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Champions Have Humility

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

Becoming a champion challenges our faith in more ways than we think. When we experience a great deal of success and numerous victories in our lives, human nature begins to enjoy the praises that are given to us.

Before we know it, the excitement that people have for us changes the way we view life and we start believing our own press. Instead of dwelling on who got us to this point, we begin dreaming about where we are going to take ourselves in the future.

Humility is the mark of a true champion. Godly love is emblazoned on his or her heart. Most people can sniff out false humility miles before they get to it. They hear the cliché about how we had nothing to do with it; and they know we do not believe a word we are saying.

Sincere humility, however, is not making ourselves doormats or denying, ignoring, and undermining the gifts and talents God has given us. When we put God first, we begin to understand what true humility is. It is recognizing God as the reason for our success, the mastermind behind the plan that has brought success to our lives. Humility also means we are quick to acknowledge and to believe wholeheartedly that God is the One who has designed this plan, and equipped us with the tools to accomplish it.

When our focus in life is to honor God, we naturally put Him first in everything we do. There is no tension in our hearts over who belongs on the pedestal. We know we would be nothing without God. He is our everything, and for that we must give Him our hearts and our sincere devotion.

Prayer: Lord, help me to walk in sincere humility, honoring You with everything I do. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"Humility and the fear of the Lord bring wealth and honor and life" (Proverbs 22:4).


Champions Do Things God's Way

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

Even after we pray and seek God, there may be a time of waiting for His answer to come. This waiting period is a crucial time in our lives as believers. If we jump ahead of God, we could miss His blessing. If we lag behind, we also could miss the joy of knowing that we have followed His leading. Take a moment to ask yourself if the Lord is the center of your life. Are you doing things His way?

If so, then you are probably encountering resistance from the enemy. Satan wants to do all that he can to cause you to feel disappointed and deflated.

David, in his pure intentions to bring the Ark of the Covenant back to the temple, put the ark on a cart to transport it. And while that may seem trivial, God specifically outlined how the ark was to be transported: It was to be carried with poles (2 Samuel 6).

But David failed to do this. When the ark began to slide off the cart, one of the workers reached out to grab it and died instantly. David quickly developed a godly fear of the Lord. His fear of God was based on the desire to serve and honor God with purity and integrity of heart. This included doing things God's way.

In order to live a life that honors God, we must not only put God at the center of our lives, we also must be committed to doing things God's way. Too often, we make the mistake of trying to get God to go along with our plans instead of taking the time to find out His plan for our lives.

A healthy fear of God motivates us to change the way we live our lives so that we honor Him all the more. When we realize that we are doing God's work, but not the way He wants us to do it, we should immediately stop and seek His will for our lives.

Be willing to change your path if necessary in order to please the Lord.

Prayer: Father, show me what it means to have a healthy fear of You so that I may honor You in all that I do. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous" (Psalm 19:9).


Champions Know When to Lean on God

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

In today's society, people desperately try to avoid accepting blame. There is always some excuse to explain away the actions of people who need to be held accountable. While our society loves to bestow grace, it struggles to see how grace and consequences for our actions can live together. Adopting this type of attitude can stunt our relationship with God.

God is a God of grace and redemption, so much so that He sacrificed His only Son for the forgiveness of our sins. Yet, Jesus' death was the consequence of our sin. The consequences of sin are not dismissed simply because grace is endowed upon us.

Confessing our sins to God and taking full responsibility for our actions tests our belief in this kingdom principle. Do we really think we need to confess our sins?

If we intend to experience wholeness, we must confess our sins to God and ask for His forgiveness. Whenever we turn to Christ - even in the midst of our brokenness - He is there for us, putting back together for us the shattered pieces.

A true champion knows when to lean on God - and that time is always. We cannot conquer the sin in our lives on our own. We need to put on the altar those attitudes and habits that produce sin in our lives and invite God to bring about the cleansing that purifies us. When we are diligent to confess our sins and accept responsibility for our actions, God is faithful to respond and lovingly restore us to wholeness.

Prayer: Lord, help me to be more faithful to confess my sin to You. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy" (Proverbs 28:13).


Champions Stand Strong

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

One of our initial and natural responses to difficulty is to look for an immediate solution. We do not like tension and pressure in relationships, and when attempts to bring about resolution fail, we often run, abandoning the problem and situation altogether.

Our reaction to difficulty is a proving ground for our faith. Does our faith rest in our ability to resolve situations on our own? If we run, the answer is there for the world to see, no matter how adamantly we proclaim our faith in God with our mouths. Does our faith rest in God alone? If we determine to stand strong and face whatever the world brings in our direction, the answer is there for the world to see as well.

While God may not cause the difficulty in our lives, He certainly uses it to mature us. He shapes and fashions us more into His image as we learn to trust Him more. And it is in these times of testing that God begins to refine our hearts in new ways.

Running from the trials and tribulations in our lives in an attempt to escape the difficulty carries some harsh consequences. We may escape the testing, but we will also escape God's blessing.

God enjoys rewarding His children with blessings from heaven. But no reward comes without personal sacrifice. Are you willing to take the challenge?

Prayer: Lord, give me the strength to face every challenge I experience today. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"The eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love" (Psalm 33:18).


Champions Live with Integrity

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

If we desire to have true integrity of heart, we must not be shy about checking our motives with regularity. No matter how much we love God and desire to serve Him, we must be on guard against selfish ambitions that often creep into our hearts.

We have the tendency to compare our own journey with the journeys of others - and when it does not look like we are getting a fair shake, we begin to plot and to scheme. Whenever our selfish ambitions begin to take over, we say things and do things that grieve God's heart. Instead of acting lovingly, we act selfishly. Our goal slowly switches from serving God to serving ourselves. If we are not careful, our purpose in life will become to fulfill our wants, regardless of the cost.

This scenario arises in many different facets of life - whether in relationships, work environments, churches, or families. We begin to seek to satisfy ourselves rather than serve others. When we detect this attitude in our lives, we can ask ourselves some questions to shed light on our hearts. Are my actions vengeful? Is my heart covetous and ambitious? Am I impatient with God's timing?

Loving others begins to squelch such attitudes. Instead of trying to exact our revenge, we begin to show mercy and love. The ambitions in our hearts begin to fade as we turn our focus back to our loving Savior. James reminds us: "Mercy triumphs over judgment!" (James 2:13).

Living with integrity means we choose to live God's way over our own - matching our actions with His intentions. We choose to live by His rules, which include putting others before ourselves.

Prayer: Lord, place in me an attitude that puts others ahead of me. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"Before his downfall a man's heart is proud, but humility comes before honor" (Proverbs 18:12).


Champions Play by the Rules

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

Cheating produces hollow victories, yet people cheat every day in some form or another. They cheat in their jobs, taking shortcuts to get desired results instead of doing their work the longer, more tedious way. People cheat on their families, robbing them of quality time for other selfish ambitions. People cheat in school, foregoing time and energy spent studying in exchange for a quick and easy answer.

If a person cheats and wins, does he really win? How satisfying is it to reach a goal that is obtained only because of cheating? What an empty accomplishment!

As believers in the middle of God's script for our lives, there are no shortcuts to the end. We cannot opt to skip life's difficulties in favor of a quick road to God's blessings.

When the prophet Samuel came to David's home and anointed him as the next king of Israel, David did not know what was ahead for him. Yet, even when King Saul pursued him in an effort to kill him, David never attempted to circumvent God's plan for his life. With a quick stroke of his sword, David could have ended Saul's life and reigned as king of Israel. But David wanted God to be the One who placed him in power.

Prayer: Lord, give me the patience to wait upon Your timing for my life. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride" (Ecclesiastes 7:8).


Champions Don't Lose Their Confidence

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

To walk truly in confidence, we must realize its source. If we place our full confidence in our human abilities, we will be sorely let down time and again. No matter how accomplished we are, no matter how much intelligence we have acquired, no matter how talented we may be - God alone is our deliverer, and He must be the One upon whom we rely.

Though David was run ragged through the mountains, fleeing a mad king, he never lost confidence that God was going to deliver him. David also ventured into new situations with extreme caution, consulting the Lord before acting: "[David] inquired of the Lord, saying, 'Shall I go and attack these Philistines?'" (1 Samuel 23:2).

True champions do not lose their confidence because they know they alone are not the sole source of victory. They understand that their confidence rests in a loving heavenly Father who has hopes and dreams for their lives far beyond what they could ever imagine.

David knew that while he was fleeing King Saul, he was under the protection of God's wing. During our journey with Christ, we can probably mark with ease the days, months, and years when we were seeking direction from Him. And with the same ease, we can tell when we were not.

When prayer becomes a discipline in our lives, we will remain confident in God, walking closely with God into what He has called us to do. When we inquire of the Lord, asking Him to prepare the way for us to walk in His calling, He is faithful to do so.

Prayer: Lord, instill in me the discipline to seek Your direction at every decision-making point in my life. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence" (Ephesians 3:12).


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