The Gift of the Father – Heaven’s Joy

During my first visit to Lesotho Africa, the guide from World Vision drove our team of pastors to a remote village on a dusty and very bumpy road. As our vehicle crested a hill and descended down toward a cinder block building, I couldn’t help but notice an unusual sound which I had never heard before. I wondered if what we heard was a good or a bad noise. Obviously the guide must have seen our puzzled faces as he explained that the ladies from the village make that sound when they are extremely happy! “That sound” has become one of my favorite delights while in Africa. Obviously it is hard to explain on paper; you will just have to come to Africa to hear it for yourself. Over my many visits the women have tried to teach me but you need to have a really gifted tongue that moves back and forth at top speed to pull it off and I have come to realize that this is not one of my spiritual gifts.

When you hear “that sound” you know for a fact that something special is happening. Whether a baby is being adopted at Beautiful Gate Care Center or during a worship service when the drum begins to beat and Lesotho people proclaim their love for Jesus. The twilling of tongues in Africa is always a sure sign that something good is happening and blessings will follow.

In the same way when the Gift of the Father, the Holy Spirit, flows down upon His children there are signs revealing His glorious presence and one of those signs is Joy! I love how Peter describes this Joy from Heaven:

“Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.”

1 Peter 1:8

This joy cannot be explained, it comes from another world and it blows our world away. Read the book of Acts and you will find this “inexpressible and glorious joy” all over the place. The disciples experienced joy in prayer meetings, prisons and persecution. The crazy thing about Heaven’s Joy is it is contagious, when the neighbors see this joy they want to know what “you’re drinking?” (Acts 2), which opens the door to share Jesus!

I think the early church’s greatest tool in sharing the Father’s love to a lost world was that they were filled with a supernatural joy. What if followers of Christ continued to taste Heaven’s Joy? Think about the impact this would have on a joyless world! The apostle Peter shares the tools to open up the floodgates of heaven simply stated: “love Him” and “believe in Him.” Those who direct their passion towards a Father God they have not seen and YET walk a life of believing trust in Jesus WILL FIND themselves drenched in the Joy from Heaven. 

Just like in Africa when the women do their twilling as a sign of happiness to verbally express a blessing, when we overflow with Heaven’s Joy it is a sign our Good Father’s Kingdom has been poured into our hearts to be a blessing to the world. “For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and Joy in the Holy Spirit!” Romans 14:17.


The Gift of the Father- Heaven Invading Earth

This past weekend I had the privilege of fellowshipping with a group of men in Michigan for a retreat. You can’t beat Western Michigan in the fall! God’s handy work surrounded us with His radiant glory both in creation and in relationships. The trees were shouting out the Father’s praise as the wind pushed through causing the leaves to speak and sparkle in the brilliant sun.

And the wind of the Spirit also pushed through our group as the Father gave insight and revelation that made His presence known. One of the men was sharing about a statement he heard about “Heaven coming to earth.” Stating that when God shows up, it is often times in the least likely places: brokenness, poverty, prisons, suffering, loss, vulnerability etc., and ultimately that is the best place to be. During the weekend we definitely experienced that at the retreat. One of the first guys to share opened up with radical honesty and that broke through the walls of our protective male hearts and allowed the Holy Spirit to dwell with in real and tangible ways. Indeed, there was no better place to be! We all tasted Heaven invading earth!

When Heaven invades earth, and the Father release His Holy Spirit among us several signs will follow, here are a few:

  1. A JOY because of the indwelling presence of Jesus living within us.
  2. SIN is revealed and overcome by the power and forgiveness of Jesus.
  3. A UNITY among the Father’s family that breaks down dividing walls.
  4. A desire to OBEY the will of the Father through the Spirit and the Word.
  5. MIRACLES occur and bring hope to us and glory to the Father alone.

When Heaven invades earth and these signs follow, God’s Heavenly Kingdom will make itself known on earth. Our Father in Heaven will be glorified and His children will be satisfied in His presence. Will you dream with me about an invasion like this? An invasion which would flood our world with rivers flowing from the throne of God to a culture that has become a barren wasteland? For the next few weeks I want to ponder these 5 points and ask you to fervently pray this prayer Jesus taught us to pray: “Our Father, in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…” 

Or simply: Father, Let Heaven Come!


The Gift of the Father – Praying Through the Pain

The other afternoon I went for a bike ride, it was a glorious fall day and I likely peddled farther than I should have neglecting to recall that the return route was mostly up hill. As I was nearing home and facing the last hill my legs were shouting to my mind, “why do you put yourself through this! It’s not worth it! Give up!” But then I heard another voice; it was the commentators from the Tour de France, the grueling 21-day bike race that destroys riders as they seek to conquer the French Alps. “Peddle through the pain,” is the statement often repeated as they track each rider’s progress up mountains such as the Alpe d’Huez. The only way to make it to Champs-Elysees in Paris, the finish line, is “peddle through the pain.” Somehow each cyclist pounds through the agonizing pain in order to reach a break through, and then perseverance brings forth a second wind, another level mentally that enables the athlete to physically climb the steep and rugged mountains.

In Luke 11 Jesus teaches us to Pray Through the Pain! We need the “second wind,” a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The scripture prompts us to be like the man who goes to his friend’s house at midnight and pounds on the door over and over again because he is desperate for bread. Jesus’ describes this action as “boldness” or in another translation says the man is “shameless,” Luke 11:8. Jesus is teaching that if we want the “gift of the Father,” the Holy Spirit’s fresh outpouring we must continue asking, seeking, knocking, to not give up no matter pain we may be facing (vs. 9).

For years, even before I was a pastor, I felt prompted to pray for a continued move of the Spirit of God on His church. I have prayed for this in prayer groups, with family and friends, and in my prayer closet. But at times when the spiritual battle is steep, the pain too much, I have heard a voice say “give up, it will never happen, listen to the pain and find an easier path.” But in the midst of what looks like an impossibility I hear another voice, the voice of the Father saying, “Pray through the Pain for the Power of My Presence to be Poured out again!”  

Again we have been bombarded by pain in our world through tragic shootings, devastating storms, political unrest, and personal battles that so many today are facing, and there is no better time to Pray Through the Pain! Jesus makes the bold declaration in this passage: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened…” (vs.9-10). I believe there is a Second Wind coming, don’t stop, be “shameless,” and keep Praying through the Pain!



The Gift of the Father – Believing He is Good!

Do you believe God the Father is good? As a young boy I remember building a fort in the backyard thoroughly enjoying myself while nailing boards together on a sunny Sunday afternoon. But all of the sudden I set the hammer down wondering if I had accidentally broken one of the 10 commandments. After all “keep the Sabbath holy,” meant that Sunday was a day of rest and not work. I was afraid I had upset God and punishment was sure to follow for breaking the 4th commandment. As I recall the joy and fear I had on that day I look back now and I’m sure my Father God was smiling at the fun I was experiencing constructing the fort. But for many years it was hard to imagine a Father God who wasn’t angry, but rather good and desperately desired for me to experience the outpouring of His love.

When dialoguing about the need for another Great Outpouring of the Father’s love through the Holy Spirit, it is so important for us to believe the Father is good. As we considered Jesus’ teaching last week in Luke 11:5-6, we were given a picture of a man who desperately needed bread in order to feed a guest, he ultimately realized he had nothing to give. Yes, the first step in receiving this gift of God’s Spirit is to see our emptiness and utter weakness. The second equally important step is to believe our “friend,” our Good Father possesses the bread that we desperately need.

Where do you turn when you are empty, weak, hurting, or have a huge hunger in your heart? Where you go for help will show what or who you believe in. Often, because of my past fear of God the Father, I would go elsewhere to fill the longing in my heart. I would rush to sports, friends, entertainment, or try really hard to be a “good Christian boy” so the Father would love me. However, all those things could never fill the deepest need in my soul.

In Luke 11:5-13, Jesus reminds us where He went when in his humanity He felt weak and had nothing give for the work He was called to do. Jesus approached His Father. The Father He trusted to be good. The Father He knew loved to pour out His Spirit of love upon His Children: “Which of you fathers, if your son ask for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

It has been a journey for me to come to understand this, yet today I know my Daddy God is good and he has the best of gifts for me that will fill my needy and hungry heart. This week join me once again in pounding on Heaven’s door for a fresh outpouring of the good gift from the Father, His Holy Spirit. Oh and if you have ac chance listen to this song which reminds us to trust in the Father’s goodness!


The Gift of the Father – “I have nothing to give!”

One of the greatest spiritual truths that The Father continues to teach me is “I have nothing to give!” It flies in the face of my human pride to admit that I am empty, needy, can’t fix the problem, have nothing to give. Yet, this is exactly what Jesus teaches is the first step to prepare our hearts for an Outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Right after Jesus’ instruction on prayer in Luke 11 he teaches His disciples how to prepare for the gift of the Father’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit. Jesus presents a short story of the friend stopping by in the middle of the night requesting food due to an unexpected visitor who had arrived at his home. In Jesus’ day it was a social taboo to not welcome a guest with food and hospitability, it did not matter if they were invited or not and deciding “to go out” instead was not an option. After frantically searching the cupboards the man desperately yells out “I have nothing to set before him,” Luke 11:6.

Oh how hard this concept is for us grasp! In our American culture we have an endless abundance of just about everything and on top of that a spirit of self-reliance; because of this we have fooled ourselves into thinking we have something to give when in reality our cupboards are spiritually bare. We’ve encountered the latest and greatest “whatever,” we have read the most popular books, we have thrown our money at “it,” worked ourselves to the bone for such minuscule results. In our efforts to advance the Father’s glory, we have been left exhausted and empty.

Jesus clearly shows us there is another way to live powerfully and fulfilled in His Kingdom. Another way to bring the Father’s message of love and hope to a dying world, it starts with realizing that we have “nothing” to give. I sense that our Good Father is seeking to awaken His children to rediscover this deep, life changing truth! As I go online and read the news at times it overwhelms me with the impossible pain that is flooding the globe. Recently, I received a phone call from another follower of Christ beaten up for his tenacious faith and I realize I have “nothing” to give on my own. But the beauty of what Jesus teaches in the following verses all flow from starting with the realization we have no bread in our spiritual cupboards, we are completely empty and must look elsewhere. I need to find The One with the resources, The One who can fill my heart with the life giving Bread of Heaven and that is what will fill my spiritual cupboard so that I have something to give away.

I encourage you to join me in prayer, speaking the words from the vision of The Last Great Outpouring shared in the September 8 blog. Take a moment and ask the Father to show you how spiritually empty you are and how desperately you need Heaven’s Bread, a fresh outpouring of His Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13).