“When we get back home we need to find a church like that!” These words came from a group of high school guys after experiencing a worship service in Africa. Even though the sound system crackled and the decibel level was over the top the worship reached deep into the souls of the team members and brought us into the glorious presence of the King.
What was it about the worship conducted with a simple drum set, a well-worn keyboard, and four young ladies singing? In the states we would consider such a Sunday service unacceptable and hear many parishioners complaining, yet why were these young people so impacted? My brothers and sisters in Africa have taught me that joy always flows out of relationship, a relationship that starts with knowing you belong to the Father. Indeed souls that have experienced the overflowing love of God cannot be contained-joy resounds from the depths of one’s being.
A glimpse of heaven invaded that cinder-block sanctuary in Lesotho as the Holy Spirit flooded the room and those present were ever so gently pushed into the river of joy and the Father’s love. Experiencing such joy is infectious and once tasted will be desired for the rest of one’s life. One of the foundational principles of joy is being FOUND by the love of the Father! The greatest gift of all is that I was lost but the Good Shepherd searched for me and found me and brought me back to the heavenly fold of the Father.
Perhaps you were able to spend some time pondering Matthew 25:31-46 about the Sheep and the Goats. Generally goats are described as fiercely independent animals that don’t listen well. And while sheep may bite and are prone to wander when they come to know and trust the shepherd’s voice they follow. If we know Jesus we will want to learn from the True Shepherd and follow Him into a glorious eternity:
“Come you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world,” (Matthew 25:34).
What a joy filled verse! It emphatically states that if I am a sheep-The Father loves me! The Father blesses me! The Father gives me a kingdom inheritance prepared for me since the beginning of creation! Read it again and savor the blessings:
- Jesus, the Good Shepherd, brought you to the joyful love of the Father.
- The Father gives you a glorious inheritance in Christ.
- You will reign with Him for all eternity.
At the end of the Easter service several young people heard the voice of the Good Shepherd. The love of the Father captured hearts. Jesus was asked into lives! The room erupted with joy as lost souls were found! Praise from the depths of joyful souls was evident! The joy was contagious!
Do you have joy? It all starts when you come to know that you were lost in sin but a loving Father searched for you through His only Son, FOUND you, and brought you back into His Kingdom of Joy!
“Celebrate with me! (Says the Father) I’ve found my lost sheep! Count on it – there’s more joy in heaven over the sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue,” (Luke 15, the MSG)
““This song says it all, check it out: https://youtu.be/Sc6SSHuZvQE
There is an amazing spiritual pattern that takes place in the history of the world every 500 years or so that highlights a major move of the Spirit of God to reveal His heart to His children. Notice His unfolding revelations:
- 2000 BC – Abraham chosen to be a blessing to the world (Gen. 12:1-3).
- 1500 BC – Moses chosen to lead God’s people out of prison to be a nation of priests to declare His glory to the nations (Ex. 19:1-6).
- 1000 BC – David chosen to be a king after His own heart and the descendant, the Messiah to rule the nations (2 Sam. 7:11-16).
- 500 BC – Ezra/Nehemiah chosen to revive a broken people and bring them back to His love and joy (Neh. 8:10).
- 0 AD – His Son Jesus chosen to die to redeem a fallen world to Himself and live in His children through the Holy Spirit becoming His body in the world.
- 500 AD – Pope Gregory the Great a part of a monastic movement chosen to reshape culture and spread the Gospel to the nations.
- 1000 AD – Pope Gregory the 7th chosen to reform the church and reawaken a spiritual fervor.
- 1500 AD – Men and women of the Reformation chosen to redirect His children back to Christ, His Word, Faith, Grace, and His Glory alone!
- 2000 AD – Children chosen to reveal the Father’s glory!
Today marks the 500th anniversary of the nailing of the 95 theses on the Wittenberg castle door in Germany by the monk Martin Luther. Luther’s protest against church abuses found in these theses launched a reformed movement in the church that would once again awaken the church spiritually by bringing it back to the Simple Gospel.
Another 500 year from October 31, 1517 is upon us and I’m convinced a new move of the Spirit of God is happening in our day. As in eras past once again we are in desperate need of God’s Spirit to reawaken His children from a slumbering sleep. I believe this Next Reformation will revive a struggling church, empower a new breed of discipleship, and flood the nations with a glorious revelation of God as has never been seen before.
As the last Reformation brought us back to Christ and a salvation by grace through faith alone (Eph. 2:8-9) I believe this New Reformation will bring us back to a greater Revelation of the Father. I am excited to unpack the truths found in the last verse of Jesus prayer in John 17:25-26:
Righteous Father…I have made you known to them and will continue to make You known in order that the love you have for Me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.
This prayer of Jesus sums up His mission, “I have made You known and will continue to make You known…” When the church or His children truly come to know who the Father is “the whole earth will be brimming with knowing God-Alive, a living knowledge of God ocean deep, ocean wide.” (Isaiah 11:9 MSG).
I believe we are about to see this powerful wave of Isaiah’s prophecy hit our spiritual shoreline and awaken us to an intimate life changing revelation of our Abba Father that will flood the earth. Join me as we wait with expectancy and pray further into these promises.
Have you ever thought about your funeral and who would show up? Last week as we were doing ministry in downtown Denver I spent time talking to an individual I will call Travis. It was a gut wrenching conversation filled with graphic details of a life filled with abuse, foster homes, and mental health wards leaving Travis in search of love in all the wrong places. He shared with me that his greatest fear is not death, which he indicated would be a blessing, but that no one would show up at his funeral. “I just want someone there to testify to the fact that I’m loved,” he said with tear filled eyes.
I shared this same story at a marriage retreat I was apart of this past weekend. Where, as one would guess, love was the number one topic. No marriage or family can properly function without the Holy Spirit filling of the Father’s love demonstrated by the gift of His only Son Jesus. Travis never experienced this love of the Father poured out on him through his earthly parents or the foster home system. If only someone could have pointed Travis to the love of Christ displayed on the cross, perhaps his life would not be filled with such extreme pain and loneliness.
At the marriage retreat I had the privilege of talking with a couple that I officiated their wedding 11 years ago. As we were catching up they shared with me how their young family had grown to two biological, two adopted, and two foster children. Joy might not even describe how I felt as Chad and Leah shared their journey to opening their hearts and home to be a place of the Father’s love. As you can imagine it is not an easy journey to raise six kids. Add to that the fact that some of these children are literally starved for affection and attention and gripped by fear initiated by rejection and separation from biological parents.
Sunday morning I awoke early thinking again about Travis and his childhood trauma and Chad and Leah’s commitment to bring hurting children into their home in order to encounter the healing love from a Holy Father. Lord willing those children coming into Chad and Leah’s home will never have to walk through life feeling unloved like Travis. They will know at a young age to the perfect love of God that cast out all fear and brings certainty through the Spirit of Jesus that they are children of the King.
As I contemplated the difference between the love the foster children were experiencing with Chad and Leah and the loveless void Travis experienced my mind went back to my last moments with Travis last Tuesday night. I kept feeling the nudge of the Holy Spirit say to me “tell Travis that you love him and I love him and give him a big huge.” Yes, other voices were also speaking in my mind countering the Spirit’s push but eventually I reached out to Travis hugged him and told I loved him but more importantly the Father in Heaven loved him and he would never have to be alone.
I’m not sure how the Holy Spirit worked that night in Travis’s heart but I do know He has been speaking loudly to me the last few days, “Don’t hold My love back, open up your heart and keep giving it away!” Maybe this week the Father will bring a Travis into your life, “Don’t hold back, and give His love away!”
One of the best times for me to pray and think is when I ride my bike. Last Tuesday, Election Day, I hopped on my bike and rode around a reservoir near our house. As I called out to Abba Father for some direction a soaring bird with huge wings landed on top of a tree near the bike path. I quickly applied the brakes, as I was stunned to see a Bald Eagle above me. I pulled out my phone to capture this surreal moment and the eagle flew across the lake to join another eagle resting in a tree. I can count on one hand the times I have seen a Bald Eagle in the wild but to see two was unbelievable!
Mesmerized by the eagles perched high on the tree my mind began illuminating with Scripture texts about the majestic, powerful eagle. As the wind picked up the eagle took flight and soared over my head, again I tried to take a picture of it as it flew by. Well that black dot in the blue sky is the eagle 🙂 Needless to say I enjoyed the bike ride home, as I was filled with praise for the wonder of God’s creation.
The next morning, as I sat down to do my devotions, my focus turned to the recent elections and I contemplated what it all might mean for our country. Immediately God brought me back to the eagles I had just encountered and how the eagle is the symbolic bird of the United States. I turned the pages of my Bible and began looking up passages about eagles. I ended up with 33 references! The imagery presented in scripture about the eagle is utterly amazing and I think will be an encouragement to many in light of the recent elections. So for the next few blogs I would like to share what I believe the Holy Spirit impressed upon my heart about the eagle.
The first truth is from Exodus 19:4: Carried into His Presence
You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.
I truly believe that our Father is preparing us His children for a new move of God where His passion is for us to be once again in His presence. We have been enslaved to our world, our “Egypt” for too long. Like an eagle God will place us on His wings and carry us out of bondage to His Holy Mountain to once again reveal His glory the place of true freedom. The eagle is a symbol of freedom and true freedom is only found in the presence of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Join me in praying that the Father would place us on the wings of the Holy Spirit and bring us out of our sin and into the reviving presence of our loving Abba Father.