Today’s Scripture: Revelation 21:3-4
(3) And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. (4) And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
So, we’re five days into this Christmas Devotional Series…and it’s kind of fun counting down till Christmas by doing this. It’s been a fantastic couple of messages already, and I’m thrilled that this series has turned out as good as it has. I’m excited to see what’s yet to come, but in the mean time…let’s see what we can learn from today’s song: “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear.
Today’s Message: “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear”
“Peace on the earth, goodwill to men
From heavens all gracious King!”
Perhaps the best known line from this song is these two right here. At least when I think of this song, these are the words that come to mind. You know, it’s interesting that when Jesus detected fear within His disciples…His first words to them were: “Peace be with you.” The first thing He wanted to do was comfort them. We talked yesterday about the peace of God, and how it’s found in His presence. However, it’s also found in God’s spoke word to us. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in turmoil over something in my life, and I heard that still small voice say: “Be still”. In fact, one of the songs that always ministers to me is Steven Curtis Chapman’s “Be Still”. It’s based upon Psalms 46:10 (KJV): “Be still, and know that I am God.”.
I spoke yesterday about how when God spoke to me about certain things that I’d be asked to do for Him from time to time that I found myself a bit intimidated by what He was asking me to do…and what He did was quickly give me the peace and comfort of knowing that He wasn’t going to ask me to do anything that He wasn’t going to walk with me in. He was saying to me: “Be still, and know that I am God.”
How many of you know…when God says: “Be still, and know that I am God.” that gives you an immediate cause to be at peace, and even forget whatever it was that had you in such an uproar…Amen!?!
When the angels first sang about peace on Earth and goodwill to all men, the shepherds must have wondered what was going on. They certainly didn’t hear angelic choirs everyday , and First Century Palestine was hardly a peaceful place. The streets buzzed with rumors of revolution and the tension often boiled over into violence. Society was split along lines of gender, race, wealth and religion, and the shepherds themselves were only a few rungs above beggars on the social ladder. For some of us, Christmas itself is a time to be with friends and family, but for others it reminds us that we are alone or separated from loved ones. Two thousand years later, we seem to be as far as ever from Heaven on Earth.
You know. The interesting thing to me is that when Jesus confronted the world…He confronted it with that sword that He spoke of, and while I know that He had to rebuke His disciples every now and again…He confronted them with peace. I would think that might give us all cause to be at peace. He deals with us differently than He does the world. He loves the world so much that He gave His Son for it, but those of us who are His…He wants us to know His love, His peace, His mercy, His grace, and that’s something that while I understand He’s no respecter of person…gives me a bit of peace as well.
When He says through Paul that He will cause all things to work together for good, but He said He would do that for who? Those who are HIS and called according to HIS purpose, and that tells me that there are things that we can experience as believers that the rest of the world cannot…until they become believers.
Listen, Jesus told us that people would be separated into two groups: sheep and goats, and today we know that there are two groups of people: believers and non-believers, saved and unsaved, saint or sinner, children of disobedience or children of God…so…while God’s no respecter of person…there’s clearly things we have access to that the rest of the world doesn’t…until they too become whosoever’s who call upon the name of the Lord.
For some of us, Christmas itself is a time to be with friends and family, but for others it reminds us that we are alone or separated from loved ones. Two thousand years later, we seem to be as far as ever from Heaven on Earth.
You know, I know what it’s like to spend the holiday’s alone. The first time was during Marine Corps Basic Training. Yes, that’s right. Twenty years ago today, I was still at MCRD San Diego making my way towards earning the coveted title of United States Marine. I have spent two Thanksgivings and Christmases in jail. I know how it feels to be alone and separated by loved ones during the holiday’s.
Can I tell you something, though. The worst feeling in the world as bad as being alone on the holiday’s feels it’s nothing compared to the feeling that I have when I feel like I’m separated from God. I’m certainly not always as close to God as I’d like to be, but when I feel separated from Him…there’s nothing worse then that feeling. There’s a gnawing deep down within me that is just unsatisfied no matter what I do or try. There’s an indescribable emptiness that accompanies it. The only thing that satisfies the gnawing and emptiness is being in God’s presense…and that’s because we were all created with a God-sized hole…that can only be filled by Him.
I also know what it’s like to try to fill that hole with things other than God. That’s why I’ve been through so many relationships. I thought that each woman would be that person that would fulfill the void, but they didn’t. Can I tell you that as much as I love my wife, and as much as she completes me…even she isn’t able to fill that void that’s left when I stray away from God? Listen, you can’t get more personal and intimate than husband and wife, and even my marriage isn’t enough to fulfill that void or emptiness when I sense I’m distant from God.
I know that’s not a very romantic thing to say, but it’s honest. It’s sincere, and I’d rather be honest and sincere with you than try to be rosy and romantic. God is the only One that can fill that space that’s vacated when He’s not in it. I can’t be anymore sincere than that. I suppose some of you will be offended by that, but be that as it may…it doesn’t change what I’ve learned by experience.
Many people in the First Century were expecting a quick fix for the world’s problems, and of course that didn’t happen. It still hasn’t happened. But Christmas reminds us of God’s promise to bring in a kingdom where wars, injustice and even death will be a thing of the past, and where we will live together with God. That’s our hope. God does have a plan. The best really is to come.
The words “microwave generation” comes to mind, but the problem is there’s a age-old principle that is at work called seed…time…harvest. You know, not everything is going to happen for us over night? Do you know that things aren’t always going to happen right way…we talked before in our series on prayer about how some times God’s answer is simply “wait”.
Everyone wants the quick fix, but no one really wants to wait for God to do any thing. I have learned that God is not moved one iota by my sense of urgency. He’s not moved by the needs of my circumstances, and He’s not concerned one bit about what my perceived time-table is…because He’s not bound by time.
I prayed for years for a good woman to by my help mate, and become my wife. I met several along the way that I though might be the one, but it took all the way till November of 2010 for me to meet the woman who God would say: “She’s the one”. Don’t you know that I found myself kinda like Abraham did when Ishmael came to be. I meet a bunch of women who produced Ishmael’s in my life, but when I met my wife…she’s the one that produced Jacob.
What does that mean? My efforts lead to a temporary fix, but God’s means lead to a woman who I’m gonna spend the rest of my life married to. She’s the exact right person for me. God knew exactly who He had in mind for me. Abraham’s promise what Jacob, but he wanted that quick fix and wound up with something produced by flesh. Today, Ishmael (the Muslim’s) and Jacob (Israel) are still fighting one another.
In other words…our quick fixes are no match for God’s perfect plan. He knows exactly what we need in every situation. My job is a perfect example of that. I prayed that God would bless me with a job that would enable me to work and be able to write messages for this ministry. The job I have now, I work early in the morning, normally I write my messages in the afternoon, and then I’m able to have free time till it’s time to go to bed. It’s the perfect job for what I need. The hours are hard on me, but the job is exactly what I asked for…and it took me about 6 months to find it.
Here’s a key, however. When it comes to my job I do what I do as unto the Lord. In other words, I do my job as though Jesus is my Employer. I show up to work on time every day, and I do my best to take care of my job, my customers, my displays…and I have finally been rewarded for my faithfulness. However, the reward has also come with a price. I have to learn yet again to balance work, life, ministry, marriage, and private time with the Lord. I am blessed beyond measure, but the key is to not grow weary in the waiting…otherwise you produce another Ishmael that will constantly be in conflict with the Jacob’s in your life…how’s that for an illustration…Amen!?!
In the meantime, God continues to show his love to us in so many ways. He provides for our needs. He answers our prayers. He invites us to start living today like citizens of the kingdom that has not yet been fully revealed. We can love one another as Christ loved us here and now. We can show his compassion and his unconditional acceptance to others today. We can experience a foretaste of the new Heaven and Earth right now. We can share that experience with others. And we can do all this in the knowledge that God’s Kingdom will prevail and that the whole of creation will one day see the truth that those shepherds heard on a remote, Palestinian hillside.
God is faithful, Christlike Ministries NWA Family. He truly is. He is our provider, and He does hear and answer our prayers. However, He answers them based upon what His perfect will for our lives are. Some times, He has allowed things to come in to my life that weren’t quite right, and I see that now because when He brings me things that are exactly what He wanted…don’t you know His perfect will…His perfect provision…His blessings are…well…perfect. Exactly right, exactly what we need, and let me also add that while you might get tired of hearing that God is never early or late, but right on time…the truth is…God is never early, God is never late…He is ALWAYS right on time.
He loves us, and wants all of His perfect plans for our lives to come to pass. He doesn’t want us to rely upon ourselves to receive them, however. Some things He may bless us with right away, some things He may not grant us because He knows that they will not only not be a blessing but hinder our dependence upon Him, and most things in order to get perfect…you’re going to have to wait.
Think of how long it takes real…genuine diamonds to become flawless gems. How many of you know that while there is technology out there that speeds up the process…those genetically altered diamonds aren’t as perfectly flawless as the ones that take time to be made? What’s my point? If you can find a really good jeweler they know the difference between the genetically altered diamonds, and the ones that take time to form. In our lives we may not be able to notice the flaws in our ways, but when we look at the things that God does in our lives versus what we’ve done in our own strength…nothing compares to God’s work.
Listen, I’m 38 years old. God called me to ministry almost 12 years ago, and my ministry is almost 1-year-old. How can that be? Until January of 2011…I was still undergoing the process of becoming ready to be a qualified ambassador for Christ. I’m certainly not flawless, but I’m still going through the process. God’s taking more and more of my flaws away…and replacing them with the perfection of the image of His Son.
Don’t you know…God wants to do the same in everyone’s lives? The problem is in this microwave generation…if what’s asked for isn’t done over night…then you get the people who say that this “God stuff doesn’t work”. Well…you’re right. It doesn’t work on YOUR time table…it works on His. The sooner you understand that…the sooner you’ll find like I have…God’s way not only works but it works better than mine…and it’ll work better than yours too. Amen!?!
Be A Doer…Not Just A Reader:
Here’s a good one for you to ponder on…
What one thing could you change to give those around you a foretaste of God’s Kingdom of peace?
I am sorry for getting behind, but like I said in the message I’m trying to learn how to balance everything again on the fly. I’m learning a new route, I’m learning a new routine, I’m trying to work at staying on time with these messages, and it’s been a challenge. I’m grateful for it though…because I am getting this route because I’m trusted and being counted on to bring us more business…and if it goes well…then there’s a pretty good chance that I’ll be taken care of some more too.
So…I’m enjoying this series…and I know we’re a day behind…but I’ll get us caught up…and we will finish this series on time on Christmas Eve…and I’m trusting the Lord to help me get there. I appreciate your patience, and I ask for your prayers…they’re much needed these days.
I hope you’ll come back tomorrow…and I thank all of you who are following along.
“Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 1:2)
Blessings & Grace to you
Bryan J. Kizer
Christlike Ministries NWA