Day 325: How to Increase Your Faith

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Saturday, November 21st, 2015
Ezekiel 42:1-43:27
James 5:1-20
Psalm 119:1-16
Proverbs 28:6-7
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1F6jFA1

Commentary from Pastor Michael White:

And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. – James 5:15

Our prayers will only be effective when we pray with faith.

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb 11:1). When we pray for something by faith, we know that we will have the manifestation. Our faith is evidence that an answer to our prayer is coming.

Prayer without faith, on the other hand, is really no prayer at all. James noted that we must, “…ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind” (Jas 1:6). If we pray without faith, we rob our prayers of the power they deserve.

So what do you do if you don’t have faith? Ask God for more faith! The apostles cried out to Jesus, “Increase our faith” (Lk 17:5). Asking God to increase your faith is a completely Biblical prayer!

If you don’t have faith, it doesn’t mean there is something lacking in you; it simply means you have room for more of God. Ask God’s Holy Spirit to fill you with faith, and watch your prayer life transform!

Prayer:

Father, I am asking for more faith in the name of Jesus! I want my prayers to be full of the Holy Spirit, and full of power. Give me all the faith I need to see heaven come to earth!

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

Day 324: Because You Ask Not

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Friday, November 20th, 2015
Ezekiel 40:28-41:26
James 4:1-17
Psalm 118:19-29
Proverbs 28:3-5
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1tkArF9

Commentary from Pastor Michael White:

Yet you do not have because you do not ask. – James 4:2

What do you need? Have you asked God for it, in full faith that He is able and willing to provide? God will give you all things you ask for as long as 1) they align with His Will (1 John 5:14-15, John 15:7), and 2) you ask in faith. Yet you still must ask to receive!

Even if I know I can open my front door whenever I want because I have a key to it, I still must insert the key and turn the lock in order to open the door. Prayer works much the same way. God has given us the keys to His kingdom (Matt 16:19). We have access to all of heaven through prayer, but we still must ask in faith to receive that which is already rightfully ours!

Prayer:

Father, help me to ask in faith, with no doubting! I have faith that You will provide everything I need to go out and expand Your kingdom in the name of Jesus. Remind me to ask with boldness, and confidence that You hear my prayers!

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

Day 323: Your Terrible Tongue

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Thursday, November 19th, 2015
Ezekiel 39:1-40:27
James 2:18-3:18
Psalm 118:1-18
Proverbs 28:2
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1uNXLjL

Commentary from Pastor Michael White:

If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. – James 3:2

Your speech dictates your future. What you speak over your life is what you will see. What you declare over your body is how you will feel! Are you speaking life over your current situation, or death?

Even though a horse weighs hundreds of pounds, a small bridle in his mouth will determine his direction. Even though a ship is large enough to carry many tons of cargo, one small rudder will dictate which way she is headed. In the same way, our tongues steer our bodies. The words that come out of our mouth determine what happens next. Where the tongue goes, the body will follow!

Whenever you hit a difficult patch in life, you have a choice: will you speak life, or death? If you speak death, God’s hands are tied; but when you speak life, He will move heaven and earth as you pray!

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 remember that there is incredible power in my words. I have the power and authority to bind Satan in the name of Jesus. God has invited me to pray His will into existence! Help me to always use my tongue as a tool, and never as a weapon.

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

Equally Yoked

The following is an adaptation of the sermon ‘Equally Yoked’ preached by Pastor Mike White on Sunday, 11/15/2015, at CityLight Church. To listen to the full podcast please click here: http://bit.ly/1ORjm68

This Sunday is the third and final message in our series titled, ‘Real People, Real Problems.’ The intent of the past three Sundays has been to equip our members with practical tools to deal with the issues they encounter on a daily basis. First, we covered how to share the Gospel with skeptics. Then, we went over time management. Finally, we are looking at the importance of reserving romantic interest for people whose passion for Jesus Christ is the same as ours.

Equally Yoked

If you’ve ever been to a Christian marriage seminar or relationship workshop, you’ve probably heard the term “equally yoked.” You probably know that it’s good to only date other Christians. Reality, however, often makes this difficult. “How do I meet other Christians? “ you might wonder. “What if I’m not interested in any of the single people at my church?” is a logical question.

My heart especially goes out to single Christian females. There is a crisis of Biblical manhood in today’s church. Young men who boldly accept Jesus Christ, and live out their lives in light of the truth of the Gospel, are few and far between. But they do exist!

Today I want to examine the importance of being equally yoked. If we’re going to strive to think, talk and act in a certain way, it’s wise to understand why we seek that direction in the first place.

Paul unveils the term, ‘equally yoked,’ in his second letter to the Church at Corinth. He strongly exhorts every believer in Jesus Christ to make it a priority to date, and marry, another believer:

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.” “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” – 2 Cor 6:14-18

Paul uses the term ‘yoke’ on purpose. A yoke is a wooden harness that is put around the necks of two animals, typically oxen. The yoke has two-fold purpose: 1) it binds the animals together so their movement can be more productive, and 2) it connects to a cart or plow so that as they move, they can pull together.

In order for a yoke to be effective, the two animals have to be the same size. It would be unproductive for an ox to be yoked to a donkey, for example. The ox would move forward with strength and speed, pushing his side of the yoke aggressively. The donkey, however, would lag behind as a result of his smaller size. The end result? Lack of forward motion. The two animals would move around in a circle, with the stronger member of the pair pulling all the weight. The load they are trying to carry together would go nowhere. It would actually be more beneficial to ditch the yoke and let the ox carry the weight himself! Very little is accomplished by an uneven pair.

When it comes to romantic relationships, the outcome can be exactly the same. If both male and female are not strong in the things of the Lord, the relationship will go nowhere. The load – the burden Jesus Christ has given us to share the Good News – will not be moved, and nothing will be accomplished. The “stronger” member of the couple will end up doing all the work, and pulling all the weight, while the “weaker” member flounders. Round and round they will go, perpetually moving in a circle.

The Old Testament is full of examples where the people of Israel yoke themselves to unbelievers. The result is always disastrous. Whenever God’s people marry into families that worship other gods, the idol worship rubs off onto His people. Romantic relationships with those who worship idols instead of God is one of the primary causes of sin in the Old Testament. Time and again, we see unrepentant Gentiles lead some (or even all) of the Jewish people into sin.

In Old Testament history, the men of Israel would frequently find themselves attracted to the women of a foreign land. They would marry into their families, and worship their gods. We even see this happen to King Solomon:

For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the Lord his God, as was the heart of his father David. – 1 Kings 11:4

The Bible calls Solomon the wisest king to have ever lived, except for Jesus Christ. If even the wisest man to walk the earth was pulled into sin because he was unequally yoked, how much more careful do we have to be!

Fellas, I’m going to just come out and say it: the men are the primary culprits here. What happened to all the single young men in the church? We’ve lost our passion for God, and fallen subject to lust for idols. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen a young woman who is on fire for God fall in love with a man who claims to be a Christian. Then, several months into dating, she finds out his commitment to Jesus Christ is surface level. Before you know it, neither one is coming to church. Unfortunately, the romantic relationship usually wins out, and it’s not long before we stop seeing that couple in church.

For the single women who are waiting for their God-given husband: do not give up hope! God has the perfect man for you. He might not be sitting in the same church as you, but he is out there somewhere. Please don’t give up hope. God is good, and He delivers on His promises.

We see the importance of having a strong, Christian man as the leader of the household in Scripture:

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word… – Ephesians 5:22-26

On the surface, it seems like wives have the tougher job. We look at that passage, and we get scared by the word submit. The reality, however, is that the husband has the most difficult job of all! While wives have to submit, husbands have to die! Husbands are commanded to die for their wives, just as Jesus Christ died for the church!

If the man in any Christian relationship is not willing to step up to the plate and be a bold, faithful leader of his household, then he is not living up to God’s design. It is the husband who must shoulder the burden of spiritually guiding his whole family. It is the husband who is ultimately responsible to make sure his children know the Gospel. It is the husband who must give his wife the space and time required so that she can grow in intimacy with God.

Ladies: do you really want to waste time with a man who doesn’t live up to that standard?

I believe wholeheartedly in the importance of waiting until marriage to have sex in any relationship. God designed sex for the covenant relationship. When we share intimacy with our marriage partner, we are sending a clear message: I am willing to be naked in front of you, and give you everything I have to give.

The man has to be the one willing to put a stop to sexual intimacy before marriage. He needs to be the leader when it comes to setting healthy boundaries, and sticking to them. Too often, the woman in a young Christian couple has to fight against a man who wants to test physical boundaries before the marriage ceremony has taken place. This is not God’s original intention for our relationships! The man is supposed to strengthen his future wife – not weaken her!

Are You A Consumer?

In the United States, we’ve adopted a consumer mindset when it comes to dating. We tentatively enter into emotional and physical intimacy with someone of the opposite sex, but we run at the first sign of discomfort. If things get difficult, we leave. If we no longer get exactly what we want, we flee.

But God didn’t design us to be consumers; He designed us to be in covenant. He designed us to view dating as a very serious decision: an expression that we are interested in potentially marrying a person. He designed us to view marriage as a permanent commitment: to honor someone for the rest of our lives, and to give everything we have – physically, socially, emotionally, and financially – to that person.

Imagine if God looked at you with a consumer mindset! What if every time you did something that made Him unhappy, He could turn around and walk away? What if the best hope I could give you as a pastor was that if you try your best, God might like you? That wouldn’t be much of a relationship, would it?!

God honors you with a covenant relationship, so that you can honor your spouse in the same way. He promises to never leave or forsake you (Deut 31:6), so that you can make the same promise to your spouse. He teaches us to serve by laying down our lives, just as Jesus Christ laid down His life for the church!

The Marriage Crisis in the United States

There is a marriage crisis in the United States. The effects of our consumer mentality are catching up to us. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), as many as fifty percent of married couples in the United States divorce.[1]

Unfortunately, statistics in the church are no better than the general population. The divorce rate for Christians is the same, at about fifty percent. In fact, some studies prove that Christian couples are actually more likely to get divorced than couples who don’t have Jesus at the center of their marriages. In 1999, the Barna Research Group found that born again Christians are actually more likely than others to experience divorce! [2]

That’s terrifying, isn’t it? Even if you are born again, your chances of divorce are half!

There is, however, an answer. You can drop your chances of divorce substantially by doing one simple thing: by making the commitment with your spouse to do one simple activity that can completely change your life.

The difference is prayer. You’ve probably heard the expression: Families that pray together, stay together. It’s not just folklore; it’s fact. In 1997, a Gallup Poll showed the divorce rate for Christian couples who pray together regularly is 1 out of 1,152. [3]

That’s less than one tenth of a percent!

Here is the point. If you and your spouse don’t pray together, you might as well flip a coin to determine if you’re going to get a divorce. But if you pray together every day, you’ll stay together for the rest of your lives!

The Importance of Prayer

Prayer with my wife is my favorite part of being married. The Holy Spirit loves to take advantage of situations where two or more believers are gathered together to worship God:

Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them. – Matt 18:19-20

Whenever my wife and I are together, it is DONE! Jesus promises that when we get together and pray in His name, that He is in our midst. God promises that when my wife and I agree in prayer, whatever we ask for is complete: it is, “…done for [us] by [Our] Father in heaven” (v 19). Don’t you want your marriage to look the same way?

My wife and I both dated people who weren’t Christians before God introduced us to each other. We know what it’s like to do relationships the wrong way. If you’re testing the waters and considering abandoning your commitment to wait for the right man or woman, accept my plea: DON’T DO IT! Believe us when we say that the right way is worth it!

Paul’s instructions to be equally yoked are not emphasized in Scripture by accident. God doesn’t ask us to hold out for a strong Christians spouse just to torture us: He does it for our benefit. If we rush into a serious relationship with the wrong person, the results can be excruciatingly painful; but when we hold out for the fullness of God’s promise, we will find everything He has set aside for us to enjoy.

What If…

So what if you’re already married, and your spouse has not said yes to Jesus Christ? Scripture has encouragement for you too:

But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace. For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife? – 1 Cor 7:12-16

I meet many women who were already married before giving their lives to Christ. If the husband doesn’t accept the same invitation for salvation, the woman can be “stuck” in an uncomfortable situation. The believer’s responsibility is to honor the sanctity of marriage, while waiting for God’s Holy Spirit to do the hard work required on her husband’s heart.

No one comes to God unless the Holy Spirit draws him (Jn 6:44). It is your responsibility to share the Gospel with your spouse: to plant the seed. It is the Holy Spirit’s joy to save his soul: to water and cultivate that seed.

We had a beautiful testimony in our church recently. One of our members met a man on the bus who had never been to church. He shared the Gospel with that man, and gave him an invitation to service.

The man was a husband and a father. He still had no interest in church, even after that conversation. However, he passed the invitation along to his wife and daughter. The daughter started attending first. She fell head over heels in love with Jesus. She was baptized: first in water, and then in the Holy Spirit. The mom was next. She started coming to church with her daughter, and has given her life to Christ.

Several weeks ago, God did the impossible. As this mother and her daughter came to service, they brought someone in tow: the husband finally came! Because of the changes he saw in the lives of his immediate family members, he was ready to make a decision for Jesus.

That miracle came about because of one thing: prayer. As we pray according to God’s will, God honors our prayers. So whether you’re already in a relationship, or believing for the perfect relationship to start, pray without ceasing!

– 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://www.apa.org/topics/divorce/

[2] http://www.smalleymarriage.com/resources/qa.php?catID=28&resID=14

[3] http://www.smalleymarriage.com/resources/qa.php?catID=28&resID=14

Day 322: Never Stop Declaring

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Wednesday, November 18th, 2015
Ezekiel 37:1-38:23
James 1:19-2:17
Psalm 117:1-2
Proverbs 28:1
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1xK1ej6

Commentary from Pastor Michael White:

Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them. Also He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath…” – Ezek 37:8-9

God told Ezekiel to prophesy life over dry, dead bones. He told Ezekiel to use His word to proclaim new life over lifeless creation. As Ezekiel watched, transformation took place. The dry bones came back to life. Flesh and skin covered them. But God was not done yet.

Sometimes prophecy and prayer happen in stages. God will ask you to pray, and answer your prayer right away. But He’s not always done with you! His Holy Spirit always has more breath to add to every restored life.

Don’t stop praying. Sometimes we stop praying out of frustration when we don’t see results. Or, maybe we stop praying out of exuberance when we do see results! But God’s message to Ezekiel was clear: keep declaring My word.

Continue to declare God’s word over your life. No matter how much has been restored, God always has more left to accomplish.

Prayer:

Father, give me the patient endurance I need to fully declare Your word and promises over my life! I know that I am a work in progress. You are not done with me yet, so I will not stop declaring Your word!

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

Day 321: Speaking to Mountains

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Tuesday, November 17th, 2015
Ezekiel 35:1-36:38
James 1:1-18
Psalm 116:1-19
Proverbs 27:23-27
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1EQOXe7

Commentary from Pastor Michael White:

But you, O mountains of Israel, you shall shoot forth your branches and yield your fruit to My people Israel… – Ezek 36:8

Most of the time, God tells His prophets to prophesy to people. Here, however, He tells Ezekiel to prophesy directly to the land. Ezekiel condemns Mount Seir. Then, he speaks life into Israel. He commands the land to provide for God’s people, according to God’s word.

What has God told you? Is God telling you to buy a home? Prophesy to your dream home and call it your own. Is God telling you to live debt-free? Prophesy to that mountain of debt and tell it to be moved! Speak to the promises God has spoken over your life!

You have the ability to speak God’s blessings over your life into existence. As you proclaim His word, creation will respond according to His will.

Prayer:

Father, thank You for giving me creative power in my speech. I know that when I speak to places You have told me to inhabit, they will come to life, in Jesus’ name!

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

Day 320: Why We Need Jesus

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Monday, November 16th, 2015
Ezekiel 33:1-34:31
Hebrews 13:1-25
Psalm 115:1-18
Proverbs 27:21-22
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1xDhXV8

Commentary from Pastor Michael White:

When I say to the righteous that he shall surely live, but he trusts in his own righteousness and commits iniquity, none of his righteous works shall be remembered; but because of the iniquity that he has committed, he shall die. – Ezek 33:13

If we live a “good” life, love our friends and family well, and are nice to other people, is that enough to get us into Heaven?

Unfortunately, no. If you live perfectly your entire life, but have one momentarily lapse, all your good behavior will count for nothing. Sin cancels righteousness. Even if you do one thing wrong, all your righteous deeds will be forgotten.

This is why we need Jesus. You have a choice to make. If you want to get to Heaven without Jesus, you have to be perfect. But if you’ve been anything but perfect, you need Jesus! You need to trust in the finished work of the Cross!

God has made provision to account for your imperfection. Trust in Jesus. Your eternal life depends on it.

For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. – Heb 10:14

Prayer:

Father, thank You that the finished work of the Cross makes me whole! I could never be perfect; but Jesus was perfect for me. He died so that I might live. I accept Him as Lord over my life!

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

Day 319: Rooting Out Bitterness

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Sunday, November 15th, 2015
Ezekiel 31:1-32:32
Hebrews 12:14-29
Psalm 113:1-114:8
Proverbs 27:18-20
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1xZRvV6

Commentary from Pastor Michael White:

…lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble… – Heb 12:15

Bitterness is contagious. If we allow ourselves to be bitter in one area of our lives, that sentiment will soon spill over into others. If we allow ourselves to be bitter at certain times of day, that emotion will soon take over our schedule. Bitterness must be confronted and rooted out immediately, before it takes hold of our lives. Just as weeds will take over a lawn if left unchecked, bitterness will wreak havoc on the terrain of our heart unless we deal with it decisively.

The opposite of bitterness is gratefulness. Take a couple minutes to say “thank you” to God for everything He’s done. Praise and thanksgiving will cancel any hold bitterness is trying to take in your life – once and for all. Instead of staying bitter, be grateful!

Prayer:

Father, thank You for everything You have done in my life. I don’t deserve Your love and affection, but You have showered me in it all the same. Thank You!

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

Day 318: Where Are You Running?

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Saturday, November 14th, 2015
Ezekiel 29:1-30:26
Hebrews 11:32-12:13
Psalm 112:1-10
Proverbs 27:17
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1yGwIFW

Commentary from Pastor Michael White:

“…and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus…” – Heb 12:1-2

Christians love to imagine life as a race. The author of Hebrews instructs us to lay aside anything that would slow us down and run the race of life. Paul tells the church at Corinth to, “Run in such a way that you may obtain [the prize]” (1 Cor 9:24). But where are we running?

Too often we get so excited to take off from the finish line without even knowing where we’re headed! We must run straight to Jesus. He is the object of our affections and the endpoint of the only race worth running. He is our prize. So let’s not run without realizing that we are running to Jesus Christ Himself; because if we don’t know where we’re going, we’ll never know when we get there.

Prayer:

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

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

Day 317: After the Promise Comes

CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
Friday, November 13th, 2015
Ezekiel 27:1-28:26
Hebrews 11:17-31
Psalm 111:1-10
Proverbs 27:15-16
For full text click here: http://bit.ly/1EFMepy

Commentary from Pastor Michael White:

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son… – Heb 11:17

Receiving the promise is not the finish line. Abraham had faith that God would give him a son. He disregarded his own age, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb (Rom 4:19), and trusted that God would deliver on His promise. And God did.

Yet some years after receiving his promise, Abraham was once again called to obedience. God asked for Abraham to be willing to give up the promise – his son Isaac – no matter the cost. He asked Abraham to be willing to sacrifice everything he had been praying for, and believing in, for almost a century.

Once you have the promise, will you continue to be a good steward? Because Abraham was willing to sacrifice his only son, God found an ally. Abraham paved the way, by faith, for God’s willingness to sacrifice His Only Son, Jesus Christ.

God gave everything He had for you. Jesus Christ died to make you whole. Are you ready to give everything you have for Him?

Prayer:

Father, help me to be a good steward of the promises You have spoken over my life! Help me to remain obedient long after You deliver the promise. I know You are faithful, and I ask Your Holy Spirit to make me faithful in return, in Jesus’ name!

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

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