Day 22: Banish Your Grief

Genesis 44:1-45:28

Matthew 14:13-36

Psalm 18:37-50

Proverbs 4:11-13

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

 

CityLight Pastor Commentary:

Hidden in the midst of Joseph’s story is an invaluable truth and eternal lesson. Even though all of us are sinful and fall short of God’s glory (Rom 3:23), HE STILL LOVES US! In Gen 45:5, Joseph tells his brothers, “…do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.” Yes, Joseph’s brothers acted wickedly; but Joseph tells them 1) not to grieve and 2) not to be angry with themselves. Joseph’s lesson for all of us is simply this: banish your grief and stop being angry at yourself. God has a purpose in everything He does, and works all things for our good when we love Him (Rom 8:28); so stop beating yourself up and rely on the finished work of the Cross for forgiveness. If God Himself isn’t even angry at you, why should you be angry at yourself? If Joseph had never been sent into Egypt, his entire family and most of the known world would have starved to death. If Jesus Christ had never been nailed to the Cross, sinful man wouldn’t have been given a path to reconciliation with his Creator. God never causes our wickedness, but He can and does work salvation through it. Accept God’s forgiveness and move forward knowing He loves you!

 

Prayer:

“Father, I give you my grief. All of it. You tell us to cast our cares upon You because You want to take our burdens for us. I freely give You all my grief and all my anger, and in exchange I accept a peace that only You can provide. In Jesus’ Mighty Name.”

Simeon and Anna

The following is an adaptation of the sermon ‘Simeon and Anna’ preached by Pastor Mike White on Sunday, 1/19/2014, at CityLight Church. To listen to the full podcast please click here: http://bit.ly/LCnpEC

 

Sermon text: Luke 2:25-38

 

Simeon’s Encounter with Jesus

 

We can learn a great deal about the operation of the Holy Spirit from the story of Simeon’s encounter with Jesus. As a basis for this entire discussion, we first want to establish that the Holy Spirit is a Person. He is part of the Holy Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Each Member of the Trinity is of the same substance but different form. The Holy Spirit, though distinct from God, is just as much God as our Father Himself. This is important because we should expect to hear from the Holy Spirit in the same way we hear from other people: in conversation. We must never pray at God, but always to God with the Holy Spirit in the Name of Jesus. A proper understanding of exactly to Whom we are praying can improve prayer life immensely.

 

Luke 2:25-35 tells the story of Simeon’s encounter with Jesus. If you haven’t read it by this point, please take a moment to do just that and I’ll spare you a paraphrase of the narration. In these verses we see the Holy Spirit do three things in relation to Simeon: 1) He covers, 2) He speaks to and 3) He speaks through.

 

In the way of background information, v 25 tells us that Simeon was just and devout. There are two things to note in this description. The fact that Simeon was just and devout implies that he lived his life in such a way that he sought to be Christ-like. We must seek to be Christ-like in order to hear from the Holy Spirit in the same way and intensity as Jesus Christ did. In addition, Simeon was waiting for Jesus. He didn’t know exactly Whom he was looking for, but he had a tremendous sense of expectation. His entire life and livelihood revolved around his desire to see the Messiah! Ours should too. When we pray with expectation that God will move on our behalf and show us those things He has promised us, our prayers can shake nations as Jesus makes Himself known more fully to us.

 

Baptism in the Holy Spirit

 

Next (still in v 25) we see that the Holy Spirit was upon Simeon, as opposed to just in him. Why is this important? This should be taken as evidence of an experience called the ‘baptism in the Holy Spirit’ as something separate and distinct from the salvation experience. At the moment of salvation, every new believer is filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit’s indwelling presence is evident from that moment on. Some Christians have adopted the idea that when we are saved, that is all the Holy Spirit we are ever going to get. However, I would like to argue there is something more. There is a second experience called the ‘baptism in the Holy Spirit’ that all believers should recognize. This is in addition to receiving the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation. Specifying ‘in addition to’ is important because addition never subtracts; the baptism in the Holy Spirit never takes away from the importance of salvation, but only adds to our ability to live like Christ in light of it.

 

To clarify, let’s think about a sponge. A sponge can be bone-dry or soaking wet. The amount of water in the sponge does not change the molecular make-up of the sponge itself. The only thing the amount of water in the sponge changes is the ability of that sponge to be used as a vessel to pour out into other things. The measure of the Holy Spirit in every Christian operates the same way. John 3:34 says that ‘God does not give the Holy Spirit by measure.’ The Christian, however, can prevent himself from receiving the full measure that has already been given to him.

 

Acts 6:1-7 details a delegation process in the early church. The Hellenists accused the early church of neglecting charitable works. In response, the original disciples opted to put other men in charge of those works so they could remain devoted to ‘…prayer and…ministry of the word’ (Acts 6:4). When looking for these ‘other men,’ the early disciples were very specific. They told the church to ‘…seek out from among [them] seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom [they might] appoint over this business.’ Nothing in the Bible is included by accident, and it is worth noting that these men needed to be ‘full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom.’ If the only infilling of the Holy Spirit we ever experienced happened at the moment of salvation, the disciples would have simply said, ‘Any Christian will do!’ But they didn’t. They specified that these men must be ‘full of’ the Holy Spirit, which means that some Christians can be nearly empty of Him despite still being saved. The end result of finding Christians who had received this second baptism in the Holy Spirit was that ‘…the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.’ The Holy Spirit is powerful, enabling mere men to accomplish much more than they could ever expect to accomplish on their own.

 

As more evidence, we turn to 1 John 5:8. This passage talks about three baptisms: the Holy Spirit, the water and the blood:

 

And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one (1 John 5:8).

 

As Christians, we are expected to be obedient in all three areas. At the moment of salvation, we are baptized in the Blood of Jesus; all our sins are washed away and we are made spotless: white as snow. As a step of obedience, we are then expected to pursue water baptism. Finally, we are expected to pursue baptism in the Holy Spirit. Note that these three baptisms are out of order in the text. Jesus was baptized in water, and when He came up out of the water the Holy Spirit descended upon Him.  Finally, when His Blood was poured out on the Cross, He was baptized in blood. Jesus was baptized in blood last so that we could be baptized in blood first, but we must seek out baptism both in water and in the Holy Spirit following salvation if we are to experience everything God has for us.

 

Back to Simeon

 

Next we see that the Holy Spirit speaks to Simeon. In v 26, the Bible details that the Holy Spirit had revealed to Simeon that ‘…he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.’ This means that the Holy Spirit had shown Simeon what to expect. The Holy Spirit had given him a picture; his spiritual eyes had been opened. We see a similar process in 2 Kings 6 where Elisha prays for his servant’s eyes to be opened. Immediately God reveals to the servant that ‘…the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha’ (2 Kings 6:17). God is always active all around us, even though we may be ignorant to most of what He is doing. We must always proactively cancel any doubt in our minds. Whenever we don’t think God is moving on our behalf, we must not ask ‘Why not?’ Instead, we should ask ‘What is He doing that I don’t see?’ In response to our persistence, God will open our spiritual eyes and show us exactly what He is doing.

 

Luke 2:27 goes on to describe how the Holy Spirit leads Simeon into the temple. Here we are introduced to the concept of being ‘led by the Holy Spirit.’ Simeon may not have known exactly what Jesus looked like, but the Holy Spirit led him to a specific place at a specific time so he would be sure not to miss the encounter. Ps 119:105 says that ‘…God’s Word is a lamp to [our] feet and a light to [our] path.’ In other words, we don’t always get the entire picture at once. Many times we need to step out in the direction the Holy Spirit is leading us, and He will show us more as the need arises. As human beings, we like to see the big picture. But many times God reserves that right for Himself, and often it is for our own good.

 

It is worth noting the absence of any big, booming voice. Simeon simply needed to know Whom to expect and where he should go to look for Him. God often speaks through His Holy Spirit in a still, small voice. This has been true the vast majority of the time for me when receiving specific instruction. We would all love a big, booming voice all the time. However, when we are forced to listen with the utmost attention, our character develops in a way that would be impossible if God communicated with us in any other way.

 

Finally, we see the Holy Spirit speaking through Simeon in vv 34-35. Simeon prophesies over Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and they will remember his words for the rest of Jesus’ life. The prophecy speaks to Jesus’ destiny, and also to Mary’s eventual suffering at the sight of her Son nailed to the Cross. The Bible says that all believers are meant to prophecy (Luke 7:28). Yet fear hinders many of us from ever trying. How do you know God will speak through you? Open your mouth and trust God. Just as we know gravity will work when we drop something to the ground, we must know that God will speak through us when we open our mouths. But we must open our mouths. God will not give you a new word to speak until you speak out the one you have already been given. Just as we must pour out of a full cup before there is room to pour in, we must speak that which we have to receive more.

 

A Note on Tongues

 

The Bible says that the evidence of baptism in the Holy Spirit is speaking in tongues (Acts 2:4). However, we would do well to remember (especially in the ‘charismatic’ circle, of which I am a part) that the evidence is never the goal. The Holy Spirit speaking to you and working in you is always the goal; tongues is simply the evidence. If I shoot a basketball at a hoop, my goal is not to have a perfect follow-through; it is to score points. The follow-through is only an indication that the shot was well executed. If I take a trip to Best Buy to buy a brand new, big-screen TV, I won’t come home bragging to my wife about the awesome receipt I took home with me from the store. The goal is the brand-new TV; the receipt is simply evidence of what has been purchased. If I ever need to contact Best Buy about the purchase, I have the receipt as the evidence and a reference. Whenever I need to pray to God, I have the Holy Spirit speaking through me with tongues as evidence.

 

Learning from Anna: A Spirit of Humility

 

Now we can turn to Anna, who teaches us a great deal about how we can position ourselves to hear from God. Luke 2:37 says that Anna lived a life of ‘…dedication, prayer and fasting night and day.’ For the purpose of this discussion, let’s ignore the activity and focus on the spirit (motivation) behind the activity. That is what we’re after: a devotion to God so extreme that we will do anything and everything we can just to get closer to Him. As Christians under the New Covenant and preaching the Gospel of Grace, we must always remember this: new behavior cannot produce change; change produces new behavior.

 

Anna teaches us that maintaining a spirit of humility facilitates our ability to hear from God. Luke 2:46-51 expounds on that idea. After being separated from Jesus, Mary and Joseph return to Jerusalem to find Him in the temple ‘…sitting in the midst of the teachers’ (Luke 2:46). Now when I used to read this passage I pictured Jesus standing on some type of platform, shouting and preaching to all the teachers as Someone who was quite obviously in charge. Yet this is not what the Bible tells us. We are told that Jesus was ‘…listening and asking questions’ (Luke 2:46), not preaching. Jesus knew His identity, and He knew His destiny. Yet He humbled Himself to listen to, and ask questions of, earthly teachers who ultimately could not teach Him one single thing. When we remain humble, God will speak to us.

 

The Test

 

Many times, either in the church office during the week or after service on a Sunday, I am asked a very logical question: What do I do if I’m not filled with the Holy Spirit? There is a simple test you can employ to find out if you are filled with the Holy Spirit. Are you ready? Say these words out loud: ‘Jesus Christ is Lord.’ Did you do it? Great. Now read the following verse:


Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit

(1 Cor 12:3).

 

If you’ve accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and can say it out loud, you are filled with the Holy Spirit! If you weren’t filled with the Holy Spirit, you wouldn’t have been able to say it!

 

Now, when you get back to the baptism in the Holy Spirit, all you have to ask for is a greater measure of something you already possess. Asking for a greater measure is infinitely easier than asking to ‘receive’ something if you don’t know what the reception is supposed to look like. Many times, when Christians talk about being ‘baptized in the Holy Spirit,’ we imagine some vague, cosmic collision whereby God blesses us with something we can’t quite explain and don’t know how to get. Baptism in the Holy Spirit is not meant to be difficult. We already have the Holy Spirit living inside us; now we just have to ask for Him to permeate (saturate) everything we are! Imagine you’re sitting at the dinner table, one course in, but you’re just not full. What do you do? You ask for more, of course. If your host is gracious, you will receive more of that which you already have. God is a Most Gracious Host. After all, the Bible calls us to ‘greater things.’ How can we do greater things if we don’t have the same measure of the Holy Spirit Jesus had?

 

Living a Christ-Like Life

 

The end result of having the Holy Spirit cover us, speak to us, and then speak through us is a Christ-like life. The end of Luke 2 gives us a glimpse of what such a life might look like when describing Jesus:

 

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men (Luke 2:52).

 

We see several components of a Christ-like life described here which are worth examining. The first is wisdom. Wisdom means knowing exactly how to handle any situation in a way that would imply supernatural knowledge. Wisdom depends on circumstance, as the wise thing to do might vary from one situation to the next.

 

Stature, on the other hand, describes Jesus’ (and our) stance and position: our ability to spiritually impact a situation because of certain innate abilities that do not change depending on circumstance. Stature is static. Wisdom, while ever-present, is dynamic.

 

Finally, a Christ-like life will cause us to increase in favor, both with God and with man. There should be a certain ease to our earthly relationships as a result of the favor won on the Cross by Jesus Christ. The benefits of being a Christian do not just start when you die; they start the day you accept Jesus Christ into your life. Ps 27:13 promises us that we will see the goodness of the Lord ‘…in the land of the living.’ We must expect to see benefits to our relationship with God here and now, or else we are curtailing our ability to enlarge His Kingdom.

 

We also see here that it is possible to increase in favor with God. It is important to emphasize that favor is different from love. God will always love you infinitely regardless of what you do. He gave His Only Son on the Cross to prove it. But walking along the path God has laid out for you allows God to work with a certain ease. We must also emphasize that only God Himself increases your favor; you can never increase it yourself.

 

My prayer is that all of us would let the Holy Spirit cover us, speak to us and speak through us!

 

- 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 21: Three Layers

Genesis 42:18-43:34

Matthew 13:47-14:12

Psalm 18:16-36

Proverbs 4:7-10

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

 

CityLight Pastor Commentary:

Jesus constantly ends His descriptions of the final judgment with descriptions of wailing and ‘gnashing of teeth’ for those who are not gathered into the Kingdom of God. What does ‘gnashing of teeth’ mean? We gnash (grind) our teeth together whenever we’re in intense pain or anger; those left out of the Kingdom of God will experience intense pain as a result of eternal suffering, and anger at the eternal realization that such suffering could have easily been avoided. What’s more interesting is that there are three basic layers of the human tooth: enamel, dentin and pulp (from exterior to interior). Severe grinding of the teeth results in erosion of all thee layers. Human beings are also tri-layered: body, soul and spirit (from exterior to interior). Eternal consequences, whether good or bad, pierce all three layers that make up who we are. Are bodies are just external casings that carry our much more valuable spirits, and it is the eternal fate of our spirits that should occupy our attention as opposed to the temporal state of our bodies. Let’s not forget that our choices impact much more than just the final resting place of our bodies!

 

Prayer:

“Father, give me focus! Reveal to me the role of, and purpose for, the different layers that make up who I am as your child. Give me the grace to do what’s best for spirit, even if it means forsaking flesh. I know that only Your Holy Spirit can give me the strength to do this, so I ask for more of His Presence in Jesus’ Mighty Name!”

CityLight Vision Sunday 2014

At the end of every year, we like to take a moment to reflect on the past year and plan for the year ahead. The Lord has done amazing things through us in 2013, and we know 2014 is going to be even better! We thank God every day for what He is doing at CityLight Church. We also thank God for our CityLight Church family. Nothing we do is possible without our members.

We just finished our annual Vision Sunday services, and we’d like to share with you the areas on which we’ll be focusing as a church in 2014. At CityLight Church, we believe wholeheartedly that everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ is saved by grace, through faith. Grace is defined as unmerited favor. There is nothing any one of us can do to earn salvation, and there is no way we can ever pay Jesus Christ back for His death on the Cross. While good works should be a natural by-product of our salvation, they do not earn us right standing with God. We believe in the finished work of the Cross, and we want everything we do as a church to be an outworking of God’s grace. All of our services, events and charitable works at CityLight Church are empowered by grace. In turn, everything we do as a church should outwardly demonstrate the grace of Jesus Christ to people in New York City and around the world who do not yet know Him.

How can you determine if your works are empowered by grace or by driven religion? 1 John 5:2-3 says this:

“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.”

If anything you do as a Christian is burdensome, you are missing the love and grace of God in your life. Nothing we do as Christians should be done out of duty to follow God’s commands; everything we do as Christians should be done out of desire to follow His Word and Will for our lives.

With that backdrop firmly established, we will be focusing on the following areas in 2014:

1)   Community

Spring Life Groups start the week of February 24, 2014. Sign-ups will be available soon on our website. Life Groups are the easiest way to meet new people and grow in your walk with God, so please join us this Spring for our best semester of Life Groups yet! We will also be expanding our CityMen and CityWomen ministries this Spring.

Acts 2:1-2:  When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.

2)   Missions & Evangelistic Outreach

CityLight Global Compassion is alive and well, demonstrating love and spreading the Gospel in Ethiopia, Guatemala, Liberia and Montenegro. We’re going back to Guatemala from June 21st-28th,, 2014, and we would love it if you can join us! We’re also planning our first-ever missions trip to Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, for February, 2015.

Mark 16:15: And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature…”

3)   Loving & Serving Our City

We launched CityLight Local Compassion in 2013, and we will continue our commitment to serve New York City communities that need our help on at least a monthly basis in 2014.

Mark 10:45: For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.

4)   Anointing & Spiritual Gifts

Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power (Acts 10:38), and we believe His church should be too! We’re planning several special events this year to make sure we identify and develop your ability to hear from God and walk in the supernatural. We will also continue God Encounter Friday Services and Healing Rooms as ways for our members to enjoy God’s Presence and cultivate spiritual gifts.

1 Thess 5:19-20: Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies.

5)   Family Ministry

CityKids is growing! We had our first-ever CityKids Christmas Pageant this year. We love our families and our kids, and we’re committed to adding resources whenever and wherever we can. Your family grows and adjusts, and so will we. In addition to CityKids, we’re also adding resources to our counseling department. If you ever need to talk with one of our Pastors about anything – no matter how big or small – our door is always open!

Prov 22:6: Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.

Finally, we want our members to know that you are an essential part of God’s mission for CityLight Church. Thank you for your faithful attendance, and for sharing your life with us in 2013. Thank you for giving generously and sowing into the plans God has for us. We are praying that this will be your best year ever!

-The Pastors & Staff at CityLight Church

To listen to the Vision Sunday 2014 Podcast from service on Sunday Night 1/12/2014, by Pastor Bojan Jancic, please click here: http://bit.ly/1e79nVi

To listen to the Vision Sunday 2014 Podcast from service on Sunday Morning, 1/12/2014, by Pastor Mike White, please click here: http://bit.ly/1bD7AaY

Day 20: Leave It In the Ground

Genesis 41:17-42:17

Matthew 13:24-46

Psalm 18:1-15

Proverbs 4:1-6

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

 

CityLight Pastor Commentary:

The parable of the wheat and the tares in Matthew 13 helps to answer a common question: if God is good, why do wicked people exist? Why does evil exist? The answer lies in the realization that there is an enemy at work. Satan is constantly doing everything he can to sow tares in our lives. Maybe it’s your boss, or a roommate, or someone else; but we all have people in our lives who make things difficult. Yet Jesus says it is not our job to decide who should be uprooted, or who should be judged. God is the Only Righteous Judge. In fact, He will leave the tares planted until the final judgment, because uprooting them now might cause some of His children to stumble. Uprooting them now might result in misidentification: people who appear to be wicked (tares) but have yet to be transformed into the people God wants them to be (wheat) might be gathered up before they have the chance to mature. We must patiently endure the growth process God has us in, knowing that in the end He will gather the righteous into His kingdom!

 

Prayer:

“Father, give me patient endurance! Life isn’t always easy and can sometimes be just plain hard; but I know you have a plan for me. I know you love me. Help me to embrace the purpose You have for my life.”

Day 19: Family Business

Genesis 39:1-41:16

Matthew 12:46-13:23

Psalm 17:1-15

Proverbs 3:33-35

For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1dJrj8r

 

CityLight Pastor Commentary:

This is such an exciting passage because Jesus is telling us that we are His family! Jesus defines His family members as “…whoever does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matt 12:50). That means He loves you. A lot. Unconditionally, in fact. That love that you have for your siblings and your parents that never dies no matter how much distance or conflict comes between you? Jesus loves you the same way. But wait…it gets better. Parents share 50% of their DNA with their children. Brothers and sisters share 50% of their DNA with their siblings. People who share that quantity of DNA with each other are called first-degree relatives. In other words, you’re a first-degree relative of Jesus Christ Himself! You share His DNA! Our flesh is always sinful, but our spirits are redeemed. If we share His DNA, we share His righteousness. If we share His righteousness, we share His favor. If we share His favor, we carry the same ability He had to go out and see our prayers confirmed with signs, miracles and wonders!

 

Prayer:

“Father, help me to step into my identity! I am a sibling of Jesus Christ! I am Your child! I am built for great things and nobody is going to tell me otherwise!”

Day 18: Judge Not

Genesis 37:1-38:30

Matthew 12:22-45

Psalm 16:1-11

Proverbs 3:27-32

For full text click here: http://bit.ly/LgP3Xp

 

CityLight Pastor Commentary:

In Genesis 38, Judah finds out his widowed daughter-in-law played the harlot, and he was quick to judge her. “Bring her out and let her be burned!” (Gen 38:24) was his immediate reaction. Yet the Lord cautions us against such rash judgment. You see, Judah did not realize that he was the very man with whom Tamar had slept. He did not take time to recount his own mistakes in advance of issuing judgment for the mistakes of others. Jesus Christ calls us to notice the plank in our own eye before pointing out the speck in the eye of another (Luke 6:42).  He tells us only to cast stones (hurl judgments) at another if we can honestly say that we ourselves are without sin (John 8:7). Of course, none of us is without sin! It follows that none of us should judge. There is only One Righteous Judge (Romans 2:16). God has already forgiven all our sins when we call on the Name of Jesus Christ. We must not pretend to be more righteous than God Himself and refuse to forgive others.

 

Prayer:

“Father, help me to forgive! You have washed me clean – white as snow! If you won’t judged me for everything I’ve done, I shouldn’t judge others for anything they’ve done. Help me to see the Christians around me as the children of God that they are!”

Day 17: Grace

Genesis 35:1-36:43

Matthew 12:1-21

Psalm 15:1-5

Proverbs 3:21-26

For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1kFAP2H

 

CityLight Pastor Commentary:

The first few verses of Psalm 15 should be enough to make us all realize just how impossible it is to earn righteousness. The Psalmist lists a series of actions that are off limits if we want to enjoy God’s Presence, and an honest reflection reveals that all of us (Pastors included) are guilty! This is where grace comes in. Jesus Christ was sinless. He lived up to every standard the Bible ever lays out for mankind. He didn’t do it for Himself; He didn’t do it for fun. He did it for YOU! God loves you more than you can ever imagine, and He was willing to pay the ultimate price for a restored relationship with you. He gave His Only Son so that we would be redeemed.

 

Prayer:

“Father, thank You for Your grace! Thank you that Your Only Son served as a Sacrifice without blemish; a Spotless Lamb – and purchased righteousness for us because we could never afford it on our own.”

Day 16: Don’t Expect the Worst

Day 16: Don’t Expect the Worst

Genesis 32:13-34:31

Matthew 11:7-30

Psalm 14:1-7

Proverbs 3:19-20

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

 

Pastor Commentary:

Pop quiz: your cell phone rings, and it’s someone you haven’t heard from in years. Do you expect good news, or bad news? Is your tendency to assume the best, or the worst? The answer to that question may lend some insight as to how you honestly feel about God’s character. God is the God of Good News; the Gospel of Jesus Christ is quite literally the best news mankind has ever received. We should always expect good news! In Gen 32 and 33, Jacob expects the absolute worst when it comes to his imminent encounter with Esau. He sees his brother approaching with 400 men and assumes vicious intent. Yet Esau runs to meet him, embraces him, kisses him and falls on his neck. God feels exactly the same way about us! When we turn to Him, He RUNS to us and showers us with love and affection! We serve a powerful loving God, and we are His representatives everywhere we go. We should expect good news commensurate with that privilege!

 

Prayer:

“Father, you are a good God! Help me to expect good things. Don’t let me be swayed by the negativity that the world around me so eagerly displays. I expect good news in Jesus’ Mighty Name!”

Day 15: Demonstrations of Power

Genesis 31:17-32:12

Matthew 10:24-11:6

Psalm 13:1-6

Proverbs 3:16-18

For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1aR60ht

 

Pastor Commentary:

Matthew 11:2-3: “And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said to Him, ‘Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?’”

 

If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ve all probably asked Jesus some form of John’s question in prayer: Are you real? Should I believe in you? Jesus answers by asking John to observe everything that is done in His Name: both by Jesus Christ Himself, and by His disciples. Miracles are not just for the early church. We are not meant to win souls with only intellectual arguments. We are called to step out in faith and demonstrate the power of our Living God so that unbelievers come to Christ because they see no other option after having been introduced to Truth Himself. Words can be persuasive and arguments can be compelling, but experiencing God’s love firsthand communicates His Identity in a way that nothing else can.

 

Prayer:

“Father, I want to feel your love. Jesus, I want to see the power of your love demonstrated in the church, because I know you are the same yesterday, today and forever. Even though I might change, you love me the same.  Your love never changes, and I praise you for it!”

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