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Be a Winner

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

Coach Bear Bryant is known as a football legend. But more than anything else, he is remembered as a winner. At the end of his 38-season career, he held six national championships and more victories than any other coach in college football history.

In a tribute to Coach Bryant in the February 19, 1983, issue of National Review, Victor Gold wrote, "Like all authentic Southern legends, he was of the soil."

Bryant once said, "If I hadn't found football, I would have ended up behind a mule just like my daddy. But I will tell you one thing: I would have plowed the straightest furrow in Arkansas."

Somebody asked Bryant if he considered himself an innovator or a trendsetter.

"No," Bryant replied, "I'm nothing but a winner."

As a victor in a battle takes away the spoils of victory from his enemy, when Jesus died on the cross, He took away the privileges of Satan. "Having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross" (Colossians 2:15).

Because of the cross, the barrier of sin that once separated you from God has been removed. The gulf of sin has been bridged. The death that characterizes your fate has been taken away, and through Christ you have been made alive.

Wherever you are spiritually today, you can be a winner. Satan has no power over you. When Christ died on the cross and rose again, He was saying to you, "Be a winner."

Prayer: Lord. Thank You for defeating Satan and making a way for me to experience Your eternal life. Break the chains with which Satan tries to bind me. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:14).


The World, the Flesh, and the Devil

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

A spoiled little boy was throwing a temper tantrum. He was angry because the housekeeper would not let him have a valuable vase from the cabinet. Hearing him cry loudly, his mother went into the room to find out what was wrong.

The boy said, "I want that," pointing to the vase.

The mother said, "Yes, darling, you shall have it," falsely thinking this was how to make her son happy. But when she put the vase in front of him, the little boy cried even louder.

"What do you want now?" asked the mother.

Between sobs, the boy said, "I want something I can't have."

The Apostle John explains that Satan can attack you in three ways - the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16). His attacks have also been described as inner selfishness, envy, and pride.

Satan is not merely interested in tempting you. He knows if he can get you to see something and to desire it, then ultimately it will have your affections and loyalty.

When you find yourself facing temptation, ask: Is it appealing to my selfish nature? Is it appealing to my covetous nature? Is it appealing to my pride?

Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness, but the enemy could not overcome the Lord. When you are in the wilderness, you are ok as long as you are in the center of God's will. There, He will sustain you.

The secret of Christ's victory also is the secret to your victory. Recognize the nature of the spiritual battle facing you, and use God's Word to resist the devil. When Satan appeals to your flesh, tell him that in Christ you have all of your sufficiency.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for Your Word. I pray it will be stored in my heart, so I may use it to resist the devil's attacks. Please strengthen me by Your Spirit in those moments. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9).


God's Scrambling Squadrons

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

During World War II, immediately after the collapse of France, Hitler moved to invade England. His Operation Sea Lion included a massive formation of bombers and fighters covering the English sky.

The British Royal Air Force (RAF) realized that there was only one way to deal with this sinister attack - higher altitude. When the pilots would get the command to "scramble" from the radar operators, it meant for them to get above the attacking German planes. These pilots became known as the "Scrambling Squadrons."

They understood that there could be no victory without high altitude. They knew that they could not blow the enemy's planes out of the sky unless they were at a higher altitude.

Back then, for the RAF fighter pilots, there was no such thing as instant altitude. But this is not so for God's "scrambling squadrons." As a child of God, you are given the privilege and the power to have instant altitude from any and every situation. When Jesus rose from the dead, He was at the highest altitude possible. He was above Satan - high above all the forces of evil.

The Bible says that those who are in Christ Jesus are seated with Him in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6). In Christ you have been raised to the highest altitude possible. There you have victory over Satan.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for seating me in the heavenly places with You - far above the attacks of the enemy. I pray I will be faithful and find shelter in You when the enemy attacks. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us" (Ephesians 3:20).


Preparing the Soil

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

In Middle Eastern farming, there is a pathway between two fields. It is the boundary. It is the place where hard-packed earth is found. It is the strip in the field where the soil is not prepared for receiving the seed.

The parable of the sower in Matthew 13 tells us that Jesus is the sower and your heart is the soil. Satan seeks to work on the soil on which the seed of the Word is planted. If he can, he will harden the soil of your life. Many times he does this by getting you to substitute human wisdom for God's Word. Then he succeeds in snatching away the good seed of the Gospel.

Have you ever known a person to be excited about sharing his faith with others, only to have someone make fun of him? Soon he is no longer sharing his faith at all.

If Satan cannot keep the Word of God from taking hold in your life, then he will use any means to pull you away from growing your relationship with God. Unconfessed sin, unforgiveness, and bitterness will harden your heart.

When Mahmud of Ghazni invaded India, his conquering forces entered a celebrated Hindu temple to destroy its idols. The temple priests entreated Mahmud to spare a certain idol, but he refused. Instead, he struck such a blow to the image that it burst open and precious stones cascaded from the hollow interior.

In many ways, this is true in your life. When you cling tightly to bitterness, anger, resentment, and unforgiveness, elevating them above your relationship with God, they become "idols" in your life. For each idol you are willing to destroy, you will gain more than you lose. Each time you surrender something to God, you will remove another hindrance to a productive life of faith and prayer. Every idol that is demolished will bring you new treasures of grace and peace.

Prayer: Lord, my desire is to destroy every idol in my life. Please show me anything I am not surrendering to You and grant me the ability to surrender it to You today. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them" (Mark 4:15).


Are You Stuck in the Mud?

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

There was an old farmer who frequently described his Christian experience by saying, "I am not making progress, but I am established."

One spring day he was hauling some logs and his wagon wheels sank in mud down to the axle. He tried, but could not get the wagon out. Defeated - he sat on top of the logs.

One of his neighbors saw him and said to the farmer, "I see that you are not making much progress, but you must be content because you are well-established."

Is your testimony like his? Your salvation may be established, but you may be "stuck" and unproductive. You may be a child of God, but is your Christian walk like wheels stuck in mud? You know God and have made Him a part of your life, but are you growing in your personal relationship with Him?

The devil thrives on keeping you from growing in faith, from being productive in your Christianity, from comprehending and applying the Word of God in your daily life.

Satan wants to keep you focused on your problems, pain, and worries. His goal is to prevent the effectiveness of God's Word in your life. "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).

Satan knows the Word of God is powerful - to change lives, to convict of sin, to judge and condemn, to encourage and strengthen, to lift and uphold, to forgive and restore, to produce fruit, and, most of all, to accomplish God's purpose. When God's Word is a significant part of your life, Satan's mission against you will be destroyed.

Prayer: Father, help me to make Your Word a priority in my life. My desire is to bear fruit and I know this will only happen when I abide in You. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"Today, if you hear [God's] voice, do not harden your hearts" (Hebrews 4:7).


Your Enemy's Intentions

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

When you have a sleepless night, what do you do? Do you get up from your bed, turn on the television, and try to avoid facing your problems? Do you allow your mind to replay old tapes of the day's events, or do you stop and pray?

Many times, Satan is the one who awakens us at night, telling us what we have yet to do or reminding us of the things we have done wrong. If God wakes you up at night, you can be sure His instruction will be swift, never condemning, and always based on the Truth of His Word.

Satan, however, uses lies and temptation to work out his plan in our lives. He enjoys tempting us into doubting God's goodness. He likes to lure us away from the Truth of Scripture, while getting us to respond to his lying words.

To be prepared for the enemy's attacks, it is important to remain vigilant in our spiritual walk. When we turn to Scripture, we find that King David did not take this advice. The Lord had given David victory after victory. He even proclaimed that David was a "man after His own heart."

For years, David had lived in the light of God's blessings. He was conscious of God's abiding presence and personal love. But he made a horrible mistake. He became careless in his devotion to the Lord. He fell for Satan's trap, and on a sleepless night he took a stroll on his rooftop instead of going into the temple to pray (2 Samuel 11). Adultery left its mark on his life and on the lives of his family members.

While God's forgiveness is always available to us, His greatest desire is that we avoid Satan's entrapments. Remain faithful in your worship and in your devotion to the Lord. Pray that the Lord will guard your heart in all that you do.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for never leaving or forsaking me. I pray for You to guard my heart in all that I do. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"He who walks with the wise grows wise" (Proverbs 13:20).


This month's My Devotional focus comes from Dr. Michael Youssef's new book, Conquer: Your Battle Plan for Spiritual Victory. Whether you realize it or not, you are on a spiritual battlefield every day. How do you prepare to defend yourself? In Conquer, Dr. Youssef provides practical tactics for conquering your enemy as he seeks to diminish your effectiveness for Christ. Experience the victory that is yours in Jesus as you actively take part in resisting the devil - and watching him flee. Order your copy of Conquer today at LTW.org.


Negotiate with a Bear?

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

This is only a legend, but the principle is very true: There was a hunter who had taken aim at a very large and angry bear. The hunter was ready to pull the trigger of his rifle when he heard the bear speak in a soothing voice, "Isn't it better to talk than to shoot? Why don't we negotiate this matter? What do you want?"

The hunter lowered his rifle and answered, "I would like a fur coat."

The bear said, "This is good. I think there is something we can do about that. All I want is a full stomach. Maybe we can compromise."

So they sat down to talk. A little while later, the bear walked away alone. The negotiations had been successful. The bear had his full stomach, and the hunter had his fur coat!

There are many believers who think it is perfectly acceptable to enter a spiritual dialogue with the enemy. They lower their weapons and negotiate. But Peter admonishes us to be vigilant and firm in our faith (1 Peter 5:8-9).

After the successful battle of Jericho, Joshua learned a painful lesson regarding the enemy's tactics. He discovered that the consequences of sin are destruction - spiritual and physical.

The next battle on Israel's list was the little town of Ai, which should have led to an easy victory (Joshua 7). However, sin had entered the camp of God's people. Joshua, celebrating his victory at Jericho, ceased from being sober, prayerful, and alert. He did not consecrate himself or remain watchful. As a result, many of his soldiers died in battle.

The moment Joshua turned to the Lord seeking forgiveness, God revealed the problem and the solution. Are you remaining diligent in your devotion to Christ, or have you drifted spiritually?

Prayer: Lord, I place You at the center of my life. As I turn to You each day, please help me to find the Truth I need to handle every situation. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power" (Ephesians 6:10).


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