Day 81: No Boundaries

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Sunday, March 22nd, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Numbers 33:40-35:34
Luke 5:12-28
Psalm 65:1-13
Proverbs 11:23
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1m08TDu

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Command the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land of Canaan, this is the land that shall fall to you as an inheritance—the land of Canaan to its boundaries’” – Num 34:1-2

Under the Old Covenant, God’s boundaries for the children of Israel were fixed. God outlined southern (v 3), western (v 6), northern (v 7) and eastern (v 10) borders for the territory He had given to Israel. That territory was known as the Promised Land: as long as God’s people resided in it, He promised to bless them.

Under the New Covenant, we have no boundaries. Before He ascended to Heaven, Jesus told His disciples to, “…make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” (Matt 28:19). We are called to make disciples of all nations. We are no longer called to possess a finite place; we are called to take back the entire globe for Jesus Christ!

Jesus will not return for us – His church – until the Gospel is preached in every nation (Matt 24:14). We have the amazing privilege of taking back territory in His name. Jesus has already won the final victory; death has been conquered, and Satan has been defeated. Now we have the chance to tell the whole world!

Prayer:

Father, I want to expand Your kingdom. I know the best way I can do that is by simply opening my mouth. Help me to boldly proclaim the Gospel everywhere I go, in Jesus’ name!

Day 80: Authority and Power

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Saturday, March 21st, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Numbers 32:1-33:39
Luke 4:31-5:11
Psalm 64:1-10
Proverbs 11:22
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/OCBfZk

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

Then they were all amazed and spoke among themselves, saying, “What a word this is! For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.” – Lk 4:36

“Authority” is the Greek word exousia (Strong’s #1849): the power of rule or government. “Power” is the Greek word dunamis (Strong’s #1411): the power inherent in a person by the virtue of his nature.

All of us want to experience God’s power (dunamis). We all want to see signs, miracles and wonders come to pass as we pray for them. We want to see God use our hands to heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead and cast out demons! But sometimes we focus on God’s power so much that we miss His authority.

Understanding Jesus’ authority (exousia) is the necessary precursor to seeing His power. Even the demons knew who Jesus was, and followed His commands (see vv 34-35). Paul tells us that, “…at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth” (Phil 2:10). Jesus was so powerful because He possessed heaven’s authority. When He speaks, all of heaven listens and provides the resources necessary to perform His words; and all of hell pays attention and respects His commands.

We can operate with the same power as Jesus. We are called to greater works than even He was able to perform (Jn 14:12). But in order to see His power, we must understand and exercise His authority! Jesus told us to use His name. He gave us power of attorney: permission to walk into any situation and pray, and expect the same results as if Jesus Himself were praying!

Prayer:

Father, I want to walk in power. I know that in order to do that, I need to understand your authority. I submit to you completely, and I know that all of heaven and hell do the same!

Day 79: Responding to Criticism

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Friday, March 20th, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Numbers 30:1-31:54
Luke 4:1-30
Psalm 63:1-11
Proverbs 11:20-21
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1iE64I0

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

…and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff. Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way. – Lk 4:29-30

Jesus ruffled feathers. He had more critics than you or I could ever entertain. In Luke 4, He returned to his hometown of Nazareth, walked into the synagogue on the busiest day of the week, and proclaimed that He was the Messiah. Nobody believed Him. Everyone said, “Is this not Joseph’s son?” (v 22). Isn’t this the kid we grew up with? How could He ever do anything supernatural?

The people were so angry that they tried to kill Him. They brought Him to the edge of a cliff and were about to throw Him down. But how did Jesus respond at that moment? He didn’t beg for His life, and He didn’t cry out to answer their concerns. He simply passed through the midst of them, and “…went His way” (Lk 4:30).

If you don’t have critics, you aren’t boldly proclaiming the Gospel. There will always be men and women around you who doubt the calling God has on your life. Our response should be Jesus’ response: to ignore them and go on our way!

When Pilate listed the accusations against Jesus, He “…answered him not one word” (Matt 27:14). When Herod interrogated Jesus, He “…answered him nothing” (Lk 23:9). Jesus saved His words for those who needed to hear Him. We should do the same!

There is no need to respond to your critics. When we waste our words responding to Satan’s accusations, the enemy gains ground. But when we face the Cross instead of our critics, we are released to pursue our God-given destiny!

Prayer:

Father, if I need to repent of anything, I trust that You will let me know. But if Satan is sending critics and cronies to distract me, help me to pass through them and be on my way! I will not be distracted or detained, in Jesus’ name!

Like A Child

The following is an adaptation of the sermon ‘Like A Child’ preached by Pastor Mike White on Sunday, 3/15/2015, at CityLight Church. To listen to the full podcast please click here: http://bit.ly/1bhnpqF

Like a Child

Jesus exhorted His disciples to, “…become as little children”:

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. – Matt 18:1-4

But what did he mean? The passage above deals specifically with humility. The disciples were arguing about who would be greatest in the new Kingdom of Israel. The Angel Gabriel had promised Mary that her Son would, “…reign over the house of Jacob forever,” and that His kingdom would have no end (Lk 1:33). The commonly held belief was that Jesus would come and establish a literal kingdom to overthrow the Roman occupation; not a spiritual kingdom to overthrow Satan. The disciples were all jockeying for position in that new regime. They were vying for earthly authority, when all Jesus wanted them to do was simply agree on spiritual priorities.

His message was clear: if we are to follow Him into heaven, we must humble ourselves. The disciples’ desire for position demonstrated that they were undeserving of the very position they desired. Instead of contending for rank, Jesus asked them to forget all about that “adult’” business, and become like children in humility.

In order to gain access to the Kingdom of God, we must admit that we can never gain it on our own. Salvation is by grace, through faith; not by works (Eph 2:8-9). The minute we contend that grace has anything to do with our own behavior, we lose sight of the Cross.

Foolish and Fickle

Sometimes, in order to see what Jesus was teaching in a given passage, it’s useful to examine what He was not saying. In Matthew 18, Jesus’ exhortation to become like little children is not saying two things: 1) be foolish, or 2) be fickle.

Foolishness is condition we should never seek to attain. Yes, we are supposed to trust Jesus unconditionally, just as a child who is well-loved always trusts his parents. However, we are also encouraged to aggressively pursue understanding when in comes to our faith in God:

Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature. – 1 Cor 14:20

Children will play with anyone. Children of blue collar workers will play with the children of the richest millionaires. They simply want to interact and have fun, and don’t care whom it’s with.

Jesus instructs us to share ourselves with others in exactly that way. We are told to be childlike in judgment and malice: to always seek the best for the people around us, regardless of who they are, or where they come from. When it comes to our understanding of other people – our brothers and sisters – we are encouraged to always stay genuinely curious and compassionate.

But when it comes to our understanding of God, we are encouraged to do everything we can to satisfy our curiosity. We are called to seek to understand everything about God that we possibly can. God asks us to meditate on His word day and night (Ps 1:2). We will never understand everything; but that does not mean we shouldn’t seek God and ask Him all the tough questions we can think of!

The writer of Hebrews encourages us to seek understanding of God’s word: to never settle for surface-level knowledge when full immersion is available:

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. – Heb 5:12-14

We improve our capacity to digest God’s word by reason of use. In other words, proper digestion takes practice! A baby is slowly introduced to solid food, turns it over in his mouth, and eats softer foods before trying complex starches. In the same way, we can put our heads in our Bibles and allow God to feed us His word: first the simple exhortations, and then the more complex. Just like an enzyme in a baby’s stomach, His Holy Spirit will help us to dissolve and digest everything we are taking in.

We were never meant to settle for milk for our entire lives. Milk requires a breast: a mother who is willing to be tethered to a child, so that whenever he is hungry, that urge can be satisfied. Many of us rely on our pastors in exactly the same way. We convince ourselves that we are too busy, or too tired, or simply not smart enough, to dig into the word on our own. The end result is that we ask to be fed our entire adult lives, instead of growing into the capacity to feed ourselves. And that is a condition that Jesus seeks to change in His church!

The answer to every single one of life’s toughest questions lies in God’s word. Why are we here? What are we supposed to do? Why is life so short? What happens when I die? How do I find happiness and fulfillment before I die? Jesus answers all of these: elegantly and adequately.

When we commit to humble ourselves as children of God, we agree to stay teachable. Children are always genuinely curious. They are amazed by the complexity of the world around them, and know they can – and should – be learning every day. Their brains are rapidly growing, and ready to adjust to accommodate whatever new stimulus and information comes their way.

We must never assume we know best when God is available to teach us better. Matthew Henry, a Biblical commentator, noted that, “[Jesus] set [the child] in the midst of them; not that they might play with him, but that they might learn by him.”[1] Jesus taught in the synagogue in Luke 2, as a child. As his parents searched for him frantically, He was in the synagogue asking questions of the most academically decorated teachers in the city.

What can you learn from children? Stay humble, and stay teachable. Jesus used children as an intentionally frequent reminder that we should seek to know anything and everything we possibly can about the God who created us!

Second, Matthew 18 never intends to give us permission to be fickle. Children change their minds frequently. If you ask a child, “What do you want to do with your life?” you might get a different answer every day for a week. God asks us to be more committed than that. He asks us to be willing and able to make tough decisions based on the knowledge we gain from His word, and the communication we constantly enjoy with Him through prayer.

When we stay teachable, we learn; and when we learn, we gain knowledge of God that should remain steadfast through thick and thin:

…that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ… – Eph 4:14-15

We are called to be steadfast in our faith and filled with solid doctrine, so that the enemy cannot cause us to sway any time he blows hot air in our direction! We should not be foolish, and we should not be fickle. We cannot allow what we do not know about God to interfere with what we do know about Him.

Become As Children

What do children do? What does Jesus intend for us to take from His encouragement to be just like them?

First, children cherish interaction with their parents. My wife and I have a son, Clive, who is 9 months old. I can sit and play with Clive for hours, enjoying his presence, while he enjoys mine. He doesn’t care where he is, or what he’s doing, as long as his parents are giving him attention; and that is how God wants us to be with Him!

Too often, we ask for God and. We see God as a road to happiness, and not the destination at the end of the road. But God has designed us very specifically for intimacy with Him! He is the prize. He is our end goal. Nothing can satisfy like He does.

Second, children ask questions. Where are we going? Why are we going there? What are we doing when we get there? How long will we be there? Why? Why why why why why?!

Children ask questions because they are genuinely curious, and they expect to hear an answer. God encourages us to seek Him the same way in prayer. Asking questions of God is one of the best ways we can pray! When we ask Him a question, we must expect to hear an answer, and give Him room to speak.

How many questions do you really ask in prayer on a daily basis? Too often, we sit with God and tell Him everything we want and need. I believe God would much rather have us ask what He needs from us.

Third, children completely trust their parents: for provision, and for direction. Children must be materially dependent on their parents, because they are too young to provide for themselves. Just as a 5 year old is too young to find his own employment and provide for himself, we lack the resources to build any lasting legacy on our own. God invites us to seek Him first, and then promises He will provide all our needs (Matt 6:33).

Children also trust their parents for direction: where should I go, and what should I do? Our son is 9 months old. We just got back from our first trip to Florida with him. At no point in the trip did he ever stop and say, “Mom and Dad, I’m not taking one more step until you tell me where we’re headed!!” All he knows is he’s safe as long as he’s with us. He doesn’t need to know where we’re headed and why. He simply needs to know that Mommy and Daddy know what’s best for him.

Fourth, children seek their parents for permission to trust others. Whenever a parent introduces a child to a stranger, that child looks right up at Mommy and Daddy for a cue: can I trust this person? The child seeks his parents’ face. If they smile, he smiles.

The takeaway is this: God will give us discernment as to whom we should trust, and whom we should avoid. God knows we are compassionate (or at least we should be!), and He will send people into our lives so that we can love them like Jesus would. But Satan also knows we have compassion, and he can send people to distract us from our real mission on earth.

Some people genuinely want help, and others simply want to be helped. God gives us wisdom and discernment to tell the difference.

With Open Arms

We see Jesus encourage His disciples to become like children again in Luke’s gospel account:

Then they also brought infants to Him that He might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” – Lk 18:15-17

We must receive the kingdom of God as a little child. Our childlikeness hinges on our ability to freely receive God’s gifts.

How do children receive gifts? They take gifts from Daddy with arms wide open, and a smile on their face! Children with a loving earthly father know they don’t have to earn anything from him; they simply receive because they are loved. They always know any gift from Daddy will be good. And if earthly fathers give good gifts, “…how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matt 7:11)

Salvation is a gift. There is a difference between gifts and wages. Children are far too young to earn wages, but always old enough to receive gifts. We can never earn righteousness; it has to simply be received as we trust in Jesus’ ability to provide for us. We are saved by grace, through faith. Grace is unmerited favor: by definition we can never earn it.

When children receive gifts, they drop whatever else they have in their hands to grab hold of what Daddy is offering. We can be the same way with the good, heavenly gifts from our Father who is ready and willing to provide for us!

Jesus’ encouragement to, “…receive the kingdom of God as a little child,” (v 17) is immediately followed by the story of the rich, young ruler. This man, who has all the earthly possessions a person could ever desire, approaches Jesus and asks Him why he feels so empty. Jesus tells him to sell all that he has and follow Him (Lk 18:22). He asks this rich, young man to give up everything he is holding on to so tightly – to loosen his death grip – and accept the gift of salvation and new life.

You have found the Pearl of Great Price. God has already demonstrated He is willing to offer everything he possibly can to redeem us – His children – to Him. Are you ready to let go of everything you’re hanging on to, and receive His kingdom like a little child?

– by Pastor Mike White

© Michael D. White, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Michael D. White with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


[1] Matthew Henry Bible Commentary on Matthew 18. Accessed March 12, 2015.

Day 78: Perfect Family

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Thursday, March 19th, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Numbers 28:16-29:40
Luke 3:23-38
Psalm 62:1-12
Proverbs 11:18-19
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1p8u5qS

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

…the son of Adam, the son of God. – Lk 3:38

The genealogy of Jesus Christ is perfect. His bloodline is as perfect as His blood! His lineage traces through David, since God promised Jesus would occupy the throne of His father David (Lk 1:32). Then it stretches back to Abraham, so that it would be made abundantly clear that we are heirs to the promises God made to Abraham (Gal 3:29). Finally, Jesus is a descendant of Adam, because He is the Second Adam. By one man, sin entered the world; by another Man, it was defeated (Rom 5:15).

The genealogy of Jesus shows that we are meant to live free from sin, in full receipt of the blessings of Abraham, while worshipping from a place of abounding joy, just as David did. We enjoy all these privileges because of the finished work of the Cross!

Prayer:

Father, thank You for the perfect blood of Your Son Jesus Christ. By His blood, I am washed clean! His blood blots out all my sin and covers all my iniquity. Thank You for His blood!

Day 77: Whom Are You Serving?

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Wednesday, March 18th, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Numbers 26:52-28:15
Luke 3:1-22
Psalm 61:1-8
Proverbs 11:16-17
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1dj20Ia

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

And you shall give some of your authority to him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient. – Num 27:20

Leaders are not made; they are anointed. As Moses dies, God instructs him to transfer his authority to Joshua. “Authority” is the Hebrew word howd (Strong’s #1935), which means glory, honor and majesty. Joshua’s popularity among the people didn’t matter. He didn’t have to complete a leadership training course, or go back to school, to inherit the authority that belonged to Moses. He simply had to serve Moses.

We become like the people we serve. This is a principle that God demonstrates over and again throughout the course of Scripture. In Num 27, Joshua inherits Moses’ authority after faithfully serving Moses for many years. In 2 Kings 2, we see Elisha inherit Elijah’s mantle, simply by refusing to give up in his service. We inherit the same authority and anointing as the people we serve when they are called to move on.

So, whom are you serving?

Prayer:

Father, place me in the lives of people whom I can serve well! I know that as I serve them, I will inherit their anointing. As I serve them, I will become like them; and as I serve You, I will become more like You!

Day 76: Serving God

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Tuesday, March 17th, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Numbers 26:1-51
Luke 2:36-52
Psalm 60:1-12
Proverbs 11:15
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1oeWZHb

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

…and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. – Lk 2:37

What does it mean to serve God? When we think of serving God, typically we think of life as a missionary. Maybe we think of volunteering at church, or working for a charity. But Anna served God with fastings and prayers!

Did you know that God considers our prayers and fasting service to Him? We don’t have to go to a foreign country to serve Him; we can serve Him right here and now, as we pray without ceasing every day (1 Thess 5:17).

Service does not have to be scary. In fact, it should be fun! We serve God when we praise Him, and we serve God when we worship in any way, shape or form. The purpose of the salvation and the freedom of the Cross is, “…to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear” (Lk 1:74).

Prayer:

Father, thank You for giving me the freedom to serve You without fear. I will praise You with my whole heart, and serve You with joy! Help me to keep service simple: to worship You in every single thing I do.

Day 75: Don’t Go It Alone

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Monday, March 16th, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Numbers 24:1-25:18
Luke 2:1-35
Psalm 59:1-17
Proverbs 11:14
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1d5yxqt

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety. – Prov 11:14

We have a choice: we can make major life decisions alone, or we can seek the advice of trusted counselors. But God issues a spoiler for us before we make that choice. If we make decisions alone, we will fall; but if we make them after weighing the opinions of trusted friends and associates, we will be safe.

“Safety” is the Hebrew word, tashuwah (Strong’s #8668); it is the same word used to describe salvation and deliverance. The vast majority of us came to Jesus Christ because someone led us to Him; we experienced salvation because a friend, a family member, or even a stranger told us about the Cross.

Just as we needed counsel to be saved, we still need counsel to stay safe and make good decisions. Life is not meant to be lived in isolation, but rather in community. Do not forsake the power of corporate worship, and the wisdom in corporate counsel. Find a church you like, and get plugged in! Then, rely on a multitude of counselors for every decision you make.

Prayer:

Father, help me to never forsake the wisdom of the people You have put in my life to help me make good decisions. I want to rely on You to help me make the toughest choices; and I know that You speak to me through other people in my life. Help me to always be thankful for wise counselors, even when they disagree with me for my own good!

Day 74: Irrevocable

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Sunday, March 15th, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Numbers 22:21-23:30
Luke 1:57-80
Psalm 58:1-11
Proverbs 11:12-13
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1iLMcFo

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

Behold, I have received a command to bless; He has blessed, and I cannot reverse it. – Num 23:20

God’s blessings are permanent: no man, or devil, can ever reverse them. Balaam could not curse the people of Israel, because God had already blessed them abundantly; and Satan cannot curse us, because we are already blessed! He whom God has blessed cannot be cursed.

God’s will is always to bless us. It is the enemy who seeks to rob of us the blessings God has always intended for us; never God who seeks to withdraw from us the blessings which He has already promised.

After God created man in Genesis 1, He set a precedent to show us His priorities. The very first thing God did to man was bless him:

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… – Gen 1:27-28

God’s will is to bless you. It’s His nature; He cannot help it, and His will does not change. God is your loving Father, and He wants good things for you! Salvation is just the start of the lifetime of blessing He wants you to enjoy.

Prayer:

Father, I receive Your love! I accept the finished work of the Cross, and I rely on Your Son Jesus Christ for salvation. By faith, I receive the blessings that You have intended for me from the beginning of time: not because I deserve them, but simply because You desire to bless me!

Day 73: Let It Be to Me

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Saturday, March 14th, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Numbers 21:1-22:20
Luke 1:26-56
Psalm 57:1-11
Proverbs 11:9-11
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1gt9U28

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord. – Lk 1:45

Zacharias responded to God’s promise with fear and doubt; Mary responded with faith. Gabriel visited Mary, just as he visited Zacharias. But whereas Zacharias responded with, “How shall I know this?” (Lk 1:18), Mary responded with a much more faith-filled refrain: “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word” (v 38).

Mary said yes to God. She accepted His promise, and partnered with God through productive (in other words, not destructive) speech.

Our words have incredible power. God spoke the world into existence in Genesis 1. Then He made us in His image (Gen 1:27). When God’s Holy Spirit is present to affect change, our words can introduce His Word into any situation and bring about atmosphere-shifting change!

Prayer:

Father, help me to choose my words wisely. I want to partner with You to speak out Your word, in full faith that You will perform everything You have promised. I trust You! Let it be to me according to Your word.

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