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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).


Learning Contentment

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

No one is born contented with life. As babies we cry for our every need. As we grow up we experience the frustrations and struggles of life. Yet through our hardships, we can learn how to gain contentment. Paul told the Philippians, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” (Philippians 4:12).

Contentment was not a natural skill or talent for Paul—he had to learn about it through experiencing both the highs and lows of life. Paul said, “I have learned.” Learning does not always come easily. It requires time, dedication, and willingness to learn the necessary lessons.

Paul spent years at the pinnacle of prestige and power as a Pharisee, then became a humble servant of Christ. He experienced times of plenty and times of near starvation. He lived in a comfortable home, and he dwelled in a prison cell.

Yet he finally figured out how to find joy and contentment in both extremes of life. He realized that contentment is a state of the heart, not of affairs, and that contentment is independent of his circumstances. Paul learned that everything we have belongs to God, including life itself.

When we completely trust God to lead our lives in His timing and His ways, He will meet our needs.

Prayer: Father, help me to be willing to learn how to be content. Help me to trust You for my every need, no matter what the circumstance. Amen.

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11).


A Meaningful Life

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

Much of our worldly pursuits in life will bring us nothing but emptiness, misery, and disappointment. A life without God’s leading is a life without purpose and meaning.

But thanks be to God, there is a better way! A life that is lived in fellowship with God, a life lived under the authority of the Word of God, a life which is lived by the principles given to us in the Word—that life will be meaningful. That life will be purposeful. That life will be joyful and fulfilling. That life will be a blessing to you and to others. Most importantly, that life will be a blessing to God.

The good news is that those who are experiencing a personal relationship with the Son of God will not only find contentment in this life—they will know with all assurance that the day is coming when they will have perfect knowledge, perfect bodies, perfect memories, and perfect stamina. And the reason that they can have this full life is that they know who they are and to Whom they belong. They know their purpose for living and they know their ultimate destination.

Only God, His truths, His purpose, and His Word can give your life the meaning you have always wanted.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for offering me a life of purpose, joy, and fulfillment. I pray that my life would be a blessing to You to others. Amen.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).

 


Motivated by Discontentment

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

Not all discontentment is bad. Sometimes discontentment can motivate positive, godly change in our lives. Discontentment can be the warning sign that we need to make changes in our walk with God—and that can lead to contentment. When we are contented in life, we can face whatever roadblocks and detours we find. Instead of grumbling about our circumstances, we can look for the opportunities to trust God in new ways and bring glory to Him. We can use our valleys to remind us that only God can fill the emptiness in our lives.

Paul discovered this secret and was able to say, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:11-13).

Only Jesus can move us from covetousness to contentment. Pray for God to show you how He views your circumstances and how He wants you to respond to them.

Prayer: God, I pray that when I am experiencing discontentment in my life, that I will be motivated to turn to You. I pray that You would turn my covetousness into contentment as You change my perspective. Amen.

“But godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6).

 


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