Day 333: What the Enemy Intends for Evil…

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan

Daniel 6:1-28

2 Peter 3:1-18

Psalm 119:129-152

Proverbs 28:21-22

For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1v4BnTJ

Commentary from Pastor Michael White:

“So the king gave the command, and they brought Daniel and cast him into the den of lions. But the king spoke, saying to Daniel, ‘Your God, whom you serve continually, He will deliver you’” (Dan 6:16). The rulers of Babylon tried to trap Daniel in destruction by convincing King Darius to sign a law that would land Daniel in the lions’ den. But even King Darius knew that God would deliver Daniel. God sent an angel to save Daniel from death. Then, He turned the trap set for Daniel against the very same men who tried to set it. The wicked rulers of Babylon were thrown into the lions’ den, and suffered the same destruction they intended for Daniel. Whenever the enemy sets a trap for you, God will use it against him. He will deliver you from destruction, and then cause those who seek your hurt to fall. What the enemy intends for evil, God uses for good!

Prayer:

Father, thank You for always providing for Your children. I know the enemy cannot successfully set a trap for me when my heart is fixed on You. Deliver me from destruction, in Jesus’ name!

Day 332: True Riches

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan

Daniel 5:1-31

2 Peter 2:1-22

Psalm 119:113-128

Proverbs 28:19-20

For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1Fy6nhP

Commentary from Pastor Michael White:

“Therefore I love Your commandments more than gold, yes, than fine gold” (Ps 119:127)! God’s word should be our most precious possession. His word is written on our hearts and in our minds (Heb 10:16). We have an inward longing to follow His commandments, and anything we do contrary to that supernatural design will result in a lack of fulfillment. God asks us to exchange our desires for His; He asks us to make His will our own. True fulfillment and infinite satisfaction are knocking at the door. Are you willing to love God’s commandments above all else?

Prayer:

Father, thank You for Your will. Thank You for Your ways. I want to love them more than anything else in my life. Exchange my desires for Yours, in Jesus’ name! Amen.

Day 331: You Are Able

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan

Daniel 4:1-37

2 Peter 1:1-21

Psalm 119:97-112

Proverbs 28:17-18

For full text click here: http://bit.ly/120VDuj

Commentary from Pastor Michael White:

“…but you are able, for the Spirit of the Holy God is in you” (Dan 4:18). If you have asked Jesus Christ to be Lord of your life, then His Holy Spirit is in you. That means that you are able: capable of doing otherwise impossible things because your God makes them possible! Daniel was able to interpret dreams that no other man could decipher because God’s Holy Spirit was in him. You, child of the Most High God, are also capable of things no other man could do because of God’s Holy Spirit in you!

Prayer:

Father, thank You that Your Holy Spirit makes all things possible! Thank You that I have amazing life in You. Give me the courage to attempt the impossible, knowing that You make it easy!

Intimacy Part III

The following is an adaptation of the sermon ‘Intimacy Part III,’ preached by Pastor Mike White on Sunday, 11/23/2014, at CityLight Church. To listen to the full podcast please click here: http://bit.ly/11xHsfi

This is the third and final installment in our 3-week series on intimacy. In Week One, we discussed the importance of intimacy with God: why we need it, and how to pursue it. In Week Two we explored Biblical Sabbath rest and all its benefits. This week, we conclude by unpacking intimacy with other people: how do we take the intimacy we enjoy with God and entice others to cultivate a desire for intimacy with Him?

What’s the Point?

In Week One, we defined intimacy as finding comfort in spending time with someone else. This is one step beyond simply avoiding discomfort; it means you must proactively seek out that person when you need comfort. God wants to be our only true Source of comfort. He is willing to listen whenever we talk to Him. What’s more, He has deposited and permanently installed the Comforter – His Holy Spirit – inside each and every single believer. Whenever we need comfort, all we have to do is turn to Him.

But what’s the point of finding intimacy, and being comforted, if we don’t share it with other people? Today our goal is to take the comfort we find in God and make it available to other people. God has put people in your life whom He wants you to comfort. He wants you to take the intimacy you enjoy with Him and share it with other people. By becoming intimate with God, we become available for others. We become prepared to engage people with genuine compassion, so that when they go through tough things in life, they will come to us for comfort. And when they come to us, we will point them straight to Jesus Christ.

God has allowed you to pass through seasons of your life in which you needed to fully rely on Him. He caused you to stand your ground in that season and enter intimacy with Him. Whether you know it or not, other people around you took notice. They saw that you were not shaken, and they want to know what that confidence was all about. Whether they can verbalize it or not, they want to experience that same intimacy with God that you enjoy.

Hebrews 4:16 tells us that it is our legal right to “…boldly approach [God’s] throne.” But are you reciprocating that access by allowing people in your life to boldly approach you? Are you giving them access to intimacy with you when they need it most?

Types of Intimacy

There are several different types of intimacy we can enjoy with other people. The first is physical, which should be relatively obvious. This is exactly what we are not talking about this morning. So, please don’t go home and say your pastor told you to go out and become intimate with everyone around you.

The Bible supports physical intimacy with someone of the opposite sex when there is a covenant in place. Without the covenant, we have nothing. If we didn’t have a covenant relationship with God, authentic intimacy would be impossible because we could never trust Him fully. We need His promise that He will never leave us or forsake us before we can truly let our guard down and open our hearts to intimate relationship. It is for the exact same reason that we ask couples to wait until they are married before experiencing physical intimacy with each other: if a covenant is not in place, somebody is going to get hurt. It won’t be a question of if, but when.

Second, we can experience psychological intimacy with another person. This refers to our soul: our mind, will and emotions. This is part of what we’re after this morning. Do you have your finger on the pulse of the emotional well-being of the people God has put into your life? Are you strengthening their mind and their will with Scripture when they need it most?

Finally, we can experience spiritual intimacy with another person. This is the bulk of what we want to focus on this morning. God is spirit, and we are spirits. Do you have the ability to talk with someone and discern their spiritual wellbeing? Are you paying attention to all the subtle cues the people around you drop when they’re crying out for help? God wants to develop our spiritual compassion for other people. He wants us to hear from His Holy Spirit exactly what someone is going through so we can speak hope and promise into their lives.

Jesus Stopped for the One

In John 4, we see Jesus encounter a woman at a well. He was in a city called Sychar in the region of Samaria. The Jewish people had been at odds with the Samaritans for hundreds of years, and Jesus had no business taking the time to stop for a Samaritan woman. Yet that is exactly what we see Him do:

A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” – Jn 4:7-10

Jesus is allowing this woman access to Him in her desperate time of need. The best part is, she doesn’t even know she needs help! Yet Jesus uses spiritual discernment to see to the heart of the issue with which she’s really struggling:

The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.” Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.” – John 4:15-18

What was Jesus doing here? He was conducting a counseling session! He was allowing the woman to enter into intimate conversation with Him, and trusting that her life would be wholly changed as a result. He relied on God’s Holy Spirit to tell Him exactly what was going on in her life. He relied on His intimacy with God to help Him develop intimacy with someone who needed a life-changing encounter. And we are designed to function in exactly the same way!

Frequently, in counseling sessions, God will give me a word of knowledge about the person with whom I’m speaking. Because I have learned what His voice sounds like through intimate encounter, I can hear Him in a crowded room: even in the middle of a conversation. When we enjoy intimacy with Him, God will allow us to see the spiritual condition of another person so we can give them the spiritual resources they desperately need in that moment. We enjoy intimacy with God, and then we mirror it in our interactions with other people.

The end result of Jesus’ intimate conversation with the woman at the well was the salvation of an entire city:

The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” Then they went out of the city and came to Him. – Jn 4:28-30

He stopped for a woman he had no business stopping for, and an entire people group was converted to Christ. This is exactly what we are called to do as His disciples!

Who in your life needs intimacy with you? Who needs compassion that only you are able to display?

Deadly Deceit

There is a poisonous attitude that circulates whenever we have the chance to invite someone into intimate relationship with us. We stop and ask ourselves the polluted question, “What’s in it for me?” We remind ourselves that time is a finite resources and we don’t have enough of it to stop and engage with the people around us. As a result, we deprive them of intimacy they desperately need, and prevent them from finding their way to the Cross.

Luke 10 details the story of a Samaritan who stops for a man in desperate need:

Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. – Lk 10:30-33

The Samaritan man was despised by the Jewish people. He was already thought of as dirty and wicked, so walking on by this wounded man was expected. But he stopped for the one.

Jesus worked many miracles because he was “moved with compassion.” We see the same motivation come over the Samaritan man. He had compassion, and he stopped to help. Compassion is required if we are to cultivate intimacy with other people. It is a stepping-stone to intimacy.

There is a notable difference between passion and compassion. Passion is short-lived and involuntary. Compassion, on the other hand, is a choice. It is long-lived because it is an intentional decision. Jesus asks us to decide to have compassion for those people He puts into our lives who desperately need our help. We must see people as Jesus sees them if we are to love them as He loves them.

The Samaritan man bandaged this man’s wounds and “…took care of him” (Lk 10:34). Then he provided enough of his own money so an innkeeper could take care of him until he recovered. The Samaritan did not know this man, yet he cared for him intimately, washing his wounds and then asking others to do the same. He showed mercy on a man who would have judged him if they passed each other on the street.

Jesus calls us to extend intimate care to everyone in our path. In Luke 10, the Samaritan man offers physical care to a wounded man. Yet Jesus’ exhortation to intimately care for others also extends to care of soul and spirit. Sometimes spiritual needs must be met first; but every person needs intimate spiritual care on the heels of physical recovery. Once we meet a physical need, there is still much work to be done.

Our church recently hosted a guest minister for a long weekend. He came into town on a Thursday and preached three phenomenal services during his stay. I had the privilege of being his “foot-washer” while he was in town: I took him out to eat for every meal, drove him anywhere he needed to go, and did everything I could to make his stay as comfortable as possible.

I wanted my wife to come and spend time with us before he left town, so she and I invited him out to lunch on that Monday. We, along with our four-month-old son, ate lunch with him and then drove him to the airport. Immediately after dropping him off, our car broke down. I was amazed by God’s provision and favor in allowing me to travel without incident all weekend leading up to that moment. But now we had a problem. I was – along with my wife and infant son – stuck on the side of the road.

Nobody stopped to help. I’ve lived in New York City for over six years now, and I’m usually pleasantly surprised by people’s compassion. This, however, was not one of those times. Everyone with whom I spoke – from AAA, to the tow truck driver, to random people walking by – simply did not seem to care about our situation. Didn’t anyone care that we had a four-month-old with us?

At the end of the day, it all worked out. I put my wife and son in a cab and sent them home. Then I started the long haul to get the car towed out of the airport terminal, and then wait for another tow truck to tow it to the car dealership, where I finally picked it up several days later. But that experience softened me. It made me realize that when I pass by someone who needs help, they might really be in trouble. They’re not just a random person who’s fallen on a bit of bad luck; they’re a brother or sister in need whom God has put directly in my path so that I can stop and intimately care for them.

We need to be the ones who care. After all, we’re the hands and feet of Jesus Christ. If we can’t care enough to stop and intimately care for others, who will?

The Remedy

Don’t drink the poison. When God offers you a chance to be open for intimacy with someone who really needs you to care for them, the right attitude is not, “What’s in it for me?” The only attitude we should have is, “What’s in it for them?”

You may be the only Jesus some people see. Are you making the most of your opportunities for intimate encounters with other people? Are you using the intimacy you enjoy with God to prepare yourself for intimacy with others?

God calls us to be intimate people. Jesus stopped for the one and intimately cared for her. We are called to go and do likewise.

- 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 330: Through the Fire

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan

Daniel 2:24-3:30

1 Peter 4:7-5:14

Psalm 119:81-96

Proverbs 28:15-16

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

Commentary from Pastor Michael White:

“…and they saw these men on whose bodies the fire had no power; the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected, and the smell of fire was not on them” (Dan 3:27). Daniel’s friends were cast into the fiery furnace by a pagan king for refusing to worship idols. Not only were they completely unaffected by the fire and flames, but an Angel (the Preincarnate Christ) came to their rescue and walked with them through the fire. Christ does not simply protect us as we walk through trials in life (although that would already be more than enough!); He walks through them with us.

Prayer:

Father, thank You for walking with us through the flame and the fire. Your Son took on infinite suffering for my sins; and Your Holy Spirit guides me everywhere I go! Amen.

Day 329: Big Dreams

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan

Daniel 1:1-2:23

1 Peter 3:8-4:6

Psalm 119:65-80

Proverbs 28:14

For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1rqDS33

Commentary from Pastor Michael White:

“Then the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. So Daniel blessed the God of Heaven” (Dan 2:19). Daniel was a captive in Babylon, and the King of Babylon needed a dream interpreted. All the wise men in Babylon came to the king to offer interpretation, but the king would have none of it. He needed someone who would hear from God and interpret his dream correctly. So, Daniel, a Jewish youngster in Babylonian captivity, volunteered. God spoke to Daniel in a “night vision,” and the meaning of the king’s dream was revealed.

God will speak to you through dreams if you ask Him through prayer. He will give you visions and interpretation for people in your life who need it. Do you need favor in your workplace? Ask God to show you his or her dreams, and to give you interpretation. That’s exactly what Daniel did; and the result was favor and promotion!

Prayer:

Father, thank You for dreams! Make Your will known to me through visions and interpretations. I’m humbly asking to hear more from You, and I cannot WAIT! Amen.

Day 328: Respecting Government

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan

Ezekiel 47:1-48:35

1 Peter 2:11-3:7

Psalm 119:49-64

Proverbs 28:12-13

For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1xRY8fu

Commentary from Pastor Michael White:

“Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors…” (1 Pet 2:13-14). The men and women who are in authority in our government have been placed there by God (Rom 13:1). God is a God of order, and His will is that we would have respect for our elected officials. Our President and elected officials may not always make decisions with which we agree; but our job is always to respect them and to pray for them. Are you praying for the leaders of your city? Of your state? Of this nation?

Prayer:

Father, I commit to pray for the elected officials in my city, state and nation. Our government needs our help, and drastic change can be produced through prayer!

Day 327: The Blood of Christ

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan

Ezekiel 45:13-46:24

1 Peter 1:13-2:10

Psalm 119:33-48

Proverbs 28:11

For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1uZD8jo

Commentary from Pastor Michael White:

“…you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, …but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Pet 1:18-19). God didn’t buy you with a bribe; He bought you with the blood of Jesus Christ. If our salvation had been purchased with corruptible things, it would be corruptible; in other words, we could lose it. However, our salvation has been purchased with the precious blood of Jesus Christ. Money spent can be re-made; but blood poured out can never be recollected. Your salvation is permanent, and it is priceless.

Prayer:

Father, thank You for the gift of salvation! Help me never to forget the price that Your Son, Jesus Christ, paid on the Cross.

Day 326: Living in Amazing Times

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan

Ezekiel 44:1-45:12

1 Peter 1:1-12

Psalm 119:17-32

Proverbs 28:8-10

For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1xDxF3V

Commentary from Pastor Michael White:

“…things which angels desire to look into” (1 Pet 1:12). Angels are sinless; we, however, are not. Our position as redeemed sinners puts us in a posture to see the Gospel in a way that angels are not even capable of seeing! Think about that. Angels, who are used to the very presence of God Himself, still desire to experience what we get to live out every single day! Jesus Christ has redeemed us from all our sins. God has paid the highest price for each and every man who calls on the name of Jesus. His Holy Spirit has taken up permanent residence inside of us, which is a privilege that not even any of the Old Testament prophets enjoyed! We live in times Old Testament prophets could only dream of, and share a message angels long to gaze into. Let’s praise God for creating us for such a time as this!

Prayer:

Father, thank You for the position of privilege You have given us. We get to enjoy the Gospel of Jesus Christ every day. We get to live with Your Holy Spirit working through us. We have a right to a redeemed relationship with You!

Day 325: Your Prayers Matter

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan

Ezekiel 42:1-43:27

James 5:1-20

Psalm 119:1-16

Proverbs 28:6-7

For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1F6jFA1

Commentary from Pastor Michael White:

“Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16). Your prayers matter. The enemy will do everything he can to convince you that when you pray, it doesn’t do any good. But God hears our prayers; and when they are fervent, they make a difference. Your friends and family need your prayers. This is why Christians need community: you need people to pray for you, and others around you need you to pray for them! When we are not in community, we cannot pray for one another; but when we are in communities of prayer, we can change the world.

Prayer:

Father, I know my prayers make a difference! I won’t let Satan convince me otherwise. When I feel like my prayers don’t matter, I’m going to pray with more passion and intensity than ever!

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