“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.” – John 15:1-9 (KJV)
Well, friends. This is it. The final teaching series message of the final teaching series on Pastor B’s Blog of 2015. It’s been quite the year, and really this series is fitting for so many things. It’s a great way to get into the Christmas Spirit, but it’s an even greater way to be reminded of the fact that no matter what is going on it really is all about Jesus.
The Bible is really about Jesus, and as we’re about to find out through this final message the only way to know Jesus is to Abide in His Word because Jesus IS the very Word of God itself. I always like to say that the Bible is Jesus in book form, and we know that from John 1:14 which tells us that the Word became flesh and dwelled among us, and of course it all starts in the beginning where there was the Word…the Word was with God and the Word WAS God…and that’s why today the only thing the Holy Ghost is obligated to respond to is the Word of God.
So, let’s get into this final message of 2015, and find out just what God wants to speak to us about tonight as we prepare to spend Christmas with our families, draw 2015 to a close, and prepare for a new year, Amen.
Let’s Worship Jesus:
I can’t think of a better song to accompany this message than an old favorite of mine from Hillsong called “None But Jesus”.
To Know Him We Must Abide In Him
I’m going to start this message off with a question. It ought to be common knowledge, but I believe when I ask you’ll be able to understand where I believe God is going to take this message to prepare us for our theme for 2016 which is “Give God First Place”.
The question is simply this: When is the last time you really gave God first place in your life?
When it comes to relationships while things like attraction and chemistry and common interests and so forth are important in the end the most important thing we can do with anyone to get to know them is to spend quality time getting to know them, Amen!?!
Think back to the last message for a moment to the Martha and Mary story. There wasn’t anything wrong with what Martha was doing, but Mary put a premium on getting to know Jesus above anything else that needed to be done, and Jesus rewarded her by saying that she was doing that “one needful thing”.
I can already tell where this message is going, and it’s going right at our hearts. Your heart, my heart, all of our hearts must come to a place where we desire nothing but Jesus. I asked some questions in the last message, and the reason I had to ask them is because so few of us really take the time to soak in the Lord’s presence.
It’s not enough to attend worship services, it’s not enough to attend prayer groups and small groups, and it’s not enough to just read our Bibles. We have to be doing all of that with one purpose, one goal, and one ultimate desire above anything else…to encounter the presence of Jesus because THAT really is the one needful thing. Being in His presence.
I can’t tell you how beautiful it is some times to be sitting here trying to pen a message, I’m listening to worship music, and suddenly the presence of God invades my office and I have to stop everything I’m doing and soak it in. There is absolutely nothing like it in the world. It’s humbling and exciting and wonderful all at the same time because God chose to visit.
Friends. I love my wife. I love her company. I love knowing that she’s here. I absolutely adore my daughter, and I love when she’s around. There isn’t a day that goes by that my little girl doesn’t do something to melt my heart or put a smile on my face or even a little tear of the understanding of the grace of God that comes from a simple smile from her. But, all of that combined as great as it is…is NOTHING compared to the moments that God chooses to invade my life with His presence.
There is absolutely nothing that compares to the sweet peace and loving embrace of Jesus’ presence, and the reason I know His presence is because I pursue it like He pursues me. Still, if I’m being real and honest with you even knowing how wonderful His presence is I still don’t pursue it nearly enough, but when God shows up there’s no better feeling in the world. There is nothing better than knowing that God chose to take a moment to shed His love upon you and allow His presence to rest afresh upon you, and just allow you to know that in that moment He just chooses to love on you for no other reason than you’re His child and He wants to bless you with His love.
Come on, let me drive this home. Parents. You know exactly where I’m going with this, don’t you.
By now y’all know that I adore my daughter. I love when she’s around, and there are many times I stop what I’m doing to pay attention to her. So often in fact that it distracts me from writing and getting these message posted. However, there is something altogether different about the moments that she willingly comes to me for no other reason then to love on me because I’m her daddy.
Now…let’s take that on a bigger picture. When we willingly take the time to draw near to God that’s what moves His heart. When we become like Mary, and willingly sit at the feet of the Master for no other reason then to love on Him because He’s our Daddy…that melts and moves HIS heart. Now, I don’t know about you, but I want to be known by God as someone who actively pursues His presence, and purposely seeks out moments to spend with Him for no other reason than I love Him.
How about you!?!
You see, this is where we are going in 2016. This is what giving God first place is all about, and there are a lot of things I’m seeing that confirm to me that Give God First Place is the theme for 2016. You know, I could combine a lot of the themes I’ve had over the last few years now. Themes like Being Serious About Being Serious With God, More Of Him and Less Of Me, and now Give God First Place…all of this really has the common bottom line of giving God the place He deserves in our lives…FIRST.
This past Sunday morning at church Pastor Cass was home to give us an update on his latest trip to India and Nepal and he kept coming back to Emmanuel…God…With…US. HE kept coming back to talking about God’s love, God’s presence, and the fact that God pursues us with a passion and fire that is unquenchable. God is ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS pursuing us…even when we aren’t pursuing Him. Listen…God doesn’t just want to be some guardian who watches over us (although He does), but He wants to be INTIMATE with us and He wants to pour out His love upon us…but the ONLY way He can and will do that is when we are willing to sit at His feet and soak in His presence.
Let me ask you again: How long has it been since you soaked and saturated yourself in the presence of God? Have you ever sat and soaked in the presence of God?
I can tell you that my last time was I believe Friday. I was sitting here listening to worship music the song was “Great Are You Lord” by Sons and Daughters…and there was a moment when everything stopped, God showed up, and it didn’t last but a few minutes…but the Lord took those few moments to love on me and allow me to soak in a little bit of His presence. There is truly NOTHING like it at all friends, and once you have a taste of what it’s like to be in His presence…you’ll understand why I say that.
Here’s another question for you: What kind of relationship do you have with your Bible? Do you just read it or do you READ it? Do you have it on display on your nightstand or is it on display in your life?
Do you know why the Bible places such an emphasis on studying it? The Bible says things like search the scriptures daily, meditate upon this book day and night, hide the Word in your heart, study to show yourself approved, and more. The reason for that isn’t just to get you to read the Bible…it’s because when you really take the time to get into the Word of God you will encounter Jesus because the Word of God is Jesus in book form.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. – John 1:1 & 14 (KJV)
The reason there’s such an emphasis upon reading, studying, meditating, and hearing the Word of God is because as you’ve read me say many time Jesus IS the Word. This is how we get to know the voice of our Shepherd. This is how we get to know what God’s Will is for us. This is how we get to learn of His love, His grace, His character, and how we have the same things in us because we have Holy Ghost living on the inside of us.
I love using the You Version Bible app. It’s very convenient, and it also gives me the option of being able to listen to the Bible being read. Just today I was listening to the Gospel of Luke, and do you know what happened as I started listening…there was the unmistakable peace of the presence of God in the office. Now, I’m listening to worship music as I work to wrap up this message, and once again the peaceful presence of God is right here in my office.
However, as wonderful as those things are there is something even better about taking the time to dust off the King James Study Bible I’ve been using since my 25th Birthday. I am one of those people who has never read the Bible cover to cover because I simply can’t. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to or tried to…it is hard for me because I have had Attention Deficit Disorder all my life, but that’s not the reason I’ve yet to read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. It’s because I always find something to study out…there’s always a side journey.
I have purposely sat out to follow one of those through the Bible schedules only to find that even when I read a Bible that doesn’t have the study notes or the cross-references in the middle of the page that I still find myself finding something that I have to write down. Then before long, I’m on a side journey, and I’ve been on this side journey for over an hour.
That’s what I mean about what kind of relationship do you have with your Bible. It’s one thing to be able to boast about reading it from cover to cover forwards and backwards…but if you read the Bible like that and never get any revelation from what your reading you may as well just read the phone book because I just feel like the Bible was never meant to be read from cover to cover. It’s not meant to be read like it’s any other book because the Bible isn’t just another book.
There’s no other book in the world like the Bible. It’s not even because of the fact that when you read it it’s Author is always present…it’s because it’s the only Book in the world that is still writing it’s story. It’s the only book in the world that is coming alive…live. It’s the only book in the world that holds ALL of the answers to every sickness, disease, and the evil that’s in the world today. There is no other book in the world like the Bible…and while all the Bible apps and websites are wonderful tools to help with our studies…there is nothing like flipping through the pages of a well read, well used, well-studied Bible.
This Bible I’ve had for nearly 16 years now has been with me every where I’ve been, and when I haven’t had it I haven’t felt right. It’s been with me when I was in jail, it’s been with me as I moved from house to house, it was with me when I was homeless, and it’s sitting on the table next to my desk right now. I would venture to say that my Bible is my most prized possession. If there was a fire in my house, and I could only save one item (assuming my wife, daughter, and dog all got out safely) I would save my Bible.
That’s what I mean about what kind of relationship do you have with your Bible, and I believe that’s the perfect place to close this message. There actually was a devotional attached to this message, but this entire message was written by me. This is all me and the Holy Ghost.
So, let’s pray and close this message…and this series, Amen!?!
Lord Jesus. Oh man. Where do we start after a series and message like this? How do we respond? How are we to incorporate what You have spoken into our walk with You. You’ve talked to us all series long about spending more time at Your feet, about purposely pursuing Your presence, and about giving You the place in our lives that You belong. I believe my prayer over this message tonight is that You sink it deep within our hearts, but let it also burn a slow burn in our hearts. I believe my prayer is that You would begin to stoke the flames of passion in our hearts for You, for Your Word, and for the things that You, Lord Jesus are passionate about.
Lord…let us truly learn what it means to give You the first and best place of our hearts and most of all our lives. Let us truly begin to live by the motto that nothing but Jesus will satisfy us. I pray that You would renew in us a passion to pursue Your presence, and help us all to be a little more like Mary…and a little less like Martha. Help us, Lord God, to understand that everything we need flows from taking time to discover that one needful thing.
Teach us to Abide in You. Renew in us an unsatisfied hunger and unquenchable thirst for Your Word and Your Presence. Let us know the revelation behind the fact that the greatest present we could ever receive is the gift of Your presence. We love and glorify You Jesus. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.
Final Word From Pastor B:
What a series to wrap up 2015 with, Amen!?! I don’t know about you, but this has been better than any Christmas series I could’ve gotten us into…even though I’m doing a Christmas series over on Christlike Ministries NWA Blog. After all, Christmas really should be about nothing but Jesus.
I believe the best way to really draw this message and series to a close is to post the final quote and point from the devotional this series was actually from. It’s awesome knowing that very little of what I wrote in this series came from the devotional, but from the very heart and breath of God through the Holy Ghost.
“Get to know Jesus well, because the more you know him, the more you’ll love him, and the more you love him, the more you’ll want to follow him, and the more you follow him, the more you’ll become like him, and the more you become like him, the more you become yourself.”
Once you get to this point I believe you’ll get a true revelation of Galatians 2:20 which says: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
I am crucified with Christ. This ministry is no longer just something I’m doing it’s something I am becoming. I didn’t set out to become Pastor B, but that’s who I am today. In all honesty, I never believed I was capable of becoming Pastor B, but that’s exactly who I am today by the grace of God…and that’s why I write and preach like I do.
It’s been an amazing 2015, friends. I am so blessed to have so many quality men and women of God. I know I’ve lost some followers along the way, but I’ve always held to the fact that whether I have an audience of 1 or 1,000 I’m going to continue serving God one message at a time.
Thank you…ALL OF YOU for an amazing year. Thank you for your prayers, for your words of encouragement, and for some of you for supporting the ministry in your own way. I hope that in the coming year God will draw people who will partner with me financially to help keep Christlike Ministries NWA online, and help us to do some more things.
Well. I guess there’s just one last thing to say. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours from me and mine. I love and appreciate your prayers, patience, and support…and I look forward to getting back to work in 2016 as we learn to truly Give God First Place in our lives.
Until then I pray that we all have an amazing time with our families, friends, and loved ones this Christmas and New Years. PLEASE do NOT drink and drive. I don’t want to lose one member of the Christlike Ministries NWA family to jail, hospitals or death because you didn’t want to call a cab or use a designated driver or make plans to stay where you were. I want all of you to with me in 2016 okay!?!
Thank you all for helping Pastor B’s Blog get going, and please join me back here Sunday January 24 as we kick of the new year with the first teaching series of 2016: “Look To Jesus: The Basics Of The Christian Life” here on Pastor B’s Blog, and over on Christlike Ministries NWA Blog the first series of 2016 will be the name sake of this years theme: Give God First Place.
Until then. Have a good night and God bless!
Blessings & Grace;
Bryan Kizer aka Pastor B
Christlike Ministries NWA