Day 59: Rest & Atonement

Leviticus 22:17-23:44

Mark 9:30-10:12

Psalm 44:1-8

Proverbs 10:19

For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1cr9us2

 

CityLight Pastor Commentary:

“And you shall do no work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the Lord your God” (Lev 23:28). Atonement is reparation for sin: the reconciliation of God and humankind through Jesus Christ. Entire denominations of Christianity have been built around attempts to ‘earn’ our own salvation through works. Yet even under Levitical Law, God separated work from atonement. Salvation is a free gift, and we should rest in it. Even under the Old Covenant, God set a precedent that work and atonement should be completely separated. How much more applicable is that division under the New Covenant?

 

Prayer:

“Father, reconciliation doesn’t happen by my might or power, but by Your Holy Spirit and through Your Son Jesus Christ. Salvation is a free gift! Help me to accept it and rest, knowing that there is nothing I could ever do to earn my own salvation.”

Day 58: Praying in Advance

Leviticus 20:22-22:16

Mark 9:1-29

Psalm 43:1-5

Proverbs 10:18

For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1fJwRl0

 

CityLight Pastor Commentary:

Mark 9:29 tells us that if we are to minister effectively, we must pray and fast in advance. Surely Jesus was not telling His disciples that in this specific instance, with a possessed child in front of them, they should have asked the boy and his father to come back for prayer after they had a chance to pray and fast. Jesus was issuing an opinion on the disciples’ lifestyle. If they had been praying and fasting adequately on a routine basis, they would have had all the confidence and anointing they needed to cast out the spirit. We must pray in advance. When we do, God will give us all the instructions we need – in advance – so that when we encounter tough situations we are fully prepared.

 

Prayer:

“Father, I want to have a lifestyle of prayer! Help me to pray and fast in advance of tough situations, even when I don’t feel like I ‘need’ to. Your presence builds faith, and I want to spend more time in it.”

Expect to Hear from God

The following is an adaptation of the sermon ‘Expect to Hear from God’ preached by Pastor Mike White on Sunday, 2/23/2014, at CityLight Church. To listen to the full podcast please click here: http://bit.ly/1ewsiWy

 

Expectation Determines Outcome

 

The focus of this piece is building an expectation to hear from God on a regular basis. We have certain rights as Christians living under the New Covenant; one of those rights is constant communication from God. At CityLight Church, we believe that the Bible is the full counsel of God. We are cautioned not to take anything away from God’s Word, or to add anything to it (Rev 22:18-19). What I am not saying here is that we should expect God to add to His written Word. However, Scripture must be interpreted. As our Helper and our Guide, the Holy Spirit aids us in interpreting the Word of God. He speaks to us in the form of speech, visions, dreams and sensations to illuminate how God’s Truth relates to the specific circumstances in which we find ourselves on a daily basis. All of us should expect to hear from God, because it is only through this hearing that we are able to conform our lives to His Will.

 

Another necessary preface is that nothing God is speaking to you through His spoken (rhema) Word will ever contradict Scripture. I have had conversations with many people who claim to be ‘led’ by the Spirit of God who are convinced He is telling them to do things that quite obviously do not line up with His Word. That will never be the case. The Holy Spirit will never give you instructions that contradict the Bible, because a house divided cannot stand (Mk 3:25).

 

Our Spiritual Nature

 

In order to understand how and why God communicates with us, we have to come to grips with our spiritual nature. As Kenneth E. Hagin was fond of saying, man is a spirit, with a soul, living in a body. This is the three-fold nature of man, as illustrated in the following verse:

 

“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 1 Thess 5:23

 

As a simple proof, we know from John 4:24 that God is Spirit. We also know from Gen 1:27 that we are made in the image of God. It therefore follows that if God is Spirit and we are made in His image, we too are spiritual beings.

 

The understanding of the spiritual nature of man is foundational if we are to comprehend the rebirth process at the moment we give our lives to Jesus Christ and rely on Him for salvation:

 

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” – 2 Cor 5:17

 

When we receive Jesus Christ, our spirit is reborn. Our regenerated spirit is able to communicate directly with the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:16) because we are children of God. Our body is not reborn when we accept Jesus Chris into our lives. Even Paul longed for the day when he would be free of his earthly ‘tent’ and present with the Lord (2 Cor 5:1-2). Our soul (mind, will and emotions) is not reborn when we accept Jesus either. It is therefore necessary to ‘renew our minds’ (Rom 12:2) daily by praying and reading God’s Word.

 

The understanding of man’s spiritual nature is also fundamental if we are to achieve any sort of happiness and fulfillment during our time here on earth. If you think of yourself as a purely intellectual being, you will be missing something. You can spend your entire life reading books and pursuing knowledge, but you will be spiritually empty because you are neglecting that part of yourself. If you think of yourself as purely an emotional being, you will also be missing something. Many of us try to ‘find love’ and ‘listen to our hearts,’ while forgetting that the unredeemed heart is desperately wicked (Jer 17:9). Yet if we cater only to our emotions, we will be spiritually empty. If you think of yourself as purely a physical being, then of course you will find yourself feeling empty and alone. No diet or workout routine can negate the fact that at some point in time, your body will begin to decay and you will be confronted with the reality of death. It is far better to embrace our spiritual nature now and cater to it, so that by the time we face life’s more defining moments, we already have a comfortable and confident understanding of who we are.

 

Why God Speaks

 

Before Jesus ascended into heaven, He gave us instructions to expect and heed His Holy Spirit. God speaks to us today through His Holy Spirit. We must always remember that the Holy Spirit is a Person. When we get go know the sound of His voice, we can have a conversation with Him just as easily as we can speak to the person sitting next to us.

 

“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever – the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” – John 14:16-17

 

The Holy Spirit dwells with our regenerated spirit in our bodies. Having received this privilege, we are living in the greatest era mankind has ever seen. The veil is torn (Matt 27:51) and we have unrestricted access to the presence and counsel of God. We have legal right and access to boldly approach the throne of grace (Heb 4:16). In fact, we are living in an age of which the Old Testament prophets could have only dreamed:

 

“Then He turned to His disciples and said privately, ‘Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see; for I tell you that many prophets and kings have desired to see what you see, and have not seen it, and to hear what you hear, and have not heard it.’” – Lk 10:23-24

 

Jesus Christ has given us eyes to see and ears to hear. He has blessed all of our senses so that we can experience Him constantly. We are living in a period of history that would make prophets and kings jealous! We must take advantage of the communicative privileges we have been afforded because of the Cross of Jesus Christ.

 

Peter calls the Gospel something ‘angels long to gaze into’ (1 Pet 1:12). Isn’t it absolutely amazing that angels – having experienced God’s presence in heaven – would rather experience what we get to go through every day? Why would that ever be the case? Angels don’t need forgiveness; we do. The more we know we are forgiven, the greater our understanding of God’s love (Lk 7:47). All of us – including me – have done some things that make us cringe, but God has forgiven all our sins. It’s only by experiencing God’s forgiveness that we understand the depth of God’s love.

 

But You Don’t Know What I’ve Done…

 

I’ve spoken with many people who seem to be under the impression that something they have thought, said, or done disqualified them from a relationship with God. This can never be the case.

 

Quite frankly, it doesn’t matter what you’ve done. There is no sin too big for the Cross. Sometimes we refuse forgiveness because we develop an attitude that we don’t deserve it. Even worse, many times we cloak that attitude in a veil of humility. ‘God can never forgive me for what I’ve done,’ we say. What we’re really looking for with a statement like that is sympathy from other people. We crave affection from God, but instead of appropriating His love for us, we take the childish route and seek that affection from other people.

 

I’m not going to mince words here: the attitude that our sin is too grave to be forgiven is not humility; it is presumption. It is arrogance. We have to be very careful when we make statements like, ‘God will never forgive me,’ because what we’re actually saying with those words is, ‘My sin is bigger than the Cross of Jesus Christ.’ When we refuse forgiveness, we’re actually saying that our sin – our action – carries more weight than the defining action of God’s love: Jesus Christ hanging and dying for our sins on the Cross. What we’re actually saying is we know better than God. If the God of the universe has already forgiven us, who are we to deny that forgiveness?

 

If that doesn’t sit well with you, please take some time to digest it. Talk to your pastor or a trusted friend, and ask him to lead you through a prayer of self- forgiveness. The groundwork has already been laid, and the work of the Cross is finished. When we 1) establish expectation and 2) make time to hear from God, He’s going to speak to us!

 

The Cross entitles us to a relationship with God. Why? Because when we accept Jesus Christ into our lives, we are adopted into the family of God. Just as an earthly father speaks to his children, the Heavenly Father will speak to us:

 

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”

- Rom 8:14-16

 

If we call God our Father, we should expect to hear from Him!

 

God’s Best Interest

 

Did you know it’s actually in God’s best interest to speak to you? Yes, you! It’s in His best interest to speak to all of His children. Any earthly king, ruler or leader has to communicate expectations and instructions to his servants. A leader can’t simply issue over-arching instructions with general guidelines, and then leave specific interpretation up to his subjects based on their discretion. He has to issue further guidance which is tailored to a given situation based on any new, pertinent information.

 

A few weeks ago, Bill de Blasio (the new Mayor of New York City) took a lot of heat for leaving schools open. On Wednesday, 2/13, the National Weather Service predicted 3 inches of snow; by Thursday morning there were 10 inches on the ground. Parents, teachers’ unions, and even Al Roker took him to task for keeping schools open. What happened here? There was new information (in the form of accumulation), but instructions were not updated to account for that new information. Every time it snows, parents know conceptually that school might be closed; they know there are guidelines in place in case that decision is made. However, the mayor’s office needs to communicate specific instruction every time it snows so that parents, teachers and the rest of the city all know what to do. Otherwise, it would be pure chaos!

 

We also see this communication principle in marriage. You meet ‘the one’…you fall in love…you plan your wedding day. Once the two of you tie the proverbial knot, does the communication just stop? Of course not! That would be an excellent recipe for disaster and divorce. If a husband and a wife don’t have regular communication, the marriage will be stagnant at best; it will dissolve at worst. Once the commitment is made and the marriage covenant is established, the communication is just beginning! A husband and wife can finally be naked in front of each other, both physically and emotionally. Nakedness breeds intimacy. God’s design has always been for us to bare all of ourselves in front of him. He wants to communicate daily with us to maintain intimacy.

 

Expect to Hear from God

 

Under the New Covenant, the Bible tells us to boldly approach the throne of grace:

 

“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.“- Heb 4:15-16

 

Jesus was human. He experienced every ounce of temptation we experienced, and He understands what you’re going through. He gets it. When it comes to communication, He knows the enemy’s goal is to try and make you pass up your right to hear from God. Yet we need to approach God and expect to hear from Him. We are allowed to approach Him because of grace.

 

Grace is defined as unmerited favor. We can never deserve it; the lack of merit makes it a free gift. In parts of the Bible, ‘favor’ is defined as being granted an audience with a king. If a nobleman had favor with a king, he would be allowed access into the throne room: to speak with the king face to face, make his concerns known, and then receive specific instruction as to how the matter would be resolved. Under the New Covenant, grace means being granted an audience with the King, even when we don’t deserve it.

 

- by Pastor Mike White

 

© Michael D. White and CityLight Church, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Michael White and CityLight Church with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Day 57: Seeking a Sign?

Leviticus 19:1-20:21

Mark 8:11-38

Psalm 42:1-11

Proverbs 10:17

For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1o4N9pm

 

CityLight Pastor Commentary:

“But He sighed deeply in His spirit, and said, ‘Why does this generation seek a sign? Assuredly, I say to you, no sign shall be given to this generation’” (Mark 8:12). This is the only time in Jesus’ entire life where the Bible says He ‘sighed deeply.’ Why was Jesus so discouraged that the people around Him wanted a sign? Because they asked for one in doubt: to ‘test’ Him (v 11). We should not test God and seek a sign from a place of doubt; we must instead trust God and expect a sign from a place of faith. Conditional faith describes a deficiency whereby we insist on seeing evidence before we believe in God’s sovereignty. Jesus addresses it specifically when He tells His disciples the story of the rich man and Lazarus (Lk 16:19-31), and calls it unacceptable. If we require a sign from God before we believe in Him, we will never see one. Once we accept Him, however, we will be given all the signs we seek. God has already displayed enough signs for previous generations; now this generation must give Jesus its heart.

 

Prayer:

“Father, help me to trust in You from a place of faith, and never test You from a place of doubt! I’m going to believe in Your supernatural power, knowing that when I do, I’ll see it!”

Day 56: Life In the Blood

Leviticus 16:29-18:30

Mark 7:24-8:10

Psalm 41:1-13

Proverbs 10:15-16

For full text click here: http://bit.ly/MWE3j9

 

CityLight Pastor Commentary:

“For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul” (Lev 17:11). The blood makes atonement for the soul. Without blood, the soul cannot be saved, because the life of the flesh is in the blood. More specifically, the life of our flesh – and eternal life for our souls – is only possible through the blood of Jesus Christ. The Son of Man did not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it. Levitical Law specifies that in order for reconciliation to occur, there must be blood. God knew that the only way to exercise total forgiveness while maintaining holiness was to give His Only Son as a gift on the Cross to die for us. Jesus Christ poured out His blood so that we would be saved!

 

Prayer:

“Father, thank You that Jesus Christ fulfilled the law for us! We could never hold up our end of the bargain, so You held it up on our behalf. Thank You!”

Day 55: Closer or Farther?

Leviticus 15:1-16:28

Mark 7:1-23

Psalm 40:11-17

Proverbs 10:13-14

For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1dom1wF

 

CityLight Pastor Commentary:

Traditions come in many shapes and sizes. We carry traditions with us every day in the form of routines, some of which we perform out of habit because we’ve been doing them for so many years. For everything we do, we should ask ourselves the question: does this bring me closer to God, or push me farther away? Intimacy and distance are mutually exclusive. Every activity in life either pulls us to God or pushes us from Him, and no activity can do both. If the answer is the former: do it all the more earnestly; if the latter: be done with it and stop wasting your time. God wants your heart. Anything in the way of our relentless pursuit of Him must be dealt with swiftly.

 

Prayer:

“Father, help me to honor You with everything I do! I want to worship You with every thought, word and action in my life. Set my heart on fire for You, in Jesus’ Mighty Name!!!”

Day 54: Rest A While

Leviticus 14:1-57

Mark 6:30-56

Psalm 40:1-10

Proverbs 10:11-12

For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1bWbjT9

 

CityLight Pastor Commentary:

“Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while…” (Mk 6:31). Jesus commissioned His disciples to go out into the world and preach the Gospel, cast out demons and heal the sick. When they returned to Him to tell of all they had done and taught, He told them to rest. We spend much of our lives in our communities doing God’s work, which takes numerous shapes and forms. We run left and right, fulfilling obligations and taking time out for the people we love. We need to make time to return to Jesus and rest. The demands of life will never stop, and your to-do list will always continually fill up. The foot of the Cross is where we find respite. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt 11:28).

 

Prayer:

“Father, help me to rest. Rest does not mean immobility, but it does mean finding incomparable peace in every circumstance. Thank You for Your Son, and thank You for the Cross!”

Day 53: Hold Your Tongue

Leviticus 13:1-59

Mark 6:1-29

Psalm 39:1-13

Proverbs 10:10

For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1hhJYZm

 

CityLight Pastor Commentary:

“Lest I sin with my tongue; I will restrain my mouth with a muzzle…” (Ps 39:1). David understood the importance of guarding his speech. Even though he found himself in an unfair situation, surrounded by wicked men, he did not react with anger or in fear. He restrained his tongue until he was ready to praise God: “My hope is in You. Deliver me…” (Ps 39:7-8). The enemy wants us to respond to a difficult situation by speaking negative words from a place of fear or frustration. God wants us to respond by speaking His Word: life and truth, from a place of love and patience. Death and life are in the power of the tongue (Prov 18:21); I pray that we would all choose life.

 

Prayer:

“Father, help me to restrain my tongue! Even when He was beaten, bruised, and on His way to the Cross, Jesus did not respond to His accusers with hate or anger. Give me that same restraint in Jesus’ Name!”

Day 52: Face to Face

Leviticus 11:1-12:8

Mark 5:21-43

Psalm 38:1-22

Proverbs 10:8-9

For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1nRZiOp

 

CityLight Pastor Commentary:

Healing brings us face to face with Jesus Christ. Today’s passage tells the story of the woman with the issue of blood. She touches the hem of Jesus’ garment and is made completely whole. Then Jesus does something strange: He turns around and asks who touched Him. Why? Surely, as the Son of God, He already knew who it was. So why did He do it? Jesus wanted the woman to see Him face to face. The point of healing is not just to be healed; it is to see Jesus for Who He is. Jesus proves that He can perform the seen so we know beyond the shadow of a doubt that He can perform the unseen. Jesus wants to heal you so that you will trust in Him for salvation. He wants to see you face to face!

 

Prayer:

“Father, thank You that You heal your children! Help me to have faith like the woman with the issue of the blood. Help me to know that when I reach out to You, You will turn and encounter me face to face!”

Day 51: Did You Do It?

Leviticus 9:7-10:20

Mark 4:26-5:20

Psalm 37:30-40

Proverbs 10:6-7

For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1c3L87s

 

CityLight Pastor Commentary:

Sometimes simple wisdom is best: listen to God. God tells us to do things for our own good. He’s not trying to keep us from having fun; He’s allowing us to live according to our design when we listen to His Word. God outlined many things to Moses, and Moses went and did them. Israel was blessed as a result. Is there anything God is telling you to do that you haven’t acted on yet?

 

Prayer:

“Father, You give me Your Word for a reason! Help me to act on it. I want to do more than just know it; I want to live it!”

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