The Character of Abba Father’s Heart – Empowering Prayer

WEAK people pray! And what they pray for is the Father’s Empowering Presence in their life.

Last week we left off with Peter and John thrown into jail because they were living and loving Jesus (Acts 4:8-13). The religious leaders were dumbfounded with what to do with these Jesus followers, so they threatened them, told them to stop speaking and teaching in the name of Jesus, and released them.

However, instead of skipping town, Peter and John went to the church and called a prayer meeting and prayed for the empowering presence of the Father.

“…Now, LORD, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus,” (Acts 4:29-30).

Knowing their weakness they asked the Father to speak and heal through them. The disciples could only accomplish these things because they knew they belonged to the Father. The Father loves to answer the prayers of the weak: “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly” (vs.31).

This last year God has continued to show me how weak I really am and how daily I cannot continue without the empowering presence of my Heavenly Father. I would like to ask the faithful readers of this blog to pray for Patty, myself, and the team from Holland Christian High School as we travel to Lesotho Africa. Together, we are blessed to be able serve at Beautiful Gate Care Center, attend God-ordained meetings about a ministry center in one of the villages, preach the gospel in a local church, and encourage the local pastor and his wife. As we minister to orphans, families torn apart by HIV aids, and a country struggling with extreme poverty we know that there is nothing we can bring on our own, but humbly pray that in our weakness the healing presence of Abba Father’s love through Jesus brings everlasting hope. Through the prayers of the Father’s children glorious things can happen just as they did in the book of Acts, thank you in advance for your prayers!

Also, I am pleased to share with you that Danell, one of the board members of Oceans Ministries, will be writing the next two blog entries while I am in Africa.

The Character of Abba Father’s Heart – Empowering the Weak

The Spykstra family has a new Sunday night ritual; at 8 pm we watch a mini series called “AD: The Bible.” This historic drama depicts the explosive growth of the early church after the death and resurrection of Jesus. The writers have done a masterful job depicting the characters. There is Caiaphas the sinister high priest, Pilate the heartless Roman governor, Herod the puppet Jewish King, and in sharp contrast the rag tag group of disciples led by Peter and John.

As the events in the book of Acts unfold a world system dictated by money, power, and back-alley deals done in secret attempt to crush the Gospel Movement. The power people are baffled as to why their self-seeking schemes are unable to derail the passion and courage of seemingly insignificant followers of Jesus. A specific example is found in Acts 4 where Peter and John are arrested for healing a crippled beggar. This healed man gave authentic glory to God the Father and Jesus His Son right in front of the temple. When the religious leaders heard about it and asked Peter and John by what power or name did they do this healing, Peter – filled with the Holy Spirit – blurted “it is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed… Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved,” (vs.8-13).

Now ponder with me the response of the religious leaders in vs. 13, “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” Check out the word “ordinary” in the Greek it means “idiot” or “unlearned.” Yes, the religious leaders were right, these men were not scholars, or powerful politicians or part of the elite, just “idiots.” BUT these men “had been with Jesus.” These men were empowered by their Father with the living Spirit of Jesus Christ and had become an unstoppable force.

In the mini series the power people are depicted as living in constant fear, yet the “weak” disciples live with a supernatural boldness that confounds the world around them. It is easy today to get discouraged as you look at the powerful people and forces that seem to be in control of shaping culture. However, when we reflect on the simplicity of the early church that definitely faced the same demonic strongholds, we can be encouraged. The Father loves to take the weak that “have been with Jesus,” and empower them to turn the world upside down.

Our Father is looking for the weak that realize they need Jesus to wash away their sin and fill them with the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. If you are one of the weak get ready for a new move of the Father who is about to unleash Jesus through you to bring His glory and fame far and wide.

The Character of Abba Father’s Heart – Empowering

A few days ago I sat at a Colorado State Track meet and encountered two different pictures of empowering. As we were sitting in the stands there was a family right behind us excited for the upcoming relay race that their daughter was in. The gun went up, went off and went off again, which meant a false start. The dad behind us went nuts as his daughter false started and disqualified the team. His rant about his daughter being the worst athlete on the track caused the whole family to leave. A few minutes later the dejected daughter sat next to her father looking for some words of encouragement but very little came. It was heartbreaking to hear her sobs without her father consoling her with a hug or one word of comfort.

As the tragic scene was unfolding behind us, on the track the opposite was taking place. The Special Olympics ran a 100 meter dash. As the gun went off the large crowd stood to their feet with cheers and loud applause. The last athlete to cross the finish line was a blind contestant who had a friend running with him, giving instructions and encouragement the whole way. The closer he got to the finish line the cheers permeated the stadium and his hands raised in joy as he completed the contest.

I was praying that the father behind me saw what was going on and it touched his heart to do the same for his brokenhearted daughter.

As we move on in looking at the Character of Abba Father’s Heart we want to look at how He empowers His children with the Holy Spirit, who floods our hearts with encouragement, boldness, and love. This coming Sunday we celebrate Pentecost where Abba Father unleashed His empowering Spirit on a bunch of weak men and women who failed Jesus during his darkest moment, in a sense they got disqualified from their spiritual race. But Abba found each of them through Jesus and put his loving arms around them and said, “get ready for the greatest race of your life.” Yes, they should have been disqualified and so should I, but we have Dad who meets us in our brokenness and weakness. He, like the guide for the blind runner, comes alongside by the Holy Spirit and empowers us with words of encouragement and love that lead us to the finish line of our spiritual race.

Focus the next few days on Acts 1 & 2 and think about the broken disciples waiting for the Gift of the Father, His empowering Spirit, to lead them on the race of all races. How the Father would take a Peter, who denied His Son three times 50 days earlier, and turn him into “Rocky,” full of passion and courage to live as one empowered by his Father’s love. You may have failed and been disqualified in your spiritual walk, but sit down next to your Father, think about the Cross, and listen to what He says through His Spirit – and get ready to run again!



The Character of Abba Father’s Heart – Holiness and the Holy Spirit

Last week I was blessed to speak to a group of men in Chino State Prison. It was one of those times where the tangible presence of God’s Spirit was unleashed. After sharing a message on Abba Father’s love several men came forward for prayer. One man shared with me his painful story and how God had used prison to humble him and during this time the precious work of Jesus was revealed to him. He asked me to pray over him as he goes back home, tries to be a father to his four boys, and desires to live Jesus before them. He said to me “I can’t do this, I need God’s Spirit.”

This man was so right, he can’t do it, but the Holy Spirit of God can. This is where the Holiness of the Father leads us, where we know we cannot “do life” without the Holy presence of the Father invading our heart. The last few weeks we have discussed the Holy Heart of our Father and how first of all His Holiness humbles us and reveals our sin. As Isaiah found out in the presence of His glory and proclaimed, “woe to me!…..I am ruined” (6:5). Second, His Holiness brings us to repentance that leads to healing; healing that is only found in the blood of Jesus Christ, which is sprinkled over our sin stained hearts.

And the third gift of Holiness is that it leaves us hungry for the filling of the Holy Spirit. The man I prayed for had been humbled in prison, healed by the blood of Jesus, and now realized that he needs the filling of the Holy Spirit to live for Christ in his home. The Holy Heart of the Father always leads to a desire to live for Him in the world, to be His voice, to share the story of His love and glory. This is evident with prophet Isaiah as well. After he is humbled and healed he hears the voice of God say, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And Isaiah responds, “Here am I, send me!” (6:8). And what you have in the rest of the book of Isaiah is a man filled with the Holy Spirit who prophesied about the death, resurrection, and the breaking forth of the Kingdom of God through the coming Messiah, Jesus.

In a few weeks on the church calendar we will celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. This is the story of when ordinary men and women who had been humbled and healed by the Holy work of Jesus Christ, were filled by the Holy Spirit to share the message of the Father’s love. If you recall Jesus told them not to move forward until they were filled full with the gift of the Father (Acts 1:4-6). So they waited 10 days and prayed that The Father’s Holy Presence would fill them. The Father filled them with His Holy Spirit and they transformed the world!

There are 12 days until Pentecost, wait and pray with me that once again we would encounter the Holy Presence of the Father, to humble, heal, and to fill us a new with His Holy Spirit. How our world needs to see a Holy Father and His Son Jesus in us. Come Holy Spirit!!!!!!

The Character of Abba Father’s Heart – The Healing of Holiness

“No pain no gain!” That saying came to mind as I watched my daughter’s track practice. After finishing a series of intense sprints, runners were crouching over and gasping for air. Some even looked for the nearest trashcan, feeling ready to lose their lunch. They were definitely in pain, yet the pain was serving a purpose as the team gears-up for its next meet and each participant strives to improve their competitive edge.

Looking at the character of the Father’s Holiness we noted last week that pain is involved, a pain that serves a powerful purpose. We can’t enter into the Holy presence of our Father without a total exposure of who we really are. Isaiah quickly found this out when He came face to face with the glory & holiness of the Sovereign King of the Universe, “Woe to me!….I am ruined!” cried this once proud man (6:5).

But for God’s dearly loved children this pain is to lead to the greatest of gains, which is His healing presence that restores our broken, sinful hearts. As Isaiah stood spiritually naked before the explosive purity of the Father King, there was a purpose and a mission was unleashed to cloth the shame-filled prophet:

“Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, ‘See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for” (vs. 6-7).

This verse states that the purifying coal from Heaven’s altar now covered Isaiah’s sinful heart; the blood of the perfect Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, now drenched his heart. This vision points us to the pain of the Cross, where the Father’s perfect one and only Son became naked and exposed with my sin and the sin of a rebellious world. The Holy Father turned away from His precious Son because His Holiness demanded it. Impurity was now dealt with forever and nothing would be able to separate God’s children from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

The gift of the Father’s Holy Presence will always take us back to the healing power of the cross. The place where the Son’s pain brought to us the greatest of gains, a restored relationship to our Holy Father. Last week I shared how an encounter with the Father’s Holiness brought me to a humble and broken place confronted by the depths of my sin. Yet, He did not leave me in the depths of despair He preceded to usher me back to the completed work on the Cross. And covered me afresh with garments of praise, a “joy unspeakable and full of glory.” I Peter 1:8.

In the midst of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, worldwide terrorism, and riots in Baltimore, our world needs a Sovereign, Holy Father who leads us to the Healing power of the Cross of Jesus Christ. This is the only hope for a world groaning in unbelievable pain. Please continue to pray to the Father to unleash His Holy Glory anew in our day (Ex. 33:18). Indeed, through the pain there is great gain!