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A Bible Base Church

HAPPY PALM SUNDAY!   

 

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DAILY DEVOTIONAL 04/14/19 to 04/13/19

Who Is This King of Glory?

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 04/14/19

Historically, the Sunday before Easter is celebrated as Palm Sunday, a day for the church to reflect on and celebrate the kingship of Jesus. Palm Sunday was a unique moment in Jesus' lifetime—the first time He allowed His followers to crown Him King (see John 12:12-19). Through this historic event, we see the glory of Jesus that sets Him apart from every prophet and king who ever lived.

King Jesus stands in stark contrast with all earthly kings, for He is the eternal King. He is the King whose coronation was foretold in advance by the prophets. In fact, hundreds of years before Jesus entered Jerusalem, Zechariah prophesied, "Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey" (Zechariah 9:9).
The difference between King Jesus and every other earthly king can be found in this one verse. Christ is perfectly righteous and forever victorious, yet He is lowly—humbling Himself to the point of death on a cross. His weapon is not mass destruction, but the mass restoration of lives.
On Palm Sunday, King Jesus rode into Jerusalem not to conquer the city like an earthly king, but to conquer your heart and mine. He entered the city not as a man of the sword but as a man of sorrow, not as a man of hatred but as the God of love. Earthly kings may lord their authority over their subjects, but King Jesus compels us by His love and invites us into His Kingdom.
On that first Palm Sunday, the masses cried out, "Hosanna!" which means "Save now." In doing so, they were proclaiming, "The king who will reign forever, whose sacrifice will redeem us, whose strength will carry us, whose might will defeat Satan—He is here." Jesus purposely rode into Jerusalem on a donkey in order to fulfill the prophecy of Zechariah, and the crowd recognized His kingship.
The celebration of Christ’s kingship on Palm Sunday begs the question: Is Christ the King of your life?
Prayer: Jesus, You are the rightful, righteous, eternal King. Help me by Your Spirit to live a life of submission to You. Thank You for Your love and sacrifice. All glory and praise belong to You. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, 'Hosanna!' 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!' 'Blessed is the king of Israel!'" (John 12:13).

When You Don’t Have the Strength

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 04/13/19

"When I accepted Jesus as my Savior, I had many troubles," Chinh says. After hearing about Jesus through Leading The Way’s radio broadcasts in Vietnam, Chinh had a difficult choice to make. Would he continue worshiping idols—an important responsibility for the eldest son in Vietnamese families—or would he give it up in order to follow Christ?

"I was regenerated by the Holy Spirit. From then on, my life was changed," Chinh says. "Following the call of God, I broke down the altar, and there is no more idol worship."

On our journey of faith, we will have to obey Christ and make decisions that are impossible to make in our own strength. In these moments, we must look to God as our source of strength.
King David wrote Psalm 3 in a time of deep trouble: He was enduring a coup, in hiding from his son Absalom. He was struggling with his desperate situation that night—emotionally as a father crossed by his son, spiritually as he tried to understand the reason for his predicament, socially as his people had deserted him, and psychologically as close friends had betrayed him.
"Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! Many are saying of me, 'God will not deliver him,'" David cried out. "But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high" (Psalm 3:1-3). Although he was tempted to despair, David chose to trust God—the secret of his triumph.
David’s enemies were certain that there would be no deliverance for him. Have you ever felt that way? Perhaps Satan has come to you and said, "Look, there’s no hope for you. You can’t do this. Why try?" Don’t give in to his lies. Look to the Bible and even your own life for evidence of the goodness, mercy, grace, and love God has demonstrated to you in the past.
David trusted in the Lord so perfectly that he could lie down and sleep even in the midst of his treacherous circumstances; he could go to sleep because he knew that his heavenly Father held his tomorrow (vv. 5-6).
Chinh has experienced this same peace. "In the past I was a pessimist and worried about my future," he says. "Since I have been a Christian, I have become an optimist, and my soul brims over with hope in God."
Experience the grace of God and receive the strength and peace of the Lord, so you, too, can rest in Him.
Prayer: Lord, help me trust in You and receive Your strength and peace in every trial. May I remember and rest in Your goodness. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high" (Psalm 3:3).

DAILY DEVOTIONAL 04/12/19

Our Ultimate Need

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 04/12/19

Jehovah-Rapha, the God who heals, is who we ultimately need, no matter what area of weakness, sickness, disease, or trouble we encounter. This doesn’t mean we will never get sick or that we are immune to death. But God will be with us through every pain we experience. If you are suffering, remember that God desires to use your suffering to bring an even greater reward to you and an even greater awareness of His presence to others who may witness your steadfastness.

What a tremendous encouragement it is to know that God is healing us day by day, week by week, year by year. He takes all of those broken bits of our lives—even those which we aren’t aware of—and mends them with His tender love and great healing power. And one day we will stand perfectly whole in Christ Jesus before His throne.
The ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in our world is the work of Jehovah-Rapha. It is the Holy Spirit who mends broken hearts, renews degenerate minds, and restores shattered relationships. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to conform us to the likeness of the perfect, complete Christ Jesus. Jehovah-Rapha is the God who heals us and makes us whole.
If you are suffering from emotional or spiritual hurts today, cry out to Jehovah-Rapha. He wants to restore you. He wants to make you whole. Praise Him today for His healing power. Praise Him for dying on the cross so you can be healed of your sins. Praise Him for restoring your broken relationships and broken heart. Praise Him for His daily care and provision for your health.
Prayer: I do praise You, Lord, for Your healing power, released through Your death and resurrection. Forgive me for trying to find healing and wholeness apart from You. May I rest in You today. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion" (Psalm 103:2-4).

DAILY DEVOTIONAL 04/11/19

A Turn for the Better

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 04/11/19

God’s glory is revealed in the praises of His people. When we lift our voices in praise to God, He is honored, and we are blessed.

However, God’s blessings are not always material in nature. The richest people are those who have developed an intimate relationship with the Savior through personal prayer and praise.

Praise was a hallmark of David’s life. As a young man, he learned to worship God through songs of praise that expressed his deep devotion to the Lord. While his brothers may have enjoyed the comforts of home, David was confined to tending the family’s sheep. But it was there, in lonely pastures, that David wrote his greatest songs of praise to the Lord.

David wrote:

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I

go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. (Psalm 139:7-10).

Christ knows when we rise in the morning and when we lie down to sleep at night. He is the revelation of our heavenly Father—the one person who knows us completely and loves us unconditionally.

Perhaps you feel as though you have come to a dead end in your career, in a relationship, or in your spiritual life. Maybe you think that God has forgotten you. Lift your eyes up to the Lord. Praise Him! He is your salvation, and you will rise on wings like eagles as you reflect on His sufficiency for you. You will experience a turn for the better as You praise the Lord and set your faith in Him—the faithful one.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, You know me, and yet You love me. I praise You for Your mercy and grace. You alone are worthy of praise. You are my fortress; I will rest in You all my days. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands" (Psalm 63:3-4).

DAILY DEVOTIONAL 04/10/19

Knowing God

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 04/10/19

God is the absolute authority and ruler over His creation. Neither a hair nor a sparrow fall apart from God’s will (see Matthew 10:29-30). Without infinite, unchanging power and authority, God’s other attributes would be conditional. If God were not all-powerful, His love could be affected, or changed, by outside forces. Thankfully, we serve a God whose love is perfect and eternal; it is not affected by anything outside His will.

We know from Romans 8:28 that "God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Even though we do not know everything we may want to know about the Lord, in Scripture He has revealed what we need to know about His attributes and desires.
First and foremost is that He loves us: "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). He desires for us to share the Good News of Christ with others. Jesus said, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:19-20).
No matter how impossible our call may seem, how difficult our obstacles, or how fierce our opposition, we must hope in the LORD and let Him renew our strength (see Isaiah 40:31). God’s strength is sufficient for His children, and He will never let anything separate us from His love (see 2 Corinthians 12:9; Romans 8:38-39).
There is much comfort in God’s revelation of Himself to us. Spend time in His Word and get to know Him in a richer and fuller way. In His presence lie all the contentment, peace, and joy you could desire—and more!
Prayer: Father, I am so grateful that You have absolute authority and that Your love is unconditional. Help me to spend more time in Your Word so that I will know You better. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand" (Psalm 16:11).

DAILY DEVOTIONAL 04/09/19 to 04/01/19

Motivated by Discontentment

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 04/09/19

Not all discontentment is bad. Sometimes discontentment can motivate positive, godly change in our lives. Discontentment can be the warning sign that we need to make changes in our walk with God—and that can lead to contentment. When we are contented in life, we can face whatever roadblocks and detours we find. Instead of grumbling about our circumstances, we can look for the opportunities to trust God in new ways and bring glory to Him. We can use our valleys to remind us that only God can fill the emptiness in our lives.

Paul discovered this secret and was able to say, "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:11-13).
Only Jesus can move us from coveting to contentment. Pray for God to show you how He views your circumstances and how He wants you to respond to them.
Prayer: God, I pray that when I am experiencing discontentment in my life, I will be motivated to turn to You. I pray that You would turn my coveting into contentment as You change my perspective. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"But godliness with contentment is great gain" (1 Timothy 6:6).

Responding to Discontentment

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 04/08/19

Running from God will never alleviate our problems, quell our guilt, or quiet our consciences. Running from God will never cure our restlessness or discontentment—it will only make our situations worse. Only running toward God will bring us healing, restoration, joy, and peace. The prodigal son shows us how God can use our discontentment to turn our hearts back to Him.

Read Luke 15:11-32. Restless and dissatisfied, the prodigal son ran away from his father. Yet instead of allowing his misery to drive him further and further away, the prodigal son realized that running away was not the answer. The prodigal used his discontent to repent and restore his relationship with his father.

When he came to his senses, he said, "How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him:

Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants." (Luke 15:17-19).

Because the prodigal son changed course and sought contentment through his father and not his rebellion, he finally found happiness and peace. The father did not punish his son or send him away but instead welcomed him home with love.

How will you respond to your seasons of discontent?

Prayer:God, I confess that I’ve been restless and discontent. Forgive me for being prideful and stubborn. Thank You for Your unfailing mercy and forgiveness. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us" (Ephesians 1:7-8).

God’s Peace

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 04/07/19

Some people believe that if they have a certain level of wealth, then they will have peace—or if they marry right, then they will know contentment. Others mistakenly believe that if they can just live in some ideal location or receive certain recognition at work, then they will have all they could ever hope to achieve.

However, none of these scenarios is capable of providing the peace and contentment we long to experience. True peace only comes as a result of living a life filled with the Spirit of God through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Drawing from Isaiah 26:3, Charles Spurgeon wrote, "The God of peace gives perfect peace to those whose hearts are stayed upon Him."
We can try to achieve peace through accomplishments and hard work. We may look for peace everywhere—thinking that new experiences, possessions, or large bank accounts will deliver peace. However, apart from God, we will never find lasting peace.
In order to experience the peace of God, we first must have peace with God, which only comes through complete surrender to Christ as our Lord and Savior. Once we are saved, God’s peace is available. A famous actress once lamented that she had everything she could possibly want, but she still did not have a sense of peace. There are some things that money cannot buy, and peace is one of them.
Before His death, Jesus comforted His disciples with these words: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid" (John 14:27).
We, too, can find the peace and comfort we need within His eternal care.
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for the peace You offer me as Your child. I know the world can never offer the transcendent peace that can be found only in You. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:7).

The Problem with Discontentment

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 04/06/19

Are you content with how your life has turned out? Are you happy with the career path, spouse, or home you have chosen? Are you enjoying this stage of your life for the blessings you have, or do you compare yourself to others and succumb to envy and self-pity?

Most everyone experiences discontentment on occasion—that wistful wishing that life was different. Unfortunately, discontentment often leads to sin as we begin to crave something that does not belong to us, and we become dominated by covetous thoughts, greed, and envy.
When we covet, we think, "If only I were him or her and had his or her career, spouse, and lifestyle, then I would finally be happy. If only, if only, if only . . ." But these desires only lead to self-pity and misery.
Our culture encourages the accumulation of material wealth as the answer to our misery. But Jesus tells us the opposite: "Then he said to them, 'Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in the abundance of possessions'" (Luke 12:15).
Prayer: God, forgive me for the times when I allow discontentment to lead me to covet. Help me keep a proper perspective, remembering that life is about so much more than material wealth. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs" (1 Timothy 6:10).

The Loss of Contentment

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 04/05/19

The search for contentment produces an inner restlessness fed by the belief that we will never really be satisfied where we are. We suspect relief is just around the bend and that someday we will reach our hoped-for destination. At least that is our hope.

It might seem odd that we would study an ancient Bible story to find the explanation for our modern disease of discontent. But a spiritual cause is the only explanation for our restlessness. In Genesis, restlessness first appears when Adam and Eve sin against God. The shame they feel after their disobedience makes them uneasy and unsettled—feelings with which they, and all humanity after them, would continue to struggle in exile from the Garden of Eden.
Although Adam and Eve were allowed to remain near the Garden, they constantly sensed their loss of intimacy with God. Their sin put distance between them and their Creator. And the same is true for us. Our sin moves us far from God and steals our contentment.
The Bible begins with creation. As God created matter out of nothing, He set aside a special place where He fellowshipped with Adam and Eve—a beautiful garden where they enjoyed unhindered communion with God. Scripture ends with Revelation, which describes the New Jerusalem, a magnificent garden city that will come down from heaven. In between these two gardens, as we read the Biblical account, there was another garden—the Garden of Gethsemane.
At the beginning, Adam and Eve were placed in the garden as God’s deputies; Revelation depicts Jesus' followers ruling and reigning with Him. The Bible begins with a man and a woman in a place of tranquility and joy, and it ends with all believers restored to that transcendent peace and infinite joy.
Although the beginning mirrors the ending, there is much that had to occur in between to bring about this assured heavenly hope. Beginning with the fall of man, Scripture reveals the cause of our restlessness and leads us to the perfect solution. Through the perfect life, sacrificial death, and wondrous resurrection of Jesus Christ, God has secured our future hope—our eternal garden and city lit with the presence of the Holy One.
In the meantime, we can experience peace here and now when we come to God through Christ, who in the Garden of Gethsemane agreed to the Father’s will that He pay the penalty for Adam’s sin and the sins of all who would willingly receive Him as Lord and Savior.
Prayer: Lord, in Your Word, You promise that when I seek You, I will find You. Help me begin to trust that You alone are the source of true contentment. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace" (Romans 8:6).

Pruning Your Vineyard

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 04/04/19

Have you ever toured a vineyard? There is constant attention given to the condition of each vine. The gardener takes particular care of each vine and its branches. Because he is interested in producing quality grapes, he prunes the wild shoots that produce leaves and no fruit.

God is the gardener of your life. He trims the troublesome shoots so that you will be productive and fruitful for Him. Often, pruning looks and feels painful, merciless, and wasteful. But with God there is no random cutting. He trims away what is harmful and bad for you.
When self-centeredness and selfishness grow in your heart, God reaches down and begins to prune. The nutrients of God’s Word bring new life. As you allow God to work, you begin to live a new life of holiness and righteousness.
How do you abide and continue to abide in Christ? The answer is by spending adequate time studying, learning, and comprehending God’s Word—but not merely as words, facts, or sentiments. God’s Word must be the basis for all your actions so that you are nourished and fulfilled and can go out to nourish and fulfill others with the Truth.
It is easy to forget that producing fruit is impossible without the pain of pruning. Jesus said: "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful" (John 15:1-2).
At the end of your days, will your life be a fruitless shell or a bountiful garden? Will you be able to look in Jesus' eyes on that final day and say, "Lord, I used my time, money, talents, and gifts for Your glory"? Make it your prayer today for God to prune you, that you may produce His fruit.
Prayer: Lord, please prune me so I may produce fruit for You. I pray when the pruning becomes painful, I will trust in Your plan for my good and Your glory. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things, and the work of their hands brings reward" (Proverbs 12:14).

Defeating Your Three Enemies

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 04/03/19

Every Christian must wage a spiritual war against three foes that seek to enslave us: the flesh, the world, and the devil.

The flesh is the sinful nature all are born with. When Christ becomes your Lord and Savior, you are given a new nature through the power of the Holy Spirit. The old nature and the new nature are incompatible, and the only way you can live in victory is to yield to the power of God’s Holy Spirit.
The world refers to the aspects of our culture that stand at odds with God and His Word and can distract us from our eternal reward in Christ. James says that "anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God" because we cannot serve two masters who are opposed to one another (James 4:4). We can choose to live as products of our culture or as citizens of heaven.
The devil is not just a symbolic figure. Satan’s fall from heaven was the result of his pride—and pride is the chief weapon he uses against believers. God’s goal is for us to become Christlike and humble; Satan’s goal is to erase Christ’ s image from our lives and feed our pride.
How do we defeat these three enemies? James 4:7-10 gives us the answer.
First, submit yourself to God. Submission is not a welcome word in modern society, but the Truth is that submission to Christ always brings us freedom. When you feel the pull of the world, submit that area of your life to Christ, and God’s Spirit will enable you to overcome it.
Second, draw near to God. Drawing near to God is an act of intimacy. Drawing near means we are talking with God and listening for His voice through the Holy Spirit and the Word of God—not simply going to church. Drawing near means we are turning from everything that has distracted us from His presence.
Third, humble yourself before God. God loves humility and can do much with a contrite heart. Confess your sins before Him and ask for His forgiveness and cleansing power. Exchange your selfish desires for His desires.
The overarching strategy for defeating these three enemies is submission. The more we are yielded to God’s Spirit, the less we will be moved by the forces of darkness.
Prayer: Lord, I cannot win this battle alone. Help me rely on Your Spirit each moment. I draw near to You today, knowing that in You I have the strength to overcome. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you" (James 4:7-8).

Dead Faith or Living Faith?

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 04/02/19

The Gospel is often presented as a matter of simple believism: Agree with a certain list of doctrines about Jesus, and you are saved eternally. However, we cannot preach Jesus as Savior without preaching Him as Lord.

James sums this up early on in his letter: "Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead" (James 2:17). Make no mistake—salvation is by faith alone, but that faith is evidenced by our works. James' words prompt us to ask ourselves, "If Jesus is not the Lord of my life, then is He truly my Savior?" Salvation through Christ is so life-altering that Jesus refers to it as being "born again." If so-called faith does not produce any real change in our lives, perhaps it isn’t faith at all.
James goes on to say, "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder" (James 2:19). What a convicting Truth! Even Satan agrees with Biblical doctrine—he just doesn’t live by it. He knows better than anyone that Jesus is God, that He was raised from the dead, and that He is the only way to eternity, but knowing this does not make Satan a Christian.
So what does saving faith look like? Genuine faith denies the self, takes risks, loves others, and continually seeks to please God. This is not a faith we can muster up ourselves; it is the gift of God, extended freely by His grace. Only when we accept His invitation will we see Him transform our lives.
If you have not yet received the gift of saving faith, will you ask for it today? As you turn to the Lord in faith, you will be filled with a joy that compels you to serve others and love God deeply. If you have received saving faith, but are struggling to experience everyday faith, will you draw near to God today? Ask for His help as you learn to trust, follow, and obey Him daily.
Prayer: Jesus, I want You to be not only my Savior, but the Lord of my life. Renew my faith where it has grown stale. Thank You for empowering me to obey You, even when it feels impossible. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world" (James 1:27).

Seeing God for Who He Is

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 04/01/19

Your view of God determines your praise, and your praise mirrors your view of God.

If you believe that He is your loving, patient, and forgiving heavenly Father, your praise will reflect those qualities of God.

If you believe that God cares about you every moment and in every circumstance and that no situation is beyond His notice and care, then you are likely to praise God all the time! "Praise the Lord!" will be something you say in one form or another countless times throughout the day.
If you are deeply grateful that God has saved you from the consequences of your sin, you will be filled with so much praise that you cannot express it all in just a few moments. Your praise will overflow because your gratitude is so great.
If you see God as fully willing to move heaven and earth on your behalf, your praise will be enthusiastic and heartfelt! Those who see God as being on their side, working always for their eternal benefit, are those who praise God with the most intensity and the greatest amount of faith.
God’s greatness can leave us speechless and in awe. His greatness can easily make the language of praise more difficult, but it also makes praise necessary. Praise brings us to a fuller recognition of God—not so that we might cower before Him, but so that we might bow before Him in humble worship. We worship God not so much to do something for Him, although He does desire our praise, but we worship Him to affirm His lordship over our lives.
The word worship comes from the word worth-ship, which means expressing to God His worth to us. How much do you value who God is? How much do you value what God has done for you? How much do you rely daily on what God promises to do for you? How much worth do you place on your relationship with Him?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, You are infinitely good. You are compassionate, slow to anger, and rich in love. Renew my mind to remember who You are and show me who I am as Your child. I want to see You rightly, that I may praise You rightly. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness" (Lamentations 3:22-23).

DAILY DEVOTIONAL 03/31/19 to 03/30/19

The Hope That Energizes

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 03/31/19

Have you ever been so discouraged that you could not sleep? Have you ever been so worn out by life’s troubles that you could not rest? Weariness of the soul exhausts us. To those who know this exhaustion, God offers a hope that energizes us:

Do you not know?

Have you not heard?

The LORD is the everlasting God,

the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He will not grow tired or weary,

and His understanding no one can fathom.

He gives strength to the weary,

and increases the power of the weak.

Even youths grow tired and weary,

and young men stumble and fall;

but those who hope in the LORD

will renew their strength.

They will soar on wings like eagles;

they will run and not grow weary,

they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31).

The prophet Isaiah told us that those who hope in the Lord have their strength renewed and their energy restored. But how do we acquire this hope?
We become hopeful when we look at what God can do rather than at what man has done. Hope wells up in us when we focus on the capabilities of God, not the weakness and inability of man. Hope springs up when we praise God for His perfection—recognizing and acknowledging and trusting in all that He is—rather than giving honor to the feeble attempts and less-than-perfect accomplishments of man.
If you are exhausted at the end of the day, shut yourself in for a while with God. Praise Him with every ounce of energy that remains in you. You will be refreshed, not only mentally and emotionally, but physically. There is a special strength imparted to those who praise the Lord. This kind of strength gives you the power of hope to endure, to persevere, to outlast tough times. It gives you the power to intercede until God gives a breakthrough.
I am 100 percent convinced that the best medicine for spiritual exhaustion is praise.
Prayer: I praise You, Almighty God, for Your energizing power that strengthens me. Where my hope is fading, fill me with Your strength again. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights" (Psalm 18:32-33).

Changing Course

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 03/30/19

Read Jonah 1.

Jonah thought he had circumvented God’s call to Nineveh by sailing away from it. What Jonah couldn’t see was the storm brewing beyond the horizon. Soon he would discover that his disobedience would cost him far more than the ship’s fare.

God is extremely patient with us. When we begin to rebel, He often lets us run until we return to Him broken and repentant. But sometimes God will intervene: "Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up" (Jonah 1:4).
Are you drifting away from God? Maybe there is a task or a witnessing opportunity He has been nudging you toward, but you have refused to budge. Or perhaps you have turned a deaf ear to God’s voice, fearing what He may be calling you to do.
Changing our course can be a challenge, but by spending time in prayer, we can listen for the Spirit’s voice—and His wisdom. Seek forgiveness for spiritual drifting or disobedience in your life. Commit to a fresh and renewed relationship with Christ.
Prayer: God, help me to change course so that I’m going the direction You have called me to go. Guide me and give me wisdom as I listen for Your voice. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. . . . Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me" (Psalm 51:10, 12).

DAILY DEVOTIONAL 03/29/19

Living in the Spiritual Light of Christ

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 03/29/19

There are people who think that living for self has made them successful. They think that their efforts alone are the source of their achievements. They have accomplished their goals and reached their mountaintops—but to what end?

Whatever steps our life plans contain—whether we achieve riches or suffer poverty, whether we are cultured and well-traveled or never leave home, whether our opinions are respected or we are forgotten—all our life stories end the same: in death. What comes after death? That day when each of us will stand before the Lord and give an account of what we have done. The Day of Judgment is coming, and from that day there is no escape.
So the question is: How do we know we are walking in the spiritual light of Christ? In 1 Thessalonians 5, Paul says there are three ways to know that you have been transformed from spiritual darkness to spiritual light: renewed character, radical conduct, and reliable compensation.
Those who live in spiritual light have a renewed character. The old ways of living are gone (see 2 Corinthians 5:17). Now, when we sin, we cannot rest. We cannot just forget our sin, but immediately we repent and turn from that sin and receive the Lord’s forgiveness. Why? Because we are like someone who is wearing a white garb: Even the smallest stain shows up and we cannot rest until we take care of it by the blood of Jesus Christ.
On the other hand, those who are living in spiritual darkness are like someone who is dressed in filthy clothes; one more stain cannot be seen. One more stain doesn’t make any difference.
Those who are awaiting the return of the Lord not only have renewed character, but radical conduct. According to the apostle Paul, a person radically changed is walking by faith, not by sight. He stands firm against the schemes of the devil, not inviting the devil to come in and set up a stronghold in his life.
Believers who live in the spiritual light of Christ not only have renewed character and radical conduct—they also have reliable compensation. They know that, in Christ, their destiny is sure; their reward is certain; their compensation is definite. Our eternal reward is based on the fact that we have accepted the death and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ as our only hope for salvation—and because the blood of Christ covers us, we have no reason to fear.
Prayer: Lord, thank You for the guarantee of eternal life through Christ. Help me to live daily in the light, to put off sin, and to live every day for Your glory. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (John 8:12).

DAILY DEVOTIONAL 03/28/19

No One Does It Alone

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 03/28/19

Everyone receives help. We receive help from the people who have gone before us, the people who stand alongside us, and the people who follow and support us. No one is a self-made man or woman, and good leaders know they can’t take full credit for their successes.

Jesus, however, had the right to take credit for everything from creation onward. Yet, He exemplified the humility of a servant. Jesus could have pointed out the flaws and failures of those who went before Him: You think Abraham was great? Remember, he had his share of failings. Don’t forget how Abraham feared Pharaoh so much that he lied and said Sarah was his sister! And Moses? Don’t forget all the times he got angry and disobeyed God. If you want to know what real greatness is, look at Me.
But Jesus was not driven, as so many leaders are today, by the need to receive credit, applause, and attention. He was driven by love for the Father. Jesus acknowledged those who went before Him, including Abraham and Moses (see John 8:53, 5:45-46). If we want to follow the leadership style of Jesus Christ, we must acknowledge others in the same way He did.
Do you take time to acknowledge the contributions others make to your successes? If not, make a plan to personally and publicly thank God and these people.
Prayer: Lord, I praise You for the group of people You have placed in my life who help and support me. Without Your divine plan in bringing these people to my life, I would not be where I am. Thank You. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Thus the saying 'One sows and another reaps' is true" (John 4:37).

DAILY DEVOTIONAL 03/27/19 to 03/01/19

Egos Need Not Apply

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 03/27/19

On his desk in the Oval office, Ronald Reagan kept a plaque with a special reminder to himself as he served our nation. It read, "There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he does not mind who gets the credit." Reagan knew the Truth that there is power in humility. Just imagine what your company, your church, or your community could accomplish if everyone put ego aside and focused on the important tasks at hand.

Colossians 3:23 says, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters." When we, as Jesus' followers, understand this important Truth, it frees us from seeking the praise of other people. After all, we’re not really working for them anyway. Just like the bumper sticker says, our boss really is a Jewish carpenter—no less than the King of the universe!
Working for Jesus also frees us to recognize the work of other people with reckless abandon. There’s no need to compete, to put others down, or to steal the contributions of those around us. God watches; He knows the work you’ve done, and He is the most gracious boss you’ve ever had!
No matter what our leadership arena may be—whether we lead a business, a platoon, a team, a church, a law firm, or a household—we are serving Jesus Christ. If we seek glory and applause from other people, we will not receive glory and approval from God. Performing to win praise from others is performing for the wrong motives.
Does it bother you when your work is not recognized? Does it annoy you when others get the credit for what you do? Does a lack of recognition and credit make you want to leave your job? Jesus led without any expectation of recognition. If you truly wish to lead by the leadership style of Jesus, then you must check your ego at the door.
Do you work as if for the Lord? What are some ways that you can actively submit your career and your other leadership responsibilities (church, community, family, etc.) to Him?
Prayer: Lord, I praise You for the work You've generously given me. I pray that You would bless the work of my hands as I seek to work with excellence. May Your Holy Spirit recall to my mind Colossians 3:23 when I am tempted to give less than my best. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters" (Colossians 3:23).

Faithfulness

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 03/26/19

George MacDonald once wrote, "To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved." Take a moment to think through this statement.

You can love a person, but do you trust that person with your life, your heart, and all that is included in your life? Many times, we are careful to say the right things and not allow those around us to see who we really are. We don’t want people to see our flaws or to know about our failures because we think they may not love or approve of us.
Faithfulness is an even deeper issue because it requires standing firm even when we may not agree with the popular view. It also means being loyal to Christ and following His precepts even when the world’s view is anything but His.
Today, faithfulness is viewed as an old-fashioned word. Many times, we find words like team player, champion, leadership potential, and high energy have replaced words like faithful as an important factor in the employment world. If you step into a marketing meeting of a large corporation, more than likely faithful will not be a buzzword used for a new campaign.
There was a time when a man’s word was his bond—when trustworthiness was more important than wealth, fame, or popularity. It seems that the days are gone when promises were kept and friends were faithful.
Yet God calls each one of us to be faithful to Him and to one another. Faithfulness is evidence of a humble heart that is turned toward God in adoration and devotion.
Are you seeking to be faithful to God? Learn to be faithful, and His love and goodness will also flow from your life.
Prayer: Father, show me how to be faithful to You, just as Your Son was on earth. Teach me how to stand firm in places where I have compromised. I want to give my all for You and not be distracted by earthly things. Thank You that Your Holy Spirit alone can do this in me. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Let love and faithfulness never leave you; . . . Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man" (Proverbs 3:3-4).

Financial Status and Faith

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 03/25/19

How has your financial status, whether strong or weak, affected your faith? In Matthew 19:16-30, we’re told the story of a wealthy and powerful man who approached Jesus. He was religious, yet he had not experienced the inner peace that comes from knowing Christ. He was restless. He was discontented. So the man asks Jesus, "'Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?'" (Matthew 19:16).

With that question, the man was hoping to be able to find out how to earn or buy his way into heaven. What he was really asking was, "How much will it cost me?" He wanted to know if there was some secret formula to eternal life. Jesus responded, "Why do you ask me about what is good? ... There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments" (Matthew 19:17). The man claimed he followed all the required commandments.
Then he asked Jesus, "What do I still lack?" (Matthew 19:20). This time, the man received an answer he could not follow. "Jesus replied, 'If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.' When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth" (Matthew 19:21-22). Even though the man had convinced himself he was perfect, he was a sinner.
This man thought he was living a life for God, but in reality it was his money that he worshiped. Jesus warned, "Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God" (Matthew 19:23-24). Jesus was not saying money itself prohibits us from entering heaven. He was cautioning that money can so easily become our god that we never really truly follow Christ.
Prayer: God, help me to be careful that money does not become my god. Forgive me for the times I become consumed with the pursuit of more money, and help me to instead be consumed with following You. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money" (Matthew 6:24).

A Living Sacrifice

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 03/24/19

Everywhere you look, people are in search of personal fulfillment. Even genuine Christians are bouncing around looking for emotional and spiritual fulfillment apart from Christ.

In Romans 12:1-2, Paul said that the key to personal fulfillment is to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice to Christ, to avoid conformity with the world, and to be renewed in our minds by His Truth.
While Scripture tells us that God does discipline His children when they stray, the motive for surrendering our all to God should not come from fear of discipline but from a heart of gratitude that says: "God, take everything. Everything belongs to You."
Romans 12:1 says, "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship." God longs for us to be able to rest utterly in Him so that we can say, "Lord, I am Yours. Use me as You will, as a living sacrifice for Your purpose."
As we do, we find freedom from all our striving because we know we are loved beyond measure and adopted into the very Kingdom of God as heirs (see Romans 8:17). This is our worth and greatest purpose: to glorify and worship God as we are transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory (see 2 Corinthians 3:18).
As you reflect on the tremendous blessings of God, may His love and holiness compel you to be a living sacrifice, ready and willing to give your all.
Prayer: Father, I confess that I often look for fulfillment apart from You. Help me to remember that I will only be fulfilled when I offer myself as a living sacrifice to You. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship" (Romans 12:1).

Goodness and Sacrifice

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 03/23/19

Early in the 19th Century, King Frederick William III of Prussia found himself in a difficult situation. His country was involved in a very expensive war. At the same time, he was seeking to transform his country into a great nation. However, the country was financially crippled.

The thought of surrendering to the enemy was unthinkable. Therefore, the king came up with a plan to replenish the country’s financial wealth. He approached the women of Prussia and asked them if they would be willing to donate their gold and silver jewelry.
He explained that for each piece of jewelry they gave, he would give them an ornament of bronze or iron in return as a token of his gratitude. The inscription imprinted into these ornaments read, "I gave gold and silver for iron, 1813."
To the king’s amazement, the response was overwhelming. The women prized his tokens of gratitude more highly than their former jewelry. The reason: the emblems were the mark of true sacrifice. It even became unfashionable for women to wear jewelry.
Generosity and sacrifice for country and king became the mark of true citizenship in Prussia. Goodness and sacrifice became the badge of honor for all Prussians.
In Galatians 5:22, the apostle Paul lists the fruit of the Spirit—those characteristics that are most like Christ in us. Goodness is one of those listed—goodness without thought given to personal sacrifice.
On the cross, God displayed His eternal goodness to each one of us. This is the same goodness we are to have for one another. "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others" (Philippians 2:3-4).
Prayer: God, refresh my mind with new understanding of the fruits of Your Spirit. Weave them into the fabric of my heart that my life may reflect and honor You. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience" (Colossians 3:12).

Transformed

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 03/22/19

God wants to see our whole being involved in sacrificing for Him. "To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices" (Mark 12:33). Sometimes we think half-heartedly donating our money or time will "appease" God, but God would rather have our genuine love than empty offerings. When we wholeheartedly love God, we will joyfully desire to give back to Him.
But first we must be fully transformed. We can easily fall into the trappings of this world and give in to the desire to fit in and to be accepted by others, building a large social network rather than developing intimacy with God. Or we may fear being different to the point that we compromise our beliefs. But we must stop conforming to this world—and start transforming into new creatures in Christ.
How do we know when we’ve been transformed? When we see our coworkers lie and cheat to get ahead, we maintain integrity—even if it costs us promotions. When our friends depend on alcohol to help them relax and to cope with life, we are filled with the Spirit of God. When our nation struggles with anxiety, worry, and fear, we experience the joy of the Lord. When the world lives in turmoil and inner conflict, we have peace that they cannot understand.
The transformation process is not easy—it demands daily study of God’s Word and time spent in prayer. We must hide His Word in our hearts and constantly draw on the power of the Holy Spirit.
Prayer: Father, help me to be transformed so that I can genuinely and completely give myself to You. Help me to spend time in Your Word and in prayer. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure" (1 John 3:2-3).

Total Surrender

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 03/21/19

The object of giving our all is to please the Lord. How do I offer my body as a living sacrifice that is pleasing to the Lord? I don’t offer it in a temple court like they did in the Old Testament, but I offer it everywhere I go.

Surrender is a total job. There is no such thing as a part-time Christian. Surrender is giving God all that you have. Surrender that is pleasing to God is not partial; it is not tokenism, and it is not just in words. It is a total surrender in the most practical terms.
When we give our all, we will know God’s will and conform to His will. In Romans 12:2, Paul says: "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."
Everybody wants to conform; everybody wants to copy others, and the apostle Paul knew that this desire to keep up with the Joneses is done out of fear of being different. This verse is saying: Dare to be different. You don’t have to do something because somebody else does it. The transforming of your mind is going to help you discern. It is going to seep down and strengthen your will.
Do you want to please the Lord, who saved you, who gave you joy in your heart, who gave you purpose and life, or would you rather please yourself and others first?
Prayer: Father, show me if there are areas of my life that I have not completely surrendered to You. Help me to live to please You alone. Thank You for all that You've done for me. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ" (Galatians 1:10).

He Laid Down His Life Because He Loved

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 03/20/19

At Calvary, the cross of Christ became an eternal emblem of love. Jesus never lost sight of God’s purpose for His life. Everything He learned from the Father was in preparation for this moment.

As Scripture tells us, "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends" (John 15:13). Jesus not only laid down His life for those who loved Him, He laid it down for all men and women, even those who choose to reject Him. He didn’t die just for those closest to Him. He died for all of us; no one is left out. But we must make a choice either to accept Him as our Savior or to turn away from Him and face the judgment of a tormenting death.
The Jews rejected Jesus. However, we know that Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea made a different choice. After His death, they asked for the Savior’s body to be given to them. Pilate granted their request.
No Jew of their social position could come in contact with the dead and remain spiritually clean. Yet, these men lovingly accepted the role they played in our Lord’s burial. It is doubtful that after this event they were allowed to continue as leaders in the Jewish community. More than likely, they became followers of Jesus Christ. Love leads to love, and it is Christ’s unconditional love that drew Nicodemus and Joseph to Himself. It is that same love that draws us today.
When you find yourself being drawn away by the world’s passions and temptations, remember the cross, where Christ gave His life as atonement for your sin. There is no greater love than God’s love for you.
Prayer: Lord, it is hard to imagine the depth of Your love for me. Thank You for dying for me. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). Here they crucified him" (John 19:17-18).

Dying to Self

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 03/19/19

In a collection of letters entitled Let Go, seventeenth century French theologian Francois Fenelon wrote:

Whatever spiritual knowledge or feelings we may have, they are all a delusion if they do not lead us to the real and constant practice of dying to self. And it is true that we do not die without suffering. Nor is it possible to be considered truly dead while there is any part of us which is yet alive.

This spiritual death (which is really a blessing in disguise) is undeniably painful. It cuts swift and deep into our innermost thoughts and desires with all their parts, exposing us for what we really are. The Great Physician, who sees in us what we cannot see, knows exactly where to place the knife. He cuts away that which we are most reluctant to give up. And how it hurts!

He wants you to live abundantly, but this can only be accomplished by allowing Him to cut into that fleshly part of you which is still stubbornly clinging to life. Should you resist? Certainly not! You must learn to suffer all things! The death of self must be voluntary, and it can only be accomplished as far as you allow.

Many of God’s saints had to make a choice concerning self-sacrifice. Abraham, David, the prophets, the disciples, and the apostle Paul came to a point where they willingly laid down their lives—their personal desires, goals, and dreams—for the love of God.
Jesus willingly sacrificed His life for you so that you would have the opportunity to know Him personally. He did not avoid the cross. Because He was willing to die for you, you can live eternally. Will you not die to self, crucified with Christ, to gain life more abundant than you can imagine?
Prayer: Lord, I know you are the Great Physician. Thank You for loving me enough to sanctify me completely and forever. Help me to look to Your promises when the way of dying to self is painful. I know the result is more glorious than I can even hope or imagine. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20).

The Truth About Life In Christ

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 03/18/19

Read Romans 7:1-25.

In this passage, the apostle Paul outlines four Truths about our life in Christ to encourage us as we seek to live for Him.

We are bound to Christ, not the law (vv. 1-6). Christ frees us from the bondage of performance of the law so that we now have joy instead of despair, life instead of death, love instead of duty, and willing service instead of begrudging effort.
Maturity builds up (vv. 7-13). Immature Christians live depending on themselves. But sooner or later, they fail because the law cannot help anyone overcome their sin. Mature Christians do not blame the law, but daily accept their desperate need for a Savior.
Do-it-yourself-religion will fail (vv. 14-23). Temptation will always find us on this side of heaven, and fighting back on our own can only bring discouragement. We must instead rely on Christ, allowing the Holy Spirit to have His way in us.
Surrender will always keep you afloat (vv. 24-25). Growing closer to Jesus is like getting closer to a bright light. The closer you get to His holiness, the more clearly you can see the dirt in your life. Thanks be to God that we no longer rely on ourselves for holiness—an impossible feat—but instead look to Jesus, our righteousness, for true transformation in our lives.
Prayer: Thank You, God, for saving me from my sin and transforming me day by day into the likeness of Christ. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Romans 7:24-25a).

A More Excellent Way

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 03/17/19

Read Romans 7:1-6

Many Christians today are confused about the balance of grace and obedience. One extreme would have us use grace as a license to sin, and the other is legalism—relying on our good works for our ultimate salvation.

You know you’re under the influence of legalism when you get up in the morning and say, "I’ve got to obey today—or else." When you find mild success, you pat yourself on the back with pride. But when you miss the mark, you become overwhelmed with guilt and shame.
Praise be to God—Romans 7 gives us a more excellent way. True freedom is no longer found in our performance—that was the old way of the law—but by trusting Christ’s powerful work in us through His Spirit.
Only by looking to Jesus for help in our daily struggles can we find joy, freedom, and victory. So today, accept the fact that you’re capable of any and every sin. Acknowledge your vulnerability and admit your need for God’s help, and you’ll be in a better position to guard yourself against pride. The moment you say, "I’ve got this"—that’s when you’re in trouble. We all desperately need the help that only our Savior Jesus Christ can give. And praise the Lord, for He gives it freely!
Prayer: Father, I know my performance cannot save me. But Your Holy Spirit can and will help me follow You with all my heart today. I rejoice in Your amazing grace that transforms my heart of stone to a heart of flesh! I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code" (Romans 7:6).

Who Is Your Master

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 03/16/19

Read Romans 6:15-23.

If you think you can live a godly life by your own strength, you are in deep trouble. Although we play an important role in our sanctification and are commanded to obey the Lord, we cannot grow into Christ like people without depending on Christ Himself. Therefore, we must surrender completely to our rightful master and loving King—the Lord Jesus Christ.

Every person on the face of the earth has either sin or Jesus as their master. There are only two choices; there is no third. The question is: Which master are you obeying?
Slavery to sin produces unbearable guilt here and now and eternal separation from God forever (see v. 21). In contrast, slavery to righteousness gives you freedom from guilt and shame and guarantees you eternal life (see v. 22). If you choose to serve sin, you will eventually receive the wages you deserve—judgment. But if you choose to serve God, He will give you the gift you could never earn—eternal life.
If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, the greatest gift you can give yourself is to remember today whom you serve. You are a slave to righteousness; you belong to the family of God. May you find grace at hand to live according to your blood-bought identity!
Prayer: "Search me, God, . . . See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (Psalm 139:23-24). I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life" (Romans 6:22).

No Longer Slaves to Sin

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 03/15/19

Read Romans 6:1-14.

As believers in Christ, we are called to become more like Him with the help of His Spirit. This process, known as sanctification, requires our full attention. To continually grow in Christ likeness requires the commitment of our will, the dedication of our mind, and every ounce of intentionality we can muster.

There is a world of difference between struggling with our sin and deciding to live in sin as an accepted lifestyle. Deliberately living in sin is impossible for believers, for we "are dead to sin" and united to Christ (v. 11).
In Romans 6:1-14, Paul explains that we have been liberated from sin’s control and must not allow it to reign over us. Of course, this does not mean that we are incapable of sinning (see 1 John 1:8). Rather, we do not dutifully obey sin like we once did before we were saved. We can say 'no' to sin by the power of the Holy Spirit, who is purifying our hearts just as Christ is pure.
Beloved, you are not under the dictatorship of sin and Satan anymore. Sin is a deposed dictator that no longer has the power to control you. Therefore, don’t give in to the destructive, sinful patterns in your life. Instead, fight them in the power of God!
Today and every day, count yourself "dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus" (Romans 6:11).
Prayer: Father, thank You that I am no longer a slave to sin. I am alive in Christ. Your Spirit empowers me to say 'no' to sin. May I draw on Your power today and every day to live for You. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been set free from sin" (Romans 6:6-7).

Christ Arose and We Win

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 03/14/19

Read Romans 5:15-21.

When Adam stretched out his hands and took the forbidden fruit, he brought death to all mankind. But when the perfect, sinless Jesus stretched out His hands on the cross, He made it possible for everyone who believes in Him to live. For, when Jesus died on the cross in obedience to His Father, He defeated sin, Satan, hell, and the grave and made it possible for us to inherit eternal life.

In this passage Paul is contrasting these two acts—one destructive and the other restorative. Adam’s failure brought us condemnation, but Christ’s victory brought us salvation. Adam fell, Christ arose, and now in Christ the believer wins.
We win because the gift of grace did not merely restore us to Adam’s state before the fall. Instead, through God’s grace, we receive His abiding Spirit and the sure promise of glory. Adam’s one selfish act has been overwhelmed by God’s gracious gift.
If you are tempted today to think that your sins are too great, remember that the grace of God is infinitely greater. If you are tempted to think that Satan is too powerful to resist, remember that the power that raised Christ from the grave lives in you. And if you are tempted to doubt your salvation, remember that it is well with your soul because Jesus has perfectly paid your ransom.
Is there an area of your life where it seems that evil is winning? Remember: Satan is defeated. Christ arose, and you win.
Prayer: Lord, I praise You for Your power! You are the matchless God. Your perfections are infinite. Who can stand before You? I rest in Christ, my Champion, my Savior. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!" (Romans 5:17).

Adam Fell

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 03/13/19

Read Romans 5:12-14.

Why does death seem to reign supreme? No matter how much we try to escape it or how invincible we may feel, death is inevitable for us all. And in Romans 5:12-14, the apostle Paul shares why.

It was Adam’s sin against God that first activated the power of sin, bringing physical and spiritual death upon both himself and all his descendants. But don’t misunderstand this—Paul is not saying that sin and rebellion originated in Adam. For sin and rebellion against God began in Satan’s mind.
Satan tempted Adam, but Adam had a choice: Should I obey Satan or obey God? Beloved, you and I face this same question every single day. Inside each of us, two natures are fighting—the flesh against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh. And this is even true for those of us who enjoy new life in Christ.
By obeying Satan, Adam fell, and the poison of the forbidden fruit was death, not only for Adam but for all his descendants—meaning you, me, and everyone who has ever lived. But the Scripture makes it very clear that while we are all born in sin, by nature at enmity with God, only the cross of Jesus Christ can rescue us from our sin and transform us into the likeness of Christ. Adam fell, but Christ arose. And now in Christ the believer wins.
Where in your life are you being tempted? Fight back now by sharing your struggle with a fellow believer.
Prayer: Lord, thank You that, in Christ, I win. I know Your Spirit will have the victory in my heart and bring me closer and closer to Christlikeness. I long to be like my Savior. May I keep in step with Your Spirit and always give thanks for the changes You are working in my heart. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—" (Romans 5:12).

Salvation Guarantees (Part 2)

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 03/12/19

Read Romans 5:3-11.

Let’s look at the final three guarantees we receive from God:

Suffering for Christ (vv. 3-4). If you take a stand for Christ at work, in school, or even within your own family or community, you will be persecuted—but your suffering is not meaningless.
God uses our suffering to produce perseverance, and it is by learning perseverance that we are prepared for even greater Kingdom purposes. Suffering for Christ produces character, and character cannot be learned from a book. Therefore, we "glory in our sufferings," enduring the pain in hope of the joy to come (v. 3).
God’s overwhelming love (vv. 5-10). Many believe that the love of God is dependent upon our performance, but this could not be further from the Truth. When we were totally enslaved to Satan, sin, and death, God sent His Son to die for us. And if He so loved us while we were His enemies, how much more can we be assured of His love now that we are His children?
And finally, overwhelming joy (v. 11). Any time your circumstances try to bring you down, remember all that you have been given in Christ. As you do, His supernatural joy will bear you up and renew your hope.
Have you been rejected for Christ or maligned for doing good? How can these salvation guarantees help you persevere?
Prayer: Father, thank You for the amazing guarantees You have given me through Jesus Christ. May Your love and peace sustain me with overwhelming joy and perseverance whatever trials come. I pray that my endurance and hope would glorify Your name, for it all flows from 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).

Salvation Guarantees (Part 1)

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 03/11/19

Read Romans 5:1-2.
How can we continue following Christ for the rest of our lives? In Romans 5:1-11, Paul gives us an answer. We must hold fast to our salvation by remembering the six incredible guarantees that we received from God when we were justified through faith. Let’s look at the first three now.
Peace with (v. 1). This peace is not dependent on our feelings but is permanent and irrevocable, for it is found in Christ Himself. I know that thousands of you could testify here because you have experienced His peace even in your darkest hour. I know I have.
Favor with God (v. 2). This favor is a privileged position that we stand in for the rest of our lives. Once we enter into grace, we cannot fall out of it—for God Himself sustains, strengthens, convicts, and restores us by His Holy Spirit as we live for Him each day.
Hope in God (v. 2). The word hope here means absolute certainty. By faith, we are absolutely certain of what we cannot see—that God is real and His promises are true. Therefore, we can rejoice, even when our whole world is falling apart, because in Christ our future is gloriously bright.
Prayer: God, help me to hold unswervingly to these guarantees of my salvation and experience Your peace, favor, and hope today. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, . . ." (Romans 5:1).

The Only Way to Brag

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 03/10/19

Read Romans 3:19-4:25.

As we run the race of faith, one of the greatest hurdles we will face in the Christian life is pride. Pride ruins relationships. It blinds us to our faults while giving us a critical attitude toward others and an unteachable spirit. It keeps us from knowing God intimately, causing even greater isolation and loneliness.
The reality is that not one of us has the right to be prideful—"for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Here in Romans, the apostle Paul rebukes us for our self-centeredness and shows us the only way to brag:

In Christ alone—for He alone has given us a wondrous salvation (see 3:21-31).

About our faith—which God alone has given to us as a gift (see 4:1-8).

About God’s grace—because our salvation comes from Christ and not by our own works (see 4:9-17).

About God’s power—for only He can "[give] life to the dead" (see 4:18-25).

When it comes to our salvation from sin and judgment, boasting in ourselves is unthinkable; God has done it all. We "all are justified freely by his grace"; His gift of salvation is totally undeserved (Romans 3:24). You did not do anything to deserve it and could not do anything to earn it. That is why God alone deserves all the glory for all He has done.
Prayer: Lord, for as long as you have me on this earth, let me boast in Jesus—not myself. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. . . . For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law" (Romans 3:27a-28).

All My Fountains

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 03/09/19

Read Psalm 87.
Psalm 87:7 is about those of us who have been reborn in Christ. Here is what the psalmist said: "As they make music, they will sing, . . ." Sing what? "'All my fountains are in you.'"
Where are your fountains? Are they in material things? Are they in physical fitness? Are they in people—even those who are dearest and nearest to you? Are they in your identity? Are they in your occupation? Are they in your title? Are they in your family name? Are they in your reputation?
God’s surrendered sons and daughters know the joy of being able to proclaim, "In Him are all my fountains! They are in Christ alone." The financial markets may go up and down. Family and friends, even Christian friends, may fail you, but the grace of God will never fail you. The peace of God, which cost Him the colossal price of coming to earth and dying on the cross, will never fail you.
His peace emanates from His inexhaustible fountain of grace. You can never exhaust the grace of God.
Prayer: God, I pray that all of my fountains would be in You alone. Thank You for Your inexhaustible fountain of grace. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"As they make music they will sing, 'All my fountains are in you'" (Psalm 87:7).

Who We Are in Christ

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 03/08/19

Belonging to Christ is a great privilege. As members of the body of Christ here on earth, we share a collective identity. We are His people, and together we have a transformed identity.
In 1 Peter 2:4-11, Peter illustrates six facets of our collective identity in Christ.
First, we are living stones (v. 5). Like physical stones, each of us has our own unique set of qualities. Through these unique spiritual gifts and purposes, the Lord shapes us so that we fit into the perfect place within the body of Christ—a place that no one else can fill.
Second, we are members of a chosen race (v. 9). We, the elect of God from every nation and every generation, are now God’s chosen race regardless of our physical descent. We are those who have been adopted by grace.
Third, we are a royal priesthood (v. 9). As children of the King, we are commissioned to be His messengers to the world. As we offer a sacrifice of praise, worship, and adoration to God, we intercede on behalf of others.
Fourth, we are a holy nation, made up of people from every tribe and tongue on the face of the earth (v. 9). As citizens of this heavenly nation, we are to be holy as God is holy.
Fifth, we are God’s own treasured possession (v. 9). Consider your own most treasured possession and how much love, time, and care you pour into it. Now, allow yourself to wonder at the fact that this is how God feels about us.
Finally, we are sojourners and travelers in this world (v. 11). For those of us who love Jesus, a great home awaits us once our earthly tour is complete: eternity with our gracious heavenly Father.
Before we come to Christ, we are dead in our sins. We have no real spiritual identity. But now we are "a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that [we] may declare the praises of Him who called [us] out of darkness into his wonderful light" (1 Peter 2:9). Hallelujah! We are the people of God. Therefore, let us love Him with all our hearts, worship Him with all our strength, and serve Him with all that we are.
Prayer: Lord, thank You for the body of believers who together represent Your Kingdom on earth. Thank You for these friends in the faith. Unify us in Your Truth, that we may shine Your light to a world in darkness. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light" (1 Peter 2:9).

Who You Are in Christ

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 03/07/19

As a new creation in Christ, Peter’s newfound identity was at the forefront of his mind. It should come as no surprise, then, that the sevenfold blessing of an identity in Christ is also at the forefront of his first epistle. Read 1 Peter 1:1-12 and meditate on each of these Truths.
First, if you are in Christ, you have been elected (v. 2)—sovereignly chosen by God to be one of His people, the apple of His eye (see Zechariah 2:8). He began this saving work in your life, and He will see you safely to heaven’s gates. He never fails to finish what He starts.
Second, if you are in Christ, you have been born again (v. 3)—so powerfully transformed by the Spirit of God that you are now a new creation (see 2 Corinthians 5:17). You have undergone a powerful transformation from death to life.
Third, if you are in Christ, you have been given a living hope (v. 3)—the assurance that you have been forgiven, restored, and adopted as His child. You will spend eternity in the presence of your loving Father.
Fourth, if you are in Christ, you have been given an inheritance (v. 4)—a birthright that is sealed in heaven for you. With the rest of the saints, you will reign and rule with Christ, enjoying His presence for all eternity.
Fifth, if you are in Christ, you are protected and secure (v. 5)—under the watchful care of a gracious Father. God alone is your mighty fortress, and no one can do anything to take you out of His hand (see John 10:28).
Sixth, if you are in Christ, you are blessed to suffer for Christ (v. 6-7)—"for our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all" (2 Corinthians 4:17). God will use your suffering for Jesus to bring you closer to Him than you’ve ever been before.
Lastly, if you are in Christ, you have been privileged to experience the grace of God (v. 10)—His unmerited favor that even the angels long to know. You were once a hell-deserving sinner, but now you have been redeemed by the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. You are not only saved by this grace, but sustained by it each day.
Keep these blessings at the forefront of your mind. As you do, you will find yourself glorifying God and experiencing the fullness of His joy as never before.
Prayer: Lord, I praise You for Your loving kindness, faithfulness, and mercy displayed in these amazing blessings. Thank You for saving me and making me Your own. Use me for Your glory. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (1 Peter 1:3).

God Knows Your Name

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 03/06/19

Have you ever wanted to change your name or wondered who you would be without it?

Names are important. It is by our name that other people identify us and that we identify ourselves. In Biblical times, parents gave their children names with descriptive meanings, such as strong, trustworthy, and leader, in the hope that they would embody these traits when they grew up. Ecclesiastes 7:1 states, " A good name is better than fine perfume."

The words we use to describe other people can either hurt or encourage them. There was a teacher who asked her students to share what they wanted to be when they grew up. For the most part, the students gave the usual responses—doctor, lawyer, policeman, nurse, pilot, and firefighter. Then the teacher asked Billy. He said, "I want to be possible."

"Possible?" she asked.

"Yes," he replied, "because my mom tells me all the time that I’m impossible. So I want to grow up to be possible."
As believers, we are adopted into the Kingdom of God. We are given a new identity, a new name, and a life filled with possibility. We are called the children of God. No matter what our past is and regardless of our mistakes, the Lord knows our names and desires our worship and praise.
As a son or daughter of the King of kings, there are many reasons why we should praise Him. He does not change. He is mightier than any problem we might face. He is all-wise and loving. He will never leave us. He is our hope. So, whether we like the name on our birth certificate or the nicknames we have been given by those who know us, we can find joy in knowing that we are called by God and that our names are written on the palms of His hands (see Isaiah 49:16).
Prayer: God of the universe, You know my name! Thank You for Your love and for my identity in You. Thank You for the abundant inheritance You give Your children. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out" (John 10:3).

God’s Grace and Our Future

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 03/05/19

As wonderful as God’s grace is in redeeming our past, it is equally powerful in the way it changes our future. No matter how far we strayed before God’s grace rescued us from our sin, His plan for our future cannot be thwarted because it is not contingent on our works, but on Christ’s. His saving grace entirely transforms us so that we are no longer dead in transgressions but alive in Christ. And because God wants to see us following after Him, living lives full of love and compassion for Him and for others, He will see this through in us by His grace and His Spirit (see Philippians 2:13, Hebrews 13:20-21).

The apostle Paul, a worthy vessel to convey the power of God’s grace, wrote: "For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do" (Ephesians 2:10). All along, God has been forming us in Christ Jesus to receive His love and to express His love to others.
In pondering God’s grace for our lives, we must realize that it changes our past, present, and future. He has redeemed us from the bondage of sin, and He has given us a new destiny. When our lives intersect with His grace, He places us on new paths—ones He planned for us to travel all along.
God’s grace is for our past, present, and future, and it transforms us, in Christ Jesus, into the people He has intended for us to be from the beginning of time.
Prayer: Lord, help me to walk daily in Your grace, completing the good works You have prepared for me to do. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose" (Philippians 2:13).

The Resurrection and the Life

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 03/04/19

Martha’s brother Lazarus had been dead in his grave for several days. Although Martha had seen Jesus heal many in the past, she was doubtful that Jesus would raise Lazarus to life in the present.
However, there is no "too late" for the Lord Jesus. In the very presence of a dead man, Jesus said to Martha, "I am the resurrection and the life" (John 11:25), declaring that this resurrection was not just a future hope, but a present reality. Soon after, Jesus called Lazarus forth from the grave, demonstrating His power over death. In the moment when resurrection was needed most, Christ proved that He was the only way for this man to be revived.
Not long after He made this claim, Jesus endured the cross and then rose from the grave Himself. He proved that He was the resurrection and the life. He proved that what He said was not just a symbolic statement, but a physical and spiritual reality.
The resurrection Jesus spoke of encompasses physical life, spiritual life, and eternal life. Jesus was claiming that He is the I AM who spoke the earth into motion; He is the God who breathed life into man. He declared that He is also not only the giver of physical life, but the restorer of spiritual life, transforming those enslaved by sin into children of God. Lastly, He declared that He is the only assurance of eternal life.
There are philosophers, and there are teachers, but none have fulfilled the claim of being the Messiah. Christ is the only one who has ever died for our sins and ascended into heaven, and there is no other way to be raised from death to life than to trust in Him. There is no other way to live than to live in Christ. Jesus is not just a means to salvation—He is our salvation.
We are all born dead in sin, and only the breath of Christ can awaken us to new life. When Christ declared, "I am the way and the truth and the life" (John 14:6), He made it clear that there are no shortcuts: He is the only way!
Take some time to reflect on the resurrection of Christ today. Imagine what it will be like to see our Savior face to face, to spend eternity worshiping Him and enjoying His presence. Until then, let us give our lives in worship to the one who gave His life for us.
Prayer: Jesus, You alone are the resurrection and the life. Thank You for defeating the grave, that I may have eternal life. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die" (John 11:25-26).

Moving Stones

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 03/03/19

Jesus’ resurrection proves to the world that He is truly the one and only Lord and Savior. No other religious leader in history has accomplished this miracle. Jesus is the only one who can forgive our sins and give us peace in our lives. He is the only one who has conquered death and can guarantee us eternal life. He is the only one who is the Son of God.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ also tells us that He is our victory. He can remove any stone in our lives. He can comfort our deepest sorrows. He can conquer any sin or addiction in our lives. He can help us overcome any doubt or fear we face. "For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God" (1 John 5:4-5).
Are you trapped in a tomb of despair and pain today? Have your dreams been shattered—your hopes crushed? Then seek the peace that only God can provide. God’s power raised Jesus from the dead and removed the stone from the tomb. He can remove the stones in your life—no matter how big they may seem.
Prayer: God, I pray that You would remove the stones in my life. Thank You that no stone is too big for You. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away" (Mark 16:4).

Your Heavenly Home

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 03/02/19

Before He was arrested and taken to be crucified, Jesus told His disciples, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).
Read Revelation 7:13-17. Revelation tells us that God collects our tears, but He will also one day wipe them away. What does this mean? It means that every trial has a time limit. It means that when we arrive at our heavenly home, there will be a lot of nos. There will be no separation, no sin, no death, no mourning, no crying, no pain. There will be no cancer, no broken homes, no broken hearts, no hospitals, no funeral homes, and no grieving of any kind.
Read Revelation 21 and 22 and make a list of what you see. The climactic series of events in Revelation all leads to the unveiling of the place that Jesus has been preparing for us. Scripture says that the first heaven and earth will pass away as God makes way for the new heaven and the new earth—the domain of God, the eternal dwelling place of His people. Its capital city, the new Jerusalem, will descend out of heaven like "a bride beautifully dressed for her husband" (21:2). You won’t be a disembodied spirit floating on the clouds, strumming a harp. John’s vision describes in breathtaking detail the physical, literal place where believers in Christ will live forever. It will be 1,400 miles high, wide, and long. There will be no sun because the glory of God will give the city light. It will be the true church of all believers. And it will be breathtaking.
But the most important thing to know about our heavenly home is that there will be nothing to separate us from Jesus. We will see His face, and His name will be written on our foreheads. Our every longing will be satisfied in Him.
How does this beautiful vision of our future impact us today? The hope of heaven is one of the greatest expectations of our faith, enabling us to soar above the trials, pain, and temptations of this earthly life. When life gets you down, think of everlasting life in the face-to-face presence of the Lord Jesus. Think of the continuous refreshment that comes from the river of life. Don’t you long for this hope, this peace? It’s only found in Jesus. He stands at the door and knocks; will you open it?
Prayer: Father, thank You for the promise of an eternity with You. I surrender all my struggles to You today and rest in that promise. I will follow You and praise You as I wait for Your return. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children" (Revelation 21:6-7).

Satan’s Final Defeat

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 03/01/19

Our daily battles may tire us, but one day we will have eternal rest and peace in heaven. Satan will experience his final defeat. As we read in Scripture: "The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 13:41-42).
Although most people don’t like to think about hell, the fact is it exists. It is a place of confinement, darkness, suffering, and loneliness. Unfortunately for the souls of so many people, the devil will not be the only one in hell. That is why we must always place utmost concern on the salvation of others.
Those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior will spend eternity in heaven. They will experience the joy of uninterrupted fellowship with their Creator. Jesus said, "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am" (John 14:3).
After a lifetime of spiritual battles and personal struggles, the Christian will at last experience true rest. "Then I heard a voice from heaven say, 'Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.' 'Yes,' says the Spirit, 'they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them'" (Revelation 14:13).
Prayer: Father, thank You for the reminder that one day I will have eternal rest and peace in heaven. Until then, help me not to forget that there are many people around me who are headed for hell. Help me share Your love and Truth with them. 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).

DAILY DEVOTIONAL 02/28/19 to 02/01/19

Your Redemption Draws Near

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 02/28/19

In the heart of the book of Revelation, John watches as the Lamb opens the first of seven seals. This is a very dark period of human history—the darkest ever. The breaking of the first seal sets in motion a period of time known as the Great Tribulation. This timeframe, also mentioned in the book of Daniel, is the moment when the Antichrist will arrive and great destruction will be ushered in on a global scale—famine, war, economic calamity, persecution.
Why would God share these details with us? Far from being afraid, Jesus said in Luke 21:28, "When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." As these events draw closer and closer, we may even become more thrilled in making every minute of our lives count to prepare for that great day.
The very Lamb of God who was sacrificed for our sins is also the Lion of Judah who will execute judgment upon the earth. If you do not receive Him as the Lamb of God who forgives your sins, you are going to have to face Him as your judge, the Lion of Judah. Are your sins covered by the blood of the Lamb? If the answer is "Yes," then you should not fear the Lion.
Though the end times are terrifying and the Lion of Judah causes us to tremble, we have nothing to fear, and certainly nothing to fear of Satan or of the Antichrist. Whether we live to see the Great Tribulation—which will make death seem a blessed rest by comparison—or not, we do not fear, for those who trust in Jesus have their names written in the book of life, not in pencil but with the blood of the Lamb of God. That is what salvation is all about. That is our message of hope. Let us rest in it and share it while we still have time, spreading the light of the world, Jesus Christ, to all in the grips of darkness.
Prayer: I praise You, God, for Your grace and mercy, Your patience and love. Thank You that Your perfect love drives out fear, for I trust in You and Your promises. Help me share this precious gift with those You put in my path. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear" (1 John 4:17-18).

Victory Assured

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 02/28/19

Sometimes it appears that evil is winning, but we don’t walk by sight. We see with eyes of faith. As you watch the news from the Middle East, as you hear of wars and rumors of wars, as you see an increase in beheadings and other horrors, don’t doubt the Lord’s promise. Our victory is assured. We have God’s Word on it.
In the early 1800s, before the invention of the telegraph, England had a communication system called the semaphore line. Using a system of flags and telescopes, messages could be relayed from tower to tower across the length and breadth of England.
In July 1812, the Duke of Wellington led his forces into battle against the French in Salamanca, Spain. News of the battle was delivered to the naval port in Plymouth, England. The commander of the port, Captain Robert Calder, took the message from the courier and climbed the semaphore tower. Using signal flags, he would send the message to the next tower in line, and the message would be relayed to London, two hundred miles away.
Captain Calder began transmitting: "Wellington defeated—"
Just then, the fog rolled in, interrupting the message. The bank of fog continued to shroud the port for most of the day. Meanwhile, those two words, "Wellington defeated," were relayed from tower to tower all the way to London.
When the people of London heard of the Duke of Wellington’s defeat, they panicked. Businessmen sold their government bonds. Fortunes were lost.
Back in Plymouth, the fog lifted. Captain Calder transmitted the complete message: "Wellington defeated the French at Salamanca." Despair turned to celebration!
So it is with you and me. Jesus has won the victory. Satan is a defeated foe. The Battle of Armageddon has not yet been fought—yet the Lord has declared, "It is done!"
Never surrender to panic or despair. Our Lord will return like a thief, when we least expect Him. Be vigilant. Be prepared. Be faithful.
When He returns, will you be ready?
Prayer: Lord, when I am overwhelmed by the brokenness of this world, help me find peace in Your coming Kingdom and joy in Your eternal victory. Help me rejoice even when it appears that evil is winning. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, 'It is done!'" (Revelation 16:17).

The Spirit of the Antichrist

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 02/26/19

In our fascination with end times prophecy, we tend to forget that the spirit of the Antichrist is already among us. The Antichrist with a capital A is yet to be revealed, but antichrists with a small a are all around us, spreading false teaching in our culture and in the church. As the apostle John wrote, "Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour" (1 John 2:18).
Western civilization is not safe from the deception planned by Satan for the end times. Here in America and across the Western world, our civilization is also being prepared by Satan to receive the false messiah, the Antichrist. If we don't want to be deceived when the Antichrist comes on the scene, then we must be ready—and we must be aware of the deceptive spiritual forces in our culture that would enslave us.
Who are these antichrists? John writes, "Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son" (1 John 2:22). What does it mean to deny that Jesus is the Christ? Anyone who teaches that Jesus is one of many ways to God is an antichrist with a small a. Anyone who denies Jesus’ claim to be the only way to God the Father is an antichrist with a small a. Anyone who says that Buddha or the Mahdi or Krishna is just another name for Jesus is an antichrist with a small a.
I believe Satan is infecting many churches today with false teachings in order to prepare the way for the Antichrist. When the Antichrist comes, he will be hard to recognize as the Antichrist. He will be attractive and charming. Jesus said that "false messiahs" will come, performing "great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect" (Matthew 24:24). So we must be alert and put on the whole armor of God, being grounded in the Truth—God’s Word.
But rest assured, no matter how many people the Antichrist deceives, he is ultimately destined to fall.
Prayer: Lord, help me to discern Truth from deception. Help me to be grounded in Your Word so that I am ready to stand against the deceit of the enemy. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son" (1 John 2:22).

The Justice and Love of God

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 02/25/19

In Revelation 8 we see a precious golden bowl at the breaking of the seventh seal during the Great Tribulation. In this bowl are the prayers of the saints—your prayers, your petitions, your confessions, your praise of God, your cries for justice. An angel offers this bowl to God at the golden altar. Then the angel fills it with fire from the altar and hurls it down upon the earth—and judgment is released.
Read Revelation 20:11-15. In this passage of Scripture, John describes how God is going to judge the world. We will all give an account on the day of judgment (see Matthew 12:36), and each of us will fall into one group or the other: those whose names are written in the book of life—and those whose names are not. You may ask, "How can I be sure my name is written in the book of life?" Jesus said, "Only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." The will of the Father is that we commit our lives to the Lord Jesus Christ. Confess to Him that you are a sinner, repent of your sins, and receive Jesus, once and for all, as your Lord and Savior. Ask Him to write your name in His book. Then live every day for Him.
Through thousands of years of human sin and rebellion, God has been patient. He has withheld His judgment and wrath, in spite of being blasphemed and rejected by the wicked human race. God’s people have been persecuted and killed by the ungodly—and through it all, God has been patient. In fact, He has been so patient that His followers have often asked, "Lord, where are You? How much longer will You wait?"
Let no one assume that He will tolerate sin and rebellion forever. A day is coming when God’s patience will come to an end. A day will come when Satan will see his final defeat. So let us hold fast to the light of Christ as the world plunges into moral and spiritual darkness, remembering His love for us and His promises: "I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am" (John 14:3).
Prayer: God, thank You for Your justice and Your love. I pray for those who do not yet know You. May You give them ears to hear Your Truth and lead me as I share Your Gospel with the lost. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9).

Slow to Anger

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 02/24/19

Through thousands of years of human history, human sin, and human rebellion, God has been patient. He has withheld His judgment and wrath, in spite of being blasphemed and rejected by the wicked human race. For now, God patiently entreats people to repent and to receive His Son, Jesus.

When I consider God’s patience toward the human race, I think of the people I am witnessing to now who are not responding. I think of the people I have pleaded with over the years. Many of them have locked the doors of their hearts. They always have their reasons. "Someday, maybe, I’ll surrender to Christ—but I’m not ready now." "I live a good life. I don’t need a Savior." "If I become a Christian, my friends will reject me." "I want to control my own life. I don’t want God to tell me what to do." So many excuses—but when these people pass into eternity, what good will their excuses do for them? ##When the day of wrath comes, there will be no escape, no second chances. Today, the window of salvation is still open—but for how long? The apostle Peter wrote, "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). It is not God’s will that you perish for all eternity, but God’s will is not the only factor in this equation. Your will is also a factor. It is God’s loving and gracious will that you receive the gift of eternal life—that’s why He sent His Son to die for you. But God will not overrule your free will.
God Himself does not gloat over the fate of the wicked (see Ezekiel 33:11). He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (see 2 Peter 3:9). Yet He will not overrule our free will. If we choose judgment, then judgment it shall be. No one has to suffer eternal separation from God. The victory over sin and death has already been won. Jesus has paid the price of our redemption—and He will triumph over Satan.
Prayer: Lord, thank You for Your precious gift of grace. Thank You for Your long-suffering compassion. Help me to daily submit my will to Yours. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"And [the Lord] passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, 'The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished'" (Exodus 34:6-7).

Revelation Completes the Gospel

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 02/23/19

The word revelation has an important meaning: the manifestation or unveiling of something that has been hidden. In other words, the book of Revelation is the unveiling of God's plan for the future.

God revealed this plan to John when he was in his 90s, exiled to the island of Patmos. Through John's exile, God gifted John and His people with the most powerful heavenly vision for all of eternity: the Revelation of Jesus Christ. This vision completes the Gospel, giving hope to, sternly warning, and deeply comforting all those who trust in Jesus. As you read it, remember these three purposes of Revelation:

Revelation completes our understanding of God's purpose for history and for our future. Revelation assures us that, while the world may look out of control, it's not out of the control of God; He holds His children in His loving hand. From Genesis to Revelation, God has a plan, and Jesus is at the center of it all.

Revelation shows us the danger of compromise and the ultimate destruction of Satan and those who reject Christ. In Revelation we see that God has secured the victory, and judgment will come at the end times. Therefore we must not compromise, but stand firm against the spirit of this age, who says we can have salvation without the Savior, power without prayer, spirituality without the Holy Spirit, and morality without the Bible.

Revelation gives us an awe-inspiring portrait of the glorified, soon-coming King Jesus. John's vision completes the Gospel of salvation—past, present, and future. For in Revelation we see Jesus no longer hanging on a cross, but glorified in white and gold, with hair white as wool, with eyes that blaze with fire, with a voice like rushing waters (see Revelation 1:13-15). We see Jesus as the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end (see 22:13).
The same Jesus born as a helpless babe in Bethlehem is coming back to sit on the judge's bench. If He were to return today, would you be thrilled or afraid? Would you be unprepared or ready to face the King? Examine your life. Look through the lens of eternity. Ask the Lord how He wants you to prepare for that glorious day when you see Him face to face.
Prayer: God, thank You for the hope I have in You. May it fill me with joy and overflow in love for others as I share the Truth of Your Gospel. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"I have become [the gospel’s] servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness . . . this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:25, 27).

His Second Coming

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 02/22/19

The book of Revelation tells us about Jesus, the glorified returning King. He will wear many crowns as the conqueror of sin and Satan and as the eternal King of kings. His diadems will testify that He has no rivals.
While many try to ignore Jesus, when He returns in power and might, this will be impossible. Jesus' first coming was in humility. His body was crucified on the cross to save all who would believe in Him. But in His second coming, He will return in His full glory.
At the cross, He was led like a sheep to the slaughter. At His return, King Jesus will lead the victorious parade of His faithful soldiers.
In His first coming, He wore a crown of thorns. In His second coming, He will be crowned with many crowns.
Our Savior is the King of kings who reigns and rules the entire universe. He is superior in His nature, infinite in His wisdom, mighty in His reign. He is from everlasting to everlasting.
Have you forgotten who is King of all kings?
Prayer: King of kings and Lord of lords, forgive me for the times when I have forgotten Your majesty. Help me remember each and every day who You are and allow You to be the King of my life. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS" (Revelation 19:16).

A Place for You

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 02/21/19

It’s shocking how many Bible-believing Christians are afraid of the life to come. If you are concerned about being bored in heaven, then I have good news: you are about to discover how exciting and wonderful heaven will be.

In the book of Revelation, the Lord Jesus gives John a vision of heaven. It’s a vision of comfort and encouragement for everyone who is burdened by the sufferings of this life. You won’t be floating on the clouds, strumming a harp. You won’t be a robot. You won’t be bored for all eternity. You won’t be a disembodied spirit floating around in some strange dimension. Heaven will be filled with all the excitement you could ever want.

Jesus said, "I go to prepare a place for you." Not a cloud. Not a dimension. A place. Heaven is a real place, and we will live there in our glorified resurrection bodies. The place Jesus is preparing for us is the new heaven and the new earth, the domain of God, the dwelling place of His people. The vision of heaven we find in Revelation is designed to fill us with anticipation for the life to come and to comfort us in our trials. The promise of heaven should motivate us to live each day for the Lord. Peter reminds us that we ought to live lives of holiness and godliness because "we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells" ) 2 Peter 3:13).

The more we focus our attention on this life, the more meaningless this life becomes. But the more we focus on the wonders of heaven, the more wonderful this life becomes. When I hear someone talking excitedly about heaven, I know that person is truly saved. One of the surest indicators of genuine salvation is a sense of excitement and expectation about heaven. Jesus said, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:21). So if your treasure is in heaven, then your heart is in heaven as well.

Today, you may be carrying the weight of a Steinway piano on your back. It might be a load of guilt. It might be a load of suffering and pain. It might be a load of worry about the future or heartbreak over a painful loss. Whatever the weight that drags you down today, a vision of heaven will lift your burden.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for the promise of heaven. I pray that You would help me to live in light of eternity—in light of the glory that is mine through Jesus Christ—so that my joy is complete even in difficult circumstances. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (Romans 15:13).

The Satisfaction of Completion

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 02/20/19

When we take time to look at the world around us, we become aware of all the work we have to do as believers. The dying world in which we live is desperate for the Gospel. It needs to hear the Truth of God’s Word. Truly, we have our work cut out for us.

However, in all our striving to advance the Kingdom of God, we sometimes forget one of the biggest Truths of God’s Word. On the cross Jesus said, "It is finished" (John 19:30). The work that He came to do, to fulfill God’s promise to mankind by making the ultimate sacrifice for the sin of the world, is finished.

In our hearts, the work of the Holy Spirit to bring us to completion is still taking place. Once we submit our lives to Jesus, the process begins and does not end until we get to heaven. Yet, we are not called to finish Jesus' work because His work is done. We are called merely to allow the Holy Spirit to complete His work in us as we share with others the Good News through both our words and actions.

It is not up to us to finish the work that only God can do in our lives. We cannot live a holy life without Him. His gift of salvation can only be received through faith in His Son. Strive as we may, eventually we will stumble. But God has promised to do what we cannot do for ourselves. He has sent His Son to save us.

While we can look forward to the day when God looks at us and pronounces a completion of His work in our hearts, we must remain faithful and allow the Holy Spirit to continue His transforming work in our lives.

Seek the Lord above all things. Desire to be a person He uses to draw others to Himself.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for the work You have started in me. Please continue shaping me into the person You want me to be. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"By wisdom the LORD laid the earth’s foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place" (Proverbs 3:19).

Honor with Love

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

The subject of roles within a marriage can be a topic for strong debate. However, God has a clear design for us to follow. There are specific roles for a husband and a wife.
Many couples struggle with their marriage because they fail to apply God’s principles to their lives and to their relationships. And thus, they miss a blessing.
The word submission has become a very emotional word for many people. Often we resist submitting our lives to one another because we fear we will be hurt. However, when we follow God’s plan for submission, the result is not a low self-esteem, as some would have us believe. Instead, it is an increased sense of love for our partner and for the Lord.
Without a doubt, Jesus Christ is our model for godly submission. He submitted His life to God’s plan to the point of enduring death on the cross. He trusted the Father and brought glory to God and salvation to the world.
When we obey God’s commands and base our plan for marriage on His Word, our lives are transformed, and our marriages are strengthened. We learn to love one another the way Jesus loves us. Submission no longer is an issue to be debated; it is the natural thing to do. Paul writes:

As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:12-13).

Do you honor your spouse above yourself? Is your desire to give love and support rather than to tear down? When you honor one another with your love, you really are honoring the Lord.
Prayer: Jesus, thank You for modeling submission and trust in the Father. May I submit to His will for my life and my marriage, remembering both God’s love for me and my spouse and rejoicing in His perfect wisdom. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love" (Ephesians 4:2).

Communication in Marriage

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

Problems of selfishness and unforgiveness can be obvious problems in a relationship. But there are also enemies that stealthily creep into a marriage like a choking vine. Busy schedules, apathy, and even exhaustion can lead to a breakdown of communication.

When communication breaks down between husband and wife, Satan is always waiting in the wings. Then what often takes place is a power struggle, the silent treatment, or deception.
How many hours—or minutes—did you spend this week engaged in conversation or activity with your spouse that did not revolve around working on the family budget, talking about the children, or watching TV?
Many of the larger problems in marriage stem from poor conversations. And poor conversations stem from not making the time for our spouse, letting the children come before the marriage relationship, and from a fear of conflict. But good conversations will involve a positive exchange, allowing for growth in a relationship.
Maintaining the components of the three-legged stool of marriage is not easy. We will always be competing against our sinful, selfish nature. We will always be seeking God"s strength to forgive. And we will often struggle to find balance between our calendars and our marriage. But if you keep Christ at the center of your marriage and strive to maintain the three-legged stool, you will discover the blessings of marriage.
Prayer: God, show me how I can improve communication in my marriage. I need Your help to be the godly spouse I should be. Help me to keep You at the center of my marriage and to be on guard against selfishness, quick to forgive, and vigilant to communicate. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry" (James 1:19).

Forgiveness in Marriage

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 02/17/19

Today we are going to look at the second component of a healthy marriage—forgiveness.

Sometimes forgiveness is hard, especially when we allow little annoyances to build up over time. But the Bible tells us, "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you" (Ephesians 4:31-32).

In Matthew 18:21-22, Jesus told Peter that we are to forgive each other not merely seven times, but seven times seventy. In other words, we are to forgive so often that we lose count. ##So how can we forgive that readily? First, begin by forgiving the things that seem insignificant but that build up over time—the irritating habits and annoying characteristics. This will require a daily discipline.

Second, "take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5). You will find it harder to forgive others if your own mind is waging a battle against old hurts. Focus on Christ in your relationship, not on keeping score.

Third, maintain your identity in Christ. Our old sinful nature is filled with resentment, bitterness, and unforgiveness. But through Christ, we are able to offer mercy and forgiveness to the one who has wronged us.

Prayer: Father, help me to never forget the forgiveness that You extended to me. Help me likewise extend forgiveness to my spouse. May I not keep score in my marriage. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

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

The Three Legs of a Healthy Marriage

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 02/16/19

Martin Luther said that God established three essential institutions: marriage, the ministry of the Word, and the state. Luther went on to say that "both in chronological order and in significance, the home precedes both the ministry of the Word of God and the state." And yet, many people today try to demote marriage to a human invention. But the Scripture tells us that marriage was created by God.

Let’s take a moment to look at the components of a stable, healthy marriage. Imagine your marriage as a three-legged stool, and the three legs are selflessness, forgiveness, and communication. Without one of the legs, the stool will fall down. A good marriage needs all three components to be well-balanced and strong. Today we will look at the first leg—selflessness.

We live in a self-centered world, and this focus on self is destroying marriages. The concept of "looking out for number one" is creating divisions between husband and wife. But Paul tells us, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves" (Philippians 2:3).

Immaturity and selfishness tell us to focus on our own desires, comfort, and self-protection, but maturity leads us to focus on our spouse’s needs. Maturity is a key to selflessness.

Selfless love manifests itself in graciousness. It focuses on the other person’s thoughts, feelings, and needs. A selfless love makes sacrifices without keeping a running tally of who has contributed the most in the marriage. It puts aside selfish stubbornness for a willingness to yield to each other.

While selflessness goes against many of the world’s teachings about personal ambition, self-importance, and self-protection, selfless love is a critical component to a healthy marriage.

Prayer: Father, help me to be mature in my marriage, exhibiting selfless love toward my spouse each and every day. Help me put the needs, feelings, and thoughts of my spouse above my own. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

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

Marriage and Families Under Attach

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 02/15/19

Today we are surrounded by a culture that is constantly attacking God’s plan for marriage and family life. The Lord Jesus Christ addressed this crisis in Matthew 19.
Some Pharisees came to Jesus and said, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?" (v. 3). Instead of giving them the grounds for divorce, Jesus gave them the grounds for marriage:

“Haven’t you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate." (Matthew 19:4-6).

When we consider the crisis in our families and marriages today, what should be the response of a Bible-believing church? I believe our response is to trumpet loudly and without fear or hesitation what Jesus said in Matthew 19 and what God the Father said in Genesis 2: Marriage belongs to God’s created order. From the beginning the Creator made them male and female. It is not up to us to mess around with this holy union
Prayer: Father, I pray that You would forgive our nation for what we have done to the institution of marriage. Help me to stand up for what You have put in place and to be a powerful picture of what a Christ-centered family should look like. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"For Adam no suitable helper was found. . . . Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man" (Genesis 2:20, 22).

Compelling Love

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 02/14/19

God’s love is amazing and powerful. It binds up all our emotional, mental, and spiritual wounds. Are you feeling weak today? God’s love says, "You are valuable. I treasure you more than anything. Whatever is wrong in you, I can heal it." Do you think you are unworthy? God’s love is telling you, "I made you; I redeemed you; and I want you with me forever!" God’s everlasting, perfect love has the ability to rebuild you from the inside out—if you will let Him.

Love can become the compelling, motivating, energizing force for what we say and do. As you face choices today, ask yourself if love is the motivating force behind your decisions. Pray for the Holy Spirit’s help so that you will reflect God’s selfless love to people around you. When your friend offends you today, love will help you forgive them. When a stranger needs help, love will compel you to assist them. If your neighbor is hurting, love will drive you to comfort them. If you allow the Holy Spirit to work through you, love will transform the way you live your entire life.

Prayer: God, I pray that Your Spirit will help me today to be compelled by love in all I say and do. May my life be transformed as Your Spirit works in me, teaching me to love the way You do. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love" (1 Corinthians 16:13-14).

Biblical Love

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 02/13/19

In society today, we are taught that love is a feeling, measured in extremes. Love is understood as affection or romance—and in order to be worth the investment, it should be maintained at an emotionally high level. In contrast, the Bible teaches that love is self-giving.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus says: "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:34-35). To love Biblically is to give of ourselves. Biblical love is centered more in the will than in our feelings, and it is more concerned about giving than receiving.

However, Biblical love cannot be self-manufactured. It is something that is poured out from what God has poured in. As Paul wrote in Romans, "God’s love has been poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us" (Romans 5:5).

This love is from God Himself, and it is something we are to be unified and fervent about (see 1 Thessalonians 4:9, Philippians 2:2, and 1 Peter 4:8).

Biblical love is not easy to understand or to express faithfully, but it is always easy to identify. As we pray for self-sacrificing expressions of love, we will see transformation in our lives and in the lives of those we encounter. Love will then become something we seek to give—not something we merely seek to have. This will give us new opportunities to express love and a willingness to engage with others.

Prayer: God, I pray that You would help me pour out the love that You have so generously poured in me, a love that is self-giving and unconditional, even when I feel it is undeserved. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another" (John 13:34).

Freedom from Pessimism

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 02/12/19

Over the past couple of days, we've been learning about overcoming pessimism. The doubting we've read about in the apostle Thomas' life culminated in his doubting the resurrected Christ, but when Christ appeared to him, he received the ultimate freedom from pessimism.

The effect freedom from pessimism brings is clearly seen in Thomas's life following that experience. Thomas's transformation was not just intellectual. His transformation changed every area of his life and moved him to do something great for God in response. Thomas took the Gospel into some of the toughest parts of the world in his day, areas such as Nineveh and India.

Freedom from pessimism begins when we understand what our calling teaches us about how loved by God we are. Our understanding is enhanced by remembering what God, in His power and awesome grace, has done on our behalf. When we experience, by faith, the resurrection power of our Lord Jesus Christ on a deep and personal level like Thomas did, Jesus will transform us from being pessimistic to visionary, suspicious to victorious, uncertain to confident, and hopeless to joyful as we trust in the promises of God to make all things new in His perfect time.

Prayer: Father, thank You that I can have hope because I have experienced the power of the resurrected Christ in my life. Thank You for setting me free from pessimism. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:36).

Overcoming Pessimism

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 02/11/19

Yesterday we read that the first step in overcoming pessimism is understanding who you are in Christ Jesus.

The second step in overcoming pessimism is knowing how to handle setbacks—those moments when we lose our confidence. We all have hot buttons and weaknesses that cause us to doubt and falter in faith. Thomas had those buttons, too.

We learn about one of his buttons in John 11. He was afraid of the growing opposition from the Jews. When Jesus told the disciples that they were going to Bethany because Lazarus had died, Thomas was sure they would die too (see v. 16). But then Jesus overwhelmed Thomas’ pessimism with His matchless power—power even over death—by raising Lazarus from the grave.
Our hope also lies in witnessing and receiving Jesus’ life-giving power over sin and death. How can we be pessimistic when Jesus has the power to redeem any situation?
The final step in overcoming pessimism is believing in the power of the resurrected Christ. Following Jesus’ crucifixion, the disciples were confused about what would happen next, and they gathered together for support—everyone but Thomas.
He expected nothing to happen, and when he was told by the other disciples that the resurrected Christ had appeared to them, he still refused to believe, saying, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe" (John 20:25).
When Jesus appeared again to them a week later, Thomas was given the chance to do just that, and when he had experienced the resurrected Christ, he exclaimed, "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28). His ultimate liberation from pessimism had come!
Prayer: God, thank You for the reminder that You have the power to redeem any situation and that I can have confidence in the power of my Lord, the resurrected Christ. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Come and see what God has done, his awesome deeds for mankind!" (Psalm 66:5).

The Problem with Pessimism

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 02/10/19

Pessimism is a cunning enemy of a growing faith in Christ. One of the reasons it is so sneaky is that there are times when it masquerades as a virtue. We call it discernment, cautious wisdom, and sometimes even a realistic worldview. At its core, pessimism is unbelief. It is a lack of faith in God and His ability or desire to keep His promises.

A great example of pessimism rightly labeled is found in Mark 9. A father brings his possessed son to Jesus and says, "If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us" (v. 22). Jesus responds by saying, "'If you can'? . . . Everything is possible for one who believes" (v. 23). In a moment of clarity, the father cries out, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" (v. 24). Face to face with Christ, the father had to admit that the issue was with his faith and not with Jesus’ power.

Deliverance from pessimism is possible. We see it in the apostle Thomas’s life. Thomas had a history of unbelief, so much so that he is often referred to as "doubting Thomas." Jesus defeated pessimism in Thomas’s life, giving us insight into how Christ can defeat it in our own lives.

The first step in defeating pessimism is understanding who you are in Christ. Thomas was specifically called by Jesus to be one of His disciples. Knowing that he was chosen by the Lord Jesus Christ and that he was loved unconditionally by Him was the first step in Thomas’s transformation

It can be the beginning for us, as well. God called us to be His own because of His great love for us and His unique design for each of our lives. We are loved specially and unconditionally by His grace, and the God of the universe holds each one of us forever in His hand. There is nothing we can do to affect God's calling. He freely called us because we are special to Him.

Prayer: Lord, I admit that at times I struggle with unbelief like the father with the possessed son, but today I cry out, "Help my unbelief!" Thank You for Your love for me and for the calling You’ve placed on my life. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!" (1 John 3:1)..

The Power of Christ

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 02/09/19

Only Christ’s resurrection power can satisfy our empty hearts. Only His power can defeat our temptations and turn our trials into triumphs. Only His power can exchange our weaknesses for His strength. Any earthly assets that we draw on are rubbish compared to Christ’s power.

As imperfect humans, it is easy for us to revert back to our independent ways, especially when things seem to go well for us. We quickly forget about Christ’s strength and joy when we find comfort and happiness in our circumstances.

But we must be on guard against spiritual stagnation. We must place our relationship with Christ first in our lives. We often shy away from spiritual growth because we know that growth is often accompanied by pain. We want to run from our troubles rather than press forward. But the Bible tells us, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus" (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Paul encouraged the Philippians, "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). While we may have to strain our spiritual muscles in order to grow, we will find joy in the midst of our struggles if we focus on Christ, applying the power of His grace to our lives.

Prayer: Father, thank You for using Your infinite power to save me and satisfy my heart. Help me not to run from spiritual growth, but to press forward to win the prize of Your nearness for eternity. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit" (Psalm 147:5).

The Detour of Legalism

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 02/08/19

Do you find yourself constantly troubled by your sin? Have you created lines in the sand, rules that you feel you must follow to be "good enough"? When we strive to earn God’s acceptance, we are depriving ourselves of the freedom and contentment that Christ has won for us. We are depriving ourselves of the true Gospel of grace, shackling ourselves with legalism and elevating our rules to the same importance as God’s commandments—whether our rules involve moralistic guidelines, worship etiquette, or additional conditions to salvation.

No matter how well-intentioned our man-made rules may be, they are inferior to God’s commandments. When we follow our faulty human thinking instead of God’s perfect ways, we will find ourselves headed for discontentment.

We can never live up to our own harsh standards. Every time we fail, and when we do, we lose another piece of our joy. Only God’s grace gives us the peace of salvation—not God’s grace plus our church attendance or our charitable activities or our social status, family, or friends.
Jesus did it all on the cross. "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Has a legalistic mindset shifted your focus from God’s grace to man-made rituals and rules?
Prayer: Father, I realize how easy it is for me to fall into the trap of legalism. Thank You for Your grace. Help me to be on guard against legalism in my life, allowing You to sanctify me from the inside out instead of trying to change myself from the outside in. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace" (Romans 6:14).

More Contentment Detours

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 02/07/19

Today we will consider two more detours to contentment.

The first is the pitfall of pride. Pride lurks at the core of our weaknesses. Pride deceptively presents itself as righteousness when in reality it is self-serving. Pride hinders our prayers because we focus on glorifying ourselves instead of glorifying God in all things. It fosters arrogance as we shift our confidence in God to confidence in ourselves.

Our focus on ourselves will only lead to discontentment. But if we set our hope in Christ, we have abounding joy and godly purpose:

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say 'No' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. (Titus 2:11-14).

Another detour from contentment is a lack of generosity. Even when life grows financially difficult, a generous person can remain joyful. God wants us to give out of love and gratitude to Him, not out of obligation or for the sake of appearances. God is concerned with the heart of our giving.

Mark 12:41-44 gives us an example of generous and wholehearted giving:

Jesus . . . watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, . . . Jesus said, "Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

Have you experienced a detour in your Christian walk? Are you allowing pride to determine your own path? Has your generosity crumbled?

Prayer: Father, forgive me for allowing roadblocks in my life that have sent me on detours. Help me identify and overcome these obstacles so that I might find my contentment in You alone. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"But godliness with contentment is great gain" (1 Timothy 6:6).

Detours

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 02/06/19

There are four primary detours that throw us off course in our Christian walk. They are designed by the enemy to keep us restless and to steal our peace and joy. Today we will look at the first detour: an unwillingness to confront our weaknesses.

We all have weaknesses that cause us pain. We may have a physical weakness that has led us to depression. We may have a moral weakness that leads us into sin. We may have a character flaw or a lack of spiritual discipline. Whatever our weaknesses are—whether physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual—they can lead to discontentment if we do not apply God's grace to those areas.

Paul wrote, "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me" (2 Corinthians 12:9).
If we find that God's grace is not sufficient for us, then that insufficiency is signaling a problem. Either we are focusing too much on the problem itself and not on God's grace, or we are ignoring our weaknesses altogether. As Paul explains, the secret to dealing with weaknesses is to trust in God's grace, allowing Him to give us victory in those areas.
Prayer: Father, I recognize that I have weaknesses and that I am in need of Your grace. I know that Your grace is sufficient and that You will give me victory as I trust You. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin" (Hebrews 4:15).

Sufficient Grace

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 02/05/19

Without a doubt, no matter what storms you face in life, God will pull you to safety if you call on Him. He is the one that can save you from certain defeat and give you the hope you need. When you pray to Him, He will deliver you from the sin that threatens your fellowship with Him.

An eternal sense of peace and security is readily available to us through prayer. Panic and anxiety are no match for God's grace. He goes before us into life's battles. The victory is ours, though it does not come through our efforts or strength. It comes from His hands and His grace. No one is more committed to our success than Christ.

No matter what you face, God's grace is sufficient. His power is revealed and made perfect through your weakness. Never be ashamed to cry out to the Lord. He listens for you and will come to you, fulfilling the promise of His matchless, perfect grace.

Prayer: Lord, my Savior, thank You for coming to my rescue. I know that Your grace is sufficient for me. Thank You for being my peace and security. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God" (Psalm 20:7).

Lessons on Faith

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 02/04/19

We have a culture that talks about faith all the time. Have faith in your government; have faith in your community; have faith in yourself. There are two things you need to know about faith.

First, there is no power in simply having faith. A lot of people talk about the power of having faith, but the reality is there is no power in faith itself. Power is only found in the object of faith, and if the object of your faith is the Lord Jesus Christ and Him alone, then you are a powerful, victorious Christian. Your faith is dynamic; your faith is powerful; your faith will move mountains if the object of your faith is the Lord Jesus.

Second, faith has nothing to do with feelings. "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see" (Hebrews 11:1). Faith says, "God said it. I believe it. And that settles it.”

And lest we boast in our faith, rather than the object of our faith, our Redeemer, let us remember:

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For 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 2:6-9).

Prayer: Father, You are the object of my faith. I rejoice knowing that my faith is not in vain because my faith is in You alone and not based on how I feel. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you" (Matthew 17:20).

Our Power Source

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

Paul knew the source of his power: "For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: 'The righteous will live by faith'" (Romans 1:17). From beginning to end, from Old Testament to New Testament, it is always the same—the righteous will live by faith. The word faith here is past, present, and future.

In the past, you exercised faith the moment you put your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. And today, you are putting your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, knowing that He is providing for your needs, strengthening you against sin, empowering you to have victory, and giving you wisdom for each day. Your faith also focuses on the future. You know that the moment you check out of this earth, you are going to check in with Jesus.
Are you ashamed of the Gospel? Do you get quiet when someone tells you it is bigoted to say Jesus is the only way to heaven? Do you get intimidated when someone tells you that it is narrow-minded to believe that there is no salvation from hell other than Jesus Christ? Remember your power source— and move ahead in obedience and faith, trusting God to see you through.
Prayer: God, help me remember that You are the source of my power. Give me courage and boldness to lovingly stand for Gospel Truth. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: 'The righteous will live by faith'" (Romans 1:17).

God’s Grace Throughout Our Lives

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

As God pursues us with His wonderful grace, something magnificent takes place in our lives. Before God’s grace was extended to us, we were dead in our sins and powerless to overcome them. We were in bondage to the enemy, and the future never looked so grim. Then, God entered the scene, delighting to demonstrate the power of His grace.

After Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, the Bible begins to tell the unfolding tale of God’s pursuit of the human heart through the goodness of His grace. And it is through this Gospel of the grace of God that our once-dead souls become alive! Instead of being unable to fight sin’s strongholds, God’s grace gives us power to overcome them through the Holy Spirit.
As children of the living God, we come to the battle equipped to win—not just to survive another round. God’s grace empowers us to be conquerors through Christ.
God entered our lives to save us, not just to show up and to impress us with His omnipotence. He came to deliver us from all the bondage of the past and to bring us ultimate redemption as we follow after Him. We now can say no to sin, find deepest fulfillment in obedience to God, and experience incomparable joy in a personal relationship with the Father.
Through salvation, we receive God’s grace, and then His transformation begins in our hearts. All along, He pursues us with His grace. When He captures us, the parts of our hearts that were cold toward Him suddenly warm and come to life.
Though at times we may stray, God is faithful and steadfast. He is the "hound of heaven." Just as He pursued us to bring us to salvation, He sustains us today with His grace to bring us peace in His presence and hope for eternity.
Prayer: Lord, thank You for the way You pursued me and called me into relationship with You! I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given" (John 1:16).

A Move of the Spirit

By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 02/01/19

As we continue looking at the Spirit’s movement to spread the Gospel in Acts 10, we see that not only had the hearts of Cornelius and Peter been prepared, "the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message" (v.44), and many were saved as a result.

The move of the Spirit was so great that Peter said, "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right" (Acts 10:34-35). This was a world-changing, history-making statement. The Jewish believers were astonished and began to baptize the believing, formerly untouchable Gentiles.
And that is how God took Christianity from being a narrow sect within the Jewish religion to a worldwide religion that breaks down prejudice and unites people in Christ. Christians do not just show tolerance to others; they love all people because God created them and loves them Himself.
You can have confidence that if God has a calling for you, even if it is to go into territory that is unfamiliar to you, He will go ahead of you. Not only will He prepare your heart for your mission, He will prepare others to receive what you offer.
Prayer: God, I realize that You have the power to do more than I could ever imagine. I pray that You would give me the courage to do my part in spreading the Gospel. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron" (Isaiah 45:2).

Contact Us

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

Email: [email protected]

Service

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