Planning in Prayer

The following is an adaptation of the sermon ‘Planning in Prayer’ preached by Pastor Mike White on Sunday, 2/16/2014, at CityLight Church. To listen to the full podcast please click here: http://bit.ly/O8WkKV

 

Divine Instruction

 

Exodus 25-40 is one of the most challenging segments of the Bible to get through. In these chapters, God is describing to Moses how He wants the tabernacle constructed; and He’s doing so in painstaking, intricate detail. It’s incredibly easy to zone out and lose focus in a passage like this. Maybe tough reading like this even makes you think of ditching that one-year Bible reading plan altogether. After all, why would I possibly need to know how many cubits the altar of incense is supposed to be or what exactly the golden lampstand is supposed to look like? Is any of this text really relevant to my life, here and now?

 

Yes. Of course it is. The Bible is the full counsel of God, and without any part of it, no matter how seemingly ‘insignificant,’ that counsel is no longer full. So what’s the point of the tabernacle description? In Exodus 26:30, God tells Moses, “And you shall raise up the tabernacle according to its pattern which you were shown on the mountain.” God is telling us how intricate He is willing to get when it comes to detail during prayer. God is giving Moses instruction – in advance – so that he can carry out His will.

 

In order to fully understand the significance of these chapters, we need to remember exactly where Moses was when he was receiving this specific instruction from God. He was on Mount Sinai, the mountain of God, in God’s presence. We see a full description of Moses’ encounter with God on Mount Sinai in Exodus 24:

 

“Now the glory of the Lord rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day He called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud. The sight of the glory of the Lord was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain in the eyes of the children of Israel. So Moses went into the midst of the cloud and went up into the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.” – Ex 24:16-18

 

Our equivalent of Mount Sinai is deep, intense prayer; that is where we experience God’s presence. God is willing to give us incredibly detailed description of many things that will happen in our lives during times of prayer; but we have to commit to hearing from Him in advance. When we do, He will tell us exactly where we are supposed to be, what we are supposed to do and how we’re supposed to do it.

 

Expect to Hear from God

 

As Christians, we should expect to hear from God. It’s Biblical. Jesus described hearing from God to His disciples like this:

 

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” – John 10:27

 

We practice hearing from God all the time at CityLight Church. In fact, every single ministry we have is based on the assumption that we should hear from God:

  • God Encounter Fridays are designed for our members to share specific revelation they’ve received from God
  • Healing Rooms volunteers expect to hear from God about specific details as to a client’s physical and emotional condition
  • Missions Trips give our members the chance to minister to others as the Holy Spirit speaks to them
  • Life Group Leaders pray and intercede for everyone in their Life Groups every week based on what God tells them about their life situation

 

We know we should hear from God, but the trouble is this: sometimes, when we really need to hear from God, He’s JUST NOT THERE! We’ve all had a sticky situation in our life when we really needed to hear from God. We hit our knees, pray our best prayer, and then wait and listen…but we get nothing. Nada. Crickets. Where is His voice when we need Him most? We don’t realize, however, that the problem isn’t that He doesn’t want to speak to us; the problem is we don’t want to listen to Him in advance. Let me explain.

 

If I tell you to go into a crowded room and pick out Bob’s voice, what’s your logical first question going to be? Who is Bob? What does his voice sound like? It wouldn’t make sense to go into a crowded room and pick out the voice of someone you’ve never heard before. Yet this is what many of us try and do with God. We wait until we’re in the middle of a tough situation before we stop and listen for His voice. Sometimes that’s too late. Instead, imagine that you’re in the middle of a subway station trying to pick out the voice of your best friend. It should be incredibly easy to recognize his or her voice because you’ve had numerous conversations before you step into a crowded area. This is how it should be with God.

 

Praying and Fasting

 

Jesus outlines the principle of praying in advance clearly to His disciples in Matthew 17. A man approaches Jesus and asks Him to heal his son, who is suffering from epilepsy. The man goes on to complain that he brought his son to Jesus’ disciples, but they were unable to heal him. Let’s take a look at what happens next:

 

“Then Jesus answered and said, ‘O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.’ And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, ‘Why could we not cast it out?’ So Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.’” – Matt 17:17-21

 

First, Jesus rebukes the disciples for their unbelief. Then, at the end of the passage, we find something very interesting: ‘This kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.’ Let’s start by looking at what Jesus is not saying. He’s not saying that the proper course of action for the disciples would have been to turn the boy and his father away until they had more time to pray and fast. He’s not telling His disciples they should stop in the middle of their ministry and pray and fast about particularly tough cases as they come up. Let’s think about this for a second. If you went to a church and came up for prayer after the service was over, would you ever expect someone praying for you to say, ‘Come back next week after I’ve had the chance to pray and fast about this?’ Of course not. Jesus is not telling His disciples that, in that specific instance, they should have withdrawn from the boy and his father to pray and fast.

 

What Jesus is saying is that the disciples need to pray and fast more in general. He’s making a commentary on their lifestyle when it comes to praying and fasting, as opposed to giving them specific after-the-fact instruction for that one instance. He’s telling His disciples that they need to pray and fast more in advance. If we incorporate prayer and fasting into our lifestyle as a consistent form of worship, we will have all the authority and power we could ever need when we actually find ourselves in a tough situation which requires a miracle. We need to pray and fast ahead of tough situations; never simply as a result of them. When we pray and fast in advance, our unbelief will be cured, and signs and wonders will follow us wherever we go!

 

If You Fail to Plan…

 

We all know that advance planning is important. Benjamin Franklin probably said it best: “If you fail to plan you plan to fail.” This is completely applicable in prayer. I’m a little less famous than Ben, but I’d like to propose a new Christian version of the quote: “If you fail to plan in prayer, you pray to fail.” We need to spend time praying and planning in God’s presence before we find ourselves in a tough situation if we expect to hear from God in the midst of it. Sometimes we can even avoid the tough situation altogether because God will give us a blueprint to follow in advance.

 

It would have done Moses no good if he started to build the tabernacle without specific instructions. God promised He would anoint the craftsmen and artisans of Israel with all the wisdom and expertise they could ever need to build the tabernacle, along with everything in it. But Moses was the guy with the plans. God communicates the blue prints to us in advance of construction day.

 

We follow this principle in everyday life all the time but ignore it in prayer. Would you ever let someone remodel your kitchen without showing you plans first? No. Would you ever let your kid go to a school where they didn’t have a curriculum and you had no idea what they were going to teach?! Of course not. What about that meeting at work? If you know you’re in charge, would you ever go in without an agenda? I don’t think so. So then why do we try and go about our daily lives without hearing from God in advance? We wait to find ourselves in a situation where we really need prayer before we hit our knees. God wants better for us; and we should want better for ourselves!

 

Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That

 

The most common answer I get to the question, ‘Have you prayed about that,’ is the response: ‘I don’t have time to pray.’ We don’t pray in advance because we don’t have time in our schedules, but then we wonder why God doesn’t show up and speak to us as if we had prayed in advance.

 

There’s a parallel argument with tithing. Very rarely do people just have an extra 10% lying around to give to God every week. It’s not easy to tithe; and that’s exactly the point. That’s the reason tithing builds faith. Committing to tithe means you’re trusting God for increase, knowing that even though the money’s not there now, God will prosper your remaining 90% when you commit the first 10% to Him. We have incredible testimonies at CityLight from people who have committed to tithe: they get checks in the mail, insurance settlements for tens of thousands of dollars, and double-digit raises from work. When you honor God, he honors you. That should never be the reason we honor God, but it’s a Biblical principle that always holds true.

 

The same argument holds for your time. You probably don’t have time to hunker down and pray first thing in the morning; and that’s exactly the point. When you devote your first fruits to God, He will bless the rest. When you pray to Him first, your entire day will be blessed. If that sounds a little supernatural, then good: because it is.

 

We all have ‘wasted’ time in our days. God can take that time and use it for good when you honor Him with prayer. How about that ‘nap time’ after lunch where you just zone out and can’t concentrate on anything? He can redeem that when you use it for prayer. That chunk of time at the end of your day where you’re just so fed up with everyone around you that you can’t even stand it, so you sit down on the couch and zone out? He can redeem that time. Those five minutes here and ten minutes there wasted on fights, arguments and disputes – especially with the people you love the most? Those don’t have to happen. We all have time in our days that can be redeemed; when we honor God with prayer in advance, He will redeem that time and make it productive instead of destructive. When we pray to Him first thing in the morning, He’ll help us to avoid those wasted spaces all together.

 

When I was a freshman in college, I took Psych 101. It was taught by Dr. James B. Maas, who is the author of a book called Power Sleep. His theory was that every person needs an average of over nine hours of sleep. Knowing that sounded impossible for most people, he developed an argument (supported by evidence) that if you get the required amount of sleep, you will be so much more efficient throughout the rest of the day that you’ll have time to do everything you need to do. What’s more, you’ll feel better rested and more satisfied through it all.

 

The same principle holds in prayer. Nobody really has extra time to devote to prayer. But when we make a point to place a priority on prayer, God will redeem the rest of our day. When we have a blueprint for everything God wants us to do in advance, we can be so much more efficient in everything we do – especially in tough situations – because we will already have heard from Him!

 

Establish a Routine

 

Praying first will change your day. Time spent in prayer is always time well spent. Jesus prayed first thing in the morning, and so should we:

 

“At evening, when the sun had set, they brought to Him all who were sick and those who were demon-possessed. And the whole city was gathered together at the door. Then He healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He did not allow the demons to speak, because they knew Him. Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.” – Mk 1:32-35

 

In this passage, Jesus basically hosts an awesome revival meeting. Everyone in the city brought their sick and demon-possessed to Him, and He healed them all. Most of us would have considered our work done. We would have slept in the next morning. Yet Jesus gets up well before the sun rises, goes off on His own, and prays. We learn His secret. It’s only because He spends so much time in prayer, becoming intimate with the Word and Will of God, that He is able to walk in such authority and power. He is the Son of God, and He makes time to listen to His Father. Here the Bible shows us the effect before the cause; the result before the work.

 

Every morning when I go to pray, I put a blank sheet of paper in front of me. As ideas come to me – plans, conflict resolution, hopes and dreams – I write them down. This has a dual purpose. First of all, it allows me to plan my day. God sets my schedule. I know that might sound too good to be true for those of you who work in a secular career, but please just try it. Whether at work or at home, your day is going to run so much smoother if you let God set your schedule. Second, it clears my head and gets my to-do list out of the way so most of my time in prayer can be spent in prayer or worship. This is the best kind of prayer: exaltation and praise that honors God for His greatness. More than anything else, the blank sheet of paper establishes expectation. When I write the title ‘Prayer, Sunday, 2/16/2014’ down on that paper, it means I expect to hear from God. I’ve never finished praying and seen that sheet blank.

 

It’s also important that we don’t forget to listen. Personally, I think 1/3 to ½ of time spent in prayer should be listening. We love to ask God questions: Can You do me a favor, or can I have some advice? Yet, if we’re honest, we rarely listen intently for answers. God isn’t interested in a one-sided relationship, where we talk at Him instead of to Him. He wants to respond, but we need to give Him the chance.

 

Jesus calls us all prophets:

 

“…among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” – Matt 11:11

 

As such, we should expect to hear from God. We are the couriers of His Word, and when we hear it accurately and speak it out over a situation, the atmosphere changes. Amos 3:7 says that God “…does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.” God’s desire is to fill us in before things happen, so we don’t have to learn the hard way and miss out on destiny. Let’s position ourselves to hear God’s voice. Let’s get plans from God before we need them; never after.

 

-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 50: Secrets, Secrets…

Leviticus 7:28-9:6

Mark 3:31-4:25

Psalm 37:12-29

Proverbs 10:5

For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1kU6tsb

 

CityLight Pastor Commentary:

“For everything that is hidden will eventually be brought into the open, and every secret will be brought to light.” – Mk 4:22

 

You can have secrets in your relationships with other people. There is no such thing, however, as a secret from God. Jesus explains to us in the verse above that everything we think, say and do will be brought to light. The law would have us look at this verse as one of condemnation: do good or else you will be found out and punished! But grace would have us understand this verse as one of complete freedom. Everything in our lives can be fully devoted to Jesus with full confidence that God will see everything we do. So when you miss the chance to ‘act right’ but love Him in your heart, God sees it. When you say the wrong thing but later realize you should have acted out of love, God sees that. God wants you to love Him with your whole heart, but doesn’t expect you to be perfect. No thought, word, or act of love – no matter how small or seemingly insignificant – will be overlooked.

 

Prayer:

“Father, thank You for seeing my heart! I know I’m not perfect and I never will be, but I’m asking you to conform me into the image of Jesus Christ as I behold Him every day. Thank You for forgiveness and second chances!”

Day 49: I’ve Got the Power!

Leviticus 6:1-7:27

Mark 3:7-30

Psalm 37:1-11

Proverbs 10:3-4

For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1fuzCD5

 

CityLight Pastor Commentary:

“Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons” (Mk 3:14-15).

Jesus sent His disciples out with authority to preach the Gospel, and power to heal sicknesses and cast out demons. Jesus’ intention was always for His disciples to walk in the same authority and power as He Himself walked. ‘Disciple’ is the Greek ‘mathetes,’ which means a ‘learner’ or ‘pupil.’ That means you, and that means me. The power of the Gospel was never meant to be restrained only to those in full-time ministry. Our job as a church staff is to equip each and every person at CityLight Church with the understanding that every Christian should walk in the power and authority of Jesus Christ Himself.

 

Prayer:

“Father, I want to preach with authority! I want my words to be followed with signs and wonders! I pray that Your Holy Spirit would work powerfully through me in Jesus’ Mighty Name!”

Day 48: Ruffling Feathers

Leviticus 4:1-5:19

Mark 2:13-3:6

Psalm 36:1-12

Proverbs 10:1-2

For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1cOxd5w

 

CityLight Pastor Commentary:

Jesus ruffled feathers. He ate with sinners and tax collectors (Matt 2:15). He didn’t force His disciples to fast like the disciples of John and the Pharisees (2:18). On the Sabbath, He healed (3:5) and told His disciples to eat from heads of grain in the field (2:23). Jesus offended the religious status quo, and refused to play by the rules enacted by the religious authorities at the time. Instead of the law, He was preoccupied with grace. He ate with sinners and tax collectors because it was they who needed salvation most. He expected His disciples to enjoy His physical presence while they could, eating and drinking with Him to gain familiarity and learn to love Him. He saw the Sabbath as a day made for man, designed to offer rest after six days of spreading the Gospel. Law is motivated by pride; Grace is motivated by love. We can’t save ourselves, but with one simple prayer Jesus can save us.

 

Prayer:

“Father, help me to choose grace. I know that if I choose the law but fall short in any area I fall short in all. I choose to rely on the Only Man who could live a sinless life. He did it on my behalf so I could be free. Thank You for Your Son!”

Day 47: Blood and Salt

Leviticus 1:1-3:17

Mark 1:29-2:12

Psalm 35:17-28

Proverbs 9:13-18

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

 

CityLight Pastor Commentary:

Today’s reading outlines two general types of offerings the children of Israel could make: animal offerings and grain offerings. If a man presented an animal offering, it would be ‘accepted on [his] behalf to make atonement for him’ (Lev 1:4). Blood was required if sin was to be forgiven. If a man presented a grain offering, it would be ‘a memorial on the altar…a sweet aroma to the Lord’ (Lev 2:2). The law also specified that every grain offering should be seasoned with salt. Blood and salt. When Jesus Christ hung and died for our sins on the Cross, He shed His blood for us. He was accepted on our behalf to make atonement for us. His blood was poured out so that no more blood would ever be required. We now have the privilege of offering a memorial to God every day as recognition for sacrificing His Son; and that memorial must be seasoned with salt. Jesus calls us to be salt and light to the world (Matt 5:13). If we don’t preach the Gospel, who else will? We must boldly proclaim the Gospel every day as an offering before God, knowing that we who are privileged to share in its benefits are also given the responsibility of sharing its message.

 

Prayer:

“Father, help me to be salt and light to the world! Thank You that Jesus Christ hung on the Cross and suffered for my sin. Thank You that His blood was poured out so that I could be forgiven. Thank You!”

Day 46: The Glory Cloud

Exodus 39:1-40:38

Mark 1:1-28

Psalm 35:1-16

Proverbs 9:11-12

For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1gK0OzQ

 

CityLight Pastor Commentary:

“Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle” (Ex 40:34). Moses had received specific instructions from the Lord on Mount Sinai to build the tabernacle, and he acted on each and every intricate detail the Lord had shown him. The end result was a greater measure of God’s Presence than the people of Israel had ever known. Ex 40:35 describes that God’s presence was so thick in the tabernacle that Moses couldn’t even enter. Can you imagine if church was like that every Sunday? Take special note of the tremendous value that God’s people put on His presence. If the cloud (God’s glory) was still resting on the tabernacle, the children of Israel would not move (v 37). This is important because when it came to ‘activities’ for the children of Israel, there was nothing else to do besides 1) move or 2) worship God. They didn’t have to farm or look for food, because they ate manna the entire time they were in the wilderness (Ex 16:35). What else was there for them to do?! The message is this: when God’s glory is present and tangible, we must forget everything else we ‘have to do’ and spend time in His presence. Exodus 40 gives us a picture of what our church services should look like every single week: when God shows up, we should forsake all else to praise and worship Him!

 

Prayer:

“Father, when You bless me with Your presence, help me to drop everything on my to-do list and praise and worship You! There is no time to waste. I want to spend every day in Your presence!”

The Power of Your Words

The following is an adaptation of the sermon ‘The Power of Your Words’ preached by Pastor Mike White on Sunday, 2/9/2014, at CityLight Church. To listen to the full podcast please click here: http://bit.ly/NzCbO2

 

It always helps to revisit old stories, and re-examine old truths. In this message we’re going back to basics and looking over the entire creation story.

 

Reading; Genesis 1:1-31: http://bit.ly/1ghet2T

The Creation Story

 

In this text, we see a distinctive pattern. God ‘said,’ and then He ‘saw.’ We see this pattern on all but one of the six ‘working’ days in the creation story (remember God rested on Day Seven).

 

Day One: God said ‘let there be light’ and there was light (v 3); He saw the light and that it was good (v 4).

Day Two: God said ‘let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters’ (v 6); then it was so.

Day Three: God said ‘let the waters be gathered together, and let dry land appear’ (v 10); God saw that it was good (v 10). God said ‘let the earth bring forth grass, herb and the fruit tree’ (v 11); God saw that it was good (v 12).

Day Four: God said ‘let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens (v 14);’ God saw that it was good (v 18).

Day Five: God said ‘let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures…let birds fly’ (v 20); God saw that it was good (v 21).

 

It’s worth pausing to regroup before we get to Day Six, which deals with the creation of ‘every living creature on the earth,’ especially mankind. One every day but Day Two, we see this pattern in which God speaks to creation, and then immediately sees the results of His words. The only day on which God did not ‘see’ His results immediately after speaking out His commands is on Day Two, and there is a reason for this. On Day Two, God positioned heaven within everything else He was creating. Heaven would become God’s abode and house His presence. God did not need to see heaven because He already knew what His presence looked like. He simply needed to designate where heaven would fit into the rest of creation. Heaven was not ‘new,’ per se, as was the rest of creation, so God did not need to see it and pronounce that it was good. Now on to the sixth and final day, in which God created every animal on the earth and then went on to create the first human:

 

“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ 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, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply…’ Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.” – Gen 1:26-31

 

Here we see the pattern completed. The creation story has run its course, and God has finished speaking into being every single thing we see around us. Notice God’s first 1) action towards and 2) instruction to mankind. The first thing God does to Adam is bless him. This should obliterate any notion that God is a cruel, vengeful Creator. He created us so He could bless us; Satan is the one who gets in the way of that original intent, but blessing us is still God’s desire. The first bit of instruction God gives to mankind is ‘Be fruitful and multiply.’ We are created to reproduce. Now this is not to say that every single one of us should go out and have a dozen kids; in the New Testament context this ‘multiplication’ refers to spiritual reproduction as well as literal reproduction. Even if you’re not married and have no intention of ever walking down the aisle, God’s instruction to us is still the same: ‘Grow My Kingdom.’ The best way to do that is to introduce the people around you to a relationship with Jesus Christ.

 

Power of the Spoken Word

 

The creation story illustrates the power speaking God’s Word out loud. As soon as God speaks something out, it happens. The atmosphere changes. We also see there is a necessary precondition to this atmospheric shift:

 

“And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” – Gen 1:2

 

The Holy Spirit must be present in order for the Word of God to take physical shape. When He is present (remember the Holy Spirit is a Person), there is impetus for change. There is potential; a creative formula. When the Holy Spirit is present to effect change and the Word of God is spoken out over a situation (even if it seems shapeless and void!), things start to happen and change takes place. God promises through the prophet Isaiah that His Word ‘shall not return to [Him] void’ (Is 55:11). God has already spoken His Word and it has been recorded by men whom He has chosen as worthy vessels. The way we call transformation into being is by reciting God’s Word back to Him. When we do that, He promises that His Word will not reach His ears without change taking place.

 

Well That Was God…And I’m Just…Me

 

At this point you should have a logical question nagging you in the back of your mind. ‘But that was God…what about me? Do my words have that much power?’ I would like to make the argument that they most certainly do.

 

First of all, Gen 1:27 tells us that we are made in the ‘image’ of God. That designation implies genetic resemblance. We obviously don’t look like God; we share His genes. In Gen 5:3, the Bible describes how Adam and Eve give birth to Seth, and the same word (‘image’) is used to describe Seth’s relationship with his parents. The term applies specifically to DNA being passed from one generation to the next. If we are made in God’s ‘image,’ we share His DNA.

 

Now we get to the age-old question of ‘nature versus nurture.’ Does the fact that I have God’s DNA mean that I should expect my words to have the same power as His? The field of genomics, as the name would imply, studies the human genome. Scientists have made efforts to determine what traits are passed down from generation to generation: what characteristics are caused by genetics as opposed to our environment. Recently, however, the scientific community is pointing out that the designation of ‘nature’ versus ‘nurture’ is no longer the best way to describe what actually takes place.

 

Every human being has 1) a genotype, and 2) a phenotype. The genotype is our genetic makeup (what we inherit), and the phenotype is the observable set of characteristics you display. Recent evidence indicates that every gene we inherit is not automatically active. Our environment (nurture; our life experience) actually determines to some degree which genes are actively expressed (nature; our heritable DNA). As opposed to ‘nature versus nurture,’ authors such as Matt Ridley (the author of ‘Nature Via Nurture: Genes, Experience and What Makes Us Human,’ 2003) explain that the more contemporary way to think about genes and the environment is actually nature via nurture. Genes and our environment are no longer diametrically opposed, competing for the sum total of our observable characteristics. They work together to determine which genes become active in each and every single one of us.

 

So what’s the implication for Christians? Well, simply put: We have the DNA of God Himself! We are made in His image, and Jesus Christ has restored our DNA to an active state when we make the decision to trust in Him for salvation! However, it’s up to us (through our personal experience) how active that DNA becomes. We must manage our environment to make sure we are encountering the presence of God, and allowing His Holy Spirit to move through us. Are you putting yourself in a place where you’re giving the Holy Spirit time to speak to you and space to move in your life? Are you filling your head with the Word of God by meditating on His Scripture day and night? Are you putting yourself in situations where you can pray for people and see God work miraculous powers through your hands? The decisions we make can determine whether or not God’s DNA is displayed through us.

 

Passing the Torch

 

God makes His expectations for mankind crystal clear in His communication with Adam. Just as God called all of creation into being with His Word, Adam is supposed to repeat the process and name every living thing on the earth. Once Adam names an animal, that is the identity it takes on:

 

“Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name.” – Gen 2:19

 

God is telling Adam to follow in His footsteps. “I did it; now You do it!” It clearly would have been inappropriate for Adam to turn the responsibility for naming every animal back over to God because he didn’t feel up to the challenge. Yet that is what so many Christians do every day! We have God’s Word, and we have a mouth and the ability to speak it out. Yet we are so reluctant to speak God’s Word out over our lives because we simply don’t understand the power and authority we have through Jesus Christ.

 

Power and Authority

 

God passed the ability to name our surroundings on to the first Adam. Then He passed His power and authority on to the Second Adam. Jesus Christ walked in power and authority. This is where it gets exciting: Jesus Christ passed that same power and authority on to us, His disciples.

 

Whenever a man or woman takes on (walks in) authority, there must be a transference of authority that takes place. If a new king has authority, he has to have received it from somewhere: there is a royal lineage that has to be followed. If a new President is elected, he has to have received his authority from someone. In the case of the United States, that authority comes from the collective body of citizens. Ultimately, all authority comes from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God (Rom 13:1); but there has to be a transference of authority that takes place if Jesus’ authority is to be passed on to us.

 

A few weeks ago, as my wife and I were on our way to church, a police officer stood in the middle of the street and pulled us over. He couldn’t have been more than 5 ½ feet tall; but I skidded to a stop and pulled our car right over to the side of the road (don’t worry…it was just a random traffic checkpoint). So why did I stop? Was it the size of the police officer? Definitely not. It was his authority. His uniform represents the full power and authority of the City of New York. The City gets its authority from the State of New York, and the State of New York gets its authority from the United States government. Ultimately, that police officer may as well have been Barack Obama Himself. We stopped right in our tracks because there was a transference of authority that had taken place, ending with that police officer.

 

Jesus has passed His authority on to us in a similar manner. There is a divine transference that has taken place, through which Jesus Christ has given us authority to go out and do ‘greater works’ than even He Himself did (John 14:12). The Son of God, with all authority, has passed it on to us. Let’s take a look at this process.

 

The Twelve and the Seventy

 

As a starting point, we must acknowledge that Jesus Christ has all authority. We see this in the Great Commission as outlined by Matthew:

 

“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

– Matt 28:18-20

 

Jesus Christ was given all authority by His Father, and this authority is all-encompassing. The passage above specifies that His power is just as applicable on earth as it is in heaven. We are also told that there is no expiration date (‘even to the end of the age’). Jesus Christ has all authority.

 

Then we see Step Two: Jesus gives His authority to His twelve original disciples:

 

“Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” – Lk 9:1-2:

 

Jesus passed His power and authority on to the twelve disciples and gave them three specific tasks: 1) cast out demons, 2) heal the sick and 3) preach the Gospel.

 

Next (Step Three), we see Jesus Christ give that same power and authority to an additional seventy others:

 

“After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go. Then He said to them, ‘The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest’… And heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’” – Lk 10:1-9

 

Jesus was multiplying His trusted disciples. He knew He could not possible cover all the ground He needed to cover on His own, so He partnered with trustworthy disciples to carry out His mission.

 

Finally (Step Four), Jesus passes on His power and authority to ALL believers after He has been raised from the dead:

 

“And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” – Mk 16:15-18

 

The authority and power in which Jesus Christ Himself walked is passed on to all ‘those who believe.’ ALL BELIEVERS! That means me; and that means you. Walking in His power and authority is no longer an option: it is an imperative. It is a command for all Christians. If the Kingdom of God is going to expand, you and I need to be Jesus’ hands and feet. We need to walk worthy of His calling and go out and preach the Gospel in every nation, knowing that our words will be followed with signs and wonders.

 

Just how does Jesus expect us to do that? How can our words possibly carry as much weight as His? The answer, of course, is that He has given us His Holy Spirit to live inside of us:

 

“Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” – Lk 24:49

 

It is only by acknowledging that the Holy Spirit lives inside of us, and embracing the fullness of life that He has to offer, that we can go out and expect to walk in Jesus’ footsteps.

 

Now It’s Up to Us

 

It would be nice if Jesus Christ would just come back and take on the responsibility of witnessing for us. It would be nice if He would just come back and perform a few miracles so all our contemporaries could see beyond the shadow of a doubt that He is real. But He’s not going to do that. He is seated at the right hand of the Father in heavenly places, and He has left the responsibility of walking with authority and power on earth to us.

 

Your words are powerful. When we speak the Word of God out over any situation, those words carry the same weight as if God had spoken them Himself. We are made in His image, and have been given the Holy Spirit to live in us as a guarantee that we can walk in authority and power. Proverbs 18:21 says ‘Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.’ In order for our words to carry the power they were designed to contain, we must realize that our words are powerful. We have the ability to walk into any situation and change the atmosphere by speaking the Word of God out over it.

 

God has given us His DNA. Jesus Christ has given us His authority. The Holy Spirit works through us with His Power. Now all that’s left for us to do is go out and change the world for His glory.

 

– 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 45: The Resurrection

Exodus 37:1-38:31

Matthew 28:1-20

Psalm 34:11-22

Proverbs 9:9-10

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

 

CityLight Pastor Commentary:

“And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door…” (Matt 28:10).

 

Yesterday we examined the craftiness of the Pharisees. They asked Pilate for Roman soldiers to guard Jesus’ tomb so the disciples couldn’t steal His body and claim He was raised from the dead. They wanted to stifle any chance of a resurrection story. Instead, they actually solidified the trustworthiness of the Resurrection. It would have been absolutely impossible for Jesus’ disciples to steal His body because the door of the tomb, which itself was carved out of a rock, was guarded by soldiers. There would have to be a supernatural, divine intervention if Jesus were not to be found in the tomb. We see it in today’s reading. God sent an angel from heaven to roll back the stone and reveal that Jesus Christ had been raised from the dead. The Roman guards who were there that day couldn’t deny what they had seen, so the Pharisees paid them to keep their mouths shut (Matt 28:15). The Resurrection happened! Credible witnesses are recorded. The body of Jesus was nowhere to be found because He Has risen!

 

Prayer:

“Father, thank You for the Resurrection! Thank You that Jesus Christ is seated at Your right hand, and that we are seated in Him in heavenly places!”

Day 44: The Tomb

Exodus 35:10-36:38

Matthew 27:32-66

Psalm 34:1-10

Proverbs 9:7-8

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

 

CityLight Pastor Commentary:

“So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard” (Matt 27:66). After Jesus was crucified, the Pharisees remembered Jesus’ promise that He would be raised from the dead. They asked Pilate to assign soldiers to guard the tomb. They didn’t realize, however, that by guarding the tomb, they were actually making the testimony of Jesus’ resurrection even more secure. The presence of Roman soldiers would have made it impossible for the disciples to come and steal away Jesus’ body. The tomb was “hewn out of the rock” (Matt 27:60); there was only one entrance, and no back door. Any escape would have to be miraculous (and we will see just how miraculous it was in tomorrow’s reading). Belief in the resurrection is essential for Christian faith. Do you really believe Jesus was raised from the dead? Do you realize how much potential you have inside of you knowing that the same Holy Spirit who raised Jesus Christ from the dead gives life to your own body (Rom 8:11)?

 

Prayer:

“Father, thank You for the resurrection! Thank You that by being raised from the dead, Jesus Christ proved HE IS. I believe in the resurrection! I pray that Your Holy Spirit – the same Spirit who raised Christ from the dead – would strengthen me in my own life!”

Day 43: Listen to Your Wife

Exodus 34:1-35:9

Matthew 27:15-31

Psalm 33:12-22

Proverbs 9:1-6

For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1lxsdI8

 

CityLight Pastor Commentary:

“While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent to him, saying, ‘Have nothing to do with that just Man, for I have suffered many things today in a dream because of Him’” (Matt 27:19). Pilate’s wife heard from God in a dream and warned her husband not to crucify Jesus Christ. As we all know, however, he didn’t listen. Despite the fact that he tried to wash his hands of responsibility, the Bible still records Pilate as the governor in charge of the legal process that led to Jesus’ torture and death. Before my wife and I got married, I got a profoundly simple piece of advice from someone on the Ministry Team at CityLight Church: ‘Listen to your wife.’ It’s true (thanks Robert Vazquez); and I do. My wife hears from God in ways that I can’t. Many times, just when I’m at wit’s end, she’ll hear from God in a unique way and present the perfect solution to a problem I thought of as too big to solve. I love that woman; and God loves speaking to me through her. The message is this – married or single: God speaks to us through our loved ones. For you, that might be a husband or a wife – or it might be good friends from church. It’s important to surround ourselves with people who will hear from God about our situation and give us reliable Biblical counsel. If you need some friends who are always ready to listen to God for your situation, come to church!

 

Prayer:

“Father, thank You for those people You have put into my life to speak Your wisdom into me. Help me to have the humility to hear from them with an open mind and a clean heart.”

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