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Leading the Way ~Michael Youssef

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Re: Leading the Way ~Michael Youssef

Post  Admin on Mon 24 Dec 2012, 11:51 am

Week of Dec. 24

Our Greatest Call

The church in Ephesus had many good qualities, yet they were lacking in one significant area: their love for Jesus Christ. They actively served Him. They taught biblical Truth. They refused to give in to the permissive culture around them. They endured hardships in the name of Christ. They were busy, committed workers for the kingdom.

Jesus commends them for their hard labor and endurance: "I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary" (Revelation 2:2, 3).

Yet, in their sincere efforts to serve Christ, they forgot to spend time loving and adoring Him. They overlooked their prayer time with Him. They no longer worshiped God wholeheartedly. They were so distracted and bogged down by the work of God, they neglected their relationship with Him. Jesus warns them: "Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love" (Revelation 2:4).

Yes, Jesus wants our obedience. He wants to see us actively serving Him. He wants us to follow the Truth and shun false teachings. He wants us to remain dedicated to Him even in the face of persecution. However, upholding the Truth cannot replace our love for Him.

Throughout the Bible we read of God's love for us—and He wants us to return that love with the same fervor and intensity. When the Pharisees asked Jesus what was the greatest commandment, Jesus replied, "‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment" (Matthew 22:37, 38).

Believing the right things and doing the right things are vital components of our Christian faith—we must continue walking in the Truth. But loving God must be at the root of everything.

How often do you stop to adore Jesus? Do you wait for Sunday worship service because you're just too busy during the week? Do you neglect spending time reading His love letter to humanity because you're consumed with projects and commitments? Are you allowing the busyness of the work of God to supplant your relationship with Him?

If you have let your relationship with Christ fade, follow His words to the Ephesians: "Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God" (Revelation 2:5, 7).

If you have ceased to love Him like you did when you first accepted Him as Savior, recalling the time when you were overwhelmed by the love of Christ for you. Recall the time when you were joyous over the forgiveness you received for your sins. Recall how you wanted to spend all of your time adoring and worshiping and thanking Him.

Then identify whatever is robbing you of your ability to love Jesus with all your heart. Reverse your course and return to that time when loving God was your primary focus. Recapture the time when you loved being in the presence of the Lord Jesus. Recapture the time when your love for Jesus occupied your thoughts, your desires, and your decisions.

Pray for the Lord's help to remain in a state of love and adoration for Him. Pray that others will see your continuous love for Christ and they will turn their attention to Him.

"To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."
Mark 12:33

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

Post  Admin on Tue 18 Dec 2012, 1:40 pm

Week of Dec. 17
Your Spiritual Instruction Manual
What happens when we do not follow instruction manuals? Typically we become lost and confused. But this disorder is only temporary. When we choose to ignore the greatest instruction manual—the Bible—we are lost for eternity. The Bible contains God's plan of salvation, and without it we have no hope of reconciliation.
This instruction manual also contains directions for daily living. It shows us how to love God, how to treat other people, and how to become testimonies for Christ. Yet we cannot haphazardly read the Bible and expect to gain its full wisdom. There are some basic guidelines to properly studying God's Word:
We must be careful to study the Bible in the context of the whole passage so we will not misinterpret God's purpose and meaning. We cannot randomly pull out verses that seem to fit what we're searching for.
While the truths and histories of the Bible are to be taken literally, we must also recognize its usage of metaphors. When Jesus said, "If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out" (Mark 9:47), He was not instructing us to physically blind ourselves.
We also need to understand the historical and cultural settings of the Bible. We need to discern what is mandated for all believers and what was unique for certain individuals. When Elijah confronted Ahab and Jezebel, he did not set a precedent for all of us to literally call for fire from heaven when standing up for righteousness.
When purchasing a Bible, look for a version that is both true to the original meaning, yet also easy enough to understand so that it encourages study. Perhaps also acquire a concordance, Bible dictionary, a chronological Bible, or a commentary series for a fuller understanding.
We must be on guard against reading what we want into Scripture. We cannot randomly flip through the Bible and declare that whatever page we land on will provide us our answers. We cannot pull verses out of context to support our false ideas. The Bible is the infallible Word of God, not a tool to twist for our own purposes.
We will gain the most benefit from the Bible when we read it with the Holy Spirit's guidance. Without His help, we may overlook key insights, misunderstand meanings, or ignore the rebukes in a passage.
We must also apply what we read in our daily lives. When we simply read the words but do not follow them, then we are missing out on the transforming power of God's Word. "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does" (James 1:22-25).
As you begin studying God's Word today, ask yourself three questions regarding the passage: What does the Bible say to the original reader? What does the Bible mean by what it says? How can this apply to me today?
Pray for a hunger to study God's Word and for the Holy Spirit's discernment as you read the words. Pray for a desire to share what you learn with others and to use the Bible's transforming power to be a light in this darkened world.
"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path."
Psalm 119:105
****
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Re: Leading the Way ~Michael Youssef

Post  Admin on Mon 10 Dec 2012, 7:58 pm

Week of Dec. 10

The Living and Active Word

Imagine that you have just received a love letter from your beloved. What would you do with it? Would you open it, read it, reread it, and keep it someplace safe? Or would you leave it on a shelf, unopened and collecting dust?

The Bible is God's love letter to humanity, telling us about Himself and how He loved us so much that He sent His Son to redeem us. Through the Scriptures, God reveals His heart to us; we can learn about His goodness and love through His letters to us. We should treasure God's Word as we would a cherished love letter that captures our heart.

The Bible has the power like a sharp sword to pierce through to our very hearts and speak to us like no friend, teacher, or other book can: "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12).

The Bible is not merely words on pages in a book, but it is God's living Word. These words contain God's authority. These words contain God's power. These words contain God's strength. When we read the Bible—and believe and obey it—Scripture has the ability to stretch us on God's operating table, to cut out the tumors of sin and then to heal and restore us.

When we are stretched out on God's operating table, everything about us is revealed. "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account" (Hebrews 4:13). The Bible points to our blind spots - things we cannot see on our own. We may think we are doing fine spiritually, but then the Bible shows us where we are lacking.

The Word of God is sharp like a surgeon's scalpel, capable of cutting out the sin and disobedience in our lives. Surgery is never easy, but it is necessary for good health. The double-edged sword of God's Word can cut straight to our hearts and souls. It penetrates deep into the inner recesses of our spiritual being. It can judge our motives and attitudes, and all of our hidden thoughts. We may try to deceive others and even ourselves, but we cannot deceive God. He knows everything about us.

Yet after having been cut open, God does not leave us there to bleed. He heals us and restores us. He wants to fulfill us and bless us. God not only uses His Word to rebuke us but also to enrich us and pour His grace upon us.

As the psalmist declares, "The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb" (Psalm 19:7-10).

But God does not want us to keep our renewed spirits to ourselves. As we allow God's Word to transform us, we become better equipped to do His work. "From infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:15-17).

Pray for the Holy Spirit to remove your blind spots as you read the Word of God. Allow Him to convict you of your shortcomings so that you can repent and be restored. As He renews your spirit, begin to turn your thoughts outward to sharing His love with others.

"Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me."
Psalm 119:133

****
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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 03 Dec 2012, 9:38 pm

Week of December 3

The Perfect Antidote

One of the greatest hindrances to accepting God's plan of salvation is the world's post-modern view that truth is not absolute but is determined by individual opinions. This mentality that "what is true for you is not necessarily what is true for me" is in direct contrast to the biblical Truth that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven.

We live in a world where God has been marginalized, and human wisdom has been elevated. Truth has ceased to be an absolute because every opinion is equally right. Outward appearance is more important than inward commitment. Emotions have overruled logic and intellect. Authority has lost its power. This post-modern thinking has permeated our literature, education system, courts, businesses, and even our churches.

We cannot combat the constant bombardment of this misguided philosophy without spending time in the Word of God. We cannot effectively witness to this world when we are trapped by its ways of thinking. We cannot offer the world Truth when we ourselves are inclined to see truth as a gray area. Only by immersing ourselves in the Bible can we begin to see clearly.

The Bible stands against the mentality of this world, and often that is difficult for people to accept. The Bible tells us that sin is lawlessness and an affront to a Holy, righteous God. The world says that "sins" are simply failing to live up to one's potential. The Bible tells us that immorality is a rebellion against God. The world says that individual choices are right for the individual. The Bible says that God's Word is the final authority, while people would prefer to believe they are the final arbiters.

Yet people's opinions do not change the mind or essence of God. The Bible warns against the world's distorted thinking in the book of Proverbs: "There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death" (Proverbs 14:12). Human thinking leads to suffering, but God's Word points the way to everlasting life.

As Christians we must be on guard against worldly thinking. "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever" (1 John 2:15-17).

The Word of God will strengthen us against the current culture. Only through constant prayer and Bible study can we recognize the will and mind of God: "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will" (Romans 12:2).

When we share the Gospel with nonbelievers, we cannot present the Bible as simply an inspirational collection of stories. We must convey the literal, inerrant Truth of God's plan of salvation and His call to humanity to follow Him alone.

We all have a choice between life and death. This world offers only death, but the words of the Bible show us the way to life. Commit to reading and living the Word of God to not only change your life, but the lives of those around you.

"For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope."
Romans 15:4

****
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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 26 Nov 2012, 9:44 pm

Week of November 26

Remaining Faithful to the End

As Christians, we know we cannot fall from grace, but we do fall into grace! God's grace is an unearned, unmerited gift to the believer and thankfully, God never reneges on His gift to those who truly believe.

What can we do to stay faithful to our God who loves us so generously and freely? We can purpose to be informed, insulated, and involved. Jude 1: 17-25 tells believers how to remain faithful in their walk with the Lord. The chapter ends with God's exciting promise to keep us safely by His side.

Read Jude 1: 17-25

Jude first urges us to be informed (verse 19). When you see those who cause division in the body or arrogantly set themselves up above the Word of God, be on guard. Don't be taken in by smooth talk or new twists. Don't accept anything as a substitute for grace. Test everything by the Word of God.

Secondly, take steps to insulate yourself against unbelief. "Build yourself up in your most holy faith." (verse 20). Devote the time it takes to develop intimacy with God's Word. Books and sermons cannot take the place of time reading the Bible.

Linger with God in prayer. Do not allow anything, not even good things like family or ministry, to take the place of time with God. If you neglect Him, you will find yourself spiritually dry. You will not lose your salvation but you may miss out on some of God's blessings.

When the prodigal son wandered away from his father, he did not lose the father's love, but he suffered. He missed out on the many blessings of living closely and intimately with his father. The prodigal forfeited the joy of daily experiencing his father's love. When you spend time away from the Father, what effects does that have on you, your emotions, or your choices?

Also, insulate yourself from those who knew truth but have turned their backs on it (I Corinthians 5:12-13). Instead, Jude says in verse 22 to get involved with non-believers. "Be merciful to those who doubt." Do not angrily preach the truth, but show them the same mercy and love Christ did. Prayerfully speak the truth in love.

Is your heart moved by the many unsaved in the world around you? Are you involved?

Jude's epistle ends with the best part, God's part, in keeping us safe. Verses 24-25 offer an uplifting description of what God stands ready to do for believers: "To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore!"

What is worrying you today? Your finances or health? Politics or breaking news? A relationship with a family member? A lost friend? The Lord will sustain you in your circumstances. Your hand is in God's hand. Like the good father He is, He will not let you go.

Remember that Jesus said in John 6:39 that it is "the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day." One day, He will present you to His Father in Heaven. Until then, He will see you all the way home.

Praise Him for the promise He gives you for your future with Him in Heaven and for the protection and companionship that is yours now as you walk out your faith.

"To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen."-- Jude 1:24-25

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

Post  Admin on Tue 20 Nov 2012, 12:17 am

Week of Nov. 19

A Prayer of Humility

Our world focuses on an unhealthy elevation of self. Yet the Bible tells us, "The Lord sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground" (Psalm 147:6). A healthy concept of self is rooted in who we are in Jesus Christ, not in our own accomplishments or successes. God wants us to acknowledge Him, not ourselves, in all things.

When God sent His Son to earth, He did not choose someone of wealth or power to become Christ's mother. He did not search out the most beautiful or the most intelligent or the most charming woman. God chose Mary based on her character and humility.

Just like in Mary's time, people today seek wealth and power, yet God honors the humble. People may cower before the strong and the mighty, but God uses the weak and the desperate. People may be impressed by culture and class, but God blesses those who are broken in spirit. People may be eager to bow to celebrities, but God despises the haughty and the proud. People may worship at the shrine of materialism, but God is looking for the faithful and the contrite.

Proverbs tells us, "He mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble" (3:34). We read in Psalms that, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise" (51:17).

Mary understood her place and purpose in this world. She knew any grace and favor she found were a gift of the Lord, not something engineered by her own abilities. In her famous prayer, often called The Magnificat, Mary humbly praises God for choosing her to give birth to His Son.

"And Mary said: ‘My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers" (Luke 1:46-55).

Even though her unwed pregnancy could have led to execution in her society, she praised God. She maintained confidence in God alone and rejoiced at the opportunity to serve Him. She did not focus on herself but on magnifying the Lord. She praised Him for His mercy and favor, not her own strengths. She acknowledged His faithfulness, not her own accomplishments. Mary's deepest concern was the glory of God, not her own safety or circumstances.

How humble is your heart before God? Do you continue to claim credit for your successes or do you give glory to God for everything you have? Spend time praising Him today for His faithfulness and generosity. Acknowledge that everything you have comes from Him alone. "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up" (James 4:10).

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves."
Philippians 2:3

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

Post  Admin on Mon 12 Nov 2012, 9:21 pm

Week of November 12

Guarding Truth and Freedom

Satan is working overtime trying to destroy the church from the inside out. The very foundational beliefs of the church are crumbling today, and the first casualty has been the truth.

I Timothy 4:1 says that "in later times, some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons." Similarly, Jude's epistle sounds an alarm, warning the church of the consequences to those who allow themselves to disregard God's truth for some other version.

Read Jude 1:3-7.

Verse 5 tells how the Israelites forfeited great blessings when they did not trust God's promise to deliver them safely to the Promised Land. Caleb and Joshua, however, stood on God's promises and were allowed to enter.

Jude also tells of the fallen angels who lost their lofty positions when they believed Lucifer's enticing lies.

Finally, Jude shows the grief and destruction that came to Sodom and Gomorrah when they winked at sin, carelessly disregarding scriptural truth.

Matthew 7:15 tells us that false prophets are really wolves in sheep's clothing, sent by Satan to trip up the faithful. Naturally, believers who have confessed, repented and accepted Jesus Christ as the only means of atoning for sin will not lose their salvation. Still, Satan can fill their lives with pain, confusion, and grief if he is allowed to infiltrate the church.

What sins has our culture become casual about? Is there an area of temptation in your life that you have not energetically addressed as sin?

In addition to knowing God's Word, Christians must fight against apathy. Commitment to learn God's Word and live by it cannot be taken lightly by a believer. Caring about what God cares about is a step toward this healing.

Certainly, God is not apathetic about us. Isaiah 49:15-16 offers a loving promise: "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you. See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me."

He affirms this in Joshua 1:5 when He says He will never leave us nor forsake us.

Finally, do not be casual about attacks on truth for they are attacks on your freedom as an individual as well as on our nation. Truth and freedom are inextricably linked. Many Christians are concerned about the systematic loss of religious and political freedom in our times. History has shown that as the church goes, so goes the society. Jesus said it clearly in John 8:32: "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

What might be the consequences to our nation if Christians falter in fighting for God's truth to prevail? Is God's truth an important factor when you make business, financial, or political decisions? What do you need to do to help guard truth and freedom? Develop more intimacy with the Lord in prayer? Learn more about the truths in your Bible?

God is sufficient to give you wisdom and power in these areas if you only ask. Pray that God will strengthen you to contend for the faith and for truth in your home, work, and community. Prayerfully approach your decisions as a family member, neighbor, and citizen.

"The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons."--1 Timothy 4:1

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Re: Leading the Way ~Michael Youssef

Post  Admin on Mon 05 Nov 2012, 7:11 pm

Week of November 5

Separating Truth from Lies

What are the things in your life worth fighting for? In the book of Jude, Jesus' half brother writes to believers to urge them to fight against an invasion of lies that were invading the church. Jude knew that Christians had to be ready to do battle against unbiblical teaching in order to keep the church pure.

This warning is just as relevant today as mainline churches dilute Biblical Truth to make it more appealing, user friendly, and comfortable. Sin is defined as a ‘lifestyle choice' and those who cling to God's Truth are labeled intolerant. However, only God's truth is valid, offering eternal life and giving one the power to live life victoriously now.

To be effective against false teaching, you must first know and believe the Truth. Stop and take a moment to read Jude 1: 1-24.

God is the author and source of all truth. Some churches, however, are flying the banner of man-made theology and it is attracting hordes of people by blurring the lines of truth. The message is intentionally kept ambiguous in order not to alienate anyone who might find Biblical teachings challenging or counter to their lifestyle. This new version of the church is adapting the Christian faith to culture instead of calling the culture to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. God does not tolerate creative tampering with His truth. There is no truth but His truth.

There are no small exceptions to Biblical Truth. The consequence of tolerating ‘small exceptions' to the Truth is eventual and complete departure from the Truth. A half-truth is a lie. Downplaying God's Truth to appeal to unbelievers has eternal consequences.

Truth is objective not subjective. Truth is absolute and not a sliding scale. The truth is not open to be redefined to make it more winsome to new believers. The truth may not seem politically correct because it does not tell people who cling to false versions of the truth that they are safe in believing lies. Truth is not trendy. It is not your job to make the truth easier or more attractive. It is your job to love people by remaining faithful to the Truth; the Holy Spirit will do the rest.

The ultimate Truth that cannot be compromised is that Jesus is our eternal hope. There are not many paths to God. There is only one and that is through Jesus Christ, God's son, who died for us. Jesus himself told us in John 14:6: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." This truth is unequivocal, unambiguous, and unavoidable.



Have you ever been made to feel intolerant or unloving because you held fast to this truth? You are not alone. If you contend for the faith by lovingly telling others the undiluted truth they need, you may face criticism. What are you willing to endure in order to share truth with others in your workplace or neighborhood? Have you ever experienced rejection when you have tried to share the truth with someone?

Pray for the ability to understand and defend the truth. Ask God for discernment and for wisdom to live by His truth in a secular world.

"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."-- John 14:6

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Re: Leading the Way ~Michael Youssef

Post  Admin on Wed 31 Oct 2012, 12:37 pm

Week of October 29

The Fulfillment of God's Promise

Immediately following God's incredible, supernatural intervention on Mount Carmel, Elijah told King Ahab, ""Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain" (1 Kings 18:41) Ahab went down to eat and drink. Elijah climbed to the top of Mount Carmel where he knelt on the promise God had given him.

The promise God gave Elijah was a conditional promise. While Elijah was still in Zarephath with the widow, "the word of the LORD came to Elijah: ‘Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land.' So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab" (1 Kings 18:1-2). The Lord said He would send rain if Elijah presented himself to Ahab. At this point, it had not rained in three and a half years. There was a great famine and people were desperate. Elijah's obedience was the condition of the fulfillment of God's promise.

Some people today love to claim the promises of God while trying to escape the conditions. God must be true to His Word. If a promise comes with a condition, the condition must be completed so the promise can be fulfilled. God set these conditions, and He is not going to change them. An example is sowing and reaping. Paul wrote to the Galatians, "A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that naturewill reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life" (Galatians 6:7-8). It takes time for a crop to yield its harvest, but you will always reap what you sow. A man who sows corn does not reap cotton.

The promise God gave Elijah was a personal promise. It was given to Elijah for that time and place. Do not try to make a personal promise in Scripture a universal promise.

Elijah had a personal, conditional promise from God. He had fulfilled the conditions of the promise and was praying for its fulfillment—for rain. Elijah knew He was going to see the answer to His prayer. He knew God's character—God always tells the truth and He always keeps His promises. Still, he prayed persistently.

He sent his servant out seven times to check for rain. On his seventh trip, he saw a small cloud in the distance. Expectantly, Elijah alerted Ahab to take cover because rain was coming. Humbly, Elijah ran before the King all the way home—refusing to steal the glory of this victory from the Lord.

What are you doing with the conditional promises of God? Are you refusing to keep the condition of the promise? Or have you simply just given up?

Please examine your heart and ask the Lord to take away any hindrance to fulfilling the conditions of His promises or in persisting in prayer for the fulfillment of His promises. May the Lord empower you to never give up!

"The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."--2 Peter 3:9

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Re: Leading the Way ~Michael Youssef

Post  Admin on Mon 22 Oct 2012, 6:37 pm

Week of October 24

Unwavering Obedience

After three years of hiding, the timing was finally right for Elijah to do God's work publicly. Influenced by their pagan queen, God's people drifted even further away from Him. The Israelites were at a critical point as they began wavering between God and Baal.

Out of nowhere, King Ahab and Queen Jezebel found themselves confronted by the prophet, Elijah. On the slopes of Mount Carmel, in front of hundreds of pagan prophets and prophetesses, and in front of the ambivalent people of Israel, Elijah set the record straight.

The people of God had one foot in God's camp, and one in Baal's camp. But Elijah challenged them to follow only one: "‘How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him" (1 Kings 18:21b).

In the New Testament, James warned against this kind of wavering faith: "But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does" (James 1:6-8).

Many of us are lukewarm in our faith. We follow God, but we are also influenced by the world. We may believe in God—but not openly. We may seek God's will—but only follow it if it matches our own plans. In Revelation, we see God's disdain for this kind of lukewarm, wishy-washy faith: "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth" (3:15-16).

In the same way, Israel was at a crossroads. They had lost their awe of God. To them, He was a million miles away. They still claimed to follow Jehovah, but He was no longer a part of their daily lives. God knew that only a vivid reminder of His power would awaken these people from their spiritual sleep. So God used Elijah to bring about a turning point in their lives. With the odds stacked against him—one man standing against hundreds of pagan leaders—Elijah showed the strength of God.

In 1 Kings 18:22-29, the people watched a strange competition. Two bull sacrifices on two separate piles of firewood. Who would be able to supernaturally light the fire—Baal or God? Elijah, in full confidence of God's faithfulness, watched as the 450 pagan prophets tried to arouse their false god from his slumber. For hours and hours, the pagans danced around the altar, cried out to Baal and even cut themselves with swords. Then Elijah stepped forward.

Elijah looked at God's altar, which had been neglected by the people, and carefully repaired it with 12 stones, representing the 12 tribes of Israel. Then he drenched the firewood with water to show that what was about to happen would be a miracle from God, and not a trick on his part. As God set that wood ablaze, the people of Israel finally came to their senses. "When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, ‘The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!'" (1 Kings 18:39).

We have the resurrection power of Jesus Christ to build a fire within us, to cleanse and to purify us. When we face a crossroads in our spiritual walk, we can always turn to God for the right direction.

Have you become like the people of Israel who followed the Lord in name only, and are easily led away by the world? Is your own altar to the Lord in disrepair because it has been neglected? Repent today of the times when you have ignored or forgotten God. Seek His forgiveness for the times when you have followed the false gods of this world. Pray for the conviction to put Him first every day of your life.

"…..If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ."--Galatians 1:10

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Re: Leading the Way ~Michael Youssef

Post  Admin on Mon 15 Oct 2012, 9:27 pm

Week of October 15

Painful Surprises

As we study Elijah, we learn how he stepped out in faith to follow God—first to a secluded hiding place, then to a widow's home. God blessed Elijah's spiritual risk-taking by providing for his needs, but in the midst of this time of blessing, Elijah also experienced a blasting.

As Elijah spent time with the pagan widow and her son, he was a living testimony for God. But then the widow's son died, and it seemed that his witnessing opportunity was lost. This woman who had risked much for Elijah was now at one of the lowest points in her life. Instead of seeking solace in Elijah's God, the widow cried, "What do you have against me, man of God? Did you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son?" (1 Kings 17:18).

Her son's death must have taken Elijah by surprise. He had faithfully followed God and was experiencing the blessings of His faithfulness. He was right in the middle of God's will and doing what God had commanded him. Then suddenly everything turned upside down.

Elijah must have felt devastated. No doubt he had grown to care for this family who took him in during the midst of a drought and famine. But God did not give Elijah a blasting only to leave the shattered pieces on the ground. Instead, God brought restoration and healing to the situation in a way in which only God Himself is capable.

After the son's death, Elijah did the only thing he could: he cried out to God in prayer. "‘O Lord my God, have you brought tragedy also upon this widow I am staying with, by causing her son to die? … O Lord my God, let this boy's life return to him!'" (1 Kings 17:20-21).

Elijah did not question God's plans in front of the widow—he was wise enough not to add to her doubts. His prayer may not be a biblical model, but he poured out his emotion and heartbreak to God. His intense prayer was all that he had left.

How did God respond to Elijah's prayer? "The Lord heard Elijah's cry, and the boy's life returned to him, and he lived" (1 Kings 17:22).

The widow had been a follower of the vindictive god, Baal. But she didn't realize that Elijah's God was using the situation for His glory. What happened when she saw her resurrected son? She said, "Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord from your mouth is the truth" (1 Kings 17: 24). She witnessed firsthand the integrity of Elijah's faith under fire.

Are you experiencing a blasting? No matter what circumstances you face, God has the power to restore you. Only God can take the broken fragments of your life and turn them into something even more beautiful than before.

You may be struggling to keep your head above water. You may be questioning God and trying to reason out your circumstances; but no matter what disappointments you face, no matter what dreams have been crushed, know that God is still working in your life.

Do you have a place where you meet God on a regular basis? Do you have a place that is set aside so that when calamity strikes, you know where to go? If not, designate a place of solitude where you can meet God in prayer daily.

What have been some of the painful surprises that you have experienced in life? What have been your points of desperation? List them in your mind, and then recall how God responded during these times. How can you thank God for these responses today?

"The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." --James 5:16b

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Re: Leading the Way ~Michael Youssef

Post  Admin on Mon 08 Oct 2012, 10:56 pm

Week of Oct. 8

He is Our Joy!

No matter how frustrated or anxious we become, we do not have to lose hope. Our hope should never be in ourselves or in our abilities, nor should it be in other people. At some point, others will let us down. Rather, our hope should be in the living Christ, who has kept every one of His promises to us!

We can have hope because Christ Jesus is our Savior. He is our joy. He is our peace. He is our fulfillment. If we try to get our joy from our feelings or from our possessions, then we will be constantly disappointed. However, if we find our joy in the Lord and in trusting in His Word, then we will experience hope—regardless of our circumstances.

Have you ever experienced the joy of the Lord? There comes a time when we must stop dwelling on our despair. We must stop giving in to the moaning and groaning that keeps us from experiencing the hope and the joy that God freely gives. He does not cast us away.

As His children, we have a hope in Christ that never fails. We can know a life filled with contentment, peace, joy, praise, and love when we commit our way to God. Moreover, as long as we are consumed with fear, envy, pride, selfish ambition, and greed, we cannot be filled with God’s Spirit. The choice is ours—contentment in Christ or discontentment in ourselves.

Christ is waiting with open arms. Begin by thirsting for Him. Come before Him in humility. Recognize that He has the answers for your feelings of fear and despair. Don’t give up. God is always with you.

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? (Psalm 42:2).
****
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Re: Leading the Way ~Michael Youssef

Post  Admin on Tue 02 Oct 2012, 2:34 pm

Week of October 1

Confrontation for Reconciliation

During Elijah's time, Ahab was king over Israel. He was a wicked king. Ahab thought that he knew better than his forefathers. Instead of marrying a godly Jewish woman, he married Jezebel, a worshiper of Baal—the god of the Phoenicians. Ahab may have thought he would convert her, but the opposite happened. She converted him and together they worshipped Baal.

Baal is a symbol of Satan. When the Israelites came out of Egypt and into the Promised Land, God told them to wipe out the worshippers of Baal. It was God's judgment on those who refused to believe in Him. Instead, the people of God joined with the worshipers of Baal and the Lord's anger burned against them. Those who bowed down to Baal were killed.

Under Ahab, the people of God reached one of their lowest points in history as they voiced their allegiance to God, yet dabbled in pagan religions. So God sent Elijah to bring His children back to Him by confronting the immorality and compromise in their nation. He did this by confronting the king, the nation's leader, because no nation, home, business or church will rise above its leader.

Elijah went to Ahab and said, "As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word" (1 Kings 17:1). Every morning, the land of Israel received dew that coated all of the vegetation and gave the greenery life. Without the dew, everything would have died. Elijah, in effect, said that there would be neither dew nor rain for years to prove that Jehovah is the Living God, not Baal of the Phoenicians.

Perhaps Ahab and Jezebel thought Elijah was crazy and dismissed him from the palace. However, it wasn't long before the dew dried up and they were searching the land for him. They could not find him, though, because the Lord had hidden Elijah.

God did not abandon Elijah. In his hiding place, he cared for his needs by providing both natural and supernatural blessings. When he was in Kerith Ravine, ravens brought him food and he drank from the brook. Later, when God directed him to Zarephath, God supernaturally multiplied the meager pantry of a widow to provide his daily bread.

As confusing and frustrating as it may have been for Elijah to wait passively for the next step, God was working in his life. No matter what Elijah felt or questioned about his circumstances, he faithfully followed God's directions.

God does not call us into His work to fail. He wants us to succeed, and sometimes that means being groomed into patient, obedient servants. God can work through anyone who has a willing heart, but sometimes we need to be hidden for a while in order to reach that point.

Has God asked you to do something extraordinary on His behalf? Has He asked you to step out in faith, speaking the Truth, so that His children may be brought back to Him?

Maybe you have stepped out in faith, but you now find yourself in a hiding place of preparation. You may feel frustrated, confused, and even purposeless. Take heart, God is working out His purpose through you. He is preparing you for the next step so that you may be an even more effective servant.

As you pray, ask God what He is preparing you for, and how He needs you to grow and change to accomplish His will.

"My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins."-- James 5:19-20

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Re: Leading the Way ~Michael Youssef

Post  Admin on Tue 25 Sep 2012, 5:34 pm

Week of September 24

The Commission of God

One of the characteristics about God that separates the Christian faith from other religions is that our God pursues us. While the world's religions devise ways to seek out and appease a higher being, Christians know that God is the One who initiated the seeking. God is the One who calls us to Him. Since the very beginning of history, God has chosen to commission His people to testify to His name. Today He is still calling His children to share His Gospel with the world.

After His resurrection, Jesus said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:18-20).

The Great Commission is not only for preachers, evangelists, and missionaries. The Great Commission is for every believer and follower of Jesus Christ. We do not need seminary degrees or a library full of commentaries to tell others about Christ. Once we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we receive all the qualification we need. His Holy Spirit will guide our words and actions. He will equip us to speak with whomever He leads us to, no matter how intimidated or nervous we may feel. He will prepare the way for us; we only need to follow obediently.

We all have a role in spreading the Gospel message until the day of His return. Yet many of us routinely fail in following through on this commandment. We shy away from it; we forget about it. We procrastinate. We become so involved in our earthly concerns and priorities that we neglect the kingdom of God. As we make the Great Commission our top priority, we will discover that our concerns and excuses are taken care of: "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (Matthew 6:33).

Throughout history, God's people have disappointed Him in His commissions. In the days of the Old Testament, God gave His children great victories and blessings to make Himself known to the world. Instead of sharing about God, His people became self-focused and kept the message to themselves. Even the prophet Jonah tried to run away from his responsibility to share God's Word. In the days of the early Christian church, God's people would lose their enthusiasm for witnessing. Eventually the center for missionary activity would change from one city to another: from Jerusalem to Antioch to Alexandria to Rome. Eventually a missionary movement spread from Rome to England, where it crossed the Atlantic Ocean.

And here we stand at a crossroads. What will we continue to do with the opportunities God has given us? Will we completely lose our focus and allow the Christian church to drift aimlessly? Will we obey the Great Commission and share the Gospel message while we still have the freedom to do so? Or will we allow ourselves to be silenced while countless souls are in danger of eternal hell?

Only the Holy Spirit can change someone's heart, but God is calling us to be a part of the process. We can make a difference in the eternal lives of others. We can tell our neighbors how Christ changed our lives. We can share with our friends why we have peace in the middle of difficult times. We can train our children in the ways of the Lord. And we can unite together in prayer for the souls of nonbelievers. We can pray that we will continue to have the freedom to openly speak Jesus' name in public. We can pray that we remain free to share the full Gospel message, without being confined to a politically correct version. We can pray that God will continue to use His people to spread His Gospel to the ends of the world.

Spend time in prayer today examining your priorities. Where does the Great Commission fall on that list? Pray daily that God will renew your passion for the souls of nonbelievers. Pray that God prepares the hearts of those around you to receive the Gospel message. Pray for the Holy Spirit to provide you with opportunities for sharing about Christ. Pray that our country's freedoms will continue so that we may freely speak the uncompromising Truth of the Gospel.

"I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ."--Philemon 1:6

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Re: Leading the Way ~Michael Youssef

Post  Admin on Mon 17 Sep 2012, 9:53 pm

The Love of God

The world's viewpoint about God's love is such a watered-down version of the Truth. They view Him as a benign and insipid force. They think that His love is so unconditional that He will happily overlook all of their faults. They think that God is not concerned about what religion they belong to or what they believe.

As Christians we know that our God is loving and merciful, yet He is also just in His judgments. We know that although His love is not based on our accomplishments, His love is conditional upon Christ's death on the cross and upon our acceptance of that gift.

Our human brains cannot comprehend the infinity of God's love. The apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians: "And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God" (Ephesians 3:17-19).

God's love does not come cheaply. God's love came at the cost of His own Son. Jesus endured immeasurable physical and emotional pain when He was separated from the Father in order to carry our sins. The perfect, holy, righteous Jesus Christ died in order to pay the wages of our sin. That kind of sacrificial love is incomprehensible. How great is God's love that He would give Himself for us. "This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins" (1 John 4:9-10).

We did absolutely nothing to earn God's love. We were born into sin; we were at enmity with God. We were unlovable and undeserving. Yet Christ still died for us. "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:6-8)

God's love is so abundant that He not only saved us from eternal damnation, but He adopted us as His own children. "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" (1 John 3:1). He changes our very nature upon salvation so that we can become more like Him. "No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God" (1 John 3:9).

God does not want a one-sided relationship with us. He did not send His own Son to die a painful death on the cross for us in order for us to merely accept His forgiveness and continue our lives without Him. He did not adopt us as His children only to receive the occasional visit in return. He wants a daily, close, personal relationship with us. He wants to see us commit our time and hearts to Him in prayer. He wants us to talk to Him, praise Him, and worship Him every day.

The more we comprehend the magnitude of God's love for us, the more we will love Him back. The more time we spend in prayer learning about Him and developing a relationship with Him, the more our love for Him will grow. Spend time in prayer today just adoring Him. Praise Him for His amazing love. Pray that the Holy Spirit will guide you in how to show the immensity of God's love to the world.

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our LORD."--Romans 8:38-39

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Re: Leading the Way ~Michael Youssef

Post  Admin on Wed 12 Sep 2012, 7:34 am

Week of September 10

The Guidance of God

Our society seems to take one misstep after another. People around us are wandering aimlessly through life, not knowing what they truly believe or whom they should follow. Politicians and community leaders have strayed off course as they have ignored the divine wisdom and guidance of God in order to follow their own human principles.

God wants to show us how to live abundant and joyful lives. He desires to lead the way for us through life, steering us away from temptation and sheltering us in the storms. He wants to give us guidance in our decisions. We are not to live as the world does, chasing after every new philosophical trend. Instead we are to live confidently knowing that the only One we need to follow is God.

Sometimes as Christians we allow ourselves to become obsessed with discerning God's will. We pour over the fine details, examining every possible option, worried that one wrong step will send us out of God's favor. We doubt past decisions that did not turn out the way we had hoped. We doubt our ability to discern God's will. We waste time regretting and worrying.

Instead of obsessing over our choices, we should focus on our complete willingness to obey the will of God when He shows it to us. We need to first be in a place of submission before God, willing to follow wherever He leads. We build that type of obedience by spending regular time with God in prayer and in His Word.

The psalmist declared, "He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way" (Psalm 25:9). If we focus on humbly obeying God, we can trust that He will guide us on the right paths. For many Christians, this is easier said than done. In theory, we all claim to want to be obedient to God, but in reality we hold on to our own plans. We are willing to accept God's will for us when it suits us, but we balk when He points in a direction outside of our comfort zones. We pray for Him to show us His will, secretly hoping it will be something we desire. We claim obedience, but remain latched on to our own wants.

Sometimes God's plans for us do not make sense. Sometimes they are uncomfortable or even painful. But if we truly walk in obedience to God, we will find contentment whatever circumstances He may bring. We can rejoice even in the times of teaching, training, and testing. We can trust that even if we make a misstep, our sovereign God can lead us back into His will.

The psalmist discovered the joys and benefits of obedience to God: "Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.…I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts. I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word. I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path" (Psalm 119:97, 100-105).

Unlike the worldly culture around us, we are not rudderless. We have God's guiding Holy Spirit to show us the best course. But first we must surrender completely to following His will and His commandments, even when they do not match our personal desires. We must spend regular time in prayer learning His voice and His heart. The more we know God, the easier it will be to discern His voice from our own self-serving thoughts. If you are resistant to giving God full control of your life, confess this to Him in prayer. Pray for His help in developing a humble and obedient heart in you. Pray that He will awaken the hearts of Christians across the country so they will also seek to obey His guidance.

"We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands."--1 John 2:3

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Re: Leading the Way ~Michael Youssef

Post  Admin on Mon 03 Sep 2012, 6:56 pm

Week of September 3

The Holiness of God

Today we see many parents working hard to ensure their children fit in with their peers—spending beyond their means to provide the latest fashions and trendy technology for their children. They even compromise their standards to help their children blend in with the crowd. These parents have listened to the lie that being different is bad and unhealthy. Consequently, the next generation is being taught how to conform to peer pressure and is missing the vital lesson of how to stand against the culture.

We often praise God that we live in a free country, when in reality we are enslaved to conformity. We are enslaved to fads, fashions, and trends. We are enslaved to what others think of us. We are terrified to be different. What kind of freedom is that?

One of the greatest lies we believe is that it is better to be accepted by the group than to stand alone for being different. Yet being different is one of the core attributes of God Himself. God is holy. He is different and set apart from all of His creation. We cannot compare Him to anyone or anything else. "There is no one holy like the LORD; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God" (1 Samuel 2:2). Our human goodness can never reach anywhere near God's perfection. God said, "‘To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?' says the Holy One" (Isaiah 40:25).

God wants all of His children to be different just like He is different. "It is God's will that you should be sanctified" (1 Thessalonians 4:3). God calls us to be different from the world, to stand against the immorality of our culture, to set ourselves apart from the secular.

God is different from humanity in so many ways—in His purity, His righteousness, and His inability to ignore sin. This is why our culture is so enraged about the holiness of God. They want a God who is like them, someone they can manipulate and will endorse their sinfulness. This is why these worldly people are dragging Christians into court rooms trying to remove all semblance of God's holiness from the Ten Commandments, from prayer in schools, from Bible studies—from anything that reminds them of the difference of God.

When we obey the will of God in our lives, we become different from the world around us. Different will not always be easy or popular, and some people will condemn or taunt us for our holiness. But others will notice that we have peace in the midst of trouble and joy in the midst of difficult circumstances. They will be curious about what sets us apart. When we seek purity, forgiveness, love, and compassion, we are imitating our heavenly Father and shining His light into this world.

When we forget that God's will for us is to be different and lose the vision of holiness for our lives, we easily fall into temptation. We begin rationalizing our sin. We start conforming to the image of the world instead of the image of Jesus. One of the greatest problems in churches is that we have lost the vision of the holiness of God.

Read Isaiah 6:1-8. This passage provides us a glimpse of God's glory in heaven that we cannot see on earth. His glory is hidden from view in our political system, in our schools, in our culture—yet right now in heaven, angels are awestruck by God and are worshiping Him. Angels who have not been tainted by human sin stand in holy fear and reverence of the holiness of God. What an incredible picture! This vision was so moving for Isaiah he said, "‘Woe to me!' I cried. ‘I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty'" (Isaiah 6:5).

Every time we enter God's presence in praise and prayer, we should feel as humbled as the prophet Isaiah. We should stand in awe of His holiness. We should feel overwhelmed with gratitude and thankfulness. Have you lost sight of the majesty of God's holiness? Have you forgotten His call upon your life to live differently from the world? Spend time in prayer today praising Him for His holiness. Commit yourself to conforming yourself to Jesus and not the trendsetters of this world.

"And they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.'"--Isaiah 6:3

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Re: Leading the Way ~Michael Youssef

Post  Admin on Mon 27 Aug 2012, 8:29 pm

Week of August 27

Seeking Godly Wisdom

What is the difference between godly wisdom and human wisdom? How can we discern between right and wrong thinking? The apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 1:18-31.

Human wisdom is any viewpoint or worldview invented by people and not rooted in God's Word. It is any statement, philosophy or false gospel that contradicts or twists the Bible. Human wisdom seeks to elevate self-will, pride and independence from God, diminishing His wisdom and absolutes. "Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a 'fool' so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight" (1 Corinthians 3:18,19).

God's wisdom is so far above our human understanding that we consider it foolishness. For centuries, humanity has tried to make sense of this world with philosophies and theories, because it could not grasp the Truth of God. Only God's wisdom will lead us on the right path. "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" (1 Corinthians 1:18).

From our limited human perspective, it seems impossible that God would become man, die on a cross, rise three days later, then ascend into heaven. It seems even more impossible that our salvation—our only chance to spend eternity in heaven—is rooted in our belief and following of Jesus Christ who died on that cross for our sins. Humanly speaking, how could the death of one man so long ago determine the destiny of every human being ever created? God's act of redemption makes no sense to the natural mind. Human wisdom cannot comprehend the Cross.

Yet no matter how unfathomable God's wisdom is, only God can give us the answers to the questions that we have no answers for—the meaning of life and our purpose here on earth. No human wisdom can provide true peace, joy, fulfillment or contentment in life. "For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength" (1 Corinthians 1:25).

Human wisdom may show us the problems of life, but it fails to give us the solutions. The root of all of our problems is sin, which humanity refuses to acknowledge. The unrepentant heart justifies and explains away sinful behavior. Human wisdom asks, "Who needs the Cross when we are good people?" However, human intellect cannot save us from an eternity in hell. "There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death" (Proverbs 16:25).

People consider the cross foolishness because admitting their sinfulness and the need for Christ's redemption means they must also surrender to God. They must give up their own wisdom and glory for God's. And most people are unwilling to admit God's ways are better than theirs.

Are you trying to apply human wisdom to God's Word? Are you seeing what you want to see in the Scriptures? Confess to God the times you abandoned His wisdom for your own. Pray for the Spirit's discernment in identifying God's Truths and applying them in your life.

"See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."
Colossians 2:8



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Re: Leading the Way ~Michael Youssef

Post  Admin on Mon 20 Aug 2012, 10:01 pm

Week of August 20



Kindness

While traveling from one city to the next, a man was overtaken by robbers. Taking his clothes and possessions, they left him badly beaten. Not long after the attack, a priest traveled the same road. He passed by without stopping. Then another traveler saw the man but did not offer to help.

Finally, someone stopped—a Samaritan. He put bandages on the man's wounds and took him to an inn for the night. The next day he gave the innkeeper money and instructions to take care of the wounded man.

The parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10 is a wonderful example of godly kindness. It also demonstrates that kindness often requires something of us—time, plans, privacy, and desires. The Good Samaritan interrupted his travel plans to help a stranger. What better example to follow than that of Christ? He gave us the ultimate gift of kindness—He died that we might live.

However, we cannot learn to be kind simply by disciplining ourselves. Kindness can be hard work, and from time to time, this may mean that we have to face difficult situations that drain us emotionally and physically.

Often kindness cannot grow apart from conflict and strife. We learn to be kind through the kindness of others, but we also learn a greater kindness when we are called to be kind and caring in difficult situations.

A disagreement with a co-worker, spouse, friend, or family member can tempt us to be abrupt or uncaring. Circumstances appear out of focus and God's fruit of kindness becomes lost in the battle. However, through the power of Christ we are able to act in kindness even toward those who hurt us. Is there someone who needs your kindness today?

Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble (1 Peter 3:8).
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Re: Leading the Way ~Michael Youssef

Post  Admin on Mon 13 Aug 2012, 8:49 pm

Week of August 13

The Bow and Arrow

Have you ever been described as an impatient person? It is easy to feel impatient. Maybe traffic isn't moving fast enough and you are going to be late for your meeting. Or you can't get through the checkout lane quickly enough to pick up your children from the babysitter. These daily irritations can zap your strength and cause you to lose sight of what really matters.

The source of true patience is the Spirit of God. His patience toward us allows us the opportunity to grow and to become more like Him. He does not give up on us. When we are stubborn and fail to learn what God wants to teach us, He continues to demonstrate His patience.

Many times, we grow impatient with a colleague, friend, child, or spouse and forget that God is patient with us and requires us to do the same with others. One of the causes of impatience is spiritual shortsightedness. Our view is limited. Therefore, many times we only see what has a direct impact on our lives. We become impatient because we can't see life from God's perspective!

God has a greater plan. While He does not always show us the details, we can know the big picture—we are in His loving hands.

Oswald Chambers writes:

Patience is more than endurance. A saint's life is in the hands of God like a bow and arrow in the hands of the archer. God is aiming at something the saint cannot see, and He stretches and strains, and every now and again the saint says, ‘I cannot stand anymore.' God does not heed, He goes on stretching till His purpose is in sight, then He lets fly. Trust yourself in God's hands.

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience (Colossians 3:12).
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Re: Leading the Way ~Michael Youssef

Post  Admin on Mon 06 Aug 2012, 9:02 pm

Week of August 6

God's Peace

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

However, none of these scenarios is capable of providing the peace and contentment we long to experience. True peace only comes as a result of living a life filled with the Spirit of God. It is eternal and has only one source—Jesus Christ. Charles Spurgeon writes, "The God of peace gives perfect peace to those whose hearts are fixed upon Him."

We can try to achieve peace through accomplishments and hard work. We may look for peace everywhere—thinking that new experiences, buying things, or stashing money away will deliver peace. However, apart from God, we will never find lasting peace.

In order to experience the peace of God, we first must have peace with God—which comes as the result of a complete surrender to Christ as our Lord and Savior. Once we are saved, God's peace is available to us. A famous actress once lamented that she had everything she could possibly want, but she still did not have a sense of peace. There are some things that money cannot buy, and peace is one of them.

Before His death, Jesus comforted His disciples with these words: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid" (John 14:27).

We, too, can find the peace and comfort we need within His eternal care.

The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).
***
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Re: Leading the Way ~Michael Youssef

Post  Admin on Mon 30 Jul 2012, 9:14 pm

Week of July 30

The Root of All Evil

Money and prosperity not only have the ability to create conflict between family members and friends, they can also wreak havoc in the Christian community. In many ways, nothing has a greater ability to derail ministry work than a rich endowment.

Some Christian leaders may balk at this statement, but the truth is not hard to discern. Many of America's universities were founded on Christian principles and values, but have since abandoned their faith. When their endowments grew larger, their commitment and devotion to godly education grew smaller. They adjusted their ethics to reflect the views of their contributors.

Both Lot and Abraham were wealthy men. However, there was a tremendous difference in their love for God. Abraham's quest was to follow God by faith, while Lot lived for the moment and to gain more than he had been given.

Have you ever been tempted to make the same type of decision? You may have waited a long time to enjoy the goodness of God's blessing, but be careful. Don't allow the temptation of self-centeredness to grasp your heart. Remember, you do not have to be wealthy to be consumed by thoughts of greed. Anyone can become entrapped by the world's lusts and passions.

Abraham refused to allow his wealth to control him. Lot, on the other hand, allowed the size of his herd and bank roll to negatively influence his worship of God. Open your life up to the Savior. Trust Him for your future and lay aside the destructive thoughts of envy and jealousy.

Lord, teach me how to enjoy what You have given and not allow it to take Your place.

Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6).
****
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Re: Leading the Way ~Michael Youssef

Post  Admin on Tue 24 Jul 2012, 9:54 pm

Week of July 23

Envy

Imagine a man who is happily married to a woman whose physical and emotional companionship he values and cherishes. He is successful in his profession. His children are well-behaved and accomplished. He is satisfied with his life until he attends his twentieth college reunion.

This is where he makes a crucial mistake. He tells himself that many of his former classmates have achieved a higher social and professional status than he. He also mistakenly believes that they are married to more educated and more attractive wives, and that they seem to have more money and to have traveled more often than he has.

A sense of failure begins to grow in his heart. Once a happy man, he is now wrongly focused on his circumstances. He loses his peace and contentment to envy and jealousy.

Proverbs 14:30 states, "A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones." King Ahab of Israel had everything. But he wanted a vineyard that was close to his palace. When Naboth refused to sell, Ahab pouted and sulked until his wicked wife, Jezebel, plotted to kill Naboth and to take his field to satisfy the envy of King Ahab.

There are people who have everything and are still envious for more. Even a godly man like King David coveted what another man had. As a result of his actions, he committed adultery and murder, and lost his peace by harming his fellowship with God.

Envy always leads to strife and a loss of peace. Are you longing for what you cannot have? Look to Jesus. Only He can satisfy the desires of your heart. He alone brings peace and contentment to your life.

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

Post  Admin on Tue 17 Jul 2012, 2:02 pm

Week of July 16

Joy from Within

Polls and surveys consistently show that the top three things people want the most in life are love, happiness, and peace. So often we confuse happiness with joy. There is a difference.

Happiness is the result of getting what we want. We tell ourselves that we'll be happy when we get a newer home. Or life will be great if we get a promotion at work and a pay increase.

However, getting what we want only offers a temporary form of happiness that fades over time. We get our new home, and we are so happy until we realize that we, in order to remain happy, must have all the furniture and decorations to go with it. This kind of happiness is dependent on our circumstances, and can be accompanied with a fear that we may lose whatever it is we feel has made us happy.

Joy, however, is a fruit of the Spirit. It comes from within and not from external conditions. Jesus said that we are to abide in Him so that our joy can be complete (John 15:9-11). We can experience the joy of the Lord regardless of our circumstances because joy is dependent on our relationship with Jesus Christ.

The apostle Paul instructed the Philippians to rejoice always in the Lord (Philippians 4:4). While this group of believers was anxious about their material needs, Paul reminded them that their joy came from God. They were oppressed and persecuted by the Romans. They suffered economic hardships. Yet they had a reason to be joyful—their lives belonged to the Lord.

The world tries to persuade us that joy is found in material possessions, worldly achievements, and social status. However, true joy comes from the knowledge that we are saved through the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus.

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

Post  Admin on Mon 09 Jul 2012, 10:01 pm

Week of July 9

Love Will Lift You

Love lifts a broken heart—not just any love, but the love of God. Most of us have sung James Rowe's hymn, "Love Lifted Me." The first verse contains these words:

I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore,
Very deeply stained within, sinking to rise no more.
But the Master of the sea heard my despairing cry,
From the waters lifted me—now safe am I.


Love lifted me! Love lifted me!
When nothing else could help, love lifted me!


Sometimes nothing can lift our hearts like the love of God. Friends abandon us. Colleagues try to bypass us. Even our families may fail to understand us. But God's love for us never changes.

Even when we act unlovable, God continues to love us. When we are undesirable, He embraces us. When it seems that the world has turned against us, God's love remains. He has promised never to leave us hopeless.

Difficulties in life can certainly leave us feeling broken and confused. Many times, disappointments come in order to teach us more about the depths of God's love. In desperation, we turn to God. This is when we discover that only His love can truly lift us up and restore our sense of hope.

We may struggle to find another way around our problems, hoping that someone or something will bring relief, but nothing can help us outside the love of God. Only His love has the ability to satisfy our every need.

Maybe you are wondering if God really loves you. Have you yielded to sin? Or have you allowed the world and its trappings to come between you and your Savior? Cry out to Him and He will restore the joy of your salvation. When nothing else can help, love will lift you.

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Re: Leading the Way ~Michael Youssef

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