Message Scripture:

“And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.” – Hosea 2:15 (KJV)

Introduction:

Greetings Everyone!  I am sorry it’s taken so long for us to get back to our “Finding Your Way Back To God” series.  I have been working to bring some messages I wrote earlier in the year on Evernote to this blog, and today I sensed that today was the right time to get back into this series.  I’m excited to get back to this series, and I’m really excited about the growth and viewership of www.pastorbryankizer.wordpress.com.  It’s slowly gaining viewers, and I believe that perhaps God was wanting me to get the blog a little more established before I got back into this series.  I can already get a sense of what God is wanting me to talk about, and I believe this will help y’all connect with me a little more.

Let’s believe that God is going to make my fingers as that as a pen of a ready writer…writing only of the oracles of God with the utterance and unction that comes from the supernatural anointing of the Holy Ghost.  Let’s also believe God for ears to hear, and hearts that will be receptive and respond to what He is about to speak to us this day through this message.

Worship While We Read:

As I was writing this one of my favorite songs came to mind, and it fits with what we’re talking about today.  I’m one of those guys that doesn’t mind a little southern rock with my worship music, and I don’t know of a better group than the Rhett Walker Band, and this song is one that can either have me shouting praise or thinking with tears in my eyes about “When Mercy Found Me”…and I believe this song fits with today’s message.

I Wish I Could Start Over:

Almost all of us have that one moment in life we’d like to have a do over, don’t we?

I have one that always sticks out in my mind, but I’ve come to a place today that I understand that just one “do-over” would impact where I am today.  So, even though I wish I could have that “do-over” I would only want to do it if things would turn out the way they have right now today.

You see, I’ve seen God take the bad and down right ugly times of my life, and have them turn out for good because I love God and I’m called according to His purposes.  Peter reminds us in Acts 10:34 (KJV) and Paul reminds us again in Romans 2:11 (KJV) that God isn’t a respecter of person, and I say that because if God can take the good, the bad, and down right ugly times of my life (even the one moment that I would go back to and do over), and turn it around for good for me…He will do the same for you too.

The next in our breakthroughs in our journey back to God we call the awakening to regret. You look at your life one morning and realize that, for all your best efforts, you’ve made a mess of things. You’re filled with disappointment and remorse. And now that you see things more clearly, you’d love another chance. But you’re not sure you have it coming. Come to think of it, why would you? But stay with us.

Remorse and regret are the two things that fuel my personal chatterbox more than anything else, and let me assure you the devil knows how to push that button.  I got saved when I was 6 or 7 years old sitting on the edge of my grandmother’s bed.  However, by the time I graduated High School I found that I wanted to go my way, and like Frank Sinatra I did a lot of life from the age of 18 through about 36 my way.  Unfortunately my way is full of disappointment, remorse, and regret.  I made an ugly, ugly mess of my life by doing it my way, and while I won’t go into details I’ll just say that my life got about as ugly as it could get…and you know who’s fault it was?

MINE.

I can’t blame my parents.  I can’t blame the system.  I can’t blame God.  I can’t blame the devil even though he certainly didn’t get in my way to stop me from destroying my life.  No, the devil was content to allow me to mess up my life on my own.  Did you hear that!?!  Some of us need to STOP BLAMING GOD AND THE DEVIL FOR OUR OWN POOR CHOICES, DECISIONS, AND FAILURES.  Let me say that again in a different way.

STOP BLAMING THE DEVIL FOR THINGS THAT ARE YOUR FAULT.

Listen.  I made a mess of my life.  I am the one that has to take ownership and responsibility for the part I played in destroying my life.  Sure, as I mentioned, the devil certainly wasn’t going to stop me from making the mess out of my life I did, but it’s not all his fault.  A lot of the bad and ugly times in my life were self-inflicted wounds because I did things my way…and I have no one to blame for the way things went but myself.

Can I submit to you that a lot of you would be wise to recognize and own the fact that it wasn’t the devil that made you do what you did…you did it.  Of course, the devil certainly wasn’t going to stop you… but it’s time you own your mistakes.  It’s time you own your failures…and stop pointing the finger at everyone else.  It’s time that you to admit you’re in the mess you are in because YOU were in charge and YOU did things your way…and the reason you are in the mess you’re in today is because you did it YOUR way.

Friends, we give the devil far too much credit and power in our lives.  The devil only has the power and authority in our lives that WE ALLOW HIM TO HAVE. When we are content to run our lives our way…the devil doesn’t even have to do anything because for the most part (and I am living proof of this) we are our own worst enemy…not the devil.  Jesus defeated the devil, and we have that same victory…and so a lot of the mess that’s in our lives isn’t his fault but our own.

We serve a God of second, twelfth, and one hundredth chances.  We serve a God that is always waiting on the porch of our lives for just a glimpse of us coming up the driveway so that Mercy can come running to us.  He comes running to us to welcome us home, welcome us back, and every time we return He rejoices over the fact that we were once lost but have returned home.

That day I talk about in November of 2010 that changed my life forever…that was the day I’d realized that all of my efforts, everything I was trying to do…none of it was working, and if I was ever going to get anywhere in life I was going to have to get out of God’s way and let Him do what He wanted to do in, with, and through my life.  I want to reiterate again that I was in God’s way…not the devil.

Do you know that for the most part when we are content to destroy our lives by doing things our own way…the devil isn’t even bothering with us because as long as we’re running the show of our lives…he doesn’t have to do anything.  We are more than capable of destroying our lives without his help…and that’s the thing I feel God trying to get across to you here…it’s often our own fault that our lives get messed up…not God’s, not the devils, not mommy and daddy’s…but ours…we made the choices…we made the decisions…and now that our lives are in ruins we wanna look around for someone to blame instead of looking in the mirror, and realizing that we need a Savior and we need Jesus to be Lord of our lives.

That is the moment we all have to come to.  We all have to reach that place where we realize that all of our efforts have done nothing but fill our lives with disappointment, remorse, and regret…and the ONLY ONE that can change all of that is Jesus Christ.  There’s a saying that says (and I’m paraphrasing) give living for God a chance, and if you don’t like your life then you can have your misery returned for free…but I promise you once you really encounter Jesus you won’t want to ever go back to living the way you did again.  But that day won’t come until you get out of God’s way, and allow Him full access to your life.

Inside each of us is the conviction that we came from goodness and love and that we’re made for more of it. When we hit bottom and realize what a mess we have made of this life, and what a mess life has made of us, our reaction is to say, “I wish I could start over.”

I know what hitting bottom is like.  I know how it feels.  I know the disappointment, the despair, the remorse, the regret, and a word that I had forgotten about the anguish over the fact that I had done everything I could possibly do to make my life better and I had failed.  I failed miserably, and I knew that God was going to have to do something or I was going to be lost for eternity.  I was at the point where I needed God to do something or I didn’t really want to go on, and I knew that the only way up from where I was…was to get out of God’s way and allow Him to do what He wanted to do in, with, and through my life.

There’s a God-shaped hole in all of us, and it’s a void only He can fill (Plumb – God – Shaped Hole Lyrics | MetroLyrics).  The sooner we figure out that He’s the only One that can fill the void in our hearts the less time we’ll have to look back on with things like remorse, regret, and wishing we could have a “do-over”.  So, in all reality, even though I have moments that I wish I could’ve started over…the main thing I wish I could start over is the fact that it took me so long to realize I needed to get out of God’s way to allow Him to work in my life as He wanted.

The thing of it is.  I discovered that the life I’ve always wished for I now have because I’ve been able to get myself out of God’s way, and allow Him to lead, guide and direct my steps.  Do I do it perfectly?  Of course not…none of us do this Christian walk perfectly…but I can definitely see that since that day in November of 2010 my life is substantially better today then it was the day I laid my life at the Master’s feet.

The beautiful thing is, you can start over. Your intuition about your origins in goodness and love is absolutely correct. God allows you to start over again.

Here’s the thing with God.

As long as there is breath in our lungs He gives us opportunity after opportunity to start over.  As I mentioned.  No matter how many times we become prodigal’s, wander off, and find ourselves in the pig pen of life…as long as there’s still breath in our lungs He’s waiting on the porch of our lives to run to us once again to welcome us home to start over again.  Paul says there isn’t anything we can do to separate ourselves from God’s love…except one in my opinion.  The only thing we can do to separate ourselves from God’s love is to leave this world rejecting Him with our last breath.  That’s why I said as long as there’s breath in our lungs God offers us a do-over, a fresh start, a clean slate, but the only way we can have it…is to accept it.  The only way we accept this clean, fresh start is by grace through faith in what Jesus went to the Cross to do.

And, as I mentioned a moment ago, when I laid down my life that November day it was the kind of new beginning, fresh start, and clean slate that I needed.  Since that day I have put my hand to the plow, and the only time I look back is to remind myself of where I was when I got out of God’s way.

There’s a song I like by the Rhett Walker Band called “When Mercy Found Me”, and it really could tell the story of anyone of us.  In one moment, everything changed…who I was God washed away when Mercy found me. I like another song that’s done by Phillips, Craig, and Dean “Mercy Came Running”.  These songs speak of the mercy and grace and love God and I’ve witnessed it.  I’ve witnessed Mercy running to me.  I’ve witnessed God’s love welcoming me home.  I’ve felt God’s arms reach down to embrace me.  That day God’s love for me went from being something I heard about to something I knew about.  His love went to something I’d read about to something He spoke to my heart.  It was no longer something that was wonderful to read about in the Bible, but it became real to me.

As long as there is still breath in our bodies, friends…we can start over with God.  He will never reject us.  He will never turn us away.  He will always receive us, He will always welcome us home, and He will always give us that clean slate, fresh start, new beginning…and the only thing that we’re required to do to receive it…is to simply accept His invitation to come.  In Isaiah 1:18 (KJV) God says to us:  “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”.  In Matthew 11:28-30 (KJV) Jesus invites us to exchange our yokes and burdens for His.  In Hebrews 4:16 (KJV) Paul tells us by inspiration of the Holy Ghost:  “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

In all of this God is continually inviting us to start over with Him, and as long as He allows us to have breath in our lungs…that invitation is available.  He never, ever revokes the invitation to come to Him…until He calls us into eternity.  So, if you are here and reading this and you’re wondering if you can start over with God…the answer is an emphatic YES!  He’s waiting on the porch of your life just like He was the porch of the prodigal son…just waiting to catch a glimpse of you so that He can run to meet you too.

If you need to come home…there’ll be an opportunity at the end of this message to do just that…so please…keep reading.  We’re almost done.

Most of us, when we’re ready to start over, simply want to go back to the life we had before everything went south. But God has other ideas. He doesn’t just want to help us get back to that better life as we imagine it. He wants us to experience a different kind of life altogether. It’s not just your future that changes when you find your way back to God but your past and your present as well.

Here we come to the definition of repentance…which is part of starting over.

There isn’t anything other than a few key events in my past that I’d like to have a do-over with, but as far as my life prior to that day in November…there really isn’t much that I’d like to go back to.  If I went back to the life I had before everything went south I’d go all the way back to before I graduated high school, and my life today is full of blessings that I could’ve only imagined over those almost 20 years.  The life I have today I honestly never thought was possible.  If you would’ve told me just 5 years ago that I’d be remarried, have a beautiful little girl, be living in a house, and be operating a world-wide ministry I’d have asked you for some of what you were drinking.

In fact, I was just talking about this very thing the other day, and a few moments ago in this message.  God has changed my perspective on what I went through enough that I realize that like it or not…God has taken all of it…the good, the bad, the ugly…and turned it around for good.  Everything I’ve been through has shaped my life and helped me to become who I am today.  All of it is part of my testimony.  All of it allows me the ability to say that if God can do what He’s done in, with, and through my life…He can and will do the same and more in…with…and through yours.

This goes all the way back to the beginning of this message when I said that Paul and Peter both spoke by inspiration of the Holy Ghost to tell us the God is no respecter of person…all He needs is a submitted, willing life…and He will do the rest.

And I believe this is the best place to close this message with this final point…

Are you ready to be done with living out a string of days with pain from the past, no purpose in your present, and no confidence about your future? Your journey away from regret and toward your home in God also takes you toward a deeper, truer life—the kind of life that invites you to start over today and begin living the way God always dreamed you could live . . . forever.

Let’s Pray:

Heavenly Father, thank You that You are a God of new beginnings and fresh starts.  I pray, Lord God, for those who look back with regret, and ask that You would heal the wounds and hurts of their yesterdays.  I pray, Lord God, for those who need a fresh start that they would find it in You.  May we all find ourselves walking with You on the journey from regret, and back toward You.  Take us into that deeper, truer, more intimate place with You…and help us to begin the kind of life we’ve always dreamed we’d be able to live.  In Jesus’ name. Amen

Final Thoughts From Pastor B:

I think these are relevant questions to ponder upon as we let the Lord sink this message into our hearts, and ask Him to reveal the hurting and hidden places in our hearts.  As I mentioned there are a few moments in my life I wish I could have a do-overs with, and it’s taken years for God to help me to forgive myself for those moments.  I regret that I did those things, but if there’s one thing I know it’s that God can take all the ugly places in your life and give you beauty for ashes like He’s done with my life.  So, let’s think about these questions…and maybe take them to the Lord in prayer

What would it look like to believe that God allows you to start over again today? How would your thoughts about the future change?

God does allow us to start over…with Him.  We can start fresh with Him right now today, and if you have never trusted Jesus as your Lord and Savior or if you’ve found yourself like the prodigal son needing to come home…as I mentioned now is your opportunity to take that all important step up the drive way.  Friend, God is eagerly awaiting to see you coming up the driveway of your life so He can run to you.  Mercy is waiting to run to you.  In order to take that step towards Him just take a moment to get some where so that it’s just you and Him…and pray these words:

Friend, if you said that simple prayer you have been reconciled to God, and returned home.  Like He did with the prodigal son Mercy has run to you to give you a robe, put a ring on your finger, and throw a party for all who have returned home.  For you were once lost, but now your found because of the amazing grace and mercy and love of God that sent His only begotten son so that today you would become a whosoever that’s called upon the name of the Lord to be saved.

Thank you all so much for being a part of the Christlike Ministries NWA Family, and for following along with this series.  I hope you’ll join us for the next message in the “Finding Your Way Back To God” series as we talk about:  “I Can’t Do This On My Own”.

Have a blessed day in the Lord!
Blessings & Grace;
Bryan J. Kizer – Pastor
Christlike Ministries NWA

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