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Day 198: God’s Word

The Daily Word: Tuesday, July 17th, 2018
1 Chronicles 24:1-26:11
Romans 4:1-12
Psalm 13:1-6
Proverbs 19:15-16
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Commentary from Pastor Michael White:
He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul, but he who is careless of his ways will die. – Prov 19:16

God gave us His word for our good! God’s word keeps us on His path for us. When we keep His word close to our hearts, we will be fulfilled and full of life! But when we distance ourselves from His word, we leave room for sin to creep in.

Keep God’s word close to your heart. God’s word is not a rulebook meant to cramp your style and ruin your fun. God’s word is a lifetime of divine truths; and when you follow them, you will live out your design. You were created on purpose – for a reason! – to do something no one else on this earth can do. His word allows you to take that potential, and turn it into power!

Prayer:

Father, thank You for Your word! Help me to keep Your word close to my heart, all of my days. I want to follow You with all that I have, and all that I am, in Jesus’ name.

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

Day 197: Requirements for Salvation

The Daily Word: Monday, July 16th, 2018
1 Chronicles 22:1-23:32
Romans 3:9-31
Psalm 12:1-8
Proverbs 19:13-14
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Commentary from Pastor Michael White:
Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. – Rom 3:28

You are justified – or made righteous – by faith. Your salvation – complete and total forgiveness from sin, and right standing with God – has nothing to do with your deeds; it has everything to do with what Jesus has already done! Jesus already did all the work for you to make it to Heaven. All you have to do is participate in His plan!

You don’t have to work for God’s favor. You don’t have to try to be saved! Simply receive the salvation and favor Jesus already died for you to have. Pray, “Jesus, I believe in You!” – and believe it with all your heart – and it is done!

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. – Eph 2:8-9

Prayer:

Father, thank You that my salvation does not depend on me. Jesus died so that I could be free. Help me to receive everything He wants me to have – salvation, forgiveness, and healing – in Jesus’ name!

Archives
See commentary from this day in 2014.
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© Michael D. White, 2018. All rights reserved.

Day 196: You Don’t Have to Fight Alone!

The Daily Word: Sunday, July 15th, 2018
1 Chronicles 19:1-21:30
Romans 2:25-3:8
Psalm 11:1-7
Proverbs 19:10-12
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Commentary from Pastor Michael White:
Then he said, “If the Syrians are too strong for me, then you shall help me; but if the people of Ammon are too strong for you, then I will help you. Be of good courage, and let us be strong for our people and for the cities of our God. And may the Lord do what is good in His sight.” – 1 Chron 19:12-13

Israel was outnumbered! They were surrounded on every side! But Joab was not afraid, because he knew he was not alone.

Joab had an amazing gift: his brother, Abishai. If the Syrians started to overpower Joab and his army, Abishai would come and help; and if the Ammonites were too strong for Abishai, Joab would come and help! No matter what happened, these two brothers had each others’ backs. Neither would let the other fall.

I pray God would surround you with brothers and sisters like that. I pray that whenever the enemy has you surrounded, God would send people into your life to help fight! Thank God we don’t have to fight alone!

Prayer:

Father, thank You that I don’t have to fight alone! Thank You for giving me brothers and sisters who will stand by my side and contend for victory, in Jesus’ name. I will fight fearlessly, because You have already given me the victory!

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

Day 195: Responding to the Word

The Daily Word: Saturday, July 14th, 2018
1 Chronicles 16:37-18:17
Romans 2:1-24
Psalm 10:16-18
Proverbs 19:8-9
For full text click here.
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Commentary from Pastor Michael White:
“And now, O Lord, the word which You have spoken concerning Your servant and concerning his house, let it be established forever, and do as You have said.” – 1 Chron 17:23

David had just received an amazing word from God. God would carve out a permanent place for His people, where enemies could not threaten them. God would give David victory in battle, and “subdue all [David’s] enemies” (v 10). God would also “build [David] a house” (v 10)! God would establish David’s family as rulers over Israel, and Jesus – the King of kings – would pass through his bloodline.

But David didn’t just sit on the word. He responded. First, he thanked God in prayer:

Then King David went in and sat before the Lord; and he said: “Who am I, O Lord God? And what is my house, that You have brought me this far?” – 1 Chron 17:16

Then, he agreed with God’s promise:

…let it be established forever, and do as You have said. – 1 Chron 17:23; above

When you receive a word from God, how do you respond? Do you hope it will be true, or do you thank God as if it’s already true? Do you disagree with God by telling yourself His promise is to good to be true, or do you agree with God, just like David did? God is speaking to you on purpose; but you have to respond to His word!

Prayer:

Father, I believe You. I believe Your word! I know every promise You have spoken over me will come to pass, in Jesus’ name. Thank You for Your faithfulness. Help me to trust You like never before.

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

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

Prayer that Works

The following is an adaptation of the sermon ‘Prayer that Works’ preached by Pastor Michael White on Sunday, 7/8/2018, at CityLight Church. To listen to the full podcast please click the play arrow above.

Prayer that Works

Have you ever been through a period in your life where it felt like every prayer you prayed worked right away? When I first gave my life to Jesus, I experienced this. I prayed for a promotion at work, and I got it. When a family member was going through health complications, I prayed for healing and she received it. I met the woman of my dreams, and I prayed the relationship would work (she is now my wife)! It was like every prayer I prayed was immediately effective.

I’ve also been through times in my life when it felt like prayers went unanswered. So, what is the difference between effective and ineffective prayer? What was the difference-maker in times when I saw one answer to prayer after another?

The Bible tells us there is such a thing as “effective” prayer. The implication is there also is such a thing as ineffective prayer. So wouldn’t it be a good use of our time to discover the difference?

What Makes Prayer Effective?

Here is how James encouraged the early church to pray:

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit. – Jas 5:13-18

There are several important points in this passage. First, prayer works. Prayer is the remedy to suffering, sickness, and sin. Second, prayer produces. Prayer produces joy, healing, and forgiveness. Third, there are different types of prayer. You can pray for yourself, or you can “confess your trespasses to one another” (v 16) so other people can pray for you!

But let’s hone in on verse 16: “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” To “avail much” means to get stuff done. In other words, the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man (or woman!) works! We all want prayer that works, don’t we? So what does it mean for our prayers to be 1) effective, 2) fervent, and 3) righteous?

1) Effective. The dictionary defines “effective” as “successful in producing a desired or intended result.”[1] Our prayers should be results-driven. We should pray specific prayers that have a measurable (i.e. objective and quantifiable) impact. When you prayed for a raise, what dollar-amount did you ask for? Did you get it? What was your salary (or hourly wage) before you started praying, and how did it change as a result of your prayer? If you can’t measure the impact your prayer actually has, how will you know if it really works?

2) Righteous. Scripture tells us that in order for our prayers to work, we have to be righteous. So what does it mean to be righteous?

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. – 2 Cor 5:21

To be righteous means to believe in Jesus: not just that He was a prophet or an important historical figure, but that He is King of kings and Lord of lords! When you make Jesus Lord of your life, you become the righteousness of God. You don’t just have His righteousness, leaving you in a state where you can lose it; you are His righteousness, which leaves you in a state where your position to pray effective prayer is guaranteed!

3) Fervent. We saved this characteristic of “prayer that works” for last because I believe it’s the most difficult to truly understand. In English, we define “fervent” as “having or displaying a passionate intensity.[2]” This is where we sometimes get lost as the church. We think fervent prayers have to be emotional. The more passionate intensity we display, the better! When we see someone who is crying and weeping as they pray, we think, Wow, God must really be moving in that prayer.

But emotional intensity does not always translate into prayerful efficacy. Showing more emotion doesn’t necessarily make your prayer more effective. In the original Greek translation of James 5:16, the word we translate as “fervent” is actually the Greek word energeo.[3] which means “to be operative, to be at work, or to put forth power.” This is where we get the English word energy. So “fervent prayer” gets things moving. Energeo prayer creates power that is derived from the effective utilization of resources.

Let me illustrate this with an example. When I was in college, my parents took me out for dinner to celebrate my birthday. We went to a restaurant called the Grist Mill. The restaurant was situated right on a river; and at the back of the restaurant, there was a giant wooden wheel. As the water from the river flowed over the wheel, the wheel started turning. Back when the restaurant was a mill, the turning wheel would power a mechanism that would grind grain (i.e. grist).

In other words, the mill was powered by harnessing the energy of the water. This is how fervent prayer works. It’s not that you’re using more energy than necessary. That would be a waste! You are not a generator, trying to produce powerful prayer on your own. Fervent prayer means channeling something powerful that God has already given you, and maximizing the impact it has on the work that needs to get done!

You see, God has already given you His word. That is the wheel; when you put it to work as He intended you to use it, things will start to get done in your life. The Holy Spirit is moving like those waters at the mill. He is ready and willing to put motion to your prayers! But you have to use the word to harness what the Holy Spirit is doing!

Do you see it? Fervent prayer doesn’t necessarily mean praying with passionate emotional intensity; it means harnessing the move of God’s Holy Spirit by praying what God wants you to pray, instead of what you want to pray for yourself. It means using the word of God to harness the move of the Holy Spirit!

Elijah Prayed

Whenever I see someone pray powerful prayers in Scripture, I take note. Scripture says, “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months” (Jas 5:17). What made Elijah’s prayers so special?

Elijah was a human being, just like you and me. In other words, what made his prayers so special was not something inherent about his physical makeup or character composition. It was not some extremely rare character trait or part of his nature. He was just like us! But how many times have you ever held back the rain? He was a human being just like us; but there was something Elijah was doing that made his prayers powerful and effective.

Scripture tells us how Elijah declared the drought James describes:

And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.”

Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “Get away from here and turn eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.”

So he went and did according to the word of the Lord, – 1 Kings 17:1-5

The pattern we see in verses 2-5 allows us to interpret the boldness we see in verse 1. Here was the pattern in Elijah’s life: Elijah received the word, and then he did what God told him to do! He didn’t declare a drought because he thought it would be cool if it didn’t rain! He didn’t have plans to go to the beach! He had the word of God: Elijah, I want you to go to King Ahab and declare a drought. So then he went out and declared what God told him to say.

This is fervent prayer. Elijah got a word from the Lord, and went out and declared it by faith. He didn’t flinch. He didn’t stop to wonder what would happen if the result to his prayers didn’t come. He simply made a decision to partner with the Holy Spirit by using the word of the Lord he had been given. He was harnessing the power of something moving that was bigger than him, and declaring effective prayer based on the strength of that movement!

Last week[4] we talked about “praying what you see.” God will show us something in His word (the written word, or logos). He will show us something in prayer (the spoken word, or rhema). Our responsibility is to take that word, and declare it by faith. We participate in what the Holy Spirit is doing by using his word to get God’s work done in prayer.

Once Elijah had God’s word, he knew his prayers were as good as answered. Here is why:

For You have magnified Your word above all Your name. – Psalm 138:2

God exalts (i.e. holds) His word above His name. The Jewish people would not even utter or record the name of God because they had such a reverence and an awe for God’s power. Yet here is God saying, if you want real power, use my word!

When God declares something, it is as good as done! And fervent prayer means taking what God has said, and declaring it by faith!

The Question You Have to Ask Yourself

Here is the question you have to ask yourself as you read this: are your prayers based on the word of God? Or are they emotional appeals based on your feelings?

If your prayers are based on emotional appeals, there is no guarantee they will be answered. But when your prayers are based on the word of God, you can declare them with complete confidence, just as Elijah did!

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. – 1 Jn 5:14-15

© 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.

[1] http://bit.ly/2mgQome

[2] http://bit.ly/2mglNFq

[3] Strong’s G1754

[4] http://intelligentcharismatic.com/pray-what-you-see/

Day 194: God Helped

The Daily Word: Friday, July 13th, 2018
1 Chronicles 15:1-16:36
Romans 1:18-32
Psalm 10:1-15
Proverbs 19:6-7
For full text click here.
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Commentary from Pastor Michael White:
And so it was, when God helped the Levites who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord, that they offered seven bulls and seven rams. – 1 Chron 15:26

The Levites had an important responsibility! They would carry the ark of the covenant into Jerusalem. Everyone was watching! A slip-up or mistake could be deadly. But God gave them an important promise: I will help you.

The Levites could not carry the ark until God helped them. What has God called you to carry? What has He put you on this earth to do? You cannot do it without His help. Ask His Holy Spirit to strengthen you, so you can do all that is required.

If we try and walk out our calling without asking the Holy Spirit for help, we will fail. But if we insist on relying on God for help, He will fill us with the strength we need.

Prayer:

Father, strengthen me in Jesus’ name! I know you put me on this earth to do Your work. Strengthen me to get it done, 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 193: A Servant First

The Daily Word: Thursday, July 12th, 2018
1 Chronicles 12:19-14:17
Romans 1:1-17
Psalm 9:13-20
Proverbs 19:4-5
For full text click here.
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Commentary from Pastor Michael White:
Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God… – Rom 1:1

Paul was a servant first. Yes, he was called to be an apostle. Yes, he was separated to the Gospel! But his first calling was to serve Jesus.

God has big plans for you. He created you to do something no one else can do! You have a calling, a purpose, and a destiny. But you are a servant first. As you walk out your service to Jesus, everything else will fall into place.

Prayer:

Father, remind me that I am a servant first. Help me to never lose sight of the amazing things You have done for me! I want to serve You with my life, in Jesus’ name!

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

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

Day 192: David Dwelt

The Daily Word: Wednesday, July 11th, 2018
1 Chronicles 11:1-12:18
Acts 28:1-31
Psalm 9:1-12
Proverbs 19:1-3
For full text click here.
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Commentary from Pastor Michael White:
Then David dwelt in the stronghold; therefore they called it the City of David. – 1 Chron 11:7

When David came to Jebus, the inhabitants said, “You shall not come in here” (v 5)! But David took the city. He did what his enemy said could not be done. Several verses later, we see that David not only defeated the city and overcame the odds; he dwelt there. That city was no longer called Jebus; it had become the City of David.

David dwelt – i.e. made a home in – the very place his enemy said was off limits. What has Satan tried to convince you is off limits? A stable job? A loving family? A restored relationship with God Himself? When the enemy says you can’t have it, take it as a challenge. You will not only take it; you will dwell there, and live in the promise of God.

Prayer:

Father, thank You for victory over my enemies! I am so grateful for the victory You have given me in Jesus Christ. I will crush Satan under my feet, in Jesus’ name.

Archives
See commentary from this day in 2014.
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© Michael D. White, 2018. All rights reserved.

Day 191: Out of the Mouth of Babes

The Daily Word: Tuesday, July 10th, 2018
1 Chronicles 9:1-10:14
Acts 27:21-44
Psalm 8:1-9
Proverbs 18:23-24
For full text click here.
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Commentary from Pastor Michael White:

Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength, because of Your enemies, that You may silence the enemy and the avenger. – Psalm 8:2

The strength of your prayers is not dependent on your strength; it is dependent on God’s strength. He has ordained strength out of the mouths of all his children: even babies and nursing infants! In other words, because His word is so strong, the strength of the vessel does not matter.

He made our words strong on purpose. He gave us strong speech so that He can silence the enemy and the avenger with our prayers! God’s greatest desire is to partner with you – through prayer – to cause His will to come to pass on this earth.

Your prayers are a weapon. Your prayers can tear down strongholds. Your prayers can stop suffering, sickness, and sin in their tracks! Your prayers can cast out demons and disease. Your prayers are strong and powerful!

Prayer:

Father, thank You for powerful prayers. Thank You for ordaining strength out of my mouth, even when I feel my weakest. I am weak, but You are strong in me.

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

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

Day 190: Time to Move On

The Daily Word: Monday, July 9th, 2018
1 Chronicles 7:1-8:40
Acts 27:1-20
Psalm 7:1-17
Proverbs 18:22
For full text click here.
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Commentary from Pastor Michael White:
Then Ephraim their father mourned many days, and his brethren came to comfort him. And when he went in to his wife, she conceived and bore a son; and he called his name Beriah… – 1 Chron 7:22-23

Ephraim was heartbroken. The men of Gath killed his sons because they wanted to “take away their cattle” (v 21). This was a tragic loss of life for a petty material reason. So what did Ephraim do?

First, he mourned. Mourning is healthy. Mourning is good! As we mourn, we celebrate the impact someone has had on our life, after they are no longer with us. We thank God for the time we got to spend with them. We grapple with life’s big questions. Mourning is necessary for healing to take place.

But then, he moved on. Mourning that lasts too long turns into unhealthy grief. Whereas healthy mourning empowers us to move forward, unhealthy grief paralyzes us looking backwards. Ephraim went in to his wife, and they had another son. They recognized that, after they had taken time to mourn, it was important to move on.

Where have you experienced loss in your life? Did you give yourself time to mourn? And did you give yourself permission to move on?

Prayer:

Father, help me to grieve in healthy ways. Tell me when it’s time to mourn, and tell me when it’s time to move on! I want to move forward, stronger than ever, 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.