Day 241: God Is Good!

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan

Job 34:1-36:33

2 Corinthians 4:1-12

Psalm 44:1-8

Proverbs 22:10-12

For full text click here: http://bit.ly/Y28Wsr

Commentary by Pastor Michael White:

“For they did not gain possession of the land by their own sword, nor did their own arm save them; but it was Your right hand…” (Ps 44:3). God is responsible for your victories, not your failures. Unfortunately, we often have the bad habit of taking credit for our victories but laying the blame for our failures on God. We must realize the reality is the polar opposite. God wants good things for His children. He takes “…pleasure in the prosperity of His servant” (Ps 35:27). It is Satan – not good – who wishes to see you fail. God is a Father who loves His children; and it’s not until we see God as He truly is that we will step into victory.

Prayer:

Father, thank You for all the blessings You have put on my life. I know You are the source of all good things, and Satan is the source of all bad things. It really is that simple. Help me to know that YOU ARE GOOD!

Day 240: Be An Epistle

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan

Job 31:1-33:33

2 Corinthians 3:1-18

Psalm 43:1-5

Proverbs 22:8-9

For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1zOl37J

Commentary from Pastor Michael White:

“…clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart” (2 Cor 3:3). Paul wrote 13 epistles out of 27 books in the New Testament. All the epistles are exhibitions of Jesus Christ, demonstrating who He is and who we are meant to be in Him. In today’s reading, Paul instructs the church at Corinth not only to read God’s Word, but to be God’s Word. If someone who knows nothing about Jesus Christ looked at your life, would (s)he gain a better understanding of God’s Only Son? If someone who knows nothing about Jesus Christ looked at your life, would (s)he know what it means to be saved by grace and filled with God’s Holy Spirit? We are called to read the epistles; then we are called to become epistles. We are called to demonstrate the gospel in everything we think, say and do!

Prayer:

Father, I pray that my life would be an accurate representation of what it means to be a disciple! I pray that as I grow in years, I would grow in wisdom and understanding of who Jesus is and what His death on the Cross means for me. Help me to be an epistle!

Day 239: Speak to Your Soul!

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan

Job 28:1-30:31

2 Corinthians 2:12-17

Psalm 42:1-11

Proverbs 22:7

For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1zMHUk3

Commentary by Pastor Michael White:

“Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance” (Ps 42:5). Did you know you can talk to your soul? We are tripartite beings, meaning we have three parts: we are spirit beings, we have a soul and we live in a body. Our soul is comprised of our mind, will and emotions. So whenever you don’t feel like praising God, speak to your soul! Whenever you feel down and in the dumps, speak to your soul! Whenever you feel discouraged, speak to your soul! Let your mind, will and emotions know that you are going to continue praising God, no matter how it feels. Control your emotions by speaking to your soul!

Prayer:

Father, help me to praise You at all times. Remind me to speak to my soul when my mind, will and emotions aren’t aware of the spiritual reality You have blessed me with!

The Power of Prayer

The following is an adaptation of the sermon ‘The Power of Prayer’ preached by Pastor Mike White on Sunday, 8/24/2014, at CityLight Church. To listen to the full podcast please click here: http://bit.ly/1AXuBzF

The Facts

We all know prayer is important. We’ve heard the Bible story about Elijah praying for rain, so we know that our prayers can profoundly impact what happens in our lives and the climate around us. My hope is also that you have personal experience where your prayers have been answered in a measurable, tangible way. James 5:16 says that “…the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” In other words, when we pray according to God’s Will, good things start to happen!

But not all of us pray with the authority we’re supposed to command. Not all of us pray regularly. In fact, some of us have even swallowed the lie that our prayers don’t matter at all. Sure, maybe you’ve had seasons in your life where it felt like all your prayers were answered. But what about the times when it feels like God just doesn’t hear you? Have you every caught yourself thinking “I don’t matter to God”? How about “I don’t need to pray because somebody else will do it”?

One of Satan’s most consistent strategies to rob us of a fulfilled life is convincing us that our prayers don’t matter! But I want to tell you that your prayers do matter to God. You are significant to God, and so are your prayers. Be refreshed by John’s conclusion on prayer:

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

– 1 Jn 5:14-15

We’ve been reading through the book of Esther recently as a church. I believe her story has much to tell us about the power of our prayers, specifically relating to our ability (and need!) to intercede on behalf of other people. Let’s take a look.

From Rags to Riches

Esther lived in an age of Persian dominance. The Jewish people lived in exile, scattered about the Persian Kingdom. Esther lived with her cousin, Mordecai, in the Persian city of Shushan.

After dethroning his queen for disobedience, the Persian King Ahasuerus was searching for a new queen. Mordecai brought Esther to the palace, and the king was blown away by her beauty. Esther rose from living as an outcast in a foreign land to becoming queen over the Persian people.

But all was not well. King Ahasuerus had a wicked advisor named Haman who sought to kill all the Jews. Haman issued a decree that on a certain day, and at a certain time, all the Jews in the Kingdom of Persia should be killed. Mordecai knew that Esther was the only person who could help. She needed to approach King Ahasuerus and ask him to reverse the decree and spare the Jewish people.

Fear Not

But Esther was afraid:

Then Esther spoke to Hathach, and gave him a command for Mordecai: “All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that any man or woman who goes into the inner court to the king, who has not been called, he has but one law: put all to death, except the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter, that he may live. Yet I myself have not been called to go in to the king these thirty days.” So they told Mordecai Esther’s words.

- Esther 4:10-16: 10

Esther viewed the king as many of us view God! She knew she had found favor with him, because he had married her and made her queen over all of Persia! Yet Esther still feared that if she entered into the king’s presence, he would kill her.

And many of us view God the same way. The Bible calls us – the church – the bride of Christ. Despite our faults, sins and shortcomings, God has declared us beautiful. He has given us favor – not because we deserve it, but because Jesus Christ has earned it on our behalf. So why are we afraid to approach Him with our requests?

Under the New Covenant, we do not have to fear God. We have an “…Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 Jn 2:1). We do not have to be afraid to bring our petitions before God! Esther should have confidently and boldly approached the throne, and so should we! But instead, she faltered.

Such A Time As This

And Mordecai told them to answer Esther: “Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

– Esther 4:13-14

Let’s really think about Esther’s situation and how it relates to us today. Haman – the personification of evil – sought the destruction of God’s people. The responsibility to appeal to God for protection rested on Esther’s shoulders, because she had been brought into the presence of the king and was granted favor. Satan seeks our destruction in the same way Haman sought hers! Satan would love to see all of God’s children – the church – completely wiped out and taken out of commission. Yet we have been brought into the Kingdom for such a time as this. The responsibility to appeal to God for protection rests on our shoulders.

There is someone in the world right now who needs your prayers. That statement is not meant to add stress to your life and make you feel responsible to bring every person in the world to salvation. But I’m guessing God has put someone on your heart, and brought someone to your mind, who really needs your prayers. If you don’t pray for them, who will? You have been brought into the Kingdom for such a time as this. And to pray effectively, you need to know that God has given you power when you pray!

Praying With Power

When Jesus walked the earth, He intervened to God in prayer directly on behalf of His disciples. We see an explanation recorded by Luke:

And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”

- Luke 22:31-32

When Satan asked for Simon Peter, Jesus’ answer was simple: NO! This is the New Testament reality.

That response is night and day compared to Job’s experience in the Old Testament. In Job’s account, we’re told that Satan asked for Job (see Job 1:6-12), and God granted him control over all that Job had. Next, God granted Satan the ability to afflict Job with sickness (see Job 2:1-6). So why did God grant Satan control over His servant Job?

            Nor is there any mediator between us… – Job 9:33

Under the Old Covenant, there was no mediator between Job and God. But under the New Covenant, that reality has changed! Jesus is our Mediator! He has ascended to heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father! That means that whenever Satan asks for us, Jesus’ answer is the same as it was for Peter: NO! When we rely on Jesus Christ as our Savior and put our faith in the finished work of the Cross, Satan cannot touch us!

Gone are the days when Jesus has to physically pray for us. Now that He has ascended, He wants to pray with us. He wants us to pray with Him by addressing the Father directly in His name:

…but the time is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but I will tell you plainly about the Father. In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God. I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father.” – Jn 16:25-28

Jesus doesn’t have to physically pray for us anymore. It is now our responsibility to pray to the Father, in the Name of Jesus, with the Holy Spirit.

As you pray, you must know that God really values you. He needs you so much so that He has brought you into the Kingdom for such a time as this. If you remain silent and refuse to pray, He will bring about His will through another vessel. If you don’t have the confidence to pray, someone else will. But you won’t reap any of the benefits; and you won’t have a front row seat for the unfolding of God’s Kingdom in front of your eyes.

Make A Decision

Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai:  “Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!” – Esther 4:15-16

Esther made a decision to approach the king and make her request known. As she did, she had to wonder if she had found favor with God. But we get to know that we already have!

Under the New Covenant, we are instructed make our requests known to God with boldness and confidence because of the favor we have been given through Christ!

Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 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 4:14-16

Jesus Christ knows the suffering and temptation you’re experiencing because He experienced it Himself. He gets it. We’re all made of flesh; and as long as we’re made of flesh, we’re going to be imperfect. So don’t let imperfection keep you from making your requests known to God. He has given you grace to help – not just yourself, but also others – whenever it is required.

Who Are You Praying For?

Take a minute and think of someone in your life who really needs your prayers. He might be a coworker or a friend. She might be a distant relative of a close family member. Now pray for that person. Pray with boldness and confidence. Pray with faith!

When Esther approached King Ahasuerus with her request, his response was one of favor and love:

Now it happened on the third day that Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king’s palace, across from the king’s house, while the king sat on his royal throne in the royal house, facing the entrance of the house. So it was, when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, that she found favor in his sight, and the king held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. Then Esther went near and touched the top of the scepter. And the king said to her, “What do you wish, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given to you—up to half the kingdom!” – Esther 5:1-3

And when we approach our King to make our requests known, He will have the same response.

Don’t be afraid to pray for yourself. God hasn’t exalted you to your current state and position just to see you eliminated. He wants you to prosper; but you can never be afraid to take your petitions to prayer. If your request is Scriptural and Biblical, it will be given unto you!

Don’t hold back from praying for others. God has brought you into His Kingdom for such a time as this – so that you can reach out through prayer and ask Him to bring others to salvation through Jesus Christ.

- 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 238: Forgiveness

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan

Job 23:1-27:23

2 Corinthians 1:12-2:11

Psalm 41:1-13

Proverbs 22:5-6

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

Commentary from Pastor Michael White:

“…I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Cor 2:10-11). Forgiveness should be a part of our daily Christian diet: a part of our routine that never gets skipped. When we fail to forgive another person, we give Satan a foothold to take advantage of us. We think that if we cling to resentment and refuse to forgive, we’ll hurt the other person; but by harboring unforgiveness, we’re really only hurting ourselves. Do not be ignorant of Satan’s devices. Forgive freely and often! God has forgiven us; it only follows that we should forgive others.

Prayer:

Father, help me to forgive! I refuse to participate in the enemy’s plans to sow bitterness into my life. I’m going to forgive everyone I can in Jesus’ name!!

Day 237: Comforting Others

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan

Job 20:1-22:30

2 Corinthians 1:1-11

Psalm 40:11-17

Proverbs 22:2-4

For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1vOd36f

Commentary from Pastor Michael White:

“…who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble…” (2 Cor 1:4). The Holy Spirit is our Comforter. He gives us peace and quiet confidence as only God can. But comfort doesn’t exist just for us to enjoy; it exists for us to pass on to others. Our primary job after the moment of salvation is to save others by inviting them into the Kingdom of God. And our primary job from the moment God’s Holy Spirit comforts us is to do our best to comfort others – with His help. God calls us His vessels because salvation and comfort are supposed to pass through us. Are you passing everything you’ve received along to everyone in your path?

Prayer:

Father, thank You for Your Holy Spirit! Thank You that He comforts me in my times of need. Help me to comfort others with the confidence that comes from the many times You have comforted me!

Day 236: Delight in God

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan

Job 16:1-19:29

1 Corinthians 16:1-24

Psalm 40:1-10

Proverbs 22:1

For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1qI5GJd

Commentary by Pastor Michael White:

“I delight to do Your will, O my God…” (Ps 40:8). True maturity comes when we delight to do God’s will. Far too many Christians trudge about, feeling constrained by God’s restrictive demands. Yet when we truly understand the Gospel, we understand that God’s covenant with us never restricts us – it frees us! Jesus Christ gives us freedom and life. God gave up His most prized possession – His only Son Jesus Christ – so that we could be united with Him. We have been forever freed from the bonds of sin and death so that we can delight in His will! When we are where God wills, everything we put our hand to will prosper.

Prayer:

Father, help me to delight in Your will! I want to understand the freedom that comes with a relationship with You. I want to understand the Gospel like I’ve never been able to understand it before. Help me to find joy in You and You alone!

Day 235: Victory

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan

Job 12:1-15:35

1 Corinthians 15:29-58

Psalm 39:1-13

Proverbs 21:30-31

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

Commentary from Pastor Michael White:

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 15:57). Jesus Christ has already defeated death. He won a definitive victory on the Cross on our behalf, and rose from the grave so we could follow Him into Heaven! As Christians, we must remember that we live from a position of victory – not struggle! Jesus Christ has already conquered death on the Cross. We should never fear what has already been conquered and no longer poses a threat! And we should never engage in warfare when victory has already been won. Know your rights as a disciple of Christ: to live a life free from all guilt, condemnation and fear!

Prayer:

Father, thank You that Jesus was victorious so that I don’t even have to fight. I receive everything He did for me on the Cross. I rely on Him as my Lord and Savior. I am Heaven-bound because He made a way for me!

Day 234: Christ, Our Mediator

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan

Job 8:1-11:20

1 Corinthians 15:1-28

Psalm 38:1-22

Proverbs 21:28-29

For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1qBVTV1

 

Commentary from Pastor Michael White:

“Nor is there any mediator between us…” (Job 9:33). Under the Old Covenant, there was no mediator between man and God. Job knew he could never contend with God and argue his case. When man sinned, God punished him directly. But under the New Covenant, we have a Mediator in heaven – Jesus Christ! Jesus is at the right hand of the Father, mediating on our behalf. We don’t need to contend with God and argue for our salvation, because Jesus Christ has already earned it on our behalf! This is why Paul says later in today’s reading (1 Cor 15:13-14) that the resurrection is so important. Without the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have nothing – no mediator between us and God, and no chance for salvation! But with the resurrection, we have a God who contends for us. We have salvation: not because we earned it, but because it has been given to us free of charge.

Prayer:

Father, thank You that Your Son Jesus Christ sits at Your right hand to mediate on my behalf. Whenever Satan whispers “guilty,” Jesus maintains my innocence! I am washed clean by the blood of Jesus Christ!

Day 233: Shhhhhh

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan

Job 4:1-7:21

1 Corinthians 14:18-40

Psalm 37:30-40

Proverbs 21:27

For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1p3Ku4L

Commentary from Pastor Michael White:

“But who can withhold himself from speaking?” (Job 4:2) Job’s friends had it right at first. They gathered together to mourn and be with Job, and said absolutely nothing for 7 days. But then pride kicked in. Job’s friends launch into successive rebukes of Job, and criticism of his character. Yet we find later in the narrative that none of them is correct. When a friend is mourning, don’t be afraid to just sit and support him quietly. We don’t always need to be Mr. Fix-It, proposing a wise solution and presenting a plan. Listen quietly and support your friends, and they will be forever grateful.

Prayer:

Father, help me to be a good friend! Help me to know when I should share my thoughts, and when I should bite my tongue. Help me to have words when needed, but discretion when required!

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