Warmth in Giving

Read Hebrews 12:1-3.

Even though there is—and always will be—one true Gospel, that doesn’t mean all people respond to the Good News of Jesus in the same way. There are some people who respond to the love of God, while others respond to the judgment of God. In addition, there are many ways people express their love for God. God, being infinitely creative, has wired each of us differently, and so this shouldn’t surprise us.

You will find there are some people who naturally love God with all of their intellect. They come to Scripture and engage with God through logic and detailed analysis of the text—and that’s wonderful. But these same people have trouble loving God with their imagination, their soul. They have trouble visualizing what Jesus did for them on the cross. They are wary of being drawn in by their emotions. But God wants us to love Him with every part of our being.

When I think about Jesus, I visualize Him in the Garden of Gethsemane, where He was sweating so furiously that blood came from His pores—something I learned later is a phenomenon so rare that it only happens during moments of unbearable stress. I visualize how, the next day, He walked two and a half miles to and from the various trial sites. He did this for me.

The Romans generally stripped the victims of their clothes, and they tied their hands above their head on an upright post. The back, buttocks, and legs were whipped first. Jesus’ flesh was torn. He was bloodied, and it’s possible some of the cuts went so deep that His organs were exposed. He bore this punishment for me.

Then came the crucifixion itself. An upright wooden post, about two hundred pounds, was fixed to the ground, but the victim carried the horizontal crossbar, which weighed about a hundred pounds. The Creator of all the forests of the world carried that tree. And He did it for me. Finally, He was nailed to the cross, suffered unthinkable pain, and bore the wrath of God that I deserved. He died for me.

My friend, Christian meditation, imagination, and visualization is not about emptying our minds like the Buddhists and the New Agers, focusing on whatever thought comes to us next. Rather, it’s about filling our minds with the matchless love of Jesus. We empty ourselves of self-worship and fill ourselves with the one who gave His all for us.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for giving Your all for me. You did not hold back, but emptied Yourself. May I also pour out my all in love for You—my heart, my mind, and my soul. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:3).

Learn more in Dr. Michael Youssef’s sermon series Growing in Your Love for Jesus: 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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