Christmas was fast approaching, and I needed a sermon for the Christmas Eve Service. Having been a preacher and pastor for over fifty years, it would have been easy to pull one out of my files (I still have all the sermons that I have ever preached), but I felt I needed a fresh word from The Lord. He impressed on me three words, that were almost like a ‘word’ for the coming year.
God prepares us for what He is going to do.
God often moves suddenly.
We need to live with a sense of expectancy. Expect the unexpected.
Back in 2010, I had been asked to pastor an Assembly of God church in Chaska, MN. Things began to happen when we felt led to change the name of the church to Church on the Hill. All three of those ‘words’ began to happen. A preparation was laid as we set out our new mission statement for the church, together with the theme for the year, Commitment to Growth, and the scripture for the year, Ephesians 4:12, ‘equipping the saints for the work of the ministry.’ Then a visiting speaker and friend of mine, Craig Nelson, together with a prophetic tag team, ministered powerfully to our congregation at an evening service to begin the New Year.
Craig Nelson was leading an Apostolic and Prophetic Conference the following week, and Dorothy and I decided to accept Craig’s invitation to be at the Leaders Lunch on the Wednesday. The special speaker was Leif Hetland, and he shared a powerful testimony. At the end of the meeting, just before we were about to leave, Mike Lynch, who was helping Leif, came over and asked if I would like to have Leif speak in our church that Sunday. Evidently, the church he was to speak in suddenly couldn’t do it. I had never met Leif, but after hearing him speak, I was keen to have him come. Why he ended up in our little church when he could have gone to a much larger congregation. It had to be God.
Come Sunday, we had the most powerful service probably ever in the history of our church, as Leif ministered on the Father’s Love, the baptism of love, and all that it involved. At the end of the message, he asked everyone to stand, and beginning with myself and then Pastor Dorothy, he prayed for every single person in the service. Everyone, I said everyone, was touched, some ending up at the altar on the floor, most of them just gently fell into their seats. Tears flowed and God’s presence was so real. The service lasted well over an hour or so longer than usual. We experienced the presence and the power of God in a wonderful expression of God’s love that touched not only individuals but the church as a whole.
A TIME TO REFLECT ON THE FATHER’S LOVE
The following week, I reflected on all that was happening and on the Father’s love for his children.
I had first come in contact with that message back in the mid 1970s, especially through the ministry of Pastor Leonard Evans from Pleasant Valley Church in Ohio. He called it ‘The Love Message.’ When he spoke at one of our conferences in Australia, we sold more of his tapes than any other speaker ever. Dorothy and I also read Floyd McClung’s book on the Father Heart of God and another leaflet from YWAM. In more recent times, the revelation on the Heart of God has been shared by many speakers going back to Daystar founder Jack Winter.
Out of all those experiences over the last four decades, let me share a few reflections on the Father’s Love.
HOW DO WE RECEIVE THE LOVE OF GOD?
Built upon faith in the truth and revelation of God’s word (Faith is normally necessary to receive from God), the way to receive the Father’s love is through the Holy Spirit. Romans 5:5 declares, ‘the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.’ You want more of the love of God in your life then open yourself up to the person and work of the Holy Spirit. After all, the fruit of the Holy Spirit is ‘love, joy, peace . . . ‘Love is where it all starts. That morning, through the ministry of Leif Hetland, the Holy Spirit imparted to us an experience of the Father’s love.
GIVE GOD PERMISSION TO LOVE YOU
Years ago, back in Australia, at a conference Father Tim Nolan, a Catholic priest, used that phrase and I have never forgotten it. ‘Give God permission to love you.’ God does love you anyway, but open up your heart and life to connect and receive His love. Many people, because of past experiences, especially in regard to their own earthly father and family situations, find it hard to receive the Father’s love and may need prayer and help from others to remove the barriers in their hearts and lives.
PRAYER AND THE FATHER’S LOVE
I came across a quote from YWAM leader John Dawson in the book ‘Red Moon Rising.’ He stated, ‘Everyone prays, even non-Christians pray. The difference when Christians do, it is that they are climbing into the lap of their Heavenly
Father.’ It is no wonder Jesus told us we had to become like little children. A revelation of the Father heart of God brings a revelation on how to pray. In recent times I have been drawn back to the Lord’s Prayer. It starts with ‘Our Father.’ Abba Father, which conveys a new note of personal intimacy with Yahweh. ‘Abba’ in Hebrew is like saying ‘Daddy’ in English.
LOVE IS A CHOICE
But we are not meant to just bathe in the Father’s love and keep it to ourselves. We are meant to pass it on to others and let that same love touch the lives of people we come in contact with every day. When I studied at Teen Challenge in New York back in 1971, I saw a sign on a wall. I think it was a quote from David Wilkerson that stated something like, ‘Love is not just a feeling, it is something you do.’ Love has to flow out of our hearts as we choose to be instruments of His love in a world desperate for love.
I felt in this Langstaff Letter I was to share a personal testimony of how God touched our little church in Chaska. My prayer is that all of us will experience that love in our hearts through the ministry of the Holy Spirit every day in every way.