Day 234: Avoiding Faulty Thinking

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Saturday, August 22nd, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Job 4:1-7:21
1 Corinthians 14:18-40
Psalm 37:30-40
Proverbs 21:27
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1p3Ku4L

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

Remember now, who ever perished being innocent? Or where were the upright ever cut off?  – Job 4:7

Eliphaz wrongfully accused Job of sin. If Job were upright, Eliphaz argued, such calamity would never have fallen upon him. This is retribution theology: the idea that if we experience suffering, it means we deserve it because we have been sinful. In other words, if we do bad, we get bad.

New Testament Christians should not – and cannot – live with this faulty mindset. Retribution theology is not consistent with the Cross of Jesus Christ. According to Scripture, we are saved, “by grace, through faith” (Eph 2:8-9). Of course we deserve wrath! But Jesus already took on the wrath we deserve on the Cross! When we trust in Jesus Christ for salvation, we inherit the reward only He deserves; not the punishment we deserve.

Eliphaz had a severe misunderstanding of God’s heart. Recall how the Book of Job ends:

And so it was, after the Lord had spoken these words to Job, that the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.” – Job 42:7

Eliphaz had it all wrong. God was not the source of Job’s calamity; Satan was! Trust in the Cross of Jesus Christ for deliverance, knowing that God’s ultimate desire is to love you in every way He can!

Prayer:

Father, thank You for Your love! I know I deserve punishment for all the bad things I’ve done; but Your Son Jesus Christ paid the price so I can enjoy eternal life with You!

© Michael D. White, 2015. All rights reserved.

Day 233: Your Biggest Fear

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Friday, August 21st, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Job 1:1-3:26
1 Corinthians 14:1-17
Psalm 37:12-29
Proverbs 21:25-26
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1q1IJ6l

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

For the thing I greatly feared has come upon me, and what I dreaded has happened to me. – Job 3:25

What you fear, you draw near. Job spent his whole adult life praying for his children, and fearing they had sinned against God. When Satan sought to make Job suffer, Job’s fear was the only invitation he needed.

When we fear, we give Satan a foothold to operate in our lives. If you spend your days at work in fear of getting laid off, you will probably find yourself fired. If you spend your whole life fearing death, you will find no consolation when death approaches earlier than expected.

Fear is a reality; not a choice. To fear, or not to fear, is not the choice we are given. All of us fear someone or something. The choice we have to make is: whom will I fear? Will I fear man, or will I fear God? If you choose to fear God, there is nothing and no one else who can every do you harm!

Fear God alone. If you fear Him instead of anything or anyone else, He will draw near to you!

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. – Jas 4:8

Prayer:

Father, I don’t want to fear anything or anyone but You. I stand in awe of your presence, reverently worshiping You because You are God! Rescue me from fear of anything else, in Jesus’ name!

 

© Michael D. White, 2015. All rights reserved.

Waiting on the Lord

The following is an adaptation of the sermon ‘Waiting on the Lord’ preached by Pastor Mike White on Sunday, 8/16/2015, at CityLight Church. To listen to the full podcast please click here: http://bit.ly/1E7xGmw

Waiting on the Lord

Our text for this morning comes from the Book of Isaiah:

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. – Is 40:28-31

Isaiah introduces us to the idea of “waiting on the Lord.” More often than not, we’re encouraged to get busy for the Lord in church: to go out and do something for Him. But what if I told you that sometimes God simply wants you to wait on Him? What if the most productive time in your life was not time spent going out and doing something, but simply time spent waiting on God?

“Wait” is the Hebrew qavah (Strong’s #6960), which means to lie in wait for someone with eager expectation. Waiting on God is not something to be done passively, but rather actively. When we wait on God, we shouldn’t wonder if He is about to do anything; we should expect that He is about to do something amazing. We never wait because we have nothing to do! We wait because we know He is coming.

When I was growing up, our family had a dog named Sterling. He was terribly behaved. Whenever we left the house, he would jump up with his paws on the windowsill, bark at us, and scratch the glass. Whenever he heard us get close to the house as we came home, there he was: tail wagging, tongue out, and excited beyond belief because we were home. He couldn’t wait until we showed up!

That is exactly how we should wait for God. Sterling didn’t expect us to leave one day, and never come back. He didn’t wonder if we would ever come home. He knew we would be back; and when we returned, he was there to meet us with all the enthusiasm in the world.

When you wait on God, He will show up:

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. – Jas 4:8

We should have full confidence that when we earnestly desire and expect God to drop in on our prayer sessions, He will be there. You would never go outside to watch the sunrise, and wonder if the sun was going to come up. You would expect that darkness was about to turn into light, and cold was about to turn into warmth. When we wait for God in times of prayer, we should have the same steady confidence that He will meet us when we wait for Him!

When we wait on the Lord, we are promised several things according to our Scripture from Isaiah (above). First, the weak are promised power. We need to walk in power in order for other people to see God’s strength. God is our life source; and as we stay connected to Him, He will refresh us and fill us with all the miracle-working power we need!

Second, waiting on the Lord produces strength for those who have no strength left. The best way to get strong is to wait: to simply expect God to show up and make you stronger! Prayer is different from meditation. When you meditate, as practiced in many different forms of Eastern spirituality, you focus inside yourself. You find the strength in you. But when you pray, the focus should always be outside yourself, and on God! Genuine prayer means focusing on the Cross, realizing just how weak you are, and finding strength in God!

Third, waiting on the Lord allows us to “mount up” (v 31). Waiting on God with patient expectation prepares us to enter into His presence. As we wait on the Lord, the Holy Spirit actually gives us the strength we’re going to need to internalize everything God is about to say.

Finally, waiting on the Lord produces endurance. Waiting on God in prayer allows us to “run and not be weary” (v 31). In other words, God gives us sprinting endurance. He makes us ready to jump into action whenever God calls us out of our boats and onto the water.

Waiting on God in prayer also allows us to “walk and not faint” (v 31). That’s marathon strength. We need marathon strength to continue to believe in the fullness of God’s promises over our lives, even when we don’t see any tangible results in front of us!

Scripture encourages us to, “…run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Heb 12:1). We need endurance to hold fast to everything God has promised us; and the way we build endurance is by waiting on the Lord!

Jesus Is The Only Way

Without Jesus, we have nothing. He gives us strength when we are weak, power when we are drained, and life when our own decisions should result in death. The way we stay connected to Him is by waiting on Him in prayer: by spending time in prayer with no agenda.

Jesus told the masses at Jerusalem how they could find true life:

On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. – Jn 7:37

Yes, “coming to Jesus” means that we must definitively give our lives to Christ. We must confess our sins and receive Him into our hearts as Lord over our lives. But Jesus’ instructions to “come to Me” were not just a one-time command. We are supposed to continuously return to Him and be refreshed.

Whoever makes a lifestyle of returning to Jesus by waiting on Him in prayer will have his thirst satisfied. Whoever comes to Him repeatedly will experience new life here and now. Did you know that God’s best life for you doesn’t have to wait until you get to heaven? He promises His goodness for you in the land of the living (Ps 27:13)!

If you’re thirsty, you can gulp down as much water as you want to quench your thirst. But that doesn’t mean you will never thirst again! It would be ridiculous to think that one heavy gulp of water would be all we need to survive for the rest of our lives. Yet that is exactly the assumption some of us make when we give our lives to Christ. We convince ourselves that we got all the fellowship with Jesus we could ever need when we gave our lives to Him. But He has so much more to offer. Waiting on the Lord in prayer leads to a fullness you can only imagine!

Structured Prayer Time

For many Christians, prayer time falls into two categories: ritual, and routine. A ritual is something we do regularly that has meaning and significance attached to it. Maybe you pray for your kids exactly the same way every day. These prayers are important, and shouldn’t be neglected. But God has more for you!

At best, we easily fall into settling for ritualistic prayer. At worst, we fall into routine prayer. Unlike a ritual, a routine has no lasting meaning. If you pray every single day and don’t experience relationship and intimacy with God, maybe your prayer life needs a jolt. When was the last time you cleared your calendar just to sit and listen to God? When was the last time you approached Him in prayer with no agenda at all: just to hear what He has to say?

I’m completely in support of structured prayer time. I pray many of the same prayers every day. I’m also all for structured time of Scripture reading. But I’d like to encourage you to take your devotional life one step further today. When you pray, make time to sit at Jesus’ feet with no agenda! Waiting on the Lord doesn’t have to make up all your prayer time; but it should make up some of it. We need to find our balance when it comes to spending time with God.

Unstructured Time in Prayer

God wants to ditch the prayer agenda and simply spend time with you! That’s the reason He created you in His image: so that His Holy Spirit could communicate with your spirit; so that you and He could experience incredible intimacy!

Educators have recently discovered the importance of unstructured playtime for the growth and development of children. In recent years, the focus of childhood education has moved drastically towards preparing for standardized tests. As a result, so much of classroom time is scheduled and planned out to the last drop.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) responded to that shift by arguing for balance. Educators began to argue for a return to unstructured learning. Parents began to understand the importance of unstructured playtime: taking it easy on all the extracurriculars, and simply allowing their kids to dream and play.

According to the AAP, unstructured learning time is, “…healthy and – in fact – essential for helping children reach important social, emotional, and cognitive developmental milestones as well as helping them manage stress and become resilient.”[1] If unstructured learning time is that important for your mental development, think about how important it must be for your spiritual walk with God!

Yes, there will be times when structured prayer is essential. There will be times when a specific prayer need must be addressed in a methodical way. But we need to find balance. We can’t allow our busy schedules to let us rush through prayer! We need to wait on the Lord so He can refresh us, and make us strong!

Your spiritual health depends on your ability to wait on the Lord. Without relationship, you will wither and die. If you settle for ritual and routine prayer all the time, you will lose your passion for the things of heaven. But if you make time to just sit at His feet and worship Him, you will have the world to gain!

Ministering to God

When you pray, you are ministering to God. As part of Old Testament worship, priests would minister to God by offering Him sacrifices. As New Testament worshippers, we are God’s priests through Jesus Christ! And one of the ways we minister to God is through prayer:

Lord, I cry out to You; Make haste to me! Give ear to my voice when I cry out to You. Let my prayer be set before You as incense, the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. – Ps 141:1-2

Our prayer is a sacrifice. Time is our most valuable commodity: we can never have more of it; only less. God receives our time spent with Him in prayer the same way He receives any other genuine gift: with love! And the truth is, whenever we set out to minister to God, He ministers to us so much more!

When we wait on the Lord in prayer, we attend to God. To attend simply means to be present in case He needs something. Butlers and servants wait on their superiors for instructions. Soldiers wait on their commanding officers for orders. We must wait on God if we are to receive everything He has for us!

Time alone with God in prayer is all He wants from us. My prayer is that it would become all we want from Him.

- 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] http://www2.aap.org/pressroom/play-public.htm

Day 232: Write Your Own Ticket

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Thursday, August 20th, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Esther 8:1-10:3
1 Corinthians 12:27-13:13
Psalm 37:1-11
Proverbs 21:23-24
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1tmTa4E

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

“You yourselves write a decree concerning the Jews, as you please, in the king’s name, and seal it with the king’s signet ring; for whatever is written in the king’s name and sealed with the king’s signet ring no one can revoke.” – Esther 8:8

When you find favor in the King’s sight, you can write your own ticket. The Jewish people made a God-ordained transition: from certain destruction, to absolute prosperity. Favor with the king caused that transition.

When Esther found favor with the King Ahasuerus, everything changed. She was able to write into law whatever she wanted concerning her family, sign it with the king’s name, and seal it with his signet ring. When you have favor with the King of kings, you will be able to write your destiny according to His will, sign it with the name of Jesus, and seal it in His blood!

That which is written in the name of Jesus can never be revoked.

Prayer:

Father, thank You for divine destiny. I know the thoughts, plans and purposes You have for me are bigger than I could ever imagine! Show me Your plans, so I can write them down and make them permanent!

 

© Michael D. White, 2015. All rights reserved.

Day 231: Empathy

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Wednesday, August 19th, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Esther 4:1-7:10
1 Corinthians 12:1-26
Psalm 36:1-12
Proverbs 21:21-22
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1tmPEY3

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. – 1 Cor 12:26

Jesus desires empathy: the ability to emotionally comprehend what another person is going through. Empathy is different from sympathy. Sympathy means you feel sorry for someone. Empathy, however, means you want to know how they feel. Without empathy, it is impossible to be moved with compassion for God’s people. Without empathy, it is impossible to pray as Jesus instructs us to pray!

When a sister in Christ suffers, she should never suffer alone. All of us should seek to understand where she is coming from, and help her however possible. The people around you are not looking for you to become Mr. Fix-It, and offer solutions and suggestions. Sometimes all they want is for someone to feel what they’re going through, and help bear the pain in silence.

When a brother in Christ is celebrating a victory, all of us should rejoice with him! A brother’s victory is no time to jealously wish it were your victory, but rather a time to celebrate with him however you can!

Prayer:

Father, help me to understand the emotional high’s and low’s of the people in my life. Give me empathy! Help me to suffer with those who suffer, and rejoice with those who rejoice. Most of all, help me to remember that You triumph through both sorrow and joy.

 

© Michael D. White, 2015. All rights reserved.

Day 230: Wise Counsel

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Tuesday, August 18th, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Esther 1:1-3:15
1 Corinthians 11:17-34
Psalm 35:17-28
Proverbs 21:19-20
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1thDNdS

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

Now Esther had not revealed her family and her people, just as Mordecai had charged her, for Esther obeyed the command of Mordecai as when she was brought up by him. – Ester 2:20

Ester relied on wise counsel. When Mordecai advised her not to reveal her heritage, she listened. When Hegai advised her what to bring into the king’s presence, she listened. If Ester had not listened to the wise counsel God placed in her life, the people of Israel would not have experienced the amazing deliverance and salvation we see in this book!

Are you listening to the wise counselors God has placed in your life? Are you willing to put aside your pride, and admit that other people might know better than you? Your deliverance might depend on it!

Prayer:

Father, Your Holy Spirit is my Counselor and my Guide. Help me to always rely on Him. I know you have placed men and women in my life who can help me with words of wisdom. Give me the humble courage to listen to them, in Jesus’ name.

© Michael D. White, 2015. All rights reserved.

Day 229: You’re A Lover, Not a Fighter

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Monday, August 17th, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Nehemiah 12:27-13:31
1 Corinthians 11:1-16
Psalm 35:1-16
Proverbs 21:17-18
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1sPMpf5

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

Plead my cause, O Lord, with those who strive with me; Fight against those who fight against me. – Ps 35:1

Vengeance belongs to God (Deut 32:35); not you. Jesus won complete victory on the Cross. That means we no longer have to fight our own battles, because God will fight our battles for us.

David knew that God would fight against anyone who picked a fight with him. He knew that the angel of the Lord would chase (Ps 35:5) and pursue (v 6) all his enemies. He knew that God alone determines the outcome in any battle, even before the fight begins!

When someone tries to pick a fight with you, what’s your first response? When somebody tries to get under your skin, how do you react? Instead of reacting with anger, react with love. If we know God fights for us, and therefore we no longer have to fight at all, why should our first instinct ever be anger and rage?

Let it go. Let God fight for you. You just worry about loving everyone you possibly can.

Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.” – 1 Sam 17:47 

Prayer:

Father, make love my first instinct, and my only reaction. I know my responsibility is to love my enemies, bless those who curse me, do good to those who hate me, and pray for those who spitefully use and persecute me. Disarm me! Take me out of fighting mode! Help me to love, and let You do the rest.

 

© Michael D. White, 2015. All rights reserved.

Day 228: Afflictions & Deliverance

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Sunday, August 16th, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Nehemiah 11:1-12:26
1 Corinthians 10:14-33
Psalm 34:11-22
Proverbs 21:14-16
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1uHqTJQ

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.

– Ps 34:19

God does not promise that when you put your faith in Him, all your problems will disappear. In fact, today’s verse implies that when we become righteous through Jesus Christ, our afflictions will still be “many.” How can that be?

We are righteous through Jesus Christ. As we increase in favor and influence, and find ourselves in a position to win more souls to the Kingdom, the enemy – Satan – paints a target on our back. In some instances, our afflictions may actually increase as our faith in God increases, because Satan is doing everything he can to take us out at the knees.

We should never fear attacks from the enemy. Jesus promises that He has given us, “…authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy” (Lk 10:19)! Jesus has power to expel Satan from heaven; and you certainly have His authority to expel Satan from your life.

Take Satan’s interest in you as a compliment. Know that no matter how many afflictions come your way, God promises to deliver you out of them all! The enemy cannot undo a shred of anything Jesus accomplished on the Cross, or a sliver of anything you can do in Him!

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? – Rom 8:31

Prayer:

Father, thank You for delivering me from all my afflictions! Whenever afflictions come, I will not fear. I will increase my trust in You, and know that You are the only One who can carry me through to victory!

© Michael D. White, 2015. All rights reserved.

Day 227: Refraining from Complaining

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Saturday, August 15th, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Nehemiah 9:22-10:39
1 Corinthians 9:19-10:13
Psalm 34:1-10
Proverbs 21:13
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1AileKG

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

…nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer.” – 1 Cor 10:10

When we complain, we give the enemy a foothold in our lives. Satan seeks to destroy us at every turn. But when we have faith in God’s word and refrain from complaining, God has permission to move on our behalf!

God promised to bring the people of Israel out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. The journey was only supposed to take days; instead it took forty years. How much we complain determines long we spend in the wilderness. If the people of Israel had worshiped and praised God the whole way to Canaan, they would have been there in no time!

Your words are important. Abstaining from complaining is the best choice you can possible make. Speak life into God’s promises over your life, with full faith and confidence that everything He promises will come to pass!

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit. – Prov 18:21

Prayer:

Father, help me to bridle my tongue. If I can’t say something positive, don’t let me say anything at all! I know You have made great promises over my life on purpose; help me to activate them with faith-filled, positive speech!

© Michael D. White, 2015. All rights reserved.

Day 226: Do Not Weep!

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Friday, August 14th, 2015
CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Nehemiah 7:73-9:21
1 Corinthians 9:1-18
Psalm 33:12-22
Proverbs 21:11-12
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1uuQB4g

Commentary from Pastor Mike White:

Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” – Neh 8:10

There is a time to weep, and a time to be joyful. Nehemiah and Ezra gathered the people of Israel together to hear the word of God in a corporate setting. The people wept when they realized how far they had strayed from God’s design. Yet God instructed them to celebrate and be joyful instead!

This tells us something about what corporate worship should look like. When we are alone with God’s word, there will be times when we will be convicted. But when we’re gathered to worship God together, it’s time for joy! Corporate worship should be a joyful time with much celebration and praising God.

When you give your life to Christ, you are saved! There is so much more to rejoice in, than there is to be afraid of. There is so much more to be grateful for, than there is to regret. No, you’re not perfect; but Jesus is! That is something worth celebrating.

Prayer:

Father, thank You for joyful corporate worship! Your joy is my strength. Help me to worship my heart out whenever I come together and worship with my church family!

© Michael D. White, 2015. All rights reserved.

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