Day 211: By Faith

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan

2 Chronicles 29:1-36

Romans 14:1-23

Psalm 24:1-10

Proverbs 20:12

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

 

Commentary from Pastor Michael White:

“…for whatever is not from faith is sin” (Rom 14:23). Faith makes us righteous. We can run around doing holy things our entire lives; but if they’re not done from a posture of faith, they’re worthless. Conversely, even if we don’t run around doing holy things out entire lives, that doesn’t mean we’re not righteous! There is a difference between faith and hope. Hope is a vague desire to have something happen; faith is the evidence of those things for which we hope (Heb 11:1). So how do you know you’re righteous? Your faith is your evidence! How do you know you’re healed? Your faith is your evidence! How do you know you’re heaven-bound? Your faith is your evidence! Believe in Jesus Christ, and you will be saved!

Prayer:

Father, thank You that I am saved by Your Son Jesus Christ. Abraham’s faith was attributed to him as righteousness even before a covenant was established; how much more will my faith be attributed to me as righteousness now that a perfect covenant has been sealed in Your Son’s blood!

Day 210: Respecting Leaders

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan

2 Chronicles 26:1-28:27

Romans 13:1-14

Psalm 23:1-6

Proverbs 20:11

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

 

Commentary by Pastor Michael White:

“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God” (Rom 13:1). This is a tough verse to digest. No matter who is elected and put into office, we must respect him or her as our God-given authority. You might not agree with everything the mayor, or the president or your parents say. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t respect them. The authorities that exist are appointed by God, and our God is a God of order. It is not our responsibility to judge our leaders; God is the righteous judge and He will bring evil leaders to justice. Our responsibility is to pray without ceasing for our leaders! Then, and only then, will they have the strength to lead as they should.

Prayer:

Father, help me to respect the men and women whom you have given authority over me. I want to honor them as I desire to be honored. I will pray for them as I desire to have others pray for me!

Day 209: Valuing His Word

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan

2 Chronicles 24:1-25:28

Romans 12:1-21

Psalm 22:19-31

Proverbs 20:8-10

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

CityLight Pastor Commentary:

“After the time that Amaziah turned away from following The Lord…” (2 Chron 25:27). We notice a pattern with the kings of Judah and Israel. When the word of God was prevalent, they followed after Him and prospered; but when the word of God was despised, the nations of Israel and Judah fell into ruin. We can carry that lesson into our own lives today. Do you cling to your Bible like you cling to your cell phone, never leaving home without it? Do you place a value on the word of God that honors The Lord? Do you surround yourself with men and women who sow into your life with wise Biblical counsel? Whenever our lives lack the word of God, we lack power and promise. But when we value Him above all else, we will have victory over all our enemies – even death.

Prayer:

Father, thank You for the victory Your Son Jesus Christ won on the Cross! I’m not worthy to share in the victory, but you’ve given it to me all the same. Help me to treasure Your word above everything else in my life, in Jesus’ mighty name!

Weekly Sermon: Are You Ready?

The following is an adaptation of the sermon ‘Are You Ready?’ preached by Pastor Michael White on Sunday, 7/27/2014, at CityLight Church. To listen to the full podcast please click here: http://bit.ly/1mZDiQD

We’re all preparing for something. Whether it’s meeting the man or woman of your dreams, having a family, or landing that big promotion at work, we all want to be ready for whatever comes our way. What does your process for preparing look like? How will you know when you’re finally prepared? Are you going to decide you’re ready for whatever comes next, or are you going to let someone else make that decision for you?

Many of us are chronically under-prepared. And we know it! More than 2 out of 5 high school graduates don’t feel prepared for the next stage of their lives, whether that means college or work. Others of us are constantly judged as under-prepared by the people around us. Last year, two-thirds (66%!!!) of hiring managers at major corporations said they have no plans to hire brand new college graduates because they didn’t they were well prepared for the workplace. Do you suffer unnecessarily because the people you need to know you’re prepared constantly underestimate you?

Are You Ready?

So what are you preparing for? Whenever we prepare for a major life event, we’re faced with two major questions: 1) Am I ready, and 2) How do I get ready? I’d like to propose answers to those questions that are somewhat counter-intuitive. You don’t decide when you’re ready. God does. And the best way to prepare for whatever comes your way just might mean putting down the study guide and ditching the instruction manual.

There is a myth to which many of us have fallen subject. We think our preparation has to be perfect in order for life to turn out how we want it to. But the reality is quite different. Our preparation can never be perfect. But God’s can! Whenever we find ourselves in a difficult situation by chance, God simply asks us to use the tools we’ve been given in the context into which He has placed us. Whenever we get ready to walk into a difficult situation on purpose, we need to know that it’s ok to feel unprepared.

Randy Clark has an expression of which I’m particularly fond: faith is spelled “R-I-S-K.” Randy didn’t build a ministry around waiting to step out in faith until he felt 100% prepared; he made God famous by stepping out when he wasn’t sure what would happen. So many of us live by feel (do I feel ready?) when we should be living by faith (does God say I’m ready?). How you feel actually isn’t important at all; what’s important is what the Bible says about your situation!

I left a career in finance a few years ago to pursue full-time ministry. I worked for 5 years on a Risk Arbitrage trading desk at a major bank, and I had more than a few uncomfortable experiences where I was thrown into a situation and felt completely unprepared. Six months into the job, fresh out of college, the rest of the trading team around me quit. The head trader, the head of the desk, and our research analyst just walked away to take better jobs at a different firm. I was left there alone to trade a product that usually requires years of experience – bright eyed, bushy tailed, and absolutely scared out of my mind. So what did I do? Request a transfer? Hide under my desk? I don’t think so. I seized the bull by the horns and did the absolute best I could: and got promoted because of it.

When I was still working full-time in finance, I started talking with our Lead Pastor about starting a Sunday morning service at a new location. I had no idea how to pastor a church; and I had a full-time job that demanded 60+ hours per week of my time. But I knew God had called me to pastor. He had shown me visions of a packed sanctuary: not only with people, but also with His Presence. I had no idea what I was doing or how the new service would go, but I signed up for it because God had showed me it was exactly what He wanted me to do.

Those experiences – despite the fact that I was scared out of my mind and completely unprepared – were some of the most valuable things I have done in life. God showed me the vision He had for me, and I chose to accept it. I decided to value His plans for me above the limitations the people around me wanted to use to confine me. I decided to ignore the lie that I wasn’t good enough, smart enough, or well-prepared, and step into my destiny.

How Do You Get Ready?

How was I ready for those situations? Our preparation process in life is incredibly important. First off, we should always plan and prepare in advance. That’s the reason I start out every single day with prayer. If I pray first, and I give it everything I have: all the attention and energy I can muster. Then, when I find myself in a tough spot, I’ve already seen the resolution because God has showed it to me in prayer.

The best way to prepare for any situation in life is completely counter-intuitive: you can’t learn it in school, and it doesn’t come from a diploma or a title. We should always prepare for every situation in life by diving into God’s Word. We all have questions in life that only God can answer. What are His promises for me? Over whom and what has He given me authority? Who and what has He called me to be? Who sets the standard for what’s going to happen in your life, and who you’re going to become: the people around you, or God Himself?

God wants us to have the confidence that He will back us up in any and every situation. Before Jesus hung and died on the Cross, He sat His disciples down and told them about the suffering they would face. But He didn’t give them a book to read, or a script to follow. He gave them advice that would throw every single Type-A personality for a loop:

But watch out for yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils, and you will be beaten in the synagogues. You will be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony to them. And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations. But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. – Mk 13:9-11

Seems too easy, doesn’t it? Jesus acknowledges that His disciples will literally put their lives on the line for the sake of the Gospel. And how should they defend themselves? They shouldn’t! The Holy Spirit would give them words to speak exactly when they needed right then – not one second before, and not one instant after. God wants us to know that He will always give us the tools we need to succeed in every situation. When we believe in His Word and trust His provision, He will never leave us high and dry!

God’s Holy Spirit makes us ready for situations we wouldn’t otherwise be able to face. He keeps us standing when it should be impossible, and gives us words to speak when we should be dumbfounded. So, if you don’t feel like you’re ready for the next stage of your life…good! That means God will step in for you and make you ready. Once we step to the side and let Him work on our behalf, amazing things will start to happen.

Young & Inexperienced

Early in his reign, Solomon was recognized as the wisest king to have ever lived. He wasn’t exactly struggling for money either. But Solomon didn’t always have it so good. In fact, his own dad admitted he was young & inexperienced before he took the throne! That’s not exactly the vote of confidence most of us would like before we take a promotion. Let’s take a look:

Now David said, “Solomon my son is young and inexperienced, and the house to be built for the Lord must be exceedingly magnificent, famous and glorious throughout all countries. I will now make preparation for it.” So David made abundant preparations before his death. – 1 Chron 22:5

Solomon was young & inexperienced! But his father David had been making preparation for his ascension to the throne. David prepared as much as he could so that Solomon could step into his calling as the man who would finish God’s holy temple. Like it or not, people have been sowing into you your entire life. If you’re scared or unprepared, think about someone who’s had an impact on you. How would they handle the situation? How did they prepare you for it? What resources are already at your disposal that you can use to manage and overcome the situation you’re in?

Then he called for his son Solomon, and charged him to build a house for the Lord God of Israel.  And David said to Solomon: “My son, as for me, it was in my mind to build a house to the name of the Lord my God; but the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘You have shed much blood and have made great wars; you shall not build a house for My name, because you have shed much blood on the earth in My sight. Behold, a son shall be born to you, who shall be a man of rest; and I will give him rest from all his enemies all around. His name shall be Solomon, for I will give peace and quietness to Israel in his days. He shall build a house for My name, and he shall be My son, and I will be his Father; and I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever.’ – 1 Chron 22:6-10

Solomon was young & inexperienced! But he wasn’t building the temple simply because David had ordained it. He definitely wasn’t building the temple just because he felt like it. Solomon built the temple because God had ordained it. And you’re going to succeed at whatever it is God has called you to do: not because you feel like it or someone else asked you to, but because God ordained it!

Now, my son, may the Lord be with you; and may you prosper, and build the house of the Lord your God, as He has said to you. Only may the Lord give you wisdom and understanding, and give you charge concerning Israel, that you may keep the law of the Lord your God. – 1 Chron 22:11-12

Solomon was the wealthiest and wisest king the world had ever seen. God made him that way because of a simple request. God came to Solomon in a dream when he was a young king, and told him to ask for anything in the world! What did he ask for?

Now give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people; for who can judge this great people of Yours? – 2 Chron 1:10

We read that verse and we marvel at Solomon’s restraint and patience. He could have asked for anything in the world, but he just asked for wisdom and knowledge?! Why would he settle for that?

He asked for wisdom and knowledge because his father David prayed that he would have it (see 1 Chron 22:11-12 above). Solomon tailored his request based on what his wise father had spoken into his life. And guess what? Jesus has already prayed that you would ask for more of His Holy Spirit. So ask! And once you’re filled, ask the Holy Spirit what you should pray! Just as David told Solomon what to pray for, the Holy Spirit will tell us what to pray for too when we ask! The result will be a life full of purpose, prosperity and fulfilled promises.

 

Paul’s Advice to Timothy

Timothy was another man who was labeled as young & inexperienced. He wasn’t a king like Solomon, but he still found that label interfering with the calling God had put on his life. So Paul gave him some forceful advice:

Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. – 1 Tim 4:12-14

Paul told Timothy to ignore the biting criticism and chiding comments that he was just too young. I’ve been there! I was 26 when I became a pastor, and I’ve sat with some people who’ve told me to my face that I’m just too young to be a pastor. I’ve watched some others walk out the church doors and never look back because of my age. But that’s ok. I’ve never let anyone despise my youth. I’m not a pastor because I’m intelligent and experienced: I’m a pastor because God called me into full-time ministry. And the gifts and callings of God are irrevocable!

Paul is literally telling Timothy not to let anyone look down on him because he’s young. But the figurative meaning is much deeper. Paul is speaking to Timothy about experience. He’s encouraging Timothy to embrace his calling. There’s always going to be someone who has more experience than you. There’s always someone who’s stronger, faster and better. And there’s always someone who wants that promotion more than you do. But you are anointed by God for a specific purpose. No one can get in the way of that calling, and nobody can change that fate. Just as the elders had anointed Timothy for his ministry, God has anointed YOU!

God’s Only Son

Even Jesus Christ Himself wasn’t completely comfortable with the calling on His life. How do we know that? Because the night before His death, He knelt in the Garden of Gethsemane and asked God to remove the burden He was about to bear from His shoulders:

And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, ‘Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.’ Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. – Lk 22:41-43

Immediately after His prayer, God sent an angel to strengthen Him. And immediately after you pray, God’s Holy Spirit will strengthen you!

Jesus was not who the Jews were expecting. He was too young & inexperienced to be the Messiah who was supposed to come. Israel was waiting for a literal king who would establish a provincial government and rescue the Jewish people from Roman enslavement. Instead, He arrived as a wise King who refused to take the world by force, but instead rescued it through sacrifice.

Jesus didn’t let others’ opinions hold Him back. He stepped into His calling and redeemed all of mankind to a loving Father because He took hold of everything God showed Him in prayer:

Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. – Jn 5:19-20

Are you going to let other peoples’ false perceptions of who you should be hold you back? Or are you going to take hold of everything God has shown you in prayer?

Be Prepared

Make the decision to be prepared today. You don’t need a diploma on the wall to tell everyone you’re ready; you simply need to stand on the vision and the promises God has already given you. Don’t let the other people tell you you’re not ready for something God has prepared you to do. Don’t let others’ perceptions of you determine who you will become.

Don’t let the enemy convince you you’re not ready for everything God has in store for you. You’re ready – not because of anything you’ve done, but because God has made you ready!

- by Pastor Michael 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 208: Says Who?

2 Chronicles 21:1-23:21

Romans 11:13-36

Psalm 22:1-18

Proverbs 20:7

For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1tTNX50

Commentary by Pastor Mike White:

“For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Rom 11:29). Take a moment to remember all the times in your life when God has spoken to you. What has He promised you? What has He given you authority over? What and who has He called you to be? What God has given you, no man can take away. What He has promised you, no man can deny. The devil cannot argue with your God-given authority over the plans he has for your life. Do not let naysayers convince you that you aren’t good enough, smart enough, or experienced enough! The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable: without expiration, and without repentance. If God said you can do it, it will be done!

Prayer:

Father, thank You for the gifts and calling You have put on my life! I know they don’t expire, and You won’t relent until they’re obvious in my life.

Day 208: Stand Still and See

2 Chronicles 19:1-20:37

Romans 10:14-11:12

Psalm 21:1-13

Proverbs 20:4-6

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

 

CityLight Pastor Commentary:

“You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!” (2 Chron 20:17). Jehoshaphat, King of Israel, had a big problem. The people of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir came up against the people of Israel, and the Israelites didn’t stand a chance. So instead of trusting in man and forming an alliance with a neighboring people, Jehoshaphat relied fully on God. He learned the same lesson David learned when he went up against Goliath: the battle is not ours to win, but the Lord’s. What battle are you facing in your life? Are you fighting for your own victory? Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. Adopt a ready posture and receive everything He has for you. The victory on the Cross has already been won, and there is nothing left to win: only to receive.

Prayer:

Father, thank You that You have already won the victory for us! Help me to do less: to stand still and see Your salvation.

Day 207: What Must I Do?

2 Chronicles 17:1-18:34

Romans 9:25-10:13

Psalm 20:1-9

Proverbs 20:2-3

For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1rK6mlf

 

CityLight Pastor Commentary:

“…if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom 10:9). “Do not say in your heart,” Paul says, “’Who will ascend into heaven?’” Paul tells us that we will never have to wonder who is destined for heaven and who is not. Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved (Rom 10:13). Whoever places his faith in Jesus Christ as his substitute will be redeemed! There is no other way into heaven. In life, we like to feel like we really earned everything that comes to us; like we have a reward for all our blood, sweat and tears. But we can never earn eternal life. Ethan the Ezrahite wrote about the futility of trying to save ourselves in Psalm 89: “What man can live and not see death? Can he deliver his life from the power of the grave?” (Ps 89:48) We can never earn our way into heaven; but Jesus has already earned our entry for us! Salvation is free. Only two things are required: accept the free gift and believe in your heart that Jesus is Lord, and confess that belief with your mouth!

Prayer:

Father, thank You for making salvation so easy! Your will has always been for reconciliation with man – even when we don’t deserve it. I believe that Your Son Jesus Christ hung and died on the Cross for me!

Day 206: To and Fro

2 Chronicles 14:1-16:14

Romans 9:1-24

Psalm 19:1-14

Proverbs 20:1

For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1tab4uA

CityLight Pastor Commentary:

“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him…” (2 Chron 16:9). God has always sought to love, bless and protect His children. So many of us have the wrong impression, and think that His eyes run to as fro throughout the whole earth, looking for people to punish. But God is loving! He searches the whole earth to see whom He can bless. And it has always been this way. In the creation story, God’s first action towards man was blessing: “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them…” (Gen 1:27-28). That set a precedent that still has not expired. God has always sought to bless us. Even today, He looks to bless us however He can!

Prayer:

Father, thank You that You always seek to bless me when I seek You with all my heart! I am an heir to the promise of Abraham, and the intended recipient of all the blessings of Jesus Christ!

Day 205: Power Prayer

2 Chronicles 11:1-13:22

Romans 8:26-39

Psalm 18:37-50

Proverbs 19:27-29

For full text click here: http://bit.ly/UuwNP8

 

CityLight Pastor Commentary:

“Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought…” (Rom 8:26). Does God control your prayer life? Paul is telling the church at Rome that we should rely on the Holy Spirit to tell us what to pray! We should never pray at God; but rather to Him, with His Holy Spirit! If your time in prayer feels like it’s missing a little “umph,” ask the Holy Spirit for help. For what should I pray? For whom should I pray? For how long should I pray? Should I pray in English, or do You want to partner with me by praying in tongues? We can do all things – especially power packed prayer – through Christ who strengthens us.

Prayer:

Father, thank You that Your Holy Spirit prays through me. Thank You that I can partner with Him and pray in my heavenly language. Thank You that He will lead and guide me in all things – especially prayer!

Day 204: Wise Counsel

2 Chronicles 8:11-10:19

Romans 8:9-25

Psalm 18:16-36

Proverbs 19:26

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

 

CityLight Pastor Commentary:

“But he rejected the advice which the elders had given him, and consulted the young men who had grown up with him, who stood before him” (2 Chron 10:8). We learn many valuable lessons in the discussion of Israel’s transition from Solomon to Rehoboam. Just because Solomon was wise and wealthy did not mean he was easy to work for; the people of Israel were fed up with heavy taxes and physical labor, and they looked to Solomon’s son for respite. But Rehoboam succumbed to peer pressure. Instead of listening to the counsel of the men who had helped make Solomon so wise, he listened to his friends. He decided to announce that not only would he not let up on his father’s demands; he would make them worse. We have the privilege of seeing the disastrous effects of that decision, and we must learn from it. Who are you listening to in your life: wise counselors, or immature friends? Are you surrounding yourself with people who will help you to make wise decisions?

Prayer:

Father, surround me with wise counselors. Fill my life with people I can trust: people who will give me heavenly solutions to earthly problems. Most of all, I pray Your Holy Spirit would lead me into all truth!

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