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The Heart of the Good Shepherd

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: “But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them’” (Luke 15:2). 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.

Jesus was not intimidated by the Pharisees’ intellectual arrogance or elitist attitude toward faith. He responded to their muttering by telling the parable of the lost sheep:

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them,” Jesus said. “Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep’” (Luke 15:4-6).

Can you imagine how these powerful leaders reacted to being compared to a simple shepherd? They would never lower themselves to laboring through the muddy hills. Instead, they would chastise the hired shepherds and order them to search for the sheep.

In Ezekiel 34, the shepherds of Israel—the religious leaders—angered God because they kept the food of God’s Word for themselves instead of spiritually feeding their flocks. God warned them, “Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock?” (v. 2).

The Pharisees of Jesus’ time were shepherding the same way. Yet our God does the searching for His lost sheep and rejoices when He has found one.

Prayer: Father, thank You for pursuing me when I was lost in sin. Thank You for being an intimate and loving God. 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).

 

The Power of the Spirit

The Holy Spirit of God is a gift that is given to all who have trusted in Jesus Christ. Apart from the power of the Holy Spirit of God who dwells in the life of every believer, it is impossible to live a life of obedience to God. Only those who surrender to the control of the Holy Spirit will experience freedom from the control of sin and the flesh.

In Romans 8, Paul explains our need for the Holy Spirit:

First, the Spirit of God is given to us to ensure our liberty and victory from sin (see Romans 8:1-4). Even the most valiant soldiers are vulnerable to spiritual injury and discouragement. You might become overwhelmed and feel defeated if you rely on your own strength. Instead, remember who dwells within you. Stop and say, “Spirit of God, I surrender to you,” and He will help you flee temptation and rise above fear. 

God the Father does not force His children to obey Him; He seeks willing obedience. When you are genuinely submissive to the Spirit of God, He will supernaturally reshape and redirect you, leading you into conformity to His will.

Second, the Spirit of God is given to every believer as a guarantee and a seal (see Romans 8:14-17). We cannot be adopted by God without having God’s name and all the power that comes with that name. As children of God, we are co-heirs with Christ, which means we will not only be equipped with His power to overcome in the present, but we will also share in His glory for eternity. The Holy Spirit is not only God’s seal of ownership on our lives, but also the reminder of our eternal destination.

Third, the Spirit of God turns your groans into glory (see Romans 8:22-25). Paul said, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). Whatever problem you are facing today that is making you groan, He is turning your groaning into glory. All the pain and all the hurt and all the suffering and all the agony, all the disappointment and all the dashed hopes and shattered dreams, all the insults and all the rejection, are all nothing when it comes to the Father’s glory that you will one day inherit. You can’t even begin to compare them.

Rest and rejoice in the Truth that the Spirit of God is giving you the ultimate victory, He is guaranteeing and sealing your adoption, and He is turning your groaning into glory.


Discover more about the Holy Spirit with Dr. Youssef.

Finishing the Year Strong

Thank you!

Thanks to all your support in June, Leading The Way was able to meet the match for the fiscal year-end Matching Challenge. This means that every gift given in June—up to $350,000—was matched by generous ministry partners of Leading The Way.* Thank you for helping us reach our goal!

In the last year, your gifts have helped us:

  • Reach a new audience in Sri Lanka with the addition of our 22nd language, Sinhala, to our dual-language library
  • Launch THE KINGDOM SAT Indonesia, reaching the world’s largest Muslim nation
  • Distribute over 5,000 Navigators in strategic locations around the world
  • Provide physical and financial aid to persecuted believers in 12 nations

As a result of your partnership, Leading The Way listeners are coming to Christ, like this university student in Turkey:Navigator Recipient in Indonesia

At first I listened to your radio program because I wanted to improve my English, but later your programs started to touch my heart. I began to understand that these programs were actually giving me spiritual guidelines. I was surprised that I did not understand this the first time. Now I have accepted Christ in my life. I feel that God has everything under control, and that gives me peace.

God is strengthening believers in their faith, like Stephanie in the United States:

Thank you so much for preaching the Word of God. I thank the Lord for His faithfulness and His Word, and for people like you who are declaring the truth. I am inspired to pray and will encourage others to do so as well!

People like Evgeniya in Ukraine have access to God's Word through Navigator solar-powered audio players:

I am a Christian, but have not been able to go to church for several years because the left side of my body is paralyzed. My eyesight is also pretty weak because of diabetes, so it is difficult for me to read my Bible. This Navigator has become a great spiritual blessing through which I can listen to God’s Word.

Persecuted Christians like Shahid have received freedom and legal help through the aid of Help The Persecuted:

Thank you to everyone who helped me. Thank you for the lawyer and all that you did. Thank you for caring.

Thank you for all your prayers and generous gifts. There are so many viewers we are still praying for, places we have yet to reach. We are excited to see how God continues to transform hearts and minds with His Word as we begin this new fiscal year.


*In June, we shared Leading The Way’s opportunity to distribute Navigator solar-powered audio players to Syrian refugees in one of Syria’s neighboring countries. Although this project is still largely in progress, we are excited to share with you that we are in the process of shipping 600 stuffed animal Navigators to one of these strategic locations. We hope these Navigators, which share the story of Jesus in Arabic, will be a source of hope, comfort, and Truth to the many Syrian children who have been displaced from their homes as a result of the Syrian civil war.

July Notes from Our Inbox

At Leading The Way, we receive encouraging testimonies and letters from viewers, listeners, and readers around the world. We hope that their words will be an encouragement to you and an answer to your prayers for Leading The Way.

Australia:

"I just wanted to let you know how much your ministry means to me. I have had one tragedy after another in my life in the last two years, but I love your devotionals and look forward to reading them every day. Thank you—they encourage and strengthen me every day."

Ukraine:

"You fill my life with meaning and strengthen my faith every day. You are a living testimony of God’s love. Thank you for your very useful work! I always watch your programs on TBN in Ukraine. For Ukraine it is more important than ever! May the Lord bless you!"

Indonesia:

"Each night we play your program on our radio station in Papua. This is a very good program for the people in Papua. One woman who contacted us shared of her struggles with a wayward husband. The woman had decided that she had had enough and wanted to commit suicide. At 10 p.m. she decided she wanted to commit suicide. At the same time, the Leading The Way program was playing on the radio. As she heard the program, the teaching gave her a solution to her problem. She decided to call the radio. The staff at the radio were able to minister to her and she decided not to commit suicide! This is an amazing testimony and it is only one example of the many testimonies we hear. On behalf of the radio, I want to say thank you to Dr. Michael Youssef."

Albania:

"Your radio programs fill all the empty spaces in my heart when I’m working or when I’m home. Your programs are teaching me as a young parent to face different situations in life."

United States:

From our follow-up team: "One listener from Richmond called in thanking God for finding Leading The Way programming in Richmond. She and her family are attending an American church, but most of the time she is lost during the sermon because her English is not very good. Leading The Way programming is where she can hear a clear godly message in Arabic."

Russia:

"We watch TBN Russia with the whole family and enjoy your programs. We have learned about Christ through your preaching. Thank you for this!"

Indonesia:

"When I was not living my life the right way, I experienced a breakdown and bitterness. My life was in darkness. When I listened to Leading The Way programming, I had answers for my feelings of anger, hate, and anxiety. Thank you Michael."

There Is Hope for America

From the desk of Dr. Michael Youssef

Today, as the Christian faith is under unprecedented attack, and as the airwaves are clogged with moral and spiritual poison, it’s more crucial than ever that we broadcast the love and Truth of Christ in our nation. A ministry supporter named Jackie recently shared with us how a Leading The Way broadcast first impacted her life.

"I was flipping through the channels on my car’s XM radio," she said, "when I heard Dr. Youssef say, ‘Are you lost? Are you alone?’ In my struggle with an eating disorder, that’s exactly how I felt. I wasn’t sure how I could get through the day.

"God used Dr. Youssef’s broadcast to reach me and bring me to Him. I’m still going through the storm, still struggling—but I have hope I can get through it in God’s strength. I have joy in my heart that only comes from Him—but I worry that my country is going down the wrong path. It seems everyone lives only for selfishness and greed—not for God. America needs God’s Truth.

"Dr. Youssef speaks God’s uncompromising Truth from the Bible. I want to follow that example and do my part to share the Good News with my children, my neighbors, and everyone around me."

It excites me to hear Jackie’s desire to do her part to reach others with the Good News of Jesus Christ. She’s right—America is on the wrong path. But there is hope for America.

The greatest threat to our nation does not come from foreign powers or terrorists. It comes from within. We have abandoned God’s principles for a righteous society. In times past, our nation turned to God for help. Today, we have largely forgotten Him. When the next threat comes, where will we turn?

Ancient Israel once stood at the same crossroads where America now stands. When evil kings led Israel into idolatry, the pagan nations overran Israel, burned its fields, and pillaged its cities. Eventually, Babylon destroyed Jerusalem and led the Israelites into captivity.

For 70 years, the people languished in exile. Then God raised up Nehemiah, the Israelite advisor to the Persian king. Nehemiah longed for Israel. When he thought of the broken walls of Jerusalem, he wept. Nehemiah prayed, he planned, he acted—and God used him to rebuild Jerusalem.

At Leading The Way, we want to be a city on a hill—a beacon of God’s grace. Over the Internet, on five national TV networks and 68 local TV stations, and on more than 500 radio stations in the United States, Leading The Way reaches people like Jackie every day in all 50 states. We rely on your gifts every month to stay on the air. This month, I pray you will partner with us in our mission to see God awaken this nation to the Truth as we proclaim Christ over the airwaves.

The walls of our nation are broken, but now is not the time to give up. Believe that God still uses faithful individuals to accomplish the impossible—then pray, “Lord, send me!”

In Christ,

Signature

Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

 

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