A-1 - Encouraged by What You Read?

A paradox is an apparent contradiction that conceals a profound Truth—and the Bible is filled with paradoxes. We triumph by first surrendering to God. We find freedom in becoming Christ’s bondservants. We are made great by becoming little. We become wise by becoming fools for Christ’s sake. We can only truly live if we die to self.

 

Yet the greatest paradox in the entire Bible is found in the birth of Jesus Christ. During the time of Jesus’ birth, Caesar Augustus was the greatest ruler of the world. Yet even with all of his earthly authority and riches, Caesar was just a man. When God Himself came to earth, He was not the leader of the largest empire. He was born as a poor and obscure child in Bethlehem. The pagan man Caesar was at the height of power; the God-infant, Jesus, was in the depths of helplessness. Caesar was the wealthiest man on earth; Jesus was one of the poorest. Caesar slept in a Roman palace on a golden bed covered with fine linens; Jesus slept in a manger, bundled in swaddling clothes.

 

But none of the wealth or power that Caesar possessed compared to the glory and splendor that Jesus had left in heaven. Jesus endured a human, earthly birth so that everyone who follows Him can undergo a spiritual, heavenly birth. Jesus became a member of a human family so that those who love Him can become members of His heavenly family.

 

The infant Jesus was pursued by the ruthless and evil King Herod who ordered the slaughter of all the boys two years old and younger in the Bethlehem area, hoping to end the threat of the one “born king of the Jews” (see Matthew 2:1-18). Yet the very baby Herod hunted was born to destroy the root of all such evil: Satan.

 

We can learn from the paradoxes of Christmas: We should not judge things by appearances because God hid His greatest gift in a humble package.

 

Prayer: Father, I thank You for the paradoxes of the Christmas story. Thank You for all that You teach us through Your unusual ways. Thank You for the humble package that changed my life. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

 

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).

Check out more from Dr. Michael Youssef, here!

About The Author

Dr. Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

Even before he was born, it is clear that God had a vision for Michael Youssef. His mother was in poor health when she became pregnant with Michael, and because his life was in danger at the time of birth, the doctor recommended terminating the pregnancy. An abortion was scheduled. But God intervened and sent the family pastor to reassure them that God was involved in this pregnancy. He told them not to be afraid and that the child would be "born to serve the Lord." Michael's parents accepted the pastor's message as a message from God and obeyed. His mother gave birth, and lived to see him give his life to the Lord at the age of sixteen.


Believing that God had called him out of Egypt, Michael sought an exit visa in a time in which no university student was allowed to have a passport or leave the country. God intervened again, and miraculously he managed to acquire a visa. He immigrated to Australia, where he studied at Moore Theological College in Sydney, was ordained as a pastor, and met Elizabeth who became his wife.


The Youssefs came to America in 1977, and in 1978 Michael received a master's degree in theology at Fuller Theological Seminary in California. Then he earned a doctorate in social anthropology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Michael served nearly ten years in the Haggai Institute, traveling around the world more than 32 times, teaching courses in evangelism and leadership. He rose to the position of Managing Director at the age of 31 years. The family settled in Atlanta, and in 1984, Michael became a citizen of the United States, making his dream of many years come true.


He founded The Church of The Apostles in 1987 with fewer than 40 adults with the mission of "Equipping the Saints and Searching for the Lost". The church has since grown to be a congregation of over 3,000 people today. This church has driven the international ministry of Leading the Way. While it is heard by millions at home and abroad, behind every message preached through radio waves, is the heart of a pastor, willing to nurture and care for these people. Clearly God has uniquely equipped Dr. Youssef to speak to a global audience. The path he has taken has given him an understanding and firm grasp of the Scriptures that transcend cultures. He preaches, teaches and calls with a sincere, based on the authority of the inerrant, inspired Word of God. With his personal knowledge of the Holy Land, its history and culture, Dr. Michael Youssef transmits life to listeners all over the world.

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