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Leading the Way ~Michael Youssef

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Re: Leading the Way ~Michael Youssef

Post  Admin on Mon 17 Jun 2013, 4:41 pm

Week of June 17
Faith in Our Choices
Life is a series of choices. We can choose wisely or unwisely as we are confronted with decisions, temptations, and priorities. Sometimes we will make the wrong decision, but hopefully we will learn from our mistakes in order to make better choices in the future. We learn which choices lead to eternal blessings and which lead to short-term happiness. We learn which choices lead to spiritual success and which lead to failure. While some decisions are minor, others have eternal consequences. We must learn how to choose wisely because many decisions will determine the quality of our lives. Poor choices lead to a life of misery, while wise choices lead to peace and contentment. God wants us to make life decisions based on what will have eternal benefits, what will bring Him glory, and what will expand our faith.
One of the greatest choices we make is to obey Christ in all things. Obedience does not come naturally for us. Our sinful nature often influences our decisions, choices, habits, and priorities. We must consciously strive to follow Christ every day in order to live a life of faithfulness to God. We must choose to walk by faith. We must choose to spend time with God. We must choose to fellowship with God in prayer. We must choose to feed upon the Word of God. We must choose to be witnesses for Christ to our neighbors and friends and co-workers. We must choose to live for Christ instead of ourselves. We must choose to place God and only God as the top priority in our lives. We must choose how to use the talents, resources, and opportunities that God places in our lives.
Read Hebrews 11:23-29  Moses was a man who was given great advantages in life: he held power, wealth, and prestige. Moses was the adopted grandson of the ruler of the world's most powerful, wealthiest, and advanced country of that time. And he was faced with a great dilemma.  Moses had to choose between two completely different lives: the life that led to him one day becoming pharaoh with untold prestige and power, or the life that would abandon everything he knew in order to lead God's people out of slavery. His choice was between the temporary earthly wealth and the everlasting rewards of heaven. The Bible tells us that Moses chose wisely: "By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward" (Hebrews 11:24-26).
Moses gave up what most of us dream about: ultimate earthly power and wealth. What would you have done in Moses' place? Would you have just played it safe, waiting for your time to become pharaoh, convincing yourself you could do more good with more power? Would you have turned your back on your people out of fear or selfishness or apathy? Would you easily part with the royal palace in order to wander through the desert?
When we place our lives and futures and families and businesses in the hands of God, we can trust that God will take us to the places where His plans are to be found. When we place our faith in God and His plans and promises and purposes, we can move forward, even if it means leaving other things behind.
Where do you seek your honor—in the eyes of society or in the eyes of God? Heavenly rewards are eternal, but they often come with a price. When we choose to obey and honor God above our own selfish desires, we will sometimes sacrifice our comfort, the opinions of others, and our social standing. People may reject us, ridicule us, and despise us for our faith. Committed faith is not always easy in the short-term, but our rewards will be eternal—and God's rewards are always better than the world's rewards.
What kinds of choices do you make? Do your decisions reflect earth-bound priorities or God's kingdom? Are your accumulations in earthly banks or in your heavenly home? Do you play it safe or do you take risks for God? Spend time today examining the choices that you make and what they reveal about your faith in God. If your choices reflect a weak faith, confess this to God and seek His forgiveness. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in making wise, eternal choices and to give you the strength to step out in faith..
****
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We are Leading The Way for people living in spiritual darkness, at home and around the world, to discover the light of Christ as we passionately proclaim uncompromising Truth. Visit us today at www.leadingtheway.org
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Re: Leading the Way ~Michael Youssef

Post  Admin on Mon 10 Jun 2013, 11:32 pm

Week of June 10
The Widow’s Oil
Are you in a situation where you feel inadequate? Do you feel like you have nothing to offer? Have you tried every human solution possible, only to realize you have no further options? If so, you can rejoice because your brokenness can be the foundation for God to do great things in your life. If you surrender to Him, God can bless you and fill you with the joy that only He can give.
Whatever we go through, whether small or large, God wants us to surrender to Him. When we lie our problems at the feet of Christ - truly place His will above ours - God is able to work fully in our lives.
Read 2 Kings 4:1-7. In this passage we read about a woman in a place of bankruptcy and shame. Her husband had died and left her a debt she could not possibly pay; the only thing she could do was throw herself upon the mercy of Elisha.
Elisha did not offer to pay her debts. He instead asked her, “Tell me, what do you have in your house?” (2 Kings 4:2) God’s plan for our lives always begins with what we have. The widow did not have much—only a little oil. Yet she offered it to Elisha, hoping he could use it to help her. She did not try to hoard it or hide it from him. She surrendered the little bit she had.
Likewise, God does not want us to hold back from Him. He wants us to surrender whatever we have left. He wants us to come clean with Him and confess whatever we are trying to hide from Him. When we give God everything, He can use the tiniest jar of oil to bless us.
Elisha told the widow to borrow as many empty jars as she could, then to pour the oil into the jars. These borrowed vessels showed the woman’s capacity to receive from God. The more vessels she had, the more she was going to receive. The more empty the jars were, the more oil that would fill them. The moment she ran out of empty vessels, the oil stopped flowing.
God will only bless us as much as we make available for Him to bless us. We cannot pick and choose areas of our lives to allow God to work—we must surrender everything to Him. Like the widow’s jars, if we are filled with other things—bitterness, a critical spirit, greed, selfishness—then God’s Holy Spirit cannot be poured into us.
Elisha also instructed the widow to close the door when she was pouring the oil: “Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side” (2 Kings 4:4). We need to get into our prayer closets and shut the doors. We need to shut out all distractions, anxieties, and worldliness that prevent us from surrendering to God. We need to put our focus on Him, and Him alone.
The widow did as Elisha told her: “She left him and afterward shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring.…She went and told the man of God, and he said, ‘Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left’” (2 Kings 4:5,7). God multiplied her few drops of oil into a great blessing.
When we are broken before God, He begins to pour great blessings into our lives. When we repent and yield completely to Him, He can transform our lives. Are you broken before God today? Or do you still hold on to areas in your life—sin, ambition, money, relationships—that you hoard away from Him? Daily pray for the Holy Spirit’s help to let go of that and allow God complete control in your life.
****
Don’t be tempted to toss in the towel and give up running the race. Shore up your confidence in God, today. Michael Youssef explores this topic in our free resource this month—”Don’t Lose Your Confidence.” Download it today.

By Passionately Proclaiming Uncompromising Truth, Leading The Way is revolutionizing lives at home and around the world. Discover more at www.leadingtheway.org.
And don't forget to listen to Dr. Michael Youssef at OnePlace.com!
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Re: Leading the Way ~Michael Youssef

Post  Admin on Tue 04 Jun 2013, 6:53 pm

Week of June 3
The Antidote to Fear
Have you ever driven down the highway and noticed the “check engine” light? Even if there was no strange engine noise or visible smoke, you knew the warning light meant something was wrong—and most likely you promptly took the car to a mechanic. Why? Because you knew that the warning light was connected to the engine—though you could not see the problem, you saw the warning message.
A similar connection occurs between fear and faith. We may think that our life is running fine, but then the red light of fear begins flashing. That fear signals that it is time to check our engines of faith. Most fears are based on the “what if’s” we generate in our minds, which are often rooted in a distrust in God.
Jesus warned against worrying over these questions: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?...Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:25, 34).
Many people try to escape their fears through alcohol or medication or activity. These are temporary at best, and only compound the problem. The source of the fear remains. The antidote to fear is in the promises of God, not in escapism.
If we do not learn how to master our fears, our fears will master us. In order to conquer our fears, we must do two things: pray our fears out, while praying faith in; and claim the very power of God.
When we cry out to God, He will listen to us. God loves to hear the cries of His children who seek to grow in faith. The psalmist declared, “I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4). When we realize our own inadequacies and our total dependence on God, we take a first step in overcoming our fears. We can be confident that a prayer for faith is one that will be answered.
God will help us when we acknowledge our fears in prayer. He wants us to share with Him the cause of our concerns. Even when we don’t know the source of our anxiety, the Holy Spirit will work on our behalf when we seek His help. We may fool the people around us with a brave face, but our masks never fool God. He knows what is in our hearts, and He wants us to confess those fears to Him.
Once you have confessed your fears out, begin praying faith in. Turn to the Word of God 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).
Pray for God’s power in your life. Part of the reason for Jesus’ time here on earth was to demonstrate His power. He showed us that God’s Messiah has power to redeem us from our sins, to heal diseases, and to still whatever storms we face in life. God wants to show us that power today. He waits until we run out of human solutions before manifesting His power to His children. When we try to draw on our own strength, peace and sufficiency instead of God’s, we end up in the stormy waters. Only the power of God which sustains the universe can sustain us in every circumstance we face.
Are you trying to escape your fear, or conquer it through human methods? Or do you seek the power of God, the only One who gives victory over anxiety? Spend time in prayer today, sending fear out and faith in, and drawing upon the power of God.
*****
Don’t be tempted to toss in the towel and give up running the race. Shore up your confidence in God, today. Michael Youssef explores this topic in our free resource this month—”Don’t Lose Your Confidence.” Download it today.

By Passionately Proclaiming Uncompromising Truth, Leading The Way is revolutionizing lives at home and around the world. Discover more at www.leadingtheway.org.
And don't forget to listen to Dr. Michael Youssef at OnePlace.com!
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Re: Leading the Way ~Michael Youssef

Post  Admin on Mon 27 May 2013, 8:59 pm

Week of May 27
Call On Me on Behalf of the Next Generation
We want the best for our children. We work hard to provide them the best opportunities, education, possessions, and quality of life that we possibly can. But this earthly foundation is as weak as sand compared to the solid rock we have in Christ. The psalmist declared, "Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain" (Psalm 127:1). We work and work to provide for the next generation, but how often do we call out to God to form the foundation of their lives and to watch over them?
Today we face forces that are attacking our future generations. These forces are unashamedly seeking to destroy our society, our morality, our faith, and our convictions. Unless we are firmly anchored in the Rock of Ages, unless we trust in the living God, unless we are vigilant in prayer and fellowship with God, the enemy will be able to vanquish our children.
We have a great responsibility to the next generation. They may not yet realize the dangers they are facing or how to pray for protection and guidance. But we know. We can pray big prayers to God for the next generation. We can pray for God to build our homes and our cities on His foundation. We can model for the next generation how to pray selflessly and ceaselessly to God. We can model for our children that our trust and security is in God, not in our material possessions or earthly successes. When our children see us clinging to the promises of God, they will grow up trusting in His goodness. If we fail as adults in praying for and praying with the next generation, then they will become spiritually unsure.
When a generation begins to feel defeated and uncertain, its people begin to lose their spiritual balance. They may halfheartedly attend church, but inwardly they have lost their biblical moorings. Only God can build a home and guard a city, and that is why we need to call upon the Lord on behalf of the next generation. We need to call upon the Lord for our homes, for our cities, and for our nation.
When we call upon the Lord for the next generation, we can trust that the Lord will work in their lives to cultivate their relationship with Him, to bring them wisdom, to develop their spiritual and intellectual powers, to firm their resolve to walk with Him, to nurture their love of God, and to become powerhouses for Him.
The psalmist describes the next generation as arrows: "Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate" (Psalm 127:4, 5). We should pray that our children will become arrows into the heart of the enemy. When they face spiritual warfare, when they witness the moral decay around them, when they see the enemy's foothold on our society, may they be like arrows in the hand of the Almighty God to penetrate the enemy territories and to shatter the spiritual deceptions.
How much time do you spend in prayer for the next generation? Even if you do not have children, God wants to hear your prayers for the future of His people. He wants you to model for the next generation how to live a life of faith and devotion to Him. We need to show the next generation that God is not a stranger, but He is our Father and our friend and our comforter and our foundation.
If you are struggling in your faith and commitment to daily prayer, pray for the Holy Spirit's help to strengthen your relationship with Christ. Your spiritual walk is not the only matter at stake, but the spiritual lives of your children as well. Commit today to praying daily for the next generation. Commit to modeling for them a daily fellowship with God. Commit to living the life of faith that you are professing to your children.
****
Enjoy 365 Biblical daily devotional emails from Michael Youssef by registering for My Devotional today.
We are Leading The Way for people living in spiritual darkness, at home and around the world, to discover the light of Christ as we passionately proclaim uncompromising Truth. Visit us today at www.leadingtheway.org
Listen to Michael Youssef on Today's Broadcast of "Leading The Way" at OnePlace.com
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Re: Leading the Way ~Michael Youssef

Post  Admin on Tue 21 May 2013, 7:54 pm

Week of May 20
Call On Me For Great Things
Prayers of faith have great power. They can conquer the unconquerable, overcome our obstacles, accomplish the impossible and vanquish the enemy. The apostle Paul said that God is "able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us" (Ephesians 3:20). Yet God does not want us to spend our big prayers on selfish desires. God wants us to pray big prayers of faith for things that will glorify Him.
In the book of Jeremiah, we see God speaking to His people through His prophet. God said, "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know" (Jeremiah 33:3). God spoke these words through Jeremiah during a dark point in Israel's history. Nebuchadnezzar had already sent the Babylonian army to Jerusalem. The city was under siege. Hostages had been taken to Babylon. These were some of the worst times God's people had experienced since their days of slavery in Egypt.
But this predicament was of their own creation. For years the Israelites had drifted away from the God who brought them out of slavery into the Promised Land. They forgot the One who loved them and provided for them. Instead, they turned their backs on Him by placing their trust in political messiahs, placing their security in material possessions, and compromising their God-given values. Their hearts had become calloused and their ears had become deaf to God's Word. Yet even in their lowest point, God was still calling and appealing to His children to return to Him. He was telling them through Jeremiah that even at that late hour it was not too late to call out to Him. God was ready to bring restoration to His people for His glory.
God wants to do great things for His people. During the days of Jeremiah, He promised them restoration from the destruction of the Babylonians. He said, "I will bring Judah and Israel back from captivity and will rebuild them as they were before….Then this city will bring me renown, joy, praise and honor before all nations on earth that hear of all the good things I do for it; and they will be in awe and will tremble at the abundant prosperity and peace I provide for it" (Jeremiah 33:7, 9).
God wants to hear big prayers that seek to bring Him "renown, joy, praise and honor before all nations." Yes, God does want to hear our small prayers. He wants us to reveal our hearts to Him and share our concerns and hopes. Yet the prayers that seek to glorify God, to honor Him, to further the work of His kingdom, to transform the hearts of nonbelievers, to demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ, and to reveal His majesty—those are the prayers that are most powerful.
God responds to a heart that is truly devoted to Him and in awe of Him. God knows every inner corner of our hearts. We do not fool Him by saying we want something for His glory when secretly our motivations are selfish. We do not fool Him by saying we believe He can work miracles when inwardly we doubt He will follow through.
When we seek to truly know and understand God and develop a daily relationship with Him, we begin to understand just how big and capable and trustworthy our God is. When we know that God follows through on His promises and He is ready and willing to do big things, we can pray in faith that He will act in big ways. When we understand just how amazing and loving our Creator God is, we will genuinely seek to please Him by praying for things that honor Him. "Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him" (1 John 3:21, 22).
When was the last time you genuinely prayed for God's kingdom to be glorified through your life? When was the last time your prayer requests were centered on bringing God glory instead of fulfilling your desires? If you are finding it difficult to pray selflessly for God's glory, confess this in prayer today. Ask the Holy Spirit to transform your heart to seek God first above all other things and to develop a daily fellowship with Him.
****
Enjoy 365 Biblical daily devotional emails from Michael Youssef by registering for My Devotional today.
We are Leading The Way for people living in spiritual darkness, at home and around the world, to discover the light of Christ as we passionately proclaim uncompromising Truth. Visit us today at www.leadingtheway.org
Listen to Today's Broadcast of "Leading The Way"
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Re: Leading the Way ~Michael Youssef

Post  Admin on Mon 13 May 2013, 8:49 pm

Week of May 13
Call on Me For the Joy of Hope
All around us the world is changing, and most of these changes are not for the better. Our culture is becoming more ungodly, and our society is on a downward spiral. Many Christians feel helpless and hopeless at the condition of our world. They have become resigned to the state of society's moral decay. They are overwhelmed by the sinfulness surrounding them. Yet the Bible teaches us that Christians should be the most hopeful people on earth.
Paul encourages us, "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer" (Romans 12:12). As a Hebrew, Paul would have been grammatically inclined to place the most important idea at the end of the sentence. Paul is essentially saying that when we persist in prayer, we will not only be steadfast during the tough times, but we will rejoice in hope.
Paul is not talking about temporary optimism or positive thinking. He is saying that persistent prayer leads to a truly optimistic, hope-filled outlook on life. Prayer puts things in an eternal perspective. Through prayer, the Holy Spirit can show us how God views our circumstances, rather than our faulty, pessimistic attitudes. Only through an ongoing fellowship with God can we find the joy of biblical hope.
Biblical hope comes from knowing who we are in Christ and that we belong to Him. Biblical hope comes from the absolute confidence and trust that God has our best interests in His heart. When we are filled with biblical hope, we wake up each morning with enthusiasm waiting to see how God is going to meet our needs, how He is going to walk with us that day, and how He is going to use us mightily for Him.
Paul was no stranger to suffering. He endured beatings, imprisonments, persecution, and hardships. Just like our culture, Paul's culture was filled with senseless hearts, wickedness, reprobate minds, maliciousness, and insolence. Yet he could rejoice in a hope that was based upon an absolute trust and faith that comes from persistent prayer. Paul's hope was rooted in the God of power and might. He placed his hope in the One who keeps His promises.
Paul grieved over the condition of Roman society, but he did not despair because of it. Paul grieved over the cruelty and selfishness of the culture of his day, but he would not allow them to cloud his vision. Paul experienced attacks from bitter people, but he never allowed his persecution to embitter his spirit.
There are times when we will grieve over issues and people, but even in the midst of our frustrations and turmoil we can maintain a consistent state of mind that is filled with optimism. When we know who we are in Christ and where we are spending eternity, we will stay in fellowship with God. Our relationship with Him will give us the strength to persevere in tough times and to rejoice in hope. We may still feel pessimistic over certain events, but we do not have to be overcome by our emotions.
We can find optimism in this life when Christ lives within us. We can find joyful hope when we put our relationship with Christ first and spend regular time fellowshipping with Him in prayer. A close relationship with God will give us joy in the midst of trouble, victory in times of temptations, fruitfulness and blessings in times of uncertainty. A solid prayer life will give us confidence when everything else is crumbling around us.
How persistent is your prayer life? Is prayer the first activity to be cut when your life becomes overscheduled? Do you skip prayer time on the days when you feel tired or ill or apathetic? Are your prayers half-hearted attempts to fulfill a ritual or appease your guilt?
If your prayer life has been lacking, confess to God today how you have neglected this important aspect of your relationship with Him. Pray for the Holy Spirit's help to guide you in your prayers, to motivate you to spend time with Him, to give you the self-discipline to stay focused in prayer, and to prepare your heart for the presence of God.
****
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Re: Leading the Way ~Michael Youssef

Post  Admin on Wed 08 May 2013, 1:28 pm

Week of May 6
God’s Grace Was in the Beginning
Grace has been defined as the second chance we did not expect.
Picture this: We hang our heads in shame because we know we blew it. We missed our opportunity to be the best. So, here we are, stuck with being second best, a far cry from what God intended for us. Yet it is with uncontrolled delight that we see God coming down the street to dry our tears and to encourage us to get back out there. He still believes in us.
What a feeling that must have been for Adam and Eve, the first people to experience the inexplicable grace God has for mankind! There they were, planted in the middle of paradise with the most perfect communion with God. They only had one rule—yet they found a way to break it.
But God is not interested in excommunicating us. Instead of getting upset and declaring the end of the world and starting over, He pursued the hearts of Adam and Eve. In the midst of their sin, God sought their hearts. And He has continued His pursuit ever since.
Many times when we sin, we wonder how God could ever love us again. However, it is the grace of God that gives us a chance to repent and to find new life. God’s grace is not a pardon; rather, it is a measure of forgiveness that gives life to the broken.
As we grow in our relationship with God, oftentimes we are surprised by His love for us. But even more surprising is the amount to which He pours out His grace in our lives. When we sin, God does not cast us aside. Instead, the compassionate heart of God meets us where we are and goes to great lengths to mend our hearts and to restore our relationships with Him.
Prayer: Lord, show me Your grace today in my life.
God raised us up with Christ... in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace (Ephesians 2:6-7).
What do you do when you’ve been hurt real bad? In this month’s free resource, Michael Youssef provides biblical insight for bringing happiness out of conflict and disappointment. Download your copy of “Allowing Sorrow to be the Back Door of Happiness.”

By Passionately Proclaiming Uncompromising Truth, Leading The Way is revolutionizing lives at home and around the world. Discover more at www.leadingtheway.org.
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Re: Leading the Way ~Michael Youssef

Post  Admin on Mon 29 Apr 2013, 10:28 pm

Week of April 29
The Power of the Cross
Throughout the Old Testament we see the Cross foreshadowed and foretold. But no message about the Cross is more poignant than the words of Jesus Himself. During His last Passover meal with His disciples, Jesus said, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer" (Luke 22:15).
Jesus was eager to eat that last Passover meal with them because He knew that the Cross would fulfill and complete the Passover. The Passover foreshadowed the Cross through its sacrificing of animal blood. Once the blood of Christ was shed, the Passover had finally found its true fulfillment.
In the first Passover, people placed the shed blood of animals on their doorposts, so that the angel of death would pass by their homes and their firstborns would live. In the final Passover, the angel of death will pass over and cannot touch any of those who are washed by the blood of the Lamb of God.
In the first Passover, people had to purchase their own animal sacrifices, whether they could afford it or not. But in the last Passover, Jesus paid the price in full.
The Cross established Christ's memorial in the form of Communion. As Jesus celebrated the Last Supper with His disciples, He also began Communion, the First Supper. Communion reminds us of the enormity of our sin, and the generosity of God's grace. Communion reminds us of the price that Jesus paid for the forgiveness of sins.
Whenever we receive Communion, we must do so in humility and brokenness before God. We must rejoice and be grateful and thankful for our salvation.
This Cross that fulfilled Passover and began Communion has power in our daily lives. When we live under the Cross of Christ, we can say to whatever guilt or shame plaguing us: "Jesus nailed it all to the Cross." When Satan accuses us and reminds us of past sins, we can say, "Jesus nailed it all to the Cross." When we are tempted to think of ourselves as failures, we can remind ourselves that Jesus made us victors when he nailed it to the Cross.
Only in the Cross of Christ will we receive power when we are powerless. We will find strength when we are weak. We will experience hope when our situation is hopeless. Only in the Cross is there peace for our troubled hearts.
****
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Re: Leading the Way ~Michael Youssef

Post  Admin on Mon 22 Apr 2013, 10:58 pm

Week of April 22
Operating in Holy Spirit Power
Are you one of the thousands of people who have been praying for worldwide revival? Many Christians desire to see a great harvest of souls, but the idea may seem daunting. So many sin barriers, cultural barriers, and faith barriers would need to be torn down. Read Acts 10 and discover how God broke through these barriers to spread the Gospel to every corner of the world. What He did then, He can do again.
In this story, we see the Holy Spirit accomplishing things man never could. God brings about a memorable conversion by preparing the hearts of an unbeliever and a witness. What happens next is spectacular.
As a Roman centurion, Cornelius had 100 men reporting to him. He had heard of Yahweh, God of the Jews, and respected Him enough to donate to the church. Still, Cornelius was not a committed believer. That changed one afternoon when an angel of the Lord appeared to Cornelius. Acts 10:4-5 states, “The angel answered, "Your prayers and alms have ascended as a memorial before God. Now dispatch some men to Joppa and send for a man named Simon, who is also called Peter.”
The angel in shining clothes appearing inside his house had Cornelius’ attention, and he obeyed.
Simultaneously, God was preparing Peter’s heart to witness to Cornelius. God had to change Peter’s view of Romans and all Gentiles, a belief system developed over a lifetime of teaching from his parents, his church, and his community. God effectively transformed Peter’s thinking through a vision. God portrayed food that the Jews had always considered as unclean as an analogy to the Gentiles, who were considered even more unclean. No Jew would have ever invited a Gentile into his house nor enter a Gentile home. Yet, the voice in the vision said to Peter, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” Verse 15.
At the Spirit’s direction, Peter soon finds himself traveling to Cornelius’ home. 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 most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him” (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.
Pray that God will reveal to you what He wants you to do for Him. Ask Him to prepare the hearts of those you can witness to and invite into the kingdom. God’s heart was inclined to Cornelius because of his prayers and his generosity. Ask God to help you pray the prayers and give the gifts that will be most pleasing to Him.
*******
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Re: Leading the Way ~Michael Youssef

Post  Admin on Mon 15 Apr 2013, 9:46 pm

Week of April 15th
Sharing the Excitement
When the Samaritan woman accepted Jesus as the long awaited Messiah, she was instantly transformed into a new being. When something new and exciting happens in your life, what do you do? Share it with your friends and neighbors. The woman at the well was so thrilled she left her water jug behind in her eagerness to tell everyone what Christ had done for her!
She went back to the streets where she had previously walked in shame with her eyes downcast as people whispered unkindly about her. She had given her sin and guilt to Jesus and now could boldly engage each and every person she met in earnest conversation about her amazing experience. In short, she became a witness. John 4:27-42 tells the story.
Many Christians talk about witnessing but most don’t have a truly accurate view of what being a witness means. To better understand the term, just look at what a witness in a court trial does. His duty is simple: to tell the truth about what he experienced. He is not responsible for fully understanding the law or the process; he is only obligated to tell what he saw and heard. Telling others what we experienced when we met Jesus is our duty as witnesses for Christ, and it should be our joy to do so. How can we keep the gift of salvation quiet and not share it with others?
The Samaritan woman was not a Bible scholar and did not fully understand all that had just happened to her, yet she could not contain her excitement. Her simple testimony was to tell everyone she met, “Come and see.” That sums up our role as witnesses: we are to invite others to come and see what Jesus has to offer them. We are messengers, bearers of the most valuable invitation people will ever receive.
Christians are often relieved to learn they are not responsible for saving souls; that role is divine and not ours. Just as a witness is not responsible for the verdict, we are not held accountable for whether the people we invite to know Jesus ever accept that invitation. A witness only tells his experience and then leaves the outcome up to the judge or jury. In the same way, we share the Good News and then the Holy Spirit takes over.
What was most effective about the Samaritan woman was the joy that overflowed from her changed heart. She went from being a woman who drew water in the heat of the day to avoid contact with the townspeople to actively engaging everyone she knew to tell of her wonderful experience. Her simple testimony, unschooled and incomprehensive, was highly effective. Verse 39 says, “…Many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified…”
Do you want God to use you more this year to witness to the wonder of His love, mercy and grace? We must first start with confession of any sin in our own hearts and repentance. Even worldwide revival must start with facing our own sin.
Pray that God will reveal to you any secret sin you may have rationalized or not yet dealt with. Ask for a pure heart so you can go forward with His work. Then go out into the workplace, the gym, the classroom or wherever God has placed you and share the story that only you can tell—the story of how you came to know Jesus and all that He has done for you. Someone you know needs to hear it.
******
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Re: Leading the Way ~Michael Youssef

Post  Admin on Mon 08 Apr 2013, 5:51 pm

Week of Apr. 8
Receiving God's Power
Have you ever felt so weak that you could not take another step? Have you ever felt so inadequate for a task that you almost quit before you began it? Our own power is infinitesimal compared to the power of the Holy Spirit. How do we acquire the Holy Spirit's power? First we must admit our weaknesses, and then we must avoid our enemy's ambushes.
The apostle Paul discovered the secret of power through the Holy Spirit when he openly confessed his weaknesses instead of bragging about his own strengths. In dealing with his thorn, Paul prayed repeatedly for God to remove this weakness in him. Yet God answered him, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9). Through this trial, Paul learned firsthand about the power of God: "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:9, 10).
Paul was conscious of his shortcomings and realized that he was nothing without God. He knew he did not have the power to overcome his temptations, but he knew through God's power he would be victorious. Paul felt pain, sorrow, and need, yet when the power of the Holy Spirit flowed through him, he experienced joy, contentment, and peace.
God's power in us works best when we admit our shortcomings and weaknesses and rely on His strength alone. We crowd out the potential for God's power when we rely on our own abilities, talents, or intelligence. Like Paul, we should rejoice whenever we remember our weaknesses because then we will be able to see God's full work and power within us.
In our own strength, we will fail every time. We will give in to the world's temptations and philosophies and cravings for power. Paul warned, "Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace" (Romans 8:5, 6).
In addition to admitting our weaknesses, we must also avoid the enemy's ambushes. We must constantly be aware and prepared for the traps of the devil. We cannot afford to live in ignorance or denial. When we are informed and ready, we are more likely to avoid the traps "in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes" (2 Corinthians 2:11).
What are some of the ambushes we need to be aware of? One tactic Satan uses is convincing us that God's principles do not work in a fallen world and we need to depend upon our own ingenuity to survive. He lures us into the trap of worldly power by calling it practical and realistic. Instead, we need to exercise faith in the living God, the One who will carry us through until the end.
We are ambushed when we seek out the Holy Spirit hoping our lives will become supernaturally easy and smooth. However, the Bible does not teach us that we will live a stress-free life in the Holy Spirit, but rather He will equip us to face these difficult times.
A third ambush is the temptation to indulge our feelings of inadequacy and failure, which leads to focusing more on ourselves than on God. The Holy Spirit wants to empower us, but we need to surrender our shortcomings to Him instead of holding on to them.
Are you actively seeking the Holy Spirit's power in your life or are you depending upon your own strength? Are you keeping your path clear for the Holy Spirit, or are you getting sidetracked by the devil's ambushes? Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how to draw from His power more effectively.
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes."
Ephesians 6:10, 11
****
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Re: Leading the Way ~Michael Youssef

Post  Admin on Mon 01 Apr 2013, 10:50 pm

Week of April 1
Counting on God’s Abundance
Have your thoughts lately been focused on what you lack? Are you concerned about the lack of a strong economy, the lack of godliness in America, or even your own lack of ability to walk out your faith in a difficult world? Read John 6:1-15 and discover what happens when we place everything of concern into the Master’s hands and refuse to dwell on what we lack.
After an intense day of preaching to crowds of people, Jesus realized that the crowd was hungry and had made no provision for their next meal. Instead of expecting them to be self-reliant, Jesus felt deep compassion on them. The word used to describe Jesus’ compassion communicates that he had a physical, visceral feeling—much like pain—for them.
Jesus used the problem of feeding the hungry crowd to grow the faith of three people who were present that day. First, He asked Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do” (John 6:5b-6).
Jesus knew that Philip was thoughtful, analytical and cautious. True to his nature, Philip offered the analytical answer that it would take eight months of wages to feed the crowd, and the lack of this sum was very clear.
Andrew offered a half-hearted suggestion but with no expectation that all the needs would be met. He did mention that there was a young boy with three loaves the size of silver dollar pancakes and two sardine-sized fish. He suggested this as if the offering were just a way to put a minor patch on an overwhelming problem.
The only person who wholeheartedly gave his all to Jesus with faith and expectation was the boy. He did not operate out of his lack, his hunger, his rights to the lunch he had brought for himself, or an expectation of receiving anything in return. Instead, he turned his entire lunch over to Jesus to see what He would do, and he was not disappointed.
“Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish” (John 6:11).
Not only were the boy’s needs met, he had the joy of seeing his lunch feed over 5,000 people. Then, he watched as another 12 basketfuls of food were collected. Jesus could have fed the crowd without anyone’s help, but the young boy received an exciting and unforgettable blessing as he became part of the miracle.
What do you have that you can give to Jesus? Are you holding back because you believe your gift is too small or won’t make a difference? Lately, have you focused on your lack instead of seeing what God will do with what you have to offer? You may be missing an exciting blessing when you hold back even part of what God wants you to yield to him, whether your talents, your time, your testimony, or your money. The same mercy He had for the hungry crowd, He will show you.
*********
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Re: Leading the Way ~Michael Youssef

Post  Admin on Tue 26 Mar 2013, 3:20 pm

Week of March 25
Bring Your Friends to Jesus
You may have made sacrifices in your life to help others have life’s necessities, an education, or better opportunities. They are all worthy sacrifices, but the ultimate sacrifice is made when we step out in faith to bring another to Jesus. Mark tells us of four friends who did not allow seemingly insurmountable obstacles to prevent them from bringing their friend to Jesus. Read Mark 2:1-12.
Four men watched as their quadriplegic friend lay immobile, destined to a life of physical infirmity. The men developed an irrepressible commitment to their friend. They purposed to bring him to Jesus on a stretcher. The day they did, the crowds were alarmingly large and aggressive. No one would give up his place near Jesus so the men could bring their friend to the front to be healed. This did not dissuade these men. They did not stop in the face of impossible circumstances.
Because the stakes were so great, the four persisted. They had committed to bringing their friend to the Lord, and they did not waver in that commitment. They climbed onto the roof of the building where Jesus spoke, dug a hole, and lowered their friend down to Jesus.
What struck Jesus first was not the man’s paralysis but rather his friends’ faith. They could not heal the man physically or convert him spiritually, but they had an undaunted faith that Jesus could. The men believed that if they could just bring him into the presence of Jesus that He would do the rest—and Jesus honored that faith.
Jesus’ first move was not to heal the man’s paralysis. Instead, He addressed the man’s spiritual condition by forgiving his sins—a far greater need. Not only did the man walk out of the house healed physically, Jesus saved him from eternal death and gave him eternal life. His friends could not have given him a greater gift.
Often, we are satisfied if our families and closest friends are saved. It should not stop there. The paralytic may have been a neighbor, a former co-worker, or a family friend. Like these men, when God brings people into our lives and places their unsaved condition on our hearts, we can trust Him to honor our faith. Our only task is to bring them to Him. They may have no faith at all, but God will honor our faith.
Is there someone in your life who is unsaved? Are you committed to bringing that person to Jesus? You may have tried in the past with no results. George Mueller prayed for some people for 23 years before they were saved. Will you commit to praying with renewed commitment for them? Do you need to invite them to church or a small group?
Pray today that God will give you undaunted faith that your friend will surely come to know the Lord. Then be obedient to do your part to bring them before Jesus.
****
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Re: Leading the Way ~Michael Youssef

Post  Admin on Tue 19 Mar 2013, 11:44 pm

Week of March 18
Shadow Spirituality
Have you ever tried to witness to someone who responded, "I don't need church or religion—I'm a very spiritual person." Maybe they try to fill their spiritual void with tarot cards, astrology, meditation, philosophy, or yoga. But without Christ as their Savior, their efforts to feed their spiritual hunger are in vain. We all were born in a spiritual vacuum, craving wholeness and peace. We may try to satisfy our hearts and souls with temporary fixes, but only God can permanently and completely fill that longing inside of us.
God is the only source of true spiritual fulfillment. Anything else is temporary and false. It is a shadow of the real spirituality of God. Shadow spirituality is any form of spirituality that does not acknowledge Jesus Christ as the only Lord of life. Shadow spirituality refuses to acknowledge the sovereign power and authority of God. Shadow spirituality dismisses the Bible as the Word of God.
Even churches are not immune from shadow spirituality. Many churches are wrongly preaching that Christ is merely one of many ways to God. They preach in direct opposition to God's Word and plan of salvation. Jesus warned, "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves" (Matthew 7:15).
People who claim they are "spiritual" define their spirituality as any dimension of the human experience that is beyond the physical -- whether it is the occult, paganism, mysticism or any human-designed religion. Their goal is for people to become enlightened and empowered. They seek a strong self-esteem and a balance of spirit, body, and mind. Unfortunately, these are elusive goals leaving their seekers spending their lives constantly searching for more.
Christianity provides something far greater than improved emotional health; it provides complete emotional transformation. Only God can heal our emotions and make us whole. We will never find wholeness unless we make Christ the center of our lives. The apostle Paul said, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20).
Shadow spirituality is deceptive and based on personal happiness. True spirituality leads to wholeness as we reflect the likeness of Jesus Christ. Shadow spirituality offers temporary fixes. True spirituality provides permanent transformation. Shadow spirituality promotes the falsehood that we can achieve our own wholeness, while true spirituality acknowledges that only the Holy Spirit can declare us whole.
Many of these human-designed spiritual distractions may seem helpful on the surface, but they lead us away from the only One who truly wants to see us forgiven, healed, and whole. Jesus longs for us to receive the power of the Resurrection where we can find real transformation. Through Christ we become new creatures. Through Christ we receive the Holy Spirit and become genuinely spiritual people. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17).
The world desperately needs to hear this message of true spirituality. They are seeking to fill that spiritual void but will remain eternally empty without Christ. Write on the lines below people in your life who are distracted by shadow spirituality, whether through new age practices, false religions, or a distorted gospel. Begin praying for every day that God will provide opportunities for you to share with them what true spirituality means.
"Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God."
1 John 4:1-3
****
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Re: Leading the Way ~Michael Youssef

Post  Admin on Mon 11 Mar 2013, 7:25 pm

Week of March 11
Finding Contentment
No one is born contented with life. As babies we cry for our every need. As we grow up we experience the frustrations and struggles of life. Yet through our hardships, we can learn how to gain contentment. Paul told the Philippians, "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" (Philippians 4:12).
Contentment was not a natural skill or talent for Paul—he had to learn about it through experiencing both the highs and lows of life. Paul said, "I have learned…" Learning does not always come easily. It requires time, dedication, and willingness to learn the necessary lessons.
Paul spent years at the pinnacle of prestige and power as a Pharisee, then became a humble servant of Christ. He experienced times of plenty and times of near starvation. He lived in a comfortable home, and he dwelled in a prison cell. Yet he finally figured out how to find joy and contentment in both extremes of life. He realized that contentment is a state of the heart, not of affairs and that contentment is independent of his circumstances.
Paul learned that everything we have belongs to God, including life itself. When we completely trust God to lead our lives in His timing and His ways, He will meet our needs. When our confidence is in the sovereignty of God, we will not panic when we face tough circumstances. But when we try to control our lives and manipulate events and people to our advantage, we will become frustrated and joyless.
Paul trusted the sovereign hand of God and he learned to be content in the ups and in the downs, in the abundance and in the lack, in the sickness and in the health, in the courts of the kings and in the dungeons and the prisons. Paul recognized God as the source of his strength: "I can do everything through him who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:13).
Whatever God called Paul to do—whether speaking with the powerful or the poor, whether preaching to thousands in a coliseum or to a lone Philippian jailer, whether speaking to King Agrippa or to a lowly soldier in Rome—Paul knew that God would equip him for his tasks. Paul's God-centered focus brought joy and contentment to his life. The psalmist declared, "The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song" (Psalm 28:7).
God will also provide for us and strengthen us as we seek to follow Him in faithful obedience. "And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19). Whatever needs we have—salvation, comfort, encouragement—Jesus can meet them. He can lift us above the hurts that others have caused. He can give us perseverance when we are in the middle of the valley. He will meet our needs in His perfect timing and in accordance with His glorious, inexhaustible riches.
Are you facing difficulties? Are you facing trying times? Are you panicking about what to do next? God wants you to be faithful to Him; God wants you to trust Him, and He will teach you this incredible lesson of contentment. Commit to Christ today to follow Him first in all circumstances.
"You have made 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
****
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Re: Leading the Way ~Michael Youssef

Post  Admin on Tue 05 Mar 2013, 10:52 pm

Week of March 4
Remaining Spiritually Stable
Would you describe your spiritual life as stable? Or does it waver and wobble? Are you guided by the Holy Spirit or by the prevailing mood of the culture? One of the consequences of diminished joy is spiritual instability. This condition leads to burnout and discouragement; it leads to doubt and total ineffectiveness in the ministry of Christ. Spiritual instability opens our lives up to spiritual attack during a time when we are too misguided to realize the danger. Just as we need to remain on guard to protect our joy, we also need to watch for the warning signs of spiritual instability.
We are reminded throughout the New Testament to stand firm in our faith: "All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved" (Matthew 10:22). "Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain" (1 Corinthians 15:58). "For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord" (1 Thessalonians 3:8).
We can stand firm because we know that Christ has already defeated the enemy of death and the grave, and He has conquered sin and Satan. We do not have to fight that battle; it was won on the cross. Our call is to stand firm against a defeated enemy. We stand firm because Christ has already obtained the victory for us.
By standing firm and upholding the Truth of the Gospel, we remain focused on the things that matter most. But when we waver, we are likely to bicker over the minor issues. In the church at Philippi, two women were engaged in an ongoing argument over a trivial matter. Paul wrote, "I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel" (Philippians 4:2, 3).
Paul knew their stubborn insistence on their own opinions would steal their joy and lead to destabilization in their spiritual walks. He knew their arguments would lead to bitterness, vengefulness, and hostility. But when we live in harmony with others, our hearts are better able to focus on Christ.
We can protect our spiritual condition by remaining joyful in the Lord. When we place all of our sufficiency in Christ, we will naturally want to rejoice. We experience sufficiency in the Lord when we routinely spend time with Him in order to know His character, His Word, His promises, and His will for our lives. Then our hearts will be focused on godly things, instead of our tendencies toward gossip, pride, selfishness, and bitterness.
Paul further encourages us to remain faithful to God in prayer. "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6, 7).
We feed our stabilizing joy by filling our minds with godly thoughts. Whatever fills our minds will come out in our actions and decisions. If we focus on our bitterness, our self-pity, our selfish desires, we will become miserable people. Paul encouraged the Philippians, "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you" (Philippians 4:8, 9).
How stable is your spiritual walk today? If you have allowed your joy to diminish, you are in danger of spiritual instability. Pray for the Holy Spirit's guidance to show you areas that have been weakened in your spiritual life, and ask Him for the power to strengthen your relationship with Christ.
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!"
Philippians 4:4
****
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Re: Leading the Way ~Michael Youssef

Post  Admin on Tue 26 Feb 2013, 4:52 pm

Week of February 25
Making Joy a Priority
When was the last time you evaluated your priorities? Have you recently looked at your commitments, goals, and checkbook to list your assets and liabilities? When we do not discipline ourselves to stay focused on our eternal priorities, we can easily become bogged down by earthly concerns that are unimportant.
When the apostle Paul was in prison, he took the time to evaluate his own life. Before Paul became a Christian, he was a Pharisee with prestige, power, and wealth. After he began His ministry for Christ, Paul endured frequent attacks, imprisonments, and hunger as he traveled from town to town. Yet because Paul kept his focus on Christ, he found a joy that gave him a heavenly perspective on life and priorities:
"But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, 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 and is by faith" (Philippians 3:7-9).
As Paul discovered, the things we consider assets in this life often turn out to be our liabilities because they keep us from depending on God. What is the object of your confidence? Is it your intelligence, your financial security, your social network? None of these things will bring us indescribable joy—only dependence on Christ's strength can bring us joy. We must value our relationship with Christ and treasure our gift of joy in order to experience joy at its fullest.
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 pressing 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" (Hebrews 12:1).
Paul encouraged the Philippians, "But one thing I d 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.
If you have been struggling with finding your joy, spend some time today examining your priorities. Is Christ first in your life? Are you placing all of your confidence in Him alone? Be honest with yourself as you rank your priorities on the lines below. Which are your assets and which are your liabilities as God sees them? Ask God for forgiveness if He is not your first priority. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you reprioritize your life so that God is first and your joy may be full.
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
James 1:2-4
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Re: Leading the Way ~Michael Youssef

Post  Admin on Mon 18 Feb 2013, 10:08 pm

Week of Feb. 18
Joy Through Christ
On the surface, happiness and joy are similar; they are both uplifting and blissful experiences. Yet there are more differences than similarities. Happiness is a self-focused emotion tied directly to getting what we want. Joy is a spiritual result of our focus on God. It is tied to our salvation and our walk with Christ. Happiness is temporary at best; it is subjective to our circumstances and moods. Joy is eternally-based and can be ours even in our deepest valleys. Happiness quickly leaves us when we fail to attain our goals or we become bored with our prizes. Joy is from God and therefore can never be stolen from us.
Joy is given through the Holy Spirit the moment we accept Christ as our Savior. As Christians, our joy can never be completely destroyed, although there are many pitfalls which can significantly diminish it. Joy is a permanent gift from God, but it also a gift for which we must take responsibility for nurturing and protecting on a daily basis.
We can always find joy in our salvation, because our salvation is assured. Paul told the Philippians, "In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:4-6). The God who gave us salvation never begins anything that He will not complete. When He saved us, He saved us completely, eternally and forever. Jesus said, "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand" (John 10:28).
You may have heard the acronym for J-O-Y representing how to gain joy through our priorities: Jesus, Others, then Yourself. But consider this twist: J stands for Jesus, Y stands for You, but O stands for Zero. When absolutely nothing comes between Jesus and You, you will find joy. At the center of our joy is our relationship with God; anything that stands between us and our Savior will corrode our joy.
One of the greatest threats to our joy is disobedience to God's Word. When we live in disobedience, we become a fruitless and joyless Christian. Jesus warned against fruitlessness: "No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:4, 5).
We also face pitfalls to joy through people and circumstances in our lives. We may encounter malicious people who resent our beliefs. We may lose our jobs, our best friends, or our homes. Happiness may be out of reach—but joy is readily available if we know how to nurture it.
Paul was no stranger to experiencing hardships. He endured harsh criticism, prison, and near-death situations. He was not always happy, but he had found the secret to maintaining his joy. He remained focused on Christ instead of his circumstances. Rather than resenting his obstacles, Paul was able to say, "But what does it matter? The important thing is that…Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that…what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance" (Philippians 1:18, 19).
Joy does not mean that we will not experience pain or sadness or frustration when everything seems to go wrong. But unlike happiness, we can find joy in the midst of our suffering. When Christ is at the center of our lives, when His glory is our goal, when we refuse to be intimidated by life's obstacles, and when we live totally for Christ in obedience, we will find a joy that will carry us through the darkest of valleys.
Have you covered up your joy with the anxieties and distractions of this world? Have you taken you eyes off of Christ and your relationship with Him? Are you ignoring the convictions of the Holy Spirit to repent of certain sins in your life? If so, seek God's forgiveness today. Pray for the Holy Spirit's help to overcome the obstacles to living a joyful life.
"For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit."
Romans 14:17
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Re: Leading the Way ~Michael Youssef

Post  Admin on Mon 11 Feb 2013, 10:37 pm

Week of Feb. 11
Contentment in Fishing
As we learn to overcome our discontentment by remaining in constant fellowship with Christ, we also realize that our joy in Christ is far too exciting to keep to ourselves. In thankfulness and delight, we want to share with others what God has done in our lives.
In the gospel of Matthew, we see Jesus gathering His disciples. "As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. ‘Come, follow me,' Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men.' At once they left their nets and followed him. Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him" (Matthew 4:18-22).
The men in this passage were successful fishermen, but Jesus had bigger plans for them. He said, "Come, follow me…and I will make you fishers of men" ( Matthew 4:19 ). Jesus did not expect that they would already know how to be fishers of men. He expected them to follow Him. He was asking them to abandon their mundane lives and work for the glory of God's kingdom. He sought their willingness to drop everything for Him. He asked these successful leaders to become His followers. He called these decision makers to trust His commands completely.
Today Jesus is still asking His followers to let go of whatever may be hindering our work for God's kingdom, whether it is our opinions, our ideas, or our needs. He is seeking our obedience and willingness to serve Him wholeheartedly. When we witness to nonbelievers as we live a life of contentment in Christ, God can use our testimony for His glory.
Christ does not demand a perfect knowledge of witnessing methods, but he does demand our service and obedience. He knows that our lifestyle will speak volumes alongside our words. Paul told the Corinthians, "Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else" (2 Corinthians 9:13).
As fishers of men, we need to remember that the fish around us in the world are constantly watching us. They notice how we act, live and behave. When we do not allow God's transforming power to work in us daily, we have no bait to lure them. Can you imagine what nonbelievers think as they see Christians full of bitterness, anger, jealousy, envy, and gossip? Who wants that kind of life? If they see us as hypocrites full of criticism, the fish will swim the other way. In order to be fishers of men, we need to model ourselves after Jesus. We need to obey Him and listen to Him and follow His directions.
Why did Jesus ask His disciples to become fishers of men? Why not hunters or harvesters? Jesus was addressing them in the context of how they lived—they were fishermen. Jesus was asking them to take the talents and skills of their trade and apply them toward working for God's kingdom. Regardless of whom we are or what we do, God wants us to use our resources for His glory. He wants us to view our neighborhoods and our schools and our workplaces as our fishing ponds.
What is hindering you from becoming a fisher of men? Do you think you need to be perfectly prepared with all the right answers and the latest witnessing techniques? Jesus never said He only calls the experts—He calls every Christian to witness for Him. He just wants our willingness—and the Holy Spirit will take care of the rest. Commit to God today to become a willing servant of Christ.
"‘Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.'"
Mark 10:43-45
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Re: Leading the Way ~Michael Youssef

Post  Admin on Mon 04 Feb 2013, 11:45 am

Week of Feb. 4
The Detours of Discontent
Why does it seem so easy to go from living the abundant life that Christ promised to living a life that is bleak and frustrating? How do our hearts get disengaged from these spiritual activities, leaving us to simply go through the motions of attending church and reading the Bible? Where did we go wrong? How can we find our way back?
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. The first detour is an unwillingness to confront our weaknesses. We all have weaknesses which 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.
Another dangerous detour to contentment is legalism. Legalism elevates our rules to the same importance as God's commandments, whether the rules are moralistic guidelines, worship etiquette, or additional conditions to salvation. Yet no matter how well-intentioned these manmade 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, and every time we fail 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 who we associate with. 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).
The pitfall of pride can also lead us away from contentment. 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 as we lose focus on bringing glory to God in all things. Pride arrogantly shifts our confidence in God to confidence in ourselves. Yet as imperfect humans, we will fail ourselves. Our focus on ourselves will only lead to discontentment. The Bible tells us, "But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble'" (James 4:6).
A fourth 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.
The gospel of Mark 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, ‘I tell you the truth, 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'" (Mark 12:41-44).
Have you experienced a detour in your Christian walk? Are you allowing your weaknesses to drive you further from God? Has a legalistic mindset shifted your focus from God's grace to manmade rituals and rules? Are you allowing pride to determine your own path? Has your generosity crumbled? Seek God's forgiveness today for whatever has caused you to stumble in your relationship with Him. Ask for His help to overcome that roadblock and to lead you back toward contentment in Him alone.
"But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ."
Philippians 3:7
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Re: Leading the Way ~Michael Youssef

Post  Admin on Mon 28 Jan 2013, 11:19 am

Week of Jan. 28

Coming Home to Contentment

Do you feel like you are missing out on something in life? Do you feel discontent or disappointed with your circumstances? We often try to find contentment by making surface changes in our lives—switching jobs, moving to a new city, beginning a new relationship—but nothing seems to work. We fail because we try to apply human solutions to a spiritual problem.

In the Bible we see two examples of discontentment in the lives of Cain and the prodigal son. Although they both experienced restlessness, their responses were completely different. Cain allowed his misery to drive himself further away from God; the prodigal son allowed his misery to lead him back home.

Cain's restlessness began with jealousy toward his brother Abel. "In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast" (Genesis 4:3-5). Abel remembered his parents' teaching about the cost of sin. He remembered that God required an animal sacrifice. Cain wanted to please God in his own way and gave God a grain sacrifice. Perhaps Cain's sacrifice was just as costly as Abel's, but the price was not what was important. What mattered was obedience to God's commands, and Cain did not follow God's requirements.

When God rebuked Cain for his inadequate sacrifice, Cain responded with a renewed fury and hatred toward his brother. Cain could have used his failure to turn his pride and willfulness into submission to God; instead he further rebelled and killed his brother. God let Cain remain in his discontentment and said, "You will be a restless wanderer on the earth" (Genesis 4:12).

Running from God will never alleviate our problems - or quell our guilt, or quiet our consciences. Running from God will never cure our restlessness and discontent—it will only make our situations worse. Only running toward God will bring us healing, restoration, joy and peace.

In contrast to Cain, the prodigal son shows us how God can use our discontentment to turn our hearts back to Him. Read Luke 15:11-32. The prodigal son was also restless and discontent. He also ran away from his father. Yet instead of allowing his misery to drive him further and further away, the prodigal son realizes that running away is not the answer. Unlike Cain, 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 men 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 men'" (Luke 15:17-19).

Because the prodigal son 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? Will you become like Cain who used his own solutions to try to solve his spiritual problems? Will you allow your envy and pride to fuel your rebellion against God's plan for your life? Or will you treat your spiritual problem of discontentment with God's spiritual answers? Will you find the courage to repent of your rebellion and come back home to the Father?

If you are tired of wandering and searching, confess to God today your restlessness and discontentment. Ask him to forgive your pride and stubbornness. Thank Him for His unfailing mercy and His willingness to forgive the repentant heart.

"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise."
Psalm 51:17

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Re: Leading the Way ~Michael Youssef

Post  Admin on Mon 21 Jan 2013, 11:03 pm

Week of Jan. 21

From Covetousness to Content

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 look to the past, yearning to recapture your youth or wishing you could have prevented your mistakes?

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 covetousness and greed and envy. Covetousness says, "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; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions'" (Luke 12:15). If our self-value is based on our title, net worth or zip code, then we never find contentment. There will always be something better than what we have—something newer and nicer. There will always be someone who is more successful and attractive and smarter than us.

Read Psalm 73. The psalmist fell into this danger of comparing himself to others. He succumbed to envy and self-pity. He began to doubt his godly lifestyle. "For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong.…This is what the wicked are like—always carefree, they increase in wealth. Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence. All day long I have been plagued; I have been punished every morning" (Psalm 73:3, 4, 12-14).

As he began to see his circumstances from the eternal viewpoint of God, his outlook improved. "When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny....Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds" (Psalm 73:16, 17, 27, 28)

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 covetousness to contentment. If you are finding yourself discontent with your circumstances, spend time in prayer today asking the Spirit to show you the sources of your discontent. Pray for God to show you how He views your circumstances and how He wants you to respond to them.

"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'"
Hebrews 13:5

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Re: Leading the Way ~Michael Youssef

Post  Admin on Mon 14 Jan 2013, 10:49 pm

Week of Jan. 14

Making a Comeback

Do you live in a state of regret over how your life has turned out? Do you wonder how things would be different today if you had only followed God's path yesterday? If you have missed God's opportunities in your life because of fear, timidity, lack of faith, or even apathy, you may be tempted to keep punishing yourself for your mistakes.

God does not want you to feel constant regret and misery. He wants you to be forgiven, restored, and renewed. With God, it is never too late to be used for His kingdom. The same specific opportunities may no longer be available to you, but you can still be effective for Christ. He wants you to serve Him willingly and obediently today—no matter how you may have failed in the past.

We can find inspiration in the believers in Philadelphia, who wholeheartedly pursued God's opportunities for them. They faithfully served God's kingdom, and Jesus commended them for their commitment: "I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name" (Revelation 3:8).

The city of Philadelphia was the crossroads of the world and called the Gateway to the East. The Philadelphians sought to use that gateway to propagate the Greek culture and language to the rest of the world. They had a great mission for themselves—but Jesus had a far greater one for the believers in that city. Jesus honored the Philadelphian church with unique opportunities to spread His Gospel.

The believers in Philadelphia had many obstacles and weaknesses, but instead of neglecting their opportunities, they embraced them. They did not want to miss out on anything that God placed before them. They would not ignore God's open door. They would not trample upon or squander the rare opportunities that Jesus was giving them to spread the Gospel message. They knew they were in a unique position in that gateway city, and they did not take that privilege lightly.

The church in Philadelphia knew that serving God is not a chore or a burden—it is a gift and a blessing. Because of their faithfulness and loyalty, Jesus gave them an opportunity to do great things for God and He promised great rewards: "Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name" (Revelation 3:12).

Jesus is also calling today's church to serve Him. He wants each of us to share our faith with others. He will provide us with the right people with open hearts who are ready to hear the Gospel message. He will open doors that no one else can shut.

Before we can share the Good News we must have the spiritual sensitivity to perceive those open doors. We must be ready to act in faith when God gives us an opportunity. We must have the spiritual eyes to watch for His open doors. We must be willing to serve God wholeheartedly in whatever He calls us to do.

What open doors has God placed in your life? What spiritually starving people live on your street or work in your office? How long will those doors be open to share the Gospel with them? If you have neglected God's opportunities, turn back to Him today—it is not too late to serve Him.

"Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord."
Romans 12:11

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Re: Leading the Way ~Michael Youssef

Post  Admin on Mon 07 Jan 2013, 9:48 pm

Week of Jan. 7

Standing Up for Truth

The Truth of Christ has not changed since before time began. God is constant and true; He does not change. Yet throughout history, humanity has tried to transform God into its own image. When people do not like something in God's Word, they try to twist it to fit their own needs and agendas. When people try to understand God through their worldly views instead of through the Holy Spirit's discernment, they are easily fooled by Satan's lies.

All around us we see the consequences of these deceitful hearts and judgment errors. We see the Gospel being watered down for the sake of appeasing the culture. We see Christians allowing the name of Christ to be trampled and ridiculed. We allow false teaching into our churches and homes. But how many of us stand up for God's Truth? How many of us confront those lies and false doctrines? How many of us defend Christ's name when we hear it mocked?

We may follow Christ in our hearts. We may boldly profess His name in the company of other believers. We may worship Christ in the security of our church pews. But how do we react when confronted by our worldly culture?

The church in Pergamum also endured intense social pressure to walk away from the Truth. On the outside, the church seemed to be following God's commandments. Inwardly, they allowed the culture to weaken their courage. They began tolerating the customs of their pagan society. They permitted false teachings to infiltrate their church. They remained followers of Christ but chose to blend in with society instead of standing for His Truth.

While Jesus encourages them in their suffering, He admonishes them for tolerating what they know to be false doctrines and teachings: "I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city—where Satan lives. Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam…[and]…the Nicolaitans" (Revelation 2:13-15).

Jesus knew the Pergamum believers faced intense attacks because of their faith. He knew that Satan held a stronghold in their city. Jesus was aware of their situation, just as He is aware of everything that we face today. He knows it is not easy to feel the pressure of a godless society. Yet the world's opposition does not excuse us from speaking against the lies of our culture. Jesus still expects us to stand up for His name and His Truth.

Even though we are called to stand firm for the Gospel, we should not be surprised when the world rejects our stance on Truth. "You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood" (1 John 4:4-6).

We can praise God that He does not expect us to make this stand on our own. He will be right there with us, no matter what persecutions we face. He has given us every tool and weapon we need in our spiritual fight. "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes…so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand" (Ephesians 6:10, 11, 13).

If we continue on the road of compromise, eventually we will face serious consequences. Jesus is appealing to each of us to change our lifestyles before it is too late. He knows the pressures and temptations we face, and He wants to give us the strength we need to stand against these attacks. He wants to give us courage to denounce sins, errors, and false teachings. He wants us to speak up when we see people twist the Gospel message.

Pray for God's strength to stand up for Truth. Pray for wisdom for the words to say and the right times to say them. Pray for His comfort and protection as your face the enemy. Commit today to stand up for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

"You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near."
James 5:8

****
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Re: Leading the Way ~Michael Youssef

Post  Admin on Mon 31 Dec 2012, 11:38 pm

Week of Dec. 31
Refined by Fire
What happens to precious metal when it is refined by fire? It is purified and made even more beautiful. Throughout the Bible we see images of God's people being refined. In the New Testament, Peter encourages us, "In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed" (1 Peter 1:6, 7).
The believers in Smyrna faced intense persecution, but it served as a refinery for their faith. The church in Smyrna not only followed the Truth, but they loved Jesus wholeheartedly. They were a people known for their devotion to the Lord. The pagan society hated these Christians because of this faithfulness. These believers suffered persecution, intimidation, and hatred by the culture around them. Yet instead of losing hope, the Smyrna church grew in its love and dedication to Christ.
As today's church faces increased persecution, we can gain comfort and assurance from Jesus' words in His letter to Smyrna: "I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death" (Revelation 2:9-11).
Like the church in Smyrna, we live in a culture that worships anything and anyone except the one true God. While the world preaches tolerance, it is intolerant of one thing: the Truth of the Gospel of Christ. Satan is using the same tactics today that he did two thousand years ago. He tries to intimidate and frighten us. He knows we do not want to be rejected. He knows we do not want to be hated. His goal is to silence us about speaking about Jesus Christ.
But no matter what opposition we face, Jesus will remain with us. He knows the false accusations against us. He knows the price we pay for integrity and faithfulness. He knows that the world hates us because of our love for Him. He knows that Satan will try to intimidate us into silence and compromise.
This is why Jesus encourages His church, "Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer" (Revelation 2:10). Nothing can banish our fears like the power of the resurrected Jesus Christ! Jesus can give us confidence and strength in the midst of trouble, hatred, and persecution. He gives us comfort and understanding in our afflictions, because He has experienced far worse than we can imagine. He holds us in the very palms of His hands during our darkest hours. He can turn around the evil working against us in order to work for good. As Paul explained his own suffering for Christ, "Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel" (Philippians 1:12).
Persecution and suffering are never easy, but they will eventually come to each of us in some form. Are you allowing God to use your persecutions for the advancement of the Gospel? Or are the devil's schemes winning by keeping you silent? When confronted with taunts and sneers, do you distance yourself from Jesus or does your love for Him grow? Pray for willingness to allow Christ to refine you today.
"Many are the foes who persecute me, but I have not turned from your statutes."
Psalm 119:157
****
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We are Leading The Way for people living in spiritual darkness, at home and around the world, to discover the light of Christ as we passionately proclaim uncompromising Truth. Visit us today at www.leadingtheway.org
Listen to Michael Youssef on Today's Broadcast of "Leading The Way" at OnePlace.com

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