A-1 - Encouraged by What You Read?

During His earthly ministry, Jesus reserved His harshest criticism for the Pharisees—people who paraded their outward religious piety while neglecting the condition of their hearts.

Read Deuteronomy 6:4-9. No one dreams of someday becoming a Pharisee. Yet how many of us have made the mistake of focusing on a child’s outward behavior instead of shepherding his heart? It’s the same mistake the Pharisees imposed on the next generation. But Jesus said, “First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean” (Matthew 23:26).

If we parent with the goal of mere behavior modification, that’s just what we’ll get—children who have learned to modify their behavior though their hearts are far from God. We must parent in a way that shepherds our children’s hearts toward Jesus. We must become less concerned about what our children are doing and more concerned about why they are doing it. A heart that loves Jesus will naturally produce good fruit—the fruit of the Spirit.

So how do we shepherd our children’s hearts? When beliefs are right and the heart is right with God, then the outward appearance will take care of itself. This is exactly what God prescribed for His people when He led them into the Promised Land. He said through His servant Moses:

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)

Just like a garden, we must cultivate and guide our children each day. With God’s help, each challenge can be a new opportunity to demonstrate His grace. It takes time and energy, but that’s what it means to keep God at the center of family life.

Prayer: Father, thank You for Your faithfulness. Help me to shepherd the hearts of the children You have placed in my life, guiding them with Your Word. I will trust You to grow their faith as I give them every opportunity to meet You. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“All your children will be taught by the Lord, and great will be their peace” (Isaiah 54:13).

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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