Day 294: Finding Happiness

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Wednesday, October 21st, 2015
Jeremiah 37:1-38:28
1 Timothy 6:1-21
Psalm 89:38-52
Proverbs 25:28
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1tGtqon

Commentary from Pastor Michael White:

Now godliness with contentment is great gain. – 1 Tim 6:6

To be content means to be satisfied with one’s lot in life (Strong’s #841). Paul is drawing an important distinction here. All the godliness in the world does nothing if we are not content; but to be content with the life God has called us to lead is great gain: splendor beyond compare.

Happiness is a decision. Psychologists have found that simply trying to be happier can actually elevate mood and well-being.[1] You can choose to be content. David knew very well that praise and worship would make his soul content, so he wrote the Psalms to praise and worship God! Choose to be happy! Decide to praise God through whatever situation you’re going through!

It is your choice as to whether or not you will be happy today. What will you decide?

Prayer:

Father, make me content. I have You for all eternity, and You are all I need! Help me to be content in You, in Jesus’ name!

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


[1] http://www.alphagalileo.org/ViewItem.aspx?ItemId=134259&CultureCode=en

Day 293: Speak Up!

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Tuesday, October 20th, 2015
Jeremiah 35:1-36:32
1 Timothy 5:1-25
Psalm 89:14-37
Proverbs 25:25-27
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1wrT1R3

Commentary from Pastor Michael White:

Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear. – 1 Tim 5:20

If someone sins, address it in that moment. Don’t wait until the “time is right.” If you let the moment pass without offering correction, you are giving up on an invaluable learning opportunity forever: both for that person, and for you!

How many times have you really wanted to tell someone they are out of line, but you waited? “I’ll tell them tomorrow,” you say. “I’ll wait until nobody else is around,” you tell yourself. But if you wait, you won’t end up saying anything!

This verse does not mean that we should seek to shame and embarrass other people in public. It means that we should not let any opportunity to share Godly wisdom slip away. Put your feelings into words. Be gentle! Say what God has given you to say, before it’s too late.

Prayer:

Father, help me to speak up! You will fill my mouth with speech when it needs to be full. Help me to speak up and speak out!

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

Day 292: Spiritual Exercise

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Monday, October 19th, 2015
Jeremiah 33:1-34:22
1 Timothy 4:1-16
Psalm 89:1-13
Proverbs 25:23-24
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1t0Hg2G

Commentary from Pastor Michael White:

…and exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. – 1 Tim 4:7-8

Did you know it is your responsibility to exercise yourself toward godliness? To exercise toward godliness means to practice following God in word and deed. The transformation from who we are now, to who God invites us to become, doesn’t happen overnight. Exercise takes time. Exercise can be hard. But when we exercise properly, we will reap the benefits.

As you make a commitment to follow Jesus no matter what, your stamina will increase. Over time, you will be able to lift more spiritual weight: to handle weightier matters with ease. After a while, you will be able to face life’s biggest obstacles without even breaking a sweat!

Exercise isn’t always easy. But lucky for you, you have the greatest exercise Coach in the world: God’s Holy Spirit. When you’re tired, He will encourage you to keep moving forward. When you don’t know what to do next, He will point you in the right direction! God’s Holy Spirit is your Counselor and your Guide. Thank God you don’t have to exercise on your own!

Prayer:

Father, help me to exercise myself toward godliness. I want to exercise my faith by putting it into practice. I want to exercise obedience by listening to, and carrying out, Your instructions. Help me to get in spiritual shape!

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

Day 291: The New Covenant

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Sunday, October 18th, 2015
Jeremiah 31:27-32:44
1 Timothy 3:1-16
Psalm 88:1-18
Proverbs 25:20-22
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/107jpDP

Commentary from Pastor Michael White:

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. – Jer 31:33

Jesus Christ did not come to erase the old covenant; He came to fulfill it. On this side of the Cross, God promises us a new covenant. The old covenant was an external law. God’s instructions were recorded externally: first on tablets of stone, and later on paper. Under the old covenant, we had to earn our righteousness with good behavior. External performance earned us internal worth.

But the new covenant is an internal law. God has written His law in our minds and on our hearts. Because we are filled with His Holy Spirit, we can ask for understanding of everything God wants us to do! Under the new covenant, God is not interested in behavior modification; He is interested in heart transformation! He has given us the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16) so we can think like Jesus. He has mended our broken hearts so we can act like Jesus!

The old covenant worked from the outside in; the new covenant works from the inside out. Don’t try to earn right standing in the Kingdom of God. Instead, simply understand that Jesus Christ has earned it for you! Thank God He was willing to do all the hard work on the Cross so that we don’t have to!

Prayer:

Father, change me from the inside out. I want to know You for who You really are. I want to understand Your words like never before. I want to be led by Your Holy Spirit like never before! Thank You for the Cross! I know that I have relationship with You through Your Son Jesus Christ!

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

Guatemala Missions Trip 2015: Day Seven

275_p1_06_1679 LQToday was our last full day in Guatemala. We got up before sunrise to pack our bags and eat breakfast. As we dragged our suitcases through wet grass, we stopped to catch a glimpse of the sun peeking over the mountains of Nebaj one last time. Guatemala has been an amazing home for the past week!

We reached Antigua after almost 7 hours on our bus. The journey back to civilization was certainly not without its surprises. Shortly after lunch, we heard a loud pop towards the back of the bus. One of our rear tires had exploded! Juanito, our driver, decided to finish the last leg of the journey on the compromised tire. Finally, we pulled into Antigua safe and sound.

Antigua used to be the capital of Guatemala. There are three active volcanoes that surround this bustling city of 35,000 people. You can spend a full day touring the ruins of ancient Spanish Baroque churches, or taking in views of the gorgeous countryside. But we were here for a different reason: shopping!

All of us are excited to get home to our loved ones tomorrow, and none of us wants to show up empty handed! We spent the afternoon buying toys for our kids, bags and shirts for our spouses, and Guatemalan coffee for our loved ones. Mission accomplished! We boarded the bus, and headed to our hotel. Tomorrow, we come home.

Mike had good news for us today. The pastors’ conference was such a success that Domingo wanted to immediately set dates in stone to do it again next year. We will be heading back to Guatemala from October 5th, 2016, through October 12th, 2016! Who wants to join us, CityLight?!

We can’t wait to come home tomorrow. Thank you for your prayers. We love you, CityLight! See you soon!

Text by Michael White. Photos courtesy of Tim Maggio. #citylightnyc

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Day 290: Write It Down

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Jeremiah 30:1-31:26
1 Timothy 2:1-15
Psalm 87:1-7
Proverbs 25:18-19
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1weVuMy

Commentary from Pastor Michael White:

“Thus speaks the Lord God of Israel, saying: ‘Write in a book for yourself all the words that I have spoken to you.’– Jer 30:2

The book was for Jeremiah. We all benefit; but he was the original intended reader of everything that was recorded.

Write God’s promises down. Something happens when you record His spoken word. When you write it down, whatever God has spoken becomes lasting and permanent. It cannot fleetingly come and go, as would a thought or a conversation.

When you write it down, it becomes hard evidence: immutable and irrevocable.

“Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.” – Hab 2:2

Prayer:

Father, remind me to write down Your promises. When I record Your word, it’s as good as gold! Help me to write what You have spoken, and to act on what I have written, in Jesus’ name.

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

Guatemala Missions Trip 2015: Day Six

275_p1_07_1879 LQToday was our last full day in Nebaj. After breakfast, we headed off to work at Domingo’s house. Domingo is a local pastor who oversees thirteen churches in and around Nebaj. Although he has a stoic face and calm demeanor, his warm smile conveys the love of God the moment you start conversation. Domingo is a man who has truly given his life for the Gospel.

Domingo, his wife, and their five children share a beautiful home on the outskirts of Nebaj. We spent the morning running buckets of stone and sand up a narrow, steep staircase. Domingo recently donated the land behind his home to the local youth group. A team would be using the sand and gravel we delivered to mix and pour cement for a rec center floor.

We took turns imagining the soccer games that would take place in what used to be Domingo’s back yard. Land is the most prized possession in Nebaj, and this space would be the first of its kind for the local youth. After a full day, we collapsed into the chairs in Domingo’s dining room. He fed us a delicious, traditional meal before sending us on our way.

Tonight, we had a special treat. Benito, the Mr.-Fix-It on the McComb property, had learned to play a set of Andean flutes over a decade ago. Since then, he has recruited his whole family to travel and play music with him. We sat and listened to some of the most beautiful music we have ever heard as the flames from the McComb’s outdoor fireplace danced behind us. We snuck off to bed after the band finished, full and satisfied after a hard day’s work.

Text by Michael White. Photos courtesy of Tim Maggio. #citylightnyc

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Guatemala Missions Trip 2015: Day Five

275_p1_07_1689 LQDespite grim weather forecasts, we managed to squeak out yet another day of sunshine. We had an early breakfast and loaded our bus to head to Pulay village. We swerved through mile after mile of cornfield, wondering how ancient Mayan architects had packed so many plants into the steep mountainsides. We asked our guide if we were looking at corn, or at sugar cane. “Corn,” he responded in Spanish, smiling in obvious amusement at our city-slicker lack of basic agricultural knowledge.

When we first started visiting the villages around Nebaj with Mike and Terri McComb several years ago, we were often building the first church the townspeople had ever seen. Now, we are running into a new problem: the original churches are running out of space! The church we visited today was at full capacity: every service was standing room only. The pastor, along with a team from his church, would be building a new church around the old one. Instead of having space for 100 people, they would now have space for multiples of their current size. What a blessing to see such growth in such a short period of time!

Our team mixed concrete to pour the cornerstone of the new, bigger structure. We hadn’t even finished mixing when Mike called us in to pray with him over the hole in the ground where we would pour the concrete. Mike reflected that we could build all the churches we wanted out of concrete and stone; but if prayer wasn’t the foundation, there was no point. This church had been growing because of prayer, and it will keep growing because of prayer. We finished praying, the pastor thanked us for our help, and then we started to pour concrete as the din of children’s music floated through the air.

Our kids’ ministry team was inside, singing to a packed house. David Glickstein and Robert Vazquez interrupted the scheduled ministry to perform an improvised version of “Jesus Loves Me,” beatbox and all. The kids waved their hands to the beat, singing along with joy. The kids packed the entire church space on their own; it was easy to see why a new building was a necessity. As the team finished their rendition of David and Goliath and brought their performance to a close, we got ready to pass out 200 school bags to the kids of Pulay village. We took a photo to commemorate all God was doing, enjoyed a meal in the pastor’s home, and headed back to camp.

It was refreshing to see Pastor Guillermo and his congregation at Palabra en Accion Church tonight. God was generous with words of knowledge: we prayed for relationships, marriages, and emotional intimacy for the families in the church. We left feeling full of love, and full of life. When we expect the supernatural, God honors our expectations.

See you tomorrow. We love you CityLight!

Text by Michael White. Photos courtesy of Tim Maggio. #citylightnyc

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Day 289: Happiness in Captivity

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Friday, October 16th, 2015
Jeremiah 28:1-29:32
1 Timothy 1:1-20
Psalm 86:1-17
Proverbs 25:17
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1npu8DE

Commentary from Pastor Michael White:

And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace. – Jer 29:7

God allowed His people to be taken captive to protect them from destruction. Captivity is never God’s will; He never causes captivity. Captivity is the result of our own disobedience. However, God will sometimes permit captivity (lack of forward progress) to protect us in the long run.

I have had many times in my life when God sheltered me to protect me from myself. I am a dreamer, and so are you. We all ask for big things from God, knowing full well we are not ready to receive them. Thank God He prevents us from receiving our breakthrough until we’re ready to carry the weight of His calling!

It’s ok to dream. But happiness starts now. Happiness is a decision. Choose to be happy where you are. Pray for the city, the community, and the church where the Lord has you in this season. He will deliver you when He is ready. Until then, know that you are here for your own protection. Know that as your city prospers, you will prosper!

Prayer:

Father, thank You for protecting me from myself! Thank You for causing me to prosper where I am planted. I am Your humble servant, and I cannot wait to work for Your will!

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

Guatemala Missions Trip 2015: Day Four

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We could not be blessed with more beautiful weather.  October is rainy season in Guatemala, and sunshine has filled each day so far.  Today we completed the pastors’ conference with the final two teaching sessions.  Cheers rose up from the crowd when the local overseer asked those in attendance if they wanted another conference in the future.  A prayer session capped the conference, with those hungry for more of God’s presence and power in their ministry pressing up to the altar.  Our team was touched as the local pastors asked to pray for us, and did so in the most heartfelt manner.

After nearly two straight days of a very full schedule, this afternoon was a half-day of rest.  Most of the team visited central Nebaj, where booths filling a street make up the market.  We managed to find an open ice cream shop, so you all can relax your fears of us losing a lot of weight while we’re down here working, shoveling dirt and hauling gravel for concrete.

Terri met us here in Nebaj today for the first time on this trip.  She treated us to stories about Santa Rosa, a town God put on her heart to help.  Years ago, Mike McComb tried to bring a medical team to this small village.  When he found the town seemingly deserted after a ten-hour hike up the mountain, Mike asked his Ixil cook to talk to a townswoman in Santa Rosa.  Maria came down ashen, and assured Mike they needed to leave, right away.  Their lives had been threatened in a very real way.

Two years ago, the Lord began putting Santa Rosa on Terri’s heart.  As we sat by the fire with s’mores, Terri told us about how much better those in Santa Rosa are doing now, and about how faces that were the picture of perpetual sadness now regularly light up with joy.  Mike and Terri found some forgotten leftover bags of school supplies that CityLight had purchased for a previous trip in some boxes in a closet.  There were exactly the right number to bless each child in Santa Rosa.  This will be the first Christmas present any child in that town has ever received.

Tomorrow we’re heading out to a village to help expand an overflowing church.  At night, we’re excited to attend service at Palabra en Accion.

We love you CityLight.  More tomorrow.

Text by Josh Feldman. Photos by Tim Maggio. #citylightnyc

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