*An audio version of today's devotional is available on Leading The Way's MY Devotional podcast.

After ten years of waiting for God's promises to come true, Abraham needed assurance. He had faith that God would do what He said He would do, but at 85 with no children, it was getting difficult to see how God would make His descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky. Add to that the fact that Abraham and his wife, Sarah, had settled in Canaan at the Lord's calling but had yet to own any of the land God had promised him.

Read Genesis 15. In response to Abraham's questions, God did something that might seem strange to modern readers. He had Abraham bring some animals and birds, and Abraham cut the animals in half. In Abraham’s day, a covenant was made based on a ceremony. The two parties making a deal would cut animals like this and arrange them in two lines across from one another. Then the two men would walk between the bloody carcass halves to symbolize that if either man broke the covenant, then what happened to the animals would happen to that man. And look how gracious God is! He came down to Abraham’s level, to what was familiar to him, to what Abraham knew happened when people made contracts.

But even more amazing, God didn’t ask Abraham to walk between the animal parts. God alone passed through the pieces, while Abraham was just sitting tight, trying to keep the wild animals and the birds away from the sacrifice. Not only did God come down to Abraham’s level, but God assured Abraham that He is both a covenant-making and a covenant-keeping God. God's promises did not depend on Abraham, but on God alone, so God took on the curse Himself to secure the promised blessing.

The good news is that God’s promise to Abraham was met on the cross where Jesus Christ secured our salvation. God’s promise does not depend on our obedience, but on Christ's perfect sacrifice. The name of every believer in Jesus Christ is written in the book of life not in ink, but in the indelible blood of Christ Himself. God’s love is not dependent on whims and moods. God’s love is not limited to a moment of time. God’s love for us was always there before we were ever born, before we ever responded to His love. And no matter what we do, His love and promise of love is everlasting.

Prayer: Lord, thank You that You are a promise-making and promise-keeping God of love. Help me to more fully understand the depths of Your sacrifice for me out of that faithful, everlasting love. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram . . .” (Genesis 15:17-18).

Learn more in Dr. Michael Youssef’s sermon Counting Stars in an Empty Sky, Part 5: LISTEN NOW | WATCH NOW

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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