When God Comes Down

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Dr Ed Hindson is the Dean Emeritus of School of Divinity at Liberty University and is a great mentor and friend of Pastor Jack Hibbs and Calvary Chapel Chino Hills, where this sermon was given. This post is excerpted from that sermon. 

By Hedieh Mirahmadi

Whether we are aware of it or not, God is always with us. God can and will come down into our everyday life to rescue and walk with us. He has intervened throughout human history and He can do so for each and every one of us, if we cry out to Him for help. 

The book of Isaiah in the Bible begins with the Christmas prophecies then in Chap 9 he talks about the Prince of Peace and the prophecies of His coming. Then he talks of his generations challenges and ends with how the Messiah comes to die for us. He also realizes that Savior won’t come in his lifetime and cries out to God: 

Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you!  As when fire sets twigs ablaze and causes water to boil, come down to make your name known to your enemies and cause the nations to quake before you!  For when you did awesome things that we did not expect, you came down, and the mountains trembled before you.  Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. Isaiah 64:1‭-‬4 NIV

Here are some extraordinary examples of God’s direct intervention in the course of humanity: 

  1. In Genesis Chapter 3 we are told of how Adam and Eve chose to disobey God and sin by eating fruit from the one tree that was forbidden to them. It is God who comes down, walking in the Garden, to provide for the failure. 

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Genesis 3:8 

He didn’t strike them dead, he came down to the fallen place and sheds the first blood to cover them. He tells them her seed will crush the head of the serpent to defeat their enemy. It’s the first message of hope to man. Usually when we sin, we blame someone else, God, or the devil. However, our hope and “way of escape” comes when we admit we did it. Just as God rescued Adam and Eve, he can rescue us too. Regardless of what heinous sin we have committed, He offers us His Son. If we accept His gift, He changes our life forever. 

  1. Time passes, the descendants of Adam run around the earth and are far from God. He comes to Abraham and promises him glory. Through him all humanity is blessed. But the children of Israel end up in slavery in Egypt. They wonder where is God. God comes to Moses in the burning bush.  God called him by name: 

So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Exodus 3:4 NKJV 

He saw, heard and was concerned about the suffering of His people so He comes down to set them free. But He tells him I’m going to use you, Moses, to do it. Moses had been raised in the palace, knows the language, and God had to humiliate him before He could use him. God came down to teach Moses, gave him the commandments and delivered them from the Egyptians. 

And the Lord said: “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians..” Exodus 3:7‭-‬8 

God will call you by name when he wants to get your attention. He knows when you’re ready to go. He knows when your heart is ready, when the timing is right for you and others to be delivered. 

  1. God comes down again in Bethlehem to a barn. He stepped into the human race

“Immanuel, God with us.” Mathew 1:23 

Only a sinless Savior can pay the ransom of sinners. He is God in flesh and a robe. He has the power to pay for our sins. That’s the point. 

“I and the Father are One.” John 10:30 

Jesus is God incarnate. They asked him

“Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”  “I am,” said Jesus.” Mark 14: 62

So either he is a liar, a lunatic, or the King of Kings. From the box to the cross. God came down in person and at Golgatha he came down in atonement. 

Jesus told the disciples repeatedly he came to die and to be a sacrifice for them. Jesus died on the cross for all of our sins. God’s first prophecy is that man would crush the serpent and the serpent would bruise his heel. That is what happened on the cross. He did it for us because we could not do it for ourselves. 

Jesus also refused to come down from the cross. They taunted him to come down but he wouldn’t because he came to earth just to go up on the cross, die and come back to save us. He stepped into the human race because God came down to save us.

When he’s resurrected he comes back and says he will go back up but will leave us the Holy Spirit to permanently connect us to the life of God. It’s the gift of God we receive by faith. The power of spirit comes on us and seals us to the life of God forever. It’s the engagement ring of us to him as his bride forever. Your life becomes coeternal with the life of God. 

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. John 14:16-17

God the Father comes down repeatedly to save us and provide for us. He comes down in person as His Son to die in our place. He then comes as the Holy Spirit to live with us until we are reunited with him in the final days. It is the real life, practical understanding of the Trinity. 

Believing in Jesus’ divinity is a crucial aspect of belief in Chrisitianity, but it is also critical to having a personal relationship with Him. The one who accepts Jesus died for us to be free of blame and accepts Him as their Lord and Savior is saved, but the relationship does not end there. He left with us the Holy Spirit so the relationship, for rescuing, advising, and comforting us will be an ongoing process. Our soul is saved in an instant but the battlefield of our mind and heart endures. That’s why believing in the Triune nature of God [the Trinity] is so important. God the father is the Master of Creation, the Grand architect who set the plan and process in place, the Son Jesus is the means by which the Divine plan of salvation is executed. The Holy Spirit is how believers can tap into that plan, in a consistent manner, with power and guidance for our lives. 

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14: 26-27

Jesus can free us from a life of misery and death. All we have to do is surrender to the fact that we cannot do it ourselves. When we accept the gift of salvation we turn it over to Him and enjoy the peace and grace that comes through faith. 

Pastor Steven Furtick “I’m the One”

By Hedieh Mirahmadi

I had the great pleasure of seeing this sermon live at Ballantyne during the eFam Christmas party weekend and the year end offering. In preparing for the sermon, Pastor Furtick said the pages literally fell out of his Bible so he knew this was the perfect topic for the theme of giving. 

It was Acts 10:21, which reads:

Peter went down and said to the men I’m the one you’re looking for. Why have you come? 

Peter was often bold and brash. He was the one who gave the first confession that Christ was the Son of God but also had the audacity to tell Jesus he should NOT go to the cross. He was wildly obstinate and yet profoundly obedient. In this passage, Peter doesn’t know what God is calling him to do but he knows he is the one to do it. 

Peter had just performed a resurrection miracle and he was in Joppa. Afterwards, he went on the roof to pray but he was hungry. He had a vision of a white sheet with animals on it and then he heard a voice say “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.” “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”  The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” [ Acts 10:13‭-‬15‭] 

Peter was arguing with the Lord because he didn’t understand the meaning of the vision but God was aligning opportunity with obedience. 

God is teaching us not to call anything unclean, which He has created. Cornelius prayed and gave to the poor even though he wasn’t Jewish. Cornelius lived in Caesarea, a town known for hating the Jews, but God was going to use him and Peter to break the barriers. Though not a believer and therefore “unclean” by Jewish law, Cornelius gave generously to those in need and prayed regularly. When the angel came to him with instructions to find Peter, it terrified him but he was obedient and sent the guards to get Peter. This meeting will mark the beginning of how the gospel spreads to Gentiles.  Without hesitation, Peter says he’s the one they are looking for but then says why have you come? When obedience meets opportunity, miracles happen.  

Obedience is letting God to lead even if you don’t know the details. Its letting God take you turn by turn just like the trust we put in our GPS. We will drive using GPS without knowing where we are going but we don’t trust God like that.  

Obedience is walking as God instructs without knowing why.  When God calls you to a task, it will scare the heck out of you. You may feel ill equipped or unable to perform the task, but God wants our obedience. The only way you find out why, is if you respond. God doesn’t give you the why until you do it. It’s what you do with what God tells you that the direction is revealed. 

Often, we think the blessing is for ourselves, but we realize it’s really about the Kingdom and God’s will for his people. We need to stop trying to control what God wants to do through us. He wants to break barriers so don’t limit Him. 

Giving to God is not supposed to be out of obligation but out of obedience. The Holy Spirit gives us direction but not the details. If you tap into the voice of God it’s transformative. We give to learn to obey His voice, which is usually way beyond our own understanding. When we listen to the Lord,  that’s when we get revelation.  

When Peter first sees the Centurion there’s people gathered and he had no idea what God was going to do. The law prohibited Jews from eating with gentiles, but Peter tells them the vision Jesus sent for him not to be limited anymore by that. God is teaching all of us not to judge other people. No one or no thing that God created is “unclean”.  We must do what He calls us to do. 

What’s also fascinating about the story of Cornelius is he did not convert to Judaism when he encountered all those other believers. The Lord had appointed a time for him to accept Christ through Peter because it would open the way for Peter to evangelize to the Gentiles throughout the area.  There was a lesson in it for Peter too. Obedience makes miracles happen! 

I love this story because, as Pastor Furtick also points out, participating in Elevation church “online” is breaking so many barriers of what people think is normal as a follower of Christ. My first introduction to a relationship with Jesus Christ was through a YouTube video of Pastor Furtick. After traveling to Ballantyne to be baptized, everyone told me I needed to find a “local church”. People have a hard time accepting that the definition of church and how we gather as a community is evolving. Technology is changing the world and the Kingdom must capitalize on all it has to offer to spread the Gospel. I believe it is a vital part of the great commission. 

“Then Jesus came to them and said, ”All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age’” (Matthew 28:18-20). 

I had to trust God was calling me to be a part of this community and what it was doing to make the salvation of Christ available to people everywhere.  God has shown me that my “local church” can be made up of people who live nearby and who I meet regularly online. 

It can be hard to accept what God’s calling us to do, especially if we listen to the voices of other people. Yet, when you listen to where God is calling you, He will order your steps and take you where he wants you to go. We just need the courage to trust Him.  

Why do I believe Jesus is God? Pastor Jack Hibbs

By Hedieh Mirahmadi

Why do I believe Jesus is God? 

Why does Christianity Claim to Be Right? Pastor Jack Hibbs, Calvary Church Chino Hills

I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior largely based on a personal experience I had hearing Him call my name. I was in desperate need of a direct relationship with God and I asked Him to reveal himself to me. Jesus answered my call. It was that clear and convincing. However, a believer should always be able to objectively articulate why we believe salvation comes only through faith in Jesus and why the Bible is the infallible, living word of God.

In this sermon by Pastor Jack he gives simple, clear reasons why everyone should believe the bible is God’s word and therefore the only true way to reach Him.   Religion by its definition is man’s attempt to reach or find God. But God cried out to us to meet him face to face, to be in a relationship with Him. That goes way beyond a set of rules of religion. He communicates this desire to humanity through the Bible.  The defense of Christianity is not based on a feeling, it must be based on a reality. That reality is rooted in the transformative experience of the believer when he/she accepts Christ. If your life doesn’t change then that is not being in a relationship with Christ. It is not just answering an altar call or getting baptized. It’s not pinned to an act you perform or deeds you do in the church, it is a radically personal experience with God.    

So what are the ways in which we can objectively defend that the Bible is the word of God?  

The apostles Luke and Peter both claim they wrote as eyewitnesses to Jesus’ life and miracles and what they wrote was based on inspiration by God through the Holy Spirit. 

Luke 1:2-4: just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having [b]had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.

 2 Peter 1:16 For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.

Both of them witnessed Jesus’ miracles and say it was not fantasy. So how can we test they were telling the truth? 

  1. Honesty Test: Did the authors write anything embarrassing about themselves that bolster the claim of its veracity? This hypothesis centers around the notion that a historical account that includes disparaging details about the author is significant because it implies that he/she is more concerned about telling the truth than telling an amazing story about themselves. Otherwise they would have changed the facts to make themselves look better, if they were making up a lie.  In Peter’s gospel he said Jesus called him Satan and was upset that the disciples fell asleep in Gethsemane, despite repeated requests to stay awake in prayer. Both Luke and Peter explain how all the disciples abandoned Jesus when he was arrested. They all denied knowing Jesus and even hid after he died. Furthermore, all the authors of the gospel except John died gruesome deaths. Why would they be willing to die for a lie? All they would have to do is renounce their faith but they didn’t. They were so committed to relay the truth, they were willing to die for it. 
  2. Telephone test: Did the documents come to us accurately? One way to test that is the time gap: when was the first copy written after the actual events occurred? Handwritten documents of historical or spiritual significance are referred to as manuscripts before they are made into copies and reproduced. The manuscripts we have about Caesar, were written 1000 years after his life and for Plato it is 1200 years. The time gap of the New Testament is ONLY 50 years after the life of Jesus. The first biography of Alexander the Great bio is 400 years after he lived but no one doubts he lived. Jesus’ time gap is far less then all of these figures and far less than  any other major event in ancient history. How many manuscripts are there about Jesus’ life? Everything about Caesar was in only 10 manuscripts, Plato had 7 but the New Testament has over 24, 633 original manuscripts! The closest is the Iliad by Homer which has only 643. But everyone believes the others and contest Jesus??
  3. Corroboration Test: What other historical material confirm or deny the facts in the Bible? There are 9 non christian sources that mention Jesus within 100 years of his death, and 33 additional sources written by Christians, 42 in total. Ceaser has only 10. Jesus’s life, his crucifixion, his reappearance and his ascension was corroborated 4 times as much but yet people still deny that he died and rose again. 

The bible passes all 3 tests by dramatic proportions. Even the skeptic should take pause and consider that the Bible IS the living word of God. The Bible is more than a book, it’s God’s living word and he wants to talk to each of us through its words. God wants to tell each and every one of us that we are loved.  It is through His word that He can send this message of Love to all of us, throughout humanity and for all time. 

People meet their mates online through the internet and can live all their lives in love with that person. In the old days, people would write letters to each other and become romantically involved by what was expressed. The written word is how God taught us to communicate love. If we can believe in love for another person coming through the written word, why can we not accept that from God? Test it. Read the bible and pray about what God is trying to communicate to you. Do you read it and believe He loves you? I pray you do. The bible communicates a message to all of us, if you have an open heart to hear it. 

T.D. Jakes In His Presence

T.D. Jakes
By Hedieh Mirahmadi

No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so  I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.

Joshua 1:5‭-‬6 NKJV

Joshua is a chapter about God’s power and is analogous to Ephesians in the New Testament, except Joshua’s inheriting land and Ephesians is about inheriting spiritual power from Christ Jesus.

When you lose everything you know, and you have nowhere else to turn, that’s when  faith manifests because you rely only on God. “As I was so shall I be”. Though everything around us may be unknown or changing, God has been there the whole time and will continue to be. He is the only constant.  He is the absolute in the face of variables. No matter what season of life you’re in, no matter who betrayed you or left you, God never forsakes you or leaves you.

It is important in our walk with Christ that we find a purpose bigger than us, because God’s blessing is always about more than just us. Your  Divine purpose is always connected to other people. God tells Joshua repeatedly to be strong and courageous because its more than about him. He has the whole people of Israel to lead. It is also a warning that without that strength, he won’t make it. Supernatural strength and courage comes from spending time in God’s presence which is exactly what we do during worship. Worship is the only time you’re  giving something to God because during the sermon He is giving to us!

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Psalms 150:6

What God is really promising in this passage is his presence. Joshua will will have to fight but He’s in it with him. So the promise is the presence not the property. When you follow God’s purpose for you, the battle is not your it’s the Lord’s. the one thing the devil can never take away is the Lord’s presence which he promises to you. That is the promise you should depend on, not leaning on wealth or a spouse or job to fulfill you because those can be taken away.

God also commands the Israelites to meditate in the word day and night, never to deviate from its laws. “Delight in it and seek to obey it”. God is telling us how He wants us to express our love. Don’t wait to be grateful before you praise. Praise HIm as often as you can; you don’t need a worship band, you need a heart that is open to God. Everyone needs a devotional that can anchor us because the trials of life will take us up and down. The only thing we can always depend on is God’s presence.

The safest place in the world to be is in God’s purpose because you know He will protect it. If you’re in his purpose he will heal your sickness, he will fight your enemies. Never let things of this world take you away from that calling on your life.

So if you ever find yourself stripped of everything familiar to you, know that you are on the cusp of a Divine shift in your life. God is preparing you for another level. That is the time to go even deeper into worship and prayer because it will require the strength and courage that can only come from drawing nearer to Him. This is when you discover that the prize is not the property or possessions; it is His presence.

Encountering The Power of God

Encountering The Power of God
Encountering The Power of God

Pastor Tony Evans Encountering The Power of God

By Hedieh Mirahmadi

Pastor Evans does this wonderful exhortation on how the extraordinary power of God can be made manifest in our lives through a dilemma. He uses the Israelites at the Red Sea being saved from Pharaoh as an analogy.

The Israelites at the Red Sea experienced the greatest demonstration of God’s power in the midst of their dilemma. God specifically LED them the long way to demonstrate his miracle. We must remember it is never just about ourselves. The purpose God puts on our life is to advance the Kingdom, so it’s always greater than just you or I. It is about His glory being made manifest on Earth. He allows us to get into a situation that only HE can get us out of. The dilemma God leads you into will often confuse you as well. Sometimes God will put you in a dilemma and doesn’t want you to do anything but stand still. So you do. But when he gives you the way out or a command to move forward, you move! Faith often operates in the presence of fear. The Jews proceeded forward even though they were afraid. Sometimes He will even harden the heart of others to push you in the direction he wants you to go. This is so beautiful because it’s at the essence of forgiveness. There is no need to hold grudges against people, because in reality, it was God’s will for it to happen to you. When we’re walking in God’s way He will make people do things for our good. So look at the dilemmas in your life in a new way. Stop complaining, and wait for God’s power to come. If you know you are not living in accordance with the will of God, then get in the will of God so he can turn your situation around. Walk in faith. Relish the adventure of being God’s loyal soldier.

I know about my own life experiences that God led me through the “wilderness” so that I would know it’s been His hand over my life the whole time. He took me first through the bondage of a life of sin, then to the “law of Islam,” and then back to a life of sin and despair so that I could truly experience the freedom and salvation that comes through Christ. I knew I had to leave Islam, but the situation I got myself into was so bad! I had no idea where God was taking me, and it just felt like I was blindfolded and dragged down a long tunnel.

I was so confused. “God, why am I in this place, how did I get HERE? Don’t You love me anymore? Wasn’t I a faithful servant, why am I in such a wretched state?” I know now He wanted to bring me to my knees, and that wasn’t easy. He wanted me to have no way out but Him, no matter how unbelievable it was. There was no other way I would have accepted Christ was Lord! Knowing God’s hand has been over me the whole time brings me peace and allows me to forgive the people who hurt me, because all of it brought me to where I am today. God wanted me to see His power and to grant me salvation. I feel such deep gratitude and joy for my salvation that I could thank the people who pushed me away.

This whole journey gives me the unique opportunity to help others find this same freedom. We overcome by the blood of the lamb and the words of our testimony. God in all of his glory showed up in the image of Christ and redeemed me. Now that is why I feel compelled to help others.

Now becoming a follower of Christ, I came up against the whole Islamic world and risked physical danger. Yet, I know it’s not my battle. It’s the Lord’s. It’s bigger than me. I’m walking according to my purpose that He has placed within me and He will protect me. You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.”

God has made us victorious over our enemies, if we trust Him to lead us through the difficult times. We may not see the wisdom at first, but He makes it all work in our favor. If we surrender to His will and open our hearts, we can walk according to our Divine purpose and learn the wisdom He teaches us along the way.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. They are to encamp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon. Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.’ And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” So the Israelites did this.

When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds about them and said, “What have we done? We have let the Israelites go and have lost their services!”  So he had his chariot made ready and took his army with him. 7He took six hundred of the best chariots, along with all the other chariots of Egypt, with officers over all of them.  The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, so that he pursued the Israelites, who were marching out boldly.  The Egyptians—all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots, horsemen and troops—pursued the Israelites and overtook them as they camped by the sea near Pi Hahiroth, opposite Baal Zephon.

As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord.  They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”

Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.  The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.  Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground.  I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them. And I will gain glory through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.”

Romans 1

tiger baby
tiger baby
By Hedieh Mirahmadi

Jesus being the Son of God is considered one of the most controversial aspects of Christianity. People have a hard time conceptualizing what that really means. In Islam, it is erroneously interpreted as Christians being polytheists. But that is not what Scripture is telling us at all. Simply put, there is only ONE God, and He manifests in 3 separate beings—The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, which does not have a flesh form per se and resides in ALL believers simultaneously. From my perspective, if a person can accept that God created the whole universe, including all of the planets, solar systems, and created beings, in six days, it is not hard to accept He can manifest Himself in as many ways as He chooses, especially to make himself known to humans who are the crown of his creation and made in His image.

One of the most beautiful descriptions God provides a believer of his Son, Christ, appears in Colossians:

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.

19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. [1]

In the first chapter of Romans, the apostle Paul begins his teaching by affirming the dual nature of Christ and how he is entirely human and entirely God, simultaneously. The human aspect of Jesus was created, but the Divine nature within Him that was God, is eternal and uncreated. He is 100% both in one[2].

 3 concerning his Son, who was born ⌊a descendant of David according to the flesh, 4 who was declared Son of God in power according to the Holy Spirit by the resurrection from the dead of Jesus Christ our Lord, Romans 1:3–4

In another passage where God foreshadows the arrival of Jesus, He says “Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given[3].” Therefore, the part of Christ that is Son of the Father is not born to the Father, he is given. Like the Father Himself, that aspect of his being is entirely uncreated[4]. However, that uncreated Divine nature was “wrapped” in flesh and was born on Earth through the virgin Mary in order to save humanity from the penalty of its sins. When Mary was upset at the notion that she would give birth to a child even though she was chaste and had never been with a man, the angel of God tried to calm her fears and explain to Mary this dual nature of her child. 

 35 And the angel answered and* said to her,

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,

and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.

Therefore, also the one to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.

Luke 1:35

Despite the elaborate detail of Jesus’ duality, Paul subtly warns the reader not to think Jesus’s human nature means that we should worship mortal things. In fact, it’s quite the opposite! He teaches us that no mortal things can ever fulfill the place of the immortal God and that focusing on material things is just foolishness that eventually leads only to sin and death.

As an example, Paul seems to mock the Jews for assigning Godlike qualities to foolish things like the Golden Cow. It’s an admonition for us not to worship worldly things like money or fame, thinking they can answer our “prayers/wants and needs.” He is also intimating that no being of any kind other than God is worthy of worship. As human beings, we try to fill the hollow places inside us with these “beings” but they never can fill the void that only a relationship with Christ/God can fill.

22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God with the likeness of an image of mortal human beings and birds and quadrupeds and reptiles. Romans 1: 22-23

Romans 1:26

Because of this, God gave them over to degrading passions, for their females exchanged the natural relations for those contrary to nature.

Paul goes on to say that when we are willing to sacrifice such an important truth as the supremacy of God then the lesser truths aren’t far behind. Paul’s approach is less of a moral judgment and more of an observation regarding the natural consequences of human decisions.

This also foreshadows how human beings end up tolerating all sorts of emotional “degradation” in abusive co-dependent relationships. We “trade” in our dependence on God alone for dependence on a spouse or a parent and expect them to fill the void in our life. Inevitably they fall short. Wholeness and true contentment can only come from a relationship with God, through Christ.

[1] The New International Version. (2011). (Col 1:15–16, then 19-20). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Runge, S. E. (2014). High Definition Commentary: Romans (p. 27). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[3] Isaiah 9:6

[4] Ibid

Romans

lion baby
lion baby
By Hedieh Mirahmadi
Background: The book of Romans in the Bible was written by the Apostle Paul, also known as Saul. He was such a devout believer in Judaism that he severely persecuted the followers of Christ.

When he was on the way to Damascus to arrest believers there, God got his attention, as recorded in Acts 9:1-6. Supernatural light blinded him, and as he lay on the ground, he heard the voice of Jesus.

A lot of people didn’t believe in the power of seeing Jesus after he had ascended. Many don’t believe that he appears to people today even if he did so for Paul back then.

But others do believe in the power of God to do anything, and that Jesus is the same as before, today and forever. If you are one of them, then you accept that these things are still possible.

In my own conversion experience, I heard Jesus’s voice, then saw a vision of him. He made it abundantly clear to me that He called me for a distinct purpose, just as He called Paul. I, too, was a believer in another faith: born of a sacred lineage and a devout Muslim. Christ revealed Himself to me, and therefore I cannot deny the calling He has placed on my life. It may involve pain and suffering, as it did for Paul.

In Romans, Paul expresses his deep desire to promote unity between believers in Jesus who were originally Jewish and those who were Gentiles. 

Since everyone who was not Jewish was considered a Gentile, that term encompasses nearly all of humanity who accept and are born again in Christ, including atheists and Muslims.

Paul wrote passionately and convincingly, with love and respect for the Jewish people. He wanted them to realize the immense gift of grace that comes through the acceptance of Christ as our Lord and Savior. He also plainly described the dangers of not doing so.

I found his arguments brilliantly articulated, with grace, divine power, and conviction. His words spoke to me so clearly about why faith in Jesus is so irrefutable and necessary.—We all need faith. Not only for our salvation but for joy and transformation in this life as well.

I want to share with you some inspiration I received from the Holy Spirit about how the Book of Romans relates to my own experience. vb         

General Themes in Romans

  • Paul begins his argument by describing God’s wrath against all mankind. In case his Jewish readers thought that their heritage somehow made them better, Paul shows otherwise in the second chapter. In fact, a Jew who judges a Gentile stands condemned by the same standard. All sin. All must repent. No one has the right to point accusing fingers at anyone else. The people who confidently believe they have measured up to God’s righteous standard may be in the most danger.
  • Only through acceptance of Jesus Christ as the only begotten Son of the one true God can we achieve reconciliation and unity. Christ represents the fulfillment of God’s covenant promises to humanity. These go all the way back to Abraham, the father of all monotheistic religions, including Judaism and Islam.  
  • Paul sought the reconciliation between Jews and Gentiles but also wanted to be clear and convincing about the consequences of not accepting the one true God alone is worthy of worship.
  • God’s very first commandment is that his people worship no other gods. But Paul recognizes that all of us are slaves to temptation and sin, because we put our other desires such as wealth, sex, and fame as idols. Our idolatry of our desires rather than God can only lead to sin and death. God reveals his wrath on our unrighteousness both individually and as a society. Proper fear of God entails fearing both his wrath and his grief.
  • In the seventh chapter, Paul eloquently describes how even the most devout adherents to religious law can be the worst perpetrators of sin. The law reveals what sin is, and our flesh then desires it. It’s a vicious cycle. We agree with the law and want to follow it. But the sin that still lives in us impels us to live otherwise. Only the risen Christ and the Holy Spirit can rescue us from this body of death. 
  • Though Paul wrote to Jews and Roman Gentiles, the universality and eternal nature of the word of God applies to all humanity at all times. So it is a warning to any learned believer that they should avoid self-righteous thinking or the condemnation of others as if their sins are somehow less than the sin of those less versed in the law. The other great monotheistic religions should take heed. Jews don’t accept the divinity of Christ or even acknowledge he was a prophet. In the Islamic tradition, Jesus was born of an immaculate conception, ascended to Heaven without death, and is believed to return in the last days to defeat the anti-Christ. However, it only assigns him the title of prophet and absolutely denies his divinity. If Muslims can consider this objectively, without the lens of politics, they can take heed of the Scripture as the infallible word of God for humanity and not just a “holy book.”

Woman at the Well

women up
women up
By Hedieh Mirahmadi

Looking back, I can see now how all of my life has led me to my relationship with Jesus. All of the mistakes, the misunderstandings, the heartache. He was calling me all along. It sure didn’t feel like it at the time. For years, I strode full speed in the wrong direction. Then in another wrong direction. Rinse, repeat. Professionally, I was recognized as one of the best in my field. I worked through 4 Presidential administrations and my advice was sought out by decision makers at the highest levels of government. My work has probably prevented acts of terrorism. Saved lives. But do you want to know the truth? I was never at peace or felt real joy, not even at the height of my professional success. I felt empty and often said to myself, “How did I get here?” I won’t bore you with the details of my professional successes, since that’s not really the point. It’s enough to say that I exceeded even my family’s wildest dreams.  But it wasn’t enough. I knew, deep down, it would never be enough.

When it finally snapped in me that the religious life of a Muslim wasn’t the answer, I returned to all of the same bad habits from way back when, filling the empty spaces with things that would never bring the peace I so desperately sought. 

Maybe you can relate to this. Have you ever had one of those moments where you just can’t do it anymore? You’ve given all you have. Tried everything. And you’re just done? Lost. Falling. I prayed to God, please help me. I’m lost. That was the moment. In that moment, without even realizing I was doing it, I invited Jesus Christ into my heart, into my life. And He welcomed me with open arms. Immediately, I knew I wasn’t going to fall any more, ever again. I could feel Him supporting me. The weight in my chest felt as light as a feather. My fears were gone. My heart was free, filled with peace, love, joy. Jesus was there with me, by my side, providing everything I needed. He is still there with me, every moment of every day. The wonderful thing? He’s there for you too. He’s here for all of us. There is a story in the Bible, that speaks directly to my heart. Perhaps you have heard it. John recounts the day Jesus arrived in the town of Samaria. He was thirsty from his long journey, so the first thing He did upon entering the town was to go to a well. A woman was there, and Jesus asked her for a drink. She was shocked. She was not Jewish. Jews and Samaritans had no dealings with one another. And she was a woman. John tells us that even Jesus’s disciples were surprised that He was speaking with her.

He proceeds to tell her about her life and how she’s looking for love in all the wrong places. He promises her the water of life, which would forever quench her thirst for acceptance and love, when she instantly realizes He must be the Messiah because He knew her deepest secrets and needs. Though she knew nothing about what He was preaching, the miracles He performed elsewhere, or even about the Old Testament, she became one of the first evangelists for Christ. It was her faith and passion for the message of freedom that made her whole village run after Christ.

I love her story because her message of Jesus is simple. Come meet the Messiah–have faith in Him and He will set you free. 

I come to you in much the same way. I am not a Bible scholar, I haven’t been a Believer my whole life, and none of my extended family members are even Christians. However, I have encountered the Son of the One living God that has changed my life forever. All of my past experiences were divinely engineered for such a time as this.

Very simply, Jesus has transformed my life. I was a broken woman, lost, afraid. But now? All of that is in the past. I was born again in Christ, the One who gave His life for me to be free, a priceless gift I didn’t earn and surely didn’t deserve. He placed in my heart the purpose to spread this message to anyone who would listen in hopes that it would inspire you to embark on a similar journey of liberation that comes simply by faith and Love Of Christ. 

I want the same for you. I pray that my story touches your heart, just like the woman at the well’s story touched the hearts of those in her town. May you be like the people of Samaria and have your own encounter with Jesus. Then you, too, may know. He is here, right now. He is ready to help you. All you have to do is ask. Think of it as a personal invitation for A Jesus Encounter.

Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” Jn 4:39, NIV

Who knows? Perhaps you have come to a royal position for a time such as this.