Day 181: True Freedom

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Tuesday, June 30th, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
2 Kings 17:1-18:12
Acts 20:1-38
Psalm 148:1-14
Proverbs 18:6-7
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1x5gwOH

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

The Lord was with him; he prospered wherever he went. And he rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him. – 2 Kings 18:7

The King of Assyria had held the men and women of Judah captive for years. Hezekiah was the first king to break free from the foreign king’s stranglehold. The Lord blessed him in battle, and gave him victory over his oppressors. Finally, Judah was free!

The key to true freedom is radical obedience. Hezekiah “prospered wherever he went” (v 7; above) because he trusted God. He “held fast to the Lord…[and] did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments” (v 6). Hezekiah refused to become trapped in the faulty logic of the kings before him. They had rebelled against God, and the end result was captivity on earth. They had fought against God in the name of personal liberty; but Hezekiah refused to rebel against God for the sake of short-term gain.

The Bible does not put restrictions on our freedom. In fact, God’s word shows us the only way to true freedom. When we are obedient to God, we honor His design for us. When we put our trust in Him, and sacrifice short-lived (i.e. counterfeit) freedom for eternal (i.e. true) freedom, we will experience breakthrough like never before.

Trust in God, and allow Him to deliver you from all your adversaries. True freedom does not come from rebelling against God, but from obeying Him so He can finally set you free!

Prayer:

Father, thank You for leaving us proper instructions. Thank you for mincing no words as You explain to us exactly what You expect from us in Your Word. Help me to be radically obedient. Help me to seek after You and to forsake all else, in Jesus’ name!

© Michael D. White, 2015. All rights reserved.

Day 180: Connected

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Monday, June 29th, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
2 Kings 15:1-16:20
Acts 19:13-41
Psalm 147:1-20
Proverbs 18:4-5
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1z2il0N

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

And the evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” – Acts 19:15

Jesus gives us authority to cast out demons in His name:

Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. – Lk 10:19

He also makes clear that His name is the most powerful prayer we can pray:

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth… – Phil 2:9-10

The power and authority to use the name Jesus Christ comes from relationship with Him. The Jewish exorcists tried to use the name Jesus to cast out demons, but they could not. Why? Because they didn’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ. If we don’t know Him, we cannot use His name.

Is your prayer life lacking power? Liberally use the name Jesus in prayer. As your relationship with Him strengthens, you will see His power on display as you pray in His name!

Prayer:

Father, thank You for the name Jesus Christ! I know that every demon must bow at His name. I know that His name is the most powerful prayer I can pray. Help me to build a genuine relationship with Your Son, so that there is power in my prayers!

© Michael D. White, 2015. All rights reserved.

Day 179: Handkerchiefs and Aprons

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Sunday, June 28th, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
2 Kings 13:1-14:29
Acts 18:23-19:12
Psalm 146:1-10
Proverbs 18:2-3
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1lDo4oz

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them. – Acts 19:11-12

If someone borrowed your shirt, would they be healed? If someone wore your socks, would they be delivered? God anointed Paul to such an extent that anything that so much as touched his body would be affected by the healing power that flowed through him. And guess what? That same power lives in you.

The same Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead gives life to you: your body, and your prayers! You are filled with the same Holy Spirit as Jesus Christ Himself! So, when you pray, you should expect the same results as Jesus would expect Himself!

Your prayers are more powerful than you know. Trust that when you pray for the people God has put in your life, He will make His power known!

Prayer:

Father, thank You for Your miracle-working power! I know that Your Holy Spirit gives life to my prayers. Help me to pray for others will full confidence, knowing full well that when I pray in faith, You will follow my prayers with signs, miracles and wonders!

© Michael D. White, 2015. All rights reserved.

Day 178: God’s Timing > Your Timing

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Saturday, June 27th, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
2 Kings 10:32-12:21
Acts 18:1-22
Psalm 145:1-21
Proverbs 18:1
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1jShohJ

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

The eyes of all look expectantly to You, and You give them their food in due season.

– Ps 145:15

God’s timing is perfect. When we pray for spiritual gifts, or material provision, we must be sensitive to His timeline. We are to desire the things of God, but never to demand them at the expense of His perfect timing.

I recently prayed for a woman at one of our church services. She wanted to be baptized in the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues. I walked her through several Scriptural examples of the apostles laying hands on new believers to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Then, I put my hand on her shoulder and prayed. But nothing happened!

I told her not to get discouraged, and explained that God’s timing supersedes our expectations. I also shared that the first time I spoke in tongues was at church service, sitting in my seat. I sensed that God might do the same thing with her. Sure enough, she headed back to her seat: and started speaking in tongues the moment she got there!

What’s the lesson? God’s timing is perfect. Your healing, or your breakthrough, is going to happen on His timeline. That doesn’t mean we should have a lackadaisical attitude, or loosen our expectations when praying for heaven on earth. It does mean, however, that my breakthrough might look different from yours.

Don’t get discouraged. Trust God. Trust His timing. You will experience the victory He intends for your life!

Prayer:

Father, thank You for Your perfect timing. I know I can’t rush You, so I’m not even going to try. Help me to get out of your way, and accept all the good and pleasant things You have for me!

© Michael D. White, 2015. All rights reserved.

Day 177: Deciphering Scripture

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Friday, June 26th, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
2 Kings 9:14-10:31
Acts 17:1-34
Psalm 144:1-15
Proverbs 17:27-28
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1miM6jR

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

Blessed be the Lord my Rock, Who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle… – Ps 144:1

God trains our hands for war, and our fingers for battle. Yet Jesus is the Prince of Peace! How do we reconcile God in the Old Testament with Jesus Christ in the New?

We must listen to the Third Person of the Trinity: God’s Holy Spirit. He will tell us when God wants us to stand our ground and fight, and when He wants us to turn the other cheek and seek the peace of our enemies.

God’s will is deciphered through relationship. To apply this verse to mean that we should be at odds with the people around us would be incorrect; but to ignore this verse and never stand up for the Gospel would be equally flawed.

Truth is found in the balance of two extremes. A relationship with God’s Holy Spirit is the only way to navigate them. Spend time with Him in prayer, and ask Him to speak to you. He will!

Prayer:

Father, thank You for Your Holy Spirit. He lives in me as my Comforter, and my Guide. He points me in the right direction, and empowers me to do all the things You want me to do. Without Him, I am powerless! But with Him, I have the same Spirit who raised Jesus Christ from the dead living in me!

© Michael D. White, 2015. All rights reserved.

Day 176: Power in His Name!

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Thursday, June 25th, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
2 Kings 8:1-9:13
Acts 16:16-40
Psalm 143:1-12
Proverbs 17:26
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1qveF2Q

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour. – Acts 16:18

Jesus has given us authority over “all the power of the enemy” (Lk 10:19). All means all. Satan was little more than an annoyance to Paul. He put up with a demon-possessed girl following him around for several days, but finally got fed up. All he had to do to cease Satan’s irritation was command the evil spirit to come out of her in the name of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ is the most powerful name we can utter. Paul explained this to the Philippian church:

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. – Phil 2:9-11

Our ability to use the name Jesus Christ comes from relationship with Him. If we try and use His name without knowing Him, our efforts will be useless (Acts 19:13-16). But when we proclaim His name from a place of intimacy, Satan has to flee!

Prayer:

Father, thank You for the power of the Cross! Thank You for the power of the name Jesus Christ. I know that when I pray to You, in His name, the result is the same as if Your Son were praying my prayer Himself! Help me to build power in my prayers through relationship with You!

© Michael D. White, 2015. All rights reserved.

Good Gifts from A Loving Father

The following is an adaptation of the sermon ‘Good Gifts from A Loving Father’ preached by Pastor Mike White on Sunday, 6/21/2015, at CityLight Church. To listen to the full podcast please click here: http://bit.ly/1Gr5A16

Happy Father’s Day!

What do you get as a Father’s Day present for the Dad who has everything? I believe the best way we can honor God on Father’s Day is by attempting to really get to know Him for who He truly is. God is a loving Father. He is GOOD; and He wants good things for us.

Far too often, God is portrayed as a distant Father who takes little practical interest in our daily lives. But this could not be further from the truth. Count the good things in your life: family, friends, resources, and all those little things that make life enjoyable. Now remember that every single one of those things comes from your Father in heaven:

Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. – James 1:16-17

Do not be deceived. God is good; Satan is bad. It really is that simple. God loves you, and wants good things for you. Can I prove it to you?

God Wants to Bless You

In Genesis 1:27, God made man in His image. Do you know what the very first thing He did was after creating us in His image? He blessed us:

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

God’s first action towards mankind was to bless us. I believe that sets a precedent; He is always inclined to bless us, because we are His people!

God knows our hearts, and He knows our every need. Jesus encouraged His disciples to be direct in their prayers to God:

“And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.” – Matt 6:5-8

God knows our needs before we ask Him for anything! But too often we assume that means we don’t have to ask.

God wants us to be direct in prayer. Have you ever had a conversation with someone who uses a lot of words, but never really says anything? There are people who are so verbose, but none of the words they use carry any weight. God doesn’t want us to be those people when we pray!

God directs our steps (Prov 3:5). He has the hairs on our head numbered (Lk 12:7). He actually doesn’t have anything better to do than listen to your prayers. So don’t beat around the bush! Get to the point. He already knows what you’re about to ask Him; so ask with boldness and without apology!

When you were a child, did you fear your father when you asked him for food? Did you fear him when you asked him for presents? For help with your homework? Of course not! So why do we fear our Father in heaven, who created us to enjoy fellowship with Him for all eternity?

Ask to Receive

Just because God knows our every need, does not mean we don’t have to ask to see our needs fulfilled. God’s overwhelming desire to bless us does not mean we don’t have to ask for His blessings. We’ve been conditioned not to ask for blessing. We think we’re inconveniencing God when we ask Him for good things. But how can we ever inconvenience a God who has all the resources of heaven at His disposal?

Did you know that God actually takes pleasure in blessing us?

… for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

- Phil 2:12-13

God made man to have fellowship with Him. He made us for a purpose: to become His sons and daughters. And what good father withholds what He has from His children?

After commanding His disciples to be direct in prayer (see Matt 6:5-8, above), Jesus went on to clarify that just because God knows our every need, does not mean that we don’t have to petition Him for provision in prayer:

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” – Matt 7:7-11

We’re not going to see the fullness of His promise over our lives unless we ask to see it! If we want to be given, we have to ask. If we want to find, we have to seek; and if we want doors opened for us, we have to knock, and ask God to open them for us!

I remember asking my father-in-law, Dave, for my wife’s hand in marriage. My wife, Rachael, and I had been dating for almost a year. We were home visiting her parents, and she and I had discussed our intentions. We knew we wanted to get married, and I knew her father would appreciate my asking to marry his daughter, before simply deciding we would get hitched.

Rachael and her mom were downstairs watching a movie. Dave was alone in the kitchen, working on his computer. I knew it was the moment I had been waiting for! I walked up to the kitchen table, unsure of exactly what I would say, but knowing that my desire to propose to Rachael outweighed any reservation I had about going into this conversation.

But as I got near Dave, something went terribly wrong. Rachael’s sister was dating a stud lacrosse player; his college team had just won the NCAA championships. Dave, Rachael’s dad, was watching his NCAA highlight reel. He must have scored 4 goals in the time it took me to walk from the edge of the kitchen to the kitchen table, and I was a wreck. I wasn’t a stud lacrosse player! What did I possibly bring to the table compared to this guy? In three seconds, I went from an ignorantly confident man to a scared little boy. Why would Dave say yes to me marrying his daughter, if there were stud athletes with highlight reels out there?

I tried to escape, but it was too late. “Hey Mike,” Dave said. Crap. “Hi…” I squeaked. “You look like something’s on your mind,” Dave said. “Yeah…” I squawked. I was messing it up! This was my chance to ask him to marry Rachael, but the opportunity was slipping away. Finally, I just opened my mouth and let the words pour out.

I explained how we had been dating for almost a year. I loved his daughter. I loved the way she looked at me, and I definitely loved the way she looked, period. I loved that she couldn’t sneeze just once; it had to be four or five times in a row. I loved that her favorite food group was cheese. I especially loved her value for family, and her love for spending time with the people who mattered to her most.

“So, what are you asking me,” Dave interrupted. Stupid, I thought to myself, this was so stupid. This was supposed to go so much better. But I asked anyway. “I would like your permission to marry your daughter,” I confessed.

Dave didn’t say anything. He backed up his chair, got up, and took a step towards me. I raised my hands to defend myself. Was he going to hit me? He looked me straight in the eyes, smiled, and said, “Why didn’t you just say so? Welcome to the family!”

That conversation was nerve-wracking! But it didn’t have to be. I should have simply asked: stated my request, knowing that I had good intentions that aligned with Dave’s best wishes for his daughter. I should have boldly approached him, knowing his answer would be yes, because my desires lined up with his.

Just because we know an answer is yes, does not mean we don’t have to ask. Knowing God’s promises, and asking to see them in your life, are separate and distinct. So, what are you asking God for?

Good Things

…how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! – Matt 7:11b

God gives us good things when we ask. But what is included in the definition of good things?

First, God promises to meet our material needs. Jesus presented a Catch-22 to His disciples. If they sought after earthly treasures instead of God, they would end up with neither earthly treasures nor God. If, on the other hand, they sought His kingdom at the expense of all else, He promised that God would meet their material needs:

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. – Matt 6:33

Paul reiterated Jesus’ stance in his letter to the church at Philippi:

And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus! – Phil 4:19

There is a distinct difference between something we want and something we need. But when we have a genuine need, God promises to meet it when we keep our heart set on Him!

Second, God promises us nine spiritual gifts:

There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. – 1 Cor 12:4-11

God gives us spiritual gifts for His good pleasure. When we’re able to pull down words of knowledge from heaven, or prophecy about the things of God, it’s not really for us as much as the person exercising the gift: it’s for Him! God works signs, miracles and wonders through us so that we can make Him known to others!

But none of us will operate in spiritual gifts if we don’t ask to receive them. The difference between Christians who exercise the power of the Holy Spirit, and those who don’t, is the realization that it is acceptable to ask God to move in power!

When we ask for spiritual gifts, God promises that we will never receive a counterfeit. I’ve answered this question with members many times: “What if I pray for the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, and Satan comes and fills me with something that is not of God?” Jesus promises us (Matt 7:9-10, above) that if we ask for more of God’s Holy Spirit, we’re not going to get anything else. If we ask for more of God, He is not going to allow us to receive a counterfeit! We should never be afraid when we pray for the baptism in the Holy Spirit that Satan will swoop in and give us something that is not of God. It cannot be done!

Finally, “good gifts” includes salvation. Let’s not forget the simple stuff. Signs, miracles and wonders are definitely all things we should seek after as Spirit-filled Christians. However, there is nothing more miraculous than a soul saved! When you give your life to Jesus Christ, you are heaven-bound! There is nothing the enemy can ever do to steal your divine inheritance from you when you trust in God for salvation.

God’s desire is that every man and woman would be saved:

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. – 2 Pet 3:9

Still don’t believe me?

[God] desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. – 1 Tim 2:4

God desires that every single man and women born would make a decision for Jesus Christ. So, what are you waiting for?

Salvation is the best gift any of us can ever receive. Once we’re saved, God promises to meet all our material and spiritual needs. After all, the only way we can grow His kingdom is by witnessing from a place of joy: having all our needs met, and all the provision we could ever need!

Oswald Chambers wrote, “The reason it is so easy for us to obtain salvation is because it cost God so much.” God has already paid the highest price. He gave His only Son to death so that we would be saved from it.

Let’s spend Father’s Day honoring His character. God is good, and He loves you very much. Let’s break the mold by being a people who aren’t afraid to ask for His goodness through prayer, in Jesus’ name!

- by Pastor Mike White

© Michael D. White, 2015. 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 D. White with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Day 175: Mandatory Participation

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Wednesday, June 24th, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
2 Kings 6:1-7:20
Acts 15:36-16:15
Psalm 142:1-7
Proverbs 17:24-25
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1e2qnAk

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

So an officer on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God and said, “Look, if the Lord would make windows in heaven, could this thing be?” And he said, “In fact, you shall see it with your eyes, but you shall not eat of it.” – 2 Kings 7:2

If we do not believe, we will not participate in God’s promise. God had performed many miracles through Elisha. But still the king’s officer would not believe. As a result, Elisha told him he would not be a participant in everything God was about to do.

What God needs to happen will take place with or without your participation; but it won’t happen to you unless you partner with Him and believe! God is searching the earth for men and women who will partner with Him, by faith, and pray for His will: heaven on earth. Are you ready? Are you willing?

We are promised supernatural provision in God’s word: but the promise is activated by faith. We are promised deliverance from sickness and disease in God’s word: but the promise is activated by faith. We are promised eternal salvation for our souls: but the promise is activated by faith!

God’s promises playing out in your life are contingent on your faith. God is good, and He desires to bless you. But He needs your participation. Make the choice to believe in the promises laid out in His word!

Prayer:

Father, increase my faith! I know Your word promises me eternal life when I get to heaven, and heaven on earth here and now! Help me to believe in Your word. I want to participate in Your promises!

© Michael D. White, 2015. All rights reserved.

Day 174: What Does Healing Look Like?

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Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
2 Kings 4:18-5:27
Acts 15:1-35
Psalm 141:1-10
Proverbs 17:23
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1pYBgH8

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

And his servants came near and spoke to him, and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” – 2 Kings 5:13

Naaman went to Elisha expecting a show. He wanted Elisha to, “…call on the name of the Lord…wave his hand…and heal the leprosy” (v 11). He desired a grand gesture: maybe flashes of lightning and rolls of thunder! Something that really put God’s power on display! Instead, he received simple instructions: wash yourself in the Jordan River seven times, and you will be healed.

Faith in God is simple. Do what He says – no matter how small, or how great – and He will make you clean. Jesus Christ already made the grand gesture: He hung on the Cross and died for your sins. He also died so that you would never have to suffer from sickness and disease when you call on His name. So why do you need another grand gesture?

Ask God to heal you in the name of Jesus. Ask Him to show you the process He wants to use to bring about your healing. Will it be in public, or in private? Will it happen in a prayer meeting at church, or in your kitchen while you’re making dinner? Don’t despise God’s instruction because it’s simple; step out in faith, and He will heal you!

Prayer:

Father, I am asking You to heal me in the name of Jesus. I know that there is no formula for divine healing; only faith in Jesus Christ. Show me what my healing is going to look like. Help me to step out in obedience, knowing that You heal!

© Michael D. White, 2015. All rights reserved.

Day 173: So the Oil Ceased

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Monday, June 22nd, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
2 Kings 3:1-4:17
Acts 14:8-28
Psalm 140:1-13
Proverbs 17:22
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1lX1h1W

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

Now it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” And he said to her, “There is not another vessel.” So the oil ceased.

– 2 Kings 4:6

We must make room for God’s blessings and provision. Elisha encountered a widow who owned nothing but a jar of oil. She owed a large sum of money, and had no other possessions to her name. Elijah instructed her to gather as many vessels as she could possibly find, and start pouring. God promised that, as she poured, the oil she owned would multiply.

As soon as the widow ran out of empty containers, the oil ceased. Had she had higher expectations for what God was able and willing to do, she could have had more containers on hand. But God only gave this widow as much as her expectations would allow.

How are you making room for God’s blessings in your life? Are you stepping out in faith, and expecting God to supernaturally provide for you? Make yourself available, and raise your expectations! Gather containers, and get ready for God to multiply the things you already have.

Prayer:

Father, thank You for providing for me in supernatural ways! Help me to raise my expectations. I know you are ready, and willing, to help me whenever I am in need.

© Michael D. White, 2015. All rights reserved.

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