Day 264: Because You Have Prayed

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Monday, September 21st, 2015
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 from Pastor Mike White:

Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘Because you have prayed to Me against Sennacherib king of Assyria, this is the word which the Lord has spoken concerning him…’” – Is 37:21-22

When we pray, God listens. God issued a response to King Hezekiah because Hezekiah prayed. Our prayers spur a response from God. He needs to hear from us to move on our behalf!

Hezekiah had received some very bad news. The imposing and overwhelming Assyrian army was about to overtake Jerusalem. However, Hezekiah didn’t waste time formulating a plan, or coming up with something clever to say to the King of Assyria as he openly mocked the people of Jerusalem. Hezekiah took his concern, spread it before the Lord, and asked God to intervene on his behalf.

Because Hezekiah prayed, God responded. Because Hezekiah asked, God answered. Because Hezekiah trusted in God, God delivered him.

Don’t waste one more second of your life entertaining the threats of your enemies. Take their words and pour them out before the Lord. Ask Him to intervene on your behalf. When you pray, He moves.

Prayer:

Father, thank You for moving on my behalf! I know that any response I could ever give to my enemies would come up short. But You are an awesome God! Thank You for the way You powerfully deliver me from every threat.

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

Day 263: No Sickness in Heaven!

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Sunday, September 20th, 2015
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 from Pastor Mike White:

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.

Then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb sing. For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert. – Is 35:5-6

There is no sickness in the kingdom of God! Isaiah prophesied that when the Messiah had come and God’s people were established under the New Covenant, all sickness would be eradicated.

Isaiah was talking about today – here and now! God’s kingdom brings sight for the blind, hearing for the deaf, dexterity for the lame, and speech for those without a voice! Jesus spent His entire earthly ministry tearing down the work of the enemy and establishing healing. God’s will to heal His people has not changed: He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb 13:8)! If He wanted His people healed through Jesus then, He wants His people healed through the power of His Holy Spirit now!

Now is the time. Pray for healing with purpose, and with passion. All of creation groans and cries out for the sons and daughters of God to step up to our Biblical responsibility. We are built to pray for the miraculous; and creation is built to respond to our prayers!

Prayer:

Father, I pray today just as Jesus taught the disciples to pray: that Your kingdom would come! I want to see the things of heaven taking place on the earth! I want to see a permanent end to all sickness and disease for God’s people! Help me to have faith that, as I pray, Your Kingdom will be established here, in Jesus’ name.

 

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

Day 262: Fall from Grace

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Saturday, September 19th, 2015
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 from Pastor Mike 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 “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!

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

Day 261: You Are Qualified!

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Friday, September 18th, 2015
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 Mike White:

Then the book is delivered to one who is illiterate, saying, “Read this, please.” And he says, “I am not literate.” – Is 29:12

Too often, we convince ourselves that we are not qualified to experience God. We rely on our pastor, or an evangelist, as the critical link that chains us to the things of heaven. We bring our questions to other people, because we mistakenly think we lack the skill set to hear from God.

You are qualified for a relationship with God! Jesus died on the Cross to make you qualified! You are the intended recipient of everything God has to say. His Holy Spirit lives inside of you as a reminder that you have the resume for a real relationship with Him.

Every Christian can be literate in the things of God. We gain literacy through experience: coming to know God through reading His word, encountering Him in prayer, and fellowshipping with His Holy Spirit. Know that God already equipped you to discover His deepest secrets at the moment of salvation!

Prayer:

Father, make me literate in the things of heaven. I declare that I have everything required for a genuine relationship with You because of the Cross! I will not let anyone tell me otherwise.

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

Finding Happiness

The following is an adaptation of the sermon ‘Finding Happiness’ preached by Pastor Mike White on Sunday, 9/13/2015, at CityLight Church. To listen to the full podcast please click here: http://bit.ly/1NzNbW8

Biblical Contentment

What does it mean to be content? What does it mean to be happy? Some people spend their entire lives looking for satisfaction, but never find it. Our natural tendency is to always hold out hope for the next big thing: a bigger house, a promotion at work, or a new opportunity. We push our happiness off until the next stage of our lives, and settle for the feeling that even though something is lacking, it will all be worth it when the payoff comes.

But what if happiness isn’t something we find? What if contentment is simply a decision? What if all God is asking is that we would make a choice to be content in Him: to find joy in His presence?

We should all plan for the future. You’ve probably heard it said that he who fails to plan, plans to fail. But even if you have vision for the future, it’s necessary to have passion for the present. Are you living every moment to the fullest? Are you finding joy in the simple things in life?

On the Other Side

All of us are praying for something major. Maybe it’s total healing from a crippling disease, or a release from financial difficulty. What’s the biggest prayer request you have right now? Ask yourself an important question: even if you get everything you’re praying for, will you be content? Will you stop to celebrate the victory, and take joy in God’s faithfulness? Or will you simply put your finger on the next thing you have to have to be happy, and move on with your life?

One of the most important decisions we can ever make is to find joy in our current situation. Paul said, “…for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content” (Phil 4:11). Is your happiness conditional, or positional? Does it depend on where you are and what you have, or on Whom you’re with?

When you give your life to Jesus Christ, you are Heaven-bound. No man can ever harm you once God has saved you. No devil can ever touch you when you’re covered by the blood of Jesus Christ. God’s Holy Spirit lives in you! If we can’t take joy in that, how will we ever be content?

In Luke 10, Jesus commissioned seventy disciples to go out and perform His work, and expand His Kingdom. As they set out, they found themselves accomplishing every single thing they had set out to do. But instead of rejoicing with them, Jesus gives them a sobering lesson:

Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you… – Lk 10:17-20a

The disciples had their testimony in hand! They had done everything God asked them to do! Yet Jesus still told them not to rejoice. Their joy, He explained, should not be conditioned on what they saw happening in the world around them. Their joy should be fixed on the permanent change that had taken place in their hearts:

…but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” – Lk 10:20b

Jesus’ lesson on becoming Biblically content continues several verses later:

Then He turned to His disciples and said privately, “Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see; for I tell you that many prophets and kings have desired to see what you see, and have not seen it, and to hear what you hear, and have not heard it.” – Lk 10:23-24

Jesus had to step back and remind His disciples that He is the Prize. Jesus is not a means to an end, He is the Beginning and the End. He is the reason we are alive, and He should be the only Source of our joy and happiness!

As New Testament Christians with God’s Holy Spirit living in us, we are capable of communion with God in a way that has never before been possible. Prophets and kings have desired for generations to see what you see, and hear what you hear! Peter stresses that even angels long to see God through the lens of salvation you and I get to look through every day (1 Pet 1:12)!

Scripture tells us repeatedly to always keep our eternal perspective. Everything we think, say, and do should be framed by the reality that eternity with God is the only permanent satisfaction we can ever enjoy. If we try to seek joy from any other source but God, we will end up dry as a bone; but when we step into the eternal life only He supplies, living water will flow out of us!

I had the chance to sit and catch up with several old co-workers last week. I come from a background in finance, and I stay in touch with a lot of the people with whom I used to work. Whenever we get together, the conversation is always focused around what’s next. We string ourselves along in careers and lifestyles that leave us unsatisfied, and placate ourselves by assuming we’ll be so much happier in our next job, our next apartment, or the next relationship we find.

But happiness is a decision! So what are you waiting for?

Never Good Enough

Before you can choose to be Biblically content, you have to understand what you’re up against. Satan – our accuser – seeks to convince you that everything you have in your life at this moment isn’t good enough. The enemy wants you to believe that unless you have more money, live in a bigger house, or go on a dream vacation, you’ll never be content.

He’s been using the same scheme since the beginning of human existence:

Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ “Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” – Gen 3:1-5

Adam and Eve had it all. God carved out a custom habitation that was perfect. They could go wherever they wanted and enjoy fellowship with Him. They could do whatever they wanted to do, and eat whatever they wanted to eat! But they couldn’t eat one fruit.

Satan showed up and put his finger on the one thing Adam and Eve couldn’t have. Then he whispered a tired lie into Eve’s ear: you won’t be happy until you get the one thing you don’t already have. He convinced Eve that she could never be satisfied with what was in her hand. Happiness was only one bite away:

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. – Gen 3:6-8

Eating the forbidden fruit wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Adam and Eve were now recipients of a knowledge they were never meant to possess. They were now capable of evil.

Sin entered into all mankind because Adam and Eve couldn’t make the decision to be happy with everything God had given them. They allowed Satan to define their happiness: to tell them that happiness was around the corner, instead of believing they could be content with everything they had in their hand!

From that day forward, man has been afraid of God, instead of enjoying intimate fellowship with Him. God designed us to speak to Him face to face; but from Adam up until Jesus, man stayed as far from God as he possibly could. We have an opportunity to change that mindset because of the Cross of Jesus Christ. We have the chance to make a decision to be content with everything God has given us, and never desire anything more than His presence!

Satan can never steal your joy. That coworker who just seems to have it out for you every day can’t steal your joy. Joy cannot be stolen, only handed over. The enemy cannot take your joy unless you let him. They way Satan enticed Adam and Eve to give up their joy was by convincing them they could never be satisfied unless they had more! And he will do the same to you, if you give him the chance.

Consumerism Rears Its Head

Society (the “world”) follows in Satan’s footsteps by pushing a consumer mindset. In our daily lives, joy is relative. Our level of contentment is dictated by what we don’t have, instead of what we do! Our neighbor always has a bigger house, a faster car, or nicer shoes; and we convince ourselves we simply can’t be happy until we have the same stuff!

God has blessed my family with a beautiful home. My wife and I moved to Brooklyn several years ago when we were making room for our first child. God took out all the stops. He allowed us to own a home in New York City with every single amenity we wanted. It was amazing!

But even still, I remember sitting on our balcony, several months after moving in, and starting to feel unsettled. I sat and looked around the neighborhood, and started dreaming about owning a house, instead of the apartment God had just blessed us with. I immediately lost sight of everything God had just done for us, and started lusting after more. I was losing my joy!

In Jesus Christ, our joy is not relative; it is absolute. When we give our lives to Jesus Christ, we abandon our consumer tendencies and give them up for covenant promises. Whereas a consumer constantly lusts after more, a covenant promises lasting happiness.

God promises that He will never be dissatisfied with you! There is no sin so big that it can overshadow the finished work of the Cross. There is no secret so big and dark that it can’t be covered by the blood of Jesus Christ. When God sees you, He sees His spotless Son Jesus Christ! And if the God of the universe has made a final decision to always be happy with you, isn’t it time to decide to always be happy with Him?

Picking Moments

There is only One lasting Source of perfect peace: Jesus Christ. Without Jesus, you’ll spend your life wandering, looking for someone or something to fill the hole in your heart. You’ll try diets and workouts, and replace your wardrobe when you get bored. You might even go back to school and change careers. But any of those solutions to the hole in your heart are just band-aids on a gaping wound.

Jesus is the answer! He is the Secret to joy, and the Source of happiness. In Him is fullness of joy:

Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. – Ps 16:9-11

Individual moments are important. At any given moment in time, all your life experience up to that point is culminating in what you’re thinking, saying and doing. Every moment is too impossibly unique to ignore. So don’t let it go to waste.

Savor every moment. Make the decision to be content. Don’t put it off until tomorrow. Decide to be happy in Jesus Christ today!

My wife encouraged me to take up a great habit some years ago. Whenever something good happens in our life together, we take time out to celebrate. It doesn’t matter how busy we are, or how many things we have on our schedule. We drop it all, and celebrate.

God has promised that no matter what you’ve done, you will be in His presence for all eternity! What more could any of us possibly need to be content?! What more reason could we ever need to celebrate?

Choose to be content in God’s presence. As God exalts you for His name’s sake, make time to savor the victory.

- 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.

 

Day 260: Divine Substitution

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Thursday, September 17th, 2015
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 Mike White:

Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. – Gal 3:13-14

Jesus Christ took on every curse you and I could ever bear. He took them and carried them to the Cross. And that is where He left them. In fact, Jesus became a curse, and was nailed to the Cross, so that when He died, all the curses that should apply to us would die with Him. He became a curse so that we might be blessed.

He became sin, “…that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor 5:21). He not only bore the weight of our sins; He became sin itself, and was nailed to the Cross, so that when He died, all the punishment we deserve for our sins would die with Him.

Jesus took our sin, sickness and death – the curses we all face as human beings – and nailed them to the Cross. In exchange, He gave us His Spirit. He took us out of the darkness, and into the light: out of death, and into eternal life. His Holy Spirit lives in us as a guarantee that we are recipients of every good and perfect thing from Heaven above.

Prayer:

Father, thank You for divine substitution! Thank You that all my sins are accounted for in the Atonement. There is no sin so big that it can overshadow the finished work of the Cross. Thank You that You are a God of finished works!

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

Day 259: Christ In You

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Wednesday, September 16th, 2015
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 from Pastor Mike White:

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me… – Gal 2:20

You have a tremendous calling on your life. God has impregnated you with plans that no one else in the world can accomplish. Can you sense your destiny building? Can you feel your calling bubbling to the surface?

Too often, we fear the call of God because we think it’s going to be hard. Sometimes, we even fear His will for our lives will be impossible! “Doesn’t He know what I’ve done?” we ask. “There’s no way I’m qualified” we insist.

But God does not make mistakes. God’s Holy Spirit lives in you. His Holy Spirit empowers you to accomplish everything He has called you to do. If you try and do it alone, you will fail! But if God is working through you, He will always succeed.

So, stop trying to do it alone! Lean on God, and ask His Holy Spirit for strength. It is not you who labor for God, but God’s Holy Spirit in you!

Prayer:

Father, I give You full control over my life. I give You permission to do in me whatever needs to be done! I am Your servant, and I am listening for Your voice!

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

Day 258: Holy Spirit Strategy

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Tuesday, September 15th, 2015
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 from Pastor Mike White:

And I went up by revelation, and communicated to them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to those who were of reputation, lest by any means I might run, or had run, in vain. – Gal 2:2

Paul communicated the gospel with intelligence. He went into every new city and region by revelation. In other words, he leaned on God’s Holy Spirit for strategy. He relied on revelatory knowledge for what would open the hearts of the people in every city to Jesus Christ.

Sometimes, Paul charged into a city, found a public place, and openly proclaimed the Gospel, making time to follow up with those who either did not agree, or did not understand. But in this instance, he chose not to preach with the same brazenness.

He went to Jerusalem and spoke privately to those who were of reputation. He spoke to men of influence, knowing that if he exposed them to the truth of the Gospel, there would be a trickle-down effect. If the leaders of a city or region believe in Jesus, it will not be long before the entire community experiences the benefits!

Your primary mission on earth is to share the Gospel. God’s Holy Spirit will give you a specific plan of action for every person, or group of people, you encounter. Listen, and be led by revelation!

Prayer:

Father, lead me! Speak to me, and tell me everything I need to know to share Your Gospel effectively. I pray that You would prepare the hearts of Your people to receive the Gospel before I even talk to them. Draw people to Your Son Jesus Christ, so that I can share the Good News with them!

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

Day 257: Mercy and Grace

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Monday, September 14th, 2015
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 from Pastor Mike White:

In mercy the throne will be established; and One will sit on it in truth, in the tabernacle of David, judging and seeking justice and hastening righteousness.” – Is 16:5

God sent Jesus Christ to die for our sins because He is merciful. Mercy is, “…compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.”[1] It is certainly within God’s power to punish us. It is also within His right! We all deserve an eternity of suffering for our lack of perfection. But God established Jesus Christ in mercy so that we might be saved!

Keeping our eyes fixed on the things of this world hastens judgment. But keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus Christ hastens righteousness! Scripture says that when we trust in the finished work of the Cross, we are hidden in Jesus (Col 3:3). As His disciples, we can boldly approach the throne of grace (Heb 4:16), knowing that God welcomes us into His presence!

Prayer:

Father, thank You for Your mercy. Thank You for Your grace. Thank You for forgiving me, even when I deserved it the least. Thank You for eternal life!

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


[1] https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=mercy%20definition

Day 256: True Strength

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Sunday, September 13th, 2015
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 from Pastor Mike White:

For though He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you. – 2 Cor 13:4

Being a Christian is not synonymous with being a pushover. Putting our faith in Jesus Christ does not mean we become doormats. We are called to develop a backbone and stand firm on God’s word. We are called to proclaim the Good News that Jesus Christ has died for our sins at any cost!

As Christians, we never fight for victory; we fight from victory. Satan, our adversary, is already defeated! Our calling is to go out and re-take possession of territory the enemy has tried to claim, in the name of Jesus!

Wisdom is becoming aware of the strength that is in us through Jesus Christ, and knowing when to apply it. Jesus demonstrated temporary weakness so every man who puts his faith in Him could experience eternal power! We demonstrate His strength by allowing Him to love others through us: whenever – and however – we possibly can.

Prayer:

Father, teach me when to stand, and when to lie down. Teach me when to fight, and when to cede. Help me to apply the strength You have given me in the Name of Jesus as best I can: with wisdom and discretion!

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

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