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The Pattern for Revival

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

In the heart of every believer, a hunger should exist - a hunger to see God use us to advance His Kingdom in ways we never imagined. Christianity morphs into little more than a stale religion if we quit pursuing God. The moment we get content with where we are is the moment we stop moving toward God. He has more for us than we could ever imagine.

While God desires to turn our lives upside down and use us in His amazing plan of redemption for the world, He never forces His will on us. If our desire is not there, He will not make us do it. He will accomplish His will through other willing vessels. But who wants to miss out on the opportunity to be an integral part of God's plan?

However, before any such life-changing events can occur in our own hearts, we must surrender unconditionally to the leadership of the Holy Spirit. On the road to Damascus and in the days following, we do not read of a defiant Paul, trying to resist every directive. Instead, we find a Paul who is stunned momentarily and quickly submits to the Holy Spirit's voice in his life.

Surrendering to the Holy Spirit's leadership in our lives opens the door for God to begin shaking our world to the point we may not recognize it once He is finished. Yet, it is a shaking that takes us from awed bystanders to active participants in His plan of grace and redemption.

Taking the first step is never easy. However, relinquishing our freedom to the One who brings ultimate freedom will pave the way for a personal revival to occur in our hearts.

Prayer: Lord, empower me daily to surrender to the leadership of the Holy Spirit in my life. Where there is resistance to You, soften my heart, that I may joyfully follow You. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Romans 14:17).


Trusting God Through the Journey

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

Reading about the apostles of the New Testament, our views can be skewed somewhat by knowing the entire timeline of their ministry. We read highlights and letters, dramatic bits and pieces of lives that proclaimed the resurrection of Jesus along with the power of the Gospel. The days, months, and years they spent waiting for God to do the impossible in a post-resurrection world seem mere pauses in a flurry of God-orchestrated activity.

Regardless of the vision we may have for our lives or the direction we have been led by the Holy Spirit, we cannot expect to get ahead of God's timeline. After Jesus left the earth, the disciples spent a substantial amount of time waiting for prayers to be answered as well as wondering when God was going to rescue them from dire situations. We, too, must be willing disciples, waiting patiently for God to work in our midst.

God's plan oftentimes has curves we never expected. Ten years passed from the time Paul encountered the risen Christ to the time God commissioned him to ministry. Ten years! During that time, the Lord was preparing him, softening his heart and positioning him so that he could be used to impact the church in the first century and for generations to come.

Waiting on God can be difficult at times. In our anxiousness to see Him move, we have a tendency to try and prod God along. We want to see His glory here and now. Yet, God does not let us venture into new territory alone. He prepares the hearts and minds of those we are to encounter on our journey so that the fullness of His plan becomes apparent in the aftermath.

Prayer: Lord, quiet my heart and help me to remain patient as I wait upon Your plan to unfold in my life. I trust in Your faithfulness and Your power. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord" (Psalm 27:14).


Enter the Door of Hope

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

What is the focus of your life? Christ's focus was the redemption of mankind. His gaze was set on your salvation. In fact, this was the only reason He came to earth. If you had been the only person in need of His gracious gift of eternal life, He would have left heaven and endured the heartbreak of rejection, and ultimately death on the cross, so you could have eternal life.

None of us will ever be required to do what Jesus did at Calvary. However, God does ask us to deny ourselves and follow His Son. There is no room for self-centered thinking. There is only room for holy devotion to the One who loves us with an eternal love. He gave His life, so we might have life.

The psalmist writes, "Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked" (Psalm 84:10).

Psalm 84 is a reminder that even before Christ came, men and women longed to experience God's love and protection. We have no idea what the circumstances of this writer's life were like. However, we can know from reading his words that he was facing extreme difficulty and stress. Yet, he found hope and comfort in God's presence. He knew that there was a door standing before him - one of hope and not defeat.

God had a plan for his life, and the Lord has a plan for your life, too. You can pray with the psalmist: "Hear my prayer, O Lord God Almighty; listen to me, O God of Jacob. ... Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere" (Psalm 84:8, 10).

Jesus is your door of hope. When you enter His presence, you will discover true intimacy and peace.

Prayer: Father, I long to know Your love more deeply. Thank You for the comfort and rest that are only found in Your presence. Continue to shape me, that I may be completely devoted to You. Help me to trust fully in You. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"O Lord Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you" (Psalm 84:12).


Obedience over Sacrifice

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

Small compromises, choosing the middle of the road, and flirting with sin are all recipes for defeat. Allowing Satan to come in and set up a stronghold in your life or in your family's life can only lead to a disaster. Even if disaster does not take place for 20 years, it will happen, and hence our concern for the next generation, because what this generation does is going to impact the next generation.

Satan doesn't come in suddenly and attack. He takes one inch at a time and then by the time we wake up, it is too late. This is the insidiousness of Satan in invading the homes of believers.

People get busy and run around doing all kinds of good stuff, which is great, but let it not be out of guilt - let it be done in obedience. It is the will of God for us to be found faithful. It is the will of God that we be obedient. Remember the words of the prophet Samuel to King Saul. He said, "To obey is better than sacrifice" (1 Samuel 15:22). A lot of people are sacrificing, but very few people are obeying. Will you choose the path of obedience today?

Prayer: Father, help me to examine my heart today to make sure that Satan is not setting up a stronghold in my life. Help me to be faithful and obedient as the next generation is watching my life. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8).


Life Goes Better with Praise

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

Years ago, a soft-drink company came up with a slogan that claimed "things go better with" their product. Who can really say what the positive effects of a soft drink are, but we certainly know that life goes much better with praise!

When we fail to praise God, frustration builds. God is grieved, and we miss a great opportunity for blessing. When we take time to praise Him, feelings of fear, doubt, and frustration fade.

The psalmist writes: "May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you. … Then the land will yield its harvest, and God, our God, will bless us" (Psalm 67:3, 6). Praise is the prelude to blessing!

Henry W. Frost, a veteran missionary to China, discovered the power of praise amid dark and difficult circumstances. He writes: "Nothing so pleases God in connection with our prayer as praise and nothing so blesses the man who prays as the praise which he offers."

Frost goes on to explain just how he learned this truth.

A deep shadow had covered my soul. I prayed and I prayed, but the darkness did not vanish. I summoned myself to endure, but the darkness only deepened.

Then one day, I went to an inland station and saw on the wall of the mission home these words: ‘Try praising the Lord.' I did, and in a moment every shadow was gone, not to return. Yes, the psalmist was right; it is a good thing to give praise unto the Lord!

Praise does not reduce the seriousness of the problems facing us, but it can certainly lift our downcast eyes to the One who has the power to lift our hearts and to offer us eternal hope.

When trouble increases and the stress of the day seems too much for you to bear, try praising God, and you will experience His wondrous joy.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I know Your faithfulness is bigger than any trial I could ever go through. Thank You for the hope and peace that come when I worship You instead of focusing on my problem! I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"I will ever praise you" (Psalm 71:6).


Play by His Rules

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

One of the best ways to test your Christian identity is to see how willing you are to tell others what God has done for you through Jesus Christ.

Another way to check your true identity is to measure your level of dedication. Are you dedicated to Christ even when the road is risky and you may face hardships? Do you fight spiritual battles rather than shrink from them? Those dedicated to Christ fight spiritual battles to win. In a spiritual battle, there are only two people: the defeated and the victor. We are conquerors for Christ, and we have been given the victory!

A third way to test your true identity is by asking yourself if you are willing to live life by God's rules. In ancient Greece, winning athletes were crowned with an evergreen wreath. But no athlete, no matter how brilliant or successful, received a crown if he did not compete according to the rules.

In 2 Timothy, Paul admonishes us to remain faithful to God. We are to play according to His rules, not by the world's rules. We are not to operate by rules of a rewritten Bible, which tell us to do whatever feels right to us. Rules like these offer no standards. In order to live a victorious life, we need a solid, unshakeable framework, and this is what God provides through His Word.

Set a goal for your life: Be committed to learning more about God - His Truth, His Word, His love, and His forgiveness. Then share His love with someone who is lost and in need of eternal hope. When you play by His rules, you will discover a lasting peace that satisfies your soul.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for my salvation in You. I desire to learn more about You - Your Truth, Word, love, and forgiveness. As I do, please guide me as I share You with others. I thank You for the honor of sharing Your Gospel. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 2:3).


Lead Without Compromise

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

Have you ever caught yourself wondering what others think about you? All of us have done this from time to time, and most of us quickly find that our impressions of ourselves are false. Even in the Old Testament, image was important. In fact, this concern with image caused Aaron a lot of trouble.

God's chosen people were in mutiny against Him. While Moses was on Mount Sinai with the Lord, the people gathered around Aaron and said, "Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don't know what has happened to him" (Exodus 32:1).

Aaron did not stand against popular opinion or demand. He could have and the rebellion would have ended, but he didn't. Instead, because he wanted to be liked and accepted, he compromised.

How often do we do the same? As parents we may give our children more than is necessary because we want them to like us. A wife may see her husband doing the wrong thing and not speak the Truth to him in love. Or though we know a friend is in a wrong relationship, we choose to say nothing because we don't want to risk losing the friendship.

Many times we are concerned about our images simply because we want to be liked. Through His earthly life, Jesus demonstrated how we should follow Him. He was often disliked because He took a stand for what was right and true and threatened people's selfish desires. Make sure you are not so concerned about your image that you lose sight of the principles in God's Word.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for modeling walking in Truth with love. Please teach me how to speak the Truth to those who need to hear it in a loving way. Strengthen me for the road ahead. I pray now in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ" (Galatians 1:10).


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