SEASONS GREETINGS PASTOR B’S FAMILY!!!
It’s been a festive weekend. Being that Lizzie’s five now, and excited about Christmas we’re even more intentional this year to make memories for her that will hopefully become traditions for our family…and maybe some day hers.
First, we went to Springdale because the Arkansas & Missouri Railroad put on a special train ride called Springdale to Johnson “15th Annual Children’s Christmas Train”, and then we went to the Wonderland Christmas Tree Farm to get our tree after yet another amazing service at church this morning. So, now the tree is up, the lights are on it, the girls are eventually going to decorate it, and I’m going to work on this message for the Countdown to Christmas series.
We officially have according to an actual Christmas Countdown there’s 3 weeks, 1 day, and just over 12 hours left until Christmas morning. I guess that’s accurate, but in my countdown I’m including today because as of this morning there was 4 Sunday’s left…and after this is posted there will be 3. No matter how it’s counted down…we’re closing in on Christmas morning.
So, I hope y’all will continue join me as we Countdown to Christmas through this series that you can follow along with me on You Version’s website. Once again you can do that by clicking right here: All Is Calm: Receiving Jesus’ Rest This Christmas.
- “Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with loving-kindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” – Psalm 103:1-5 (NKJV)
- “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” – Deuteronomy 6″4-7 (NKJV)
- “When your son asks you in time to come, saying, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies, the statutes, and the judgments which the Lord our God has commanded you?’ then you shall say to your son: ‘We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, and the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand; and the Lord showed signs and wonders before our eyes, great and severe, against Egypt, Pharaoh, and all his household. Then He brought us out from there, that He might bring us in, to give us the land of which He swore to our fathers. And the Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is this day.” – Deuteronomy 6:20-24 (NKJV)
- “For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” – Isaiah 9:6-7 (NKJV)
- “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” – Matthew 1:21-23 (NKJV)
O Come O Come Emmanuel:
It took me a while to find the right Christmas song to accompany this message. It’s hard because there’s so many good ones, but I only have 4 messages. This devotional references God with us (Emmanuel), and there’s one particular version of this song by Jeremy Camp that I like. So, that’s the song I chose, and I hope it becomes a favorite version of yours as well!
Remember God’s Goodness:
You know. It’s interesting that we just come out of a holiday (Thanksgiving), and it truly seems that as soon as dinner is over everyone forgets what that holiday was really all about. It’s not about football games or eating until you have to loosen your pants…but it’s about taking time to be reminded of and be grateful for the goodness of God. I don’t know about you, but God has been extremely good to me, Amen!?!
I don’t know about you, but I also know that I can get into a place where I am whining and complaining. For me, however, the thing that always gets me out of that place if I stay there too long is that God will start reminding me of where I was when He found me and where I am today. God will begin to remind me of the things He has brought me through, the hundreds of times that He had on His hand on my life (that I am aware of), and the thousand more times God had His hand on my life that I am not or was not aware of, and suddenly there’s a wealth of gratitude that springs up on the inside of me. Anyone else ever been there or is it just me!?!
Even though I can get to a place of whining and complaining in all honesty I don’t need Thanksgiving to remind me to be grateful and thankful for the goodness of God in my life. I also don’t forget about His goodness once I’ve eaten my piece of Pumpkin Pie, however. Yeah, I get to a place where I’m not as thankful or grateful as I should be, but I don’t forget how good to me God is and has been…and if I do God don’t allow me to stay there very long.
Why? Because I can look at the fact that I was once homeless, but now I’ve been living in the same home for the last 5 years. I can look at the fact that I wasn’t ever able to find true love, but now I’ve been with the same woman going on 8 years. I can look at the fact that I never thought I wanted to be a daddy, but I now have a beautiful 5 year-old girl that I couldn’t imagine my life without. Then there’s the ministry that started as a hobby on Facebook, and through WordPress has reached at least 200 countries. There’s the growth within me coming out of a religious mindset, and learning to have more of a Kingdom mindset. There’s the deepening and more intimate relationship I have with Him as a result of doing this Journey.
There are so many other things I could start listing, and then I can come to the reality that it really all starts from the greatest way God has been good to me (and all of civilization), and that goodness starts with His Son in that manger. The greatest example of the goodness of God starts with the birth of His Son Jesus and ends with Him on the Cross…because He provided a way for me to have perfect fellowship with Him…and the only requirement of that fellowship is to accept His Son as my Lord and Savior.
I can’t look back over my life without realizing just how good God’s been to me, how about you!?!
We all suffer from soul amnesia, forgetting who God is and what He has done for us from one day to the next. Like you, I too must remind myself each year who Jesus is and why His birth is so miraculous—not because my mind doesn’t know but because my heart ceases to be amazed. As the old saying goes, familiarity breeds contempt, and sadly, our own hearts lose that sense of wonder.
I promise that I didn’t read ahead. I am a human being, y’all. I am getting ready to say once again that I am no better, no holier, and no more saved or favored by God than anyone else. I am just like Peter in a lot of ways. One moment I can feel God smiling at me, and the next moment I can feel Him giving me the Gibbs head thump (all you NCIS fans know exactly what I mean). I am not the or a perfect representation of Christ just because God anointed me to be a pastor. I don’t have any additional favor of God on my life than anyone else does, and so like anyone else I need to be reminded that I don’t have it nearly as bad as I think I do some times…and usually the reason I think I have it bad is because I’ve got some stinkin’ thinkin’ instead of an attitude of gratitude.
I like the term soul amnesia…forgetting who God is and what He has done for us. I am as guilty as anyone else at times of not only forgetting all that God has done in me, with me, and through me…but also forgetting at times who He is.
God has done some amazing things with my life, He’s done some amazing things through my life, and He has done some amazing things in my life. However, as great as all of the things He’s done is…what’s often lost is the reality of just how great and awesome and marvelous and wonderful and powerful and faithful and merciful and full of grace and loving and just and holy and righteous God is.
The forgetting of WHO God is I believe is directly related to why it’s so much easier to picture Jesus as a cute, harmless baby then to think of Him as the Savior of the world or the Warrior that’s coming back with fire in His eyes and a sword in His mouth to slay those who are part of the devil’s army.
I think we’re a lot more comfortable with Baby Jesus because it allows us to remain comfortable in our lives and with our sin and never really desiring to be anything greater than lukewarm Christians…but Jesus said He’ll vomit the lukewarm out of His mouth.
I’ve got to real myself back in because this message is about Remembering God’s Goodness, and that’s one of the things that Thanksgiving is designed to do. I kinda think that we ought to have Thanksgiving more often than once a year, but the reality is the Bible tells us that one thing that is the will of God is that we are a thankful and grateful people (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
I don’t know about you, but I can certainly do a better job of remembering not only what God has done…but who He is, Amen!?!
This is part of the reason the Israelites were instructed to remember God’s miraculous works on a regular basis: so that they and their children would not forget, but also so that God’s closeness and power would remain fresh in their minds.
As we anticipate the Christmas season and all the preparations that go with it, it’s easy to get caught up in creating our own little winter wonderlands. So we must be intentional in remembering God’s goodness: both who He is and what He has done.
A beautiful way to do just that is to meditate on the names of Jesus, fully savoring the season of Christmas by recognizing the many ways He is near us even now.
Hmmm. You know there’s just this pull on my heart to stay on this track of not just being great for God’s works and the blessings and things He’s done…but honoring God because He is God.
I love worship music. I love worshiping God for His extravagant and reckless love. I love worshiping God for His unending faithfulness and His matchless grace. I love worshiping God for the Cross and the Blood of Jesus and how He’s such a Good, Good Father…but I what about worshiping God because He is Holy or because He is Mighty or Holy, Holy, Holy…Lord God Almighty who is and was and is to come?
Meditating upon the name of Jesus.
A few Sunday’s ago there was a noticeable shift at my church when we began to do nothing more than sing the name of Jesus. We were all sensing a bit of resistance in the midst of our worship, and when we were encouraged to take our worship and focus it upon the name of Jesus the atmosphere changed.
As we sang. There’s just something about the name of Jesus. There’s a song that says when you don’t know what to say just start speaking the name of Jesus. Can I tell you that there are times that I don’t have any fancy words, and all I know to do is simply say “Jesus”.
We must be intentional in remembering God’s goodness, we must be intentional in our pursuit of His presence, and we must be intentional in our praise and worship for WHO He is not just what He’s done.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t praise and worship Him for what He’s done. We need to do that. We need to be thankful and praise and worship and glorify Him for all that He’s doing, all that He’s done, and all that He has yet to do. However, the thing that gets lost most often in our praise and worship is praising and worshiping and honoring and glorifying God because He is God.
So…yes let’s be intentional about worshiping God for who He is, and let’s also be intentional about meditating upon the name of Jesus, Amen!?!
For a moment…let’s think about Jesus…
Jesus is Immanuel, God with us, the Creator who possesses all glory and power and authority yet chose to enter our world as a little child in order to dwell with His beloved and restore relationship with us.
God chose to enter our world to understand the human side of what we face. He was tempted in all ways in which we are, but He was able to withstand those temptations and remain sinless because He had to in order to be the perfect sacrifice for all of us. He did this so that the relationship and fellowship He enjoyed with Adam could be extended to all of us…so that we could experience Him here on earth.
People say “yeah, but Jesus was God”. That’s true. He was God, but He was fully man. He was the example to us of what a life surrendered to the Father looked like. He walked on earth in the power of the Holy Spirit just like we do today, He had constant and intimate communion with the Father (just like we can have today), and He basically modeled for us how to live as a citizen of the Kingdom.
The best thing is God is still with us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus is the Word of God, the full revelation and intelligent communication of God, and the most direct and personal message God could ever give us, available to all who seek Him.
Those who know me and have read many of my message know that I love to refer to the Bible as Jesus in book form. The Bible is very clear in John 1 that in the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God and the Word WAS God, and that the WORD became flesh and dwelt among us.
Well…anyone that can read the Bible knows that Jesus was God in the flesh. So, when we read that the WORD (Who WAS God) became flesh…then that’s clearly saying that Jesus was God in the flesh.
The Bible is referred to as the WORD OF GOD. So, in the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word WAS God. Now, I know that the Word of God is the voice of God, but it also says that the Bible is ALIVE. We often call the Bible the LIVING Word of God.
So…I don’t know about you, but all of those references tell me that the Bible can truly be described as Jesus in book form.
Jesus is the Holy One of God, brilliant in majesty and commanding in authority, perfectly without sin, whose holiness does not threaten us but gives us reason to hope because He alone clothes us in divine righteousness and gives us.
The whole reason that we are holy, righteous, justified, and blameless is because our lives are now hidden in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 2:20, 1 Corinthians 5:17-21). We are the righteousness of God IN Christ Jesus. We are justified by faith IN Christ Jesus. We are spotless and without blame because we are IN Christ Jesus. We became holy when we called upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved, but the holiness we have isn’t ours…it is HIS because we are IN Christ Jesus.
See a pattern? Every thing we are and every thing we have in the “Christian walk” is because we are IN Christ Jesus…and even more to the point…every thing we are and have is Christ’s.
There are many other things about Jesus that we could add to this message, but I think what I would like to do is close this message here and invite you to look up a few of them on your own.
Listen. One of the greatest passages of scripture is when Jesus first asks the disciples a generalized question about who people say He is, and then He brought it home when He asked Peter (and all of us)…but who do YOU say that I am?
The greatest question of all isn’t who is Jesus to Pastor B because who Jesus is to me may be totally different from who Jesus is to you. Which is why the greatest question of all is who do YOU say that Jesus is?
With that, I am going to end this message right here with a very simple, but important question for you to answer: who do YOU say that Jesus is?
Lord Jesus, thank You for giving us Your Word and speaking to us through this message. I ask, Lord God, that You would encourage our hearts to search the scriptures and come up with names of Jesus that will speak to us and to our hearts and enable us to answer the very question You asked Peter just over 2,000 years ago. Help us (and me) to definitively answer the question: Who are You to me? I ask that You would give each and every reader ears to hear and a heart that will be receptive and respond to what You’re speaking. I pray they would encounter and experience You in a real and tangible way as they study to find out who You are to them. I ask this in Jesus name. Amen & Amen.
Final Word From Pastor B
At the end of this devotional is an invitation, and it’s just like the one I gave to wrap up this message. Here is that invitation…
What name of Jesus stands out to you? Pause a while and meditate on the richness of His character, then recite or write out some specific ways His Name meets you right where you are today.
I, once again, want to challenge and encourage you to take a moment. I would love to have some of y’all comment with what God spoke to you. The Scriptures you pulled out that spoke to your heart about who Jesus is to you, and most of all my prayer is that you’ll encounter Jesus as you study out who He is to you.
If you have made it all the way to the end of this message, thank you for allowing me a few moments to speak into your lives, and thank you for taking the time to read this message.
If it’s been a blessing to you it would be a blessing to me if you would (1) take a moment to write me to let me know it blessed you, (2) share it with others who may find it to be a blessing, and (3) take a moment to visit https://www.paypal.me/christministnwa and consider making Pastor B’s Ministry the place you sow into over the holidays?
For those who partner with my ministry and commit to sending a minimum of $10 a month there will be a special gift sent to you. So, if you are able to partner with my ministry please make sure to write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org so I can get your mailing address.
Thank you in advance for your support whether you’re able to give monthly or a one time gift…ever dollar that comes in goes towards the ministry helps keep the ministry online. So, believe me when I tell you that I appreciate everyone that invests their money into this ministry because the more money that comes in for the money the less comes out of the money needed to operate our household. Pastor B Depends on God’s Provision through you.
I hope you’ll come back next week for message number 3 of our Countdown to Christmas series titled; “Express Your Neediness”. Until then, while you’re here take the time to check out some of the other messages that are here or go over to https://bryanjkizer.wordpress.com/, and check out what will soon be simply known as BryanKizer.com.
For now, it’s time to get this message proofread and published, and spend some time with my family before everyone goes about the work week. Thank you all so very much for your patience, prayers, and support. I truly love and appreciate y’all very much.
Blessings & Grace ~ Pastor B