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Catch the Foxes

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

God wants you to be wise and surefooted in your daily walk with Him, not allowing anything to come into your life that would cause you to doubt His goodness. He also knows there will be times when the enemy will tempt you to feel fearful and out of control. When this happens, you need to remember that you serve a sovereign God who has good plans for your life.

Even when troubles come, we may begin to wonder if we will ever realize the hopes and dreams that God has given us. Joseph, Daniel, Moses, David, and the disciples probably faced the same temptation to doubt God’s blessing and goodness. However, these men of faith remained steadfast in their belief in the Lord’s ability. They had to come to a point of faith where they boldly confronted their fears — and we do, too.

The English word worry comes from a German word meaning "to strangle or choke." This is exactly what worry does. It chokes and prevents us from living victorious lives by stifling our godly potential.

Solomon, however, admonished us to "catch ... the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom" (Song of Songs 2:15). The "little foxes" of sin have the ability to derail our Christian faith and sense of virtue.

On the surface, few of us would think that a little worry, doubt, or fear is enough to harm our devotion to God. However, they can steal our joy and create within our hearts and minds a sense of distrust for the things of God.

God is merciful. He has the power to conquer doubt, fear, and worry. When our lives are surrendered to Him, we don’t have to be anxious about tomorrow. He provides all that we need perfectly and on time.

Prayer: Lord, I surrender my life to You. I thank You for Your peace and provision. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it" (Proverbs 4:23).


Doing What He Asks

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

The psalmist said, "I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart" (Psalm 40:8). Like the psalmist, we can be content to pray "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven" until what God desires of us clashes with what we want.

How often do we know what God is calling us to do, but we want to do something else? Maybe we don’t want to give up something important to us. Maybe we are afraid we won’t succeed.

Maybe we are too busy focusing on what we want that we lose sight of what God desires for us. Oswald Chambers said, "When God draws me, the issue of my will comes in at once — will I react on the revelation which God gives — will I come to Him?"

As followers of Christ, we are called to a life of obedience to God’s Word. However, we often find that there are areas in our lives in which we struggle against His plan. The Christian walk is all about knowing Christ and becoming like Him through the surrender of our selfish ways and desires.

When we make God the priority of our lives, we will want to obey Him — not just because He tells us to, but because we love Him. It is then that we gain a transcending peace (Philippians 4:7).

We should enjoy the journey of obedience. It is only when we make a commitment to follow the principles in God’s Word that we find true joy and contentment. Have you discovered the pleasure that comes from doing what God asks you to do?

Prayer: Lord, thank You for the journey of faith I am on with You. Only in Your strength will I succeed. I pray that through the power of Christ, I will be able to do whatever You ask of me. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love" (John 15:10).


God's Kingdom

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

There are two kingdoms — the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world. When we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are adopted into the Kingdom of God.

Being a citizen of a country means you have special privileges. These vary from country to country. However, as a citizen of God’s Kingdom, we become members of the royal family. We are joint heirs with Christ. We have access to the throne of God. We have personal fellowship with the King of kings. We are His beloved children.

In order to become a citizen of a country other than the one in which you are born, you must meet certain requirements. The Kingdom of God requires its citizens to accept the reign of a wise and loving King. It means acknowledging Christ as our Lord and Savior. It means being obedient to the Word of God. It requires our saying, "Lord, not my will, but Yours be done."

Human nature is selfish. What we think we need is foremost in our actions and prayers. Prayer that revolves around our own plans, desires, and needs, however, can be contrary to God’s Word.

When we surrender our lives to Christ and submit ourselves to Him, we are placing our will in submission to the Lord’s. Thus we begin to pray, "Lord, reign in my life, dominate my thoughts, show me Your will."

Within each of us rages the war between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world. With Christ we have the victory. Knowing this, press on, armed with the confidence that God hears you and will answer your prayers.

Prayer: Lord, I thank You for making a way for me to pass from the kingdom of this world into the Kingdom of God. Thank You for the victory I always have in Christ. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil" (1 Peter 3:12).


Our Rock and Fortress

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

The prophet Isaiah wrote, "When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him" (Isaiah 59:19, NKJV). At some point, all of us have felt the weight of the enemy surrounding us.

We experience panic or stress over work deadlines, bills to be paid, or relationship conflicts. We catch ourselves focusing on what people will think or say. Then we begin to suffer discouragement and even depression.

No one wants to be scorned, ridiculed, or taken for granted. Even Jesus suffered the ridicule of others. The chief priests, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, "He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, 'I am the Son of God’" (Matthew 27:43).

No matter what we face or how others ridicule us, God is our rock and our fortress. He is our deliverer. We can find refuge and security in Him. Although you may not feel God’s presence or help, He is near. Psalm 91:15 states, "He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him."

Do you feel that God has forgotten you? The writer of Hebrews reminds us that the Lord will not forget us, as God Himself has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5).

So no matter what others say or how discouraged you may feel, remember that the Lord has the answer for your anxiety and despair. All you have to do is cry out to Him. He longs for you to seek His power. Ask Him to be the source of your strength and deliverance.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for never leaving or forsaking me. I cry out to You now for the strength I need for today. Thank You for Your new mercies every morning. Great is Your faithfulness. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God" (Psalm 42:11).


A Life Filled with Praise

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

We all have a choice — either we put God first or we put ourselves first. If we choose the latter, then we will not have successful prayer lives. To live successful Christian lives, we need to learn to praise God no matter how we feel. It is a life filled with praise that establishes the foundation of prayer. The key to hallowing the name of God is praise.

The apostle Paul knew the value of praise. In the book of Acts, Paul and Silas were arrested in Philippi for preaching the Gospel. Beaten and bleeding, they were still singing praises to the Lord. The result of their praise was an earthquake that shook the city and opened the prison gate. Even the prison warden wanted to know Christ.

Do you feel like God is not responding to you? Try praising Him. Praise is powerful and can change your outlook. Ask yourself if you are a person of praise or whether you have yielded to thoughts of doubt and negative thinking. You certainly can learn to praise God! How you act and talk is a reflection of the character of Christ within you. Regardless of your situation, praise comes as an overflow of His joy.

Practice praising the Lord by telling Him that you surrender to His power and authority, that you desire to place Him first in your life, and that you want to obey His Word. To honor and to uplift the name of the Lord brings delight to our heavenly Father.

Do you feel as if you are in a spiritual desert? Develop a life of praise by praising the Lord each day, regardless of how you feel or what you are experiencing. Can you praise God in the midst of pain and despair like Paul and Silas did? When you praise the name of God, you will feel the joy of the Lord.

Prayer: Lord, I praise Your holy name. Thank You for calling me Your beloved child. I pray my eyes would be fixed on You and I would live in Your joy, Lord. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God" (Philippians 4:6).


He Is Our Joy!

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

No matter how frustrated or anxious we become, we do not have to lose hope. Our hope should never be in ourselves or in our abilities, nor should it be in other people. At some point, others will let us down. Rather, our hope should be in the living Christ, who has kept every one of His promises to us!

We can have hope because Christ Jesus is our Savior. He is our joy. He is our peace. He is our fulfillment. If we try to get our joy from our feelings or from our possessions, then we will be constantly disappointed. However, if we find our joy in the Lord and in trusting in His Word, then we will experience hope — regardless of our circumstances.

Have you ever experienced the joy of the Lord? There comes a time when we must stop dwelling on our despair. We must stop giving in to the moaning and groaning that keeps us from experiencing the hope and the joy that God freely gives. He does not cast us away.

As His children, we have a hope in Christ who never fails. We can know a life filled with contentment, peace, joy, praise, and love when we commit our way to God. Moreover, as long as we are consumed with fear, envy, pride, selfish ambition, and greed, we cannot be filled with God’s Spirit. The choice is ours — contentment in Christ or discontentment in ourselves.

Christ is waiting with open arms. Begin by thirsting for Him. Come before Him in humility. Recognize that He has the answers for your feelings of fear and despair. Don’t give up. God is always with you.

Prayer: Father, thank You for Your love. In your presence is fullness of joy. My soul rejoices in You. I choose contentment in Christ and I thank You for Your salvation. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?" (Psalm 42:2).


A Cure for Despair

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

The writer of Psalm 42 is disheartened. Maybe he is dealing with a problem that has continued for some time. Then he hits on a truth that changes his feelings of depression into thoughts of hope. He writes, "Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God" (Psalm 42:5-6, 11).

Emotional depression can result from anger, disappointment, or discouragement. If we dwell on these feelings, then they will consume us. If we fail to look to God in the midst of our difficulty, then we will be overwhelmed and defeated.

When you are tired and discouraged, do you find yourself thirsty for God’s wisdom, guidance, and protection? If so, pray: "Lord, show me Your face. Help me to understand what I need to know about this situation and how to handle it."

If we seek God, then we will find Him (Matthew 7:8). Despair, hatred, malice, envy, and feelings of bitterness will fade. Is there something in your life that fills you with misery? Ask for God’s light to come upon you and for His Truth to guide you.

Prayer: Lord, help me to understand my feelings of anxiety and concern. Help me to focus on You and not on my anger, disappointment, and distress. Shine Your light on my life as I thirst for You. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell" (Psalm 43:3).


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