be on guard against them. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!" (1 Corinthians 10:12).

Dealing with Bullies

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 02/03/18

There's a lot we can learn from Daniel's response to King Nebuchadnezzar as we consider how to deal with bullies in our lives. We see that Daniel sought God's help through praying with his godly friends. As we pray for God's help, we also need to pray specifically for the bully. Sometimes it seems that earnestly praying blessings upon someone who torments us is more difficult than confronting the bully. But the power of love will enable us to respond in a godly way. Daniel's prayers with his friends gave him boldness to go before the bullying king.

As you seek boldness, examine your motives before you speak or act. Pure motives and a clear conscience will give you strength. Proverbs tells us that, "the righteous are as bold as a lion" (28:1). When we pray for boldness, our motives must be more about others and less about ourselves. Humility will keep our motives pure: "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves" (Philippians 2:3). Each of you should look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others.

In his humility and with the right motives, the next thing Daniel did was serve the bully. Through God's insight, Daniel was able to share the detailed interpretation of the dream with Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel helped the very man who threatened his life. Romans 12:14 tells us to "Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse."

Daniel's plan produced dramatic results. The king was so grateful and impressed that he "fell prostrate before Daniel and paid him honor" (Daniel 2:46), and Daniel and his friends were given great leadership within Babylon (see vv. 48-49).

Your situation may not end as remarkably, but if you seek to resolve your problems through prayer and loving action, then God will stand with you in your fight.

Prayer: God, help me pray for my enemies and respond to them in love. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matthew 5:44).

Bully Nebuchadnezzar

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 02/02/18

Almost everyone can remember at least one bully from school—especially if they shoved you on the playground, teased people relentlessly, or threatened and manipulated others. But bullies aren't found only in the schoolyard. Bullies exist in our families, in our workplaces, and in our communities.

A bully is someone who desires to control and to abuse others. Bullies seek power by making others feel powerless. They find enjoyment in criticizing and ridiculing others.

In the book of Daniel, we meet a king who was the epitome of a bullying leader. King Nebuchadnezzar ruled the Babylonian Empire when, as a young teen, Daniel and his friends were captured and sent to study at the king's palace. In Daniel 2, we learn that King Nebuchadnezzar was so troubled by a dream that he planned to kill all his wise men—including Daniel and his friends—because they could not interpret it for him.

As Daniel and his three friends faced execution, they prayed together throughout the night and sought God's divine intervention. Because God was on their side, Daniel was given the insight to interpret the dream. Daniel's next action gives us wisdom for dealing with bullies.

Daniel first approached the matter carefully. He didn't confront the king directly until he understood the situation better. Daniel 2:14 tells us, "When Arioch, the commander of the king's guard, had gone out to put to death the wise men of Babylon, Daniel spoke to him with wisdom and tact." Daniel was not quick to fight back. He gathered information from Arioch and then approached the king: "At this, Daniel went in to the king and asked for time, so that he might interpret the dream for him" (Daniel 2:16).

Prayer: God, I pray that when I have to deal with a bully in life, I will come to You for help and not be quick to fight back. Help me to always come to You for discernment. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry" (James 1:19).

In Our Weakness

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 02/01/18

Have you faced an exceedingly tough circumstance that tested every bit of your strength, intelligence, and character? Maybe you are facing a troubling time right now and your whole life is at a turning point.

That is exactly what the prophet Daniel experienced when he was sent as a captive into King Nebuchadnezzar's palace. Daniel did not have the benefit of years of experience, maturity, or education to help him handle the situation. As a young teenager, Daniel had to maintain his faith in a pagan culture and survive the king's rigorous training program intended to mold him into a Babylonian leader.

Not many of us would be able to survive what Daniel did—at any age—but that is exactly what God wants us to realize. We cannot do big things on our own—it is just not possible. But though we are small, God is almighty. Though we are weak, our God is strong. Though we are limited, God is limitless. God promised Paul: "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9). It is the same for us. Thus, we can echo Paul when he said, "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me" (v. 9). We never need to worry about our future because God is on our side.

Prayer: God, sometimes life seems too big for me. Help me to rely on You, especially in those moments, knowing that Your power is made perfect in my weakness. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness'" (2 Corinthians 12:9.


DAILY DEVOTIONAL 01/31/18

Genuine Peace

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 01/31/18

Martha and Mary were sisters, and they both loved and wanted to please the Lord. However, they were very different in their actions. Martha was preoccupied with cooking and housecleaning, while Mary sought to spend time with Jesus. The Bible tells us that she sat at His feet, listening to all He said.

We need to be aware of the danger of anything that crowds the Lord out of our lives. Jesus chided Martha: "You are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her" (Luke 10:41-42).

In the end, the only thing that matters or has meaning is God's Word in our lives. Martha was anxious about things that pertain to this life. She did not have a genuine sense of peace—one that comes as a result of spending time with the Savior.

Anxiety is the result of preoccupation with the things in life that do not have eternal value. It is a signal that we are seeking to derive security or peace from something other than the Lord.

In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis wrote:

God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel we were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. (31).

We may be sincerely doing what we think will please the Lord—but all the while stressing over unnecessary tasks, events, or emotions. Like Martha, we need to recognize what is important. When God is the center of our lives, our priorities will be focused on Him, and then He will fill us with His peace, assurance, and hope.

Prayer: Father, pour Your peace into my heart and mind as I release the cares of this world and focus on You. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:7).

DAILY DEVOTIONAL 01/31/18 to 01/01/18

Genuine Peace

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 01/31/18

Martha and Mary were sisters, and they both loved and wanted to please the Lord. However, they were very different in their actions. Martha was preoccupied with cooking and housecleaning, while Mary sought to spend time with Jesus. The Bible tells us that she sat at His feet, listening to all He said.

We need to be aware of the danger of anything that crowds the Lord out of our lives. Jesus chided Martha: "You are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her" (Luke 10:41-42).

In the end, the only thing that matters or has meaning is God's Word in our lives. Martha was anxious about things that pertain to this life. She did not have a genuine sense of peace—one that comes as a result of spending time with the Savior.

Anxiety is the result of preoccupation with the things in life that do not have eternal value. It is a signal that we are seeking to derive security or peace from something other than the Lord.

In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis wrote:

God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel we were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. (31).

We may be sincerely doing what we think will please the Lord—but all the while stressing over unnecessary tasks, events, or emotions. Like Martha, we need to recognize what is important. When God is the center of our lives, our priorities will be focused on Him, and then He will fill us with His peace, assurance, and hope.

Prayer: Father, pour Your peace into my heart and mind as I release the cares of this world and focus on You. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:7).

What Is Man?

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 01/30/18

The source of all our troubles, whether individual, corporate, or cultural, is the lack of a godly perspective. When we don't have a right view of God, we don't have a right view of mankind, nature, or creation.

In Psalm 8:3-4, David said, "When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?"

David, the shepherd boy who spent many nights in the open field looking up at the stars as he watched over his flock, was able to praise the maker of the stars. He was able to see beyond the creation to the Creator God. When he saw the galaxies dancing in the sky, he was awed not by the stars, but by the majesty of the one who flung the stars into their orbits.

The God who created all of this did it with perfection. "What is mankind that you are mindful of them?" marveled this psalmist. How small we are in the vast, cosmic setting. How astounding that the God of this vast universe, the God who orders and controls it all, should think of us.

Prayer: Creator God, when I realize all that Your hands have made, I am amazed that You should care so much for me. Thank You! I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?" (Psalm 8:4).

Remember His Faithfulness

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 01/29/18

When we despair of our current struggles, we are forgetting the faithfulness of God. But David says, "Get out of that by looking back at how God intervened in your life in the past."

In Psalm 27, David puts this into practice and turns his fear into courage as he remembers the past. He recalls how God forgave all his sins and brought light into his darkness. Because David had experienced the faithfulness of God firsthand, he knew deep down that God could never reject him nor forsake him. So he waited on the Lord, being confident that God would come through for him.

Whether you have faced health challenges and God has come in and given you strength, whether you have faced business problems, whether you have faced relationship problems, whether you have faced financial problems, wherever you have been and, there, God has come and intervened in your life, when you look back at those moments in the past, they will encourage you.

When you remind yourself of God's faithfulness, you cannot help but be uplifted, and that is exactly what David is saying: "The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?" (Psalm 27:1). The word "salvation" here also can be translated "delivered." The psalmist is saying, "Because God delivered me before, I fear not the present. Because God was a stronghold for me in the past, I do not fear the future. Because God acted on my behalf in the past, no matter how bleak it may look, He will act on my behalf in the future."

Like David, when we look back in Scripture, we see God unfold His faithful plan to bring peace and salvation to us. Like David, we remember. We remember that Jesus saved us and is preparing a place for us even now.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for Your faithfulness to me in the past. Help me to remember daily the work that You have done in my life so that I can live confidently, trusting in Your sovereignty and loving purposes. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD" (Psalm 27:13-14

Perspective

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 01/28/18

In Psalm 73 we see that even the psalmist fell into the danger of comparing himself to others. He succumbed to envy and self-pity. He began to doubt his godly lifestyle.

For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. . . . This is what the wicked are like—always free of care, they go on amassing wealth. Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure and have washed my hands in innocence. All day long I have been afflicted; I have been punished every morning. (Psalm 73:3-4, 12-14).

As he began to see his circumstances from the eternal viewpoint of God, his outlook improved.

When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny. . . . Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds." (Psalm 73:16-17, 27-28).

Prayer: Father, help me to have an eternal perspective and to remember all that I have in You. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:18).

Rightful Worship

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 01/27/18

In Psalm 8:5 David praises God for His love and care of people: "You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor." David is saying that God cares more for people than planets, more for souls than stars, and that He is more interested in us than He is in the vast universe. He cares about humanity so much that He left the glories of heaven and came to earth to die on a cross to save His elect from the destruction that is coming upon the earth because of sin.

There were people in the time of David who worshiped the trees and the rocks. That is why God warned His people repeatedly not to bow down to idols. Yet here we are 2,000 years after God became man in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ and affirmed the creation story over and over again, and sinful people still want to worship the creation and not the Creator.

There are many churchgoers who, in trying to appear to be concerned about the environment, have crossed the line. Instead of understanding and teaching the difference between stewardship of creation and the worship of creation, they have crossed the line and become idolaters. There are churches today that have a cross on the steeple, but they are really worshiping nature and the creation instead of the Creator.

The wrong perspective, the godless perspective, says that we need to redefine who we are as humans. The godly perspective says we have already been defined by God, that we are His unique creation. The godless perspective says that nature has power in itself, but the godly perspective says that all the power and all the might belong to the only God of power and might.

Prayer: Father God, Creator of the universe, I acknowledge today that You are the only one worthy of my worship. Help me to keep a proper perspective, a godly perspective at all times. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised" (Romans 1:25).

Our Supreme Ruler

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 01/26/18

In Psalm 110, we see Jesus' power is a priestly power. Verse 4 says, "The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: ‘You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.'" Even the high priest in the Old Testament could not just go into the Holy of Holies whenever he felt like it—that innermost room of the tabernacle where God appeared as a cloud over the ark of the covenant and the mercy seat (see Leviticus 16:2). The high priest could only enter the Holy of Holies once a year. But now, our High Priest, King Jesus, can forgive our sins the moment we repent. And Jesus is not just any high priest; He is the High Priest forever.

In Psalm 110 we see Christ's judicial power prophesied. People may mock Jesus now, but they don't realize that the Savior who is now welcoming, inviting, longing for people to come to Him will, one day, sit on the throne as judge. The day of salvation will be gone forever. The Bible says that Jesus Christ will judge every single person on the face of the earth that has ever lived. If you reject the invitation of the King, you are going to have to face Him as your judge.

He is reigning over your affairs and your difficulties; He knows exactly what you are going through, and He loves you and is using every circumstance for the good of His children. He is in control of the things that are out of your control. He is in control of the things that baffle you. He is reigning and ruling supreme.

Prayer: Father, thank You for the priestly, judicial power of our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank You for ruling supreme over everything. I take comfort and joy in Your love. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"The LORD will extend your mighty scepter from Zion, saying, Rule in the midst of your enemies!" (Psalm 110:2).

Our Faithful God

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 01/25/18

The Scripture shows us again and again that, in the midst of disaster, God takes care of His faithful people. The testimony of these believers tells us again and again that, in the midst of depression, in the midst of grief, God blesses, God protects, God provides. But that's our God. He's a faithful God.

In Genesis, we read about God's faithful provision and protection over Jacob and his children from a severe famine. God made plans for this future threat that brought Joseph to the land of Egypt so that he could save Jacob and fulfill the promise that God gave to Abraham. In Exodus 10:21-23, while the entire nation of Egypt was plunged into darkness, there was light in the suburbs where the people of God lived. In 1 Kings 17, while all of Israel was experiencing perishing hunger, God was supplying His servant Elijah with food and water. That's our God.

No wonder the psalmist, after experiencing the goodness of God, could say in Psalm 84:11, "For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless." And in Psalm 37:25, David, with all his experience, could say, "I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread." That's our God. Do you know Him?

Prayer: God thank You for always being faithful to Your people. Thank You for always being faithful to me. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments" (Deuteronomy 7:9).

From Every Corner

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 01/24/18

We all want peace. In fact, the ancient people of God in the Old Testament were longing for peace. They looked forward to a day when that peace would be established by God Himself, and Psalm 87 reveals their longing for the peace of God.

The psalmist was looking forward to the day when believers from every corner of the globe will come together with love for God and one another. In that day, the holy city will be founded on the Rock of Ages, the Lord Jesus Christ. Any ministry, any church, or any home that is not built on that foundation will crumble. Any foundation other than the Rock of Ages is sinking sand.

People will come to God through Jesus Christ from every corner of the globe, from every tongue, from every nation, from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and from the ends of the earth.

Our God is the God of the universe. Our God is a global God. Our God loves all people everywhere, equally. When our only focus is our little world and our little problems, we miss out on the great joy of fulfilling God's purpose for our lives.

God's purpose was revealed before the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ in Bethlehem: People will come to know Him on an intimate basis through the Lord Jesus Christ, His Son, from every corner of the globe.

Prayer: Father, help me to remember that You are a global God and that You care about everyone, everywhere. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"I will record Rahab and Babylon among those who acknowledge me—Philistia too, and Tyre, along with Cush—and will say, This one was born in Zion'" (Psalm 87:4).

Hoping in the Messiah

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 01/23/18

Psalmists have predicted with accuracy the coming of the Lord Jesus. And He has come—our Savior, our Messiah. So what do the prophecies about Him mean for us today? How can we relate to these psalmists who spoke of Jesus 1,000 years before His birth when we are living 2,000 years after?

The psalmists were people just like us. They had warring emotions. On the one hand, courage when facing the enemies of God; on the other, utter despair before God. On the one hand, exuberant confidence in the presence of God; on the other, entreating cries to God to fulfill His promises. Can you identify with that? The Messianic psalms show us that regardless of our emotions toward our circumstances, we can come to God. Though God is awesome and mighty, He is also our loving provider. The psalmists help us look to God in all circumstances so that we rest in His faithful, unstoppable loving-kindness.

The psalmists also remind us that, while Christ has come, there is yet a more glorious day—the day of His return. They exhort us to remember the past, prepare in the present, and joyfully anticipate our future. That means remembering the work of the Lord in your life—the Hound of Heaven—seeking you out to bring you into His salvation. It means preparing now for the return of Jesus, allowing His Spirit to make every part of you subject to the King of Kings, for He alone is trustworthy and pure. And it means waiting expectantly for the future glory that is promised—being in the presence of the Lord, enjoying Him forever in the new heaven and the new earth. Come, Lord Jesus!

Prayer: My Lord and King, my hope is in You. Help me to remember Your goodness, prepare for Your coming, and anticipate the future consummation of Your purposes—Your eternal Kingdom. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see" (Hebrews 11:1).

The Bride of Christ

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 01/22/18

Psalm 45 is a wedding song, and it tells the story of the king's wedding. Therefore, this royal celebration is the wedding of all weddings. Psalm 45 is a prophecy about the coming of our groom, King Jesus. It paints a picture of King Jesus preparing a place for His bride, the church, and then coming back to take her to His Father's house.

In His first coming, Jesus betrothed every believer to Him on the cross of Calvary. He told everyone who belongs to Him: "I love you. I died for you. I have chosen you and have paid the heaviest dowry that could be paid with My own precious blood. I am betrothing you to Myself and am committed to you. I will take you to My Father's house."

For those who are part of the bride of Christ, soon—whether we go to Him first or He comes back to us first—we will hear those words: "Welcome home. I have been preparing My Father's house for you. I loved you with everlasting love. I have shown you My love on the cross; now you can see it fully. Come inherit your Father's Kingdom. I know that you have waited longingly for Me, but the wait is over. Now enter into My Father's glory."

Prayer: Father, thank You that when I accepted You, I became a part of the bride of Christ. Thank You for the inheritance that awaits me. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"As a young man marries a young woman, so will your Builder marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you" (Isaiah 62:5).

The Third Key to a Fulfilling Marriage: Conversation

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 01/21/18

Read Ephesians 5:21¬-33. You don't have to look far to find a marriage that appears to be healthy on the surface. It can be easy to develop a routine with your spouse; we just want to get things done—get through the day. And things may look fine and feel fine, but what has really happened is that this married couple has ceased to converse, and worse still, they are content with that. They don't realize the tremendous blessing of marital love and intimacy that they are forgoing.

There are several factors that contribute to the demise of conversational intimacy within a marriage. In my experience, there are three common weak points where the enemy applies pressure: our calendars, our children, and our conflicts.

These days it is tremendously easy to fill our calendars with good activities—work, school, church events, service projects, extracurriculars for the kids—but leave out essential time to converse with our spouse. Many couples never schedule time for themselves—to converse, to exchange their thoughts and feelings, to react to one another. Every couple needs time outside of the chaos of everyday life for conversation.

Small children, though they are a blessing from the Lord, can be one of the biggest hindrances to intimacy and conversation in marriage. Many people make the mistake of thinking children must come first in a marriage. But children draw security from seeing that Daddy is Mommy's number-one priority and that Mommy is Daddy's number-one priority. So it is healthy for the entire family when parents love one another well, following the example of Christ.

Lastly, there's conflict. It is a great fallacy to say that a good marriage does not have any conflict. The Truth is that the only way to avoid conflict in marriage is to stop conversing, thereby stifling intimacy. But if you make conflict your ally, handling it wisely, you and your spouse will grow in leaps and bounds.

Implementing these three practical principles will certainly improve your conversation in your marriage. But before you put them into practice, if you haven't already learned to pray together, hold hands and start praying! Pray for God to reveal to you your own inadequacies, weaknesses, and failures. Pray for the love of God to be poured into your heart toward your spouse. And see what new life He brings to your marriage.

Prayer: Father, forgive me for becoming complacent toward my spouse, for just getting through the day. Help me to prioritize with my spouse our calendars, children, and communication according to what will strengthen our relationship and glorify Your name. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit" (Proverbs 18:21).

The Second Key to a Fulfilling Marriage: Forgiveness

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 01/20/18

In Matthew 18:21-22, when Jesus told Peter that he should forgive "seventy-seven times," His intention was not that we should keep track of how many times someone sins against us. Rather, just as Abraham would have lost count staring up into the Middle Eastern sky to count the stars, Jesus is saying we should keep forgiving until we lose count, too. And nowhere is this more important than in marriage.

Many secular people today talk about forgiveness. But only those who have experienced the forgiveness of God, who know they have been forgiven much, can forgive others much. How can Christians intentionally develop this type of radical forgiveness in marriage?

First, it is important that we attack the insignificant. This is counterintuitive, and you may be thinking, "Doesn't it make more sense to focus on the major issues rather than the small things?" Normally it does, but to forgive in all things we have to start by learning to forgive the small things. When you train yourself by the power of the Holy Spirit to forgive your spouse the small offenses, you will be prepared for the hurricanes as well.

Next, we must arrest the incompatible, meaning that once we forgive and let go of the hurt, we need to obey 2 Corinthians 10:5: "Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." You see, even after we have decided on forgiveness, we will still be tempted to hold a grudge. This is just what the enemy wants so he can lead us into sin. That's why whenever even a thought of unforgiveness enters your mind, you must arrest it, right then and there. Don't let it get a foothold in your soul.

Finally, we must hold fast to our true identity. We have offended a holy God; we have wounded the heart of Jesus. And yet, every time we come to Him in confession and repentance, He extends forgiveness to us. This same power to forgive is available to all God's children through the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Thus, husbands are able to freely forgive their wives, and wives, their husbands, as they remember their true identity.

It is not easy to forgive with this kind of freedom. But whenever feelings of unforgiveness come to mind, we can look to Christ and choose to "forgive as the Lord forgave [us]" (Colossians 3:13).

Prayer: Father, help me to grasp the depth of Your love and grace for me. May I understand the dire state I was in before I received, through Christ, forgiveness and redemption. Then, by Your Spirit, I will forgive much in my relationships, just as I have been forgiven much. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you" (Colossians 3:13).

The First Key to a Fulfilling Marriage: Selflessness

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 01/19/18

Read Philippians 2:3-4. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were naked and without shame. This nakedness was of the physical sort, of course, but it was also a spiritual nakedness. You see, they had transparency with each other and with God. No secrets. No lies. No hidden shame. Nothing but openness and honesty. But when selfishness entered the hearts of our first parents, everything fell apart. Sin came in and blew everything up.

I am convinced that selfishness is Satan's number-one tool to destroy a marriage. The beautiful relationship that the first couple enjoyed—the kind of marriage that was only possible because of their selflessness and transparency—was dismantled by Satan in an instant. Now, every fight between married couples, from the time of Adam and Eve down to today, stems from self-centeredness.

You may be saying to yourself, "If this problem has been going on for this long, is there any hope for me? For my marriage?" With Jesus, there is always hope. When you live in the power of the Holy Spirit, you'll be able to live out the apostle Paul's command to "value others above yourselves" and become a Christlike spouse who is mature, magnanimous, and malleable (Philippians 2:3).

Mature Christians ask, "How can I sacrifice for my spouse's comfort?" not, "How can I get my spouse to do more for my comfort?" Mature Christians reflect, "How can I be more patient with my spouse? How can I respond gently when I am irritated?" This kind of maturity flows from God's Spirit at work in you.

Magnanimity is generosity and benevolence—core characteristics of selflessness. To bless their marriage, magnanimous Christians seek to understand their spouse's thought patterns, feelings, and needs.

Finally, selfless Christians are malleable or flexible, meaning that, in marriage, both husband and wife submit their personal desires to the other out of respect for Jesus. That's why you do it—out of reverence for Christ. As each person sacrifices for the other, we see the clearest picture of Christ's relationship with His church.

As you and your spouse together die to self, your marriage will reflect the power of the resurrection to bring new life and abundant joy.

Prayer: Lord, help me to see the ways that I act and think selfishly in my relationships. Give me the strength to submit to Your Spirit so that I can become mature, magnanimous, and malleable toward my spouse. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others" (Philippians 2:3-4).

Marriage It Was God’s Idea

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 01/18/18

I think God must love weddings. Consider this: Jesus performed His first miracle at a wedding by turning water into wine (see John 2:1-11). At the beginning of history, the first man wed the first woman when God presented Eve to Adam (see Genesis 2:21-24). And at the end of history, there will be the wedding feast of the Lamb when Christ and His bride, the church, are joined together forever (see Revelation 19:6¬-9).

Read Genesis 2:21-24. If God loves weddings, just imagine His feelings toward marriage. For a wedding is only a beginning, but the marriage that follows lasts a lifetime. God instituted marriage before there was sin in the world. It was part of His good and perfect plan for humanity, meant to reflect His relationship to His church (see Ephesians 5:32).

A creative force, marriage produces families, homes, and ultimately whole societies. If you want to see where a culture is heading, just look to its marital relationships. Are husbands and wives committed to their relationship? Or is divorce all too common? Is there an effort to redefine marriage? Is God's original design for families being twisted and destroyed? A culture that treats marriage like this cannot last.

Ultimately, marriage is one of the means at God's disposal to make us more like Him. It is God's intention that husbands and wives grow more like Christ as they grow closer to one another. Of course, this isn't easy; there are challenges in every marriage. That's why our wedding vows talk about richer and poorer, sickness and health. Add to the mix our own sinfulness, and you'll understand why I say that my marriage has only lasted because of the grace of God—and the grace of my wife.

I believe there are three foundational stones to a fulfilling relationship: selflessness, forgiveness, and conversation. You'll find that in any marriage, any problem—or any potential problem—has at its source a lack of one of these three things.

In the following devotions, we'll take a look at each of these to reveal how to have a marriage crafted according to God's design—a masterpiece that brings beauty and strength to the world and glory to God.

Prayer: Father, thank You for the beauty of marriage. As I consider the foundational stones to a fulfilling relationship, empower me to put them into practice for the good of my family and community. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"Marriage should be honored by all" (Hebrews 13:4).

The Significance of Marriage

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 01/17/18

Marriage belongs to God's created order. From the beginning, the Creator made them, male and female.

Our Lord Jesus tells us that marriage is exclusive. In the Greek text, it literally says, "God made one male for one female." God engraved this exclusive union into the created order with His own finger. He put it together—one Adam, one Eve. God created this first family. God looked at this union between the man and the woman, and He said, "This is good." As the apostle Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 7:4, "The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife."

Marriage is also uniting. The Lord Jesus Christ said that a husband and wife are no longer two, but one flesh (see Matthew 19:6). C.S. Lewis described marriage this way in his book Mere Christianity:

The Christian idea of marriage is based on Christ's words that a man and wife are to be regarded as a single organism—for that is what the words "one flesh" would be in modern English. And the Christians believe that when He said this He was not expressing a sentiment but stating a fact—just as one is stating a fact when one says that a lock and its key are one mechanism, or that a violin and a bow are one musical instrument. (58).

Marriage is designed to be a permanent union. The Lord said, "Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate" (Mark 10:9). God joins people together—not the minister—and we must reassert again and again that this is the will of God and anything less than that is not the will of God.

Prayer: God, thank You for creating marriage. Help me to guard my marriage and to remember that this union between a man and a woman is part of Your plan from the very beginning of time. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him'" (Genesis 2:18).

Singleness and Contentment

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 01/16/18

In 1 Corinthians 7:25-40, Paul encourages those who have the gift of remaining single to stay single—to rejoice in it, have fun, and serve the Lord. Spiritually speaking, the single person and the married person have no advantage over each other since no one is spiritually superior because of their marital condition. But Paul is saying that single people have some practical advantages that married people do not have.

In verse 25, he tells us clearly that this is his personal counsel and not a command from the Lord. But he has good reasons to recommend singleness. Don't forget that at the time Paul was writing this epistle, intense and horrific persecution was increasing in the Roman Empire under Nero. So Paul was being very practical when he called singles to remain single if they could do so without sinning. Persecution is difficult enough for a single person, but multiplied when a spouse and children are involved, just as our persecuted brethren around the world can attest.

Paul also points out that marriage, while it may solve some problems, can cause a whole lot more. When two people are bound together in marriage, problems of human nature are multiplied. When you are dating, you tend to see only each other's good points, but marriage allows you to see your spouse's faults with a magnifying glass. So we must consider marriage carefully and cling to the grace of God when we combine two distinct personalities, two sets of likes and dislikes, two sets of emotions, two sets of characteristics, two sets of temperaments, and two sets of wills.

Another reason Paul gives for exercising the gift of celibacy is the shortness of time (see 1 Corinthians 7:29-34). Both for single and married people, he reminds us that life is short and this world is passing away, so we shouldn't let earthly concerns and sorrows eat us up. Rather, focus on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Believers must learn to be content in whatever condition and situation they are. God has a purpose and plan for you; figure out what it is. Learn to love God and His Kingdom above all else.

Prayer: God, help me to be content with where You have me today. Help me to focus on You and not my circumstances. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation" (Philippians 4:12).

Always Holding Someone Up

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 01/14/18

Our society has slyly attached negative connotations to the word submission. Instead of finding joy in serving others, our minds often run to thoughts of service under a ruthless taskmaster.

However, when the apostle Paul wrote about wives submitting to their spouses, he was giving an edict of love and not a directive for one to control the other. In fact, he was issuing an invitation for husbands and wives to pursue godliness in lifting one another up. This principle applies to all of us.

Dawson Trotman, founder of the world-wide discipleship ministry called The Navigators, was a man who truly modeled his life after the Lord Jesus Christ. He died in Schroon Lake, New York, by drowning even though he was an experienced swimmer.

After a day of waterskiing, an exhausted Trotman climbed back into the speedboat to take a seat. But before settling down, he asked the young woman next to him if she knew how to swim. She didn't, so he traded seats with her to try to keep her more safely situated. The boat suddenly hit a wave and sent the young lady and Trotman overboard. He held her up while the boat circled around, and saved her life. But by the time rescuers reached back down to haul Trotman up, he had breathed his last. The next week, TIME Magazine ran an article on Trotman's life. The caption that ran beneath his picture read, "Always Holding Someone Up." In one phrase, that was Trotman's life—holding people up.

Perhaps this is what the apostle Paul was writing about when he instructed husbands and wives to love one another and be willing to sacrifice for each other. Men must park their egos, and women must serve with humility. Submission can be a difficult task but with God's direction, you will reach your goal.

Prayer: Lord, help me uphold those around me today. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship" (Romans 12:1).

Leadership Is the Husband’s Role

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 01/13/18

Our society today does not embrace many of God's edicts with open arms. And when it comes to the subject of men and their role in the family, the world usually turns up its collective nose at what the Bible says and pronounces it antiquated and old-fashioned.

However, there is nothing out-of-date about what the Bible says. When God calls men to be the leaders of their families, He does so unapologetically. The trouble begins when others mistakenly determine what it means to be a leader.

When the Bible says men are to love their wives as Christ loved the church, we must look at this relationship carefully. Jesus clearly led His disciples with love stemming from a heart of servanthood.

To lead anyone well, we must first understand what it means to be a servant. God did not call men to lord over women; rather, He called men to be humble servants who put their wives first in all decisions.

In fulfilling God's calling to lead their wives, men must view this position with high regard. It takes strength and wisdom, which come in ample supply to a heart that is yielded to the Holy Spirit. It takes tenderness and kindness, which are crucial to developing a servant's heart.

Being called the leader of the home is an awesome privilege, but so is being a servant. As you serve those you love, ask God to teach you how to love your wife the way Christ loved the church and to be the kind of leader who honors God in the way you live.

Prayer: Lord, help me to be the leader and the man You have called me to be. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers" (1 Peter 3:7).

Authority in Marriage

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 01/12/18

We go all the way back to the Garden of Eden to see the first marriage in action. Adam was in charge of the garden and given the assignment to name all the animals. God created a helpmate for him—a woman over whom he was to spread his wings of love and protection, a woman to support, nourish, and cherish.

But where was Adam when Eve was tempted? What responsibility did Adam take when God confronted him with his sin?

None, it would appear. Instead of leading, Adam was following. But even more devastating than this, he abdicated his leadership responsibility. The God who searches the depths of our hearts called out to Adam. God didn't say, "Eve, Eve, where are you?" He called Adam even though He knew who did what.

The Scripture says a husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church (see Ephesians 5:25). How does Christ love the church? He gives Himself up for her. God's love is all-sacrificing. There is not a tinge of selfishness. It is willful, determined love. His love for her is not dependent upon His feeling or mood. It is a constant love. His love for her is nourishing, cherishing, sustaining.

There is only one way in which this tall order can be fulfilled. It is through obedience to God and His Word. The lines of authority have been spelled out since the day of creation. The husband is responsible to God, not his wife. The wife is responsible, in the Lord, to her husband. This is God's standard, not man's standard. And when we obey it, we find fulfillment. The result is oneness, peace, and harmony.

Prayer: Father, thank You for demonstrating the way a husband is to love his wife as You love the church. Thank You for the peace and fulfillment that we have when we follow Your standards for marriage. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her" (Ephesians 5:25).

Roles in Marriage

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 01/11/18

The contrast between what God expects from the husband and what He expects from the wife is clear in Scripture. The roles are complementary. These roles were planned by Almighty God, all-wise, to enable the husband and the wife to function together rather than bumping into each other. Marriage roles were designed to contribute rather than deprive, to offer freedom rather than shackles.

Husbands and wives have distinctive roles. That is the way God created everything. He separated things. He separated light from darkness, and He called them day and night. He created men and women with different needs, different positions, and different roles.

When Eve ate the fruit and disobeyed what she knew was the command of God, she was claiming her own rights. What Eve saw as her right had nothing to do with the will of God. Rather than reaping contentment and joy, clinging to her own rights caused her to reap discontentment and sorrow. Contentment and joy do not come when you get all your rights. They come when you obey God.

The Word of God commands wives to submit to their husbands. That means that wives shouldn't try to compete with their husbands, but rather they should encourage them and help them to occupy their proper place as the head of the home. Wives, love your husbands. Pray for your husbands. Give them respect and honor them as you honor the Lord, and the Lord will reward you.

Prayer: God, thank You for the distinctive roles You've given husbands and wives. Help us to embrace them, and open our eyes to see the benefit and wisdom of them. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord" (Ephesians 5:22).

United in God’s Love

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 01/10/18

When you think of the word submission, what images come to mind? Do you think of the relationship between parent and child or employer and employee, or do you immediately think of the marriage relationship?

In the area of marriage, God's Word is very clear. From His point of view, the husband is to be the head of his wife. He is the one who stands accountable for his family. To his wife, he is a representative of the glory of God. Just as Christ is the head of the church, a husband is the head of his wife.

However, we must understand that God commands a husband to love his wife with the same love that Jesus has for the church, a love that is unconditional and full of grace and mercy. This love does not fade with time, nor is it marred by stormy trials—it is steadfast and eternal.

In fact, a man is required to love his wife as he loves himself. Few women or men would ever turn away from this type of love. God's plan for marriage was designed to enable a husband and wife to grow together in God's love.

Almost every year a new book appears on the bookshelves declaring the age-old Truth that men and women are different. While this is true in many areas, we must not forget that marriage is a union; not a competition. There should not be a struggle over who is weak and who is strong.

When both husband and wife are submitting to God in their devotion to one another and to Him, there will be a wonderful sense of freedom that emerges from their lives and from the lives of everyone in their family.

If you are struggling with the thought of submission, ask God to help you view it from His perspective. The first step to true love and unity within the family begins with love through submission.

Prayer: Father, empower me by Your Spirit to submit to Your will for marriage that husbands and wives should submit to one another. Help me to live out Your steadfast love toward my spouse as I look to the Gospel of grace. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ" (Ephesians 5:21).

Created for Relationships

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 01/09/18

For the past several decades, the roles of men and women have been compared, debated, and challenged. If the numerous books and articles about the roles of men and women confuse you, you are not alone. In our society, there are conflicting ideas on the position of men and women in the workplace, the church, and in relationships, particularly marriage.

While these countless philosophies attempt to capture our attention, there is one reliable source we can turn to for answers and assurance: the inspired and infallible Word of God.

Some people see the Biblical duty of a husband and wife as outmoded and obsolete. However, when we study God's Word, we gain a far greater perspective on the subject of marriage. Marriage is a complex and wonderful relationship ordained by God. In fact, He created us for relationships. God knew that it was not good for man to remain alone (see Genesis 2:18). From its beginning, the institution of marriage was designed as a partnership with the husband as the head of his household.

Perhaps you have not yet married. Paul reminds us that Christ is the head of every man and woman (see 1 Corinthians 11:3). He is the one who loves us with an everlasting love. This is the same love He requires us to have for one another, especially for our spouses.

Prayer: Father, thank You for instituting marriage. Help me to look to Your Word as the authority on my marital relationship so that I can honor You in obedience and have a marriage that honors You and thus blesses my spouse, my family, my community, and myself. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior" (Ephesians 5:23).

Yielded

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 01/08/18

Meekness isn't something we can accomplish on our own. We must choose to rely upon the Lord to help us respond to life with kindness, gentleness, and a quiet spirit. Ask God daily for help to respond to others as Jesus responded. The Holy Spirit will guide you in what to say and do. "He will guide you into all the truth" (John 16:13).

Those who are truly meek—meaning they trust in Christ with patient faith and grace—make the most powerful prayer intercessors because they commit everything into the hands of God. Intercession is what Jesus is doing for us right now. He is seated at the right hand of the Father, interceding for us, bringing all our concerns and needs to the Father. The Holy Spirit always leads us to do what Jesus is doing. Just as Jesus is praying for us, it is our responsibility to pray for others.

A great blessing of meekness is that it removes from us the burden of self-defense and self-promotion. How many people do you know who strive to prove themselves to other people? They continually try to build themselves up in order to win approval or praise. They are struggling to raise themselves up to the position where other people will think they are worthy, valuable, lovable, important. They put themselves in an ongoing competition with others and eventually bring misery to their lives.

In sharp contrast, the person who yields all glory and honor to God is a person who is freed from a spirit of competition and instead is given a spirit of cooperation. The person who is meek seeks to help others succeed.

When we yield all authority and glory to God, we truly stand in humility before Him. We are yielding all to Him, and we stand in position to do His bidding at all times. What do you need to yield to God today?

Prayer: God, I pray that Your Spirit would reveal to me any areas that I have not yielded to You. I pray that You would give me strength to develop humility and meekness and to understand what it means to truly be gentle. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience" (Colossians 3:12).

Intercessory Prayer

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 01/07/18

There are three things to remember when praying for our world, our neighbors, our friends, and our family members. We must employ penitent, persistent, and persuasive prayer. The Bible gives us an example of an effective intercessor in Abraham's intercession for Sodom (see Genesis 18:16-33).

Penitent prayer — Abraham did not come to God demanding. He didn't say, "God, please do this. It's very important for You to do this." He did not come to God enumerating all his righteous deeds, all his righteous acts. In fact, he said, "I am nothing but dust and ashes" (Genesis 18:27).

Persistent prayer — When Abraham interceded for Sodom, he persisted in his prayer. He didn't pray flippantly once or twice then give up. He continually petitioned for Sodom and his family. Six times Abraham would make his request of the Lord. Each time he saw the grace of God extended, and he became emboldened to ask for more.

Persuasive prayer — How should our prayers be persuasive? By twisting God's arm? No. Persuasive prayer is pleading the character of God. When we plead with God on the basis of who He is and what He promises, we are praying a persuasive prayer.

To impact our nation—and beyond—we must continue interceding with penitent, persistent, and persuasive prayer. Pray for those who deny the very power of the Gospel. Are you willing to intercede on behalf of others and stand in the gap for those who need Him?

Prayer: God, help me to be penitent, persistent, and persuasive in my prayers for others. Help me to be faithful to intercede, especially for those who don't know You. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer" (Romans 12:12).

Aligning with God’s Will in Prayer

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 01/06/18

It is our calling to reach others for Christ. We must intercede on behalf of all who are lost so that they in turn can answer Jesus' call. After His resurrection in each of the four Gospels, and in the book of Acts, Jesus said, "As the Father sent me, I send you." He commissioned us, "Go and tell. Be my witnesses. Go and make disciples. Train them. Go and stand in the gap."

Jesus' people need to humble themselves and pray, aligning their will with the will of God. We must ask, "God, what is Your will so I can pray Your will and have my will aligned with Yours?" That's the right way to pray. We will only see the fruit of answering His call when our will is aligned with His. The Bible gives us countless examples of how aligning our will with His in prayer yields great intercessory results.

When Moses aligned his will with God's will, God brought water out of the rock. When Joshua aligned his will with the will of God, the sun stood still in its orbit. When David aligned his will with the will of God, Goliath fell. When Elijah aligned his will with the will of God, fire came from heaven on Mount Carmel and licked up everything, including the water. And when Daniel aligned his will with the will of God, mouths of lions were zipped.

That's what happens when we align our wills with the will of God and intercede.

Prayer: God, help me to align myself with Your will so that I can faithfully intercede for others. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done" (Luke 22:42).

The Source of True Spirituality

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 01/05/18

Those who believe that true spirituality is defined exclusively by the Bible are often accused of being intolerant. I am glad to accept this false accusation as long as I am declaring the Truth of God's Word that shows us the only source of true spirituality is the Holy Spirit.

The Bible tells us the Holy Spirit is a person (see John 14:26; 16:13-15). He is the third member of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit is not an impersonal force; He is more aptly referred to as the Holy Spirit of Almighty God.

The Hebrew word for "spirit" is ruach, which means "breath" or "wind." One of the foremost word pictures of the Holy Spirit found in Scripture is the title Breath of God (see Job 33:4). In fact, the first word picture associated with the Spirit is that of breath—of something that makes the air move, even to the point of vigorous or violent motion (see Genesis 1:2). It is a picture of energy released, an outward moving force of power.

As we seek to gain understanding of God's Spirit, it is important to know that the Holy Spirit desires God's best for us. He works in us individually. He convicts us of sin, glorifies Christ, leads and guides us, teaches and commands us, intercedes for us, and provides divine help and care. The Holy Spirit prays through us that God's perfect will might be done in our lives.

In John 14-16, Jesus made it clear that after His resurrection, the Holy Spirit would be His personal representative on earth, indwelling Jesus' disciples.

The Holy Spirit is the full expression of God the Father and God the Son. Jesus said the Spirit would enable us to become more like Him (see John 14:12, 15-17, 26; 15:4-17; 16:8, 13-15). The Spirit is the fullness of God's character, love, presence, plan, and purpose.

As the Spirit does His work, He transforms us into the image of Christ Jesus. The process of spiritual transformation brings tremendous healing to the person who previously had been ripped apart by sin. Only the Holy Spirit can renew our minds and bring us to the wholeness of spiritual transformation.

Will you stop for a moment and thank God for the gift of His Holy Spirit? Then depend on the indwelling Spirit to work in you and through you as you go about your day's activities.

Prayer: Lord, because of Your great love, I am being transformed into Your likeness. Thank You for the gift of Your Spirit. Please help me to depend on Your Spirit to work in my life today. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us" (Romans 5:5).

The Treasures of God’s Word

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 01/04/18

Those who do not spend time diligently seeking wisdom from the Bible, those who read it without comprehending it, even those who memorize it without applying it to their lives are missing the treasure that comes from the Word of God.

What are some of these treasures? Proverbs 2 says that when you accept the Word of God and seek to understand and obey it, "Wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you" (Proverbs 2:10-11).

Seek godly wisdom from the Word of the Lord. True wisdom and her benefits are priceless: "Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her" (Proverbs 3:13-15).

So what is wisdom? It's not merely the accumulation of knowledge so that one is characterized as smart or savvy, but it is the source of moral and ethical principles, which are integral to a God-honoring lifestyle.

Seek and choose this wisdom—with all its blessings, with all its protection, and with all its promises.

Prayer: God, thank You for the treasures available to us in Your Word. Help me to seek wisdom from Your Word every day. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:2-3).

Feeding Out Souls

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 01/03/18

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what one possession would you want with you? If you're like many people, you answered, "The Bible." Why? Because we value it as the Word of God, and we know that if we were alone and in turmoil, the Bible is the one book that would bring us spiritual comfort. But that is a "what if" scenario.

In reality, our actions show something very different. We neglect our Bibles. We forget that they are there. And when we do read God's Word, it's a rushed process. Why is it that the one book we would choose above all others is the last one on our bookshelves to be read?

Throughout the Bible we learn of humanity's rebellion and how it was met with God's redemption. The Old Testament tells us that Christ is coming, and the New Testament tells us He is here. Each time we read a passage in the Bible, we should study it in light of God's overall plan of salvation and the work of the Messiah.

We need the Bible—not only to learn of God's redemption, but to grow in our relationship with Him. The Word of God is the only food that can feed our souls. Scripture tells us, "Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD" (Deuteronomy 8:3b). Many of God's children are spiritually malnourished because they are neglecting their spiritual food.

Prayer: Father, thank You for Your Word. Help me to remember the importance of it. Help me to take time every day to study Your Word. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD" (Deuteronomy 8:3b).

The Obstacles of Worldly Thinking

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 01/02/18

Resisting the world's pressures can be painful. Paul warns, "Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived" (2 Timothy 3:12-13).

Jesus gives a similar warning: "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you" (John 15:18-19).

When we are following God's principles for living, when we seek purity and righteousness, when we act and speak with integrity, the world is going to resent us for it. We cannot expect a world in darkness to understand our desire to walk in the light. Regardless of the cynicism or ridicule we face, God calls us to His standard of obedience and righteousness.

We don't have to do this work alone. The Holy Spirit will guide us through the obstacles of worldly thinking. The Bible will show us the Truth when we are confronted by lies. "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

The more time we spend in God's Word, the more our hearts and minds align with His will. Choosing to do the right thing becomes easier when we begin to understand God's ways. Standing for the Truth becomes easier when we find encouragement and strength in Scripture. But apart from God, we will quickly become enmeshed in the world's ways of thinking.

Prayer: God, thank You for Your Spirit within me to guide me through the obstacles of worldly thinking. Thank You for Your Word that exposes the lies around me. Help me to stay in Your Word so that my heart and mind will be aligned with Yours. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil" (John 3:19).

Good News for the New Year

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 01/01/18

There are moments when it seems that the only news available is bad news. Headlines fill with stories of deception, financial ruin, sickness, and natural disasters. In an attempt to escape the bad news, many people travel long roads in search of a peace that seems to continually elude them. Rather than reaching their destination fulfilled, they hit dead ends and return home disillusioned and exhausted.

This is nothing new. It was the same in Jesus' day. Rather than turn to God and embrace the Good News of the Savior's coming, people sought their own roads to eternal peace. However, only the Good News of Jesus Christ addresses the root cause of mankind's dissatisfaction, the sin that separates us from the Father. Only the Gospel offers us the way to reconciliation with God that brings eternal security, peace, and joy.

Do you need good news today? The best news of all time is that Jesus loves you and He has provided the way for a full and loving relationship with the Father. As you begin this new year, spend some time asking God to reveal His heart to you as you reflect on the wonder of Christ's sacrifice.

Prayer: Father, I desire the eternal peace that only Jesus Christ can bring. I pray You will reveal Your heart to me and guide me on Your path this year. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1).

Contact Us

Bunker Hill Community Church
170 Pleasant Drive
Aliquippa (Center Township), PA 15001
Phone #: 724-375-6700

Email: [email protected]

Service

Sundays
Sunday School - Adults & Children 9:45 am
Sunday Worship at 11:00 am
 
Wednesday Evening
Bible Study & Prayer 7:00 pm

Upcoming Events

No upcoming events

God Save America - By Michael Youssef, Ph D.

Please continue to pray for the leaders of America.