Today we attended Amman International Church which meets on Saturday night at 5:30. Most Christian churches meet on Saturday evening because the work week is Sunday through Thursday. The weekend is Friday and Saturday.
There were about 100 people from all over the world who worship in English. Other visitors were from The Netherlands and Hungary. We were happy that our friend and driver, Marwan, chose to join us. He had never been to a church until today. Note: Invite your friends and neighbors. Don’t decide for them. They are curious!
Baptism. They spoke of those that wanted to be baptized. This is a public acknowledgement of dying to your old self by stepping out of death and into a new life in Christ. That is what we call born again.
They are having a class entitled Protection for the Vulnerable. I believe this is about working with children, disabled, etc. They intend to provide a safe place by actively protecting those who trust the church to protect vulnerable people.
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.
Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language. They were amazed and astonished, saying, “Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.” And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others were mocking and saying, “They are full of sweet wine.”
After Pentecost, EVERYTHING changed. The Holy Spirit is not just given to leaders but to every single believing person: men, women, children. The Holy Spirit has come to live in us. The presence of God Almighty. YOU are His home.
When Jesus died, there was darkness, an earthquake, and the curtain in the Temple that separated us from the Holy of Holies was torn. The presence of the Holy Spirit was there and now it has come to live in us. We are now Tabernacles.
Christians aren’t interested in rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem. It is completely useless.
After Jesus had gone away, His followers were meeting together and singing and reading scripture to better know God…kind of like what we do in church today.
But 50 days after Jesus died, on Pentecost the Holy Spirit came and rested on each one of His followers…not just Peter nor the men but everyone: leaders and followers.
Why? To Empower us.
1) Speak in other tongues. We are a speaking people not just a helping people. We are not just to go about our work and if it comes up I will speak. Speaking comes first.
New Christians are so excited that they want to tell the world. Older and more mature speak less about Jesus. Why is that? Speaking should be growing as well. Mature Christians should be leaders in this area.
2) They even spoke the good news in other languages. Pray for those of us that are learning Arabic. Why didn’t God just give us special ears? This showed us that the good news of the gospel of Jesus is not bound to one language but is for the whole world.
3) Test for our lives. Are you filled? How many people are you telling about Jesus? You are empty and dry if the answer is zero. Those filled with the Spirit will testify with words about the mighty works of God. Jesus is the only hope for the world.
Pentecost was a show. People came running. How can uneducated Galileans know different languages? They were amazed and perplexed.
Good heart asked “What does this mean??” Good questions.
Hardened heart responded with mockery. “They are drunk.” They could not see the miracle in front of them.
Do you care about the gospel? Do you tell others the Good News?
What does the Holy Spirit do? Here are only a few: He writes, gives understanding, convicts, affects, baptizes, cultivates, comforts, bestows, seals, presence, brings into fullness, enlightens, and empowers. We NEED the Holy Spirit.
Without His work in my life, I am nothing!
Communion was offered. The pastor was adamant that you NOT take comunion if you are in a sinful place. (We are all sinners.) He stressed that we should be reconciled with God and our neighbor. He begged us not to take communion to avoid Holy judgement and punishment. Rob and I had not previously heard such instruction. Always before communion we confess our sins and thank Jesus for His substitutionary death for us on the cross.
Marwan was our driver and interpreter when we came to Jordan in 2016 to visit our daughter Donna when she was studying Middle East Studies in Amman for her semester abroad experience. Here is a picture from Amman 2016. From left to right: Donna Street (now Donna Miller), Rob, Brenda and Marwan.
Marwan works for our tour company called Bright Star. Maram on the left in the picture below was our agent who set the course for our wonderful return trip to Jordan. Ali in the middle is the business manager. He taught Rob and me who to greet someone properly in Jordan. One touches right cheeks while making a kissing sound. Then touch left cheeks three times with kissing sound but with a delay for the last one. Rob practiced with Ali (and it does take practice) and they looked like two camels fighting. I kept asking Maram to move in closer for the picture. She declined with a smile. I forgot that an unrelated man and woman are not allowed to touch.
They were very kind to offer us a traditional Jordanian lunch. I would call it a feast. The owner and our friend, Nidal, was our host. During the meal, he lead a long informative discussion about Muslim beliefs.
Nidal is from a Bedouin tribe called Bani Issa which means Children of Jesus. Based on the name, I asked if his tribe used to be Christians.
“Of course, we all were! Mohammad came six hundred years later. We converted after that.”
Nidal explained that they believe that Jesus was a great prophet, spokesman of God. (Yes, but He is much more to followers of Jesus. Not only is He the Son of God but God in human flesh.) He explained that Muslims believe that Mohammad completed the work that Jesus started. Christians believe that Jesus was the complete fulfillment.
During Ramadan, not only do they fast between the 1st and 4th prayer of the day, they don’t smoke. There are sooo many smokers that I bet they are really grumpy and on edge during that time.
We originally met Nidal on our first trip. He was recommended by the director of the study abroad program called Middle East Studies in which our daughter, Donna, participated. Even though it is VERY safe here, if any problem arose, he has a “fire drill” plan to take the students to live among his family of 17,000 who live in the Wadi Rum.
When they approach a meal, they say thank their God. When they finish, they tell him, it is enough.
Nidal explained that one can ask God to forgive if you have sinned against Him but if you have sinned against another person, only that person can forgive you, not God. You must go to him to ask for forgiveness. Christians believe that sins against God and sins against man need God’s forgiveness.
Both of us believe that God decides the fate of each man as He alone knows his heart. A Muslim’s destiny is known to God but not revealed until death. The destiny of Christians is gloriously known.
I really admire how Muslims know that the plans are in the hands of God. We believe this as well, but it isn’t expressed verbally throughout the day.
The mind of man plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9
This is especially true as Marwan, Rob and I are making plans for the following day. After we discuss, Marwan says “in shaa allah” meaning “if Allah allows it”. Christians used to say “God willing, I will see you tomorrow”. My late mother used to say “God willin’ and the creek don’t rise!!” and say how God must laugh at our plans.
Lastly, it doesn’t rain often in Jordan and there was a good rain enough to run the wipers when we arrived. Jordanians feel that rain is a blessing. It was an honor to be here during this blessing. Marwan said that it was the first rain of the year, but it might have rained one day in February.
He said that the families will gather together and harvest the olives now as the rain washed them. We are happy to arrive on this blessed day!!