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We Preach Christ (Booklet)
Disrupted Faith

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

Even though God had promised Abraham many descendants, he and his wife Sarah had yet to bear any children. After years of frustration, Sarah began to blame God for her barrenness. She even said to Abraham, “The Lord has kept me from having children” (Genesis 16:2).

This is an easy trap to fall into. When things go wrong or don’t make sense, we blame God. Like Sarah, we become tempted to short-circuit God’s plan. Even if we disobey God out of good intentions, the result is still heartache. Disobedience leads to a disrupted faith walk.

God always keeps His promises, even if they do not follow our preferred timeline. When God acts, we shouldn’t be surprised. Yet what happened when Sarah heard the news that she would finally bear a son? She laughed. “Then the Lord said to Abraham, ‘Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son’” (Genesis 18:12-14).

There is nothing too difficult for the Lord! But when we allow our doubts and disbeliefs to taint our faith, we miss out on the joy of watching God’s plan unfold in our lives. When we begin to doubt God’s wisdom and providence, we backtrack in our journey of faith.

As we have learned from Abraham, only when we remain in God’s will can we receive His promised blessings. When we try to force our own plans, we cause ourselves misery.

Prayer: Father, thank You that there is nothing too hard for You! Help me to obey You completely so that my faith walk will not be disrupted in any way. Help me to always be moving forward in my walk of faith. Amen.

“It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth” (3 John 1:3).

The Blessing in Surrender

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

In 2 Kings 5, we’re introduced to Naaman, the commander of the Syrian army. He was a decorated general, but he had one problem—he had leprosy. The Bible equates leprosy with sin.

In verse 10 we are told that the prophet Elisha sent a message to Naaman. He said, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.” In verses 11 and 12, we discover that Elisha’s instructions were not what Naaman expected: “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than any of the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?”

In a fit of rage, Naaman commanded his company to head back for Syria. Fortunately, Naaman’s servants intervened and asked him to just slow down, cool off, and give it a try. They said, “If the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it?” And when Naaman finally conceded and dipped in the River Jordan seven times, his skin was healed.

It is important to know that the miracle was not in the water of the River Jordan or in the words of the prophet Elisha. The miracle was in the trip to the Jordan River because there is a blessing in surrender.

Is there anything standing in the way of your miracle? Scripture is very clear: “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened” (Psalm 66:18).

What do you need to surrender today? Perhaps God is asking you to do something that is completely different from what you expected. Will you obey?

Prayer: God, I realize that sometimes I am surprised by the things You ask of me. Help me to be completely surrendered to You, willing to do whatever it is You ask. Amen.

“If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer” (Psalm 66:18-19).

Shut Doors and Yielded Spirits

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

Yesterday we looked at the first condition for the widow’s jar of oil to become her miracle. Today we will look at two more conditions.

The second condition that Elisha gave this woman was this: “Shut the door behind you” (2 Kings 4:4).

The door has to be shut for God to bless you. Go into your prayer closet and shut the door on anxiety and fear. Shut the door on cynicism and worldliness. Shut the door behind you, whether it is a legitimate or illegitimate disturbance. He wants to give to you more generously than you have ever been capable of receiving.

There was a third condition for blessing, and it was this: a yielded spirit. The woman must have thought, Surely this is just a drop of oil. Surely that doesn’t make sense to even mention. I really have nothing. Yet the prophet said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few.” Get your jars, big and small. Do not stop with just a small few, because God is not a chintzy God. When God blesses, He wants to bless to the fullest.

The only limit to God’s blessing is our unbelief, our unwillingness to yield to Him. Because the woman yielded and surrendered, the miracle happened.

Prayer: Father, help me to shut the door on anything that is a disturbance to my walk with You. Help me to be totally willing to yield to You, and to trust that You have great blessings in store for me. Amen.

“‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the LORD Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it’” (Malachi 3:10).

Empty Vessels

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

Yesterday we read about the widow with the oil in 2 Kings 4. When Elisha looked into the widow’s situation, he immediately told the woman about three conditions under which her jar of oil could become her miracle. Today we will look at the first condition.

The first condition was this: Get lots of empty jars. “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few” (2 Kings 4:3).

What are the borrowed vessels? The borrowed vessels represent her capacity to receive from God. The more vessels she had, the more she was going to receive. The emptier the jars, the more oil could be poured into them. The moment they ran out of empty vessels, the oil stopped flowing.

God blesses you to the capacity that you make yourself available for Him to bless. If you close off areas of your life to Him, your capacity to receive His blessing is stunted. Open your life to Him, and His blessing is able to flow freely into every area of your life.

If you have been filled in your heart with a spirit of bitterness and anger, God’s Holy Spirit cannot be poured into you. When you are filled with the spirit of control, God’s Spirit cannot fill you. When you are filled with the spirit of greed and covetousness, the Spirit of God cannot be poured into you. When you are filled with the spirit of lust and sexual immorality, God’s Spirit cannot be poured into you.

When you fill your vessel with things that are not glorifying to God, you become as spiritually dry as a bone. You must offer God an empty jar, an empty vessel, to receive His spiritual blessings. If you want to experience the work of the Holy Spirit in your life, empty yourself of those things that are not from Him.

Prayer: God, help me to empty myself of anything that is not of You. I want to be an empty vessel that You can freely pour into. Amen.

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me’” (Matthew 16:24).

Hold Nothing Back

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

The key to your blessing is your willingness to surrender whatever you have at the feet of Christ.

In 2 Kings 4 we read about the testimony of a woman who had reached a place of bankruptcy in her life. Her husband died and left her a widow, but he left her with a lot of debt, and the only thing that was left in her life was for her to throw herself upon the mercy of Elisha, the man of God.

When this widow came to the prophet Elisha, he asked her a question: “What do you have in your house?” The woman replied, “Your servant has nothing there at all . . . except a little oil” (2 Kings 4:2).

This woman could have easily said, “Oh, I have nothing. All I have is a bunch of bills,” not bothering to mention the oil because a drop of oil in a little jar couldn’t make a difference, could it? She could have easily rationalized that; we do that all the time. However, had she done that, she would have missed out on the blessings.

Elisha’s question has nothing to do with what you have. It even has nothing to do with what you give. It has everything to do with you being prevented from experiencing the blessings of God until you surrender whatever it is you are holding back.

When Elisha heard that the woman had a little oil, he thought, “Lady, you have everything.” That’s all you need. A drop of oil plus God equals untold blessings.

If you have turned your life over to Jesus Christ and the Spirit of God is within you, whatever you have is enough. When you surrender whatever you are holding back from Him, the Holy Spirit of God will use it to bless your life.

Prayer: Father, even though it may not seem like much, help me to surrender the things I’ve been holding back from You. Amen.

“If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20).

Our Faithful God

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

The Scripture tells us again and again of how, in the midst of disaster, God takes care of His faithful people. The testimony of so many believers tells us again and again how, in the midst of depression, in the midst of grief, God has blessed, God has protected, and God has provided. That’s our God. He’s a faithful God.

In the Book of Genesis, we read that before a severe famine that came that would have wiped out Jacob and all of his children, God had already made plans to save His people. He took Joseph to the land of Egypt so that he could save Jacob, fulfilling the promise that God gave to Abraham. In Exodus 10, when the entire nation of Egypt was plunged into darkness, there was light in the suburbs where the people of God lived. In 1 Kings 17, while all of Israel was experiencing perishing hunger, God was supplying His servant, Elijah, with food and with water. That’s our God.

No wonder the psalmist, after experiencing the goodness of God, could say in Psalm 84:11, “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” And in 37:25 he said, “I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.” That’s our God. Do you know Him?

Prayer: God thank You for always being faithful to Your people. Thank You for always being faithful to me. Amen.

“Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands” (Deuteronomy 7:9).

Trying To Please God

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

One of the greatest dangers that we often fall into is associating God with our earthly fathers. Whether your earthly father was gracious or harsh, you can never associate your earthly father with our heavenly Father.

I wonder how many people spend their life trying to please God, but feel they can never please Him enough. I wonder how many are laboring under a sense of failure because they feel that they cannot satisfy God.

I think of our religious friends, the Muslims, who bow and prostrate themselves five times a day until they develop a mark on their foreheads, which they wear with pride as a sense of accomplishment. They are trying to please Allah, but they have absolutely no assurance that they can ever please him.

I think of Martin Luther, the great reformer who ignited the Reformation in Europe. As a Dominican monk in the monastery, he was so overburdened with his sin and his unworthiness in trying to please God, he literally would go to the abbot of the monastery every hour on the hour for confession until the abbot got tired of him and said, “Stop coming back.”

Luther wanted to please God, but he couldn’t until he read the Scripture, opened the Word of God and realized that salvation is by grace alone. Then his life was transformed and he ignited the Reformation in Europe.

We spend all of this effort and hard work trying to please God, yet never feeling that God is pleased because we miss the meaning of the Word of God. Without faith, no one can please God.

Prayer: Father, thank You that no earthly father can compare to You. You are perfect and full of grace. Thank You for the reminder that there is nothing I can do to attain Your acceptance. Thank You that it is only by Your grace that we can be called Your sons and daughters. Amen.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

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