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Unconditional Love

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

Another role of the godly parent is to cultivate compassion for others. Job trained his children to be generous, hospitable, responsible, kind, and considerate, and to be leaders when it came to building up others, building up the family, and building unity and harmony in the community.

This did not mean Job taught his children to compromise for the sake of agreement, but rather to hold strong principles and demonstrate genuine love.

How do we develop compassion for others? We first must experience God's love and then be challenged to pass on that love. Children first experience God's love by experiencing the love of their own parents. The more their parents express love to them, the quicker they are to show compassion.

Assure your children repeatedly of God's love, even when they disobey. Be affectionate with them, hugging and kissing them and putting your hand on their shoulders as a sign of encouragement.

Also, don't link your love to any behavioral trait in your child. Let your children know you love them just as God loves them: unconditionally. God loves us solely because we are His beloved, uniquely created children. Learn to love your children in the same way.

When you demonstrate love to your children, they gain a proper perspective of God. They learn to view the Lord as being a God of love and not wrath.

Prayer: Lord, teach me how to communicate Your love better to my family. I know when I learn to love You better, I can then pass this love on to others. Thank You for Your faithfulness in my life. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children" (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).

Believing God for Your Family

The very first step to becoming a godly parent is to accept Christ as your Savior. If you have never asked Him to come into your heart and forgive your sins, then you will not know how to meet your children's needs effectively. The Lord is the one who has given us the ability to have children, and in order to tap into His mind, you have to have a personal relationship with Him.

The second step to becoming a godly parent is dependence on God. Children are great imitators. If we have a sincere walk of faith, they will follow our lead. Let your love for your children be rooted in your love for God. It is only to the degree that you love the Lord that you will be able to show God's love to your children and other family members.

The third step is one of humility. Your children need to recognize the fact that you are the head of the household. However, they also need to know you can make mistakes, and when you do, you are not slow in seeking God's forgiveness. When your child hears you praying, his or her life is changed. Suddenly, he realizes Mom or Dad's faith is in God and nothing else.

Make sure you find time to praise God for your salvation, His provision for your family, and the wisdom He gives each day. Thank Him for His blessings and protection. Pray for a spirit of gratitude so your children will learn to have grateful hearts instead of being consumed by their personal wants and desires.

Prayer: Lord, I know there are times when I forget to say thank You for all You have done. Forgive my ingratitude and teach me to be grateful for the love You have shown to my family and me. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"Do what is right and good in the Lord's sight, so that it may go well with you" (Deuteronomy 6:18).

Parenting Our Children's Hearts

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

As parents, we have an unbelievable opportunity to focus on parenting our children's hearts and inward beliefs.

Some new parents will seek to repeat their experiences from childhood, assuming, "That is the way to do it." Others vow not to repeat their experiences as children, faulting their parents for their unhappy childhood. Still others will base their parenting style on the expectations of other parents in their social circles.

Are any of these approaches to parenting reflective of your personal faith in God? This brings us back to the opportunity and responsibility to parent our children's hearts -- their inner beliefs.

To pass on spiritual and moral values requires time, lifestyle modeling, and unconditional love with no favoritism. Having a time of family Bible reading and discussion is one way to inculcate Biblical Truths, along with Scripture memory and prayer. Obviously this is not an exhaustive list.

Long hours committed to work schedules and a myriad of other interests can adversely affect even the best efforts to allocate enough time to parent our children's hearts and inward beliefs.

Begin a concerted effort now to explore opportunities that will contribute to your family heritage.

Prayer: Father, help me to model to my children a life committed to You. Show me if there is anything I need to change in my parenting habits. Help me to spend time in the Word and in prayer with my children. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"Do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4).

His Power Is Glory!

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

At the turn of the 19th century, there was a lady who lived alone in a house on the west coast of Scotland. She was a traditional, frugal Scot. Therefore, when she announced her plans to have electricity installed in her home, her neighbors were stunned!

This was not yet a common practice, but she had made up her mind and called the newly formed electric company. Within a few weeks, the power lines were up, and she had electric light.

However, a strange thing happened. The company began to notice that she was not using the electricity. A company representative decided to visit her in order to find out why she was not enjoying what had been made available to her.

He explained to her, "It's just that your meter shows you've had electricity for three months, and you have scarcely used it."

"Oh," she said, "you see, I don't use very much of it. Every evening when the sun sets, I turn the electric lamps on long enough to see to light my candle, and then I turn them off again!"

Sadly, this is how many Christians live their lives. They attend church on Sunday, but the rest of their week is spent living apart from the principles written in God's Word. Difficulties arise, and they wonder why their lives spiral downward. The answer is simple: They are connected to the power source, but they are not using His power.

God has chosen you to be His light of hope to a sin-darkened world. However, you must choose to use His power by yielding yourself to Him. Ask God to show you the areas of your life that need the light of His love and conviction. His power through you is amazing and real.

Prayer: Father, please forgive me for trying to live my life apart from You. I choose to yield myself to You to see Your power at work in and through me. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses" (Acts 1:8).

The Longing of Every Heart

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

The imperishable reality of heaven is what every human heart desperately longs for. We all want a home where we can live forever, experience endless joy in the Creator's presence, and be reunited with those we love.

God Himself placed those desires within us so that we would never be satisfied with anything less than eternity with Him. He wants to draw us into a relationship with Him because only by joining our lives to His can we experience the eternal life He intended for us at creation.

We are physical beings -- but we are not merely physical. We are part of the spiritual realm, and we were created for heaven. We are restless and dissatisfied with life until we find our true destiny in Him. Only when our searching and wandering leads us home to the Father can we find the peace and belonging we seek.

This world is impermanent and destined for destruction. But if we have placed our trust in Christ, our citizenship is in the world to come -- a permanent place called heaven.

Prayer: Father, thank You for creating me for heaven. Thank You that I can look forward to that day when I will leave this world because I have placed my trust in You. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"He has also set eternity in the human heart" (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

The Heart of God

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

What do the religions of the world have in common? They all attempt to pursue and appease their gods, who have distanced themselves from humanity. That is a key difference between these religions and the Christian faith. Christianity is the only faith in which the one true God reaches out to humanity. He pursues and seeks us out; we are the ones who are lost -- not God.

We can rejoice not only because God seeks us out, but also because we can know our Creator personally and have a thriving, fulfilling relationship with Him. We can talk to Him as we would a close friend. We can know the very heart of our true God. In essence, Christianity is not a religion, but a relationship.

In the Gospels, we see Jesus conveying this message over and over again. At the beginning of Luke 15, we see the religious leaders murmuring against Jesus: "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them" (v. 2). The Pharisees considered anyone who admitted his need for God's forgiveness to be ignorant and weak. Though they studied the Scriptures, they were far from knowing and comprehending the heart of God.

Prayer: Father, thank You for pursuing me when I was lost in sin. Thank You for being an intimate and loving God. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?" (Matthew 18:12).

Trusting the Sovereignty of God

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

When our confidence is in the sovereignty of God, we will not panic when we face tough circumstances. But when we try to control our lives and manipulate events and people to our advantage, we will become frustrated and joyless.

Paul trusted the sovereign hand of God, and he learned to be content in the ups and in the downs, in the abundance and in the lack, in sickness and in health, in the courts of kings and in the dungeons and prisons. Paul recognized God as the source of his strength: "I can do all this through him who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:13).

Whatever God called Paul to do -- whether speaking with the powerful or the poor, whether preaching to thousands in a coliseum or to a lone Philippian jailer, whether speaking to King Agrippa or to a lowly soldier in Rome -- Paul knew that God would equip him for his tasks.

Paul's God-centered focus brought joy and contentment to his life. The psalmist declared, "The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him" (Psalm 28:7).

God will also provide for us and strengthen us as we seek to follow Him in faithful obedience. "And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19).

Whatever needs we have -- salvation, comfort, encouragement -- Jesus can meet them. He can lift us above the hurts that others have caused. He can give us perseverance when we are in the middle of the valley. He will meet our needs in His perfect timing and in accordance with His glorious, inexhaustible riches.

Prayer: God, thank You for Your sovereignty. Help me to trust in You, knowing that You are more than able to see me through every trial I face. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"Sovereign Lord, my strong deliverer, you shield my head in the day of battle" (Psalm 140:7).

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