Exalting God, Edifying Believers, Evangelizing the Lost

"Leading the Way" Daily Devotional

Constant Gratitude

Powerful & Effective Prayer

07/01/22 – 07/07/22

Constant Gratitude

By Michael Youssef, Ph D.  07/05/22

God wants a daily relationship with us. How it must grieve Him when we run to Him only in times of trouble and need! We beg and plead for God’s help, but when help arrives, we forget to thank our rescuer. We bargain with God for His blessings, but once we have received them, we go back to our old habits. It seems to be human nature that we seek out God when we need or want something, and then forget Him the rest of the time.

Instead of focusing on our needs, God wants our focus to be on Him. He wants our thankfulness to be sincere. He wants our gratitude to be constant. He wants to see as much intensity and fervor in our thanks and praise as He sees in our requests and petitions.

God is glorified by a thankful heart, and we should be motivated by gratitude to God in all that we do. So may the song of our hearts be “I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving” (Psalm 69:30).

Prayer: God, forgive me for the times I’ve run to You for something only to forget You as soon as You answered my prayer. Teach me to praise You in the good times and in the bad. May I always have a word of praise on my lips for my Savior. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).

Hindered Prayers

Powerful & Effective Prayer
07/01/22 – 07/07/22

Hindered Prayers
By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 07/04/22

Yesterday we began looking at some of the things that can hinder our communication with God. Today we will look at three more pitfalls we must watch out for.

Covetousness is also a hindrance to prayer. Covetousness is not only wanting what other people have but also wanting to keep resources that belong to the Lord. God said through Malachi, “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ In tithes and offerings” (Malachi 3:8). When we hold on to resources that belong to God, we are coveting and stealing from God. Yet when we joyfully give back what is rightfully His, we can experience “so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it” (Malachi 3:10).

Another hindrance to prayer is habitual disobedience. King Saul’s greatest flaw was his disobedience to God. The prophet Samuel warned him, “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice” (1 Samuel 15:22). Disobedience is a form of arrogance and pride that will destroy our prayer lives, but obedience and humility will bring answers to prayers.

Finally, unconfessed sin will hinder answers to prayer. The psalmist said, “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened” (Psalm 66:18). When we have a love for a certain sin and we cherish and excuse it, that sin builds a wall between us and God that blocks our prayers. Habitual, unrepentant sin is a danger to our spiritual lives. We must seek God’s help to overcome this perilous stumbling block.

If you are experiencing hindered prayers, spend time examining your life for one of these stumbling blocks or any other hindrance that the Holy Spirit calls to your attention.

Prayer: Lord, I pray that You would reveal and uproot anything in my life that is causing a disruption in my relationship with You. I pray that through the power of the Holy Spirit these hindrances would be removed from my life. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts” (Psalm 139:23).

Keeping the Lines Open

Powerful & Effective Prayer

07/01/22 – 07/07/22

Keeping the Lines Open

By Michael Youssef, Ph D.  07/03/22

Do you feel like your prayers are powerless and that God is not listening? This is not the experience God intended for prayer. He wants us to find joy and fellowship with Him, not frustration and loneliness.

Jesus opened the communication lines between us and the Father; however, our sinfulness can affect our prayer lives. We must remain on guard against potential pitfalls so that we can maintain open lines of communication with our Lord.

The first hindrance to prayer is a marriage relationship that is off kilter. Scripture warns us, “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers” (1 Peter 3:7). God has given us a balanced formula for a joyous, contented marriage, and when that relationship becomes unbalanced, our relationship with God will also suffer.

Similarly, our prayers will not be answered when we have wronged someone and refuse to make restitution. Jesus said that before we give offerings, “First go and be reconciled to [your brother or sister]; then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:24). If we have deliberately cheated or hurt someone, our prayers are hollow in God’s ears. We must seek their forgiveness and restore that relationship.

Our prayers will also be hindered when an unforgiving spirit lurks in our souls. The Bible warns against bitterness: “See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many” (Hebrews 12:15). We should always be on guard against grudges, bitterness, animosity, and vindictiveness in our hearts. With God’s help we must work on forgiving those who have wronged us.

Prayer: Father, I pray that I will always stay on guard against the pitfalls that would hinder my communication with You. Help me to align my heart with Yours and to follow Your ways in all I do. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3).

Praise-Enhanced Prayers

Powerful & Effective Prayer

07/01/22 – 07/07/22

Praise-Enhanced Prayers

By Michael Youssef, Ph D.  07/02/22

Do you sometimes struggle with the right words in prayer? Or do you wonder exactly what to pray for? You are not alone. But God will empower you for meaningful prayer as you begin to praise Him. Praise reflects our acknowledgment of all that God is and all that He has done, is doing, and has promised to do.

Praise sets the stage for prayer that is focused, specific, and powerful. And the more we praise God, the more we realize that He not only knows about our needs but also desires to provide all that we need. God wants us to ask Him to meet our needs, not so that He’ll become better informed about them but so that we will become more aware of what is truly burdening us and tugging at our hearts.

By praising God for being all-powerful and all-merciful, by praising Him for his patience and forgiveness, we realize that He is already supremely concerned about and fully capable of handling any petition we could ever make.

One of the questions I hear most about prayer is “How do I know if my prayer requests are within the will of God?” We begin by focusing our prayers on the promises God makes to all believers in His Word. Then we can make our petitions in light of the things that count for eternity and praise God for His indescribable gifts. And as you develop a lifestyle of praise, you will become more aligned with and attuned to the will of God.

Prayer: Father God, You have promised in Your Word that You love me and that You understand the struggles that I face. Help me to remember these Truths during trials. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD” (Psalm 117:2).

Father, Be Glorified

Powerful & Effective Prayer

07/01/22 – 07/07/22

Father, Be Glorified

By Michael Youssef, Ph D.  07/01/22

Perhaps there is no time when the enemy is more active in our lives than during our prayer time. The apostle Peter warned, “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Constantly on the move, Satan is always plotting, scheming, planning, and looking for opportunities to weaken us. And when it comes to our prayer time, Satan moves like lightning.

There is nothing that would please our enemy more than to come between the Lord and us in this sacred hour of intimacy. Why? Satan knows that prayer is the key to our power, strength, and victory over him. And he will make every attempt to weaken us spiritually.

Jesus habitually made time to commune with His Father, both early in the morning and late at night. If the Son of the living God saw time with His Father to be that important, how much more should we? Jesus’ communion with His Father was like the air that He breathed.

Like Jesus, when we pray, we are opening the floodgate of heavenly blessings. To pray is to have power in our lives and to have power in the high places of heaven. However, the problem is that many of us have built the foundation of our prayer lives upon bad habits and wrong ideas. But the purpose of prayer is not to inform, persuade, or manipulate God. Prayer is obedience and sincere surrender before the living God.

As in the Lord’s Prayer, the purpose of all purposes in prayer is for God to be glorified. Listen to what Jesus said to the disciples in John 14:13: “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” That is the purpose clause. That is the purpose of all purposes—that the Father be glorified.

Is the purpose of your prayers to bring glory to God? Rise early and offer the firstfruits of your day to the living God who sees your heart. Praise Him, adore Him, make your requests known to Him, and confess before Him as you seek His glory and honor in your life.

Prayer: Jesus, thank You that I have this fellowship with You because of the precious blood You shed on the cross. I pray against spiritual laziness that keeps me from seeking You with my whole heart. May You be glorified in my prayers and in my life. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear” (Isaiah 65:24).

The Fear of the Lord and the Next Generation

Strengthening Our Faith with God’s Love

06/12/22 – 06/30/22

The Fear of the Lord and the Next Generation

By Michael Youssef, Ph D.  06/30/22

Too often today we hear of young men and women leaving the church during their college years or shortly thereafter. When asked why, they often say they saw a disconnect between what they were taught and what they saw in the lives of their parents and other adults. How we live matters.

To set a godly example, we must understand the fear of the Lord. But what does it mean to “fear” the Lord? It doesn’t mean that we live in abject terror of God as if He were sitting on His throne in heaven waiting to destroy us when we sin. God is a God of justice, but He is also a God of love. To fear the Lord, then, is to live in reverence of Him.

A person who fears the Lord wants to obey Him, please Him, and walk in close step with Him. To live this way, we must have God at the forefront of our minds, day in and day out. We must “pray continually” so that God is the first person we consult with every important decision we make (1 Thessalonians 5:17). We must give every area of our lives over to God and recognize His goodness, Truth, and beauty in the blessings He provides.

When we live like that, our joy and contentment will be contagious—and the next generation will notice.

Prayer: Father God, help me to be sincere, hating what is evil and clinging to what is good (Romans 12:9), so that my life can be a testimony to others. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

Sure Hope

Strengthening Our Faith with God’s Love

06/12/22 – 06/30/22

Sure Hope

By Michael Youssef, Ph D.  06/29/22

Until you develop a strong sense of conviction, you will not have the sure-footedness that is needed to be a follower of Christ. When faced with a crucial decision, you will be tempted to waver between right and wrong—what you know is godly and ungodly.
Those who are soft in their convictions often experience disappointment, doubt, and fear. When we allow temptations to lure us away from what we know is right, we miss God’s blessing. But when we are fully committed to Christ, we have a sure hope.
The rich young ruler wanted to follow Jesus, yet his emotional attachment to earthly treasures kept him paralyzed. He was not free to join those who were a part of Christ’s band of followers (see Mark 10:17-23).

The apostle Paul did not have a problem with commitment or conviction. He gave his life to the Lord and in doing so left behind the very things this world deems both impressive and valuable.

Paul had been a Pharisee—a man of social influence and position. He had been trained by one of the most eminent scholars of his day—Gamaliel, a member and former president of the Sanhedrin, the high council of Jews in Jerusalem. It was said that Gamaliel’s influence was so great that he was one of only seven Jewish scholars who have been honored by the title “Rabban.”

None of this mattered to Paul. He had formed a strong conviction: “I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things” (Philippians 3:8).

Prayer: Lord, I want to be able to say with Paul that the only thing I hold dear is Christ Jesus, who lives in me. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“I consider everything a loss . . . that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith” (Philippians 3:8-9).

Transforming Power

Strengthening Our Faith with God’s Love

06/12/22 – 06/30/22

Transforming Power

By Michael Youssef, Ph D.  06/28/22

When we fully understand the transforming power of God’s Truth, we begin to realize how far the world is from God. Paul warns, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness” (Romans 1:18).

While we worship a loving God, our God is also just and righteous and will not allow the sinfulness of humanity to go unnoticed. We cannot satisfy God’s requirement for righteousness, yet, as Scripture tells us, “This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe” (Romans 3:22). In God’s mercy, even the most undeserving sinner can find forgiveness and salvation through Christ.

The Gospel is a powerful message. But as long as Christians feel ashamed of the Gospel, as long as we cower in fear instead of speaking boldly, as long as we live like those in darkness, we will never make an impact for God.

Have you been hiding God’s Truth? Confess to God if you have been ashamed of the Gospel. Confess to Him the times you’ve kept quiet, the times you chose not to witness, the times you compromised your beliefs in order to fit in. Receive His forgiveness and, from the joy of His mercy and grace, proclaim His goodness to you through your words and actions.

Prayer: God, I pray today that the transforming power of the Gospel message would manifest itself in my life so that I may be a light in the darkness. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).

The Antidote to Fear

Strengthening Our Faith with God’s Love

06/12/22 – 06/30/22

The Antidote to Fear

By Michael Youssef, Ph D.  06/27/22

Fear hinders your potential for God and robs your joy. It can ruin your family, friendships, and relationship with God. It always masquerades as something else—as extreme caution, timidity, insecurity, a lack of confidence, or procrastination. Do you live in fear? If you are constantly afraid, then you may be living behind bars more powerful than steel.

Paul—along with many other Biblical heroes—discovered the antidote to fear: faith in Christ! In other words, when you realize that God is in total control of your life, fear will be banished, for “perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18). In Acts 18:1-17, we see how God strengthened Paul at a time when discouragement could have defeated him.

Firstly, God provided Paul with godly friends. Aquila and Priscilla came to Corinth from Rome because Emperor Claudius made a declaration that all Jews, whether they were Christian Jews or not, must leave the city of Rome. By God’s providence, they ended up in Corinth.

Secondly, God blessed Paul’s faithfulness. Despite the havoc that ensued following his uncompromised preaching of the Gospel and its poor reception by the Corinthian crowd, God sustained Paul and blessed his faithfulness as a Jewish leader and his family came to Christ.

Thirdly, God fellowshipped with Paul personally in a very special way, speaking to him in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city” (Acts 18:9-10). God made it clear that Paul would fulfill His purpose in Corinth and that there were many people to be won to Christ in that city.

And fourthly, God frustrated the enemy’s plan to thwart the spread of the Gospel (see Acts 18:12-17). The Jews took Paul before the proconsul to have him decree it unlawful for Paul to proclaim the Gospel. But instead of having a landmark decision to stop the Great Commission throughout the Roman Empire, what did the proconsul do? Gallio, who was known for his acute sense of justice, dismissed the case.

Just as God ministered to Paul in Corinth, He will minister to you in your trials as you are faithful to Him. When you desire to honor and serve God, He will provide for your every need. When your life’s goal is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ, God will always minister to you.

Prayer: God, thank You for Your lovingkindness to me and the ways You minister to me as I seek to do Your will. Help me to rest in You and to see the encouragement You bring to me. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).

Remember His Faithfulness

Strengthening Our Faith with God’s Love

06/12/22 – 06/30/22

Remember His Faithfulness

By Michael Youssef, Ph D.  06/26/22

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pray in God’s Power

Strengthening Our Faith with God’s Love

06/12/22 – 06/30/22

Pray in God’s Power

By Michael Youssef, Ph D.  06/25/22

In order to allow faith to overwhelm our fears, we must entrust our worries and anxieties to God, for He is faithful and able. Here are some practical ways to do that.

First, we must learn how to pray fear out and faith in. Instead of burying your worries, acknowledge them before God in prayer. Bring them to the foot of the cross—and then leave them there. Our prayers for fear-conquering faith are prayers that God not only longs to hear but loves to answer.

Once you have confessed your fears out, begin to pray faith in. Look to God’s Word and incorporate His promises into your prayers. Draw strength from God’s promises as Abraham did: “Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised” (Romans 4:20-21). This is our first step in building those faith muscles.

Second, call upon God’s power in your life. In Jesus’ earthly ministry, He demonstrated God’s power to redeem us from our sins, to heal diseases, and to still the storms in our lives. God wants to show us that same power today.

Sometimes God waits until we run out of all human solutions before He manifests His power for us. That’s because He wants us to learn that His grace is sufficient for us and His power is made perfect in weakness (see 2 Corinthians 12:9). Other times, God is simply waiting for us to take the first step of faith before He responds to our request.

There are people who don’t have any cause for fear, and yet they are fearful. Then there are people who have every reason to fear, but they are not afraid. The difference between the two is a complete trust in the Lord Jesus. Just as saving faith enables us to receive Christ as our Savior, so daily faith enables us to know Christ as our Lord.

Do you find yourself living out of your own finite strength or God’s infinite power? Pray your fears out and pray faith in. Begin to see God as the one who is greater than any problem you face, and you will find confidence and courage. The power of God that sustains the universe—every atom, every galaxy, and every star in its orbit—that’s the very power that Jesus offers His children today.

Prayer: God, I bring my fears to the foot of the cross today and exchange them for Your promises. Where I feel powerless, I ask for Your power to overcome my situation. Show me which step of faith You want me to take today and help me to take the opportunity immediately when it comes. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21).

Turning Fear into Faith

Strengthening Our Faith with God’s Love

06/12/22 – 06/30/22

Turning Fear into Faith

By Michael Youssef, Ph D.  06/24/22

In putting our focus on God, we are demonstrating faith that God is the Creator and controller of all things. Nothing is beyond His reach of power. When we turn our fear into faith, God’s peace begins to fill our hearts. We are able to face all of life with greater hope. When we see God, who loves us and cares for us, as being bigger and more powerful than any problem we have, we find confidence and courage.

What fears in your life are keeping you from peace? Do you fear the loss of a relationship or the loss of your wealth? Do you worry you might be diagnosed with a debilitating disease? What are you most afraid of—failure, loss, tragedy? No matter what it is, you can be certain that Jesus conquered all of these things at the cross.

If you find yourself losing your peace because of a troubled heart, God will give you the strength to overcome your fears and anxieties. Stop trying to ignore or bury your worries. Take them to God in prayer and let Him know what is troubling you. Ask Him to turn your fear into faith and to fill your heart and calm your mind with His supernatural peace. Then continue to spend time in His presence daily.

Prayer: God, help me to focus on You, turning my fear into faith, and allowing You to calm me with Your peace. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you” (Isaiah 26:3).

From Control to Faith

Strengthening Our Faith with God’s Love

06/12/22 – 06/30/22

From Control to Faith

By Michael Youssef, Ph D.  06/23/22

When we look at the relationship Jesus had with His disciples, we see that one of His primary concerns was for them to grow in faith. What does it mean to mature in faith? It means learning absolute obedience to His Word. It means stepping out in faith, following His plan, and possessing peace in the midst of the storm, even if the circumstances do not make sense.

Read Matthew 8:23-27. Fear struck the disciples’ hearts as a furious storm emerged, heaping wave after wave upon their boat. Panicking, they ran to Jesus, who was asleep. “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” was Jesus’ reply before rebuking the winds and the waves (v. 26).

The disciples would probably have loved for Jesus to stop the storm first and then teach them a lesson. Instead, Jesus chose to demonstrate His power in a moment when they had absolutely no control. He wanted to teach them that faith always conquers fear and nothing is impossible for Him.

Often what we fear is a loss of control—yet it is only in our loss of control and total trust in Christ that we begin to truly grow in our faith. And that is what God is most interested in: the growth of our faith.

Many people are afraid of flying in an airplane despite the overwhelming evidence that plane travel is far safer than traveling by car. Standing on solid ground, we feel in control—but 35,000 feet in the air, we have no control. Our loss of control leads to irrational fear.

Many believers have a difficult time surrendering control to the Lord. Their sense of security is wrapped up in the illusion that they are in control. To compensate, they put their trust in tangible things—their wealth, relationships, or their own abilities—rather than surrendering control to the Lord.

In order to get past the fear of losing control and thus gain an everyday faith, we must treat faith like a muscle, and in order for that muscle to grow, it must be used. Faith must be exercised and acted upon.

Truth will not become operative in our lives until we appropriate it. There is no use in only saying, “I believe it.” Have you acted upon it? Have you taken a step of faith? Have you taken a risk of faith? Confess your trust in the Lord; then, think of a way to demonstrate your trust in Him today.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You that You are in control in every circumstance. Teach me to step out in obedience even when doing so is uncomfortable or inconvenient. Let my faith be evidenced by my actions, not just my words. 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).

Going Home

Strengthening Our Faith with God’s Love

06/12/22 – 06/30/22

Going Home

Michael Youssef, Ph D.  06/22/22

As the Bible tells us, God has “set eternity in the human heart” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). You and I were made for heaven. Throughout history, God has even allowed some of His followers to see a glimpse of heaven while they were still alive on earth.

In the New Testament, we read the story of Stephen, who was stoned to death as the first Christian martyr. The account tells us that as the enraged mob picked up stones and closed in around him, “Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God'” (Acts 7:55-56). As Stephen said this, the people rushed at him and stoned him to death.

Another follower of Christ who was granted a glimpse of heaven before he died was the popular and well-known preacher Dwight L. Moody (1837-1899). After preaching a sermon on November 16, 1899, he collapsed. Though doctors didn’t know what caused the illness, Moody suffered from congestive heart failure. Sensing death approaching, Moody confided to his closest friends, “Soon you will read in the newspaper that I am dead. Don’t believe it for a moment. I will be more alive than ever before.”

Three days before Christmas, Moody lay on his deathbed. Though he struggled to breathe, Moody had no fear of death. Those who were with him said that he seemed to see things no one else could see. His last words were, “Earth is receding; Heaven is opening; God is calling; I must go.”

If you’ve placed your trust in Christ, when your earthly life is over, you’ll have the indescribable experience of going home to be with your Father in heaven. There, you will experience life as it was meant to be lived when God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

Prayer: Lord, I look forward to the day when I will come home to be with You in heaven. Thank You for making a way for me through the blood of Your Son. Thank You that I don’t have to fear death. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8)

Destined for Heaven

Strengthening Our Faith with God’s Love

06/12/22 – 06/30/22

Destined for Heaven

By Michael Youssef, Ph D.  06/21/22

We are to fear not because heaven is our destination: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).

We may pay a price for standing firm on the Truth of the Word of God and for speaking out about God’s only plan of salvation. But no matter what taunts, alienations, or persecutions we face from others, they can never destroy our eternal soul. Once we commit to Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, no one can take away our eternal place in heaven. Whatever troubles we face—struggles with antagonistic neighbors or co-workers, a loss of employment or financial security, failing health, or broken relationships—all will disappear the instant we step through the gates of heaven.

We are also to fear not because God has everything under control: “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29-31).

Each of God’s children is deeply loved and cared for by the Father. We are carried on His shoulders and engraved on the palms of His hands. God cares for all His creation—even the tiniest sparrow. Yet out of all His creations, He treasures us most of all.

Prayer: God, thank You for the promise that my problems will be gone when I get to heaven. Thank You for Your love and care for Your children. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 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 14:2-3).

Truth Will Triumph

Strengthening Our Faith with God’s Love

06/12/22 – 06/30/22

Truth Will Triumph

By Michael Youssef, Ph D.  06/20/22

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the Sudden Storm

Strengthening Our Faith with God’s Love

06/12/22 – 06/30/22

In the Sudden Storm

By Michael Youssef, Ph D.  06/19/22

Have you ever felt as if you were wandering alone in the dark, not knowing what disasters were waiting for you in the shadows or when light would ever shine again? The disciples encountered a similar experience with the treacherous sea storm in Mark 4:35-41. Even though they had Jesus at their side, they let their circumstances drive them to fear.

The storm set in suddenly. Not only did the disciples face the dangers of the rough waters, but they were surrounded by darkness as well. There were no life jackets. There were no lifeboats. They felt they were at the mercy of the great storm.

In a panic, they called for Jesus, crying, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” (Mark 4:38). Jesus got up and silenced the storm with a simple rebuke: “Quiet! Be still!” (v. 39). Then He asked the disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (v. 40). Through this traumatic event, the disciples plainly encountered the divinity of Jesus, which led them to place their fear and awe rightly in the one who is sovereign even over the wind and waves.

Many times, we want God to fix our problems instantly. We want the raging waters around us to cease immediately. Yet, sometimes God has a word for us. He wants us to deepen our faith and to grow in Him—to see Him with fresh eyes. He wants us to follow in faith—no matter how dark our circumstances seem.

Once Jesus stilled the storm, He informed the disciples that their fears were great and their faith was little. The relationship between faith and fear is like a seesaw. When one is up, the other is down. So when we allow fear to rise, our faith will decline. But the opposite is true as well. When we increase our faith, fears will fail, and we will soar in reverent awe of the majestic, omnipotent Creator, who loves us.

Prayer: God, in the midst of this storm, help me to grasp what You want to teach me. Help my faith to grow. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?'” (Hebrews 13:6)

Fear Not

Strengthening Our Faith with God’s Love

06/12/22 – 06/30/22

Fear Not

By Michael Youssef, Ph D.  06/18/22

During the time of the prophet Isaiah, the people of God were going through a difficult time of upheaval, insecurity, and loss. But God’s promise to them 2,700 years ago remains a promise for us today: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned” (Isaiah 43:1-2).

Over and over in Scripture, God assures His people to fear not. In the heat of battle and in moments of deep disappointment, God assures us that we have no reason to allow fear to intimidate, confuse, or defeat us.

Read Matthew 10:24-31. As Jesus was preparing the disciples for ministry, He provided three pivotal fear nots that we can cling to in our own moments of doubt:

Fear not, for the Truth will ultimately triumph. In verse 26, Jesus said: “So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.” Jesus encouraged the disciples that even amidst persecution, they did not need to be afraid. Why? Because God has promised to vindicate His faithful children. God has promised to ultimately exalt righteousness and judge sin.

Fear not because heaven is your destination. In verse 28, Jesus told the disciples, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.” Standing firm for the Gospel can be costly. But as children of the living God, we have nothing to fear on this earth because our eternal destination is secure in Christ.

Fear not because God has everything under control. In verses 29 and 30, Jesus said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” If God sustains the smallest of birds and takes interest in the smallest details of our lives, how much more does He take interest in providing for our needs?

When you find yourself in deep waters, remember that God will not let you drown. Trust in Him, and you will experience His presence in ways you could never have experienced in ten storm-less lifetimes.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for Your promises! Help me to obey Your command to fear not and to trust in Your faithfulness and power—even when it seems that all hope is lost. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid” (Psalm 56:3-4).

When Fear Is Sin

Strengthening Our Faith with God’s Love

06/12/22 – 06/30/22

When Fear Is Sin

By Michael Youssef, Ph D.  06/17/22

We all experience fear from time to time. In some cases, fear can protect us. It tells us to use caution when crossing a busy street. It keeps us from putting our hands on a hot stove. It reminds us to wear a seatbelt when we drive a car. But fear turns into sin when we surrender to it. When fear becomes our daily master, it imprisons us spiritually. Constant fear affects our relationships, our perceptions, and even our health. When we allow fear to control us, it deteriorates our relationship with God.

God does not harshly chastise us for our fears but redirects our attention to faith in Him. God wants us to turn from our fears and instead embrace our faith. He wants us to stop and see what has been feeding our fears—the people who influence us, our thought patterns, or the goals we chase. When we recognize what is feeding our fears, God wants us to turn away from fear and focus on Him.

In 2 Timothy 1:7, Paul reminds us: “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” The spirit of fear is not from God. When we neglect our relationship with God, a spirit of fear can easily dominate our lives. But when we focus on the promises of God in His Word, we can defeat fear.

A righteous, God-fearing life will lead to victory over sinful fear: “Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes” (Psalm 112:6-8).

Prayer: God, help me recognize what it is that feeds my fears and turn away from those things to focus on You. May I no longer be controlled by fear. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD” (Psalm 112:7).

Break Free from Fear

Strengthening Our Faith with God’s Love

06/12/22 – 06/30/22

Break Free from Fear

By Michael Youssef, Ph D.  06/16/22

Fear is a very powerful, motivating, and mobilizing emotion. It paralyzes us, robbing us of joy and diminishing our effectiveness for Christ. Fear keeps us from reclaiming our workplaces, neighborhoods, and schools for Christ. Fear keeps us from giving generously of ourselves to God and His work.

The Bible says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10). This kind of fear was originally given to us as a gift from God, that we might honor Him rightly and worship Him wholly. To exercise fear in its proper context is to render reverence to God.

However, when Satan succeeded in deceiving Adam and Eve, Satan twisted that gift into a curse, and the consequence of that perversion continues to affect us today. Instead of fearing God, we fear people; we fear failure; we fear the future; we fear death. Satan is constantly manipulating us to fear the wrong things.

Read Genesis 3:1-8. Before Adam and Eve sinned, they enjoyed unhindered fellowship with God. But after sin entered the picture, they became terrified of God and hid from Him. In the same way, when we disobey God—avoiding time with Him or going our own way—we fall prey to Satan’s fear tactics. We begin living with anxiety and hopelessness instead of peace. But when we fellowship with God, fear takes its proper place. The gift of honoring God, revering Him, and being delighted in His presence is restored.

Living in constant fear affects our relationships, warps our view of reality, and distorts our view of God—and when our view of God is distorted, Satan jumps at the opportunity to keep us from approaching God for help. Our only way to escape the imprisonment of fear is faith—not just saving faith, but everyday faith.

Everyday faith is not simply positive thinking or sheer willpower. Everyday faith is moment-by-moment trust in the one who cares for you, who redeemed you, and who delivered you from eternal death.

Are there any areas of your life where you struggle to trust God? Whatever your fears may be, you can break free from them today. Every doubt that plagues your mind or haunts your heart—surrender it wholly to the Lord. Exchange your fear for faith in Almighty God. Fill your mind with His promises—and the spirit of fear will flee.

Prayer: Lord, I surrender these fears to You right now. For each fear I have, show me the Truth that You want me to focus on instead. Restore my trust in You alone. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father'” (Romans 8:15).

Fear and Anxiety

Strengthening Our Faith with God’s Love

06/12/22 – 06/30/22

Fear and Anxiety

By Michael Youssef, Ph D.  06/15/22

Fear comes in many forms, including panic, dread, and worry. Ultimately, fear is a lack of trust in God. Anxiety is a preoccupation with unimportant things and a false reasoning that if those things are resolved, life will be great. You may find yourself falling into this trap when you say things such as, “If only I had ‘x’ number of dollars, I would finally have peace.”

Spiritually, fear can drive you away from God. And anxiety may cause you to do one of two things: You may either spin your wheels, trying to achieve what you feel is lacking, or begin doubting God’s love for you.

Ironically, sometimes our fear actually brings about the thing we fear the most. We fear rejection, so we avoid taking the risk of reaching out to others. We then become isolated, which causes us to appear arrogant, so that others begin to avoid us. Thus our fear brings about the rejection that we feared in the beginning.

When we let our fears and anxieties dominate our emotions and behaviors, peace will seem out of reach. This will remain true as long as we seek peace in our own strength. Psalm 29:11 says, “The LORD gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.”

Where do you seek peace? In striving for perfect, conflict-free relationships? In knowing you have more money than you could possibly need? In feeling accepted by those around you? Peace can only come from God’s righteousness working within us, for He alone is constant and unchanging. He will never fail to do what He has promised. So, no person can have peace apart from a daily filling of the Spirit of God, who gives us eyes to see and believe these Truths.

Prayer: God, forgive me for being afraid of life circumstances as a result of not trusting You. I pray that Your Spirit will fill me with peace today and that I would not allow fear and anxiety to dominate my life. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:27).

Have Faith

Strengthening Our Faith with God’s Love

06/12/22 – 06/30/22

Have Faith

By Michael Youssef, Ph D.  06/14/22

Typically, when we hear the word sin, our minds rush to thoughts of transgressions that to us seem huge: murder, adultery, stealing, homosexuality, and more. While some of these sins do have far-reaching consequences, none of them put people beyond the reach of God. No one is beyond His ability to forgive and restore.

The Truth is that many Christians have different categories for varying sins. They have a category for “really big” sins and one for “not so big” sins. They believe the “really big” sins are the ones that receive the most punishment, while the “not so big” sins are the ones everyone commits. These also are the ones we mistakenly believe God overlooks.

But this is not how God operates. There are sins that are horrendous and that can impact our lives with great force and sorrow. However, the sins we view as being “smaller” and therefore easily dismiss can also have devastating effects on our lives.

Few people view worry and anxiety as sin, but they are. They stem from a lack of faith in God. Worry and doubt have at their root fear—a lack of trust in our sovereign, loving Lord—which is a favorite tool used by the enemy to set up strongholds in the life of the believer.

Therefore, instead of becoming anxious or fearful, we need to turn to the Lord and seek His provision for our lives on a daily basis. Be determined to trust Him to lead you through every difficulty, knowing that wherever He guides you, you will find blessing and hope. Put your faith in God, and you will know the joy of a victorious life.

Prayer: Lord, forgive me for my worry and anxiety. Thank You for Your love and care for me. May I rest in You. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (Psalm 61:1-2).

Overcoming Unhealthy Fears

Strengthening Our Faith with God’s Love

06/12/22 – 06/30/22

Overcoming Unhealthy Fears

By Michael Youssef, Ph D.  06/13/22

Some fears are natural and protect us from harm, while other fears originate from confusion and a lack of faith. These unhealthy fears paralyze us and keep us from walking in obedience to God. But God loves us and wants us to live a life free of these seizing fears. “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).

When people lack confidence in God, they become fearful and confused. Such confusion leads to self-doubt, and we can begin to question what God’s Word says is right and wrong in a bid to be accepted by the world. When we become confused over our identity in Christ, fear of rejection and criticism overwhelm our desire to obey God. When we doubt the love and power of God, we begin to lose discernment in choosing the right path. When we are filled with self-doubt, fear of the future, and a desire to please people instead of God, we become vulnerable to spiritual attack and temptation. Fear and a wavering faith will surely cause us to fail, but obedience to God will help us pass the test.

God graciously reveals His love and character to us as we seek Him. As we grow in the knowledge of His unfailing love, our faith is strengthened, and we become bold to speak His Truth. Faith is an expression of our confidence in God and who we are in Christ.

Prayer: Father, I recognize some unhealthy fears in my life. I pray that You would help me to live a life free of these fears. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge” (Proverbs 14:26).

No Other Sacrifice

Strengthening Our Faith with God’s Love

06/12/22 – 06/30/22

No Other Sacrifice

By Michael Youssef, Ph D.  06/12/22

At the core of most world religions is the desire to appease a god or gods to attain favor in the afterlife. Followers live in fear of upsetting their gods, so day after day they labor to earn their salvation through good works and religious practice.

While these religions are focused on pursuing and appeasing a deity; Christianity is founded on God’s pursuit of man. In Christianity, salvation cannot be earned. Rather, it is received as a gracious and merciful gift. “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 2:8-9).

Salvation is received by faith in the sacrificial death and triumphant resurrection of Jesus Christ. Through faith in the perfect shed blood of Christ, we are fully covered for eternity. No other sacrifice is necessary for the remission of sins. The idea that our God sacrifices for us reverses the pattern followed by other religions.

Prayer: Father, thank You for grace. Thank You for making the ultimate sacrifice, not sparing Your own Son, to save me from my sins. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).

Hard Work Is Not Optional

Exercising Our Faith

06/05/22 – 06/11/22

Hard Work Is Not Optional

By Michael Youssef, Ph D.  06/11/22

While we may wish the rules were different, there are a few time-tested Truths about growing and maturing. They take work. And they also involve patience, persistence, and sacrifice.

No Olympic champion ever won gold by eating a diet of candy bars and taking naps every day. To attain a high level of achievement, hard work is not optional.

Our walk with God is no different. In order to be the type of Christians who truly personify the hands and feet of Christ in every aspect of our lives, we must work hard.

The apostle Paul explained why he insisted on being a disciplined Christian:

Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. (1 Corinthians 9:26-27).

When we are not stretching ourselves, when we are not growing, we are stagnating spiritually. We miss out on God’s best for us at that moment. To obey God at every turn is to honor Him to the fullest. But, it’s not easy.

Making the conscious decision to disobey God shows how prideful we really are. Conversely, deciding to obey God exemplifies a spirit of true humility.

Even though we may think God’s plan looks impossible, through faith and trust in Him, we will arrive at the conclusion that He indeed knows best. And when we are walking with God, certain His every move is for our best, we will grow to heights only God knew we could reach.

Prayer: Lord, help me resist the temptation to do what looks easiest and instead always obey Your voice. Strengthen me that I may fulfill Your work. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:38).