- “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” – John 1:12-13 (KJV)
- “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17 (KJV)
- “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” – 2 Corinthians 5:21 (KJV)
- “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light;” – 1 Peter 2:9 (KJV)
- “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” – Psalm 103:12 (KJV)
- “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” – Hebrews 11:6 (KJV)
Greetings Everyone, I’m excited to finally be able to get to work on the second message in our “Give God First Place” teaching series, and I’m hopeful that everyone liked the first message. I think this one is going to be even better. There’s a lot of Scripture with this message, and I believe it’s going to be a fun message to write, and hopefully a good, strong message to read. In this message we’re going to be reminded of the fact that we were and still are first place in God’s heart, and that giving Him first place in our heart isn’t that much to ask. After all, He died to prove to us where we stood with Him, Amen.
“God Has Given You First Place In His Heart.”
This should really be a given. We should already know that we have first place in God’s heart. One of the best pieces of advice I got from a former pastor of mine is to talk about the God-side of things before getting into man’s side. When we give God’s side first then we can better understand how we are to respond to what God has done. I mean we are talking about giving God first place in our lives, and what we’re talking about today is the fact that God first give us first place in His heart. We all know the Bible says that we love Him because He first loved us. Therefore, we can look at this the same way in sense that we ought to give God first place in our hearts and lives because He first did that for us. Amen!?!
What would you think if someone told you that God sees you as if you have never sinned? The fact is, because of the redemptive work of Jesus on the cross, that is exactly how God sees you. As Christians, we are forgiven, cleansed and free! That means you are a saint: one who has attained a special standing of righteousness in Christ. You are perfect, holy and blameless in God’s eyes. He calls you His child, an heir to His abundance, and His friend.
I think that we in the Body of Christ strive too hard for the approval from God that we already have, and there’s so many of us that are still trying to earn what God has freely give us through His Son. Today, God looks at all of us as though we have never sinned because of the fact that Jesus Himself became the very thing we were ALL guilty of thanks to Adam. Remember. By one man’s disobedience all were made sinners, but by one man’s obedience all were made righteous. The key to obtaining that righteousness isn’t anything we can do other than make Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. We are saved by grace through faith that what Jesus Christ did on the Cross was for us, and furthermore that once we believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths that Jesus Christ is our Lord that we are saved and our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
Every one of us is seen as a perfect, spotless, blameless child of God, and the reason God sees us that way is because every time He looks at those of us who have called upon the name of the Lord to be saved He sees nothing but the shed blood of His Son. The reason we have the assurance of eternal life we do has nothing to do with us, and everything to do with what Jesus did on the Cross for us. We are all forgiven, cleansed, and washed in the Blood of Jesus. We are no longer sinners, but saints. We have been rescued from spending eternity in hell, and right now the Bible says that we are seated in heavenly places with Christ Jesus. Every one of us that is a whosoever that has called upon the name of the Lord is no longer living our lives in and of ourselves…but as Galatians 2:20 says; the life we now live we are living in Christ Jesus.
And since Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father right now that means we are seated there with Him. Don’t believe me? Give Ephesians 2:6-7 and Galatians 2:20 a read. Then you can find out for yourself why I boldly preach with confidence that if you are a whosoever that’s called upon the name of the Lord you are saved and assured of your eternal place in Heaven.
We all need to stop trying to earn something that we already received through Christ Jesus. We can’t earn our place in Heaven. We can’t earn our salvation. We can’t earn anything that Christ freely gave us through the Cross. We are perfect, holy, and blameless right now in the eyes of God, and no matter what we have done we still have first place in His heart.
“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light;” – 1 Peter 2:9 (KJV)
Truly understanding how God sees us begins with how we see Him. God is not watching from a distance just waiting for us to make a mistake in order to punish us. Nothing could be further from the truth.
You know, friends. It’s important that we understand the difference between how God sees us, and how we see ourselves. I’m an example of what happens when you start seeing yourself the way God sees you instead of seeing yourself the way you see you.
As you all know by now, there was an eleven year gap between the time God called me to ministry, and when I embraced God’s call and began to walk in the vocation in which He called me to walk in. One of the main reasons it took me so long to begin to walk in the calling God had for me is because I wasn’t able to see myself how God saw me. I saw someone who was exactly what Paul describes in that I was a foolish thing of the world that really had nothing to offer, and certainly had nothing of value to offer Jesus. However, God began to change all of that when I met my current wife, and one of the first things He did through her was start getting me to see myself as He saw me. Once I truly began to understand how God saw me…it changed everything, and one of the most important events that started all of that was the day He spoke to my heart that He loved me.
You see. I was stuck in a religious mentality where I thought my ability to serve God was based on my performance. I still had some of that “works” mentality even though I thought I understood it was by grace through faith. I even had a fantastic Teacher that taught me His Word, and taught me that I was justified by faith, that I was the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, and still I found myself questioning my qualifications to serve Him. Then I saw that: “God doesn’t call the qualified…He qualifies the called” quote, and I began to realize I wasn’t qualified to serve God because of my qualifications…but because of His.
Once I became a whosoever that called upon the name of the Lord I was (and still am) the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, and the reason I’m qualified to serve God is the very reasons I thought for so long that I was disqualified. Everything you see and read from me today is a result of me coming to understand that I’m not what I think I am or what anyone else thinks I am. I am who and what God says I am, and in His eyes I am Bryan Kizer pastor of Christlike Ministries NWA, and more importantly I am one of His children.
“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” – John 1:12-13 (KJV)
God sees each of us as His own precious child. He is a loving Father showering favor and care to us out of His endless compassion. Some scriptures in the Song of Solomon illustrate the incredible intensity of God’s love for us by comparing it to the intimate love of a husband and wife. Hebrews 11:6 tells us that God is a rewarder of those who seek him.
God loves us with a love that is incomprehensible to us because we have an extremely limited understanding of what the “God-kind” of love really is, and that’s because we have a limited capacity to love. Most of us are either searching for love or trying to understand what love is, and the reason we cannot is because we only have the capacity to love…we aren’t Love itself.
The God-kind of love is described in the famous “Love Chapter” of the Bible (1 Corinthians 13), but Paul had to pray that we would be able to understand the height, width, depth, and length of the love of God. I believe the reason for that is because there’s such a depth to the love of God that is unlike anything we can experience in or from the world. I can sort of relate to that love as it relates to my love for me wife, and I can get an even better understanding of that love as it relates to my love for my daughter. However, I am still limited by my human understanding and ability to love.
I have already begun telling my daughter that there isn’t anything she can do that would ever get me to stop loving her, I would always be for here, and that’s the same thing God tells us (as His children) in His Word. I can even tell you there’s a depth of love that I have for my wife that I don’t have for anyone else, and there is also a depth of love I have for our daughter that I don’t have for anyone else. Yet it’s still not enough to fully grasp the difference between my capacity to love, and God’s love for us. Our capacity to love is limited, but God’s is not because He is Love.
The thing is, most people when they talk about God’s love they limit it to being unconditional, but there is more to God’s love than that. God’s love is perfect because God is perfect. There isn’t a single flaw in God, and since the Bible tells us that God is Love that means that God’s love is just as perfect and flawless as He is. So, it goes beyond just being unconditional. Unconditional love is just a part of what God’s love is, and as good a job as 1 Corinthians 13 does at describing the God-kind of love it still doesn’t really get the full depth of the love of God.
Another word about God’s love that I like is immeasurable. From perfect to unconditional to immeasurable to unfailing to never-ending…the whole point of what I’m saying is that one of the reasons it’s hard for us to understand how much God truly loves us is because we have a limited capacity to really understand God’s love. Mainly because we relate His love for us with our human capacity to love. That’s why I believe Paul was lead to pray for us to get a greater understanding and knowledge of His love…because the more we know and understand about His love…the less we feel we have to earn it.
There is another problem with us and love and God. We relate to God as our Father the same way we relate to our earthly fathers. If we spent or spend a lot of time trying to earn our earthly father’s love then we tend to also feel like we have to earn God’s love. But God is not like our earthly fathers, and we have to get that revelation. His love is unlike any love that is available in and of or from the world because God is the originator of love. Love begins and ends with God…because Love is Who and What God Is. Love isn’t what God does or how God feels. God’s love isn’t based on performance or emotional attachment. God’s love is based in Who He Is, and that’s why we can’t base how we receive God’s love by how our earthly fathers or dads love us.
It’s that love that draws us into a relationship with Him. It’s that love that should motivate us to serve and seek Him. In truth, God’s love is the love that we are all searching for, and we always seem to think we’re going to find it in a person. God’s love isn’t available in a person it’s only available in and from Him. So, when they sing about looking for love in all the wrong places and faces they’re right because unless you find yourself at the foot of the Cross we are all searching for love in all the wrong places and faces…and we won’t find it anywhere else but at the Cross.
God sees each of His children in a profoundly different way than most of us see ourselves. Understanding how God sees each one of us is founded upon the work that Christ began in our lives the moment we received salvation.
This is the ministry of reconciliation. This is what Paul is talking about from 2 Corinthians 5:17 all the way through to 2 Corinthians 5:21. We become new creations in Christ Jesus because of the fact that Jesus became the very thing that was separating us from the love of God. This is why we cannot separate ourselves from the love of God because we don’t receive His love based upon anything we do (or don’t do).
First of all, we can’t separate ourselves from His love because He can’t separate Himself from His love…because God IS Love. The other reason we can’t separate ourselves from His love is that it’s not dependent upon us. He loves us regardless of who we are or what we’ve done because He is Love. I know there are many who try to make it seem like there’s more to it, but the fact is…God is Love. Here’s an even deeper truth, we don’t have to wait to become whosoever’s that call upon the name of the Lord to receive or be loved by God.
The Bible says that God loved us while we were still living a part from Him thanks to Adam’s sin. God loved us while we were yet in our sin before we made our way to the foot of the Cross because we believed in our hearts and confessed with our mouths that we needed Jesus to be our Lord and Savior. God was already madly in love with us. That’s what John 3:16 is all about…God loved us so much that He sent His Son to prove it.
We didn’t have to do a single thing for God to love us. He loved us while He was shaping us in the womb, and He loved us before we even entered the womb. There’s never been a moment in time EVER that God has stopped loving you or I or anyone else. Because in order for God to stop loving us He would have to stop being Love itself. He can’t stop loving because He IS Love.
This new creation is God’s divine work; a complete transformation of our spiritual condition and inner person. He has completely forgiven and cleansed us from our sin – past, present and future. We are in right relationship with Him.
“…as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions (sins) from us.” Psalm 103: 12
You see, friends, the truth is…the only one standing between us and God’s love is…well…us.
I couldn’t fully receive God’s love until I understood that there wasn’t anything I could do to earn it. All I truly had to do was receive His love, and on that day in November of 2010 that’s what changed my life forever. That was the day He told me He loved me, and it wasn’t just something I knew about or read about or heard about from some pastor it was straight from God to me. Since that revelation and encounter my life has truly never been the same. I didn’t say that my life was instantly transformed in that moment, but what that encounter did was really allow God to start working in me, on me, and now through me to be the new creation He had always planned for me to become.
Today. I understand I’m in a right-relationship with God, and it’s still not because of me. I’m not in a right-relationship with God because I write these messages and have a ministry. I’m not in right-standing with God because my family and I have been better at regularly attending church, and I’m not in right-standing with God because I read my Bible or pray or listen to worship music. The only reason I’m in right-standing and have a right-relationship with God is because I am in Christ.
I have a deeper relationship with God because of the time I’ve spent writing these messages, reading His word, and I spend time with Him in worship and prayer and doing the things that we should do in order to seek that intimacy with Him. This whole series is about us learning to give God first place in our lives, and the reason I do that today is because I know that He gave me first place in His heart long before He became my first love. I am giving God first place in my life more and more because of what He has done, what He’s doing, and what He’s yet to do in…with…and through my life…and Christlike Ministries NWA.
One of the biggest reasons I created the home-office here is because I wanted to limit some of the things that would distract me from writing these messages and from studying my Bible. I admittedly spend more time in the office today because I spend more time reading and studying and listening to worship music. I’m seeking more of God and less of the world. I’ve turned off the television more, I’ve limited more of my music playlists to worship, and I’ve made a serious effort to be more consistent with making sure I’m taking time for my own devotional time. That is actually been the reason why I’ve been putting off writing more…it’s because I want to study more than I want to teach…and that’s the way it should be.
That’s what giving God first place is all about, friends. It’s about understanding the very same thing that Jesus praised Mary for in the Martha and Mary parable. I don’t know about you, but when Jesus says that Mary is doing the “one needful thing” how many of you know then that’s the one needful thing we need to be doing too!?! The one needful thing that Mary was doing was simply sitting at the feet of the Master…modeling for us what it means to put God first…and that’s the kind of model I want to follow in my own life, Amen!?!
We are God’s people presented to Him without any blemish of sin; truly as His righteousness through the work that Jesus did on the cross. God has indeed given us first place in His heart!
And in response…we should give Him first place in ours. Amen!?!
Thank You once again, Lord God, for all that You have spoken to us through this message. I pray, Lord God, that we would all have life-altering encounters with You, and that we would seek to follow Mary’s example of knowing that sitting at Your feet is the most needful thing we have to do. Thank You, Father, for Your love and for being Love and for talking to us about how Your love isn’t just unconditional, but it’s absolutely perfect…because You are Perfect. I ask, Lord God, that You would allow us all to not just hear about or read about or have someone tell us about Your love…but that You would give each one of us that moment when You speak to our hearts to remind us that You love us with an everlasting, never-failing love and that we belong to You. I pray that You would sink this message into all of our hearts, I pray (as always) that all who read this message would have ears to hear and hearts that will be receptive and respond to what You have to say through this message. I ask all of this in the matchless and most powerful name in all creation…the name of Jesus. Amen and Amen!
Final Word From Pastor B:
We are slowly moving through this series, and in a way I feel like that is by design. As I mentioned I’m still spending a lot more time studying, I’m still having to be a stay at home daddy to a very active little girl, and so between sitting at the Lord’s feet and trying not to allow the Disney Channel to babysit my daughter I have learned to take a more laid back approach to writing. I’m still going to endeavor to get one message written and posted a week, but we will get through this series because there’s a lot more good stuff to get into over the course of the next 45 weeks of 2016. That’s right friends…7 weeks of 2016 have already come and gone. That’s why sitting at the Lord’s feet is so important these days it’s necessary because THAT is what allows us to slow life down…adjust our priorities…and then begin to enjoy a little bit of the life that used to just fly by without notice.
Thank you, as always, for your patience, prayers, and support. I enjoy having the ability to do this, and I enjoy writing these messages that I hope are helping you with your walk with the Lord. If you ever need prayer or would like to support the ministry financially or you need help starting a relationship with God won’t you please email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org?
I’m so glad you joined me for this second of five messages in our first teaching series of 2016, and as we learn to Give God First Place the greatest hope is that you and I will find that Intimacy With The Father that God spoke about being the theme for Christlike Ministries NWA for 2016. I don’t know about you, but I want to be more like Mary today…and have Jesus be proud of me for finding that sitting at His feet is really the one needful thing, Amen!
Blessings & Grace – Pastor B