Day 324: Draw Near to God

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan

Ezekiel 40:28-41:26

James 4:1-17

Psalm 118:19-29

Proverbs 28:3-5

For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1tkArF9

Commentary from Pastor Michael White:

“Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:7-8). Jesus Christ has defeated the grave. He has already crushed Satan under His feet. Satan is in such a state of defeat that all we have to do to make him flee out of our lives is simply resist him! We don’t have to fight and struggle with him, or engage in endless spiritual warfare; when we push back, he runs for the exits.

James also exposes the secret to intimacy with God: draw near to Him, and He will draw near to you. So many people are waiting for God to initiate a love relationship with us, when the truth is He already has! God sent His Only Son to die on the Cross for us, so that we could be restored to right relationship with Him. Then, He filled us with His Holy Spirit. How much closer can He get?!

Prayer:

Father, help me to resist the devil, and to draw near to You. I know that You will meet me, wherever I am, as soon as I turn to You! Thank You for Your unfailing love.

Intimacy Part II

The following is an adaptation of the sermon ‘Intimacy Part II,’ preached by Pastor Mike White on Sunday, 11/16/2014, at CityLight Church. To listen to the full podcast please click here: http://bit.ly/1qYFhrB

This is the second installment of our 3-week series on intimacy. In Week One, we discussed the importance of intimacy with God: why we need it, and how to pursue it. This week we continue our discussion on intimacy with an examination of the Sabbath. Next week we’ll conclude by exploring intimacy with other people: how do we take the intimacy we enjoy with God and entice others to cultivate a desire for intimacy with Him?

History of the Sabbath

The Sabbath is a tradition that stretches back to the beginning of time. God spoke creation into being, and then He did something very peculiar: He rested.

Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

- Gen 2:1-3

When God created the heavens and the earth, along with everything in it, He celebrated by resting. Genesis 1:27 says that we are made in His image. The same way God spoke creation into being, we are designed to recite His word over circumstances around us, and watch as things fall into line with His word.

He rested, and so should we. In fact, we were designed to stay in a perpetual state of rest. God formed Adam and Eve out of a desire to walk with them in the cool of the Garden of Eden (see Gen 3:8). Sounds like retirement, doesn’t it? All Adam and Eve had to do was trim bushes and enjoy God’s presence! They didn’t even have to water the plants because God watered them with a mist that came up from the ground (Gen 2:6). God designed us for effortless intimacy with Him.

So what happened? Why do you and I lack the supernatural rest we’re supposed to live out? Why are we missing God’s rest in our lives?

Mankind fell. Satan tempted Adam and Eve, and they succumbed. We were taken out of the state of rest for which we were designed, and thrown into a state of wandering and loneliness. We spend our whole lives looking for rest, and craving an intimacy only God can provide, until the day we meet Him face to face. The fall took us out of a state of shalom – perfect peace – and left us with deficits that we strive and struggle our whole lives to overcome.[1]

Rest Under the Law

Part of our job as New Testament Christians is to discern which elements of Old Testament worship are meant to stop at the Cross, and which are meant to be brought into New Covenant worship. Animal sacrifice, for example, is a ritual we no longer have to entertain. Jesus died once for all (1 Peter 3:8), and his blood fulfills the requirements of the Old Testament sacrificial system.

The tithe, on the other hand, is something that is meant to be celebrated in New Covenant worship. Some Christians are reluctant to practice the tithe because it was practiced under the Old Covenant. However, the truth is that the tithe was enacted long before the Old Covenant was established. Moses did not establish the tithe; Abraham did. In fact, we see Abraham tithe to the Preincarnate Christ (Melchizedek: a High Priest of God with no beginning and no end from; see Genesis 14) four hundred years before Levitical Law was established through Moses. God saw fit to continue the tithe under the Law for our benefit; but the tithe did not originate in the Law.

Sabbath rest is another element that is intended to be celebrated as part of New Covenant worship. Sabbath rest was originally introduced by God after He created the earth (see Gen 2, above). God saw fit to continue Sabbath rest under the Law for our own benefit:

There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a day of Sabbath rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to the Lord. – Lev 23:3

However, Sabbath rest did not originate in the Law. It is therefore a concept that we are meant to carry over to this side of the Cross and apply to the life of every New Testament Christian. God saw that rest was good, so He commanded Moses to continue honoring the Sabbath under Levitical Law.

The Jewish people practice the Sabbath on Saturday. So how did Christians settle on Sunday? In 321 AD, the Roman Emperor Constantine declared Sunday the official day of rest for the entire Roman Empire. Our Sunday tradition was born!

The Sabbath As a Day

We think of the Sabbath as a day off: a time to rest and refocus our thoughts and efforts on honoring God. But did you know that Jesus intends for Sabbath rest to encompass so much more than just one day out of the week? The Israelites enjoyed one day of Sabbath rest; Christians, however, are called into an entire lifestyle of Sabbath rest.

Part of my job as a pastor is to expand on the whole truth of Scripture: not leaving anything out, and not adding anything to the Word of God. I want to explicitly state, therefore, that setting aside a designated day of rest every week is no longer legally required:

So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. – Col 2:16-17

The Sabbath, as a single day, is only a shadow of what we’re truly after as New Testament Christians. A shadow is an image that represents the true form of an object; the Sabbath, therefore, is one day that represents the type of life we are supposed to lead.

That being said, I take a Sabbath at least one day per week (Hey – if God did it, it’s good enough for me!). I have found taking a designated, 24-hour period of Sabbath rest has improved my quality of life exponentially. It allows me to refocus completely on God. It also seals off time for me to spend with just Him and my family, without allowing all the cares of life to intrude.

A Sabbath day helps me to set proper boundaries. We’re a growing church: in the last year, the number of paid employees we have on staff has more than tripled! It’s so easy to let work creep into your time at home. It’s even easier to let work responsibilities stampede the time you set aside to meditate on God’s word and pray. Setting aside at least one 24-hour period per week where rest is required – no exceptions allowed – is instrumental in making sure I work from a place of rest the other six days out of the week.

The day you choose to enjoy your 24-hour Sabbath rest doesn’t particularly matter:

One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord… – Rom 14:5-6

I might choose Monday, and you might prefer Saturday. Whatever day you observe, do it for the Lord. In fact, as we’ve already said, it’s completely legal to skip a formal Sabbath entirely. However, the Sabbath is something that was put in place for our benefit (we’ll fully examine this later). So, why skip it?

Jesus calls us to at least one full day of rest every week, and then some. He calls us to a lifestyle of rest. In Lev 23:3 (above), God doesn’t simply command His people to take a day off; He calls them into Sabbath rest. That implies more than just a temporary adjustment, does it not? Sabbath rest requires a lifestyle choice.

The Old Sabbath and the New

Whenever we see an Old Testament concept in the New Testament, we should immediately check to see how Jesus translates the issue through the Cross. So, let’s take a look at how He interprets the Sabbath for the skeptical teachers of Levitical Law:

One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” – Mark 2:23-28

Jesus was leading His disciples through the grainfields, and they were snacking on kernels of wheat. The Pharisees were rightfully concerned! After all, it was illegal to even pinch a kernel of wheat between their fingers to get at something edible; and the Pharisees knew that when one of the Israelites intentionally violated the Law, the entire nation suffered!

Yet Jesus does not seem to care. Instead, He emphasizes to the Pharisees something that is worth internalizing: the Sabbath is for man’s benefit. Can you skip it without being hit by a bolt of lightning? Of course. But do you really want to? We see Jesus Christ telling His disciples to do something for their own good. Is that really advice we want to ignore?

Jesus wants us to enjoy a new type of Sabbath. He wants us to enjoy a lifestyle – at least one day per week, but preferably all seven – of Sabbath rest.

There are several distinctions between the Old Testament Sabbath and the New Testament Sabbath:

1) Guilt vs. Freedom

On the Old Testament Sabbath, the Jewish people had to endure guilt. The word “Sabbath” in Hebrew literally means, “Day of atonement” (Strong’ s #7676). Atonement is the process through which we seek to pay for our sins. The Israelites were forced to wonder, was I good enough? Did I do enough to honor God? The Jewish people had to stop for one whole day and wonder how they had fallen short when it came to honoring God.

On the New Testament Sabbath, we get to enjoy freedom. We know the truth that Jesus’ single, perfect work on the Cross saves us for all eternity. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, we get to dream with God for promotion and kingdom expansion!

2) Destination vs. Origin

Under the Old Covenant, God’s people had to work to a place of rest. Rest was a destination. God’s people worked all week for perfection, but still fell short; so He forced them to rest and reflect on their inadequacy. Do you feel like you’re working all week just to get to the weekend? Do you feel like you’re working your whole adult life just to get to retirement? If so, you’re only enjoying Old Testament Sabbath rest.

Under the New Convenant, we get to work from a place of rest. We can’t go out and change the world unless God prepares us to do it. He prepares us by encouraging us to rest in His presence and hear what He has to say: by inviting us into intimate relationship with Him.

So, are you working from a place of rest? Or are you constantly crying out for rest from your place or work? The Old Testament Sabbath was a destination; but our New Testament Sabbath lifestyle is an origin.

3) Obligation vs. Privilege

Under the Old Covenant, rest was an obligation: something God’s people needed to do for recovery. They tried so hard, but still fell short, so He forced them to rest.

Under the New Covenant, rest is a privilege: something we get to do for preparation. Once we’re fully rested from spending time in His presence, we can go out and change the world!

Come to Me

So how do we get to a place where we can enjoy a whole lifestyle of Sabbath rest? Jesus gives us incredibly simple instructions:

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” – Matt 11:28-30

Jesus says, “Come to Me.” There is no vacation required, and there is no magic formula to achieve rest. The answer is plain and simple: turn to Jesus.

Too often, we try and create rest for ourselves. We try to control our own life, along with our own surroundings. We get more sleep, take a vacation, and we feel great for a time; but then we feel tired again.

The shortfall of creating our own rest is this: when we create it ourselves, we have to maintain it ourselves. So by simply trying to stay rested, we become exhausted. Silly, isn’t it?

Jesus gives us the answer. The fall – sin itself – takes us out of the perfect rest God intended for us; but Jesus Christ restores us. Come to Jesus, and He will give you rest.

- 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.


[1] For a full discussion of ontological defecits as a result of The Fall, please see Craig Ellison’s book, From Stress to Well-Being: Contemporary Christian Counseling

Intimacy Part I

The following is an adaptation of the sermon ‘Intimacy, Part I’ preached by Pastor Michael White on Sunday, 11/2/2014, at CityLight Church. To listen to the full podcast please click here: http://bit.ly/1F5sDiI

Intimacy with God

A Psalm of David when he was in the wilderness of Judah. O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory. Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips shall praise You. Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips. When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches. Because You have been my help, Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice. – Ps 63:1-7

We need intimacy with God. Without it, we become dry and barren. Without intimacy, we become parched with a thirst that only God Himself can satisfy. The Psalmist gives us some clues as to how to attain intimacy: seek God early (pray before your day gets too busy), look for Him in the sanctuary (i.e. go to church) and give your all in worship (lift up your hands!).

Before we spend too much time talking about intimacy, I want to define it. Authentic intimacy is finding comfort in spending time with someone. Note that this definition implies it’s necessary to take a step beyond simply avoiding discomfort with someone; we must proactively seek someone out for comfort if authentic intimacy is to be attained.

The definition of authentic intimacy also implies that there is such a thing as counterfeit intimacy. There is. I will devote time to that concept at the conclusion.

Respecting Our Design

We all crave intimacy with God. We were designed to receive stimulus from Him. Some of us do it better than others, but there is always a genuine desire in our lives – whether we know it or not – that can only be satisfied with God Himself. Many of us seek other things in life to try and fill a hole and a void that can only be filled by more of God, but to no avail.

I’ve spent periods in my life trying to avoid God. In fact, when I first gave my life to Christ, I was so good at avoiding God that intimacy was next to impossible. I remember a time when I couldn’t pray for more than 5 minutes at a time. I had to force myself to spend time in prayer by setting my kitchen timer, and refusing to get up off the floor until it went off. At first I could only take 5 minutes; then I made my way up to 10. After 15 came 20, and from 20 I stretched it to 30. Eventually, I found myself in a healthy place where I was able to spend hours in God’s presence. But that didn’t come easily.

We need intimacy with God; and we know this because even Jesus Christ Himself needed intimacy with God.

 

Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. – John 5:19-20

Where did Jesus’ miracle-working power come from? Intimacy with God. Jesus was comfortable in His passionate love for God, as well as God’s infinite love for Him; and from that place of intimacy came miracle-working power the world had never before seen! So, if even Jesus Christ – Lord of Lords – had to rely on intimacy to work miracles, how much more so do we!

Whenever Jesus needed strength, He relied on intimacy with God:

And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. Luke 22:41-43

Jesus was in a time of absolute need at the Garden of Gethsemane. For our sake, He would be separated from His father’s love for the first time in eternity; so He knelt down and pursued intimacy with His Father.

We are made in His image. Our goal should be to become as similar to Him as we possibly can. But in order to know what we’re becoming (our ideal character) we need to know who He is!

Let’s be honest. We’re all a little afraid of intimacy, aren’t we? I’m especially talking to the gentlemen here. Intimacy can be a four-letter word to men. We don’t like to be called intimate because it means we’re soft. It means we’re girly: unmanly, and maybe even lady-like. We might as well put on perfume. But I want to submit something to you: avoiding intimacy does not make you masculine. In fact, it is the courage to embrace intimacy that defines masculinity.

Intimacy means God gets to see all of us: the good, the bad and the ugly. Letting our guard down in such a way can be a very scary experience. But it’s something we must do if we are to step into the calling God puts on our lives.

Return to Sender

The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy (Jn 10:10). Satan can be crafty, but his strategies are often the same. One of the biggest blocks to intimacy with God is allowing Satan to convince us that God has no interest in intimacy with us. As Christians, we have to muster the strength to fight that lie from the pit of hell with everything we’ve got.

Do you look forward to your prayer time with God, or do you think of prayer as a test? Do you imagine God standing up in heaven with a clipboard, taking notes on all the inappropriate things you ask for? Do you assume He’s going to throw out all your requests because you’re not perfect, and you don’t deserve to see your prayers answered? After all, who is God to take notice of you, right?

Wrong. Jesus Christ died once for all sins (1 Pet 3:18). We get to enjoy intimacy with God because of everything Jesus has done for us; not because of anything we’ve done for Him. There are no right and wrong things to say to God. He’s not waiting up in heaven to hurl a lightning bolt down at you when you ask for the wrong thing. Sure, there are appropriate and inappropriate requests to make. But nothing you say in prayer will disqualify you from God’s love. God wants your whole heart: the good, the bad and the ugly.

God Desires Intimacy With You

God doesn’t just love you; He actually likes you too! He genuinely desires intimacy with you. In fact, that’s the reason you and I were created. God designed man and put him in the Garden of Eden to enjoy his company: to walk with him in the garden in the cool of the day (Gen 3:8). Sounds romantic, doesn’t it?

Satan’s primary goal is to convince us that God does not desire relationship with us. And our counter to his lie is going straight to the source, and seeing what God says about us. So let’s take a look:

1) You have ravished His heart!

You have ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; you have ravished my heart with one look of your eyes, with one link of your necklace. How fair is your love, my sister, my spouse! How much better than wine is your love, and the scent of your perfumes than all spices! – Song 4:9-10

Song of Solomon details Solomon’s expression of love for the Shulamite woman: his bride. However, this book really is an allegory that explains the way God feels about you! Think hard about that. The God of the universe is telling you that you have ravished His heart. When you look at him – just one look! – He is completely undone.

My wife and I have a newborn son. Not a day goes by when she doesn’t look at him, overwhelmed with affection, and admit: “I love you so much I can’t take it!” We chalk this off as the love a mother can only have for her son. But in reality it’s also the love that only God can have for us: an unconditional, eternal and passionate love!

2) You are the apple of His eye!

I’m sure you’ve heard a romantic man call a woman the apple of his eye. Shakespeare made the phrase “apple of my eye” popular in his play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The pet-name is meant to convey the undying affection of a lover who has no interest in anyone other than his beloved. But do you know how the phrase actually originated? God used it. And he was talking about you:

Keep me as the apple of Your eye; hide me under the shadow of Your wings, from the wicked who oppress me, from my deadly enemies who surround me. – Ps 17:8-9

3) God married you; and He did it by choice!

“Return, O backsliding children,” says the Lord; “for I am married to you. I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion.” – Jer 3:14

God promises to marry us and carry us over the threshold and into the promised land! How much more intimate can we get?

Attaining Intimacy

We all need intimacy. We all want intimacy. So how do we get it?

Far too often, we pursue substitutes for authentic intimacy. Simon (Acts 8) tried to buy intimacy with God after seeing Philip perform signs and wonders in the name of Jesus. It didn’t work, and he was rebuked. Many times, we think that if we can just make it to one, big, Spirit-filled conference, our whole relationship with God will change. But that’s a substitute that won’t work either.

Counterfeit intimacy takes two primary forms. First, we can – either knowingly or unknowingly – rely on another person to maintain our relationship with God for us. Sometimes it’s a family member, and sometimes it’s a best friend. Sometimes it’s even our pastor! Whenever we won’t put in the effort to maintain intimacy and rely on someone else to do it for us, it’s no longer authentic. It becomes counterfeit.

Second, we can rely on an outside place or circumstance to maintain intimacy with God. Do you only hear God when you’re in church? That’s a good start, but that’s not enough. Can you hear Him at your desk at work, in the midst of the noise of daily life? We should be able to experience intimacy with God in any place, and at any time. He is omnipresent (everywhere!). We should never treat Him as anything less.

None of the substitutes for intimacy work. The Pharisees could tell the disciples had been with Jesus. They could see it on their faces; and I believe the people around us should still be able to see it on ours. That’s not meant to bring condemnation or call anyone out for not maintaining authentic intimacy. It is, however, meant to save time for those of us who are new to faith and wondering how to achieve authentic intimacy with God.

There are Christians who come to church some Sundays wearing a mask. Faking church. Anyone can claim to spend ample time with God; but few actually do it. Moses picked an alternative to wearing a mask; he enjoyed God’s presence directly, and his face shone as a result! When you shine from a place of intimacy, people will know where you’ve been; and they’ll want to join you next time you go!

The solution is simple. I believe God is calling the church back to basics: spending time with God in prayer, and dwelling on the simple beauty of the Cross. For me, intimacy looks like lying on my back and spending hours in prayer. For you, it might look like something slightly different. Whatever it looks like, it must be done.

There is no substitute for time spent with God.

I know we’re all busy. Our to-do lists grow every day, and life never gets less cluttered. But I want to propose something to you. That day you’re waiting for, when your to-do list will miraculously disappear, is never going to come. You’ll never just wake up one day and have nothing to do. Time spent with God is a choice. Your time with Him is going to have to come from somewhere; it’s going to require time taken away from something else. But it will be the best choice you’ve ever made .

- by Pastor Michael White

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

Day 323: Faith Without Works

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan

Ezekiel 39:1-40:27

James 2:18-3:18

Psalm 118:1-18

Proverbs 28:2

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

Commentary from Pastor Michael White:

“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:26). Can faith be genuine if it does not inspire works? James certainly seems to think so. But how does that reconcile with Paul’s comments that righteousness comes by faith alone (Gal 3:6)? Do I need faith, or works? Do I need both?

We must understand the audience that each of the New Testament writers was addressing. Paul was speaking to Gentiles: people who did not know Jewish law, and had not tasted a life of righteousness by works. Paul’s plea was to accept Jesus Christ by faith, and not take part in any counterfeit to salvation that would have us attempt to achieve righteousness by works.

James was addressing Jewish converts: those who knew Jewish law, and had grown tired of a life of righteousness by works. If not properly addressed, these Jewish believers might have grown complacent in their responsibility to demonstrate their faith outwardly with works. James’ intent was never to persuade Gentiles to earn their righteousness; but rather to remind Jews to share it to others.

When we have genuine faith in Jesus Christ, our works will be evidence of our faith. We will be so overcome by love and affection for our Messiah that we cannot help but work to expand His kingdom. We will work because we get to; never because we have to.

Prayer:

Father, I want my faith to be demonstrated by good works. Help me to understand the fine line between rest and complacency. Help me to understand the even thinner divide between work and overcompensation!

Day 322: Dry Bones

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan

Ezekiel 37:1-38:23

James 1:19-2:17

Psalm 117:1-2

Proverbs 28:1

For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1xK1ej6

Commentary from Pastor Michael White:

“Again He said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, “O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!”’” (Ezek 37:4). Yesterday we spoke to our mountains; today we’re speaking to our dry bones! God sent Ezekiel to speak to a dry, lifeless people. God told Ezekiel that as He spoke the word of God out over dry, lifeless things, those things would be revived! If you’re experiencing sickness in your body, speak to your body and tell it to live! Pronounce the word of the Lord over your body and over our life. Speak life into everything around you by pronouncing God’s word over it, and watch transformation take place! God spoke creation into existence, and then He made us in His image (Gen 1:27). We must speak life into those things which He desires to revive!

Prayer:

Father, thank You for giving me an anointed voice to speak to dry bones! I know that when I pronounce Your word over anything dry and lifeless, You will give it life!

Day 321: Speak to Your Mountains

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan

Ezekiel 35:1-36:38

James 1:1-18

Psalm 116:1-19

Proverbs 27:23-27

For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1EQOXe7

Commentary from Pastor Michael White:

“Son of man, prophesy to Israel’s mountains…” (Ezek 36:1). God commanded Ezekiel to prophesy, not only to the people of Israel, but also to the land they occupied. Jesus told His disciples to speak to the mountains in their lives so that they would move (Mk 11:23). The Psalmist tells us that mountains melt like wax at the presence of God (Ps 97:5). So, what mountains do you have in your life? What major obstacles stand in your way? Speak to them, and tell them to move; then watch them melt in God’s presence!

Prayer:

Father, give me the courage to speak to the mountains in my life. I know I can move them when I utter Your command; and I know You can reduce them to nothing with Your presence!

Day 320: Lip Service

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan

Ezekiel 33:1-34:31

Hebrews 13:1-25

Psalm 115:1-18

Proverbs 27:21-22

For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1xDhXV8

Commentary from Pastor Michael White:

“So they come, …and they hear your words, but they do not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain” (Ezek 33:31). Hearing and doing are two markedly different activities. God does not want us to be a people who listen to His word and behold His Son, but do not do what He has asked of us. God wants us to listen first, and then to go out and do. He wants us to honor Him with our lips, and also with our hearts. Jesus saw what the Father showed Him, and then went out and did likewise (Jn 5:19-20). We are called to do the same.

Prayer:

Father, help me to honor You with my work. I want to speak of Your glory at all times; but I also want to honor You with my whole heart. I don’t just want to be a hearer; I want to be a doer too!

Day 318: Pursue Peace

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan

Ezekiel 31:1-32:32

Hebrews 12:14-29

Psalm 113:1-114:8

Proverbs 27:18-20

For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1xZRvV6

Commentary from Pastor Michael White:

“Pursue peace with all people…” (Heb 12:14). When we give our lives to Jesus Christ, He promises us a peace that surpasses all understanding (Phil 4:7). As people who have freely received His peace, we must turn around and share it freely with others. The easiest way to win another man to Christ is to show him the heart of Jesus. Jesus genuinely cared for everyone around Him; so should we. Jesus pursued peace with everyone He met; so should we. Are you living peaceably with your neighbors? Are you at peace with your family? We should judge a tree by the fruit it bears (Lk 6:44). Are you leaving a trail of peace everywhere you go? God’s Holy Spirit makes peace possible in any situation; it is therefore our duty to pursue peace with all people.

Prayer:

Father, help me to be at peace with my neighbors. Give me genuine compassion for even the most annoying people in my life. I need Your peace; please help me to strive after it constantly!

Day 317: Where Are You Running?

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan

Ezekiel 29:1-30:26

Hebrews 11:32-12:13

Psalm 112:1-10

Proverbs 27:17

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

Commentary from Pastor Michael White:

“…and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus…” (Heb 12:1-2). Christians love to imagine life as a race. The author of Hebrews instructs us to lay aside anything that would slow us down and run the race of life. Paul tells the church at Corinth to, “Run in such a way that you may obtain [the prize]” (1 Cor 9:24). But where are we running? Too often we get so excited to take off from the finish line without even knowing where we’re headed! We must run straight to Jesus. He is the object of our affections and the endpoint of the only race worth running. He is our prize. So let’s not run without realizing that we are running to Jesus Christ Himself; because if we don’t know where we’re going, we’ll never know when we get there.

Prayer:

Father, Your Son says to come to Him and He will give us rest. Help me to drop everything and come to Jesus. Help me to leave aside anything that could ever slow me down, and pursue the Lord of Heaven. Jesus is my prize!

Day 316: By Faith

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan

Ezekiel 27:1-28:26

Hebrews 11:17-31

Psalm 111:1-10

Proverbs 27:15-16

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

Commentary from Pastor Michael White:

The phrase “by faith” occurs eighteen times in Hebrews 11. This is incredibly important, because the author is describing the greatest miracles ever known to man. He’s describing Abraham’s preparation to receive a child from God, despite the fact that all the odds were stacked against him and his wife, Sarah. He’s describing how God worked through Moses to part the Red Sea so the Israelites could escape from Egypt. The lesson is this: if we want to see miraculous things happen in our own lives, we have to cultivate our faith. Without faith, the Bible is just a collection of stories; but with faith, it is a template for our new everyday reality in Christ.

Prayer:

Father, give me supernatural faith! I want to see the many ways in which You are working around me all the time. Give me great faith to see the unseen, and to accomplish the impossible in Jesus’ name!

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