Having Faith, as small as a mustard seed can move mountains!
We Can Do All Things, Through Christ Jesus, Our Lord!
DAILY DEVOTIONAL 08/20/18
Using the Gift of Healing
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 08/20/18
When someone has the gift of healing, that person heals others out of a desire to bring God the glory He deserves. The spiritual gift of healing does not manifest because of the need of the patient. Nor does it flow from the person healing. The power for healing comes from God alone—Jehovah Rapha, the Lord our Healer.
Only the Holy Spirit decides who receives this gift and how it will be used to bless others with supernatural spiritual, emotional, and physical healing. Those with the gift of healing have the ability to pray in faith and see God intervene supernaturally, no matter the need. These believers know that the power is God’s and that they can claim no credit.
Thank God today for your spiritual healing that began the day you accepted Him as your Savior. Thank God for any emotional, physical, or spiritual healing that has taken place in you or your family in the past. Ask Him for healing in any area where you are feeling weak.
If you have been given the spiritual gift of healing, give thanks and ask the Lord to guide you in this gift for His glory.
Prayer: God, thank You for the spiritual, emotional, and physical healing that I have seen in my life and the lives of those around me. Help me to always give You glory when I see healing in my own life or in the lives of others. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed, save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise" (Jeremiah 17:14).
DAILY DEVOTIONAL 08/19/18 to 08/18/18
Exercising the Gift of Prophecy
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 08/19/18
How, then, do we exercise the gift of prophecy? We prophesy by applying the Word of God to every situation in our lives. The Bible has a word for you about everything from national politics to family situations. Through Scripture, the prophets and apostles Biblically instruct, warn, and exhort us as they promote righteousness and condemn the practice of dead religion. They extend God’s gracious invitation for people to repent, and they tell of God’s promise to bless those who obey Him. There is a word for every situation in our lives in God’s Holy Bible.
John Stott said that when we exercise the gift of prophecy and bring a word from God, relying faithfully on Scripture, we will disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed. Prophecy is a gift for the strengthening, encouraging, and comforting of the church. It is to be eagerly desired as a gift that builds up the body of Christ.
The gift of prophecy manifests itself when a believer is able to give insight into the Word of God and accurately apply it to a given situation. Prophecy is operating when you have the right word to witness to someone or to instruct your children. Prophecy may take the form of teaching and preaching, or it may be as simple as having the right verse for a person in a time of need. When we exercise the gift of prophecy, we must, like John Newton, the former slave-trader, aim "to break a hard heart and to heal a broken heart.
Prayer: Lord, thank You for the gift of prophecy. I pray that You would give me daily insight into Your Word. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"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 Gift of Prophecy
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 08/18/18
It seems like every time we turn on the news, we hear about global disasters, terrorism, and political unrest. The frequency of these events seems to be increasing at an unprecedented rate, which has led to a greater interest in the gift of prophecy.
Unfortunately, even some religious leaders are creating confusion by predicting the date of the end of the world. Never before have we needed to understand what the true gift of prophecy is and what it is not.
In Matthew 24, Jesus clearly states that no one can predict the hour or the day of His return and the end of the age. Only the Father knows the time. Therefore, anyone who says he knows the exact date of the end of the age is speaking contrary to God’s Word.
Although speaking about events in the future is related to the gift of prophecy, Christians must make sure that what they believe about prophecy lines up with God’s Word. The word prophecy is composed of two words that mean "forth" and "telling." "Forth-telling" is very different from foretelling or predicting the future.
Any Christian can speak forth what he knows to be true about the past, present, or future when his foundation for Truth is the Word of God—God’s revelation of Himself. God gave authority and inspiration through the Holy Spirit to a group of prophets and apostles to record His Truth in the Bible, God’s Holy Word. Then He closed the book. No one can add to or take away from what God has included in His Word. The source of prophecy today is the Bible. Anyone who speaks anything that is inconsistent with the Truth expressed in His Word is not speaking for God.
Prayer: God, thank You for giving us Your Word as our guide. Help me know Your Word intimately so that I will know when someone is speaking inconsistently with what You’ve revealed in Scripture. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort" (1 Corinthians 14:3).
DAILY DEVOTIONAL 08/17/18
Understanding Spiritual Gifts
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 08/17/18
Some of the gifts of the Spirit are also commands given to all believers. For example, every believer must tithe, and yet, giving is listed as a gift of the Spirit. We are called to be witnesses of Christ, and yet, evangelism is listed as a gift of the Spirit. There are certain people who have been given an extra measure of certain gifts to serve to build up the body of Christ.
As we discuss spiritual gifts, we must also be aware of counterfeit gifts. Jesus said in Matthew 24:24, "For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.”
Satan is a supernatural being with supernatural power, and he uses that power to deceive. In the last days, Satan and the Antichrist will try to deceive the elect. But, do not fear, the Lord will give you discernment to stand against this deceit.
If you don’t know your spiritual gifts, you may want to take a spiritual gifts test. Once you have discovered your gifts, ask the Lord to guide you in using them to build up the body. Using your gifts will fill you with great joy as you see the Lord work in ways you never anticipated.
Prayer: Father, guide me as I seek to discover my spiritual gifts. Help me also to be on guard against counterfeit gifts as the end draws near. May I hold fast to Your Word. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Since you are eager for gifts of the Spirit, try to excel in those that build up the church" (1 Corinthians 14:12).
DAILY DEVOTIONAL 08/16/18
The Purpose of Being Empowered
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 08/16/18
The gifts of the Holy Spirit laid out in 1 Corinthians 12 are not simply human talents. They may not even be what we like or what best suits our personalities. These gifts, freely given to us by God, have a divine origin and are to be used for the accomplishment of a divine goal. In 1 Corinthians 12:7, we read, "Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good." God empowers His children with these spiritual gifts for a purpose: that the church may be built up.
God’s purpose in giving us spiritual gifts is to edify the body of Christ. These gifts are not given to enhance our self-esteem or to be used for our own advantage, but rather that we might serve others. We are given these gifts so that we might encourage, bless, serve, love, motivate, and build one another up (see Galatians 5:13, 1 Thessalonians 5:11, and 1 Peter 1:22). God desires every Christian to be an active participant in His church by utilizing these gifts.
In 1 Corinthians 13, the apostle Paul warns us that any exercise of the spiritual gifts without love is meaningless. Without bearing the fruit of the Holy Spirit, our attempt to exercise the spiritual gifts will not build up the body of Christ. But when we exercise our gifts in love, the entire body is blessed.
The only way for the church to function according to the will of God is for every believer to exercise his or her God-given gifts—in humility, love, and obedience to God. When someone in the body is hurting, another comforts him. When someone is blessed, another rejoices.
When the body is functioning according to the will of God, bearing the fruit of the Spirit and exercising the gifts of the Spirit, the church is able to accomplish its God-given mission of displaying Christ to a watching world.
Therefore, there is a greater purpose to the edification of the body of Christ—the accomplishment of the Great Commission. As the Holy Spirit empowers the body of Christ with a heart of radical love and compassion, the lost are eternally welcomed into the family of God. Only through the Holy Spirit working in us can we love God rightly, love His church rightly, and love the world rightly—and so accomplish Christ’s mission.
Prayer: Lord, thank You for giving me special gifts to edify the body of Christ and to bring the light of Your love to those lost in darkness. May Your Spirit move me to love in such a way that my gifts bring You glory and lead souls to salvation in You. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good" (1 Corinthians 12:7).
DAILY DEVOTIONAL 08/15/18 08/01/18
Daily Filled to Bear Fruit
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 08/15/18
When we do not seek the Holy Spirit’s filling each day, we become more and more influenced by our sinful nature. Paul warned the Galatians: "So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want" (Galatians 5:16-17).
However, for those of us who are sealed and daily filled by the Holy Spirit, we can experience His fruit: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. . . . Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit" (Galatians 5:22-25).
We need to stay connected to Him in order to bear His fruit. If we begin to shut God out of our hearts, we will cease to be fruitful. Jesus explained, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5).
Prayer: God, forgive me for neglecting my relationship with You. Help me keep in step with the Spirit so that I will bear His fruit in my life. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and of life" (John 6:63).
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 08/14/18
When we are sealed by the Holy Spirit and experience the moment-by-moment filling of the Spirit, we begin to bear the fruit of the Spirit. We begin to manifest the outworking, or the results, of the Holy Spirit’s presence. His work is manifested in our thoughts and emotions and in our behavior toward others.
If you have ever watched the harvesting of grapes, you know that two people usually work together. One person holds an open basket while the other cuts the grapes and lays clusters in the open container. In a similar way, as long as a person is walking closely connected to the Lord and is keeping his life open to receive the daily filling of the Holy Spirit, he will see his life filled with the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is character rather than conduct; it is being rather than doing. The "fruit" is the likeness of the Holy Spirit.
What is our part in the fruit-bearing process? Staying connected to the Holy Spirit. If you leave a branch attached to a healthy grapevine, it naturally will bear grapes. True spirituality works the same way. As we remain connected to God’s Son through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, we will naturally bear spiritual fruit—the evidence of true spirituality. If we are separate from Him—or if we separate ourselves from Him through disobedience—then we can no more produce spiritual fruit than a dead branch cut off from the grapevine can produce grapes.
Prayer: God, help me stay connected to You that I might bear spiritual fruit, becoming more like You every day. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me" (John 15:4).
Gifts, Talents, Fruit – Which Is Which?
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 08/13/18
Spiritual gifts are not the same as natural talents. Every human being—Christian and non-Christian alike—is created in God’s own image, and, by virtue of being created in God’s own image, we are born with natural talents. But the gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as prophesying, serving, teaching, encouraging, giving, mercy, wisdom, faith, healing, and others that are listed in Romans 12:6-8 and 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, 28, are different from the natural talents we are born with.
Talents inspire and entertain, but spiritual gifts build up the body of Christ .Something supernatural happens when a spiritual gift is exercised that simply cannot happen when a talent is exerted. On occasion, however, when someone becomes born again, the Holy Spirit breathes on that person’s natural talent, and He turns it into a spiritual gift.
Clearly, spiritual gifts are powerful for the building up of the Kingdom of God. But they can lose their effectiveness if we neglect to grow in the fruit of the Spirit. In Galatians 5:22-23, Paul identifies this fruit as "love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." Not all spiritual gifts are given to all believers, but the fruit of the Spirit should be evident in all who abide in Christ. The gifts of the Spirit define what a believer does, but the fruit of the Spirit defines who a believer is.
Love is the first and foremost fruit of abiding in Christ. Without love, our gifts are meaningless. No matter what our gift is, our goal should always be to glorify God and to love others.
Prayer: God, may the fruit of the Spirit be evident in my life. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way. . . . if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing" (1 Corinthians 12:31, 13:2).
Receive God’s Love
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 08/12/18
Love is the foremost attribute of our relationship with God. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine that the Almighty Creator of the universe wants a relationship with us when we are so unlovable. But God’s love is unconditional. He is actively seeking us. Because He loves us, we can love Him in response. This love is not meant to stop with God; He calls us to love others, too.
To love other people, we must first accept God’s love for ourselves. Jesus tells us, "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you" (John 15:12). Love causes us to reach out to others and build relationships, to encourage people, and to act in ways that bless those around us.
Read Romans 5:6-8. God not only loves us now, but he loved us even before we acknowledged Him. He will not force us to accept His love, but empowers us by His Spirit to receive and rejoice in it. And, oh, what a love it is! "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38-39).
Prayer: God, thank You for loving me, even when I feel so unlovable. Help me love You in return so that I can also love others with the gracious, unconditional love You have given me. 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).
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 08/11/18
To live a godly life in Christ we must.
Have hearts focused and set on Christ. We do this by committing ourselves to prayer and the study of God’s Word. We can’t set our hearts on Christ or learn to live godly lives unless we follow the instruction manual that God has given to us—the Bible.
Refuse to get caught up in busy work, believing that we are pleasing God. The greatest gift you can give the Lord is not a full schedule that includes one church meeting after another. Immorality can steal and rob us of a beautiful relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, but busyness can also prevent us from getting to know God in a personal way. We should not allow anything we are doing for God to prevent us from being with God.
Realize that God loves us with an unconditional love. When we draw nearer and nearer to Christ, our desire to follow the way of temptation will fade. No one will ever care as much for us as the Savior does. Christ died so that we might have eternal life. His grace is a gift that cannot be purchased through good works or outstanding behavior. He loved us even before we were born, and He loves us now. We cannot earn His love, and we cannot lose it.
Invest in our spiritual future. We are involved in a spiritual battle. Unseen forces wage war against us, but Christ has won the ultimate victory for us. We are victorious only through faith in Jesus Christ—faith that must be built and maintained through love and devotion to God’s Son.
Prayer: God, help me to live a godly life that honors You. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"You ought to live holy and godly lives" (2 Peter 3:11).
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 08/10/18
As children of God, not only do we have the gift of eternal life, but we have also gained His favor. God Himself will sustain us, strengthen us, and restore us: "And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work" (2 Corinthians 9:8).
Our gift of salvation is an absolute assurance of our spiritual inheritance. "And we boast in the hope of the glory of God" (Romans 5:2). Our hope is not merely wishful thinking—it is an absolute certainty. God Himself tells us, "My salvation will last forever, my righteousness will never fail" (Isaiah 51:6).
No matter what we face in life, we know that God’s gift of salvation is real and His promises stand forever. "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure" (Hebrews 6:19).
Even when we suffer for Christ, we know it is not meaningless. Paul encourages us that, "we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope" (Romans 5:3—4).
Through Christ, we are guaranteed God’s amazing love so that "hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us" (Romans 5:5). Even when we were completely unworthy of His grace, God loved us. "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).
As we "boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation," we can be sure of overwhelming joy (Romans 5:11). Even during difficult circumstances, we can take joy in our salvation. "Then my soul will rejoice in the LORD and delight in his salvation" (Psalm 35:9).
Prayer: Father, thank You for the many gifts You give me as Your child. Thank You for Your favor, promises, and love. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever" (1 Chronicles 16:34).
I Can Do All Things
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 08/09/18
What is the secret to being content in any and every situation? Trusting in God’s redemptive power at work in you.
Read Philippians 4:10-13
Joy dwells in the hearts of those who trust in God’s power, not their own. This is what Paul meant when he said, "I can do all this through him who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:13).
Whether Paul was preaching to King Agrippa or a lowly Roman soldier, he was content because Christ enthroned his heart. The unlikely apostle had learned to say, "I can count on God’s power to give me strength to obey Him, to carry me through whatever I go through, and to make Christ my all-sufficiency.
Paul delighted in the knowledge that Christ had taken hold of him and would never let him go. He recognized that he owed everything to God—his faith, strength, and every good fruit blossoming in his life. This led him to pursue the glorious promises of God, confident that Christ had provided for all his needs. And He did for you, too.
Today, take joy in the Lord—what He has done for you and is doing in you. Let that lead you to contentment in every situation so that you proclaim with Paul, "My God will meet all [my] needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19).
Prayer: Father, I trust You. You alone are worthy. You are love. You are good. You are sufficient for me. My hope is in You. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:12-13).
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 08/08/18
To stand firm in faith, we must cultivate the joy of the Lord in our life.
Read Philippians 4:1-9
Spiritual stability is the burden of most, if not all, the writers of the New Testament; they plead with us to stand firm, hold fast, and contend for the faith. In 1 Thessalonians 3:8, Paul explains, "For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord." When God’s people have the joy of the Lord, they stand firm in faith—they live abundantly, tasting even today the promises of heaven. Likewise, if we want to live in spiritual stability, we must take care to maintain our joy.
In Philippians 4:1-9, Paul describes four ways to maintain joy in the Lord. First, be united with other believers by majoring on the majors—that means uphold Biblical Truth, but submit to one another in minor matters of opinion. Second, rejoice in the Lord by spending time with Him. Third, when you are tempted to complain, talk to God—bring your burdens to Him and receive His peace. And fourth, fill your mind with godly thoughts, remembering that you are what you think.
Spiritual instability is dangerous; it leads to spiritual burnout and discouragement, to doubt and total ineffectiveness in the ministry of Christ. But the joy of the Lord has the power to stabilize our souls and minister to others for eternity if only we will take care to cultivate it.
Prayer: Lord, thank You for the body of believers; help us follow You together with grace and mercy for one another. May I turn to You in all things and think according to the goodness of Your Word. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things" (Philippians 4:8).
Exercise Your Faith
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 08/07/18
To grow spiritually, we must exercise our faith by rejoicing in Christ and pressing on for the prize.
Read Philippians 3
The moment you are born again by the Spirit of God, you are a new creation in Christ with an inescapable desire for spiritual growth. It’s a desire God calls every Christian to pursue because there is no end to knowing and becoming like Christ.
In Philippians 3, Paul reminds us that we cannot grow spiritually when we place our confidence in our own efforts. That way leads to destruction (v. 19). Rather, to grow spiritually, we must "rejoice in the Lord!" (v. 1)—taking joy in Christ’s redemptive work and trusting the power of the Holy Spirit in us. How do we do this? We take steps of faith! Like Paul, we are to exercise the muscles of faith God has given us—stepping out in obedience as God leads. In so doing, we strive for the same prize Paul sought after with such passion: Jesus Christ Himself.
So, let us "press on, to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of [us]" (v. 12). Let us forget what is behind and boast in Christ—the sure hope of glory. As we keep our eyes on Christ and obey Him with glad hearts, He will grow us in righteousness, prepare us for our citizenship in heaven, and lead us in abundant joy from here to eternity.
Prayer: Holy Spirit, work in me to grow my faith. Empower me to live a godly life that flows from deep rejoicing in God Almighty and the wonders of His love. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14).
Contentment Designed by God
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 08/06/18
Have you ever played the comparison game? The rules are simple: Look at what other people have or do, and then desire those things or accomplishments for yourself. This so-called "game" brings discontentment and envy. The Bible teaches that we are to be content with the life God has given us (see Philippians 4:11-12). This does not mean that we settle for less or stop trying to reach our goals.
Contentment is something God has designed for us. Whether we are single or married, we can achieve contentment and peace within our hearts. In order to do this, we must first discover who we are in Christ and realize what He has done for us. He has saved us from an eternal death and chosen us as His beloved children.
During the apostle Paul’s time, some Jews were not content being Jews. It was fashionable to act as Gentiles. On the other hand, some Gentiles didn’t think they were spiritual enough as Christians unless they became like the Jews. They each thought the other had something more.
Do you ever compare yourself to someone you think is more spiritual? Do you think less of your prayer life when you compare it to that of a prayer warrior you admire? Do you feel inadequate to share your testimony after hearing someone else share his? God does not measure your life against the life of another. He calls you to follow Christ and His example with the strength He has provided through His Spirit.
Therefore, don’t allow people to pressure you into doing what is popular. Don’t long for their possessions and personal achievements. Seek God and learn to be content with what He has provided. As you seek His face and focus on glorifying Him, you will continue to be transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory (see 2 Corinthians 3:18).
Prayer: Lord, thank You for being my all-sufficiency. Teach me to be content as Your child and to set my eyes on the promise of eternity with You. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Each person should remain in the situation they were in when God called them" (1 Corinthians 7:20).
The Source of Your Impatience
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 08/05/18
As you search for comfort in your frustrations, learn how to identify the specific sources of impatience in your life. What are some common causes of impatience? Many times, impatience stems from a narrow worldview and unrealistic expectations. Sometimes we’re impatient when we don’t see God actively at work in our situation. Other times our priorities are off-balance, and God is not at the top of our list.
Do you recognize any of these in your life? Do you feel angry when your spouse doesn’t go along with your plans? Are you frustrated easily when your schedule is changed or you are faced with a long wait? Or perhaps you have noticed that as you’ve grown more distant from the Lord, you have become more easily agitated in general. If you find yourself growing impatient with others, remind yourself that, "Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly" (Proverbs 14:29).
Ask God to teach you how to be patient in everyday life. Praise God for His amazing character. Thank Him for His patience with you, for withholding His wrath and sending His Son to die for your sins. By focusing on God, you will remind yourself that heaven is your real home, and then the little aggravations of this world will affect you less.
Prayer: Father, help me recognize the source of my impatience. Teach me how to be patient, especially in those situations that are most challenging for me. Thank You for being patient with me. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer" (Romans 12:12).
Joy in Our Purpose
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 08/04/18
Grumbling weakens our joy and destroys our witness. God made us for greater things # Read Philippians 2:12-18
Our society is riddled with discontentment. Why? Because our culture tells us we are the center of our lives—that everything should be ordered around whatever whims and delights emerge from our hearts. But, my friends, our hearts are deceitful (see Jeremiah 17:9). The Truth is that supreme joy is found only in the divine Creator of the universe—only in the infinitely and eternally majestic.
As Christians, we must guard ourselves against the dangerous attitude of discontentment that our culture propagates. When we grumble against God’s will for our lives, we drown out the joy of the Lord, we disregard the awesomeness of our salvation, and we mistrust the sovereign, loving hand of God. When we grumble, we show the world that we are trying to do life our own way, relying on our own strength and wisdom. But this attitude only weakens our faith and makes us ineffective witnesses for Christ. Non-believers will look at our grumbling and think, "Who wants that? I’m fine the way I am.
God designed us for greater things than grumbling—He made us to reflect His glory for eternity—His virtue, love, righteousness, and more! Today, rejoice in God’s purpose for you. As you do, you will rise above trials and suffering and carry the light of life to those lost in the darkness of discontentment.
Prayer: Jesus, You are the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. All things hold together in You, and all things were created through You and for You. May this Truth humble me so that I rejoice in You whatever my circumstances. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life" (Philippians 2:15-1 6).
The Joy of Humility
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 08/03/18
Jesus pursued joy by humbling Himself to exalt the Father, and so should we.
Read Philippians 2:1-11.
"For the joy set before him, he endured the cross" (Hebrews 12:2). What joy compelled the Son of God to suffer crucifixion? What joy compelled the divine King of the universe to leave His heavenly throne, enter our brokenness as a poor man with nowhere to lay His head, and, though sinless, suffer mockery, scorn, beating, humiliation, and death?
It was the joy of our redemption, the joy of ushering all believers into the glorious throne room of God now and for eternity (see Ephesians 2:6-7). And ultimately, it was the joy of bringing glory to Almighty God, who extends grace and mercy to sinful people.
Do you long to experience unshakable joy? We do not become joyful people by making much of ourselves, but by making much of God, the only one deserving of praise. Today, respond to Paul’s call to take on the attitude of Jesus (Philippians 2:5-8). Set your eyes on the Savior.
If Christ, who from eternity deserves exaltation, made Himself low, how much more should we? When we comprehend the enormity of the cost of our redemption, it will humble us. And far from making us depressed or discouraged, this humility will produce deep, soulful rejoicing, for God is worthy, and He saves and exalts the humble.
Prayer: Lord, I long to be a person of unshakable joy. I know this comes by focusing on You. Help me follow You by the strength of Your Spirit. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage" (Philippians 2:5-6).
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 08/02/18
Obedience to Christ completes our joy because the ways of God bring life, but the wages of sin is death
Read Philippians 1:27-30
Jesus promised: "If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, . . . I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete" (John 15:10-11). If you want to experience indescribable joy, obey God—even when it’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do. The enemies of Christ would like us to believe that obedience is too great a burden. But nothing could be further from the Truth. Rather, it is sin that burdens. Sin eclipses joy and divides our hearts, homes, and churches. But when we acknowledge, confess, and reject sin, when we repent and submit to the easy yoke of Jesus (see Matthew 11:28-30), our joy is restored.
The grace and love of God make surrender to Christ sweet. Because, if we belong to Jesus, we have "encouragement from being united with Christ, . . . comfort from his love, . . . common sharing in the Spirit, . . . [and] tenderness and compassion" (Philippians 2:1). The more we surrender to our gracious God, the more joyful we’ll become—and the more joyful we become, the more fearlessly we’ll stand firm in the face of any trial, knowing to whom we belong.
Prayer: Jesus, thank You for giving me true freedom. I know that through You I have received every good thing and have been freed from the chains of sin to pursue and enjoy them from here to eternity. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ" (Philippians 1:27).
Salvation Brings Joy
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 08/01/18
If we want to experience abiding, enduring joy, we must look to its source.
Read Philippians 1:6
Do you live as though God has written your name in the Book of Life with a pencil? One day, you’re in, but the next you blow it, and your name is erased? Beloved, when God writes your name in the Book of Life, He doesn’t write with pencil. He writes with the indelible blood of Jesus, who promised that those who trust in Him "shall never perish" (John 10:28). No one can snatch you from His hand.
When God saves you, He saves you eternally. It’s not up to you. It’s up to Him, and He alone is able. This Truth gave Paul tremendous joy as he wrote to the Philippians from prison. He wanted them to experience this same unquenchable joy, too. So he pointed them to its source Jesus Christ, saying: "he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion" (Philippians 1:6).
Salvation and joy are a package deal. Salvation brings joy because we know that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (see Romans 8:38-39). And at the same time, salvation establishes the Holy Spirit in our heart, from whom bursts forth inexpressible joy (see Galatians 5:22-23).
Today, rest in Christ’s redeeming blood shed for you and experience the overwhelming, incomprehensible, glorious joy of the Lord.
Prayer: Father, I praise You for Your grace. I take joy in my salvation secured through the perfect blood of Christ. May this joy permeate every aspect of my life. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:4-6).
DAILY DEVOTIONAL 07/31/18
God Is the Source
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 07/31/18
In our daily lives, we are quick to satisfy our desires. When we are hungry, we make every attempt to eat as quickly as possible. When we are thirsty, we head for the water fountain.
When we are lonely, we call a friend or a family member. However, as Christians, sometimes we fail to recognize what our greatest needs are and the best way to satisfy them. The emptiness we sometimes feel can only be filled by God. Even after we come to know Christ, we may struggle to recognize that emptiness is a sign that we need to turn to Him.
The world promises satisfaction through a plethora of good things—relationships, careers, wealth, health, and more—so we chase after these with reckless abandon. But these things are fleeting in this life and ultimately cannot fulfill the craving of our soul for more. Only the divine can satisfy. An intimate relationship with God is the only thing that will satisfy every need we have.
God is the one who transforms our hearts and minds so that, even in dark days, we have unspeakable joy. He is the one who quenches the thirst of our soul by showing us how much He loves us and cares for us.
He knows what You need, and He knows exactly how to meet you where you are. If you are thirsty, remember that God is the source that quenches. He wants you to drink from Him—the living water—and fulfill your heart’s desires.
Prayer: Lord, help me realize how much You love me today and that You desire to fill the deepest longing in my heart. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life" (John 4:14).
DAILY DEVOTIONAL 07/30/18 to 07/01/18
The Up Side of Loneliness
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 07/30/18
Loneliness is a condition we have all experienced, but do not welcome. However, loneliness can be a great opportunity for God to work within us, to comfort us, and to develop our relationship with Him.
Prior to the modern era, loneliness was defined as being isolated or in a state of solitude. Today a person can be surrounded by other people, yet feel horribly alone. In our contemporary experience, loneliness can be described as an empty feeling, accompanied by a longing to be completed, affirmed, or noticed.
Scripture teaches us that loneliness is both positive and negative. The root cause of this condition is negative, but God’s Word reveals how it can be turned into something positive.
In the beginning, man was in perfect communion with God. Adam was alone, but not lonely. When God created Eve, He had in mind the help and fellowship that she would be for Adam, but she was never meant to fulfill him—God alone could do that.
When Adam and Eve sinned, their relationship with God changed from one of supernatural intimacy to one of fear and shame. When this happened, God pursued them with love and restored them to a full relationship with Him.
Today, we continue to suffer the consequences of their choice. But the good news is that when we sin, God can turn our running from Him into an opportunity to run to Him for forgiveness and renewed intimacy.
God wants us to turn our lonely times—when we feel hurt, rejected, or separated from friends and community—into times of aloneness with Him. As we turn to Him, He will be that friend who sticks closer than a brother, who can fulfill us like no one else.
Prayer: God, when I feel lonely, help me remember that You are always with me and that in Your presence I can experience peace, joy, and fulfillment. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged" (Deuteronomy 31:8).
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 07/29/18
There will be times when we must stand alone for the Truth. Even if others abandon us, God will always be with us. Paul shares,
At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. (2 Timothy 4:16-17).
When we feel alone, Satan will try to convince us that God has abandoned us. He will try to convince us that worldly living isn’t ever lonely or disappointing. He will slowly begin wooing us away from godly friends, the church, and the Lord—and into the world.
But God’s wisdom says it is better to stand alone in righteousness than to follow the crowd. "Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain" (1 Corinthians 15:58).
In essence, Paul’s last words to Timothy in this letter were: "Don’t ever, ever, ever give up. Stand for the Truth, for God is with you—even when everybody else that matters to you forsakes you. In Christ alone place your trust. Find your glory and your joy and your power in Christ alone."
Prayer: God, give me the courage to stand for the Truth even when that means standing alone. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved" (Matthew 24:12-13).
Alone with God
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 07/28/18
Have you ever felt like the little boy who was told he should not be afraid of the dark because the Lord was with him? The boy said, "I know that, but I want somebody with skin on." Sometimes when we feel lonely, we find ourselves wanting to talk with someone who has skin on. But God never slumbers or sleeps. He is closer to us than any brother see (Proverbs 18:24).
Maybe you feel alone because you refuse to compromise your Biblical convictions. Your friends make fun of you and challenge your faith.
When you think about true loneliness, remember the Garden of Gethsemane. Nothing we face can compare to the depth of loneliness Jesus experienced. Not only did His friends and disciples abandon Him, but the Father turned His face away from His Son as Jesus bore the sins of the world on the cross.
The psalmist lamented, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?" (Psalm 22:1). If you feel like the psalmist, take comfort: You are not alone. God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5). Christ experienced the deepest level of loneliness so you might have eternal fellowship with the Father who loves you perfectly.
Prayer: Lord, thank You that, when I am lonely, You are there to encourage me with Truth from Your Word and through Your Spirit. Help me to come to You and find peace. Be merciful to me, Father; bring me a godly friend to point me to You and show me Your goodness. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation" (Psalm 62:1-2).
Determined Despite Disappointment
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 07/27/18
The playwright George Bernard Shaw captured the agony of what Joan of Arc must have felt when on trial for her life in his play Saint Joan. She feels deeply abandoned—even by her own family. In the midst of her trial she cries out, "It is better to be alone with God."
Have you ever felt abandoned? The apostle Paul did. If there was one thing that caused Paul sorrow, it was the lack of courage of some of his closest friends.
This doesn’t mean that all of his friends and colleagues abandoned him. Luke was with him, but many of the others were scattered throughout Asia Minor. Near the end of his life, he expressed his feelings of loneliness when he recalled his former companion and colleague in the ministry, Demas. Paul wrote, "Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me" (2 Timothy 4:10).
Few things break the heart of a servant of God more than to witness people who have every reason to succeed in their Christian faith choose to take another road. It causes despair for a parent to watch his child walk away from God. It is heart-wrenching for a godly man or woman to watch as a spouse lives in spiritual rebellion.
The next time someone hurts you, remember what Phillips Brooks said: "Ministry means deeper depths of sorrow and higher heights of joy, and they often come together."
Is there a Demas in your life who is breaking your heart? Are you experiencing the hard, cool hand of rejection from someone you love? Paul experienced the same thing. If you are feeling dejected because of another’s rejection, consider Paul’s life and words. He did not give up or lose faith. He trusted God and, in His strength, continued on with the work God had given him to do, remaining faithful regardless of his personal disappointments. You can, too.
Prayer: Lord, thank You that You will never leave me or forsake me. May I draw near to You in sorrow and find new heights of joy. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith" (2 Timothy 4:7).
Never Too Late
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 07/26/18
Prayers of faith have great power. They can conquer the unconquerable, overcome our obstacles, accomplish the impossible, and vanquish the enemy. The apostle Paul said that God is "able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us" (Ephesians 3:20). Yet God does not want us to spend our big prayers on selfish desires. God wants us to pray big prayers of faith for things that will glorify Him.
During a dark period of Israel’s history, God spoke to His people through His prophet Jeremiah: "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know" (Jeremiah 33:3)
Nebuchadnezzar had sent the Babylonian army to Jerusalem. The city was under siege. Already, hostages had been taken to Babylon. These were some of the worst times God’s people had experienced since their days of slavery in Egypt. This predicament was of their own doing, yet God loved them and provided for them. In return, they turned their backs on Him, placing their trust in political messiahs, placing their security in material possessions, and compromising their God-given values. Their hearts had become calloused, and their ears had become deaf to God’s Word. Yet even at their lowest, God still called and appealed to His children to return to Him.
Through Jeremiah, God promised that even at that late hour it was not too late to call out to Him. God was ready to bring restoration to His people for His glory.
Prayer: God, thank You for Your loving mercy and patience. Thank You that it is never too late to come to You. Help me come to You with big prayers of faith that will glorify You. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life" (1 Timothy 1:16).
Pray in God’s Power
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 07/25/18
In order to allow faith to overwhelm our fears, we must entrust our worries and anxieties to God, for He is faithful and able. Here are some practical ways to do that:
First, we must learn how to pray fear out and faith in. Instead of burying your worries, acknowledge them before God in prayer. Bring them to the foot of the cross—and then leave them there. Our prayers for fear-conquering faith are prayers that God not only longs to hear but loves to answer.
Once you have confessed your fears out, begin to pray faith in. Look to God’s Word and incorporate His promises into your prayers. Draw strength from God’s promises as Abraham did: "Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promise" (Romans 4:20-21). This is our first step in building those faith muscles.
Second, call upon God’s power in your life. In Jesus’ earthly ministry, He demonstrated God’s power to redeem us from our sins, to heal diseases, and to still the storms in our lives. God wants to show us that same power today.
Sometimes God waits until we run out of all human solutions before He manifests His power for us. That’s because He wants us to learn that His grace is sufficient for us, and His power is made perfect in weakness (see 2 Corinthians 12:9). Other times, God is simply waiting for us to take the first step of faith before He responds to our request.
There are people who don’t have any cause for fear, and yet they are fearful. Then there are people who have every reason to fear, but they are not afraid. The difference between the two is a complete trust in the Lord Jesus. Just as saving faith enables us to receive Christ as our Savior, so daily faith enables us to know Christ as our Lord.
Do you find yourself living out of your own finite strength, or God’s infinite power? Pray your fears out and pray faith in. Begin to see God as the one who is greater than any problem you face, and you will find confidence and courage. The power of God that sustains the universe—every atom, every galaxy, and every star in its orbit—that’s the very power that Jesus offers His children today.
Prayer: God, I bring my fears to the foot of the cross today and exchange them for Your promises. Where I feel powerless, I ask for Your power to overcome my situation. Show me which step of faith You want me to take today, and help me to take the opportunity immediately when it comes. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives power, love and self-discipline" (2 Timothy 1:7).
Fear Turned into Sin
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 07/24/18
We all experience fear from time to time. In some cases, fear can protect us. It tells us to use caution when crossing a busy street. It keeps us from putting our hands on a hot stove. It reminds us to wear a seatbelt when we drive a car. But fear turns into sin when we surrender to it. When fear becomes our daily master, it imprisons us spiritually. Constant fear affects our relationships, our perceptions, and even our health. When we allow fear to control us, it deteriorates our relationship with God.
God does not harshly chastise us for our fears but redirects our attention to faith in Him. God wants us to turn from our fears and instead embrace our faith. He wants us to stop and see what has been feeding our fears—the people who influence us, our thought patterns, or the goals we chase. When we recognize what is feeding our fears, God wants us to turn away from fear and focus on Him.
In 2 Timothy 1:7, Paul reminds us: "For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline." The spirit of fear is not from God. When we neglect our relationship with God, a spirit of fear can easily dominate our lives. But when we focus on the promises of God in His Word, we can defeat fear.
righteous, God-fearing life will lead to victory over sinful fear: "Surely
the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will
have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD.
Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in
triumph on their foes" (Psalms 112:6-8).
Prayer: God, help me recognize what it is that feeds my fears and turn away from those things to focus on You. May I no longer be controlled by fear. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD" (Psalm 112:7).
Break Free from Fear
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 07/23/18
Fear is a very powerful, motivating, and mobilizing emotion. It paralyzes us, robbing us of joy and diminishing our effectiveness for Christ. Fear keeps us from reclaiming our workplaces, neighborhoods, and schools for Christ. Fear keeps us from giving generously of ourselves to God and His work.
The Bible says, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom" (Proverbs 9:10). This kind of fear was originally given to us as a gift from God, that we might honor Him rightly and worship Him wholly. To exercise fear in its proper context is to render reverence to God.
However, when Satan succeeded in deceiving Adam and Eve, Satan twisted that gift into a curse, and the consequence of that perversion continues to affect us today. Instead of fearing God, we fear people; we fear failure; we fear the future; we fear death. Satan is constantly manipulating us to fear the wrong things.
Read Genesis 3:1-8. Before Adam and Eve sinned, they enjoyed unhindered fellowship with God. But after sin entered the picture, they became terrified of God and hid from Him. In the same way, when we disobey God—avoiding time with Him or going our own way—we fall prey to Satan’s fear tactics. We begin living with anxiety and hopelessness instead of peace. But when we fellowship with God, fear takes its proper place. The gift of honoring God, revering Him, and being delighted in His presence is restored.
Living in constant fear affects our relationships, warps our view of reality, and distorts our view of God—and when our view of God is distorted, Satan jumps at the opportunity to keep us from approaching God for help. Our only way to escape the imprisonment of fear is faith—not just saving faith, but everyday faith.
Everyday faith is not simply positive thinking or sheer willpower. Everyday faith is moment-by-moment trust in the one who cares for you, who redeemed you, and who delivered you from eternal death.
Are there any areas of your life where you struggle to trust God? Whatever your fears may be, you can break free from them today. Every doubt that plagues your mind or haunts your heart—surrender it wholly to the Lord. Exchange your fear for faith in Almighty God. Fill your mind with His promises—and the spirit of fear will flee.
Prayer: Lord, I surrender these fears to You right now. For each fear I have, show me the Truth that You want me to focus on instead. Restore my trust in You alone. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, 'Abba, Father'" (Romans 8:15).
In the Storm
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 07/22/18
Have you ever felt as if you were wandering alone in the dark, not knowing what disasters were waiting for you in the shadows or when light would ever shine again? The disciples encountered a similar experience with the treacherous sea storm in Mark 4:35-41. Even though they had Jesus at their side, they let their circumstances drive them to fear.
The storm set in suddenly. Not only did the disciples face the dangers of the rough waters, but they were surrounded by darkness as well. There were no life jackets. There were no life boats. They felt they were at the mercy of the great storm.
In a panic, they called for Jesus, crying, "Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?" (Mark 4:38). Jesus got up and silenced the storm with a simple rebuke: "Quiet! Be still!" (v. 39). Then He asked the disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?" (v. 40). Through this traumatic event, the disciples encountered plainly the divinity of Jesus, which led them to place their fear and awe rightly in the one who is sovereign even over the wind and waves.
Many times, we want God to fix our problems instantly. We want the raging waters around us to cease immediately. Yet, sometimes God has a word for us. He wants us to deepen our faith and to grow in Him—to see Him with fresh eyes. He wants us to follow in faith—no matter how dark our circumstances seem.
Once Jesus stilled the storm, He informed the disciples that their fears were great and their faith was little. The relationship between faith and fear is like a seesaw. When one is up, the other is down. So when we allow fear to rise, our faith will decline. But the opposite is true as well. When we increase our faith, fears will fail, and we will soar in reverent awe of the majestic, omnipotent Creator who loves us.
Prayer: God, in the midst of this storm, help me to grasp what You want to teach me. Help my faith to grow. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen
"So we say with confidence, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?'" (Hebrews 13:6).
Our Focus in Life
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 07/21/18
When we understand that the enemy is sly and that he attacks us from many different angles, we will be able to fend him off much better.
Maybe your marriage has become rocky, or you are facing financial problems. Maybe you have stopped going to church because you were hurt by someone there. Maybe you have experienced the pain of losing a loved one who died unexpectedly.
If we hold on to the hand of God through life’s most difficult trials, we have not escaped sin’s assault on our soul just yet. In an attempt to quench our passion for God and slowly steal away our intimacy with the Lord, the enemy will try to lure our focus and attention elsewhere. He may tempt you to think of things that are not overtly sinful but that distract you from your hope and stay—the Lord. When we take our eyes off God, our strength, we can lose our way and stumble down a destructive path.
We must be diligent to rid our lives of things that divert our eyes from Christ. Is desiring to have a better life sinful? No, it is not. However, when our goal in life becomes an upgraded lifestyle, shifting us away from God, it does become sinful.
Throughout life, we are faced with numerous decisions, many of which are costly by the world’s standards if the right decision is made. Yet, nothing in life will ever be as satisfying as following the Lord.
No matter how many good things we obtain in life, no matter how many promotions we get or fame and popularity we achieve, these things pale in comparison to the hope and joy we experience in relationship with Christ.
Prayer: Lord, help me to keep my focus on You and You alone. Thank You for Your hope and joy. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen. //// "Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent" (John 17:3).
Praise in Spiritual Battles
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 07/20/18
We are in constant spiritual warfare against Satan. He tries to enslave our bodies with addictions and excesses, our minds with heresies and paralyzing doubts, our spirits with guilt and shame. He seeks to take away our joy, rip apart our families, and wreck our relationships with Jesus Christ and His church. When you face trying times and temptations, those are the moments when you need to praise God the most.
Praising God empowers us to defeat the devil. How? When we praise God, we proclaim the Truth about God, which the devil cannot stand to hear. The great strength of our praise in spiritual warfare is that in praise we exercise faith in God’s love and His victory over Satan. God loves and God wins. Period.
So how do you praise God during spiritual struggles? You can praise God for sending Jesus to win the eternal war for your soul. Praise Him for using the Holy Spirit to convict you of your sins and convince you of your need for a Savior. Praise Him for His guidance and strength in overcoming obstacles. Praise Him for His overwhelming love for you, even when you struggle with temptations.
You can spend hours praising God for your salvation, and you will not even have scratched the surface of how much God is worthy to be praised. In our praise, we defeat the forces that seek to destroy us, undermine our faith, diminish our influence, and demolish our integrity.
Prayer: God, thank You for Your love and for sending Your Son to die for me. Thank You that, in the midst of spiritual battles, I can rise above my circumstances in victory as I praise Your holy name. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD" (Psalm 117:2).
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 07/19/18
As we fight against unseen foes this side of heaven, we must take hold of Truth. Scripture has invaluable instructions for us to equip us in our battles with Satan.
First, remember the victory is yours. Jesus saved us completely on the cross and has provided everything we need to live victorious lives. Even now, we are seated "in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ" (Ephesians 1:3).
Second, lay down your life. As James 4:7 says, "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." When we surrender our life and will to God, we will live righteously for Him and show Satan he holds no sway.
Third, each morning, close any doors in your heart that are susceptible to sin by humbling yourself before God—for without Him, we can do nothing (see John 15:5-8).
Fourth, put on your battle gear, the armor of God—both the uniform and the weapons (see Ephesians 6:10-17).
Fifth, praise the Lord. Though it may be hard to do when facing trials, when we need to put Satan in his place, praise is a sure way to defeat him (see Acts 16:25-26).
Sixth, pray for your enemies. One of the most difficult things to do is to pray for those who have wronged us. Yet, Jesus instructed us, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matthew 5:44). We show the enemy that we belong to Christ and that he is defeated when we model the grace and mercy of our Father God.
Seventh, set your heart on heaven with Christ. As you do, the Holy Spirit will so work in your life that you will reflect the glory that is coming to Satan’s horror (see 2 Corinthians 3:18).
When we obey these instructions, we will experience peace and joy, even in trials, for we know the devil is defeated and cannot bring us down.
Prayer: Father, help me remember these Truths so that I will not be brought down by the tactics of the enemy. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Praise be to the LORD my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle" (Psalm 144:1).
Keep Satan Fleeing
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 07/18/18
In Matthew 8:28-34, Jesus entered the region of Gadarenes and confronted two demon-possessed men. Upon seeing Jesus, the demons in the men cried out, "What do you want with us, Son of God? . . . Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?" (v. 29). The word torture here means "consign to eternal punishment."
These demons stood face to face with Jesus Christ. They recognized that He was their judge and that they were eternally condemned.
Revelation 12:12 states: "Therefore, rejoice you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short."
No wonder the apostle Paul could say in 2 Corinthians 2:14, "But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession." On the cross, Jesus made salvation possible through the shedding of His blood. He came forth as the victor so that you might walk in His triumph. Christ not only saves you from the condemnation of sin but also protects you from the onslaught of the evil one.
When you are undergoing a satanic attack—whether temptation, oppression, depression, or apathy—ask the Lord to minister His Truth to you. Your victory is not based on your earthly accomplishments, ancestry, or authority. Your victory is based on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
God has called you to cover yourself with the armor of God so that you can stand against the devil’s schemes (see Ephesians 6:10-20). He has called you to stand in His strength against Satan’s attack, believing what the Word of God says about your victory. For, when you resist the devil and he flees from you, heaven rejoices.
Prayer: Father, today I put on Your armor to protect me from Satan’s attacks. You have won the victory. You are my Savior, and I rejoice in Your victory over death for me. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 07/17/18
Being a godly leader will cost you something because true leaders stand up for what is right. They do not make moral compromises, and they do not take the easy way out in order to get ahead or keep the peace. We see this again and again in the lives of the apostles in the New Testament, and we see it down through the ages, embodied in the countless saints who suffered and sometimes died because they took a bold stand for Jesus. Though it may not be your freedom or your life on the line when you make a stand, it takes a measure of the same boldness.
Jesus is King. To compromise on the values of the King and His Kingdom is tantamount to treason. Leadership success in Jesus’ eyes is not about fame, power, or position. Instead, He looks to see whether or not we have been faithful. And being faithful to Jesus will often cause us to be at odds with this world, which means we must be bold.
In John 2, Jesus, the greatest leader who ever lived, stood boldly against the religious leaders of His day because they had turned God’s house into a flea market. He braided a whip, strode through the temple courtyard, lashed at the money changers and merchants with the whip, and overturned their tables. As He did so, He rebuked them for their wicked practices. Their actions and integrity mattered deeply to Him.
Have you ever made moral compromises to fit in or to get ahead? If you haven’t already done so, confess this sin to Jesus and ask Him to help you display complete integrity in every area of life.
Prayer: Lord, strengthen my faith as I obey You and lead with integrity. In the past, I’ve cut corners and taken shortcuts. Forgive me, Lord, and wash over my wrongdoings with Your grace. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain" (1 Corinthians 15:58).
Speed His Coming
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 07/16/18
Jesus has called us to faithfully share the Gospel until He returns. As we do, we can be encouraged that we are speeding His coming.
Read 2 Peter 3:10-18. At the day of the Lord, "the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare" (2 Peter 3:10). Christ’s return and final judgment are more certain than tomorrow. So what kind of lives should we be living today?
First, Peter tells us that we are to live holy lives—set apart for God’s use. Second, Peter says that we are to live expectantly—looking forward to that day. A righteous life lived in joyful anticipation of Christ’s return will "speed its coming" (2 Peter 3:12).
The statement "speed its coming" is staggering. Far from fearing Christ’s impending judgment, we must seek to hasten the day when we will be with Christ for all eternity. God’s Word promises that as you pray and faithfully proclaim the hope of Christ, you hasten His return.
Just listen to Jesus’ words: "This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come" (Matthew 24:14). Every nation must hear the hope of the Gospel. So with our eyes fixed on that day, let us work diligently to proclaim the Good News, bearing in mind that "our Lord’s patience means salvation" (2 Peter 3:15). As long as Christ’s return is yet to come, there is still time for us to proclaim to the nations, "It’s not too late!"
Prayer: Jesus, I pray for Your work in the world—may many come to a saving knowledge of Your Gospel. Give Your people strength, perseverance, and great love to fulfill Your Great Commission. Use me to proclaim Your Truth today. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming" (2 Peter 3:13-12).
A Sure Coming
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 07/15/18
Satan tries to distract us from living with hope in Christ's return. He knows that we are the most dangerous to him when we are living for that great day.
Read 2 Peter 3:1-10. When believers live their lives in light of Christ's return, they will live faithfully, work diligently, and pray zealously. They will be lifted high above their circumstances, purified by the hope of eternity.
Beloved, you don't need a seminary degree to know that Satan does not want us to live this way. He will do everything he can to keep us from believing that Christ is coming. In 2 Peter 3:1-10, Peter sets the record straight: Christ's second coming—and His future judgment—are certain.
Peter encourages us to keep Christ's return at the forefront of our minds. We must allow the fact that we will one day stand before Christ and give an account for our lives influence our decisions now.
When Jesus returns, He's not going to find me in a white robe up on a mountain. He's going to find me hard at work. He's going to find me serving, ministering, and sacrificing. For I am living to hear Him say, "Well done, good and faithful servant" (Matthew 25:23). I am living for my audience of one!
Have life's concerns distracted you from eternity? It's never too late to begin living intentionally for the Lord. Christ is coming, in the fullness of time, right on schedule. Plan on it.
Prayer: Jesus, thank You for the promise of Your return. I am looking forward to that day when all will be made new and I will see You face to face. May the hope of eternity with You refresh and invigorate me for service to Your Kingdom today. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare" (2 Peter 3:10).
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 07/14/18
Satan will entice you to use your freedom to sin. But true freedom means we are free from sin—free to serve Christ and live holy lives.
Read 2 Peter 2:17-22. One of Satan's most clever tactics is to entice us into slavery by giving it a new name: freedom. Schooled in the art of seduction, he will keep at it until he overpowers the voice of the Holy Spirit—if we let him.
In verse 19, Peter warns us that false teachers will promote a false, unbiblical 'freedom' that actually gives us license to sin. They will twist the Truth, saying we are free to sin because God's grace will cover it.
If Christian freedom is not properly understood, it can be easy for us to fall into this trap. But here is the Truth: When the Bible speaks about our freedom in Christ, it is referring to freedom from sin—and freedom to serve Christ. Before Christ came into our lives, we were slaves to sin, but since Christ has saved us, we are free from that merciless slave master (see Romans 6:15-23). By the Spirit, we now have power to say 'no' to our lusts and joyfully serve our Lord Jesus.
Beloved, do not be allured by Satan's arguments of cheap grace. Jesus said, "If you love me, keep my commands" (John 14:15). Train yourself each day to reject unrighteousness and experience true freedom in Christ. It's never too late to serve Him with your whole heart today.
Prayer: Lord, I rejoice in the freedom You have secured for me in Christ—freedom to live in the peace and joy of holiness. Show me how I can serve You today. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for 'people are slaves to whatever has mastered them'" (2 Peter 2:19).
Surrendering Our Pride
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 07/13/18
Many false teachers start out with good intentions but then fall victim to pride. We must be sure to not make the same mistake.
Read 2 Peter 2:10-16. Many false teachers do not start out as false teachers; rather, they are simply people who have lost their way by thinking of themselves more highly than they should. Slowly, they exchange the Truth of God's Word for their own feelings, opinions, and interpretations—despising God's authority in the process (see 2 Peter 2:10).
Pride is at the very core of this blasphemous exchange. When our pride is not surrendered to the Holy Spirit, we become bold and arrogant, thinking that we know better than God. This is the problem with so many false teachers. They critique Scripture, saying, "This is right; this is wrong. This happened; this did not happen." They judge God's Word instead of allowing it to judge them.
True believers come to Jesus in a posture of brokenness and humility, not arrogance and self-will. But even genuine believers have the potential to become blind to pride, for it is a subtle foe. That is why every one of us needs faithful friends to hold us accountable.
Beloved, God is patient, but He will not be mocked. Whether you are at the beginning of your Christian walk or have been following Christ for years, ask God today to reveal if there is any hidden sin in your heart. He alone can save us from being ambushed by our pride.
Prayer: Lord, I surrender to You. You alone are all-wise, all-knowing, all-powerful. Thank You for Your patience and for the gift of Your Spirit who leads me to repentance. By Your grace, may I grow in righteousness and humility for Your glory. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the flesh and despise authority. Bold and arrogant, they are not afraid to heap abuse on celestial beings" (2 Peter 2:10).
Beware of False Teachers
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 07/12/18
There is nothing more offensive to God than the distortion of His Word. We must call out false teachers and, above all, pray that they would repent.
Read 2 Peter 2:1-9. When a fellow Christian compromises God's Word on major issues, how do you respond? In this passage, Peter passionately denounces false teaching, and we are to do the same.
False teachers will never directly tell you, "I don't believe the Bible." They are far too subtle for that. Instead, they introduce destructive heresies—preaching half-truths cleverly blended with error so that the undiscerning believer might be deceived and manipulated. As these false teachers modify God's Word to accommodate our worldly culture, wittingly or unwittingly, they promote Satan's lies.
In every generation, the battle before us is to keep God's Truth free from Satan's deception and to allow it to free people for eternity through the blood of Christ—even false teachers who promise freedom but are themselves "slaves of depravity" (2 Peter 2:19).
One of my most fervent prayers is that I will never compromise the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I pray also that those who do compromise it will understand what a grave sin they are committing against the Lord. God is patient and longsuffering, and He may give false teachers an opportunity to repent. Let this drive us to pray for and witness to everyone, even false teachers, while we still can.
Prayer: Lord, help me to stand firm in faith and boldly proclaim Your Truth in love. May those who have lost their way repent and find mercy in You. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you" (2 Peter 2:1).
Hold Fast to Truth
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 07/11/18
All Scripture is given by God and is therefore completely trustworthy. We must hold fast to every single word.
Read 2 Peter 1:16-21. Today, it is very popular to say the virgin birth, the Noahic flood, and Jonah's three days in the belly of a whale are just fables—and furthermore, that the universe wasn't created in seven days and that Christ's resurrection is just metaphorical. But Peter cautions us to hold fast to all Scripture.
"Listen to me," Peter pleads, "I am an eyewitness to the life of Jesus Christ. I followed Him for more than three years, and I heard Him affirm the historicity of these very events. I experienced the majestic power of Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. I was there."
Peter boldly testifies to the trustworthiness of the Gospel proclaimed by the apostles. He reminds us that all Scripture has been given to us through the direction of the Holy Spirit—not just the sections that our culture finds believable.
So confident was Peter in Christ and His fulfillment of Scripture that, when it came time to die for his faith, he asked to be crucified upside-down, considering himself unworthy to die in the same manner as Jesus. Let me tell you something: No one has ever asked to be crucified upside-down for mere fables.
Prayer: Lord, help me hold fast to Scriptural Truth with the same assurance that Peter displayed. I long to submit to You and honor Your Word. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation of things" (2 Peter 1:20).
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 07/10/18
The greatest challenge the church faces today is falling victim to false teaching. This was Peter's deepest concern.
Read 2 Peter 1:12-15. Now, more than any other period in my lifetime, I am seeing mass confusion and chaos. People are no longer able to distinguish between Truth and fiction. But the tragedy of all tragedies is that fake news is preached from many a pulpit across America today.
My friend the late Dr. Adrian Rogers once said, "It is better to be hated for telling the truth than to be loved for telling a lie." And this is precisely Peter's passion in 2 Peter 1:12-15. He determined never to stop proclaiming the Truth, unto his dying breath. His deepest concern was that the church would be firmly established on the Truth of the Scriptures. For this reason, he made every effort to ensure believers are not misled by false gospels.
Beloved, this is just as relevant for us today. Peter's burden was not that the church be financially affluent or politically correct, but that we would remember and hold fast to the true Gospel. Every day, our culture tries to influence our thinking. But it's never too late for us to take a stand. Today, don't let worldly thinking lead you to believe false gospels, which are no gospel at all. Refresh your memory. Remember the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
Prayer: Jesus, there is no gospel like Your Gospel. You alone save. Only Your Gospel answers the just wrath of God against sin through Your loving sacrifice on the cross. May I, like Peter, proclaim this Good News unto my dying breath. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things" (2 Peter 1:15)
A Firm Foundation
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 07/09/18
To build lives that glorify God, we must build on the immovable, eternal, and sure foundation He has provided: Jesus Christ.
Read 2 Peter 1:5-11. Any decent architect knows that a strong building must have an immovable foundation. In 2 Peter 1:5, Peter tells us that our faith, if it is to be strong, must be built on the righteousness of Christ—our only hope for eternal salvation.
In verse 5, Peter begins with the words, "For this very reason." Since we have already been saved by Christ's righteousness and given everything we need to live a godly life, we are equipped to build our lives as a monument to God's glory. We can pursue spiritual maturity each day.
In this passage, Peter clearly gives us the blueprint for building godly lives: To faith we add goodness, then knowledge, then self-control, then perseverance, then godliness, then mutual affection, and then love (see 2 Peter 1:5-7).
Peter knew from experience that these wonderful qualities are the fruit of the Holy Spirit working in us. So he exhorts us to make every effort to walk by the Spirit and thus confirm our calling and election—our identity as sons and daughters of the living God (see 2 Peter 1:10).
It's never too late to build productive and effective lives for Christ. When we begin on the rock of Christ's righteousness, we can build with confidence, knowing that "he who began a good work in [us] will carry it on to completion" (Philippians 1:6). Amen belongs here!
Prayer: Lord, thank You for freeing me from the bondage of sin to build a life of beauty and righteousness with Christ as my foundation. Use me for Your glory. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love" (2 Peter 1:5-7
Everything We Need
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 07/08/18
Power for Christian living does not lie in hard-to-attain experiences. It comes from realizing God has already given us everything we need.
Read 2 Peter 1:3-4. Have you ever been frustrated trying to chase the next spiritual experience? Or felt that something was missing in your life with God? If so, you are not alone. Many of us have been there. Truthfully, our problem is not that we lack what we need—it is that we have not fully appropriated all that He has already given us.
When we first receive Christ, we receive everything we need to live a godly life (2 Peter 1:3). We are filled with the Holy Spirit and become recipients of every covenantal promise of God—promises like:
Today, before you search for the next mountaintop experience, remember the promises of God. Before you give in to depression and despair, remember the promises of God. And long before you say, "It's too late for me," remember the promises of God. As you allow these precious promises to permeate your mind, you will participate in the "divine nature," living in the abundance of all that Christ has given you (2 Peter 1:4). He has already given you everything you need; don't let anything hold you back from living fully for Him.
Prayer: Father, I know Your promises are sure and unchanging. Thank You that my experience of Your presence has no bearing on the Truth that You are with me. Thank You for empowering me with Your Spirit so that I can live abundantly with joy, holiness, and hope. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness" (2 Peter 1:3).
There Is Still Time
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 07/07/18
If you are alive and in Christ, there is still time for you to be used mightily by God. You are needed and your faith is precious.
Read 2 Peter 1:1-2. I think every one of us can testify to the fact that there have been points in our lives—maybe even now—when we have felt defeated, discouraged, and despondent. In these moments, it can be easy to say to ourselves, "It's too late for me. My situation is hopeless. It's too late for forgiveness, restoration, and healing. It's too late to be used mightily by God and make a difference in this world."
Beloved, I am here to tell you that these statements are all authored by Satan's publishing company. I have news for you: God specializes in using the repentant sinner. Just consider the life of the apostle Peter, the author of the very epistle we are studying.
When the chips were down, Peter denied His Lord three times. But afterwards he believed in a forgiving God, throwing himself on His grace and mercy, and God used him to build His church. If you are a servant of Christ, with faith in His righteousness and breath in your lungs, it is not too late for you to make an impact.
You are desperately needed in the spiritual battle raging today. The church needs people like you and me to take a stand for Christ. And 2 Peter was written to show us how.
Prayer: Father, thank You for 2 Peter and its message to both encourage and exhort me to stand firm on Your Truth. I know nothing is impossible for You, so use me—though I am a broken vessel—for Your glory. I know that, as You do, You will transform me and bring healing. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours: Grace and peace be yours in abundance" (2 Peter 1:1-2).
Closer Than a Brother
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 07/06/18
Whether we realize it or not, faithfulness is at the heart of all relationships. It is the very thing that prevents families and societies from falling apart. And it is the one element that has the ability to encourage us to persevere in times of failure and heartache.
The psalmist writes, "The LORD preserves those who are true to him, but the proud he pays back in full" (Psalm 31:23). Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the apostle Paul lists faithfulness as one of the fruit of the Spirit.
In fact, one of the first things we learn about God is that He is faithful. As children, we often sing the song "Jesus Loves Me," and we know He does. No matter what we have done in the past or what we will do in the future, God's love for us never changes. It is eternal, infinite, and faithful.
Far from compelling us to presume on God's faithful, unchanging love, the amazing grace of God is the catalyst for our repentance so that we are saved to new life in Christ. This new life begins the moment we are born again of the Spirit so that, through Him, we become like Jesus—faithful, the kind of friend who "sticks closer than a brother" (Proverbs 18:24). Jesus remains at our side even when others abandon us, and we should follow His example in our relationships with others. Who can you be faithful to today?
Prayer: Lord, thank You for my friends. Please help me to be a good friend to them. I pray I will follow Your example and will stand by my friends when they need me the most. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law" (Galatians 5:22-23).
Attacks on Integrity
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 07/05/18
Goodness grows out of righteous integrity. The person who manifests God's goodness thinks good thoughts, speaks good words, and performs good deeds. What the person thinks lines up with what he speaks, and what he speaks lines up with what he does. He is consistent in the integrity of his life.
Through self-justification and excuse-making, Satan attacks our integrity and tempts us to disguise our sins so that we fool ourselves about what is truly good. Whether it is the woman who justifies leaving her husband because she is unhappy or the alcoholic who explains away his drinking as stress relief, these people are not experiencing goodness—they are living a lie. The problem is that our flesh prefers the lie—but this is the way to destruction.
Writing to the Galatians in the middle of the first century AD, Paul warns against the very same sins we face today, and he tells us they are obvious: "Sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like" (Galatians 5:19-21).
Lies and deception fragment our lives. We are torn between what we do and what we should do. It is always Satan's purpose to separate us from God and to divide us from one another. Satan seeks to create disharmony in our emotions, thoughts, and motives. The works of the flesh create confusion over what is right and wrong and cause division in our relationships, birthing distrust and alienation. They are in direct conflict with the Spirit, who produces "love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" in our lives if we will but walk in the light of Truth (Galatians 5:22-23).
Prayer: God, forgive me for justifying my sins. There are inconsistencies in my life that can only be corrected with the help of Your Spirit. Show me how I can develop integrity and goodness in my life today. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called 'Today,' so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness" (Hebrews 3:13).
Truth and Freedom
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 07/04/18
Do not be casual about attacks on Truth, for they are attacks on your individual freedoms as well as on our nation. Truth and freedom are inextricably linked. Many Christians are concerned about the systematic loss of religious and political freedom in our time as our culture flees Truth in favor of sinful, self-pleasure that only enslaves. That's why it is paramount that churches stand firm in Christ and faithfully proclaim His Word. 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."
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 God's Truth from the Bible?
God is sufficient to give you wisdom and power in these areas if you only ask. Pray that God will strengthen you to contend for the faith and for Truth in your home, work, and community. Prayerfully approach your decisions as a family member, neighbor, and citizen.
Prayer: God, help me to always carefully consider Your Truth so that I live in accordance with the unadulterated Gospel and proclaim this Good News in word and deed. I know You are the only source of freedom. Give Your church in this nation strength to stand firm for Your Kingdom and glory. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel" (Philippians 1:27).
Let Truth Be the Light
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 07/03/18
One of God's greatest desires for us is that we come to know Him intimately. He made the ultimate sacrifice so that we may have constant fellowship with Him, laying the foundation for a powerful relationship that transforms our lives and causes us to become who we were created to be. However, in relating to God, we must be honest about living and walking in the Truth.
Establishing Truth deep into our heart so that it transforms our character takes work. Though we have heard all the right answers and know the Truth, sometimes we act as if we do not really believe it. What we truly believe is best determined through how we live, not just what we say.
To walk in the Truth is to walk in the light, unashamed of how we live before both God and man. When we are walking in the Truth, living out God's Word in our everyday lives, there is no need to deceive. The Truth needs to make no apologies or excuses for its deeds.
In our journey with God, walking in His Truth must be the standard by which we live. It is in God's Word that we find His Truth. And if we trust Him and His Word, we will be people who not only hear His Truths but who live them out and let them define us.
The book The Day America Told the Truth reports that two out of three Americans believe that there is nothing wrong with telling a lie. To thrive in our journey of faith, we must be people who value Truth despite the deceitful trends of modern culture. We must let Truth light our way, comforting us and strengthening us to declare the excellencies of the one true God, our Savior who has brought us out of darkness and into the light of His perfect plan for us.
Prayer: Lord, help me to live out the Truth of Your Word in all that I do. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God" (John 3:21).
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 07/02/18
Everything valuable comes with a price—and freedom is no exception. Whether it is our freedom to choose our place of worship, to travel across borders, or to pursue the career of our choosing, our freedoms are costly. We owe an untold debt to those who fought and sacrificed for the political and social liberties we enjoy today.
While we should always be grateful to the men and women who have sacrificed to secure our earthly freedoms, our overwhelming thanks should be directed to God for the greatest sacrifice of all. The Lord Jesus—perfect, holy, divine, and deserving of all worship, honor and blessing—died on the cross to redeem us eternally. Because of His blood poured out for us, we can experience everlasting and true freedom—freedom from sin.
Whatever blessings of political freedom we experience in this world cannot be compared to the freedom that Jesus gives. The daily liberties we treasure on this earth are fleeting, but our spiritual freedom as children of God will last for eternity.
Prayer: Father, thank You for sacrificing Your Son so that I might find true freedom in You. Help me to never take that for granted. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" (2 Corinthians 3:17).
Who Is the Unknown God?
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 07/01/18
In his Breakpoint commentary, Chuck Colson lamented the idolatrous condition of our world. He reported:
Between 1976 and 1997, the number of Americans who believed in astrology grew from seventeen to thirty-seven percent. During the same period, the percentage of Americans who professed a belief in reincarnation nearly tripled—from nine percent to twenty-five percent. . . . In addition, up to half of all Americans [believe] in necromancy (that is, conjuring up the dead).
According to Colson, only one conclusion can be drawn from the findings: It's as simple as ABC—Anything But Christianity. We lack discernment about spiritual issues.
As G. K. Chesterton remarked through his insightful character Father Brown,
People readily swallow the untested claims of this, that, or the other. It's drowning all your old rationalism and skepticism, it's coming in like a sea; and the name of it is superstition. . . . It's the first effect of not believing in God that you lose your common sense and can't see things as they are. . . . And a dog is an omen, and a cat is a mystery, . . . (The Incredulity of Father Brown).
Today's lack of true spiritual discernment is the same problem that Paul faced in Athens. The Athenians did not believe in God. Instead, they believed in many gods, and in order to ensure that every god was represented in their worship, they even erected an altar with the inscription "TO AN UNKNOWN GOD" (Acts 17:23).
How miserable life must have been for these people. They were ensnared in their unbelief, struggling to satisfy the uncertain demands of false gods to earn favor. So with compassion, Paul boldly preached the Good News of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
Likewise, though people today are lost in unbelief, they do not have to remain that way. All the authentic spiritual experience and fulfillment we seek can only be found through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Prayer: Lord, open the eyes of my heart so that I can discern Your Truth. When I encounter the lies, deception, and confusion of this world, strengthen my heart to choose only You. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. . . . I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you" (Acts 17:22-23).
DAILY DEVOTIONAL 06/30/18 to 06/01/18
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 06/30/18
In 2 Corinthians 8-9, Paul deals extensively with what it means to practice grace giving. In fact, in these two chapters alone, the word "grace" is mentioned six times.
We learn from these chapters that grace giving is God-honoring. When everything is going well in your life and you give God the crumbs, you are not honoring God. But when everything is blowing up in your face and you give to God sacrificially, you do honor God—something He will never forget. Problems are a part of living, but don't use problems as an excuse to not practice generosity.
It is because of the grace that we have freely received that we can be sympathetic with other people's trials. Our trials give us the ability to minister to others with compassion.
That is the difference the grace of God makes, and that is why the apostle Paul writes, "In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity" (2 Corinthians 8:2).
What did they have to be joyful about when they were in the midst of severe trials? Well, they had joy in the fact that God's grace was poured out upon them. That is truly enough to make you joyful until you close your eyes in death. They had joy in the fact that they had been brought by God out of darkness and into light and that they were on their way to eternity in heaven.
Prayer: God, I pray that I would honor You as I practice grace giving. When I am in the midst of trials, help me to remember that, because Your grace has been poured out on me, I have a reason to be joyful. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity" (2 Corinthians 8:2).
Give Yourself Away
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 06/29/18
Deep down, every one of us is generous. We all give our money, our time, and our energy away to someone. The problem is that some people are only generous for their own benefit. Even when they're "giving," they're really only looking for something in return (see Luke 6:34-35). This kind of lifestyle has no place in God's Kingdom. Sincere, Biblical generosity gives to others without expecting to ever be paid back.
Jesus, of course, was the most generous person who ever lived, giving His life for people who did not deserve it and who could never pay Him back (see Romans 5:8). As leaders, our lives should be marked by radical generosity. We should give financially when appropriate, being very openhanded when a need is presented. But generosity with money is only a start. Generous leaders see the needs of the people around them as opportunities to share the love of God, to invest in others, and to build genuine relationships.
Jesus took one boy's lunch and multiplied it so there was enough food to feed everyone present. The accounts say there were five thousand men present, which means there might have been an equal number of women and children present.
Jesus could have warned the crowd in the morning that they should bring a sack lunch. He could have shrugged off the needs of those people, saying, "Not my problem." The disciples knew that the people would be hungry, and they offered a sensible suggestion to Jesus: Send everybody home before dark.
But Jesus didn't send the people away. He provided for them. That's the generosity of Jesus. He gave when He didn't have to and with no expectation of anything in return.
Would others consider you a generous person? Make it a point this week to be intentionally generous with someone in need. If possible, try to give secretly (see Matthew 6:1-4).
Prayer: God, thank You for the generosity You displayed when You sent Jesus to die on the cross for my sins. Reveal ways that I may generously give of my resources to help those around me who are in need. May You use me as an example of a generous leader. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?" (1 John 3:17).
Loving People over Tradition
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 06/28/18
Jesus never broke even one of the laws His Father gave to Moses, but He was notorious for placing the needs of people above the man-made rules of His day. Over and over again in the Gospels, we read that Jesus had compassion on the large crowds and on the people who came to Him for healing. He healed people with all kinds of infirmities on the Sabbath, something forbidden by the traditions of the elders (but not by the Old Testament).
Jesus values people more than He values the rules of tradition. As Jesus-style leaders, we must do the same. This, of course, does not mean we can flout the rules just for the sake of rebelliousness or relevance. Traditions stand the test of time because they have proven helpful to people. But it is possible for a custom to overstay its welcome. A godly leader will choose the welfare of people over tradition for the sake of tradition every time.
The leadership style of the scribes, Pharisees, and priests burdened and oppressed the people. They derived their authority from ancient writings and procedures. When speaking on a given subject, they would cite an ancient teacher: "As Rabbi Hillel taught . . ."
Jesus came with a completely new and different leadership style. He taught the people how to have better relationships, how to love and forgive each other, how to resolve conflicts, how to deal with worry and anxiety, and so forth. Unlike the nitpicky and irrational rule-making of the scribes and Pharisees, the teachings of Jesus made logical sense. His teachings were compassionate and liberating.
Think about the places where you have influence—your home, work, church. Are you holding to rules for the sake of tradition? Take time to evaluate your rules. Are they causing unnecessary pain or hardship for someone you know?
Prayer: Father, help me to create God-honoring expectations for those I lead. I pray the guidelines I set forth for my team, my family, and others under my leadership would be to their benefit and not created out of any fear or insecurity I may have. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: 'Love your neighbor as yourself'" (Galatians 5:14).
Empowered by Kindness
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 06/27/18
Kindness is a characteristic of God. Out of His kindness He made a covenant with the nation of Israel. And out of kindness, He kept His side of this covenant while they rebelled and disobeyed.
It is out of kindness that Jesus left the splendor of heaven to become a man. It is out of kindness that He died on a cross to pay the wages of our sin. Out of eternal love and kindness, He offers us His precious gift of salvation.
But God's kindness did not stop at the cross. It continues today in the lives of those who accept His Son as their Savior. The more we allow Him to work in us, the more His fruit becomes evident to those whose lives we touch each day.
As we continue to live and grow spiritually, there are several things we need to know about kindness. Sometimes, kindness requires putting ourselves in another person's place. We need to view others as Christ does.
Additionally, while we may find it easy to show kindness to others, we must learn also to show kindness to ourselves. We must not allow past failures and sins to prevent us from growing, but remember that God's forgiveness is complete. When we pray and seek His forgiveness, He gives it. Therefore, we must learn to forgive others and ourselves, too.
Kindness gives birth to kindness. Love extended leads to more love. As you begin to show kindness to others, you will be set free from feelings of self-condemnation. You will find yourself being empowered by the Holy Spirit to exercise more kindness more often.
Prayer: Father, thank You for the kindness You have shown to me and will continue to grant me as I journey with You. As I grow in kindness toward others, help me also show kindness to myself remembering Your unfailing grace and love. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"I will tell of the kindnesses of the LORD, the deeds for which he is to be praised, . . . yes, the many good things he has done for Israel, according to his compassion and many kindnesses" (Isaiah 63:7).
Applying the Word
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 06/26/18
The key to truly making the most of our Bible reading is to apply what we have learned. Seeking out Truth will take work, but the work will be in vain if we don't allow the Truth to transform our lives. "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will" (Romans 12:2).
As you study a passage, take notes on what the Holy Spirit is saying to you. Ask yourself what the passage was saying to the original reader and what the passage means. Then ask yourself how you can apply this Truth to your life today. Review your notes often to remind yourself what you have learned. Make a plan to incorporate these Truths into your life.
God knows what we need. When we are open to the Holy Spirit's promptings, He will give us encouragement when we are struggling, rebuke us when we are rebelling, and challenge us when we need to step forward in faith. He will also use His Word to warn us when we are about to head down the wrong path. Whatever situation we are going through, God will use His Word to give us the knowledge and the wisdom to handle it.
Prayer: God, teach me to apply the Truths of Your Word to my life. Help me to be willing to take the time to seek out Truth and to hear what You want to say to me through Your Word. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like" (James 1:23-24).
God’s Wisdom for Us
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 06/25/18
If we want to truly delight in God, we must treasure His Word—not as a china ornament, but as a map in the wilderness.
The Word of God is a treasure of infinite value given to us by our gracious heavenly Father, but many Christians today live as if they're trapped in poverty. Imagine a person with great worldly wealth living on the streets, begging for handouts, even though they have a fortune in the bank. Likewise, the children of God should not struggle hopelessly through daily life when we have access to the wisdom and direction of our Almighty God.
As God's children, we must learn to apply Scripture to every area of life and every circumstance we face for our good and for His glory. If we aren't allowing God's Word to direct our decision-making and relationships, we will quench the work of the Holy Spirit to sanctify us and bring us into a deeper relationship with our heavenly Father. God gave us His Word to use, not just adore. If we're going to live for Christ and delight in our Lord, we have to let His Word refine us and disciple us.
In what area of your life do you need God's wisdom? Soak it up from the pages of His Word, and you'll experience the power and grace of the great I AM as He transforms you "into His image with ever-increasing glory" (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Prayer: Lord, I know you have brought me from death to life and are renewing me from day to day as I live out the Truth of Your Gospel. Give me wisdom to apply Your Word to every area of my life. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long" (Psalm 25:4-5).
A Lamp and a Sword
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 06/24/18
When we wield the Word of God as a lamp to our feet and a sword against sin, we become more and more able to delight in God's presence.
The Puritan John Owen once advised: "Be killing sin or [sin] will be killing you." It's true. If we're not engaged in the battle against sin, we will become spiritually stagnant. So, how do we kill sin? The answer is not only found in the Word of God; it is the Word of God. In Ephesians, Paul described the armor of God and included this one offensive weapon: "the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God" (6:17). By keeping God's Word on our lips and in our hearts, we have a weapon at hand, ready to attack sin and gain ground in pursuit of righteousness.
But the Word of God is not just a weapon to wield against our sinful nature and the temptations of Satan and the world. It is also our comfort, our light in the darkness. When we stumble and fail, the Gospel proclaims us yet victorious. God's Word affirms our peace with God through faith in Christ, who is our righteousness (see 1 Corinthians 1:30). We are no longer under law, but under grace—no longer enemies, but children of God—so we can delight in the presence of our heavenly Father and trust Him to complete the good work He has begun in us (see Philippians 1:6).
Prayer: Father, thank You for making me Your child and for arming me with Your Truth. Help me to keep Your Word before me to light my way and guard my heart. 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).
Don’t Quench the Spirit
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 06/23/18
In the middle of summer, it is difficult to resist the appeal of a soft drink commercial on television. No matter what brand it is, the beverage maker promises that drinking an ice-cold glass of his soda will quench our summer thirst. We all know that a cold drink on a hot day will not make our thirst disappear forever but will in fact suppress it for the moment.
The common English usage of the word quench might confuse us when we read Scripture warning us not to quench the Spirit of God. The Greek word that is translated as "quench" means "to extinguish." This word has a stronger meaning than "temporary suppression." It means "to extinguish, snuff out, or put an end to." A modern English translation says, "Do not put out the Spirit's fire" (1 Thessalonians 5:19). The same word can be used to describe the snuffing out of a candle.
This does not mean that we can permanently remove the Holy Spirit from our lives. The Spirit is indestructible in His Person and inextinguishable in His strength. Rather, quenching the Spirit means we can resist something the Holy Spirit wants to do in us or through us. It is refusing to follow His leading, ignoring His warnings, and charging ahead to do things our way and in our own timing.
We all come to crossroads where we have the opportunity to yield to the Holy Spirit or to quench the Spirit's work. We may sense that we are to serve in some way, to give money to meet a need, or to change a destructive habit. To quench the Spirit is to say no to the Lord in these moments and to choose instead to pursue our own personal goals. Just as it is possible to disobey God even when His will for us is abundantly clear, it is also possible for us to live in such a way that the Holy Spirit withholds His power from our lives.
Have you lost the power of God by putting out the Holy Spirit's fire? Today you can repent and ask God to forgive you. Then, commit your day to Him. Ask God to help you obey the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit. Ask Him to renew His power and work within you.
Prayer: Father, I know that You tell us in Your Word to not grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). Today I ask You to guide me as You have promised. Help me today to obey the voice of Your Spirit. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it'" (Isaiah 30:21).
By the Spirit
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 06/22/18
When we rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to transform our lives, we will discover increasing joy in the presence of God.
Many years ago, I struggled with my weight. I would go on crash diets and would see amazing results, but those results were short-lived because what I really needed was a lifestyle change and the power of the Holy Spirit to work that change in me.
When we try to resist the devil in our own strength, it might work for a little while. We'll take one step forward, but we'll soon find ourselves taking two steps back. The same is true when we try to overcome temptation through our own efforts, with our own determination. We need power that we simply don't have on our own. We need the power of the Holy Spirit.
You may be thinking, I'm saved. I'm going to heaven. What does this really matter? Friend, the Christian life is about so much more than making it into heaven. To know true intimacy with God, to experience the joy of His presence, is a taste of heaven right now.
Are you seeking greater joy and freedom? You don't have to struggle tirelessly with sin. Instead delight yourself completely in God's Word—and watch as the Holy Spirit transforms you from the inside out.
Prayer: Lord, I want to experience true intimacy with You and complete joy in Your presence today. Help me submit to Your Spirit in my inmost being so that I might keep in step with Him each day. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16).
Dwell in His Fortress
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 06/21/18
To delight in the presence of God means that we have confidence in Him as our refuge, our Redeemer who defeated the powers of sin and darkness at the cross.
The Bible declares that God is our refuge, our fortress, our rock—an image of security and safety (see 1 Samuel 2:2; Psalm 18:2; 42:9). But the only way to enter the protection of this invincible fortress is by knowing and resting in the Truth of who God is. Only when we have grasped the freedom that Christ secured for us on the cross can we have unshakable confidence in Jehovah-nissi, "God our banner." Only when God's Word finds a home in our heart can we have true peace.
It is not enough to read the Bible. We must "let the word of Christ dwell in [us] richly" (Colossians 3:16). That means we must allow the deep Truths about God revealed in Scripture—His character and promises for us—to penetrate our heart, deepen our faith, strengthen our character, and lead us in the way of righteousness through His Spirit. Only the Word of God can sustain us under the pressures of life and protect us from the enemy. Only the Word of God can give us hope, joy, and victory for eternity.
Are you looking for a refuge from the stresses and storms of life? Look to God's Word and dwell on His faithfulness. Reflect on His character and run to the one who is your safe haven.
Prayer: Lord, You are my safe haven. I am confident in Your strength alone. You are my fortress and my salvation forever. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"But the LORD has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I take refuge" (Psalm 94:22).
Reach Out to Him
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 06/20/18
To delight in God's presence, we must know Him—His character, attributes, and heart—as He has revealed to us in His Word.
The reformer Martin Luther once wrote, "God is everywhere; however, He does not want us to reach out to Him everywhere. Only in His Word. Reach out for the Word and you will grasp Him aright. Otherwise, you are . . . setting yourself up for idolatry." People are drawn to greatness, whether the grandeur of creation or the fame of the eloquent. But if we stop at the creation and do not look beyond this to the Creator, we will wind up worshiping false gods and miss out on the only majesty that will satisfy our souls—the one true God, who deserves our complete worship and submission.
The good news for us is that God wants to be known. That's why He chose to reveal Himself specially to us through Scripture. It is through His Word that God shows us His divine qualities and matchless character—His faithfulness, love, mercy, justice, grace, power, holiness, and more—that enable us to delight in His presence.
As you read, hear, and study the Bible, you will only fall more in love with the Lord. So plumb the depths of Scripture, and proclaim with the psalmist: "In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches" (Psalm 119:14).
Prayer: Lord, open my eyes to see Your majesty so that I might praise You all the days of my life. Help me delight in submitting to You and Your Word. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, 'The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, . . .'" (Exodus 34:6).
Fix Your Eyes on Jesus
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 06/19/18
To delight in God's presence, set your heart and your mind on Christ. Never take your eyes off of Him.
If you want to fail miserably in delighting in God—keep your eyes on others. Chase their acceptance, emulate their successes, critique their weaknesses. When I was about 18 years old, the man who was then discipling me taught me this repeatedly. He said, "If you ever want to fail and fail miserably, keep your eyes on church leaders. The bigger they are, the greater your fall." I have never forgotten that.
No matter what direction you take, what temptation surrounds you, or what obstacles are in your path, the Bible gives clear instructions for success: Keep your focus on Jesus (see Hebrews 3:1; 12:2). Look to Him alone as your example, your guide, and your moral standard. Spend every minute of every day in His presence—and you'll find supernatural peace and security, no matter what you're facing in life.
How do we keep our eyes on Jesus? By allowing Him to be the number one influence on our daily choices—not finances, fear, or the approval of others. As you do, He will make known to you the path of life, and He will fill you with joy in His presence (see Psalm 16:11). So fix your eyes on Jesus today—and learn from Him, who made Himself low, how to make your soul soar in God.
Prayer: Lord, thank You for Your Word that reveals to me Your awesome character and love. Help me to follow Christ, clothing myself in Him as Your Word instructs me to do for my own good and delight. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith" (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Taste and See
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 06/18/18
To delight in the presence of God, you must first taste and see that He is good.
Over and over again in the Bible, God draws near to the people He loves so much. He walks with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (see Genesis 3:8). He speaks to Moses from a burning bush (see Exodus 3). And, ultimately, He puts on flesh, becoming one of us (see John 1:14). Over and over again, God draws near to us and invites us to taste and see—to experience Him for ourselves.
God calls each one of us to come to Him and develop a firsthand understanding of His love and kindness. No one else—no pastor, spouse, or parent—can do this for you. You must personally experience His presence and learn what it means to delight in Him.
How do you experience the presence of God? Begin by spending time in His Word. Our God has given us a 1,200-page letter about who He is. So, turn to the Scripture today and connect with your heavenly Father. As you do, the experience of the Psalmist will become yours: "How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" (Psalm 119:103).
Taste and see that the Lord is good. The sooner you begin, the sooner you will be able to experience His wonderful presence working in and through you.
Prayer: Father, thank You for drawing near to me, for giving me Your Word, for giving me Your Son, for giving me Your Spirit. You are good. I praise Your holy name! I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him" (Psalm 34:8).
He Is Our Father
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 06/17/18
Many of us have memories of our fathers. Some memories may be good, but others may be sad or painful. Whatever our feelings toward our earthly father, there is no comparison to our heavenly Father. He is greater than any earthly father could possibly be. Jesus reminds us, "Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" (Matthew 7:9-11). Our heavenly Father loves us with an unconditional love and will never cease to demonstrate His mercy and grace toward us.
That is why Jesus taught His disciples to pray, "Our Father." The phrase "Our Father" reduces all the complications of life to a very simple relationship. Through faith in the shed blood of Christ, we have been redeemed from sin and have been adopted into God's family. As a child of God, have you exercised your right to call Him your Father?
When we come to our heavenly Father in prayer, He removes our fear. He gives us hope and confidence. He banishes our uncertainty. The apostle Paul said, "You did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, 'Abba, Father'" (Romans 8:15).
Your heavenly Father is interested in every area of your life. In Him you have protection, safety, security, serenity, peace, and salvation. Friends may disappoint you, and family may let you down, but your heavenly Father will never leave you nor forsake you (see Hebrews 13:5). He is eager to hear your prayers to Him.
Therefore, call upon Him. Place your trust in Him. Share your hopes, problems, dreams, and concerns with the one who knows you better than you know yourself. As your Father, He will give you joy for today and hope for tomorrow.
Prayer: Father, thank You for adopting me as Your child, making me Your heir. Help me fully embrace my standing before You, resting in Your grace and love. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty" (2 Corinthians 6:18).
Champions Know How to Repent
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 06/16/18
God hates sin—He has made this clear to His children in His Word. And He has equipped us with Scripture and His Spirit so that we can recognize sin in our lives and wage war against it. Yet despite all of this, we can still fall into Satan's traps, leading us to stumble in our pursuit of righteousness. When this happens, how should we respond to our failure so that God is honored, and we are able to break free of sin's grasp?
All too often, we simply want to be pardoned from our sin. The thought of repenting is almost foreign to us. To repent means to stop what we are doing and to go in the opposite direction. However, most of the time we want a simple dismissal of our actions and a warning not to commit them again.
But true repentance means that we recognize we have sinned and offended the heart of God, and true repentance causes us to come clean and desire wholeness again.
David discovered that grieving God's heart was painful. Therefore, simply saying, "I'm sorry," would not do. He approached God with true humility and brokenness that showed his heart was in the right place. Later, David wrote, "My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise" (Psalm 51:17).
Whenever we come before God with a heart that is contrite—sincerely sorry for what we did wrong and longing to change our ways—God is moved. He sees that we recognize what we did was wrong and that we want to be pure again.
True repentance means we love God more than we love our sin. When we run back to Him as prodigal children, He opens His arms and welcomes us with His unending grace.
Prayer: Lord, instill in me a heart of repentance that returns to You when I realize I have sinned. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death" (2 Corinthians 7:10).
Champions Know When to Lean on God
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 06/15/18
In today's society, people desperately try to avoid blame. There is always some excuse to explain away the actions of people who need to be held accountable. While our society loves to bestow grace, it struggles to see how grace and consequences for our actions can live together. Adopting this type of attitude can stunt our relationship with God.
God is a God of grace and redemption, so much so that He sacrificed His only Son for the forgiveness of our sins. Yet, Jesus' death was the consequence of our sin. The consequences of sin are not dismissed simply because grace is endowed upon us.
Confessing our sins to God and taking full responsibility for our actions tests our belief in this Kingdom principle. Do we really think we need to confess our sins? And if so, do we think it is our fault that we sinned?
If we intend to experience wholeness, we must confess our sins to God and ask for His forgiveness. Whenever we turn to Christ—even in the midst of our brokenness—He is there for us, putting back together for us the shattered pieces.
A true champion knows when to lean on God—and that time is always. We cannot conquer the sin in our lives on our own. We need to put on the altar those attitudes and habits that produce sin in our lives and invite God to bring about the cleansing that purifies us. When we are diligent to confess our sins and accept responsibility for our actions, God is faithful to respond and lovingly restore us to wholeness.
Prayer: Lord, help me to be more aware of my sin and more faithful to confess it to You. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy" (Proverbs 28:13).
Champions Learn from Their Mistakes
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 06/14/18
On the tennis court, a young woman flashed a smile of admiration at her opponent after he hit a winning shot. His floating backhand carried so much spin on it that the moment it hit the court, it bounced back over the net before the woman had a chance to hit it.
Sensing that he had spotted a weakness in the woman's game, he attempted the same shot again. But this time, the woman never let the ball hit the court. Instead, she smashed it back over the net and at her opponent's feet for a winning shot.
A lesson learned? Most of us would hope so. However, many people fail to learn from their mistakes and are doomed to repeat them over again. Possibly, in an effort to impress his court companion, this fellow tried the shot yet again and was met with the same result. God wants us to learn from our mistakes, not just so that we don't make the same mistakes repeatedly, but so that we gain wisdom to help us with other trials.
Whenever we feel that we have already conquered a certain problem, we must take time for some serious reflection. Are we confident in our own ability or in God? In pride, do we think there is no room for improvement, or are we humbly considering ways to honor God even more—applying what we have learned to other areas of our lives?
True champions do not spend their lives trying to get it right—they spend their time getting better. If we desire to be all God has called us to be, we must be a people who are willing to strive until we get it right and then go on to get it even better!
God wants you to learn all you can from life's difficulties. As you go through each one, ask Him to help you grow in your faith and show you ways you can honor Him with your life.
Prayer: Lord, please help me discern what lesson You want to teach me in each situation in my life. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon" (Psalm 92:12).
Champions Have Humility
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 06/13/18
Becoming a champion challenges our faith in more ways than we think. When we experience a great deal of success and numerous victories in our lives, human nature begins to enjoy the praises that are given to us.
Before we know it, the excitement that people have for us changes the way we view life, and we start believing our own press. Instead of dwelling on who got us to this point, we begin dreaming about where we are going to take ourselves in the future.
Humility is the mark of a true champion. Godly love is emblazoned on his or her heart. Most people can sniff out false humility miles before they get to it. They hear the cliché about how we had nothing to do with it, and they know we do not believe a word we are saying.
Sincere humility, however, is not making ourselves doormats or denying, ignoring, and undermining the gifts and talents God has given us. When we put God first, we begin to understand what true humility is. It is recognizing God as the reason for our success, the mastermind behind the plan that has brought success to our lives. Humility also means we are quick to acknowledge—and to believe wholeheartedly—that God is the one who has designed this plan and equipped us with the tools to accomplish it.
When our focus in life is to honor God, we naturally put Him first in everything we do. There is no tension in our hearts over who belongs on the pedestal. We know we would be nothing without God. He is our everything, and for that we must give Him our hearts and our sincere devotion.
Prayer: Lord, help me to walk in sincere humility, honoring You with everything I do. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Humility is the fear of the LORD; its wages are riches and honor and life" (Proverbs 22:4).
Champions Show Grace and Kindness
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 06/12/18
Inside each of us there is a hunger and a thirst for justice. We want to see the guilty person get his just due. Yet, when it comes to ourselves, we want mercy and grace extended in our direction. We may be deserving of the worst kind of punishment, but we long for someone to give us a second chance before harshly condemning us.
Although God is just in His ways, He also is merciful. In fact, God's Word makes it simple: "Mercy triumphs over judgment" (James 2:13). God would rather extend mercy toward us than the harsh consequences of judgment. That is why Jesus gave His life for us—so we would not have to suffer the consequences of sin. Jesus paid the debt we owe for our sin.
As believers pursuing the heart of God, we must emulate His heart. As God's heart beats with love and kindness, so, too, should ours. That means that when someone sins against us, we do not revile him for his actions and sever our relationship with him; rather, we should lovingly approach him and seek reconciliation.
Instead of carrying around in our hearts a thirst for vengeance against someone who has wronged us, we should bestow upon him an abundance of grace and kindness, knowing that such an act can soften even the hardest of hearts. As we live for Christ in these ways, we prove that His grace and kindness can transform a heart of sin into a heart that loves God.
Set a goal to demonstrate God's grace and kindness to everyone, for all men and women are in need of His life-changing compassion.
Prayer: Lord, fill my heart with grace and kindness for the world around me. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your providence watched over my spirit" (Job 10:12).
Champions Have Hearts of Love
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 06/11/18
There is something contagious about a heart of love. People who are selfless with their love can make giant waves in this world, whereas those who cling to selfish desires cause only ripples. In fact, those who have hearts of love view the people around them as being most important. A heart that bears the marks of God's intimate love is not a selfish heart.
The Truth is that when we look directly into God's heart of love, we are transformed forever. The selfish desires that once dominated our heart's landscape vanish in an instant—replaced by a desire to lavish love on others.
As God begins to transform our hearts through His grace and kindness, we become vessels willing to reciprocate this type of love. Something happens inside of us. We begin to realize the twofold effect of loving God and loving others—not just friends and family, but those who cross our paths every day.
Hardened hearts begin to melt beneath the warmth of Christ's love overflowing from our lives. People who we never thought would let the name of Jesus roll off their lips suddenly praise Him because we have taken the time to love them the way God has commanded us to love. Once we learn how to abide in His love, our feelings of jealousy, greed, and anger die a quick death.
A true champion extends grace and kindness because he knows the transformation that has taken place in his own heart and because he realizes those who receive God's love and grace have no other course of action but to give God's love away.
Prayer: Lord, help me to be a conduit of Your love to the people you put in my path. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:34-35).
Champions Victoriously Honor God
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 09/10/18
In the New Testament, Jesus made it clear that we have to make a choice: Either we will serve God or we will serve something else.
You can dedicate your life to living for the Lord, or you can spend your life living for yourself. However, to truly honor God in a way that places Him in high esteem over everything else, He must be at the center of your affections.
Many people do good works. Some non-believers even do more good works than Christians. Yet, a look at the heart reveals their true motivation—whether their deeds are truly done for themselves or for the people they are serving. Some Christians are doing good works out of guilt or obligation, as opposed to the purest reason: love for God.
To honor God is to serve Him out of our strong desire to see His name exalted, not our own. If we are doing something in order to earn recognition, is God at the center of our motivation? If no one would ever know what we did, would we still do it? Do we serve others because we love God so much that we want to be the hands and feet of Christ to our dying world? Or do we serve others because it will get us noticed and recognized as great humanitarians by our friends and communities? Is our service self-serving?
God knows our hearts, and He knows if our lives are honoring Him or honoring ourselves. As believers who desire to honor Him, we must endeavor to put Him at the center of all we do. All our decisions, all our thoughts, all our actions—they must be centered on God.
When you do this, you honor Him more than you ever imagined.
Prayer: Lord, help me to place You at the center of my life in everything that I do. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge" (Psalm 62:7).
Champions Are on the Lookout
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 06/0/9/18
The longer we walk down the road with God, the more self-aware we must become. To go the distance, we cannot wander aimlessly toward God, oblivious to our surroundings. It takes focus and determination, as well as a heart bent on serving Him and putting Him above everything else in our lives.
As we pause to analyze our hearts, we must be on the lookout for anything that would open the door to sin in our lives. As David faced trial after trial, he tried to stay focused on the Lord. It's when he lost his focus that he found disaster waiting around the next bend.
By keeping your mind and heart set on God, you can be on the lookout for the very things that can trip you up spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. If you feel bored, lonely, tired, or rejected, beware. These feelings can betray you and lead you to sin. If you slip into laziness and refuse to hear God's Truth, you may also be strolling down a dangerous path.
When we choose to be led by our flesh—which is what happens when we allow our feelings to tempt us into acting contrary to God's Word—we are destined to sin. God loves us dearly, and He desires the best for our lives.
To serve and honor Him at every turn in life, we must follow the voice of the Holy Spirit and not our flesh. In our desire to live holy and righteous lives, we must determine to rely upon Him for guidance and direction. When we do, we will avoid potential pitfalls and heartache.
Prayer: Lord, allow Your Holy Spirit to be the voice of direction for my life today. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness" (Romans 6:13).
Champions Focus on God
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 06/08/18
Everyone loves to pull for the underdog. Whether in sports, business, or the movies, we always like to see the character with the most obstacles to overcome conquer them. It stirs our souls because we secretly wish we would have the courage to accomplish something extraordinary.
There is one consistent trait that moves even the weakest person on to triumph, and that is true focus. The men and women in the Bible who accomplished great things for God's Kingdom had great focus. Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, and even Samson trained their eyes to stay put on the Lord.
Taking your eyes off God can result in failure, just like keeping your eyes firmly fixed on Him can bring some of the greatest victories you will ever know. In your weakest moments, ask yourself if you are focused on God or on your situation. Whenever self-pity sets in, know that failure is lurking nearby. Bemoaning about difficulty demonstrates that your faith has been rocked. Confidence in God can vanish when you try to solve your problems apart from Him.
Keeping our focus on the Lord keeps us from repeating past failures. As we realize that He is the one who leads us through impossible situations, we rely less upon our own strength and more on His.
Trusting Him for direction and confidently following His lead are marks of a champion—a champion who is focused firmly on Him.
Prayer: Lord, help me to stay focused on You at every moment today. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness" (Colossians 2:6-7).
Waiting for His Best
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 06/07/18
At times, life will seem uncertain. Things we once held as familiar will change. This is when it helps to remember that God never changes. Throughout our trials and struggles, He remains the same, faithful and sure.
You may be going through a difficult time. No one seeks out adversity. However, when it comes, you can find hope by taking time to see your circumstances as opportunities for God's glory to be displayed. Self-sufficiency and pride are revealed when we are at our weakest point. God wants us to learn to depend on Him alone. Hard times provide the right opportunity for us to learn God-dependence instead of self-reliance.
When it comes to relationships, this is especially true. A temporary setback in a close relationship can become an open door for a fresh commitment and blessing. Remember, each season has a purpose. In times of stress and pressure, one of the most common mistakes is to make permanent decisions based on temporary circumstances.
God, however, wants us to be willing to wait for His best. If you have been praying for that "right" person to come into your life, be willing to trust Him to bring to pass all His promises in His good timing. The answers to your prayers may not come in the way you imagine.
However, God will never waver in His goodness toward you. He will keep His appointment. He always honors His Word and will accomplish His purpose in your life. God is a matchmaker, working to bring things about for your good and His glory. If you will trust Him, He will match you with blessings, people, opportunities, healing, joy, and peace.
Prayer: Father, thank You for Your faithfulness—for assurance of salvation and hope that does not disappoint. Help me to have deeper faith in You and to anticipate with joy the fulfillment of Your promises. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to give you hope and a future'" (Jeremiah 29:11).
The Right Perspective
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 06/06/18
As we face discouraging events in our lives, there is a danger lurking—self-pity, which can quickly become a source of deadly comfort. The gloomy clouds hanging over our lives should never be permitted to remain, especially in light of God's hope and Truth.
Pressing through any disappointment means being careful not to linger long in a place of discouragement. While each of us will face times of discouragement, we must also realize that discouragement has the ability to rob us of something very important—our godly perspective.
As David entered into a place of discouragement, he found himself grasping for hope. He needed to gain the right perspective on his situation, but it was difficult. No matter how hopeless or how discouraging our situations might be, God has the ability to bring eternal hope and peace to our lives when we need them the most.
Discouragement wars against the very trait that faith and hope in God bring—courage. In order to stand up to the trials and tribulations of a fallen world, we must turn to God for courage and make a commitment to stand strong in our faith through Jesus Christ.
God's best for your life does not include remaining in a place devoid of hope, faith, and courage. Therefore, when facing discouragement, turn to God. He will bring the hope and courage you need to live victoriously over life's hardships.
Prayer: Lord, give me the right perspective in every situation so that I can go through each one trusting You for wisdom to live a godly life. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 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 4:17-18).
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 06/05/18
No one escapes difficulty. It is a part of living in a fallen world, but we do not have to live with feelings of defeat, discouragement, and criticism.
One of the hardest lessons we will ever learn is how to take a negative situation and turn it into a positive one. In Psalm 23, King David reminds us that it is all a matter of faith and perspective. He writes, "Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me" (v.4).
You may be thinking, "But you don't know my circumstances. There is no way for you to understand the pressure I feel or the discouragement that plagues my heart." While we can't truly know or understand the hurt another person may be experiencing, we do know that there is one person who understands perfectly, and that is Jesus Christ.
He was rejected, betrayed, criticized, and crucified. If you are looking for someone to identify with the pain that you are feeling, do what David did—look up and realize there is someone who is walking through the valley with you. No matter how dark life becomes, Christ will lead you on to victory.
Prayer: Lord, thank You for Your mercy and love that sent Jesus—the Son of God—to walk this earth and know the struggles of life in a fallen world. It gives me comfort to know that You understand and lived perfectly for Your glory and to secure my salvation. May I place all my anxieties at Your feet and trust You in all things. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you" (1 Peter 5:7).
God Is Our Guide
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 06/04/18
When we find ourselves in one of life's darker moments, we often forget that Jesus is the light of the world. We grope in the dark for something that will shed light on our situation and lead us to hope. Sometimes we trip and fall numerous times before the Truth in our heads makes its way to our lips.
Stuck in a cave while hiding from King Saul, David quickly learned where to turn when groping got him nowhere: He cried out to God. Throughout the book of Psalms, we read David's heartfelt cries to the Lord.
David yearned for God to reach down and bring him salvation from looming disaster. And time and time again, God answered David's prayers by delivering him from his enemies.
When trouble struck, David turned to God almost immediately because he realized one important fact: He was helpless without Him. Understanding our depravity is a key step for us in turning to the Lord in prayer.
When we think we can solve all our problems on our own, we make a huge mistake. Failure to consult the Lord on which direction we should take only leads to more trouble. Plotting and trying to determine our own course leaves us exhausted and confused.
However, when we realize that we, like David, are helpless without God, we quickly turn to Him in prayer. Fumbling around in the dark only results in scars and rough tumbles. There are no light switches in caves, only passageways to the surface—and God is the best guide we could ever have.
Prayer: Lord, help me understand that I cannot solve all of life's problems on my own. I need You more than anything or anyone else. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!" (Psalm 66:20).
Waiting with Joy
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 06/03/18
Reading about the apostles of the New Testament, our views can be skewed somewhat by knowing the entire timeline of their ministry. We read highlights and letters, dramatic bits and pieces of lives that proclaimed the resurrection of Jesus along with the power of the Gospel. The days, months, and years they spent waiting for God to do the impossible in a post-resurrection world seem mere pauses in a flurry of God-orchestrated activity.
Regardless of the vision we may have for our lives or the direction in which we have been led by the Holy Spirit, we cannot expect to get ahead of God's timeline. After Jesus left the earth, the disciples spent a substantial amount of time waiting for prayers to be answered as well as wondering when God was going to rescue them from dire situations. We, too, must be willing disciples, waiting patiently for God to work in our midst.
God's plan often includes curves in the road we never expected. Ten years passed from the time Paul encountered the risen Christ to the time God commissioned him to ministry. Ten years! During that time, the Lord was preparing him—softening his heart and positioning him so that he could be used to impact the church in the first century and for generations to come.
Waiting on God can be difficult. In our eagerness to see Him move, we have a tendency to try to prod God along. We want to see His glory here and now. Yet, God does not let us venture into new territory alone. He prepares the hearts and minds of those we are to encounter on our journey so that the fullness of His plan becomes apparent in the aftermath. In the midst of our waiting, God is working in the lives of others, too—preparing their hearts and minds for maximum impact when our journeys intersect in His timing. In these moments of intersection, we are reminded of the lovingkindness of God exercised toward us when He calls us to wait. May the Truth of God's love and sovereignty give you confidence and joy even in your waiting.
Prayer: Lord, quiet my heart and help me to remain patient as I wait upon Your plan to unfold in my life. I trust in Your faithfulness and Your power. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD" (Psalm 27:14).
Champions Stand Strong
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 06/02/18
One of our initial and natural responses to difficulty is to look for an immediate solution. We do not like tension and pressure in relationships. We despise disunity and spend enormous amounts of time trying to repair such problems. But when attempts to bring about resolution fail, we often run, abandoning the problem and situation altogether.
Our society is watching to see how we respond to conflict and trials. Are we going to run when things get tough, or will we stand firm in peace and seek the Lord's will for our next steps? Where we are placing our trust directly impacts our response to difficulty and suffering. If we are trusting in our own abilities to resolve situations, we can easily lose heart when we fail. But, if we trust in God and commit our every circumstance to Him—resting in His sovereignty and love for us—we will bring glory to His name and show the world exactly where our hope lies.
While God may not cause the difficulties we face, He certainly uses them to mature us. He shapes and fashions us more into His image as we learn to trust Him more. And it is in these times of testing that God begins to refine our hearts in new ways.
Running from the trials and tribulations in our lives in an attempt to escape difficulty carries some harsh consequences: We may escape the testing, but we will also escape God's blessing.
God enjoys rewarding His children with blessings from heaven. But no reward comes without personal sacrifice. His wondrous blessings await those courageous enough to face each challenge, dying to themselves and trusting in the one who gives true life.
Prayer: Lord, give me the strength to face every challenge You send my way with hope in Your unfailing love. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"The eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love" (Psalm 33:18).
From the Depths of Depression
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 06/01/18
While many men and women of the Bible sought earthly contentment apart from God, there were others whose unsettled lives ultimately drove them into the Lord's presence. Their wandering led them in the opposite direction of their ancestors. They ran to God instead of away from Him.
David, in all the upheaval of his life, was constantly running to God. Even with all his candid questions and passionate expressions of vulnerability, we don't sense that David ever lost faith in God's power to make things right. What may surprise you is that David, a man of faith, appeared to have several bouts with what modern psychologists would label depression.
Even though an estimated 10 percent of the U.S. population is affected by depressive illness at any given time, Christians often are ashamed to admit they are enduring their own dark periods of despair. The life of David, however, teaches us that every person, even those who trust God, at some point enters a dark valley. In fact, almost anyone who responds to the call of God will one day face doubts and questions, difficulties and trials, that will lead him or her through the door of depression. Jeremiah was known as the "weeping prophet" because he anguished over the sins of God's people and the judgment he saw coming as a result of their disobedience. More than once he withdrew in defeat and asked God why he had even been born.
Like Jeremiah and other dedicated servants of God, David experienced a similar bout of depression (see Psalm 63). Yet his hunger for God, even in the pit of despair, is a vivid demonstration of the Biblical response to depression. If we are willing, we can turn our despair into a passionate pursuit of God.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I confess that at times I have been overwhelmed with feelings of despair. But I draw hope from the example of Your servant David, who continued to seek You even in the darkest valley. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy" (Psalm 126:5).