Pastor G is preaching a four-part series called “Family Matters (Spiritual Edition): Living Well As The Family Of God.” He’s spending four weeks talking about some very specific and practical ways God wants to interact with you on a very personal level, also how we are to interact with other members of God’s family, and how we are to represent God’s family to the rest of the world.
This is Week 1 of 4 and it’s called “Abba.”
Tonight we are starting a new four-part series we’re calling “Family Matters: Living Well As The Family Of God.” In our Family Matters, consider me Steve Irkel. Did I do that? There’s a great old Gaither tune called Family of God. I want to hit that chorus together each week. If you’ve never heard it before it goes like this.
[Pastor G Sings} I’m so glad I’m a part of the Family of God. I’ve been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His Blood! Joint heirs with Jesus, as we travel this sod. For I’m part of the family, the Family of God. Would you sing that again with me? I’m so glad I’m a part of the Family of God. I’ve been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His Blood! Joint heirs with Jesus, as we travel this sod. For I’m part of the family, the Family of God.
So, we’re going to spend four weeks talking about some very specific and practical ways God wants to interact with you on a very personal level, also how we are to interact with other members of God’s family, and how we are to represent God’s family to the rest of the world. To fully understand, appreciate and participate in the family of God we need to start with our relationship with God. Tonight is all about learning how to better connect with our Father God. I briefly referred to this two Sundays ago but I want to really drive this idea home tonight. It’s really one of the major spiritual transformations of my Christian life. I am excited about the message God has laid on my heart for you this tonight, let me hear you say or type “Hit me wit it G! I’m ready!” Awesome! Let’s look at Luke 11:1-4
“Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.” – Luke 11:1-4 (NASB)
That’s a familiar passage of Scripture for most of us right? Who knows what this particular prayer Jesus is teaching is called? Go ahead, call it out! The Lord’s Prayer! Right! Now, I want you to picture this scene again. The disciples are cruising around with Jesus in the Kidron Valley and they stumble across Jesus praying. Likely it was in a quiet, solitary place because that’s where Jesus USUALLY went to pray. In fact, He taught people that was what they should do when they prayed also. We talked about this in-depth MANY weeks ago in our Just Jesus series on Sunday mornings. Look at what he said in Matthew 6:5-6
“When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” ~ Matthew 6:5-6
Jesus is a man of integrity. His word is his bond. If He instructs us to do something, He’s not going to be a hypocrite and do it differently than He tells us. So we can be pretty confident back here in Luke 11 that Jesus has gone off, away from the crowds, to a solitary place to talk with His Father in prayer. So the disciples go looking for Him eventually. Jesus rarely had much time alone to himself so He had to make every second count. Sooner or later someone would come looking for Him. Maybe that’s the way your world feels sometimes too? Moms, that’s probably true of you especially. You finally get a minute of peace to yourself, you pour yourself a glass of mango iced tea and sit down on the back lanai, breathing a deep sigh of relaxation and then the air is shattered with “Mom! Mom! Mom! Momma! Momma! Ma! Ma! Mom! Mom!”
That’s kind of how it worked in Jesus’ life too. Since He walked this earth as a human man, who knew all the stresses, and all the struggles, and all the pains, and all the difficulties you and I know, times 1,000, He knew how important it was for a human being to stay connected with, empowered by, guided by, supported by our God. So He modeled the behavior that would accomplish all this for us. He spent regular time, alone, in prayer, with God. The translation I read refers to going to your inner room. Other traditions refer to a “prayer closet.” Some people had, and some still do have, in their house, a small room, a closet really, where they have installed a kneeling bench.
There was a great Christian movie a few years ago called War Room that was about the power of this kind of intentional prayer. Jesus calls us to go into our prayer closet, our inner room, our war room, shut the door, kneel and pray. Everyone knows if the prayer closet door is closed, you are not to be disturbed because you are talking with God. It’s a private conversation. I had a seminary professor who used to tell us “You earn in the prayer closet, your right to pray on the run.” Let me say that again because it’s really important. “You earn in the prayer closet, your right to pray on the run.” YAY GOD? Now, of course, you don’t need a literal prayer closet, you can find a symbolic one.
Most often, Jesus seemed to prefer praying out in nature somewhere. We find him praying in a garden, on a mountaintop, by the water. Here in the tropical paradise of Hawai’i, in God’s beautiful creation, there are many options like that for us as well. Wherever you are watching from tonight, I know there are some beautiful places there as well. Some of you are watching from New Zealand, the UK, India, Japan, Ohio, Michigan, California, North Carolina, Colorado, Oregon, Utah, Arizona. Those are SOME of the places that tune in with us every week. Wherever you are, I’m sure many of you already have the daily practice of a Quiet Time, an intentional time every day where you spend time alone, reading the Bible, and praying with God. If you don’t, I want to encourage you to make that a top priority habit for you to develop or redevelop in your life. Our Savior modeled this kind of behavior for us again and again.
We’re going to go back to Luke 11 in a minute because there is more I want to show you. Again, the disciples go looking for Jesus and they find him praying. Likely, Jesus was kneeling or even lying flat on the ground in a prayer posture of humility. Prostrate on the ground. I believe this because Paul tells us something very important about Jesus in Philippians 2:5-7
“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.” – Philippians 2:5-7 (NASB)
So, the disciples come around the corner, in the Kidron valley and they spot Jesus praying. They pause and shush each other. They would know by now you don’t interrupt Jesus when He’s praying. So they stand and watch and wait until he’s finished. They had never seen anyone pray as Jesus prayed. Jesus prayed with utter confidence that his prayers were being heard and responded to. He prayed with passion, integrity, sincerity, transparency. As God in the flesh, of course, He knew that God already knows all things. There is nothing humans can teach God. We aren’t informing God of anything when we pray. Prayer is not for God’s benefit. Prayer is for our benefit. Prayer changes US, not God!
So they watch Jesus pray. He is utterly absorbed in prayer. Focused. Motionless. They’d never seen a man pray as Jesus prayed. There was a peace that flowed out from Him, touching them, and they wanted to pray as Jesus prayed. They longed to pray as Jesus prayed. They longed to connect with God the way Jesus connected with God. So when He finishes, one of the disciples, speaks to Him and asks the question that is on all their minds. The gospel doesn’t say which disciple it was but I am going to guess it was probably Peter. Because Peter was just that kind of dude, first one to speak and often the spokesman for the rest of the group. One of them (probably Peter) says, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”
Have you ever been profoundly inspired by another Christian? Have you ever met someone who just seemed to have it all together? Someone who seemed closer to God than you were? Someone who seemed more spiritually mature than you, wiser than you? And yet they were still humble about it. They didn’t rub your nose in it. They didn’t make you feel bad when you dropped the spiritual ball. You knew they had more answers than you but they didn’t lord it over you, they didn’t shove it at you. Instead, they just lived their life before you and you found yourself drawn to them, wanting to be more like them?
That’s who the disciples saw when they looked at Jesus. He was the coolest, most awesome, most legit dude they had ever met. Jesus was the original killer whip yo! Killer whip was something we used to say in high school all the time. If something was “The Whip” it was really cool. If it was “The Killer Whip” it was the ultimate coolest ever. Killer Whip! I’ve been trying to bring that back for thirty years. Let’s make it happen church. Killer whip – it’s the new “Cool”. Can you imagine how killer whip this was for these disciples? That person in their life that they looked up to, aspired to be more like, was Jesus! The Son of God! The Messiah! The Savior! The Lord! YAY GOD? They were hanging out with Jesus all day, every day. They ate with him. They fished with him. They swam with him, they hiked with him, they talked with him, they learned from him, they laughed with him, they cried with him. They played volleyball with him! They played Call of Duty with Him! They golfed with Him. Just making sure you’re still paying attention. They did all of life together with Jesus.
They did ministry together with Him. Everything in their life was informed by the example of Jesus. How Killer Whip was that for them? So they ask Jesus, “Lord will you teach us to pray the way you pray? Not the way the hypocrites pray. Not the way the religious Pharisees pray. We want to pray the way YOU pray. With the same earnestness and passion and enthusiasm and confidence that YOUR prayers are being heard. We want the same kind of relationship with God that YOU have with Him.” This must have been a VERY proud moment for Jesus. This, after all, was exactly what He was trying to accomplish by discipling these 12 guys. The Bible doesn’t record it for us but I am positive that Jesus must have smiled a broad grin when they asked Him this question.
Then, Jesus revealed something to the disciples that can be called “The Revolutionary Revelation of Jesus.” He said, “When you pray, you are to say, ‘Our Father.’” – Our Father. Those are familiar words to you and me. Maybe they are so familiar they’re no longer real. One of my mentors in life, the late Brennan Manning pointed out that Those words were not only real; they were revolutionary to the twelve apostles. Many prophets had longed to hear those words, and never heard them. Isaiah, the greatest of the prophets, began his ministry with a vision of Yahweh seated on the high and lofty throne, surrounded by a choir of angels chanting “Holy, Holy, Holy.”
But Isaiah never heard what the apostles heard that day. For Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Zechariah, Nehemiah, Amos, Hosea, Joel—for every Israelite, Yahweh was the strong, holy, immortal one. A personal, stable, faithful relating being; not capricious, like the Canaanite gods, who were often identified with the forces of nature—wind, fertility, fire and so forth. No, Israel knew a stable God: He was like the Rock of Gibraltar in the wind of changing events. Pagan philosophers referred to God in vague, impersonal terms like “The Uncaused Cause” or the “Immovable Mover.” The prophets of Israel had revealed the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in warmer, more personal ways but Jesus is the one who revealed to an astonished Jewish community that God is really “Our Father” in the best possible sense of the word. Those who have a personal relationship with God are part of the family of God and God is OUR Father! Think about that for a second. Let the revolutionary power of that truth sink in deeply. Think about it this way.
If you could somehow combine all the best qualities, no weaknesses at all but only strengths, all the best qualities of all the best mothers and fathers and grandmothers and grandfathers and uncles and aunties – every mentor and parental figure who had ever lived in the entirety of human history, and you could somehow combine all those qualities into one person. Don’t miss this! Listen! Think about this. If you could take all the goodness, kindness, patience, fidelity, wisdom, tenderness, strength, and love and unite all those qualities into a single person, a single parental figure, that person would STILL only be a faint shadow of the love, mercy, and wisdom in the heart of God the Father, addressed to you and to me this moment. Isn’t that incredible? Somebody say WHOOP GLORY!!! By the time the Apostle Paul hits the scene years later, he has learned this from Jesus’ followers as well. Look at what Paul writes in Romans 8:15
“For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’” ~ Romans 8:15 (NASB)
Again, I mentioned this briefly a few Sundays ago, but let’s talk about this word Abba for a moment. It is an Aramaic word. Its literal meaning in English is “Daddy” or “Papa.” American child psychologists tell us that the average American baby begins to speak between the ages of 12 and 18 months. Both of our kids said their first words at nine months. The whole Scott family loves to talk. Most moms and dads have a secret competition going on to see if their kids will say Mama or Dada first. My wife Annette and I were like that. Will Becca and Josh say “mama” or “dada” first? A little Jewish child, in first-century Palestine, would at that same age level begin to say – “Ab – Ab – Ab- Abba.” Imagine Annette and I’s surprise when BOTH our kids said, not Mama first, and not Dada first, but “Abba” first. I was so proud! My kids are language geniuses! They are speaking Aramaic and they aren’t even 1 year old yet!
By the way, a significant number of biblical scholars today insist that the 148 times that Jesus uses the word “father” in the four Gospels—which is the English equivalent of the formal Greek ‘pater’—that Jesus never once used the word “father,” or “pater.” Even though Gospel writers wrote it down in Greek, Jesus SPOKE Aramaic, not Greek. So many scholars insist that He most likely always used the word “Abba,” – for Father, literally Daddy. I agree with them and really, the Lord’s prayer should begin “Abba, may Your name be held holy.”
This is the inner life of Jesus—totally Abba-focused, totally God-Connected. If you want to make a true, life-transforming connection with God you need to make sure you know God, not as an impersonal ruler of the universe but as your personal Father, your Abba, your daddy. Now, do you see why this revelation of Jesus that God is not just His Father but God is also OUR FATHER is so revolutionary? Do you see why no Christian can ever say that one form of prayer is as good as another? No Christian can ever say that one religion is as good as another?
What Jesus Christ is teaching His us, is that the very same God in whose presence Moses had to remove his shoes, because he was standing on holy ground, the very same God simply spoke a word and the entire universe exploded into existence, the God next to whose beauty these gorgeous Hawaiian islands are only a shadow, the God next to whose power the force of a billion stars is nothing …. Jesus says we may dare to address the infinite, transcendent, almighty, all knowing God in baby talk. With the same intimacy, familiarity, and unshaken trust of a baby, sitting on their father’s lap, going “Da-Da-Da-Daddy, my daddy.” Do you really believe this to the point that you pray this way? Is your own personal prayer life characterized by the simplicity, the childlike candor, the boundless trust, the easy familiarity of a little one curled up in his daddy’s lap? Jesus teaches us that this is the true posture of Christian prayer. A little child sitting on his father’s lap, plucking his beard, calling him “Abba, Abba” “Daddy,” “My Daddy.”
Because of this revolutionary revelation of Jesus, no disciple of Christ is any longer allowed to picture God merely as the big man upstairs or the Supreme Being. We can not longer see God as the great Sheriff in the Sky who is going to zap us every time we stumble and fall, or the Invisible Omnipresent One of Outer Space, or a wisecracking George Burns or even Morgan Freeman. We can no longer picture God as a troublesome customs officer, rifling through our moral suitcases to sort out our good deeds and bad. Because God is our Abba, and we are His keiki, His children, a whole new climate pervades the life of the Christian. Remember what Paul told us in Romans 8:15 that we read earlier tonight?
“For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’” ~ Romans 8:15 (NASB)
Paul insists the relationship of the believer with God is a Family Matter. Not a relationship of fear and trembling, but rather one of loving, giving, and caring. Caring for God and being cared for BY God. The Apostle John writes in his first letter:
“See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.” 1 John 3:1 (NASB)
Listen, now, listen, don’t miss this! This is HUGE! This is so important! This is THE KILLER WHIP! John says “We’re not merely CALLED God’s sons and daughters, we are IN FACT God’s sons and daughters, not by divine nature as Jesus is, but by divine adoption, and the Holy Spirit is poured into our hearts that we too might cry “Abba, daddy, my daddy” Then, finally, look at what Paul writes in Galatians 4:6-7
“Because you are sons and daughters, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a child; and if a child, then an heir through God.” – Galatians 4:6-7 (PGV) – Pastor Greg Version)
Think about this. Don’t miss this. Don’t miss this! Listen. Paul writes, “The proof”—that’s a strong word—“the PROOF that you ARE sons and daughters is the fact that God has poured into our hearts the Spirit of his Son, which cries ‘Abba, Daddy.’” That word SPIRIT is the Greek word Pneuma.
Spirit, Wind or Breath
It can be translated spirit or wind or breath, depending on the context being used. It’s where we get words like pneumatic drill or pneumonia. Just like our ‘Olelo Hawai’i word HA –
Life, Breath, Spirit
I share my (Life, Breath, Spirit) with you!
As most of you know, when we wish someone Alo-HA Alo means to share and Ha means life, breath, or spirit. When we say Alo-Ha, we are literally saying “I share my life, my breath, my spirit with you.” So don’t miss this! Paul is telling us “when you become a follower of Christ, He places His Holy Spirit in you, His pneuma. His life, His breath, His Spirit, as a deposit, as a promise, sealing the deal of your relationship with God the Father, your Abba. You have been 100% adopted. The Holy Spirit living inside you is the proof that Jesus’ Abba is your Abba too.”
Paul says, John says, JESUS SAYS, in Christ, you ARE sons and daughters of Abba Yahweh and that makes you heirs of the kingdom by God’s design. The second verse of Gaither’s Family of God goes like this.
[Pastor G Sings] From the door of an orphanage to the house of the King. No longer an outcast, a new song I sing. From rags unto riches, from the weak to the strong, I’m not worthy to be here, but praise God I belong! And then would you sing the chorus with me one more time tonight? I’m so glad I’m a part of the Family of God, I’ve been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His Blood! Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod, For I’m part of the family, The Family of God.
Now, if you really believe this—that the Abba of Jesus loves you unconditionally, just as you are, and not as you should be, because none of us are as we should be—if you truly and honestly believe that you are Abba’s child and an heir of the kingdom of God, then, in the words of John Powell, “Please notify your face!” Christians should live life with an overwhelming sense of JOY and WONDER and ENTHUSIASM! YAY GOD? The English word Enthusiasm comes from two Greek words too.
EN THEOS (GREEK)
THE PRACTICE OR STATE OF BEING FULL OF GOD!
En means In and Thusias coms from the Greek Theos which means God. En Theos, in God. Enthusiasm, the practice of being full of God! THAT’S US! Filled with the Spirit of Adoption, the Holy Spirit, the Pneuma, the HA of God! Please notify your face! We could start looking like we’re saved, huh? Start celebrating that we are part of the family of God, building the Kingdom of God Somebody say WHOOP GLORY!
My teacher Brennan Manning also once said “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians… Christians who profess Jesus with their mouths but then deny him with their lifestyles. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” If we REALLY believed 1/10 of what we SAY we believe, then we ought to be 10 times as excited about it as we usually are. YAY GOD? To be a Christ-ian is to be “CHRIST LIKE” and the central, most important theme we see in the personal life of Jesus is His own growing connection, intimacy, trust, and love of His Abba, His Father God. Is that the driving theme in your life as well?
~~~~~ LET’S PRAY ~~~~~
Would you close your eyes and as best you can, tune out everybody else around you. I want to encourage you to use what I call your sanctified imagination. That is the imagination that is given to you by God for God. Picture our heavenly Father, our Abba sitting in a big easy chair. See yourself crawling up into his lap like a little child. It doesn’t matter if you are 8 months or 8 years or 18, 28, 38, 48, 68, 88, 98, 108, or 118 years old, it’s the same for all of us. Rest your head on His shoulder, feel the warmth of His embrace, listen as He tells you how much He likes you, how much he loves you, how delighted He is every time you come to spend even a single minute with Him. As His embrace grows tighter, feel the warmth of His kiss on your cheek. Tell him all the things that happened in your life since the last time you spoke. Tell him what you are excited about. Tell him what you are worried about. Listen as he comforts you, advises you, guides you, celebrates with you. He is your daddy, in the best possible sense of that word.
Let’s pause for a few minutes of silent prayer for you to talk with your daddy God and then I’ll close our time with prayer. ………………. EVERYONE PAUSES IN SILENT PRAYER FOR SEVERAL MINUTES
We are all brothers and sisters in Christ, children in Abba’s family. Like a little Aramaic child sitting on his father’s lap, pulling his beard, going “Abba, Abba, Daddy, My Daddy” in that spirit of intimacy, easy familiarity, profound trust and deep reverence, let’s pray together the beautiful Lord’s prayer that Jesus taught us. I’ve tweaked and modernized the language a little bit. We’re going to put it on the screens. Let’s pray together.
“Our Abba, in Heaven, may your name forever be held holy. May Your kingdom and will always be done on earth as it already is in Heaven. Thank you for providing for our daily needs. Please forgive us for all the times we’ve sinned against You. Help us to likewise forgive all who sin against us. Help us live a life worthy of being called Your children. Please continue to lead us away from temptation. Please continue to protect us from evil. We proclaim: All the kingdoms, all the power, and all the glory belong to You alone, forever and ever. Amen.”