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Day 265: Paul Prayed

The Daily Word: Saturday, September 22nd, 2018
Isaiah 39:1-41:16
Ephesians 1:1-23
Psalm 66:1-20
Proverbs 23:25-28
For full text click here.
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Commentary from Pastor Michael White:
Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers… – Eph 1:15-16

Paul was grateful; so he prayed. He had heard of the Ephesians’ faith! So he prayed. He loved the early church; so he prayed.

Are you a leader? One of your primary responsibilities is to pray for the people you lead. Yes, Paul visited early church communities. He taught them, and wrote them letters to encourage and strengthen them. But the one thing he did most was pray.

Don’t forget to pray! The destiny of the people God has put in your path might depend on it.

Prayer:

Father, remind me to pray for the people You have put in my life. I’m so grateful You surrounded me with men and women of God who are supportive. I want to pray for them, in Jesus’ name!

Archives
See commentary from this day in 2014.
See commentary from this day in 2015.
See commentary from this day in 2016.
See commentary from this day in 2017.

© Michael D. White, 2018. All rights reserved.

Day 264: How Will You Respond?

The Daily Word: Friday, September 21st, 2018
Isaiah 37:1-38:22
Galatians 6:1-18
Psalm 65:1-13
Proverbs 23:24
For full text click here.
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Commentary from Pastor Michael White:
“It may be that the Lord your God will hear the words of the Rabshakeh, whom his master the king of Assyria has sent to reproach the living God, and will rebuke the words which the Lord your God has heard. Therefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left.” – Is 37:4

When the enemy attacks, how will you respond? In Scripture, Israel’s physical enemies (i.e. other nations) often represent our present-day spiritual enemies (i.e. Satan and his demons). In Isaiah 37, Assyria – Israel’s enemy – is ready to attack Israel. The enemy was loud: he came right up to Jerusalem’s wall and started to threaten God’s people. God will not deliver you, he said (Is 36:15). Why do you trust Him?

The enemy attacks by feeding you lies. Satan wants you to think God is not real! He wants you to think God doesn’t love you, and won’t defend you! But don’t believe Satan’s lies!

Hezekiah took the enemy’s threats and brought them straight to God. He knew an attack against him was an attack against God Himself. Hezekiah didn’t worry about mounting a defense, or planning how to take out the enemy. He knew if he brought it to God, God would take care of it!

When the enemy threatens you, how will you respond? Bring it straight to God. God loves you, and He will defend you, in Jesus’ name!

Prayer:

Father, thank You for defending me. The louder the enemy gets, the faster I will run to You! Thank You for always being there for me, in Jesus’ name.

Archives
See commentary from this day in 2014.
See commentary from this day in 2015.
See commentary from this day in 2016.
See commentary from this day in 2017.

© Michael D. White, 2018. All rights reserved.

God Is Moving!

The following is an adaptation of the sermon ‘God Is Moving!’ preached by Pastor Michael White on Sunday, 9/9/2018, at CityLight Church. To listen to the full podcast please click the arrow above.

God Is Moving

God is moving, whether you can see it or not! We all have things we’ve been praying about for years. After contending in prayer for some time, it can be tempting to give up. If we don’t see God moving in response to our prayer requests, we can get discouraged and even walk away! But I’m here this morning to tell you to hang on, because God is moving!

Our church’s Manhattan location meets in a rented space: we’ve rented the basement of a Russian Orthodox Church since 2002. Years ago, the Lord started speaking to us about owning that building. We’ve been through several rounds of the church’s Board inviting us to submit a purchase proposal, only to be told that the Board can’t come to a consensus to sell. It’s been a frustrating process to say the least. Until recently, I had all but forgotten about God’s promise to give us that building; but this week, I had a dream that reminded me: God is moving.

In my dream, the head priest at the church upstairs called me out of the blue. I had taken all plans to buy the building off the table; but he contacted me, completely unsolicited, to ask me if we were still interested in buying the building. We had a long, drawn out conversation for what seemed like hours about how to get his Board on the same page, with everyone willing to sell. Keep in mind that, throughout this whole process, this man has been our biggest opponent; yet in one moment, he had become our biggest advocate.

This was a big reminder from God to never give up on the things He has told me to hope for; to never stop praying for the things He has told me to believe for.

Even If You Don’t See it

God is moving, even if you can’t see it. He is moving, even if it doesn’t seem like it. God is moving, even if you can’t feel it!

There are two types of “words” you can receive from God:

1) The logos is God’s written word. He is speaking to you through His word. As you read through God’s word and see a promise that applies to you, your job is to receive it and appropriate it (i.e. take possession of it).

2) The rhema is God’s spoken word. He will speak to you in prayer. He will speak to you through other people. God’s Holy Spirit is moving; and when He has a message for you, He will find a way to get it to you!

Every word God gives you – whether logos or rhema – is a seed you get to plant into the ground through prayer. It may take time; but eventually that seed will sprout and start to grow. It may take time, but sooner or later the branches will begin to bud and you will start to see fruit!

Here’s where we often get confused with the words God has given us: making the seed grow fast is not your responsibility. Jesus reminded His disciples that there is an element of mystery and unpredictability to the way God’s promises unfold:

And He said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how. For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head. But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.” – Mk 4:26-29

Positioning yourself to receive God’s promise is important; but making the promise come to pass is not your responsibility!

Look at the language Jesus uses: the seed sprouts and grows, but the farmer “does not know how.” The farmer certainly has responsibilities. First, he has to leave the seed in the ground. If he digs up the seed just to make sure it’s there, he’s not going to get any fruit! If he takes the seed and continually plants it in new ground (i.e. hopping from church to church), he’s not going to get a final product. But if he leaves it in the ground, the earth – the fertile, faith-filled environment into which he has planted – will yield crops “by itself.”

The farmer also has to protect the seed. It is the farmer’s job to make sure pests don’t damage his harvest. When an animal comes in to dig up the seed, his responsibility is to take that animal out. When an animal comes to dig up what’s been planted, his responsibility is to make sure nothing happens!

In your life, the “pest” is most often Satan whispering lies into your ear. You might even have well-meaning friends and family members telling you to move on and forget about the promise! Maybe you heard wrong, they might say. Maybe that’s not for you, they might believe! But your job in those moments is to protect the seed. Keep it in the ground – in an environment of faith – so it can take root and grow!

The Wind of God

Are there areas in your life where it seems like God has stopped moving? Are there seeds God has given you to plant that seem dead in the ground?

Do you remember God’s promise to Moses?

“Therefore say to the children of Israel: ‘I am the Lord; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I am the Lord your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. And I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and I will give it to you as a heritage: I am the Lord.’ ” – Exodus 6:6-8

He gave the promise to Moses as seed; but Moses had to protect it. When Pharaoh told Moses no, Moses had to protect it. When the people whined and complained that things were getting worse and not better, Moses had to protect it. Watch what happened when Moses brought God’s people to the edge of the Sea:

And when Pharaoh drew near, the children of Israel lifted their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians marched after them. So they were very afraid, and the children of Israel cried out to the Lord. Then they said to Moses, “Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt?”

And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” – Exodus 14:10-11, 13-14

Moses knew they didn’t have to fight the Egyptians. God had already promised He – not they – would defeat them! But Moses did have to stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord.

And the Angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud went from before them and stood behind them. So it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel. Thus it was a cloud and darkness to the one, and it gave light by night to the other, so that the one did not come near the other all that night. – Ex 14:19-20

Here is what God does as you’re waiting for His promise to unfold: He shields your vision. The Angel of God, who had been in front of God’s people, moved and went behind them. God knew His people were anxious. They were looking backward as their enemy chased them, instead of forward as God led them! So he blocked their view. He would not allow them to see the false future the enemy wanted them to believe.

I know this feeling. This past week, our 4-year-old son woke up in the middle of the night, barely breathing. My wife heard him first, and ran to help. I heard him trying to cough and catch his breath, and I was right behind her. We knew something was very wrong: he had had bronchitis before, but nothing like this. I threw on clothes, grabbed our boy, ran to the car and headed for the emergency room.

Two blocks into the drive, I pulled over and dialed 9-1-1. Our son had coughed, and couldn’t catch his breath. Cops pulled up within 60 seconds. The EMS was there one minute later. They immediately hooked him up to a nebulizer and gave him a steroid to open up his airways. The ambulance sped off, and I followed in the car.

When I was in that car, following my barely-breathing son in an ambulance, my mind tried to go to a dark place. You know exactly what I mean: in one moment, you start imagining everything that could go wrong. You start planning out the angry conversations you’re going to have with God if things don’t go your way! I had to make a decision in that moment to take my eyes off of what the enemy was doing, and put them back on what God was doing. God shielded my vision! I had to turn off the doubt and the fear, and put my eyes back on Jesus. I had to protect the seed!

When the enemy is right on your heels, don’t let your mind go into those dark places. God is going to do what He has promised to do! He will keep the promise alive.

One hour later, our son was stable and breathing well. We stayed in the emergency room overnight for observation, and headed home the following morning. God is faithful. He did everything He had promised to do. Our boy – the promise – is happy, healthy, and at home.

You see, even when God’s people didn’t see it, God was moving:

Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided. – Ex 14:21

Before the waters move, the wind blows. Sometimes we get so focused on the water – what has to move – that we miss the wind – what God is doing here and now. If the wind hadn’t blown, the waters wouldn’t have been divided! Are you hearing me?

God is moving. Take a moment to stop and ask Him, “Lord, what are You doing, here and now, in this moment?” Take your eyes off the waves, and open up your heart to the wind. He is moving; but if you keep focusing on what He isn’t doing, you will miss what He is doing! Don’t be so focused on seeing the water move that you can’t feel the wind blow!

So the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on the dry ground, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. – Ex 14:22

God turned the problem into protection. He used the Red Sea – the very thing that seemed like it was blocking God’s people from their destiny – to protect them as they passed through on dry land. He used those same waters to annihilate the enemy.

And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and when the morning appeared, the sea returned to its full depth, while the Egyptians were fleeing into it. So the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. – Ex 14:27

God Is Moving

Through that dream, I knew God was inviting me to believe in His promise like never before. We will get that building. He will do everything He promised to do. He always has, and He always will.

I woke up from that dream and took out my prayer journal. I started writing down every area in my life where God had given me a promise. I focused on the places where it didn’t feel like He was moving. I repented for my lack of faith. I asked Him to shield my vision: to take my eyes off what the enemy was doing, and put them back on the Cross. Then I prayed, “God, help me to feel the wind.”

God is moving. Can you feel it?

© Michael D. White, 2018. 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 262: The Word of God

The Daily Word: Wednesday, September 19th, 2018
Isaiah 30:12-33:9
Galatians 5:1-12
Psalm 63:1-11
Proverbs 23:22
For full text click here.
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Commentary from Pastor Michael White:
Behold, the name of the Lord comes from afar, burning with His anger, and His burden is heavy; His lips are full of indignation, and His tongue like a devouring fire. – Isaiah 30:27

God’s word is powerful; but it can be painful. “His lips are full of indignation, and His tongue like a devouring fire!” God’s word is not always easy to receive and pleasant to digest; but we always need to hear what He has to say!

Sometimes, God will give you – through His word, and through His voice in times of prayer – a light, encouraging word. He will tell you you’re on the right track, and to keep moving forward! He will tell you you’re taking steps in the right direction, and making good decisions.

At other times, however, He will invite you to correct your course. His Holy Spirit will challenge you to live a holier life: not to earn God’s affection, but because you have been set free and you already have it! But whatever He says, we do well to receive.

Sometimes the word will hurt; but it is always exactly what you need to hear.

Prayer:

Father, thank You for the power in Your word. I submit to Your word, in Jesus’ name. I know Your word is exactly what I need to hear, and I want to follow You like never before!

Archives
See commentary from this day in 2014.
See commentary from this day in 2015.
See commentary from this day in 2016.
See commentary from this day in 2017.

© Michael D. White, 2018. All rights reserved.

Day 261: Anchor In the Storm

The Daily Word: Tuesday, September 18th, 2018
Isaiah 28:14-30:11
Galatians 3:23-4:31
Psalm 62:1-12
Proverbs 23:19-21
For full text click here.
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Commentary from Pastor Michael White:
Therefore thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; whoever believes will not act hastily.” – Is 28:16

Whoever “believes “ will not act “hastily.” Faith grounds us. Faith keeps us from rushing into things. Faith keeps us from making silly mistakes and foolish decisions!

Without faith, we are like ships in a storm without an anchor. Life tosses us around, and we get separated from home. When the wind picks up and the waves get high, we lose sight of our purpose!

But faith grounds us. Faith is like an anchor that keeps us close to shore. No matter what happens in life, faith keeps us connected to God. No matter how bad the storms in life get, He is always there, waiting to guide us home!

Aren’t you happy you believe?

Prayer:

Father, thank You for faith! I know my faith keeps me grounded, and keeps me from making silly mistakes. I want to be grounded and connected to You, all of my life, in Jesus’ name!

Archives
See commentary from this day in 2014.
See commentary from this day in 2015.
See commentary from this day in 2016.
See commentary from this day in 2017.

© Michael D. White, 2018. All rights reserved.

Day 260: He Responds!

The Daily Word: Monday, September 17th, 2018
Isaiah 25:1-28:13
Galatians 3:10-22
Psalm 61:1-8
Proverbs 23:17-18
For full text click here.
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Commentary from Pastor Michael White:
Hear my cry, O God; attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. – Ps 61:1-2

God not only hears you cry; He also attends to your prayer. To hear is to listen; but to attend is to be present and respond. God is not a distant Creator who set the world in motion, only to withdraw and take His hand off your life. He is a present Father who listens, hears, and responds when you pray!

As much as you care about your destiny and calling, God cares even more. Aren’t you glad your Father in Heaven hears and responds to your prayers?

Prayer:

Father, thank You for hearing my prayer! Thank You for responding to my cry! Help me to remember that every day is an opportunity to be heard by You: my Father in Heaven. Help me to never take it for granted, in Jesus’ name.

Archives
See commentary from this day in 2014.
See commentary from this day in 2015.
See commentary from this day in 2016.
See commentary from this day in 2017.

© Michael D. White, 2018. All rights reserved.

Day 258: Public View || Private Eye

The Daily Word: Saturday, September 15th, 2018
Isaiah 19:1-21:17
Galatians 2:1-16
Psalm 59:1-17
Proverbs 23:13-14
For full text click here.
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Commentary from Pastor Michael White:
Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. – Gal 2:11-12

The Apostle Paul “withstood” Peter “to his face.” Peter was “to be blamed” because he acted one way when respected religious leaders were present, and another way when they were not around.

Are you the same person in public as you are in private? Would you behave the same way at home as you would at a dinner party? If you wouldn’t do something in front of your spiritual mentor(s), don’t do it at all! Jesus died to set you free; and the mark of true freedom is never having to hide from anyone.

Prayer:

Father, help me to be whom You call me to be at all times. I don’t want to hide anymore! Make me the same person in private, as I am in public, in Jesus’ name!

Archives
See commentary from this day in 2014.
See commentary from this day in 2015.
See commentary from this day in 2016.
See commentary from this day in 2017.

© Michael D. White, 2018. All rights reserved.

Day 257: Straight from the Source

The Daily Word: Friday, September 14th, 2018
Isaiah 15:1-18:7
Galatians 1:1-24
Psalm 58:1-11
Proverbs 23:12
For full text click here.
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Commentary from Pastor Michael White:
For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ. – Gal 1:12

The Apostle Paul knew Jesus. Yes, he intellectually knew about Him with his head; but he also relationally knew Him with his heart. He had something invaluable that no man or woman can fake: a relationship with Jesus Christ. And every ounce of revelation the Apostle Paul ever had came straight from the Source.

Paul didn’t get the revelation of Gospel truth from a course. He didn’t learn about Jesus in a teaching series! He got his revelation from the Source. He met Jesus, face to face; and he continued to seek Him every single day.

Do you need to hear from God? Sermons are great! Bible commentaries are good! But nothing compares to going straight to Jesus. Seek Him in prayer. As much as you want to know Him, He wants to know you more 

Prayer:

Father, help me to make time with You. I know You are speaking, and I want to make time to hear. I know You are teaching, and I want to make time to learn! Thank You for revelation, in Jesus’ name.

Archives
See commentary from this day in 2014.
See commentary from this day in 2015.
See commentary from this day in 2016.
See commentary from this day in 2017.

© Michael D. White, 2018. All rights reserved.

Day 256: Is God Angry With You?

The Daily Word: Thursday, September 13th, 2018
Isaiah 12:1-14:32
2 Corinthians 13:1-14
Psalm 57:1-11
Proverbs 23:9-11
For full text click here.
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Commentary from Pastor Michael White:
And in that day you will say: “O Lord, I will praise You; though You were angry with me, Your anger is turned away, and You comfort me.” – Is 12:1

God was angry with you. You were knee-deep in sin! He was calling you, but you didn’t listen. You did your own thing instead of following His word! You were far from perfect when He called you to perfection.

But the Cross of Jesus Christ changed all that. God isn’t angry with you anymore! His anger is turned away. Now, instead of being angry, He comforts you. He delights in you! He is pleased with you!

God is not mad at you anymore! Jesus took all God’s anger and wrath on the Cross; and that means there is none left for you. When you believe in Jesus, the only thing left for you is eternal, infinite love.

Prayer:

Father, I know You are not angry with me anymore! I am far from perfect; but Your Son Jesus Christ was perfect for me. Thank You for His sacrifice, in Jesus’ name!

Archives
See commentary from this day in 2014.
See commentary from this day in 2015.
See commentary from this day in 2016.
See commentary from this day in 2017.

© Michael D. White, 2018. All rights reserved.

Day 254: Get Zealous!

The Daily Word: Tuesday, September 11th, 2018
Isaiah 8:1-9:21
2 Corinthians 12:1-10
Psalm 55:1-23
Proverbs 23:4-5
For full text click here.
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Commentary from Pastor Michael White:
Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. – Is 9:7

What a promise! God was telling His people that a Messiah was coming, who would establish justice all over the world! His Kingdom would last forever, and there would be peace until the end of time! And how was it going to happen? The zeal of the Lord of hosts would perform it.

Zeal works. Passion performs! Being zealous gets things done! God’s passion would accomplish everything He had promised!

What are you passionate about? The more passion you have, the better your performance will be! Are you passionate for the things of God? Your effectiveness for the Kingdom depends on it!

Not passionate? Don’t panic. Ask God to make you zealous for the things that make Him zealous! Ask Him to move your heart for the things that move His! Passion is a gift; and once you have it, you will wake up every morning more motivated than ever!

Prayer:

Father, make me zealous! Make me passionate for the things You care about. I don’t want to waste my time and energy on anything that doesn’t move You. Move me, and motivate me to seek Your Kingdom, in Jesus’ name!

Archives
See commentary from this day in 2014.
See commentary from this day in 2015.
See commentary from this day in 2016.
See commentary from this day in 2017.

© Michael D. White, 2018. All rights reserved.