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Equipped to Conquer (Audio CD)

God Knows Your Name

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

Have you ever wanted to change your name or wondered who you would be without a name?

Names are important. It is by our name that other people identify us and that we identify ourselves. In biblical times, parents gave their children names with descriptive meanings such as strong, trustworthy, and leader, in hopes they would embody these traits when they grew up. Ecclesiastes 7:1 states, "A good name is better than fine perfume."

The words we use to describe other people can either hurt or encourage them. There was a teacher who asked her students to tell what they wanted to do when they grew up.

For the most part the students gave the usual responses -- doctor, lawyer, policeman, nurse, pilot, and firefighter. Then the teacher asked Billy. He said, "I want to be possible."

"Possible?" she asked.

"Yes," he replied, "because my mom tells me all the time that I'm impossible. So I want to grow up to be possible."

As believers, we are adopted into the kingdom of God. We are given a new identity, a new name, and a life filled with possibility. We are called the children of God. No matter what our past is and regardless of our mistakes, the Lord knows our name and desires our worship and praise.

As a son or daughter of the King of kings, there are many reasons why we should praise Him. He does not change. He is mightier than any problem we might face. He is all-wise and loving. He will never leave us. He is our hope. So whether we like the name on our birth certificate or the nicknames we have been given by those who know us, we can find joy in knowing that we are called by God and that our names are written on the palms of His hands (Isaiah 49:16).

Prayer: God of the universe, You know my name! Thank You for Your love and for this new identity. Thank You for the abundant inheritance You give Your children. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"Sing to God, sing praise to his name, extol him who rides on the clouds" (Psalm 68:4).

Look Up to God

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

In Acts 16, Paul had "one of those days." On the way to the house of prayer, a young slave woman began following him and Silas. Her shouts were meant to draw unwanted attention to the apostle. In reality, the enemy was seeking to run Paul and his evangelistic team out of town. But Paul commanded the harassing spirit to leave this young woman (Acts 16:18).

Her owners, who made money through her fortune-telling, were not happy. Frustrations grew until the entire city of Philippi erupted into an uproar: "The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison" (Acts 16:22-23).

If anyone had a reason to be depressed, it was Paul and Silas. Yet, they did not allow their circumstances to cause them to question the providence of God. Instead, they turned a bad situation into one of praise to the Lord (Acts 16:25).

God had a plan for their imprisonment. At midnight the door to their jail cell opened, and they were free men -- but they did not leave because they knew it would mean death for the jailer who had been given the charge to watch over them. He was amazed by their commitment to God and accepted Christ as his Savior, but the story did not end here. The jailer's entire family was saved, and the next morning Paul and Silas were freed.

The next time you are tempted to be downcast, look up to God. Ask Him to use you as an instrument of Truth, hope, and encouragement to others. Pass His love on, and you will be set free from all hopelessness.

Prayer: Though my world seems unstable and ever-changing, I will praise You, Lord. Open my eyes to opportunities where You are calling me to be bold. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia's house, where they met with the brothers and encouraged them" (Acts 16:40).

Sure Hope

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

Until you develop a strong sense of conviction, you will not have the sure-footedness that is needed to be a follower of Christ. When faced with a crucial decision, you will be tempted to waver between right and wrong -- what you know is godly and ungodly.

Those who are soft in their convictions often experience disappointment, doubt, and fear. When we are fully committed to Christ, we have a sure hope. However, when we allow temptations to lure us away from what we know is right, we miss God's blessing.

The rich young ruler wanted to follow Jesus, yet his emotional attachment to earthly treasures kept him landlocked. He was not free to join those who were a part of Christ's band of followers (Mark 10:17-23).

The apostle Paul did not have a problem with commitment or conviction. He gave his life to the Lord and in doing so left behind the very things this world deems as both impressive and valuable.

Paul had been a Pharisee -- a man of social influence and position. He had been trained by one of the most eminent scholars of his day -- Gamaliel, a member and former president of the Sanhedrin, the high council of Jews in Jerusalem. It was said that Gamaliel's influence was so great that he was one of the only seven Jewish scholars who have been honored by the title "Rabban."

None of this mattered to Paul. He had formed a strong conviction: "I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things" (Philippians 3:8).

Prayer: Lord, I want to be able to say with Paul that the only thing I hold dear is Christ Jesus who lives inside of me. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him" (Philippians 3:8-9).

The Ultimate Cure for Pride

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

Pride asks, "How do others perceive me?" and "What impression am I making on other people?" When there is pride in our lives, it makes us self-conscious. Pride wants to be praised.

While we all need encouragement, only God deserves praise.

Pride can blind us to any feeling of gratitude toward the Lord. Unchecked, it will ultimately separate us from God and those we love. The only cure for pride is surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ -- making a commitment to Him and then choosing to let the Spirit of God work in our lives on a daily basis.

After David was anointed as king over Israel, he and his men brought the ark of God back to Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 15). David appointed musicians and singers, and the ark of God entered the city with shouts, trumpets, and the playing of harps. In exuberance and excitement, David took off his royal robe and began to dance before the Lord (2 Samuel 6:14). But his wife Michal watched and later criticized David's actions. She was proud and thought David's actions were not kingly (2 Samuel 6:20).

Placing undue importance on our self-images and the opinions of others are just two of the distractions that Satan uses to discourage us. However, God wants us to have healthy self-images based on His unconditional love for us. Once we accept Christ as our Savior, we become children of the King of kings and are made members of His royal family.

David was not concerned about his image. He was praising God. He was focused on the Lord and not on himself. Are you concerned about your appearance before others? Praise frees you from the hold of pride. Don't withhold your worship of the Lord because of fear of what others will think.

Prayer: Holy Father, I want to be so satisfied in You that I do not need the praise of others. Today I humble myself before You, that You may receive glory, honor, and worship from me. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"Those who walk in pride he is able to humble" (Daniel 4:37).

Wearing a Spiritual Garment

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

The prophet Isaiah wrote:

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me ... to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair (Isaiah 61:1, 3).

Garments or clothing are things that we wear every day. They are not made just to hang in our closets.

We also have a spiritual garment to wear -- praise. If we leave it hanging, we will fail to grow in our relationship with the Lord. Therefore, we must choose to wear it in order to be a praising person, or be left without the joy that comes from praising our Savior.

There are many reasons we have for praising the Lord -- salvation, mercy, grace, family, health, and provision for our needs. When things are going well and we feel happy, it is easy to praise Him. However, when times are hard, often we don't feel like praising God or reading the Bible.

Regardless of how we feel, if we lift up the name of Jesus, He will remove the cloud of discouragement surrounding us and give us His power and strength.

It is when we fix our eyes on Christ through praise that He changes us. Our circumstances may stay the same or even grow more difficult. We may not see an end in sight, but because we know our future is in heaven with the Lord, we can continue to praise His name.

True praise is like a river that flows from your heart. May the words of Fanny Crosby be your prayer every day:

Praise Him! Praise Him! Jesus our blessed Redeemer! Sing, O earth -- His wonderful love proclaim! Hail Him! Hail Him! Highest archangels in glory; strength and honor give to His holy name!

Prayer: Jesus, thank You for giving me joy where there was despair. Today, I choose hope and joy over discouragement. May Your praise continually be on my lips, even when it is hard to praise You. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more" (Psalm 71:14).

Networking with Heaven

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

Every generation has a buzzword. In the 90s, the word was networking. It was not really what you knew, but rather who you knew that was important.

The ultimate form of networking in the Kingdom of God is developing a life of praise. Praise is a direct connection with our heavenly Father.

Take a moment and ask yourself: "Do I delight in praising God? Am I networking with heaven or am I tangled up in the world's demands and pressures?"

The Bible tells us the angels are praising God, singing, "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!" (Revelation 5:12).

Praise demands us to change -- from focusing on ourselves to focusing on God. However, many times we resist change for various reasons. We think change will be too hard or too painful.

We may fear the unknown and prefer to stay in our comfort zones. However, praising God has a positive impact on our lives. Our attitudes, relationships, perceptions, and even our desires change. When we take time to praise our Savior, we will find it nearly impossible to harbor anger, bitterness, and resentment toward others.

As we praise God, He takes our anger and replaces it with compassion. He destroys our bitterness and replaces it with mercy. When we praise God in the midst of our difficulties, we find our eyes turned toward the Lord. We find healing for our discouragement, despondency, and grief.

Our eternal destiny is in heaven with our magnificent Lord and Savior, who desires our praise and worship. You don't have to wait until eternity to network with God. You can do this right now as you rejoice in His love and delight yourself in His presence.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, increase my awareness of You. You are worthy of my full attention! Thank You for the joy You give me in Your presence (Psalm 16:11). I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High" (Psalm 9:2).

Transforming Your Life

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

When a person does a job well, we find ourselves wanting to praise him. But what about our praise to the Lord for who He is and what He has done for us?

Charles Spurgeon wrote, "The Lord always deserves to be praised for what He is in Himself, for His works of creation and providence, for His goodness towards His creatures, and especially for the transcendent act of redemption."

Praise is a constant reminder of God's unconditional love, His all-knowing wisdom, and His unchanging power. The more realistic we are about our weaknesses and faults, the more we comprehend God's graciousness toward us.

Spurgeon goes on to say, "It is always beneficial to praise the Lord; it cheers the day and brightens the night; it lightens toil and softens sorrow."

Praise reminds of us of who God is and who we really are -- sinful human beings redeemed and saved solely by the grace of God. Without Christ we are nothing, but in Christ we have every good thing.

Because Jesus Christ died on the cross for the sins of mankind, those who believe in Him have newness of life and the promise of eternity with Him. But we don't have to wait for eternity to enter God's presence. Through praise we can enter His presence every minute of every day.

As we praise God, He begins to work in our lives, conforming us to His image. Our prayer should be, "Lord, make me into the person You desire me to be." His power will transform your life and give you strength and hope for what He has called you to do.

Whatever your past difficulties may be, there continue to be many reasons to praise the Lord. For it is through our praise that we enter His presence -- into His very throne room. There is no better place to be.

Prayer: Lord, Your strength is sufficient for my weakness. Thank You for the work You have done and will continue to do in my heart. May Your kingdom come in my daily life! I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands" (Psalm 63:4).

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