Dec 17, 2011
Chris Tomlin – Born That We May Have Life…off the Glory In The Highest cd
Dec 17, 2011
Chris Tomlin – Born That We May Have Life…off the Glory In The Highest cd
CBN News — Saeed Abedini has penned a Christmas letter to his family and supporters from the confines of the brutal Rajai Shahr Prison in Iran.
The American pastor was jailed by the Iranian government two years ago for refusing to recant his faith. In his letter, he notes this is the first time he’ll be spending the holiday without his family.
“These conditions have made this upcoming Christmas season very hard, cold and shattering for me. It appears that I am alone with no one left beside me,” he wrote.
But for Abedini, his brutal circumstances have only served to drive home the meaning of the holiday.
Read Pastor Saeed’s full letter below:
These days are very cold here. My small space beside the window is without glass making most nights unbearable to sleep. The treatment by fellow prisoners is also quite cold and at times hostile. Some of my fellow prisoners don’t like me because I am a convert and a pastor. They look at me with shame as someone who has betrayed his former religion. The guards can’t even stand the paper cross that I have made and hung next to me as a sign of my faith and in anticipation of celebrating my Savior’s birth. They have threatened me and forced me to remove it. This is the first Christmas that I am completely without my family; all of my family is presently outside of the country. These conditions have made this upcoming Christmas season very hard, cold and shattering for me. It appears that I am alone with no one left beside me.
These cold and brittle conditions have made me wonder why God chose the hardest time of the year to become flesh and why He came to the earth in the weakest human condition (as a baby). Why did God choose the hardest place to be born in the cold weather? Why did God choose to be born in a manger in a stable, which is very cold, filthy and unsanitary with an unpleasant smell? Why did the birth have to be in such a way that it was not only hard physically, but also socially? It must have brought such shame for Mary and her fiancé that she was pregnant before marriage in the religious society of that time.
Dear sisters and brothers, the fact of the Gospel is that it is not only the story of Jesus, but it is the key of how we are to live and serve like Jesus. Today we like Him should come out of our safe comfort zone in order to proclaim the Word of Life and Salvation though faith in Jesus Christ and the penalty of sin that He paid on the cross and to proclaim His resurrection. We should be able to tolerate the cold, the difficulties and the shame in order to serve God. We should be able to enter into the pain of the cold dark world. Then we are able to give the fiery love of Christ to the cold wintery manger of those who are spiritually dead. It might be necessary to come out of the comfort of our lives and leave the loving embrace of our family to enter the manger of the lives of others, such as it has been for me for the third consecutive Christmas. It may be that we will be called fools and traitors and face many difficulties, but we should crucify our will and wishes even more until the world hears and tastes the true meaning of Christmas.
Christmas means that God came so that He would enter your hearts today and transform your lives and to replace your pain with indescribable joy.
Christmas is the manifestation of the radiant brightness of the Glory of God in the birth of a child named Emmanuel, which means God is with us.
Christmas is the day that the heat of the life-giving fire of God’s love shone in the dark cold wintry frozen hearts and burst forth in this deadly wicked world.
The same way that the heat from the earth’s core melts the hard stones in itself and produces lava, the fiery love of God, Jesus Christ, through the virgin Mary’s womb came to earth on Christmas to melt the hard heart of sin and wickedness of the world and removes them from our life. In the same process, the work of the Holy Spirit is a fiery rain of God’s Holiness and Mercy that flows into our body, soul and spirit and brings the light of Christ into us and through us making this dark, cold, wintry world into radiant burning brightness. He is turning our world into a world full of peace, joy, and love that is so different than the dark, cold, and wintry world that we used to live in. Hallelujah!
So this Christmas let the lava-like love of Christ enter into the depth of your heart and make you fiery, ready to pay any cost in order to bring the same lava love to the cold world around you, transforming them with the true message of Christmas.
Pastor Saeed Abedini
Soaking in the lava love of Christ
Christians have adopted a narrow definition of the word testimony. But sharing Jesus is much more than telling our conversion story or talking about God’s work in our life, although these things are important. We need to be prepared to meet unbelievers at the point of their spiritual need, even if our own story is very different.
Philip’s encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch can teach us quite a lot. While young Israelites had friends and family to disciple them in their faith, a foreign convert often had to work alone to discern the meaning of complex scriptures. So by asking, “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip showed that he understood the Ethiopian’s disadvantage. That one question enabled him to discover that the man had a genuine thirst for God’s truth but did not know of the Messiah.
Philip used that information to tailor a gospel testimony for his particular listener. Consider how easily the Ethiopian could have become confused or frustrated if Philip—whose Jewish background was so different from the foreigner’s—had told only his own conversion story. The evangelist wisely avoided any extraneous information and instead used the power of God’s Word to introduce the man to Jesus Christ.
Philip’s testimony began with the passage the Ethiopian was reading. He effectively spoke to the man’s spiritual interest in general while specifically answering his questions about Isaiah 53. We, too, must be sensitive to unbelievers’ concerns so we can explain how God will meet their needs.
“Then I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a flying roll…the length thereof is twenty cubits, and the breadth thereof ten cubits.” (Zechariah 5:1-2)
The large “flying roll” pictured for Zechariah is 30 feet long and 15 feet wide, signifying the enormity of its purpose. Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Zechariah all speak of a roll in terms of judgment that is coming on Israel and Babylon (Jeremiah 36:2; Ezekiel 2:9-10).
This roll contains the curse that goes forth over the “face of the whole earth” (Zechariah 5:13)—a phrase that is only used five other times in all of Scripture: God warns Noah of the coming Flood (Genesis 6:7), the population under the leadership of Nimrod rebel at the tower of Babel (Genesis 11:4), God sends the plague of locusts on Egypt (Exodus 10:15), the vast empire of Greece destroys and overcomes Persia (Daniel 8:5), and a Day will come “on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth” (Luke 21:35).
The parallel to the scroll with the seven seals in Revelation is striking. Revelation 6:1-8 tells of the four horsemen who carry out the judgment of the first four seals that parallel the ninth vision of Zechariah (6:1-8). Revelation 6:12-17 describes the “great earthquake” that is parallel to the earthquake foretold by Haggai (2:6-7, 21-23). Revelation chapters 6-10 describe the judgments that impact both the planet itself and the population.
Zechariah’s roll judges those who steal and swear and will be “cut off.” The implication is that those unfit for the people of God will be “cleansed” from the final kingdom. Since the obvious purpose of these visions is to give assurance of the ultimate victory of God, we can be confident that “God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:14). HMM III
Now therefore, our God, we thank Thee, and praise Thy glorious name.—1 Chronicles 29:13.
Rejoice in the Lord, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness.—Psalm 97:12.
AND now the wants are told, that brought
Thy children to Thy knee,
Here, lingering still, we ask for naught,
But simply worship Thee.
The hope of heaven’s eternal days
Absorbs not all the heart
That gives Thee glory, love, and praise
For being what Thou art.
LET praise—I say not merely thanksgiving, but praise—always form an ingredient of thy prayers. We thank God for what He is to us, for the benefits which He confers, and the blessings with which He visits us. But we praise Him for what He is in Himself,—for His glorious excellences and perfections, independently of their bearing on the welfare of the creature. And it shall often happen that when thy heart is numb and torpid, and yields not to the action of prayer, it shall begin to thaw, and at last burst, like streams under the breath of spring, from their icy prison, with the warm and genial exercise of praise. EDWARD M. GOULBURN.
Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8:32
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. — The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. — If the Son … shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.
Brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free. — Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
Whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. — Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not
entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
2 Corinthians 3:17. Romans 8:2. John 8:36. Galatians 4:31. Galatians 2:16. James 1:25.
Let us come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. — Ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain. — Having therefore, … boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and having an high priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. —We may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.
Philippians 4:6,7. Romans 8:15. Isaiah 45:19. Hebrews 10:19,22. Hebrews 13:6.