Day 334: Overflowing Joy

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Monday, November 30th, 2015
Daniel 7:1-28
1 John 1:1-10
Psalm 119:153-176
Proverbs 28:23-24
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1pA2NQk

Commentary from Pastor Michael White:

And these things we write to you that your joy may be full. – 1 Jn 1:4

The ultimate aim of studying Scripture is joy! Those who know God’s heart through His word will have a joy unspeakable that can never be stolen or taken away. The joy that we receive when we know God for Who He Is can never be compromised, and will never run out. It is an unconditional joy that does not depend on our condition (our outward circumstance), but on our position as sons and daughters of God!

Do you find joy in Scripture? If not, pause and take another look. Ask God to reveal His heart to you. His thoughts towards you are more precious and numerous than you could ever imagine (Ps 139:17). His love for you will never change (Heb 13:8). The God of the universe has promised to love you for all eternity! What more do you need for overflowing joy?

Prayer:

Father, help me to take joy in the simple things. I am Yours; and I get to call You mine!

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

Day 333: Leadership Sabotage

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Sunday, November 29th, 2015
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 governors and satraps sought to find some charge against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful; nor was there any error or fault found in him. – Dan 6:4

God gave Daniel immense favor. As soon as he found favor, his enemies sought to bring him down. When you find favor, your enemy – Satan – will seek to sabotage you. Whenever you are promoted, there will be those who seek to cut you down.

Daniel’s defense to sabotage was sound character. No matter what kind of dirt Daniel’s enemies sought to dig up, they found nothing. Daniel did not dignify their childish sabotage with a response. Instead, he kept focused on God, and allowed God to defend him.

Daniel didn’t have to worry about getting his enemies back. God took revenge for Daniel. In the same way, God will take revenge on your enemies for you!

Vengeance is Mine, and recompense… – Deut 32:35

Prayer:

Father, I pray that You would defend me from sabotage. I know that You will turn whatever traps my enemies set for me against them! Thank You for defending me, in Jesus’ name!

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

Day 332: Absolute Truth

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Saturday, November 28th, 2015
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:

But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. – 2 Pet 2:1

Any prophecy or doctrine that does not glorify Jesus Christ is blasphemy. Peter clarifies that the difference between a true prophet and a false prophet is the glorification of Jesus Christ. The purpose of all Scripture – both Old Testament and New – is to point to the Cross. Any worldview that denies the reality that Jesus Christ is the Son of God falls short of absolute Truth.

Jesus is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). Through Him and in Him, we have new life. Apart from Him, we have nothing.

Prayer:

Father, help me to keep my eyes focused on the Cross. Jesus Christ is the reason I am alive. Help me to glorify Him in everything I think, say, and do!

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

Responding to Terror

The following is an adaptation of the sermon ‘Responding to Terror’ preached by Pastor Mike White on Sunday, 11/22/2015, at CityLight Church. To listen to the full podcast please click here: http://bit.ly/1Tc1oJs

Who’s Behind Terror?

We live in an incredible scary world. Jesus warned His disciples that in the last days, terror would increase. I have never been one to dwell on end-time prophecy, and attempt to predict exactly when this world will end. However, when one so much as turns on the news, it is abundantly clear and apparent that terror is increasing.

What should our response to terror be? Prayer. Terror is not new. The tactics have changed, and the instruments being used have never been seen before. However, Satan has always been the author of all terror. His goal has always been to scare us – God’s people – into backing down from using the authority of Heaven to pray God’s Kingdom reality over this earth.

On Friday, November 13th, 2015, 129 people were killed in a terror attach in Paris, France.  On Friday, November 20th, 2015,  another 21 people were killed at a hotel in Mali, in Western Africa. ISIS claimed responsibility for the first attack; Al Qaeda clamed responsibility for the second. At the end of the day, Satan is behind it all.

It has never been more important to pray for New York City. In a news conference after the attacks, NYPD Commissioner William Bratton noted that there had been over 20 terrorist attack attempts thwarted already this year in New York City. Our city remains one of the most prominent targets for terror in the world.

The only way our cities will stay safe is if we pray. God has clearly given us authority in Scripture to pray for protection over our cities. Psalm 115 says that, “…the heavens are the Lord’s; but the earth He has given to the children of men” (Ps 115:15-16). It is our responsibility to pray for protection over our cities. If we don’t do it, who will?

Who Protects You?

We build our lives around security. We desire protection and consistency. In response to terror, we huddle around the things we can control. We revert to our instincts and surround ourselves with as much predictability as possible. I’ve talked to many people this week who plan to take the subway less often in response to terrorist threats in New York City. I’ve talked to others who plan to avoid rush hour traffic, and stay out of public places.

While I understand the attempts to stay safe, we must acknowledge that those attempts are misguided. Any security built in anything or anyone but God is false security.

As God’s people, we must trust in Him – and no one else – for protection. In 2 Chronicles 16, we see God remind King Asa, the King of Judah, that any attempt to build security apart from God’s protection and provision isn’t really secure at all. The King of Israel had declared war against Judah. In response, King Asa had turned to Syria for protection.

God sent His prophet Hanani to rebuke the king:

And at that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said to him: “Because you have relied on the king of Syria, and have not relied on the Lord your God, therefore the army of the king of Syria has escaped from your hand. Were the Ethiopians and the Lubim not a huge army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet, because you relied on the Lord, He delivered them into your hand. 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. In this you have done foolishly; therefore from now on you shall have wars.” – 2 Chron 16:7-9

King Asa had put his trust in man, instead of God. God very clearly reminded King Asa that if he had relied on God, Judah’s protection would have been guaranteed. However, because he had relied on man for protection, Judah would be overrun.

Some of the greatest calamities in human history have occurred when God’s people put their trust in man instead of God. Others came about because God’s people became so discouraged that they were no longer willing to pray.

Protection, Peace and Prudence

The greatest successes in history come about when God’s people are willing to pray – without fear, and without reservation! This morning, we are going to make a commitment to be those men and women of prayer. I believe God is asking us to pray for three things in New York City: protection, peace, and prudence. We see all three demonstrated as God’s people pray for His cities throughout Scripture.

1) Protection

God visits Abraham in Genesis 18. The Lord promises His servant a son, and then leaves to destroy a wicked city called Sodom. Before He takes action, however, he stops to clue Abraham in on everything He is about to do:

And the Lord said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave, I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to Me; and if not, I will know.” – Genesis 18:20-21

Abraham could have resigned to let Sodom accept the fate the city deserved. He could have convinced himself that God’s will was to let the entire city perish. But he knew better. He knew that God desires that none should perish (2 Pet 3:9), and that all would come to know God’s goodness.

So, Abraham stood in the gap and asked God for the city:

Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the Lord. And Abraham came near and said, “Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there were fifty righteous within the city; would You also destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous that were in it? Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” – Genesis 18:22-25

Abraham reminded God of His promise for peace for His people. He asked God to stay His hand for the sake of the righteous in the city. Abraham asked God to protect the people of Sodom with boldness: not because they deserved protection, but because he knew it was God’s will to save every man and woman.

So the Lord said, “If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.” – Genesis 18:26

Sodom was saved because Abraham was willing to pray. He stood in the gap and refused to allow calamity to strike God’s people, no matter how sinful they were. God was waiting for someone to cry out for Sodom to be saved! Abraham was the only one willing to lift up his voice and ask God for their protection.

The conversation continues throughout the rest of Genesis 18. If God would save the city for the sake of fifty righteous, would He save it for the sake of forty-five? He would (v 28). What about forty? He would (v 29). Thirty? God would still save the city (v 30). Twenty? Done (v 31).

Abraham continued to explore the depths of God’s mercy. Finally, he asked the question he really wanted to have answered:

“Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak but once more: Suppose ten should be found there?” And [God] said, “I will not destroy it for the sake of ten.” So the Lord went His way as soon as He had finished speaking with Abraham; and Abraham returned to his place. – Gen 18:32-33

If Abraham had not been willing to stand in the gap for the people of Sodom, the entire city would have been destroyed. God is looking for righteous men and women to cry out and ask that New York City would stay protected from harm. Are you willing to accept that call?

2) Peace

In the year 587 BC, Jerusalem fell to Babylon. Men and women from Jerusalem were carried captive to Babylon. While in captivity, they craved a word of hope from God. When the message finally arrived through Jeremiah, its’ form was a little different than what they had come to expect:

Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit. Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters—that you may be increased there, and not diminished. And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace. – Jer 29:5-7

Maybe you are living in New York City because you want to be living here. Maybe not. But whether you want to be here or not, your mandate is to pray for the peace of the city.

Whenever terror strikes, our knee-jerk reaction is to move somewhere “safe.” Scores of people moved out of New York City after 9/11. Your reaction to the attacks in Paris might be the same. However, the truth is this: either God is protecting you, or He isn’t. If He’s protecting you, His covering will follow you wherever you go. If He’s not protecting you, there’s nowhere safe! Deuteronomy 28 promises, “Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country” (Deut 28:3). So, if you’re going to trust God for peace, trust Him right here in the greatest city in the world!

Unless you pray for the peace of New York City, you will not find peace in your life; but when you pray for the peace of this city, that peace will spill over into every area of your life. Are you ready to accept the call to pray for peace in New York City?

3) Prudence

Prudence is cautious wisdom: the mental faculties required to deal with matters calmly and effectively. The primary way we can increase the wisdom to deal with terror in our cities is by praying for our leaders.

Paul reminded Timothy to pray for every man and woman in authority:

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. – 1 Tim 2:1-2

His reminder still stands to this day. Every ruler makes mistakes. Every policymaker makes misguided decisions. Our response to a decision with which we do not agree is often to pull away and complain – to withdraw and convince ourselves that matters are out of our hands. If we withdraw and fail to pray, however, we open the door to more misguided decisions.

The only way the civilian and Law Enforcement leaders of our city will make wise decisions is if we support them with our prayers. Are you willing to support our policymakers every day with your prayers?

God Is Searching for Your Prayers

God is always looking to answer our prayers. The Psalmist said that God “inclines His ear” to us (Ps 116:2). But God cannot answer the prayers we don’t pray. In Scripture, God reminds us of the calamity that can strike when we forget to pray:

So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one. – Ezek 22:30

We cannot be discouraged. We cannot forget to pray. God has put us in New York City to pray for this place. He has placed us here for such a time as this.

- 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 331: Equal Opportunity Scripture

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Friday, November 27th, 2015
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:

…knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. – 2 Pet 1:20-21

Scripture is for everyone. We should never be discouraged, thinking that Scripture is just too complicated to understand. God is not trying to hide interpretation of Scripture from you. God revealed His will to holy men, as inspired by His Holy Spirit, so that we would all know the interpretation. Sometimes it may take some digging, but the deeper meaning of Scripture is always there beneath the surface.

Jeremiah prophesied of a day when every man would know God (Jer 31:34), and instruction from a teacher would no longer be the only way to learn God’s will. The implication? You don’t have to go to Bible school to understand God’s word (disclaimer: I fully support Bible school for those who are called to full-time ministry; but I disagree with the sentiment that we must have a master’s degree in Bible studies to understand Scripture). You can dig in and ask God’s Holy Spirit – the greatest Teacher in the universe – for clarity, and He will teach you more than any teacher ever could.

Scripture is for you. Ask God to help you understand!

Prayer:

Father, I ask that as I read Scripture, Your Holy Spirit would reveal the interpretation. Make the words jump off the page as I read them! Make me excited to read Your Word every day: not because I have to, but because I get to!

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

Day 330: Coming Out Unscathed

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Thursday, November 26th, 2015
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:

“Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” – Dan 3:25

Jesus delivered these men from the midst of the most intense suffering the world had ever seen. Those who were not protected by God – the men who cast Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego into the fire – were immediately consumed; but God’s people were protected.

Whatever you are going through, stay strong. Hold to your convictions, and honor God with your decisions and your speech. No matter what it seems like you have to lose, God will cause you to gain so much more. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego met with Jesus face to face in the midst of their fiery trial. They experienced God like never before because they were willing to pass through torment for Him. What’s more, they didn’t just emerge from the furnace completely unscathed; they also emerged promoted!

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, joins you in the middle of your worst moment. He will deliver you from every torment, and rescue you from every fire. You will come out of the flames stronger than ever.

Prayer:

Father, thank You for Your hand of protection over my life! I know that no matter what I go through, You pass through it with me: protecting me, and promoting me through the fire.

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

Day 329: From Lean to Fat

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Wednesday, November 25th, 2015
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:

And at the end of ten days their features appeared better and fatter in flesh than all the young men who ate the portion of the king’s delicacies. – Dan 1:15

God will use even the leanest provision to make you prosper. Daniel and his friends didn’t need the fine delicacies the enemy offered them; they only needed God’s hand on their lives. The more Daniel and his friends trusted in God, the more they became overwhelmed with favor.

God will take whatever you have – no matter how small or how lean – and cause you to prosper with it. Even if you have no education, God can make you wise. Even if you have no money, God can make you rich. Even though you’re down on your luck, God’s grace overrides the odds.

God will take the areas of your life where you are weak, and make you strong.

Prayer:

God, turn my leanness into fatness. I pray that Your Holy Spirit would take control over the areas of my life where I need help. You are the Redeemer and Restorer of all things, and I trust You to work the miraculous in my life!

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

Day 328: Deeper Waters

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Tuesday, November 24th, 2015
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:

Again he measured one thousand and brought me through; the water came up to my waist. – Ezek 47:4

As Ezekiel got farther and farther away from the sanctuary, the water got deeper and deeper. This is how we are supposed to experience God’s presence: the further out into the world we go, the more we sense Him around us! God’s glory flows out from His sanctuary, and gets thicker as it goes!

We don’t have to be in church to experience the deep waters of God’s presence. God’s desire is that we would take the beauty we find in His sanctuary and spread it as far from the physical sanctuary as possible. When the glory of God’s sanctuary reaches the masses, the world will be healed!

God reminds Ezekiel how important it is to stay connected to the water. For us, that means allowing God’s Holy Spirit to take an active role in our lives. Any area of our lives that is not exposed to God’s Holy Spirit will stagnate and die; but as long as we stay connected to God’s glory, we will bear beautiful fruit and prosper in everything we do.

We must allow His presence to wash over us if we are to experience new life!

Prayer:

Father, help me to experience Your glory everywhere I go! I invite Your Holy Spirit to work in and through me. I invite Your glory to wash over me, in Jesus’ name!

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

Day 327: The Blood of Jesus

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Monday, November 23rd, 2015
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 blood of Jesus Christ! You poured out the blood of Your Son Jesus Christ so that I could be reconciled to You! Thank You!

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

Day 326: Doing the Hard Work

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Sunday, November 22nd, 2015
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:

…[you] are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation… – 1 Pet 1:5

God got us saved; and God keeps us saved!

Salvation is a gift. God’s Holy Spirit brought us into salvation by calling us into acceptance of Jesus Christ. You didn’t get saved on your own! Jesus made a way to Heaven, and it is only by trusting in Him – by admitting that He did all the hard work – that You get to make your home in Heaven with Him!

For some reason, we think that once we’re saved, we have to work to keep our salvation. Here Peter clarifies that it is the power of God – not our own strength – that keeps us saved. In other words, you didn’t work for your salvation; and you can’t work to keep your salvation!

Sit back, relax, and let the Holy Spirit guide you into God’s best for your life. God made you blessed, and He will keep you blessed.

Prayer:

Father, help me to trust You more. No amount of hard work on my part could ever increase my holiness. I know it’s only by allowing Your Holy Spirit to work through me that I can fulfill my destiny!

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

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