Today’s Scripture:  Numbers 9:2

Let the children of Israel also keep the passover at his appointed season.

Introduction:

Greetings Christlike Ministries NWA Family…and welcome to 2013.  I believe this is going to be a fantastic year for so many reasons, and that 2013 is going to be a year where we build upon what God’s already started with this ministry.  I read my 2012 year in review, and was astonished, but humbled to find that we’ve reached over 100 countries last year.  I am so excited about that.  That’s the best news I’ve read on the impact and reach of this ministry, and I’m looking forward to seeing if we can reach 200 this year.

This year, I’m going to move away from relying on YouVersion, and use an actual 365 day devotional.  As you might notice, we’re 5 days into January, but I’m going to start this on day one and work through it as best we can.  I’m not quite able to fully balance my day yet, but I’m getting closer.  I stayed home from church this morning because I know I’m going to have to work tonight, and I’m also trying to rest my body a little bit.  I’ve also not really had much time where it’s just me and the Lord…and so while I know skipping church isn’t a good thing…some times…we have to listen to our bodies and also know that we don’t need to be in church to encounter God…I sense His presence right now…and therefore I know it’s time to get into this message.

The title of this Devotional is Embracing Faith, and like I said it’s a 365 day devotional.  I know we’re going to get some good stuff from this devotional, and I am trusting God to really speak to us and teach us how to grow, mature, and embrace our faith…and develop a deeper and more intimate relationship with Him…after all…how many of you know it’s impossible to please God without faith!?!

So, I think that with all the political and financial uncertainty that we’re facing today…this devotional may actually be right on time…so let’s pray and get into today’s message…Amen!?!

Opening Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank You for a fantastic 2012, and for leading us into 2013.  I thank You, Lord for leading me to this Embracing Faith devotional, and I pray that You will teach us, inspire us, correct us, and challenge us through it.  Most of all, I pray that You will help us to grow, mature, and have a deeper and more intimate relationship with You.  Help our faith to grow, and unbelief to shrink.  Let us each encounter You, but let us all know of Your love, Your grace, Your mercy, and Your presence.  Help us, Lord, to become more committed followers of You, and to walk closer with You…and help us to develop unwavering faith in You, Your Word, and help us to know our place in You is secure.  I pray for every reader that You will touch their lives, and that they will not be the same at the end of 2013 as they are now…at the beginning.

I pray that You will continue to help me to become a better writer, and that the Holy Spirit would give me the supernatural utterance and ability to speak only of the oracles of You…speaking that which You would have me to speak.  I pray that my words would impart grace, faith, and love.  I pray that I would speak Your Truth, that I would speak it in love, and that there would be open minds and hearts and ears to hear, receive, and walk out those things that You would have to say to us through these messages.  I pray that I would grow, and that I wouldn’t be the same at the end of 2013 as I am today in the beginning.

I pray and ask for the guidance of the Holy Ghost now as I begin to write today’s message…and that You would speak through me.  We give You all the praise, all the glory, and all of the honor…In Jesus’ name…Amen & Amen

Today’s Message:

The Israelites were commanded to celebrate the Passover, their deliverance from Egypt.  It’s crazy, but some times – even most of the time – people need to be reminded to celebrate: to appreciate, to be thankful, to remember.

As I think about what was said here, I am reminded that I am one of those people who needs to be reminded to celebrate.  Most who know me know that I am very unassuming about what I’m doing at work, at home, or through this ministry.  For instance, I am thankful that our first anniversary of this ministry is upon us, but the most important thing to me is that we’ve reached 109 countries…and the some 200 people who are following this ministry  in one way or another.  I am stunned that the Lord has used me to impact as many lives as I have in just the first year, and what we’ve done through Christlike Ministries NWA is far greater than anything I could have imagined.

I think about how I am at work where I have been promoted to an extremely important route for our store, and that the route I’m doing has become the only route that’s profitable for the store.  I think about the coming Kizer baby this August.  I think about another year of marriage to be celebrated with Mrs. Kizer.  I think about a lot of these things…and how I still have to be reminded that it’s okay to celebrate.

I think about how my Washington Redskins won the NFC East, my Wisconsin Badgers got to play in their 3rd straight Rose Bowl (and even though they lost I was glad for another successful year for them), and how my Chicago White Sox had a good season last year and I’m looking forward to them hopefully having another good one this year.

There’s a lot of reasons for me to celebrate, but yet…I need to be reminded that it’s okay to do that.  It’s okay to take some of the credit for the success of the route I’m doing for Krispy Kreme.  It’s okay to be excited when my sports teams do well.  It’s okay to celebrate the fact that I’m going to be a father, and another year of marriage.  It’s okay to celebrate the first year of this ministry, and it’s really okay to celebrate that we’re 200 strong and reaching 100 nations.

I’ll tell you one thing that it’s not hard for me to do or be, and that’s thankful.  I am blessed beyond measure by all that God’s doing in, with, and through my life.  I think back to a year ago, and if you’d have told me that I was going to reach over 200 people and 100 countries I would’ve told you that’s way too many people…but we serve a big God…and in today’s world with social networks and blogging sites…what a better way for me to take my place in God’s Kingdom by reaching nations from right here in my living room.

God has done some amazing things in my life, and the best part is that all that has happened is just the beginning.  There’s more to come, and I’m excited about all of it.  I am really excited to find out what God has in mind for Christlike Ministries NWA, and working with Him to build upon what we’ve started…and continue to grow it to reach more people, more countries, and most importantly…impact your life…yes…you…the one reading.

The goal and purpose of this ministry isn’t the masses…it’s you.  It’s helping you to develop and maintain your relationship with God.  I remember many years ago when God first called me to minister to His sheep He said this:  “Quality sheep are just as important as quantity.”  I want to help each of you to become quality sheep.  I want you to have the faith to step out and start your own blog, go to that country that God’s calling you to go to, speak to that neighbor God’s got on your heart, or simply to impact your family.

My job is to equip you while being equipped myself for the work of the ministry.  Whatever your work of the ministry is…that’s between you and God…but I take seriously the charge to “feed My sheep”, and that’s the thing I celebrate the most…I’m feeding over 200 sheep…and I’m thankful for each one of you.

Celebrations are fun but often mean a lot of work.  For example, the Passover feast required many preparations.  Lambs had to be slaughtered, and other specific rituals precisely followed.  Concerning the Passover, verse 3 says to “celebrate it at the appointed time, at twilight on the fourteenth day of this month, in accordance with all its rules and regulations.”  Most celebrations don’t have to be so elaborate, but they still require a concerted effort to make them meaningful.

As mentioned, the Kizer family has a new addition on the way, and there’s quite the planning that goes in to preparing for baby Kizer’s arrival.  At some point, I would assume that there’s going to be a baby shower or two for my wife.  It’s a lot like preparing for marriage.  Some times the groom and his grooms men will get together for the Bachelor party which takes lots of preparation.  The same with the Bridal party that gets together to put on a Bridal shower.

We just finished going through the Holidays beginning with Thanksgiving.  There was a lot of planning as far as menus, where the dinners were going to be, Christmas parties, and of course New Year’s parties.  There’s always a lot of preparation and planning that goes into these things.

However, all the planning and preparation are necessary when you think about it.  I mean, you wouldn’t celebrate a 50th Wedding Anniversary like you would a 1st, would you?  You might have a different celebration for a college graduation then you would a high school graduation.  The way we celebrate things today is much different than the way the Israelites did, but for certain events I suppose we do still do a lot of planning and preparation like they did for the Passover.

I do know that a well planned celebration is a lot of fun, and that some times the planning and preparing is just as fun.  I just hope that we take a little more time this year to appreciate and be thankful.  I know I am learning to be more appreciative of the little things in life…I suppose that comes with age and wisdom…but I am certainly learning to not take anything in life for granted anymore…and that includes finding time to celebrate.

Surprisingly, celebration comes hard for many Christians.  Rather than being party people, we’re often seen as sober killjoys.  Yet of all people, we have the best reason to celebrate, for God has come into our world by His Son to bring us new life.  And if we are going to celebrate that, then New Year’s Day is a great time to start.

I celebrated New Year’s Day by getting up at 2am to deliver doughnuts, but I agree completely with the point made here.  We, as Christians, have the greatest reason of all to celebrate.  God made it possible for us to have a secure, doubtless relationship with Him through His Son.  Friends, no other god offers that to those who practice that religion.  Muhammad doesn’t offer that.  Buddha doesn’t offer that.  Hinduism doesn’t offer that.  No other god of no other religion in the world offers you the ability to have a personal relationship with Him…and that’s reason enough for us as Christians to always have an attitude of gratitude and be thankful…Amen!?!

At the end of the football playoffs some of us are going to have an opportunity to celebrate when our team becomes Super Bowl Champions, and while that celebration might be a good time…let us never forget to take time out each day to celebrate and be thankful that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that those of us who believe upon Him and call Him Lord can be saved and assured that we have a relationship with Him.

I do believe that 2013 is going to be a great year…the theme for this year is summed up in one word:  “Abide”.  The more we abide in Him…the more reason we’re going to have to celebrate.

Closing Prayer:

Lord, throughout the coming year, help us to remember who You are and what You have done in, with, and through our lives.  Help us to not just remember, but respond more with praise, adoration, and celebration.  To You, Lord, be all the glory, all the honor, and all of the praise.  In Jesus’ name we pray…and everyone says…Amen!

Conclusion:

Well, Christlike Ministries NWA family, it was great to get back in front of the old computer, and get back to doing what I love. I’ve missed being able to sit down, and write. I am sorry that it’s been so long in between messages, but I’m getting closer to being able to do this again on a more regular basis.

I have a reason to be thankful and celebrate…and that reason is for those of you who continue to support and follow this ministry. I’m truly thankful for all of you, and hope that this devotional will be a blessing to us, and to our walk with the Lord…Amen!?!

God bless all of you, and thank you for the honor and privilege of being able to write messages that speak and hopefully impart into your lives.
Blessings & Grace to you
Bryan J. Kizer
Christlike Ministries NWA

“My love be with you all in Christ Jesus.” 1 Corinthians 16:24 (KJV)