Day 263: Be Gentle

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan

Isaiah 37:1-38:22

Galatians 6:1-18

Psalm 65:1-13

Proverbs 23:24

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

 

Commentary by Pastor Michael White:

“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness” (Gal 6:1). Put your finger away. God does not instruct us to point or fingers and judge those who are overcome by sin and find themselves unable to make good choices. He instructs us to restore them in a spirit of gentleness. God restored us so that we can go out and help restore others. He saved us so that we can lead others into His salvation. He made us Kingdom ambassadors so that we can share the Good News with everyone we meet! Be gentle, and help the people around you get back on their feet and on the road to restoration.

Prayer:

Father, help me to be gentle! I want to lead the people around me into restoration. I know Your heart is to have them restored, and I want to play whatever role You will open up for me in that process!

Day 262: Fruit Trees

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan

Isaiah 33:10-36:22

Galatians 5:13-26

Psalm 64:1-10

Proverbs 23:23

For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1mmYZR4

 

Commentary by Pastor Michael White:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal 5:22-23). A tree is judged by its fruit. How do you know if you are “walking in the Spirit” (Gal 5:16) and allowing God’s Holy Spirit to express Himself through you? Look at the fruit produced in your life. If the things you think, say and do produce the characteristics above, then God is working through you. If they don’t, then today is the perfect opportunity to invite God to wash over your entire life. Salvation is a free gift; and when we are saved, God promises that His Holy Spirit will come and make His home in us. And once He’s there, His work will be apparent!

 

Prayer:

Father, I invite you into my life. I give you full and complete control. I want my thoughts, words and actions to produce fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control!

Day 261: Fall from Grace

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan

Isaiah 30:12-33:9

Galatians 5:1-12

Psalm 63:1-11

Proverbs 23:22

For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1r8bOgP

Commentary by Pastor Michael White:

“You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace” (Gal 5:4). Did you ever wonder where the expression “to fall from grace” comes from? Paul uses it for the first time in his letter to the churches in Galatia. We think of a fall from grace as a personal error: a slip-up so severe that recovery is impossible. But a Biblical fall from grace is actually quite the opposite. Instead of succumbing to our imperfection, a fall from grace occurs when we rely on our own failed attempts at perfection instead of relying on the perfect work of the Cross. It involves forsaking – falling from – grace, and gravitating back to the law. It entails thinking that our salvation and righteousness have something to do with us. Salvation is a free gift from God, and grace is unmerited favor. When we try to earn our salvation and prove how righteous we are to God, that is a fall from grace. Embrace God’s grace. Unmerited favor is something that can never be earned, so stop trying and simply rest in His finished work!

Prayer:

Father, thank You that grace is a free gift. Help me never to turn from or run from your unmerited favor. I am righteous by faith; not by works!

Day 260: You Are His

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan

Isaiah 28:14-30:11

Galatians 3:23-4:31

Psalm 62:1-12

Proverbs 23:19-21

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

 

Commentary from Pastor Michael White:

“And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Gal 3:29). This is the finale of Galatians 3. Paul has just finished answering a series of questions that cause many Christians to stumble. What made Abraham righteous? Faith and faith alone. Why was the law established under the Old Covenant? To reveal our inevitable imperfections and our need for a savior. And when we put our faith in God’s Only Son Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are attributed the righteousness only He deserves. When God looks at Jesus’ disciples, He sees His Only Son. We are baptized into Christ Himself, and made part of His body. And if we are His, we are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to God’s covenant promise.

Prayer:

Father, I want to make a decision today. I accept Jesus Christ as Lord of my life! I repent of my sins and rely on the finished work of the Cross in Jesus’ name!

Restore Your Finances!

The following is an adaptation of the sermon ‘Restore Your Finances!’ preached by Pastor Mike White on Sunday, 9/14/2014, at CityLight Church. To listen to the full podcast please click here: http://bit.ly/ZqnQcr

Financially Blessed

I believe that Christians should expect financial blessings in their lives. Jesus was a man who had the full resources of heaven at His disposal. As His disciples, we should operate with the same confidence and freedom.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with Biblical prosperity. At CityLight Church, we define Biblical prosperity as having everything you need to perform the unique calling God has put on your life, and then having enough left over to bless other people in theirs.

Biblical prosperity has been broken, beaten and abused by many pastors and churches over the years. Some abusers maintain that if we ask for anything from God, He will give it to us; yet they completely ignore the requirement that everything we ask for must align with God’s will (1 John 5:14-15). Does God guarantee you’ll have a big house and a fast car? I don’t think so. But He does guarantee that He will supply all your needs (Phil 4:19). So, honestly ask yourself: are your financial concerns needs, or just wants?

There is nothing wrong with being financially blessed! In fact, Deuteronomy 28 promises blessings on those who are obedient to God. Many of those blessings are strictly financial. In the context of the New Covenant, these promises are available to each and every single person who calls on the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ according to Romans 10:9. Here is what we can expect as New Testament Christians who proclaim faith in Jesus Christ:

“And the Lord will grant you plenty of goods, in the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your ground, in the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers to give you. The Lord will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. And the Lord will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath…” – Deut 28:11-13

We will lend and not borrow! The fruit of our land will be blessed! All of heaven’s resources will be made available to us!

Kingdom expansion requires money. There are physical needs all over the world that need to be met, and we need money to do it. We need to address and satisfy physical needs before people will be open to spiritual conversations. We should expect to be financially blessed to carry out that mission.

However, we should never depend on financial blessings for our happiness.

Backwards Thinking

Sometimes we can fall subject to backwards thinking. We let our finances define how much God has blessed us, when we should let how much God has blessed us define our finances. If you’re not swimming in money, it doesn’t mean God doesn’t love you! We’ve eaten up sloppy doctrine so much that we think we’re doing something wrong if we’re not living in a penthouse apartment, whipping around in a beautiful car and doing interviews with Oprah.

Don’t let your finances define your perception of God’s feelings towards you. Everyone has a different mission, calling and purpose in life. Some missions require millions of dollars; others don’t. But the amount we need is not up for us to decide. That number is up to God alone.

Safety Nets

Solomon was the wisest king the world had ever seen. He was also the wealthiest. Solomon built wealth easily and effortlessly because he valued his relationship with God above all else. Second Chronicles details just how wealthy the Kingdom of Israel had become under his rule:

The weight of gold that came to Solomon yearly was six hundred and sixty-six talents of gold, besides what the traveling merchants and traders brought. And all the kings of Arabia and governors of the country brought gold and silver to Solomon. And King Solomon made two hundred large shields of hammered gold; six hundred shekels of hammered gold went into each shield. He also made three hundred shields of hammered gold; three hundred shekels of gold went into each shield. The king put them in the House of the Forest of Lebanon.

-2 Chron 9:13-16

When God asked Solomon what he wanted out of life, Solomon asked for wisdom. And because of that humble request, God gave him his request. But He didn’t stop there:

Then God said to Solomon: “Because this was in your heart, and you have not asked riches or wealth or honor or the life of your enemies, nor have you asked long life—but have asked wisdom and knowledge for yourself, that you may judge My people over whom I have made you king— wisdom and knowledge are granted to you; and I will give you riches and wealth and honor, such as none of the kings have had who were before you, nor shall any after you have the like.” – 2 Chron 1:11-12

Solomon made a choice to strive after God instead of pursuing riches. If he had pursued riches without pursuing God, he would have attained neither; but because he pursued God, he was given both.

Unfortunately, kings after Solomon lost his zeal. They lost the value Solomon put on his relationship with God. Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, was the first to bear the brunt of that decision. In Solomon’s reign, he built enormous and invaluable shields of hammered gold. He established a safety net: financial provision for the future. But all was lost when Rehoboam’s eyes wandered from God:

Now it came to pass, when Rehoboam had established the kingdom and had strengthened himself, that he forsook the law of the Lord, and all Israel along with him. And it happened in the fifth year of King Rehoboam that Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, because they had transgressed against the Lord, with twelve hundred chariots, sixty thousand horsemen, and people without number who came with him out of Egypt—the Lubim and the Sukkiim and the Ethiopians. And he took the fortified cities of Judah and came to Jerusalem … So Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, and took away the treasures of the house of the Lord and the treasures of the king’s house; he took everything. He also carried away the gold shields which Solomon had made. Then King Rehoboam made bronze shields in their place, and committed them to the hands of the captains of the guard, who guarded the doorway of the king’s house. And whenever the king entered the house of the Lord, the guard would go and bring them out; then they would take them back into the guardroom. – 2 Chron 12:1-4, 9-11

Instead of putting his trust in God, Rehoboam put his trust in money. Whenever we trust money instead of God, we open the door for our enemies to take our money from us! All that God had assembled through Solomon – his entire safety net – was taken away. Rehoboam spent the rest of his life accepting a counterfeit; convincing everyone around him that he was more wealthy than he really was. He showed off bronze shields as if they were gold. But he and God both knew the truth.

How is this story applicable to us today? Many of us have a financial picture to which we aspire in our minds. We have a great plan and an endpoint at which we’ll finally feel comfortable. “If only I have a safety net of a few hundred thousand dollars,” we say, “I’ll finally be happy. I’ll finally have time for God.” But that outlook is nothing more than trusting money instead of God. It’s nothing more than idolatry: lusting after money instead of the One True God.

If we seek God instead of money, we will find both. But if we seek money instead of God, both will elude us. So forget the financial cushion. If you trust God for financial provision, He will provide everything you need. If you let God be your refuge – your shield – you will never experience lack, but only provision.

Jesus made this abundantly clear to His disciples as they wondered about their condition. How could their material needs possibly be satisfied if they devoted their lives to following Jesus? Jesus’ response tells us all we need to know:

“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. – Matt 6:31-33

God knows our needs. When we make it a priority to follow Him, even if it means forsaking our personal needs, He promises that we will never experience lack.

I left a lucrative career in finance in 2012. I was a Risk Arbitrage trader at a major Wall Street bank, and I was doing just fine. My wife and I had a vivid picture of what we wanted our life together to look like – and it was rich! Then God called us into full-time ministry. Our plans immediately changed.

When I took a job as a pastor at CityLight Church, we made the decision that we were going to trust in God for complete and total financial provision. What’s more, we made the decision to trust Him for financial restoration. I cannot believe that God will bless us less after having made a decision to live our lives fully for Him than He did before we made that decision. I have to believe that He will bless us more!

We looked up relevant Scriptures and found out that ministers of the Gospel are supposed to be Biblically blessed.

Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. – 1 Tim 5:17-18

We knew the Bible outlined that we were destined not only for honor as ministers of the Gospel, but double honor! What did we have to fear? We continue to believe that God will bless us even more than He would have if I had stayed in finance. We make all our financial decisions according to His word; not according to our circumstances.

Tough Decisions and Rocky Roads

God is the God who restores. If you’re reading this today, you might be in one of several situations:

1)      Have you made some bad decisions and turned your financial picture into a mess?

2)      Have you done everything right, but your finances are still falling out of bed?

3)      Is God calling you to make some financial choices that will force you to follow Him more fully? Maybe even make financial adjustments that all your non-Christian friends would call crazy?

GOD IS THE GOD WHO RESTORES!!!

In the days of Zechariah, God’s people were disobedient. They had made some bad decisions, and had let their hearts follow after foreign Gods. But God promised His people restoration with the coming of Jesus Christ, the Messiah:

As for you also, because of the blood of your covenant, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit. Return to the stronghold, you prisoners of hope. Even today I declare that I will RESTORE DOUBLE to you. – Zech 9:11-12 (capitalization added by author)

The Israelites screwed up! Through disobedience, they squandered everything they had. They allowed the enemy to come in and take their stuff! But because of the blood of Jesus Christ, God promised to restore double!

Sometimes, even when we’re as righteous as we can possibly be, things still don’t quite go our way. We see the same predicament in the life of Job. Despite Job’s piety, God gave all his possessions over to Satan. Everything he owned and loved in life was taken away. But let’s not forget how the Book of Job ends:

And the Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. Then all his brothers, all his sisters, and all those who had been his acquaintances before, came to him and ate food with him in his house; and they consoled him and comforted him for all the adversity that the Lord had brought upon him. Each one gave him a piece of silver and each a ring of gold. Now the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; for he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, one thousand yoke of oxen, and one thousand female donkeys. He also had seven sons and three daughters. …After this Job lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his children and grandchildren for four generations. So Job died, old and full of days. – Job 42:10-13, 16, 17

At the end of Job’s life, everything he had lost was restored. All the people he loved were redeemed. And all his possessions were doubled!

So what have you been through? Which of those three scenarios does your life fall into? Can you make the decision today to trust in God for financial provision and restoration?

Walk It Out

So how do we walk out financial restoration? Slowly and steadily. Unfortunately, there is no special trick – no magic prayer to pray – so that all your financial problems disappear. However, there is a simple solution: just continue to do exactly what God has called you to do.

I love the story when Jesus sends Peter fishing for money:

When they had come to Capernaum, those who received the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Does your Teacher not pay the temple tax?” He said, “Yes.” And when he had come into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers?” Peter said to Him, “From strangers.” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for Me and you.”

– Matt 17:24-27

Jesus is recognizing the importance of money as a currency. If the electric company calls and ask why you haven’t paid your bill, a response that we’re trusting God isn’t going to cut it! Money is required as a currency while we live here on earth. But Jesus shows Peter that He will provide him with everything he needs.

Jesus is not telling all of us simply to go fishing; that’s not the key to this story. So put your fishing rods down. Remember that Peter was a fisherman before he dropped everything to follow Jesus (see Matt 4). He fished professionally before he became a disciple, and he went back to fishing after Jesus died (see John 21). Jesus is telling all of us to stick to what we are called to do – whatever and wherever that is – and He will provide for us!

So walk out your calling. If you’re a teacher, teach. If you’re a banker, bank. And if you’re a preacher, preach. God will supply everything you require.

– 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 259: Perfect Peace

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan

Isaiah 25:1-28:13

Galatians 3:10-22

Psalm 61:1-8

Proverbs 23:17-18

For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1yi0wx3

Commentary from Pastor Michael White:

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You (Is 26:3). Are you restless? Do you wish you could experience perfect peace? Isaiah reminds us that we only find true peace when we focus 100% on God. When we focus on God, we build trust in Him; and trusting God leads to peace. When we focus on God and His promises, we are not plagued by doubts and what-ifs. When we stay our minds on God, we are unaffected by the potential for bad things to happen in our lives. And when we willingly embrace the reality that Jesus saves, we are free from sin and death! Trust in God. He is far bigger than any of your problems, and most worthy of the utmost attention.

Prayer:

Father, thank You for Your perfect peace. You promise that when I focus on You, I will find rest. Help me to rest in all You have done for me!

Day 258: Forgiveness and Trust

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan

Isaiah 22:1-24:23

Galatians 2:17-3:9

Psalm 60:1-12

Proverbs 23:15-16

For full text click here: http://bit.ly/YN3g5L

Commentary by Pastor Michael White:

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me…” (Gal 3:20). Did you know that when you give your life to Jesus Christ, you die along with Him? His work on the Cross covers all your sins. His death and punishment account for yours. Did you know that God trusts you to be His anointed representative on this earth? It is no longer you who live, but Christ lives in you! God so loved you that He gave His Only Son as a sacrifice for your sins. But it doesn’t stop there. He trusts you so much that He has chosen you as a vessel to carry His Holy Spirit. Your life, lived in partnership with God, is meant to be a testimony to His goodness and faithfulness. First He forgave you; and now He trusts you.

Prayer:

Father, thank You for trusting me! I don’t deserve Your trust, and I don’t deserve Your favor. But You have given it to me all the same!

Day 257: Justified by Faith

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan

Isaiah 19:1-21:17

Galatians 2:1-16

Psalm 59:1-17

Proverbs 23:13-14

For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1uOH599

Commentary by Pastor Michael White:

Paul’s desire for the early church was that they would be “…justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified” (Gal 2:16). There will always be pastors, preachers and teachers who advocate for a return to the law. In the early church, Paul confronted Peter directly for refusing to eat with Gentiles (in essence, maintaining that he was too holy to eat with sinners). I believe Paul would take the same approach with any Christian who claims to be more holy than another Christian today! We are justified by faith, and not by works. It is therefore impossible to earn favor with God, because Jesus Christ has already earned it on our behalf. The reality is that no good work can reconcile us to God because no man can be justified by works – only faith. So whatever you’re doing to try and earn God’s favor, just stop. Only two things are required: “…that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved (Rom 10:9).

Prayer:

Father, help me to REST in the finished work of the Cross. There is nothing I can do to earn more favor with you, because Jesus already earned infinite favor on my behalf. Help me to take joy in my relationship with You, and rest in everything You have done for me!

Day 256: Get Past Your Past

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan

Isaiah 15:1-18:7

Galatians 1:1-24

Psalm 58:1-11

Proverbs 23:12

For full text click here: http://bit.ly/XoP0Pl

Commentary by Pastor Michael White:

“He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy” (Gal 1:23). Paul’s life story is a testament to God’s redemptive power. Paul once called himself the chief persecutor of Christians. He was not only the biggest skeptic when it came to the Christian faith, but also a violent man who killed members of the early church. Yet God redeemed him completely. Paul was chosen, out of every other man living at the time, to be the preacher who would proclaim the gospel to the Gentiles. No matter who you are, or what you’ve done, God wants to use you! Put your past where it belongs – behind you – and accept God’s glorious future for your life!

Prayer:

Father, thank You for promoting me, even when I don’t deserve it. You have chosen me to do great things: not in spite of my background, but because of it. Your grace is sufficient for me!

Day 255: Become Complete!

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan

Isaiah 12:1-14:32

2 Corinthians 13:1-14

Psalm 57:1-11

Proverbs 23:9-11

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

Commentary by Pastor Michael White:

“Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you” (2 Cor 13:11). What does it mean to become complete? What does it mean to be fulfilled? Paul tells us in his letter to the Corinthians. A relationship with God will comfort us beyond measure. God will give us the mind of Christ so we can view earthly events from a heavenly perspective, and pray with the same confidence as Jesus Christ Himself! God will cause us to live in peace – not only with our neighbors, but also with Him. When we are with God and He lives through us, we will find fulfillment. We will be complete!

Prayer:

Father, I know that I cannot be complete apart from You! I am a perfect work: a masterpiece You have created, and one that You will finish. Thank You for the fulfillment that only comes from a relationship with Your Son Jesus Christ!

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