Scripture References: Acts 3:19, Acts 16:31

Introduction:

At last, we’re at the last message in this series.  I don’t know about you, but I think it’s been a pretty good one.  Even though only a handful of you actually took the time to vote I want to thank you for being willing to be involved.  You guys selected a fantastic series that I think we were taught a lot more than how to find joy.  We talked a lot on how we ought to not be so judgmental, and we did talk some about how to find joy too.  I never really know what to expect when I start writing, but as long as we rely upon the Holy Ghost…we always write exactly what’s on the mind of God for us to talk about…and that’s more important to me than sticking to the topic.  At least it’s more important to me.

So, let’s get into the last message in this series, and see what it is the Holy Ghost would have to speak to us today, and see how all of this ties in to helping us in our quest for joy. Amen!?!

Today’s Message:  “The Benefits of Repenting and Trusting.”

Well, when I think about the title of today’s message the first thing I think of is that the main benefit of repenting is that we’re removed from darkness to light, from eternal life in hell to eternal life in heaven, and that we were once strangers with God…but through repentance we become sons and daughters of the Most High God.  I don’t know about you, but knowing that God is my Daddy…that’s enough to give me joy for the rest of my time on this earth.  I am sure that I don’t have to spend much time talking about the benefits of trusting God…do I!?!  I mean, two of the most quoted and paraphrased Proverbs talk about this important aspect of the Christian’s walk with God.  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not upon your own understanding.  Acknowledge Him in all your ways, and He will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

So, let’s see where the Holy Ghost leads. Believe and pray with me that He will take over this message, and that He will do the speaking through my ready fingers.  That I’ll write only of the oracles of God, that He’ll supply me with that supernatural ability to speak with utterance and unction that only comes from Him.  That I’ll write with clarity, boldness, and that all those who read this message will have ears to hear, eyes to see, and hearts that are receptive, responsive, and sealed with the word in which I’m about to write.  Let’s believe that we will all be changed, challenged, and transformed by what we read…Amen!?!

“Repent” means to turn from all the deceitful promises of sin. “Faith” means being satisfied with all that God promises to be for us in Jesus. “He who believes in me,” Jesus says, “shall never thirst” (John 6:35). We do not earn our salvation. We cannot merit it (Romans 4:4-5). It is by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). It is a free gift (Romans 3:24). We will have it if we cherish it above all things (Matthew 13:44). When we do that, God’s aim in creation is accomplished: He is glorified in us and we are satisfied in him forever.

When we accept God’s free gift of salvation (and we know that the word saved is the word sozo…and that it means we’re completely saved, sanctified, justified, and in right standing with God) God’s am in creation is accomplished.  Think about that.  Friends, when God created Adam and Eve…He walked with them just like we walk with one another today.  In other words, God was present with them.  He was there with them in the garden.  Do you know that’s the main goal of God’s?  He desires that kind of fellowship with each and every one of us, and that’s why what Jesus did is so important…and why it’s so important that we become whosoevers and call upon Him to be saved…because when we’re in Heaven…we’re all once again going to walk in the cool of the day in the garden with God…just like Adam and Eve did.  We’re going to enjoy the same fellowship with God that made Him take Enoch.  We’re all going to have that kind of relationship with Him on the other side of eternity.

However, do you know we have the ability to have that kind of relationship with Him right now!?!  Why don’t we, Pastor Bryan?  I’m glad you asked that question.  The reason we don’t is because we don’t trust that when we repent and trust God at His word, and we become whosoever’s…we don’t believe we have that right based upon what we think of our lives before we became whosoevers…and even after we confess Christ as our Lord and Savior.  Listen, if we truly believed that we are saved by grace thru faith we wouldn’t get so bent out of shape when we sin or miss God.  We’d understand that when we sin or miss God that it’s part of being in this fleshly body, and learning how to live the best we can to be good examples and ambassador’s for Christ Jesus.

Listen, I have said this many a time, and I’ll continue to say it.  If you’re looking to me to be a perfect representation of Jesus…I’m sorry to let you down, but I’m hardly even a perfect representative of myself.  I miss God all the time.  I sin on a regular basis…and not even because I’m trying to.  There are many times I utter a cuss word, but if you listened to the religious world they would have you to believe that every time you drop an “f-bomb” that you forfeit your right to eternal life in Heaven.  Really?  The Bible says that God is no longer counting or imputing my sins against me.  Do you know what that means?  The only person who holds my sins against me…is me.  If I am struggling to allow God to forgive me of a particular sin…it’s not because God hasn’t forgiven me of it…it is because I don’t trust that when I repented and confessed Christ as my Lord and Savior…that sin I am struggling to receive forgiveness for isn’t being held against me by God…but by myself.  My sins have been removed as far as the east is from the west, my sins have all been blotted out by the shed blood of Jesus.  When God looks at me (or you) He doesn’t see my sin…He sees the shed blood of Jesus.  So, again, I say that the only one who is holding my sins and shortcomings against me isn’t God…it’s me.

Friends, listen to me, if the Bible says that God isn’t counting our sins against us, and that they’re removed from us as far as the east is from the west.  If the Bible says that once we confess our sins God is faithful and just to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness.  If the Bible says that once our sins are removed from us that God remembers them no more.  Then that means, friends, that God really doesn’t hold our sins, shortcomings, and failures against us…and that the only one in our relationship with God that does…is us.  If God say He doesn’t remember our sin…and that God isn’t a man that He should lie…and that God exalts His Word above His Name…then when the Bible says that God’s no longer imputing our sins against us…that’s exactly what God means.  So, if you’re struggling to let go of a particular sin or shortcoming…God’s not holding that against you…YOU are holding that against you.

When I began to understand the ministry of reconciliation, and what that all meant…it changed my life.  I went from always having my sin before me to always having the Cross before me.  I went from wondering how God could love me to being able to hear Him say that He loved me, forgave me, and that I am His son.  I went from running from my call into ministry to embracing it.  I went from wondering how in the world I could be a pastor, and like Abraham I began calling myself Pastor Bryan because that’s what God had been calling me for a decade…and until I started to look at myself the way HE saw me…I couldn’t embrace what He was calling me to do.  Until I stopped looking at myself the way I saw myself, and the rest of the world…and I started looking at myself through God’s perspective…I was constantly walking with one foot in the world and one foot in Christ…once I understood that I wasn’t trying to BE reconciled…and that I already AM reconciled to God…it changed my life…and it allowed me to step into the call of God upon my life.

Now, that doesn’t mean I do a perfect job of that either.  There are times I still find myself wondering how in the world God could use a bum like me.  There are times where I have really blown it, and I wonder how in the world God could forgive me.  However, God’s grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love aren’t based upon my merit, they’re not based upon whether or not I’m worthy of them, and they’re not based upon me…they’re based upon Jesus.  Friends, I’ve said this once or twice in this series…and it’s coming again right here.  When I get to Heaven and I stand before God…and He asks me why I should be allowed into Heaven…the ONLY acceptable answer is because I placed my faith and trust in what Jesus did for me on the Cross.  He’s not going to be interested in what I did with my ministry.  He’s not going to be interested in my volunteer work.  He’s not going to be interested in what I spent my money on.  He’s going to be interested in one thing…what was my decision regarding His Son…and if I accepted His Son then I have eternal life…if I rejected His Son…then I do not have eternal life…it really is that cut and dry…and that simple.  Don’t believe me!?!  Read the encounter between Jesus and the thief.  If there was anything more required to obtain eternal life than confessing Jesus as Lord…then Jesus couldn’t have promised the thief a place in paradise…but Jesus said “Most assuredly I say to you THIS day you will be with Me in Paradise.”  If there was more required…then Jesus lied to that thief…but I believe when I get to Heaven…that thief is going to be there to great me just like Peter, Paul, John, Abraham, Issac, David, Moses, and everyone else who passed on with Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

Do you desire the kind of gladness that comes from being satisfied with all that God is for you in Jesus? If so, then God is at work in your life.

I think an even better question to really get us to the depth of understanding this message is to ask if we are satisfied with all that God is for us.  Remember what Paul wrote about how he had learned to be content with whatever state he was in?  I believe that’s because Paul was satisfied with all that God was for him.  We know from Paul’s testimony to King Agrippa what a work God did in Paul’s life, and then we learn when he’s near the end of his life that he learned to be content with whatever state he was in.  Friends, he wrote that while he was in prison, and let me remind you that prison in Paul’s day wasn’t like it is today.  So, I believe Paul was able to find that kind of contentment because he was fully satisfied that all that God was for him.  Are you that satisfied with all that God is for you?  Even I have to think about whether or not I am truly satisfied with all that God is for me.  In fact, to be honest with you…I’m not sure I know how to answer that question myself.  I’m not sure I’m fully satisfied with all God is for me.  I’d like to say that I am, and I’d like to believe that I am…but it be fully content no matter what state I’m in…I can’t honestly say I’ve reached that place that Paul was in.

I mean.  I think about how I’m always wanting us to have a nicer home, I think about how I’m always wanting a better job, a nicer vehicle, and a better looking wardrobe.  Paul didn’t have any of the things I have, and yet he was completely content and full of the joy of the Lord.  I have certainly learned to be thankful for what I have, but I don’t necessarily know that I’ve found myself content and full of joy.  I’m just being real here for a moment…can I do that!?!  That doesn’t mean I’m any less saved, that I’m not grateful for the blessings I have, but what it does mean is that I have a long way to go before I can say like Paul that I’m content with whatever state I’m in.  That’s just me being real.

Now, don’t take that way out of context.  There are things in my life I am content with, and for the most part I have found that I do have joy in my life.  I am satisfied with the majority of what God is for me, but here’s another point I’m going to make with me just being real.  I still have a lot to learn when it comes to understanding all that God is for me.  I still have a lot to learn about all that God is doing in me, with me, for me, and through me.  I’m not super spiritual, I don’t have all the answers, and I certainly don’t have it all together.  I haven’t got the pride or ego to even try to suggest to you that I have it all together, but I’m willing to be humble…and honest enough with you (and myself) to admit I don’t.  I don’t do things perfectly, but I try to do the best I can.

What should you do?

Turn from the deceitful promises of sin. Call upon Jesus to save you from the guilt and punishment and bondage. “All who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). Start banking your hope on all that God is for you in Jesus. Break the power of sin’s promises by faith in the superior satisfaction of God’s promises. Begin reading the Bible to find his precious and very great promises, which can set you free (2 Peter 1:3-4). Find a Bible-believing church and begin to worship and grow together with other people who treasure Christ above all things (Philippians 3:7).

These are the steps to finding that contentment that Paul wrote about while he was in prison.  The first and most important step to finding that elusive joy in you life is by having a relationship with the only One Who is able to give it to you.  That’s Jesus.  I told you that the acronym was J = Jesus, O = Others, and Y = Yourself.  So, obviously the first and most important step to finding joy is becoming a whosoever that’s called upon the name of the Lord to be sozo’ed.  Now, listen, just because you become a Christian that doesn’t automatically turn your life into being full of joy.  Remember I said that joy is a fruit of the spirit!?!  It takes time to find that place of contentment and joy.  I didn’t even realize I knew what joy and contentment were until I had a much more mature relationship with God…because I thought for the longest time that happiness equaled joy…but it doesn’t.  Happiness is an emotion, but joy is a state of being.  Joy comes from knowing that I never have to spend another moment wondering if my Heavenly Father loves me or if I’ve some how managed to disappoint Him.  Joy comes from having that knowledge that this side of eternity is only temporary, and that I will be spending the other side of it with Jesus forever.  Joy comes from understanding that the abundant life that Paul wrote about isn’t about having stuff, but about discovering that the fruits of the spirit are in operation in your life.

Joy comes from knowing that you can truly love someone without condition because you understand that 1 Corinthians 13 isn’t about an unconditional love, but perfect love.  Perfect love is the way that God loves each and every one of us.  That perfect love is also according to Paul shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.  So, you begin to recognize, understand, and give love because you know that you’re not loving people with your earthly ability to love…but God’s love.  You realize that you have that peace that surpasses all understanding…even in the midst of the struggles of life.  For some reason, you just have this peace in your heart that you don’t know how, but God is going to work things out for good because He loves you and called you according to His purposes.  You find joy because you realize that the things you couldn’t control…now you can because there’s this fruit of self-control that’s come into your life, and as long as you heed the voice of the Holy Ghost…you find the things that used to control you…you are now controlling them by the grace and mercy of God.

You hear people reference to how patient you are with them, and they wonder why that is.  You can’t really explain it yourself.  You just know that God’s working in and upon your heart to help you to come to a place where you are long-suffering and patient with people…like our Heavenly Father is long-suffering and patient with us.  The bottom line, friends, is that joy comes to our lives because it’s part of the fruits of the Holy Spirit…it’s not part of our emotional make up.  I know parents are going to tell me that their children bring them joy, but the truth is our children can bring us happiness.  Joy isn’t an emotion, friends.  Joy is a fruit of the spirit.

So, the most important part of all of this quest for joy is to make sure we start with the most important part…Jesus.  Without becoming a whosoever that’s called upon the name of the Lord to be saved…there’s no opportunity to obtain joy because we cannot get joy from our flesh.  We can’t create joy.  Joy has been given to us as part of the completeness of being saved, but just like the rest of the fruits of the spirit…we have to have faith to receive and believe and walk in this joy.

The best news in the world is that there is no necessary conflict between our happiness and God’s holiness. Being satisfied with all that God is for us in Jesus magnifies him as a great Treasure.

I don’t know about anyone else, but my relationship with God is most definitely a treasure.  The best news in the world to me is that I’m no longer a stranger to God, but a son.  I’m adopted into His family, and that brings me joy, unspeakable joy…and so it’s with that joy that I embrace His call on my life to feed and tend to His sheep by using this gift He gave me.  It’s a joy to write these messages, and to allow Him to speak through me.  It’s a joy to know that people’s lives are being touched by doing what I took for granted for so many years.  I have nothing but joy when it comes to writing for Jesus…and I hope you enjoy reading what God gives me to write.

Conclusion

This is the final message of this series.  I hope that you have enjoyed reading these messages as much as I have enjoyed writing them.  In this message I talked about the most important part to finding joy is doing what Romans 10:13 says, and becoming a whosoever that’s called upon the name of the Lord to be saved.  It’s the simplest thing to do, but the most important decision of your life.  If you’ve never entrusted Jesus as your Lord and Savior…I’d like to invite you to take this opportunity to do so.  It’s really easy to do.  You don’t have to go to a church, you don’t have to go confess your sins to a priest, or anything else.  All that’s required are a few simple things.

Romans 10:9-10 say that if you believe in your heart, and confess with your mouth that what Jesus did on the Cross.  His death, burial, and resurrection was for you…and you truly believe that…then if you’ll say this quick, but simple prayer…right here…right now…out loud…you will be sozo’ed.

Pray this:  Dear God.  I am not a religious person, but I believe in You.  I don’t have the answers, but I know You do.  So, from this point forward…I want to rely upon You.  Please forgive me.  I surrender my life to You, I ask You to come into my heart, I make You my Lord and Savior.  Please give me Your peace, make all things within me new, and I will follow You all the rest of my days.  In Jesus’ name I pray…Amen.

Friend, if you really meant business with God when you said that prayer…you are now a whosoever that’s called upon the name of the Lord, and just like the thief on the Cross you are saved, and on your way to spending eternity in Heaven with Jesus.  I would like to encourage you to get into a good Bible teaching and believing church.  Get yourself a Bible, and if you need help knowing what to read…please write to us at christlikeministriesarkansas@yahoo.com, let us know that you’re a brand new believer, and we will do our best to put together a few things to help you begin your walk with God.

If you’re already a believer…the stop trying to find joy in places it’s not meant to be found.  Joy isn’t found in external sources.  There’s only One source for true joy…and that source is Jesus Christ.  Stop placing the burden on your career, family, or yourself.  None of those things can bring you joy…especially if they’re out of order.

Thank you, friends, for reading along and being patient through this series.  I’m not able to write as much or as often as I used to.  I do very much appreciate your support.  As always, know that more than anything I covet your prayers, and hope that you’ll come back for more.  In the mean time, I am also working to move a series of messages on “Living A Divinely Inspired Life” to a secondary blog I write at www.agiftofwisdom.com.   I may work to get a few of more of those messages posted while I’m looking for our next series.

Blessings and Grace to you.

Pastor Bryan J. Kizer

Christlike Ministries NWA

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