Struggling to keep your Faith when the walls of life feel like they are closing in on you?
It happens to all of us at some point in our lives.
Read Isaiah 41:10
Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.' (NKJV)
DAILY DEVOTIONAL 10/17/18
Messengers of Reconciliation
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 10/17/18
Paul dedicated himself to telling people about the cure for the plague of sin. He never allowed their relentless attacks, false accusations, or assaults on his integrity to stop him. He maintained his focus on positive living by remembering the costly price Jesus paid for the cure, as well as his own calling as God’s ambassador.
"We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God" (2 Corinthians 5:20).
No matter how difficult our circumstances, how severe our pain, or how unbearable our life seems, we can find release from these burdens. How? By remembering that we are ambassadors of the Lord of glory and by sharing His message of reconciliation with others.
When we focus on others, sharing the Good News of God’s deliverance with people tormented by fear and anxiety, our own burdens will lighten. Nothing is more uplifting. "All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation" (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).
As long as we live on this earth, we have a purpose: to be God’s messenger and to serve on His behalf. When we begin to understand this role, then nothing can keep us down for very long.
Prayer: God, thank You for giving me the purpose of being Your messenger. I pray that You would give me a desire to see those around me reconciled to You. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!" (Romans 5:10).
DAILY DEVOTIONAL 10/16/18
God’s Grace Is Sufficient
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 10/16/18
How often do we feel like we have run out of steam? We feel like we cannot make it over the next hill as its shadow looms large over us weary travelers. Even as we trudge in the direction of the hill—which we know we must climb—we begin to wonder if the weight of the burden we are bearing is too much.
Will we make it?
If there are two things God makes clear in His Word, they are the facts that we cannot make it on our own and that He will help us if we call out to Him. Countless times in Scripture, we read of men and women who felt as though they had reached the end. They could not go on unless God gave them hope, strength, and courage. And when they called upon the Lord, He heard and answered their prayers.
While God does not promise us a life free from pain and suffering, He does promise to be our strength in our moments of greatest weakness (see 2 Corinthians 12:9). The apostle Paul suffered many afflictions while spreading the Gospel around the world. He was tortured, jailed, shipwrecked, and diseased. Yet he persevered—not because he was determined to get the Gospel out, but because God gave Paul the grace to do so.
Paul writes, "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me" (2 Corinthians 12:9). As we face hardships in life, we must remember that God is not a casual observer. He is an active participant—walking with us every step of the way. He catches us when we stumble, and He cheers us on as we pursue Him. He is the one who gives us the grace to walk through life’s darkest hours.
Prayer: Lord, help me to remember that Your grace is sufficient for my struggles in life. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"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).
DAILY DEVOTIONAL 10/15/18 to 10/13/18
Grace Equals Power
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 10/15/18
There is one thing you must understand about grace. Grace equals power. There is nothing like this power in the entire world. This power is so unique that it can raise a dead soul to life. It is a supernatural power. It’s a unique power. And it is that same power that sustains us through the difficulties of life.
No matter what your hurt may be, whatever your suffering is, whatever grief is crushing you, God’s promise for the apostle Paul is yours today: "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9). No matter what you are facing, God’s grace is sufficient.
How could we experience and explain the sufficiency of the grace of God if there were no thorns in our lives? How could we testify about it? God’s grace cannot be manifested when we are strong in our own eyes, when we think we don’t need it.
God’s grace shines the brightest against the darkness of our circumstances. God’s grace is manifested most clearly when we are weak. That is why Paul was glad to boast about his weakness. Why? So that Christ’s power would rest upon him even more.
"My grace is sufficient for you." Is God’s grace sufficient for you? If you don’t think that God’s grace is sufficient for you, maybe you are focusing so much on the thorn that you cannot see the rose of His grace blossoming in your life. Look up and remember His grace, Truth, and promises—and rejoice.
Prayer: Lord, help me to take my eyes off my thorn. May my gaze instead be fixed upon Your throne. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power" (Ephesians 3:7).
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 10/14/18
After the apostle Paul pleaded with God to take away his thorn, God responded, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9).
What was Paul’s thorn? We don’t know. Whatever it was, we can be sure that this was no minor irritation. Paul’s thorn in the flesh was a torment day-in and day-out. He was in severe pain.
In 2 Corinthians 11, the apostle Paul talks about the horrendous things he endured—he was shipwrecked, stoned, flogged, imprisoned, and more. He experienced hunger, thirst, sleeplessness, and nakedness, and yet, through all of this, he never prayed to God, "God, take these things away from me." Not once do we see him praying that these things would go away. Meanwhile, he persists in prayer over this thorn, whatever it was.
It is no accident that the Bible did not tell us what his specific problem was. The Holy Spirit left this out deliberately so that all who go through suffering could identify with Paul. This godly man quietly asked the Lord to intervene and deliver him quickly, just like we often do—and there is nothing wrong with that request. However, God’s response was, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." And that answer is true for every one of His children.
Prayer: God, thank You for Paul’s example of trusting Your grace in his life as he struggled with his thorn in the flesh. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:10).
The Truth About God’s Nature
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 10/13/18
Tragedy is unavoidable. Not only will we have to face personal tragedies in our lives, but each generation faces gut-wrenching communal tragedies. In tragic moments, it seems evil has prevailed and we are reminded of the undeniable presence of sin in this world. In these moments, the question quickly arises: "Where is God?"
The Truth is God is not afraid of our questions. He is not surprised, offended, or threatened by our inability to comprehend every spiritual working of the universe. He has nothing to hide from us because He is blameless in character. In the face of what we do not know, we can cling to what we do know about Christ’s character.
In John 10:10-11, Jesus likens His leadership to that of a trustworthy shepherd. In stark contrast, He describes Satan’s role as that of a thief who comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Many live in terror of their gods, offering sacrifices with the hope that their god will withhold sickness, death, and destruction from their families and cities. But our God is not like these false gods.
Jesus specifically came "to destroy the devil’s work" (1 John 3:8). Our God became like us, entering into our suffering so that He could bring us life. Our God does not deceive, but abhors evil, delights in the Truth, and brings justice. Our God does not add to our misery or demand the impossible from us, but He paid our penalty on the cross. He is not passive; He is at work in us and around us. When we pray, He responds, breaking spiritual strongholds and delivering us from snares we aren’t even aware of.
So where is God? He is with us, in us, and ahead of us. In the midst of tragedy, He is working behind the scenes with a plan to glorify Himself and bless those who follow Him. What is God’s response to evil? He overcomes it.
Are you confident that the light of Christ is more powerful than evil? Are you searching for perfect answers, or are you willing to trust that God is good, God is in control, and He loves you? Whether you are hurting or looking for answers, bring them before the Lord today. He is not the antagonist in the story—He is the one ready to comfort us and lead us into all Truth.
Prayer: Lord, even when my circumstances are hopeless, I know that You are still good. Help me to trust in You and depend on You in every circumstance. Help me to be ready to share Your love and Your Truth when tragedy strikes. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work" (1 John 3:8).
DAILY DEVOTIONAL 10/12/18
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 10/12/18
When we fully understand the transforming power of God’s Truth, we begin to realize how far the world is from God. Paul warns, "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness" (Romans 1:18).
While we worship a loving God, our God is also just and righteous and will not allow the sinfulness of humanity to go unnoticed. We cannot satisfy God’s requirement for righteousness, yet, as Scripture tells us, "This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe" (Romans 3:22). In God’s mercy, even the most undeserving sinner can find forgiveness and salvation through Christ.
The Gospel is a powerful message. But as long as Christians feel ashamed of the Gospel, as long as we cower in fear instead of speaking boldly, as long as we live like those in darkness, we will never make an impact for God.
Have you been hiding God’s Truth? Confess to God if you have been ashamed of the Gospel. Confess to Him the times you’ve kept quiet, the times you chose not to witness, the times you compromised your beliefs in order to fit in. Receive His forgiveness and, from the joy of His mercy and grace, proclaim His goodness to you through your words and actions.
Prayer: God, I pray today that the transforming power of the Gospel message would manifest itself in my life so that I may be a light in the darkness. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:6).
DAILY DEVOTIONAL 10/11/18
The Reality of Hell
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 10/11/18
There was once a preacher by the name of Peter Cartwright. One morning before Cartwright was to preach, he was told that General Andrew Jackson was going to be in the service and was asked not to say anything to offend him.
When Cartwright got up to preach, he said: "I am told that General Andrew Jackson is in the congregation. Andrew Jackson will go to hell if he does not commit his life to Jesus Christ."
People were aghast. But after the service was over, Jackson approached Cartwright and shook his hand, saying, "If I had 100 men like you in my regiment, I could take on the world."
Satan does not want to hear preachers talking about the lake of fire. He does not want people to be told that unless they repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, they will spend eternity in hell with Satan.
In Matthew 25:41, Jesus teaches about the reality of hell. He warns that hell is an eternal separation from God. It is a place of impenetrable darkness, uninterrupted pain, and unquenchable fire. He also warns that those who reject Him will spend eternity there.
The lake of fire was created by God to be the eternal destination of Satan and his fallen angels. When Adam sinned against God, his destiny changed, along with the destiny of mankind. However, in His infinite grace, the Lord provided a sacrifice for Adam’s sin.
Today, through Christ, God has provided a way for our sins to be eradicated. When you confess your sin and accept Him as your Lord and Savior, your eternal destination changes from hell to heaven. Rejoice in the Lord, for He has been good to you.
Prayer: Lord, give me the courage to be bold on Your behalf, that I may speak of Your saving grace that has brought me out of the depths of sin. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them" (John 3:36).
DAILY DEVOTIONAL 10/10/18 & 10/09/18
The Ultimate Truth
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 09/10/18
Truth is objective, not subjective. Truth is absolute and not a sliding scale. The Truth is not open to redefinition to make it more winsome for new believers. The Truth does not seek to be politically correct because it refuses to tell people that they are safe believing lies. Truth is not trendy. As a Christian, it is not your job to make the Truth easier or more attractive. It is your job to love people by remaining faithful to the Truth. We can trust the Holy Spirit to take care of the rest, drawing people into God’s Kingdom.
The ultimate Truth that cannot be compromised is that Jesus is our eternal hope. There are not many paths to God. There is only one, and that is through Jesus Christ, God’s son, who died for us. Jesus Himself told us in John 14:6: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." This Truth is unequivocal, unambiguous, and unavoidable.
Have you ever been made to feel intolerant or unloving because you held fast to this Truth? You are not alone. If you contend for the faith by lovingly telling others the undiluted Truth they need, you may face criticism.
What are you willing to endure in order to share Truth with others in your workplace or neighborhood? Have you ever experienced rejection when you have tried to share the Truth with someone?
Prayer: Father, I pray that You would give me the ability to understand and defend the Truth. Give me discernment and wisdom to live by Your Truth in this secular world. 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).
The Only Savior
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 10/09/18
Since the very beginning, God’s Truth has been under attack. Many have sought to modify the message of Christ and water down the Gospel to appeal to the masses.
The same attack against God’s Truth continues today. Many of these lies are disguised in modern dress, but they are proclaiming old heresies—even in many evangelical churches. But despite how these lies are dressed, they all have one common source. And God is calling us as His church to stand against them.
Read 2 Corinthians 4:4-5. In this passage, Paul tells us that "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers." This god, this spirit of the age, sneakily permeates our culture and even our churches with its lies and deceptions. This spirit’s intention is simple: to blind people’s spiritual eyes to Christ—because if they cannot see Christ, they will miss the only way to salvation.
This is a crucial battle. And it is one that we, as God’s church, must fight.
God has a strategy to combat the spirit of the age, and we are a part of it. In 2 Corinthians 4:5, Paul shares our role: "What we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.".
While many seek to modify the true Gospel, we must preach Christ, who loves us so much He chose to die a criminal’s death on the cross in order to pay for our sin and set us free. Christ’s payment for our sin is the only salvation. We must preach Christ, who healed the sick, raised the dead, made the lame to walk, and set the captives free. There is no higher knowledge that can help us connect with God—we come to God through Christ and Christ alone.
As believers, it is crucial for us to know the Truth, to be firmly grounded in it, and to stand for Christ in a world of compromise. The Truth is immovable, immutable, and unchangeable. And we are to build our lives on it.
Begin asking God to help you recognize when you encounter heresies that the god of this age has spread. God loves every person in the world, but He will not bend His Truth to make people more comfortable in their sin. No, He wants to rescue them from their sin! Ask God to impress His Truth in your heart and to help you lovingly proclaim it so we can stand with Paul and others throughout history and say, "We preach Christ!”
Prayer: God, strengthen me in Your Word, that I would not be fooled by the deceptions of this world. Give me the courage to boldly testify to Your Truth and all that You have done for me, that others may know the freedom You freely give through Christ. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord" (2 Corinthians 4:5).
DAILY DEVOTIONAL 10/08/18
The Truth About Sin
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 10/08/18
The spirit of the age that Paul warns us about also comes dressed in the form of moral tolerance. Today, this spirit declares that Jesus is ambiguous about sin and so must we be. This movement proclaims that Christ does not care how people behave morally. It declares that Christ is apathetic toward our decisions and lifestyles, but God loves us too much to let us live a life of sin. He wants us to follow Him on the only path to fullness of life.
Read Romans 6:23. Paul tells us that sin has a price, and that price is death. Any sin we commit ushers decay into our lives. Sexual immorality kills intimacy. Lying damages integrity. Gossip destroys relationships. Every sin brings something corrupt and evil into our lives.
The spirit of the age wants to keep people from experiencing life to the full (see John 10:10), but more than that, it wants to keep them from the God who is life. Sin doesn’t only cause death in our lives—it costs death. Paul tells us in Romans 6:23 that because of our sin, we were all destined to pay sin’s cost with our very lives, living forever apart from the God who loves us. But God made a better way for us. He sent His Son Jesus to pay the cost for our sin and to set us free from death. He offers this freedom to everyone who will come to Him.
The spirit of the age declares that Christ is soft on sin, ambiguous about sin—but sin is costly. Sin is deadly. God hates sin because He is holy, He is just, and He loves us. God knows that sin destroys us, and this is why He sent Jesus to set us free from it.
This is the God we preach—the God of power and might who breaks the chains of sin. His power can set the captives free. His power can liberate anyone from the tyranny of sin, shame, and addiction. He is the only one who can heal and restore.
When you encounter someone who believes that sin isn’t serious, pray for them to see the Truth about sin. Ask God to use you to communicate the only solution: Christ’s forgiveness. And despite how the conversation goes, continue to pray for that person because sometimes seeing Truth is a process. But God is tenacious. He wants everyone to come home to Him.
Prayer: Lord, forgive me for the times I have treated sin lightly. Use me to free others from the chains of sin that they may know Your love, freedom, and forgiveness. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23).
DAILY DEVOTIONAL 10/07/18 to 10/01/18
The Spirit of Truth
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 10/07/18
Paul warned us about the spirit of the age that permeates our culture and seeks to modify the message of Christ. Whether dressed in the form of relative truth, moral tolerance, self-improvement, or otherwise, its goal is the same: to keep people away from Jesus, the only way to salvation.
Nevertheless, we must stand with Paul and the believers throughout the ages and preach Christ. We can tell people about Christ’s free offer of salvation—how He longs for everyone to be set free from sin, so much so that He gave His own life to pay our ransom. We can tell people how God hates sin and how He is the only one who has the power to restore our lives.
We have such good news to share with our seeking world. And we don’t do it alone. Christ Himself helps us share His message of love and forgiveness—through His Spirit, through His Word, and with His heart.
Read John 14:16-18. Before Jesus gave His life, rose from the dead, and went back to sit at the Father’s right hand, He promised that He would not leave His disciples to walk through this world alone. He promised to ask the Father to send His Spirit—the Spirit of Truth. And He did. God’s Spirit now lives in His disciples—He lives in us. He is our advocate and will be with us forever.
The Spirit of Truth who lives in us will give us everything we need to combat the spirit of the age.
As we walk closely with God, He will lead us and guide us. As we read His Word and live by His Spirit, He will illuminate Truths that speak into our situations and our relationships. As we have conversations with people, He will give us words to speak that will penetrate their hearts. And as we spend time with Him on a regular basis, He will mold our hearts to His. Because God is out to silence the spirit of the age, He will give us the words, the insights, and the right opportunities to co-labor with Him in doing so.
When Christ returns in glory, the spirit of the age will be silenced once and for all. At that time, every knee will bow before Jesus, and there will be no doubt about what is true—He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. As we preach Christ, we can help make that day even more joyous, with even more hearts celebrating and rejoicing before His throne.
Prayer: Lord, thank You for sending Your Holy Spirit to lead me into all Truth. Remove the hindrances that keep me from obeying You. Open my eyes to all the opportunities You have given me to share Christ with others. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth" (John 14:16-17).
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 10/06/18
Satan is working overtime, trying to destroy the church from the inside out. The very foundational beliefs of the church are crumbling today, and the first casualty has been the Truth.
First Timothy 4:1 warns, "The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons." Similarly, Jude’s epistle sounds an alarm, warning the church of the consequences to those who allow themselves to disregard God’s Truth to please themselves.
Read Jude 1:3-7. Verse 5 tells how the Israelites forfeited great blessings when they did not trust God’s promise to deliver them safely to the Promised Land. Caleb and Joshua, however, stood on God’s promises and were allowed to enter. Jude also tells of the fallen angels who lost their lofty positions when they believed Lucifer’s enticing lies (v. 6).
Finally, Jude shows the grief and destruction that came to Sodom and Gomorrah when they winked at sin, carelessly disregarding Scriptural Truth (v. 7). Matthew 7:15 tells us that false prophets are really wolves in sheep’s clothing sent by Satan to trip up the faithful. Naturally, believers who have confessed, repented, and accepted Jesus Christ as the only means of atoning for sin will not lose their salvation. Still, Satan can fill their lives with pain, confusion, and grief if he is allowed to infiltrate the church.
What sins has our culture become casual about? Is there an area of temptation in your life that you have not energetically addressed as sin? In addition to knowing God’s Word, Christians must fight against apathy. The commitment to learn God’s Word and live by it cannot be taken lightly by a believer. Caring about what God cares about is a crucial step toward rebuilding and strengthening God’s church.
Prayer: Father, show me any areas of my life where I have become apathetic and allowed falsehood to creep in. Help me to be committed to learning and living by Your Word. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth" (Revelation 3:16).
An Invasion of Lies
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 10/05/18
In the book of Jude, Jesus’ half-brother writes to believers to urge them to fight against an invasion of lies that were seeping into the church. Jude knew that Christians had to be ready to do battle against unbiblical teaching in order to keep the church pure.
This warning is just as relevant today as mainline churches dilute Biblical Truth to make it more appealing, user friendly, and comfortable. Sinful actions get a pass as "lifestyle choices," and those who cling to God’s Truth are labeled intolerant. However, only God’s Truth is valid, offering eternal life and granting the power to live life victoriously now.
To be effective against false teaching, you must first know and believe the Truth. Stop and take a moment to read Jude 1:1-24.
God is the author and source of all Truth. Some churches, however, are flying the banner of man-made theology, and it is attracting hordes of people by blurring the lines of Truth. The message is intentionally kept ambiguous in order not to alienate anyone who might find Biblical teachings challenging or contrary to their lifestyle. This new version of the church is adapting the Christian faith to culture instead of calling the culture to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. God does not tolerate creative tampering with His Truth. There is no Truth but His Truth.
There are no small exceptions to Biblical Truth. The consequence of tolerating "small exceptions" to the Truth is eventual and complete departure from the Truth. A half-truth is a lie. Downplaying God’s Truth to appeal to unbelievers has eternal consequences.
Prayer: God, I pray that You would help me to be on guard for false teaching. Help me to never downplay Your Truth. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"I hate and detest falsehood but I love your law" (Psalm 119:163).
The Importance of the Truth
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 10/04/18
Historical revisionists and liberal Bible scholars are trying to apply modern-day values to the Word of God and to historical facts. They remove the pieces they don’t like. May we be warned: If we continue on this path, we will end up with a pack of lies, and our children will not learn the Truth about the Word of God. Scripture is clear. In 2 Timothy 4:2-4, Paul warns his young friend to not be ashamed to preach the Gospel, saying:
Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
It is politically incorrect to say that Jesus Christ is the way, the Truth, and the life—but it is the Truth. Only His Truth changes lives and unlocks the beauty of our full worth as men and women who are made in His image. Only He can change our heart so we are able to love our neighbors.
We must remember, "The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love" (Galatians 5:6).
Prayer: God, help me to be on guard against those who are removing pieces of the Truth from Your Word. Thank You for being the only way, the Truth, and the life. Help me to proclaim this Good News lovingly and unashamedly. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen. # "Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks" (John 4:23).
The Power of the Word
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 10/03/18
The Bible gives us strength and power like no other book. It has the power to change people’s lives, the power to help us overcome temptation, and the power to overcome our circumstances.
Perhaps one of the reasons so many people avoid the Bible is because it is like a mirror. Often, we do not want to be confronted with the Truth about ourselves. The Scripture tells us, "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).
The Bible doesn’t merely show us our sins; it also cleanses us. It shows us the problem, and then gives us the solution, just as Ephesians declares: "Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless" (5:26-27). If we look in the mirror and see resentment and bitterness, the cleansing power of the Bible will pour love into our hearts. If the mirror reflects envy or discontentment, the Bible can give us joy and peace. Where we find immorality, the Bible will wash us with purity.
But only by reading the Bible daily will we reap its benefits as it was intended. We cannot simply skim through our favorite passages whenever we need a pick-me-up. We must devour every page and glean every Truth we can. We need to understand the Bible and its history. We need to look at the background and context of each passage we read and meditate on the passage in prayer. We need to ask the Holy Spirit’s guidance each time we pick up God’s Book.
Prayer: Father, forgive me for not spending enough time in Your Word. Help me to grow in this area of my walk with You. I pray that Your Spirit would guide me as I read Your Word and that the power of the Word would change me. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away" (Mark 13:31).
Deliver Us from Evil
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 10/0218
There was an elderly woman who was known for always having something good to say about others. One day, two young men thought they would trap her. Surely, she would not have anything good to say about Satan. They walked up to her and said, "Tell us: What do you think about the devil?"
The woman paused and then said, "Well, there is only one thing that I can think of—he is always on the job!".
The woman was right. There is nothing good about Satan. However, we can say that he never wearies of tempting believers.
This is why Jesus taught His disciples to pray, "Deliver us from evil," which really means, "Deliver us from the evil one." Jesus did just that on the cross. He shattered the power of sin and death. The resurrection is evidence of His victory.
One of Satan’s greatest deceptions is convincing us that pride is not a problem. Ironically, pride was Satan’s own downfall. It was his desire to become like God. In his pride, Satan wanted to take God’s place.
Similarly, though most of us would say that David’s greatest sin was adultery and the murder tied to it, the root to David’s sin goes much deeper. In pride, David considered himself above the law of God.
While other kings were off fighting in battles, David stayed home, becoming lazy and self-serving—the perfect posture for pride to make its mark. Satan waited for the right opportunity, and then he tempted David by appealing to his flesh.
If you have been drawn away from God through pride, believing you know better than God and can live without Him, stop what you are doing and turn back to the Lord. Be sure you are following Christ closely and that all you desire begins and ends with Him.
Prayer: Lord, thank You for delivering me from evil on the cross. Thank You for shattering the power of sin and death. Please hold me close to You. Strengthen me and guide me away from laziness and self-service. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him" (2 Chronicles 16:9).
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 10/01/18
If you’re a genuine believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, Satan and his demons will tempt you. But we also know from the Word of God that God has given us the power to have victory over Satan’s temptation (see James 4:7 and 1 Corinthians 10:13).
The problem is that we tempt ourselves. We know Satan tempts us, but we can also tempt ourselves when we put ourselves into situations that cause our sinful flesh to rise up and crave what is ungodly. In those moments, we become our own worst enemies.
When Jesus taught us to pray, "Lead us not into temptation," He meant us to ask God to empower us not to tempt ourselves nor to tempt God.
But, how do we tempt God? When we place ourselves in situations where we force God to intervene to rescue us, we are tempting God.
The Bible is very clear: God never tempts us, but we tempt God (see James 1:13-15). For example, Samson tempted God repeatedly. He kept forcing God to intervene to save him from different situations that he got himself into. Finally, after delivering him again and again, God gave him up to the consequences of his foolishness.
Many committed Christians subconsciously fall into temptation like Samson. Every time you are blessed by God, you must be on guard. You may begin to think, "God has blessed me in all these physical ways, so what I do secretly, my morals and the attitude of my heart, must not be important to God. After all, God must be pleased with me. I must be favored by God. I can do no wrong.”
That’s exactly what got Samson into trouble. He kept using God’s strength for his own; he kept using God’s blessings to serve his own purposes. May we learn from his mistakes and humble ourselves before the Lord, trusting God’s purposes for our lives for His glory and our good.
Prayer: Father, lead me not into temptation. Help me never to use Your blessings for my own purposes but to enjoy them as I pour them out in service to You and others. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak" (Matthew 26:41).
DAILY DEVOTIONAL 09/30/18 to 09/01/18
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 09/30/18
The line in the Lord’s Prayer that reads, "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors," does not mean that we earn God’s forgiveness by forgiving other people (Matthew 6:12). If that were true, then salvation would rest on good works, and faith would be unnecessary. Paul says, "It is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Our eternal debt was paid on the cross once and for all. Nothing is outstanding. Forgiving others is not a payment toward our own forgiveness: It’s a sign of spiritual life. Once we have received God’s forgiveness in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit lives in our hearts, it follows that we should become more forgiving of people.
There are two sides to forgiving. The first is transforming your attitude toward the person who has offended you, and the second is transforming your relationship with the person who has offended you. Both take courage.
These two aspects to forgiveness take courage because we much prefer to go on clinging to our resentment. That way, we have a scapegoat. When things go wrong, we can say, "Well, that’s because of so-and-so and the awful thing he did to me." It’s childish, yet we find the habit incredibly hard to break. Most of the time the best we manage is to "forgive but not forget"—which is not really forgiveness at all because refusing to forget means we are reserving the right to bring the matter up again whenever we please. Holding a grudge—keeping that weapon in reserve—stifles the relationship.
Real forgiveness has no memory. It does not shut other people into the locker of their past mistakes. It makes room for a genuine fresh start. Often, this transformation of attitude is all we need to transform the relationship.
Prayer: Father, help me transform my attitude toward those who have offended me and give me the courage to transform my relationship with them as well. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors" (Matthew 6:12).
Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 09/29/18
There are people living in some of the most influential countries in the world who do not have enough to eat. They don’t know where they will get enough money to buy their next meals. Maybe they have been laid off from their jobs, or, due to some serious illness, they cannot work.
Perhaps you know the sinking feeling that comes from hearing the news that you will no longer be employed. When setbacks occur, we must immediately turn to God to renew our hearts with His hope and encouragement. Never be ashamed of crying out to God through prayer. He knows what you are facing even before you drop to your knees to pray.
Being laid-off from our jobs does not mean we are without hope. God provides for us each day. We may not know how His provision will come, but, if our lives are submitted to Him, we can be sure we will receive His blessings.
In Luke 11, Jesus taught His disciples to pray, "Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread" (vv. 2-3). During the Exodus, God did just that. Daily He provided a fresh stock of manna, a bread-like food that also was called "the grain of heaven" (Psalm 78:24).
Through Jesus Christ, God has provided all that we need for this life. We do, however, have a responsibility to fulfill. We must sincerely seek Him each day and be willing to let go of past hurts.
Let go; trust God to provide daily bread—His manna—for you. When you do, you will see Him at work on your behalf.
Prayer: Lord, I pray for my daily bread today—physically and spiritually. As I wait, may I abide in You. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"They asked, and he brought them quail; he fed them well with the bread of heaven" (Psalm 105:40).
Thy Will Be Done
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 09/28/18
Every day, millions of people pray The Lord’s Prayer without understanding what it means to pray, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10, KJV). When you pray this to the Lord, you are saying, "You rule supreme over my life." As followers of Christ, we are pledging our allegiance to Him by saying, "King Jesus, may Your priorities be my preoccupation.”
You cannot say that you are a member of the Kingdom of God without Jesus being the King of your life—because the King and the Kingdom are inseparable. If you pray for the Kingdom to come and for God’s will to be done, then you are saying, "King Jesus, take over.”
When most people pray, they focus on their plans, needs, and agendas. God cares about our lives and wants us to ask Him for our needs in prayer. However, if our perceived needs become the focus of our lives, they can become our god—and that’s a problem. When our needs become the focus of our lives, it is not long before we cease to pray, "Thy will be done," and instead begin to pray for our own will to be done.
As we pray for our own will to be done, our focus moves away from loving God and others toward personal fulfillment and pleasure. Soon, our reasoning becomes darkened by our feelings rather than enlightened by God’s Truth, and we are no longer able to perceive the Lord’s will.
Prayer: Father, forgive me for allowing my needs and wants to become the focus of my life. May Your priorities become my priority. Rule over my life so that I can sincerely pray, "Thy will be done." I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (Matthew 6:31-33).
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 09/27/18
There are two kingdoms—the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world. When we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are adopted into the Kingdom of God. So we pray to our Father, "Your kingdom come" (Matthew 6:10). For, we long for God to rule over every part of our lives, here and now. We long for God’s Kingdom to break through in fullness when Christ makes all things new.
Being a citizen of a country means you have special privileges. These vary from country to country. However, as a citizen of God’s Kingdom, we become members of the royal family. We are joint heirs with Christ. We have access to the throne of God. We have personal fellowship with the King of kings. We are His beloved children.
In order to become a citizen of a country other than the one in which you are born, you must meet certain requirements. The Kingdom of God requires its citizens to accept the reign of a wise and loving King. It means acknowledging Christ as our Lord and Savior. It means being obedient to the Word of God. It requires our saying, "Lord, not my will, but Yours be done.”
Human nature is selfish. What we think we need is foremost in our actions and prayers. Prayer that revolves around our own plans, desires, and needs, however, can be contrary to God’s Word.
When we surrender our lives to Christ and submit ourselves to Him, we are placing our will in submission to the Lord’s. Thus we begin to pray, "Lord, reign in my life, dominate my thoughts, show me Your will.”
Within each of us rages the war between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world. With Christ we have the victory. Knowing this, press on, armed with the confidence that God hears us and will answer our prayers.
Prayer: Lord, I thank You for making a way for me to pass from the kingdom of this world into the Kingdom of God. Thank You for Your promise to make all things new. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
“The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil" (1 Peter 3:12).”
Hallowed Is His Name
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 09/26/18
Imagine that you have been granted an audience with the king. This is the moment you’ve been waiting for—the chance to bring your requests before his majesty. The great doors open, and you are standing before the throne. In awe and reverence, you first address the king. It would be improper to just begin asking for your needs.
Jesus instructed His disciples, "This, then, is how you should pray: 'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name'" (Matthew 6:9).
The dictionary defines hallow as "to make or set apart as holy." God is holy. He is sovereign and omniscient. He is the King of kings, the Creator of the universe. When we place our faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, He becomes our heavenly Father. As such, we have the honor and the privilege of being able to come to Him in prayer.
It is important that we know the character of God, and honor and revere Him in our prayers, actions, and thoughts. God’s character is pure, holy, flawless, loving, compassionate, righteous, just, merciful, kind, long-suffering, honest, true, dependable, faithful, and understanding.
The more we know about God, the more we grow in fellowship with Him. This carries over into our prayers. Placing Him first and foremost in our minds keeps our focus on Him instead of on our needs and desires.
However, Jesus did not intend for our prayers to become ritualistic. Rather, Jesus gave us this prayer guide to show us the elements that are important in prayer as we fellowship with God. And, by beginning with God’s name, we are reminded that we are coming before Almighty God. As children of God, we have been given free access to the throne room of the King of kings. We can address the King as "Our Father." There is no greater honor!
Prayer: Lord, thank You for inviting me into Your presence. I praise You as King of kings and Lord of lords and also thank You for being my Father. There is no one like You. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Who is like you, LORD God Almighty? You, LORD, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you" (Psalm 89:8).
The Honor of Prayer
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 09/25/18
Do you think of God as your loving, heavenly Father? Many people find this hard to do. The notion of calling God—who is holy and righteous—"Father" can be overwhelming. But it’s true. We can call Him, "Father," because of the shed blood of Christ.
The Bible tells us that without the sacrificial death of Jesus, there can be no forgiveness. Because of Christ’s death and resurrection, we are redeemed and restored into right fellowship with God. When we place our faith in Christ, we can call God, "Our Father."
Biblical repentance means accepting Christ’s free gift of salvation. When we repent, we have the power to overcome. He gives us new life—freedom from our past, strength to change our ways, and the right to come to God in prayer.
Charles Spurgeon explains the honor of prayer this way: "What a privilege is intimate communion with the Father of our spirits! It is a secret hidden from the world, a joy with which even the nearest friend intermeddleth not."
Have you been crying out to God, feeling that He is not responding? Don’t give up. He hears you and will answer.
Prayer: Father, thank You for having compassion on me and for the joy of intimate communion with You. I pray I will be a blessing to You. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need" (Hebrews 4:16).
More Than a Wish List
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 09/24/18
In his book The Power of Prayer, Dr. R. A. Torrey wrote:
Prayer is the key that unlocks all the storehouses of God’s infinite grace and power. All that God is, and all that God has, is at the disposal of prayer.
If this is true, why do we spend so little time in prayer? There are several answers. First, some people simply do not know how to pray. They struggle in prayer and wonder if the Lord hears their words.
Second, many have the wrong idea about prayer. They believe there is a specific formula to prayer—something they can repeat in order to have their prayers answered.
For three years, the disciples were with Jesus—morning, noon, and night. It was not long before they asked Him to teach them how to pray. They saw the benefits of prayer displayed in His life, and they quickly realized that prayer was a tremendous source of power.
Prayer is also our greatest form of communication with our heavenly Father. It is meant to be a place where we can bare our souls and be refreshed by His unconditional love and grace.
Well-phrased words or eloquently stated sentences will not usher you into the throne room of God. However, a humble heart and a deep desire to worship the Savior are the very keys that will open heaven’s door to God’s inner chamber.
Prayer: Lord, teach me how to pray. I desire intimacy with You. Fashion within me a heart like Yours. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, 'Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples'" (Luke 11:1).
For His Renown
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 09/23/18
God wants to hear big prayers that seek to bring Him "renown, joy, praise and honor before all nations" (Jeremiah 33:9). Yes, God does want to hear our small prayers. He wants us to reveal our hearts to Him and share our concerns and hopes. Yet the prayers that seek to glorify God, to honor Him, to further the work of His Kingdom, to transform the hearts of nonbelievers, to demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ, and to reveal His majesty—those are the prayers that are most powerful.
God responds to a heart that is truly devoted to Him and in awe of Him. God knows every inner corner of our hearts. We do not fool Him by saying we want something for His glory when secretly our motivations are selfish. We do not fool Him by saying we believe He can work miracles when inwardly we doubt He will follow through.
When we seek to truly know and understand God and develop a daily relationship with Him, we begin to understand just how big and capable and trustworthy our God is. When we know that God follows through on His promises and He is ready and willing to do big things, we can pray in faith that He will act in big ways. When we understand just how amazing and loving our Creator God is, we will genuinely seek to please Him by praying for things that honor Him. "Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him" (1 John 3:21-22).
Prayer: God, help me to come to You with a heart that is in the right place. Help me pray big prayers that seek to glorify You and reveal Your majesty. May I seek You first and foremost. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you" (Matthew 7:7).
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 09/22/18
We can be optimistic in this life when Christ lives within us. We can find joyful hope when we put our relationship with Christ first and spend regular time fellowshipping with Him in prayer. A close relationship with God will give us joy in the midst of trouble, victory in times of temptation, fruitfulness and blessing in times of uncertainty. A solid prayer life will give us confidence when everything else is crumbling around us.
How persistent is your prayer life? Is prayer the first activity to be cut when your life becomes overscheduled? Do you skip prayer time on the days when you feel tired or ill or apathetic? Are your prayers half-hearted attempts to fulfill a ritual or appease your guilt?
If your prayer life has been lacking, confess to God today how you have neglected this important aspect of your relationship with Him. Pray for the Holy Spirit’s help to guide you in your prayers, to motivate you to spend time with Him, to give you the self-discipline to stay focused in prayer, and to prepare your heart for the presence of God.
Prayer: Father, forgive me for neglecting my prayer life. I pray that You would guide me as I pray and help me make prayer a priority in my life. Thank You for the privilege of prayer. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed" (Mark 1:35).
Guiding Our Prayer Lives
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 09/21/18
Have you ever noticed that when you are ready to pray, the phone rings or somebody knocks on your door? How often is your prayer time distracted with things on your to-do list, daydreams, or sleepiness?
Prayer is the most important thing we can do as believers. Through prayer, we communicate with our heavenly Father. We also learn more about Him when we pray. We grow in our faith through prayer. When we pray, we find the encouragement, the strength, and the power we need to face life.
Satan, however, seeks to interfere with the sacred intimacy of prayer. He did not want Adam and Eve to communicate with God in the Garden, nor does Satan want us to communicate with God. Rather, he seeks to find ways of making us spiritually weak. He knows that prayer is our vital source of power and strength.
When you receive good news or something wonderful happens in your life, do you immediately thank the Lord? Many of us pray only when we are facing a problem. We cry out to the Lord in our pain, but we often fail to praise Him in times of joy. This is when we realize that we have not made prayer part of our daily lives.
Prayer is not to inform, to persuade, to manipulate, or to cajole God. It is the evidence of our love, surrender, obedience, and sincerity before God. He wants to commune with us. When you understand prayer is joyous, intimate fellowship with the Lord, you will want to make prayer a consistent part of your life.
Prayer: Lord, please forgive me for neglecting prayer and time with You. Thank You for blessing me with an intimate relationship with You. Help me to never neglect my time with You. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer" (Romans 12:12).
Taking Prayer Seriously
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 09/20/18
Most evangelical Christians today pray the way sailors use their pumps—only when their ship is leaking. When that happens, they work at prayer furiously. The rest of the time they don’t want to know about the discipline of prayer. This type of prayer is called need-driven prayer.
We must take prayer seriously. Here are a few simple directions on the "how" of praying.
Give prayer adequate time. Can you imagine two people in love with each other but who talk only if they need something? No relationship will grow if you get on the phone, give the person a list of requests, then hang up. Yet five minutes is—on average—how long most evangelical Christians spend in daily prayer. Five minutes! Be warned: you will reap exactly what you sow.
Give prayer adequate space. To pray properly, we need to go into a place where we can concentrate without being disturbed. You may think you are the kind of person who can pray at the ironing board, with the television and stereo going, and with a telephone jammed against one ear, but that’s not likely true. When Jesus advised, "When you pray, go into your room" (Matthew 6:6), He meant for us to find a place where we can focus on God and not be distracted.
Give prayer adequate attention. To pray effectively, you will have to prioritize your prayer time. This does not tend to be welcome news to people with demanding jobs and small children, but there is no way around it. Prayer should be marked on your calendar.
Consider following Jesus’ example of rising early in the morning for prayer. There is no Scriptural command for this, but it will allow you to offer the firstfruits of your day to God. Of course, early morning prayer does not allow us to switch off afterward. We should pray in every situation because prayer is both a discipline and a lifestyle. It is the most important part of every day.
Prayer: Father, help me to take prayer seriously and to give You the time, space, and attention You deserve. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you" (Matthew 6:6).
A One Sided Relationship
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 09/19/18
Do you have people in your life who only talk to you when they want something? Conversations that revolve around the other person’s needs or demands make it hard to develop true fellowship. These one-sided relationships can make us feel used and manipulated.
Often, that is exactly what many of us do to God when we only approach Him in prayer with a need or desire. We give Him our laundry lists of prayer requests without spending any time praising Him, thanking Him for our past blessings, or seeking a relationship with Him. We pray for future events without acknowledging His help in the past. Our forgetfulness is an indication of our ingratitude toward God, and it renders our prayers ineffective.
Yet, none of this shocks God. God knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows we are a forgetful people. He knows our capacity for ingratitude. He knows our capacity for reinventing the Truth. He knows our capacity for taking credit for His provision.
Throughout the Scriptures we see God reminding His people of His blessings. He often urged them to set up visible memorials of His past provision that would lead them to rejoice in and worship their Almighty God. Without these reminders, the people would forget God’s faithfulness.
What kind of memorials is God calling you to set up today? Ask for God’s help to remain focused on Him throughout the day, that you may abide in Him and pray without ceasing.
Prayer: Father, forgive me for forgetting to take the time to praise and adore You. You have been so faithful to me. Thank You for loving me and for saving me. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds" (Psalm 77:11-12).
A Confident Prayer
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 09/18/18
Have you noticed that the higher our expectations, the greater our disappointment when they are not met? Whether our unrealistic expectations are placed in other people, in our own strength, or in specific situations, we will always experience discouragement when things do not go as planned. But when our expectations are placed in the promises of God, we will never be disappointed. His timing may not always be as quick as we would like, and His methods may be different from what we expected, but God will always follow through on His promises.
In Luke 2:25-35, we read about Simeon, who placed his expectations on God’s faithfulness. He had spent his lifetime anticipating the arrival of the Messiah. And because God had told him he would personally see the Christ, Simeon knew that Jesus would be born in his lifetime. After years of waiting and watching, Simeon was ready to be relieved of his post.
When he held the Christ child in his arms, he prayed, "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel" (Luke 2:29-32).
Simeon’s prayer was a confident prayer. He was not surprised that God had fulfilled His promise. He knew God would remain faithful. Simeon’s expectations were met because they were rooted in the promises of God. God had promised to send the Messiah, so He sent Jesus Christ to earth. Simeon never gave up on God, and God did not disappoint him.
What a contrast to the expectations we place on this world! We place high expectations in the wrong things and the wrong people and are surprised when we end up bitterly disappointed. We forget that the only one who will never disappoint us is God.
Prayer: God, help me to place my expectations in You, not in this world. I know that You will never disappoint me. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God" (Psalm 42:11).
Two Views on Prayer
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 09/17/18
When we miss God’s purpose in prayer, we miss God’s best. It is important to know that the purpose of prayer is for God to be glorified.
God is the focus of prayer because, through prayer, God reveals His goodness and power. Jesus said, "I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son" (John 14:13). Indeed, prayer is for God’s glory—not just for our needs. However, when God meets our needs, He is glorified.
There are some who see prayer simply as an action that aligns us with what God has already foreordained. They say there is nothing we can do other than conform to His will. On the other hand, some think that prayer is asking God to do what He would not and could not do without our requests.
Actually, the Scripture teaches both views—and we are under obligation before God to hold both views in tension. The Bible teaches that God is, without a doubt, sovereign. The Bible also teaches that God, within His sovereignty, responds to His people when they pray with a right focus.
Likewise, there are people who are terrified of asking God for anything, but this is not consistent with His will for our relationship with Him or our prayers to Him. Then, others treat God like a bellhop who moves only at their command. Both approaches to prayer are extreme, and both are wrong.
Remember that we are God’s children through Jesus Christ. When children are young—and even sometimes when they are older—they ask for all kinds of things. Do we give them everything they want? Of course, we don’t. We give them what we believe is best for them. If we, as fallen men and women, know how to give good gifts to our children, how much more does our heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him (see Matthew 7:11)? May we grow in faith to bring mature requests to God with hearts that say, "Not my will, but Yours be done, Lord.”
Prayer: Father, thank You that, while You are sovereign, You still want to hear from Your children and that You glorify Yourself as You meet our needs. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).
The Prayer of Praise
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 09/16/18
Read Luke 1:46-55.
I wish I could step into a time machine and journey back to that day when young Mary, a girl probably no older than fourteen years old, walked the dusty road into the hills of Judea to the home of her cousin Elizabeth. I wish I could be there to see Elizabeth and Mary embrace and to hear the words of the Magnificat from Mary’s own lips, to see the joy of the Magnificat shining in her eyes. What a privilege for Elizabeth to hear this prayer, which would be recited millions of times down through the ages.
Mary faced a crisis that you and I can’t fully understand. But because of her belief in the Word of God, because of her trust in the promises of God, because of her deep and abiding relationship with God, she faced this crisis with confidence and faith.
Mary composed these words out of a heart full of gratitude. God had chosen to bless her among all women by placing in her womb the baby who would become the Savior of the world. The long-promised Messiah would soon be born—and she would be His mother! How could she not praise God for the honor He had given her?
Mary’s prayer exemplifies the lasting power of authentic, biblical self-esteem and the perfect balance of confidence and humility. The personality of this young teenager was not warped by materialism, corrupted by possessions, or distorted by peer pressure. Her spirit was formed and shaped by a lifetime of immersion in the Word of God. She was committed to trusting in the promises of God and to allowing God to use her life for His glory as He would sovereignly see fit. Her faith is an example to us all.
Mary, who embodied and personified God’s fulfilled promise to the human race, was saying through the Magnificat, "God always keeps His promises."
Are you willing to trust God to keep His promises to you? Are you willing to magnify and glorify His name above all else? Are you willing to bear witness to His grace, His mercy, and His faithfulness?
Glorify God in all circumstances. Magnify His name at all times. That is the essence of the prayer of Mary, the mother of our Savior.
That is the key to power in prayer.
Prayer: Lord, You are the matchless, sovereign God. You alone are worthy of my praise. You are constant, faithful, holy, and unchanging. I praise You for Your promises to me—particularly the promise of eternity with You, the only one who satisfies my soul. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name" (Luke 1:48-49).
The Unanswered Prayer
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 09/15/18
Read Habakkuk 3
We see a great Old Testament example of persisting in prayer in the three chapters of the book of Habakkuk. Historical clues within the book of Habakkuk suggest that he lived during the reign of Israel’s King Jehoiakim, when the Babylonian Empire was on the rise but before the Babylonians came to lay siege to Jerusalem. The central theme of Habakkuk focuses on the prophet’s effort to grow from a place of doubt and impatience with God to a place of trust in Him, despite God’s apparent delay in answering prayer.
Three features of Habakkuk’s prayer in chapter 3 are particularly worth noting for our own prayer life
In those times when our prayers seem to go unanswered, we might sink into depression, become angry with God, or give up praying altogether. In the prayer of Habakkuk, we see a very different response to unanswered prayer. We see him ask God, in effect, "What do You want me to learn from this? How can I learn to pray in greater alignment with Your will? Lord, teach me to trust You more." We see Habakkuk take the trial of unanswered prayer and turn it into an opportunity to grow in intimacy with God.
In the prayer of Habakkuk, we find a model of prayer that will protect us from the disillusionment and discouragement that so often accompany God’s delays in answering our prayers.
Prayer: Father, thank You for the example of tremendous faith found in Habakkuk. May I, too, set my heart on You, the God of grace, wisdom, and sovereign power. I trust in You, my Savior and my God; I believe Your promises and will wait on You. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior" (Habakkuk 3:17-18).
The Prayer of Scripture
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 09/14/18
Read Jonah 2:1-6.
In the book of Jonah, we meet an ordinary man from Bible times, a plain old Joe named Jonah. He was hardly a hero of the Bible. He was, in fact, more of an antihero.
When God told him to go to Nineveh, Jonah instead headed in the other direction as fast as he could go. Reaching the coast city of Jaffa (or Joppa), Jonah boarded a ship bound for Tarshish. He did not reach his destination. Instead, he ended up in the last place he ever thought he would be: the belly of a great fish.
Was there ever a more reluctant and disobedient prophet in the Bible than Jonah? But Jonah had one thing going for him. When he was in the belly of the fish, Jonah got serious with God and prayed for all he was worth.
If you have been through a storm in your life, if you have found yourself in the belly of the beast, if you are suffering as a consequence of disobedience or even through no fault of your own, then the prayer of Jonah is for you.
It’s important to notice something about Jonah’s prayer: Out of his watery grave, Jonah prayed the Scriptures back to God. Again and again in this passage, Jonah prays the promises of God as they have been given throughout the Old Testament Scriptures, especially in the book of Psalms.
Jonah didn’t know how God would deliver him or when God would deliver him or even if God would deliver him alive. He simply trusted that God, by His own sovereign choice, would deliver him from the belly of that fish.
Whenever you are in the belly of the beast, and you don’t know how you should pray, pray the Scriptures. Pray His promises: "Lord, You promised that I can cast all my cares on You, for You care for me. You promised that You would carry my grief and sorrows. You told me not to fear, because You are with me."
Jonah’s prayer is for any of us going through a stormy trial. It doesn’t matter whether our actions caused the storm or whether we are innocent victims. Jonah’s prayer is a powerful reminder that, even if we forsake God, He never forsakes us.
Prayer: Lord, thank You for Your steadfast love and forgiveness. Because of Your grace and mercy, I can face any storm, for I know You are with me. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you, LORD my God, brought my life up from the pit" (Jonah 2:6).
Seeking God’s Will
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 09/13/18
As we close out our study on the effective prayers of Daniel, we learn about the importance of knowing God’s Word and consistently responding in obedience.
Pray the will of God. How can you be assured that you are praying for God’s will (and not your own) to be done? Jesus said that we are to seek first the things of God and that God would respond by taking care of our needs (see Matthew 6:25-33). Immerse yourself in the Word of God. The more you know the mind of God, the more you will begin to understand what He wants for your life. As you pray for specific requests, always check them against Scripture. You can be sure God’s desires for you will never go against His Word. As you read God’s Word and study it, ask the Lord to give you a greater awareness of specific promises that He wants you to pray about and believe.
Effective prayers. We must pray with praise on our lips, a confession of our own faults, and with a petition that God will act in the way that accomplishes His purposes and brings Him glory. And then, we must listen very closely to what God may lead us to say or do and step out in faith to obey. God uses individual people to accomplish His purposes. Be willing to be used. As you pray, never lose sight of this Truth: "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up" (Galatians 6:9). Continue to pray, knowing that at God’s appointed time, your harvest will come.
Prayer: Father, help me spend more time in Your Word so that I will be better equipped to pray Your will. Help me respond in obedience when I sense You leading me to do something. And help me not give up! I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands" (Psalm 119:60).
Praying for Mercy and Action
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 09/12/18
As we continue to learn from the prayers of Daniel, we’re reminded of how reliant we are on God’s love and forgiveness.
Appeal for mercy. Daniel appealed to God’s mercy, saying, "Lord, in keeping with all your righteous acts, turn away your anger and your wrath from Jerusalem, . . . For your sake, Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary. . . . We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy" (Daniel 9:16-18). Acknowledge to God that you do not deserve His blessings, but you receive them because He is a merciful and loving God. Humble yourself before God, realizing that your strength and success come from Him alone.
Petition for God to act. Daniel very specifically asked the Lord to take action: "Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name" (Daniel 9:19). Daniel’s prayer was not selfish in nature, but he prayed for the Lord to show Himself strong so that the Lord might receive glory on this earth. We are to pray that God will act in a way that brings Him the greatest glory and in a way that most profoundly demonstrates that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.
Prayer: God, as I humble myself before You, I realize that I don’t deserve Your blessings, but I am grateful that You are a merciful God. Apart from You, I am nothing. God, I pray that You would take action, showing Yourself strong, so that You would receive all praise and glory. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Turn to me and have mercy on me, as you always do to those who love your name" (Psalm 119:132).
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 09/11/18
We can see the effectiveness of prayer by a righteous person through the Old Testament prophet Daniel. His prayers provide a model for us to follow. Read his powerful plea to God in Daniel 9:4-19. Now, let’s take a look at the key components of his prayer.
Start with praise. Daniel began his prayer by praising God. His focus was not on himself, but on God’s greatness. He prayed to "the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments" (Daniel 9:4). He acknowledged God as absolutely righteous, but also merciful and forgiving. Begin your own prayers with praise and thanksgiving to God.
Praise Him for His glory, His power, and His love. Thank Him for your salvation, your many blessings and glorious promises, and His daily provision in your life. Spend time just adoring God. We must remember that prayer is not just a means of getting what we ask for—it is fellowship with God. When we pray, we are investing in an intimate, personal relationship with Him.
Confess your sins. Daniel confessed that Israel had sinned. He didn’t try to dismiss, justify, or sidestep the fact that Israel had made a grave error. He didn’t make excuses to God but took responsibility. Daniel stated up front in his prayer, "We have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws" (Daniel 9:5). When you go to God in prayer, don’t play the blame game when it comes to your sin. Acknowledge any element of sin or wrongdoing—intentional or unintentional—related to the situation or circumstance. When God reveals sin in our hearts, His ultimate desire is to reconcile us to the fullness of a right relationship with Him.
Prayer: God, I want to praise You today for Your love and for the gift of salvation. Thank You for giving us Your Word to provide examples like Daniel for us to follow. Forgive me of any sin in my life. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God my Savior!" (Psalm 18:46).
The Prayer of Faithfulness
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 09/10/18
Read Daniel 9:1-19
The Old Testament prophet Daniel became an advisor to kings because of who he was in secret on his knees before God.
Daniel was born in the land of Judah during a time when much of the nation had fallen away from God. He was a teenager when God permitted the forces of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon to lay siege to Jerusalem.
Along with much of the population of Jerusalem, Daniel and his friends were shackled and led away in chains to Babylon, where they became servants in the royal court of Nebuchadnezzar. Exiled to a foreign land, Daniel stood his moral and spiritual ground, as we see in the story of Daniel being willing to die in the lion’s den rather than stop praying.
Whenever you see a person standing firm for God, you’ll find that they first bent the knee to God in prayer. When God’s people refuse to compromise their faith, when God’s people persistently, consistently, and obstinately go to their knees in prayer, big things happen. Future history changes. Everything that was notable about Daniel flowed from his daily time with God. People who spend time with God every day can’t help but be changed.
We see this in Daniel’s remarkable prayer in Daniel 9, when the Jewish people had been in exile in Babylon for nearly seventy years. Daniel pleads with God through confession, intercession, and petition.
When you pray, remember Daniel’s prayer. Remember that the same God who answered Daniel’s prayers has promised to answer your prayers. Remember that the same God who foretold the outline of future history to Jeremiah and Daniel is in control of your future as well. You can trust Him with your future because He is the One who announced the return of His people to Israel after seventy years of exile, then moved the king of Persia to send them home—precisely on schedule. And He is the One who announced the coming of the Messiah, then sent Him into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday—precisely on schedule.
History never catches God by surprise. When we pray, we become partners in the fulfillment of His eternal plan. So pray like Daniel, rely on God’s promises, and prepare to be amazed.
Prayer: Thank You, Father, for the honor of serving Your Kingdom through prayer and obedience. Help me to be faithful in these callings so that by my witness of trust in You, many might see Your goodness and Truth and be saved. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
”Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name" (Daniel 9:19).
The Greatest Fortress
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 09/09/18
Deep in the Arabian Desert is a small fortress. It stands silently on the vast expanse of the ageless desert. Thomas Edward Lawrence, known as Lawrence of Arabia, often used it. Though unpretentious, it was most efficient. Its main commendation was its security. When under attack, often by superior forces, Lawrence would retreat there for safety.
While staying there, the resources of the fortress became his—the food and the water stored there were life-supporting. The strength of the fortress became the strength of its occupants. Old-time desert dwellers talked about how confident and secure Lawrence always felt when he was within the walls of the fortress.
Prayer is the believer’s greatest fortress. It is a place we can run to any time of the day or night. The strength and protection we receive in God’s presence are unmatched by this world. The name of Jesus and His atoning blood are even more assuring than walls made of stone, iron, or concrete. Just as Jesus promised:
Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them. (Matthew 18:18-20).
He has provided a supreme place of safety for you. Whenever confusion, fear, or feelings of doubt assail your mind, turn to Him. Pray for His protection to surround you and ask Him to provide the strength you need to stand firm against any and all deception.
Prayer: Lord, thank You for providing me with the safety of Your strength, power, and salvation. Because You’ve set up your Kingdom in my heart, I call on Your power to defeat feelings of fear, doubt, and confusion. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me" (Psalm 50:15).
The Prayer of Trust
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 09/08/18
David’s family was torn apart by rape, murder, rebellion, and revolution. He’d failed as a father, in part because of his polygamous marriages and in part because he was too busy with matters of government and war. He was powerful, he was successful, he was the king—but he was eventually on the run, fleeing a son who sought to take his life.
Exiled from his family and his people, hiding from his son Absalom, a grief-stricken King David penned a heartfelt prayer, a plea for mercy and justice.
David’s world was falling apart—but God was his Rock.
David’s family was collapsing—but God was his Rock.
David’s government was crumbling—but God was his Rock.
David’s throne had been stolen from him—but God was his Rock.
David’s subjects had turned against him—but God was his Rock.
The prayer of Psalm 28 expresses the heart’s cry of everyone who has found themselves in a desperate situation. It is a comforting passage to meditate on when you have been slandered, mistreated, and misunderstood by others. It’s a plea for God to be your protector, vindicator, and righteous judge.
When your world is falling apart all around you, how do you respond? Do you run to God, or do you blame Him? When you find yourself facing the consequences of your own wrong choices, do you cry out to the Rock of ages, or do you blame God for not protecting you from the results of your actions?
David understood God. He prayed, "Hear my cry for mercy as I call to you for help." A cry for mercy is the farthest thing imaginable from the demand, "You owe me."
David prayed with his arms raised, putting his mind, spirit, and body into his prayer. He was not just saying a prayer; he was struggling in prayer. Hard work, struggle, suffering, wrestling with God—these difficult experiences are often the prerequisites to victory.
No matter how people may fail you or mistreat you, God is your fortress. His power never diminishes. His love for you never changes. His support for you never wavers. His mercy toward you never fades. He is your Rock.
Prayer: Lord, You are my Rock. I will trust in You when circumstances threaten to overwhelm me, remembering Your promises are sure and everlasting. I will rest in Your mercy toward me and hope in Your coming Kingdom. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him" (Psalm 28:7).
Blessing Out of Brokeness
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 09/07/18
God responded to Hannah’s cry for a son, and she gave birth to Samuel. In keeping with the vow she had made to God, she gave the Lord her only child. Although Samuel grew up serving God at the temple, Hannah was not bitter over releasing her son to God. Instead, she gave a heartfelt prayer of thanksgiving: "There is no one holy like the LORD; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God" (1 Samuel 2:2).
God continued to bless Hannah with children. After years of what looked like a hopeless situation, she received her prayer request not just once but several times:
Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, saying, "May the LORD give you children by this woman to take the place of the one she prayed for and gave to the LORD." Then they would go home. And the LORD was gracious to Hannah; she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the LORD. (1 Samuel 2:20-21).
God wants to bring blessings out of our brokenness. He is a loving provider whose power is limitless. People and things will fail us, but God’s security and strength abide forever. His compassion is inexhaustible. His peace is unexplainable.
In your hour of desperation, where do you turn? Do you tell your troubles to anyone who will listen, or do you seek the throne of grace?
Prayer: God, help me to come to You in my hour of desperation. Thank You for Your love. I pray that You would bring blessings out of my brokenness. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds" (Psalm 147:3).
The Prayer of Brokenness
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 09/06/18
Read 1 Samuel 1:1-20.
If you want to be whole in God’s kingdom, you must be willing to be broken. God blesses the broken spirit.
In the first chapter of 1 Samuel, we come to a prayer of brokenness from a woman named Hannah. Out of her prayer will come a man who will influence the course of history in a mighty way—a man who will anoint the king from whose lineage the Savior of the world will be born.
The name Hannah means "favored," but Hannah didn’t feel favored at all. She felt broken due to her inability to conceive a child. We read in 1 Samuel 1:10, "In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly..."
We should pay close attention to several aspects of Hannah’s prayer. First, we should note that this is the first prayer of a woman ever recorded in the Bible. I’m sure that there were many faithful women who prayed before Hannah, women whose prayers are not recorded in Scripture. And I’m sure we would be astonished at the incredible works God has done in answer to their prayers. In fact, I can tell you that I am a follower of Christ and a servant of Christ because God answered the prayers of my mother. And I can tell you that her prayers were anguished prayers, prayers of brokenness, because I, as a young man, was far from God and was breaking her heart.
A second aspect of Hannah’s prayer to note is that it was silent. Her lips moved, but she made no sound. She wasn’t praying to be eloquent. She was praying out of her deep anguish and brokenness.
Third, as Hannah prays, she makes no attempt to draw attention to herself. Hannah was not trying to impress anyone or manipulate emotions or gain sympathy. She knew there was only One who could meet her desperate need. There was only One who could do the impossible. And He is the One who hears all prayers—even prayers prayed in silence.
God hears our prayers, expressed in groaning too deep for words. These are the prayers of brokenness, and He delights in answering these prayers. God is going to use Hannah’s brokenness to bless her—and to bless the entire world in all generations.
Prayer: Thank You that You are close to the brokenhearted. Thank You that You know my deepest longings and that Your love gives me comfort—Your Gospel, hope. I bring my brokenness to You today, knowing that in You alone am I made whole. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit" (Psalm 34:18).
The Prayer of Obedience
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 09/05/18
Read Genesis 24:1-50.
Over the years, I have prayed with countless people a simple prayer for decision-making wisdom: "Lord, which way should Your servant take?" That prayer is based on a prayer found in Genesis 24, the first prayer ever recorded in the Bible. (There are earlier conversations recorded between Adam and God and Abraham and God, but this is the first instance of an individual praying to God in the same way you and I pray to Him.) It was offered by a man so ordinary that his name doesn’t even appear in the chapter. We only know his name because he was briefly mentioned in Genesis 15:2: Eliezer of Damascus, the senior servant in Abraham’s household.
When Abraham is very old, he commissions Eliezer to go to the city of Nahor in Mesopotamia where Abraham’s relatives live. There Eliezer is to find a bride for Abraham’s son, Isaac.
In Genesis 24:12-14, we read that this servant stops on his travels to pray for God to guide him. The fact that Eliezer is not named in this passage suggests that he is a genuinely humble servant who does not seek to glorify himself. And God answers his prayer even "before he had finished praying" (v. 15).
Some people say you should never pray specifically because you may be praying outside of the will of God. But the Bible contains many examples of people praying very specific prayers, like this one, and God honors those prayers. Of course, we need to be flexible when God gives us His answer. He may answer our prayer in a different way than we expect. But we should not fear to be specific when we pray.
Eliezer also understood that prayer is no substitute for action. He prayed—but he kept traveling. He prayed—but he kept his eye on the destination. He prayed—but he kept following the map.
The prayer of Abraham’s faithful servant Eliezer was a prayer for guidance in a decision that would impact the lineage of Jesus the Messiah. The example of Eliezer teaches us this all-important principle: faithful prayer + unconditional obedience = answered prayer.
When you need God’s guidance, when you need answered prayer, pray with a heart of unconditional obedience. Then watch faithfully to see His answer.
Prayer: Lord, thank You that I can bring my specific requests to You and trust that You hear and answer them in Your perfect wisdom and timing. Thank You for Eliezer’s example of obedient faith. May I, too, pray and live confidently in the knowledge of Your provision and love. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you" (Psalm 9:10).
The Power of Prayer
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 09/04/18
There is no power over temptation nor victory over sin without spending time with God in prayer. James Montgomery, who was a great man of prayer, wrote these lyrics in his hymn Prayer Is the Soul’s Sincere Desire: "Prayer is the Christian’s vital breath. The Christian’s native air; His watchword at the gates of death; He enters Heav’n with prayer."
Prayer should be our first option rather than the final effort. When trouble approaches, we need to run to God in prayer. If you are weary and feel heavy-laden, take time to pray. When life is joyful, take time to praise God for His goodness through prayer. Moses prayed, and water flowed from a rock. Joshua prayed, and the sun stood still. Hannah prayed, and God gave her a son. David prayed, and Goliath fell. Elijah prayed, and fire rained down from heaven. Daniel prayed, and God closed the lions' mouths. Jesus prayed, and 5,000 people were fed and satisfied with a little boy’s lunch.
When Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, the demons shook with terror. Heaven’s boundless power and strength are ours when we pray and align our will with His perfect plan.
Are you discouraged and despondent? Pray. Do you feel defeated by sin? Pray. Does it seem as if your life and personal relationships are falling apart? Your greatest needs can be met through prayer. God is not challenged by your sin or difficult circumstances. Prayer is the avenue He uses to restore your soul and to prepare you to live the life He has given you. Therefore, pray, knowing that when you draw near to Him, He will draw near to you.
Prayer: Lord, I am drawing near to You, please draw near to me. I pray You will restore my soul and prepare me for the life You have planned for me. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Come near to God and he will come near to you. . . . Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up" (James 4:8, 10).
The Weapon of Victory
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 09/03/18
In Jeremiah, the Lord promises Israel restoration of relationship with Him, saying, "Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:12-13).
Through Christ we have this promise—a special relationship with God, if only we will seek Him and meet with Him in prayer. For, if we fail to pray, we will never fully experience the power of God in our lives.
Prayer is our declaration of faith in a mighty God. When we pray, we acknowledge our need of Him and our dependence on Him alone. Calling out to God also declares our desire for His wisdom, guidance, and protection.
We have the awesome privilege of entering God’s presence through prayer. It is here that we discover the will of God for our lives and receive His power so we can victoriously face the enemy of our souls.
In this life, there will be times when we struggle with feelings of disappointment. In those times, we may be tempted to give up and forget the goodness and love of God. If we are not careful, our spiritual focus will shift, and we will wonder, "Why pray?”
Never allow this attitude to rest within your heart. Prayer is our mighty weapon of victory. It is a matter of the will rather than emotion or intellect. When the bottom drops out of life, we must become more determined than ever to pray.
In Scripture, Paul reminds us that a spiritual battle rages around us (see Ephesians 6:12). However, we are not defenseless. Prayer is a powerful and sure weapon (see 2 Corinthians 10:3-4). Therefore, we can pray and, by faith, know that God hears us when we call to Him.
Prayer: Father, You are Mighty God, and I acknowledge my utter dependence on You. I pray for Your will for my life. May I receive it with joy and thanksgiving knowing You love me. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds" (2 Corinthians 10:3-4).
Not Limiting God
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 09/02/18
It’s ’s natural to look out for number one. But this focus on self takes us off course in our walk of faith. We may profess devotion and obedience to God, yet we seldom are willing to give up anything for Him. In Genesis 22, we see that Abraham was told to give up not just a little something—he was told to give up his long-awaited and treasured son, Isaac.
"Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, 'Abraham!' 'Here I am,' he replied. Then God said, ' Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you'" (Genesis 22:1-2).
Can you imagine the pain of hearing those words? After years of waiting for his promised son, God then calls Abraham to sacrifice him. Most of us would claim that we had misheard God. We would try to bargain with Him or to run and hide our beloved treasure from Him. Yet, the Bible gives no indication that Abraham put up a fight.
How could he go along with such a plan? Abraham’s faith was bigger than his fear of losing his son forever. After a lifetime of lessons in his walk of faith, Abraham had finally learned not to limit God with human thinking. Hebrews 11:17-19 gives us a glimpse of Abraham’s faith in God’s faithfulness:
By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.
Prayer: God, help me surrender totally to You and Your plan for my life. Help me not put human limits on You, for You are far greater than I can even imagine. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Who has prescribed his ways for him, or said to him, 'You have done wrong'?" (Job 36:23).
Consequences of Disobedience
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 09/01/18
Abraham continued to face consequences for circumventing God’s plan regarding his descendants. Ishmael, the child he fathered through his wife’s servant Hagar, became a resentful and jealous son following the birth of Isaac. "Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, and she said to Abraham, 'Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.' The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son" (Genesis 21:9-11).
Abraham learned the hard way that deviating from God’s path leads to misery. He knew that God’s promises were true and sure, but, more than once, he allowed himself to become trapped by Satan’s lies and faltered in his faith. Jesus told us, "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32). Jesus was not talking about mere knowledge of the Truth, but our submission to it. He was talking about the Truth of the Gospel message: We need a Savior, and God has met our deep need through the atoning sacrifice of Christ by grace. It isn’t up to us. And that Truth brings freedom and transforms us into Christlike people as we trust and follow Him.
Rejoice that no matter how you falter along your journey of faith, God will be there to pick you up and redirect your steps toward His Truth—the Gospel of grace.
Prayer: God, I know that I must face the consequences of my disobedience, but I know You will never forsake me. Help me grow in faith. Thank You picking me up when I fall. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand" (Psalm 37:24).
DAILY DEVOTIONAL 08/31/18 to 08/01/18
The Blessing of Waiting on God
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 08/31/18
In fervently seeking God’s will for our lives, there are moments when we clearly hear God’s voice. And there are moments when we do not wait around to let Him finish His sentence. We may hear what God is saying, but we do not listen to every part of His direction for us. Following God completely means there must be a total commitment to obedience—no matter how long it takes.
Hailed as a hero in the realm of faith, Abraham had his moments of weakness, which proved to be costly. Even though he heard God’s promise that his offspring would be innumerable, Abraham struggled to wait, mistakenly supposing that maybe God meant his offspring would come through his maidservant Hagar.
God fulfilled His promise to Abraham: Sarah had a child. However, he almost missed the blessing of the Lord. Even when we make mistakes, God still sticks by His Word—He never fails us. However, we must be ever diligent to prove faithful to what God calls us to do in our lives. Our impatience in God usually delays the timing of His best for our lives. God does not choose to make us wait because He enjoys making us suffer; we wait because His timing brings blessing to us and glory to His name and transforms us into His likeness if we will set our hearts on Him.
Waiting on God’s best for our lives proves we believe Him. It demonstrates our faith in who He is and what He says about our lives. Learning to wait on His perfect timing results in greater joy when His promises are fully realized in our lives.
Prayer: Lord, teach me to have patience as I wait for Your purposes to be fulfilled in my life. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you" (Psalm 9:10).
God Will Act
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 08/30/18
Disobedience disrupts our walk of faith. Even though God had promised Abraham many descendants, he and his wife Sarah had yet to bear any children. After years of frustration, Sarah began to blame God for her barrenness. She even said to Abraham, "The LORD has kept me from having children" (Genesis 16:2).
This is an easy trap to fall into. When things go wrong or don’t make sense, we blame God. Like Sarah, we are tempted to short-circuit God’s plan. Even if we disobey God out of good intentions, the result is still heartache. But God always keeps His promises, even if they do not follow our preferred timeline. God will act; He is faithful, and this shouldn’t surprise us.
When Sarah heard the news that she would finally bear a son, she laughed and thought, "After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?" Sarah had become bitter and wounded—she was faithless. "Then the LORD said to Abraham, 'Why did Sarah laugh and say, "Will I really have a child, now that I am old?" Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son'" (Genesis 18:12-14).
There is nothing too difficult for the Lord! But when we allow our doubts and disbeliefs to taint our faith, we miss out on the joy of watching God’s plan unfold in our lives. When we begin to doubt God’s wisdom and providence, we backtrack in our journey of faith. As we have learned from Abraham, only when we remain in God’s will can we receive His promised blessings. When we try to force our own plans, we cause ourselves misery.
Prayer: Father, help me trust You, even when it may seem like things are not going the way they should. Help me remember that nothing is too difficult for You and that Your plans are always better than mine! I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off" (Proverbs 23:18).
Disobedience: The Trail to Spiritual Stagnation
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 08/29/18
There are times when we confuse our happiness with God’s will. When everything is running smoothly and we are as happy as can be, we presume that we are in the center of God’s will. However, when things take a turn for the worse, we presume just the opposite: We are not in God’s will.
Our initial reaction to friction in our lives is to change something. If everything looks unsettled, then we must be doing something wrong. Yet, if the unsettling is taking place around us and not in our spirit, God wants us to turn to Him and hold on.
As Abraham dealt with what he viewed as a delay in receiving God’s promise for his life, he tried to change his circumstances on his own. If God was not going to open Sarah’s womb, Abraham sought an alternative way to fulfill God’s promise for his life.
God desires to fulfill His promises for us. He never intends for us to hear His promises and then go and try to make them happen ourselves. Even when our lives seem stuck, we must be obedient at all costs. Disobedience delays God’s promises for our lives.
Anyone can obey God when life is easy. When obeying God means helping someone with minimal effort on our part, we joyfully oblige. But when obeying God means there is sacrifice or waiting involved, we must submit and persevere by remembering who is the Lord.
God may ask you to go through some difficult things during your life. But, when you follow His lead, all that you endure will be for your best and for His glory.
Prayer: Lord, help me obey You today, no matter how simple or difficult the task seems. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you" (Isaiah 26:3).
Fearlessness Walking with the Shield of Faith
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 08/28/18
Sometimes life can give us more than we can handle. There are moments when our burdens topple the smooth plans we have made for our lives. Our natural tendency is to hold on to what we have, clutching tighter than before. But God says we should do something different.
To walk truly fearlessly in the face of life’s threatening storms, we must fully place our trust in God. He wants us to see if we really believe what He says in His Word. And it begins with surrendering our lives into His hands.
When your life’s boat begins to rock upon the waves, God wants you to focus on Him more than ever. To walk fearlessly, upholding faith as your banner and shield, you must know who you are following. God does not lead us down dark alleys to abandon us. But He does take us through the tumultuous storms of life, holding our hands every step of the way.
After hearing about the kidnapping of Lot and his family, Abraham rounded up 318 men and went on a rescue mission. Abraham was fearless—not because he had 318 men to back him up, but because he was walking under the shield of faith. He trusted God and desired to obey Him no matter what.
Walking fearlessly with our heavenly Father means that we have come to a place of complete dependency upon Him, a place where we know He has His best in mind for us no matter what. The challenges that come our way can be conquered when we place our faith in Him. As our trust in God grows, we realize that, while He will not shield us from life’s challenges, He will shield us from defeat.
Prayer: Lord, I place my trust fully in You. Because of Your power and love displayed on the cross, I can rest in You and remember that You are my fortress. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"When I am afraid, I put my trust in you" (Psalm 56:3).
Greed Breeds Sorrow
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 08/27/18
There is a children’s story about a dog with a big, juicy bone crossing over a small footbridge. He stops long enough to gaze down into the pool of water beneath the bridge and sees what he believes is another dog with an even bigger bone!
Instead of being happy with what he has been given, he drops his bone and lunges forward to take the other dog’s bone. But there was no other dog and no other bone. What he saw was his own reflection in the water below. His entanglement with greed and deception caused him to lose what was precious to him.
Many people live their lives in this way. They look at what others have and want more than what they have been given. They allow themselves to be consumed with discontentment and jealousy, disastrous attitudes.
Similarly, Lot was jealous of Abraham. When the men decided to part ways, Lot insisted on settling in the cities of the plain near Jordan. The men could see from where they stood how rich and fertile the land was (see Genesis 13:10-11). Abraham humbly accepted the physically challenging land of Canaan. Lot’s choice was one motivated by his greedy, self-centered desires, while Abraham was motivated by a sincere desire to follow God and live in peace. He believed God’s promises to bless him and make him into a great nation, and so he continued to worship the Lord in his new land (see Genesis 13:14-18).
Jealous for the best land, Lot settled near Sodom and suffered (see Genesis 14, 19:1-29). Selfishness, envy, and greed only lead to sorrow and defeat. If you have allowed envy to set up shop in your life, ask God to tear down this stronghold and forgive you for your faithlessness. He has a marvelous plan for your life; you do not need to envy the life of another.
Prayer: Lord, cleanse me from all thoughts of envy and greed. Teach me to be satisfied with Your blessings in my life and to pursue Your will and wisdom. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"The greedy stir up conflict, but those who trust in the LORD will prosper" (Proverbs 28:25).
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 08/26/18
As we read yesterday, Abraham did finally obey God and made it to Canaan. But Abraham’s obedience did not mean that his life would suddenly become easy. When he arrived in the land God showed him, he found the Canaanites there. After such a long journey, Abraham’s faith was about to be tested.
We can become easily discouraged when our obedient choices lead to difficulties and adversities. God never promised an easy life. When we obey Him, we will experience His blessings and peace, but that does not mean an easy road.
Abraham may not have understood the fullness of God’s plan; still, he worshiped God by building an altar. In our walk of faith, we may face trials that baffle us. We may question unexpected events. But in the middle of it all, God wants our obedience and praise. The last thing God wants us to do is to give up when things don’t make sense to our human understanding.
Have you given up on God’s plan because you’re facing difficulties in the midst of it? Remember His faithfulness and love, and trust Him again today.
Prayer: God, I sometimes become discouraged when my faith is tested and things don’t go the way I expect. Thank You for the example of Abraham, who worshiped You in the midst of difficulties. Help me persevere through trials. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up" (Galatians 6:9).
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 08/25/18
If we are truly trusting in God’s plan and providence, then we will live in obedience to His will for our lives. Our trust in God is not meant to sit on a shelf. We will face trials constantly, along with temptations and struggles that will put our faith in God to work.
Before God would use him, Abraham had to take the first step of obedience and leave his pagan hometown, Ur (see Acts 7:2-3). But on the way to Canaan, Abraham and his family settled in Harran, another pagan town (see Genesis 11:31). Abraham’s obedience was incomplete.
God does not want us to start out on His path and then stagnate. Obedience involves commitment and follow-through. How many times do we settle for something short of the Lord’s perfect plan for our lives? How many times do we set out in obedience, only to stop at the halfway mark?
God did not give up on Abraham. His call did not waver. "The Lord had said to Abram, 'Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you'" (Genesis 12:1). Finally, Abraham continued his journey and did not stop until he reached Canaan.
Prayer: Father, help me follow through in obedience to You. Show me if I am settling for something short of Your perfect plan. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Harran. 'Leave your country and your people,' God said, 'and go to the land I will show you'" (Acts 7:2-3).
A Life of Obedience
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 08/24/18
Abraham’s life was one of obedience. While he was not perfect, he certainly was a man who wanted to obey God. He went from worshiping many gods to worshiping only one—the LORD.
Genesis 12:1 records that God had commanded Abraham: "Go from your country, your people, and your father’s household to the land I will show you." Immediately, Abraham answered God’s call. His love for the Lord was so great that he responded by packing up his family and setting out for a new home—one known only to God! Most of us would never consider a move like this. We usually want God to lay out every detail before we make a decision.
We pray that He will reveal His will to us, and then we ask Him to provide the evidence we need in order to step forward. We never read, however, that Abraham did this. In fact, his faith was so strong that, when God said go, he went.
There will be times when God will require us to do things that, from our perspective, do not make sense. We may struggle with our decision and long for God to repeatedly make His will known to us. However, if the Lord calls us, we must go. If He instructs us to take a certain route, make a certain decision, or work toward a certain goal, we had better get busy doing it.
Obedience is the doorway to blessing. Abraham became the father of a great nation. God fulfilled every promise He made to His servant, and He will do the same for you. Before He does, He may require a step of faith on your part. Are you willing to step forward into His blessing?
Prayer: Father, thank You for Your great promises and for the blessed assurance of salvation through Christ’s death and resurrection. May the Gospel bolster my faith daily so I walk in obedience to You. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. LORD Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you" (Psalm 84:11-12).
Opportunities to Serve
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 08/23/18
God has given us many points of contact with others, whether through our jobs, our family, our community, our neighborhood, or even our church, to make Him known. We each have special talents and experiences that God has given us so that we can reach people He intends us to influence for their good.
Every one of us was made for a purpose in God’s Kingdom. If this purpose does not come immediately to your mind, begin by looking at the spiritual gifts described in Romans 12:6-8. These gifts are listed as prophesying, serving, teaching, encouraging, contributing to the needs of others, leadership, and showing mercy.
God will give us opportunities to serve Him through the spiritual gift or gifts He has given us. Respond first to general opportunities that are in keeping with your gift, and God will soon reveal specific situations for your involvement.
No matter what you do, don’t ignore an open door of opportunity. Don’t let procrastination or indifference steal your time. Instead, seek God’s strength as you step forward. When you embrace your God-given opportunities in obedience, you will see God’s glory in your life and in the lives of others.
Prayer: God, thank You for the gifts You’ve given me and the opportunities You provide for me to use those gifts. May I glorify You through them. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms" (1 Peter 4:10).
The Marks of Giver
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 08/22/18
Believers with the Holy Spirit gift of giving have learned that money is meant to be a servant and not a master. Gifted givers look at their money and seek ways to put that money to work to advance God’s Kingdom. They recognize that all of their assets are God’s, not just the 10 percent given as the tithe. They understand that God is concerned with how we manage 100 percent of our resources.
In contrast, there are those who only want to give of their time or of themselves but want to hold onto their money. But it is by tangibly giving that we acknowledge that God owns everything and is the source of all provision. Givers know that gifts given to God are statements of praise for how God has provided in the past and a demonstration of unwavering faith that God will provide in the future. The psalmist declares, "I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread" (Psalm 37:25).
Givers also give in gratitude and thanksgiving for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross to ransom us and provide us with eternal life, the Holy Spirit, and righteousness. They desire to bless God just as they have been blessed by Him.
All Christians are called to give, so let us give cheerfully, trusting the Lord and seeking His will when making giving decisions. And if you are blessed with the spiritual gift of giving; remember that the Lord is pleased and glorified when you exercise this gift for His name.
Prayer: Father, I pray that I would always be a cheerful giver. I know that You own everything and are the source of all that I need. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:7).
The Gift of Giving
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 08/21/18
Just as all believers exercise the gift of faith, we should all exercise the gift of giving—giving our time, talent, and treasures for the glory of God. There are some believers who are especially gifted by the Holy Spirit in the area of giving. These Christians are to give even more liberally. In fact, Romans 12:8 encourages those with the gift of giving to give generously.
Gifted givers are compelled by the love of God to give. The Lord is glorified by their giving hearts as He uses their gifts given in cheerful obedience for the good of His people.
A famous fundraiser once said that people give prompted by one of two motivations: guilt or public recognition. These motivations do not apply to Christian givers. Our guilt was removed permanently through Jesus’ blood on the cross—never to dominate our lives again. Neither would truly gifted givers be motivated by public recognition. Christians would far rather give quietly, humbly acknowledging that their true reward and treasure is in heaven with Christ—no earthly recognition can compare.
Prayer: God, thank You for changing my heart so that, when I give, it is not out of guilt or a desire to be noticed. Thank You that by Your Spirit my desire is to lay up treasures in heaven. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If your gift . . . is giving, then give generously" (Romans 12:6, 8).
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).
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).
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).
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 ChristThese 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 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 to 07/01/18
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).
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).