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Jesus said “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower.

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Abide in Me to Bear Fruit

He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:1-5)

My Fellow Pilgrims in Christ Jesus,

One of the basic spiritual principles we everyday Christians tend to misunderstand God is how we think He wants us to serve Him. In our human way of thinking we think that we ought to serve Him by exhibiting the utmost of our earthly zeal and talents under His Command so that we, through our efforts, can produce the Fruit He wants for His Kingdom.

Wrong!

We Must Act In Jesus’ Name – Not ours!
The Father’s desire is that all of His creative purpose for His Kingdom be manifested through His Beloved Son, Jesus His Anointed One! And that is why He in his Loving Kindness determined that those who believe in His Son are given a New Life in His Spirit, so that we, his creatures, can be formed into His image and be true channels of His Love and blessings to this world, in HIS Name! Not ours!

Understanding this, that Jesus alone in the source of God’s grace to form His Kingdom. By transforming each of us into the image of His Son, we become branches of the Vine, His Son, through whom the Fruit of His Kingdom will manifest. As branches we act as extensions of Jesus himself.

That is why It is the Father’s intent that we be formed into such a relational and spiritual unity with His Son so that He will dwell in us in such a way that all we do for His Kingdom flows from Him and For Him, and so that His and His Alone is the Glory and Power, Forever and Ever. Amen

We can see then why the Father’s driving purposes for us is not only that we be conformed to the image of His Son but, foremost, His main purpose is that He wants us to be His spiritual partners in manifesting His Kingdom through bearing forth fruit through Christ Jesus. That is why He created us and predestined us to be conformed to the image of his Son (cf., Rom. 8:28-30). All of what we call “Spiritual Growth” in our lives needs to be centered in this principle.

Becoming Fruitful Branches
Now, it is clear why most of us shy away from this understanding. We know we that although we are all sinners saved by grace, nonetheless we haven’t been taught too well what it takes to reach this ideal spiritual union with Christ so that we can become fruitful branches.

His Disciples did not understand this either. And that is why Jesus told them that in order to proceed to being a branch to the Vine you must reach a point in the heart-to heart relationship with Him that He terms “abiding in Him” in the same way that “He abides in you”.

Can you imagine the disciples really understanding what this meant. In fact, most of us today don’t either. Using the model of the vine we can begin to understand that we must have more than an earthly relationship with Him we must have a “spirit-to-spirit” relationship with Jesus in order to become as branch to Him. Also Jesus tells them that in order to enter into such a relationship you must be spiritually reborn and spiritually cleansed.

Here is what He told them:
“You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you.  Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:3-5)

Then, in order that it might be clear to them what the “mutual abiding” term meant He went further indicating that the intimate unity needed for the relationship must be based on “agape” Love (ie., a self denying, divinely inspired Love). A Love that was manifested through loving obedience to divine directives.

Here are His Words to them:
“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.” (John 15:9-10)

So from this we understand the KEY virtue of “Loving Obedience” through which the Holy Spirit works in us to form our mutually abiding union with Christ , namely, if you obey His directives just as He obeyed the Father’s directives then you can consider yourself as “abiding” in Him.

Then He also gave them the ultimate directive that would affirm their “Abiding in Him” …
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:12-13)

Of course this transforming process that the Holy Spirit uses to conform us to the image of the Son begins in this life and continues through eternity. But “entry” requires us to give ourselves to Him as an act of our free will – sacrificing ourselves totally to Him (cf.,Rom. 12:1-2) out of Love for what He has done for us! As our relationship and union with Jesus grows we also come to know Him spiritually more and more such that we become more and more like Him and our will is brought into harmony with His will in us and for us!

The following excerpt from a book by Brian O’Leary SJ indicates how this virtue of Mutual Knowing endows our formation into His image:

Growing In Christ is Knowing Each Other More
All relationships that have any depth involve mutuality. As we desire that Jesus reveal himself to us, so too we reveal ourselves to Jesus. We share with him our own lives, our struggles and successes, the darkness of our doubts and the brightness of our hopes. We allow him to get to know us, to have an interior knowledge of us at the same time as we receive an interior knowledge of him. Our human need to be known by the other – or the divine Other – lies very deeply within us. It complements our desire to know the other, or the divine Other. This mutuality brings a wholeness to the loving relationship that we long for with God in Christ. As Ignatius wrote towards the end of the Spiritual Exercises: Love consists in a mutual communication between the two persons. That is, the one who loves gives and communicates to the beloved what he or she has, or a part of what the person has or can have; and the beloved in return does the same to the lover… Each shares with the other.
Excerpted from a book By Brian O’Leary SJ: GOD EVER GREATER: Exploring Ignatian Spirituality (p.129. )

Then, Jesus tells His Disciples, and us, how we are to relate to Him in our transformed mutual relationship as His Friends. (c.f., Ephesians 1:4 and Romans 8:29)
You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. This I command you, to love one another.” (John 15:14-17)

From Friends to Disciples
From this you can see, all believers are called to be Jesus’ friends and not only friends but disciples as well. As lay person we sometimes do not fully comprehend is what the call to discipleship entails. In our diminished view of ourselves, we think that one can only be a “disciple” if one enters into a religious vocation like a priest, brother or nun. We don’t understand that there is nothing keeping us from being “lay disciples” except our lack of knowledge of what the term “discipleship” means.

In fact it only takes prayer of sincere consecration to enter into discipleship even if you are married and have a job. St. Paul tells his congregation about how marriage itself can be enters as a form of discipleship. Here is what Paul told the Ephesians, “… Husbands Love your wives as Jesus Loved His Church and gave himself for Her” (Eph. 5:25). Thus if, as a husband, you give yourself to Christ and let Him rule over your married Life through His Love, you can truly enter into a form of discipleship that will truly bring forth fruit.

Now Jesus indicated to His disciples that before they entered into any commitment as disciples they needed to wait in Jerusalem for the “promise of the Father” (the empowerment of the Holy Spirit) before acting on their calling (Acts 1:4-5) . He also told them, “… not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, said he, ye heard from me: For John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” (Acts 1:4-5)

So, also, if any desire to respond to our calling as “lay disciples” we need to first “wait” and meditate on the Word and pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit to affirm our calling before taking action. Since the Lord told us that without Him we can do Nothing, we must understand that without His Empowerment, through the Holy Spirit we dare not enter into any spiritual commitment.

However, since Pentecost is near, this would be an excellent time to pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit so that we might ask for His Consecration of our commitment at this time! Praised be His Holy Name!

Consecration
My Dear Pilgrims if in reading this posting you feel moved to make a commitment, I refer you first to another citation from the Apostle Paul that you should meditate on in order to affirm your call. In this exhortation Paul emphasizes the seriousness of our commitment, to offer our very life to the Father in loving response to the Sacrifice of His Son for our salvation, that he may anoint us as messengers of His Love to act in His Will and for His Glory, In Jesus Name!

“I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Rom 12:1-2)

In Conclusion
As we have put on the New Man in Christ, let us then continue in St. Paul’s advice …

So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory. (Col. 3:1-4)

(But for Now ..)
“Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient. These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life. But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all! (Col. 3:5-11)

(In your new self …)
“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

“And let the Peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Col. 3:12-17)

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May the Holy Spirit guide you as you act on your faith in the Name of Jesus, so that all you do to is dedicated to bring forth the Kingdom for the Glory of the Father.
Praised be the Name of Jesus!

Your Fellow Pilgrim, in Christ… Bartimaeus
© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2019]

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Related Links…
Prayer of Commitment
Husbands Love Your Wives
Letter by Bishop Regarding Lay Missionary Discipleship                                                              Cast Your Net on the Other Side

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true_repentance

The Word of God Tells us that, “… they who wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Is 40:31)

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Col. 4:16-18)

Dear Fellow Pilgrims in Christ Jesus,
Sometimes we don’t fully understand the depth of Promises of God that are presented in scripture. For example the promise in the Word from Isaiah 40 quoted above includes the condition: “Those who wait upon the Lord…” that is sometimes misunderstood by casual readers to include everyone who has Faith in the Lord.

I wish that were true. I believe the Word that Isaiah proclaimed would be better understood if the translation were stated as…

“Those who rely totally in Faith upon the Lord…”

or, more fully expressed …

“Those who are spiritually sustained by faith in the Lord and place their total trust in His plans for their lives…”

Of course I am not a scripture scholar, I am just sharing with you how that scripture inspired me in after my conversion and yielding myself totally to the Lord. Yes, my life was transformed by Him entirely, but the circumstances of the world I was living in tried to overwhelm me and negate all that the Lord was doing in me. The charismatic community in which I was embedded came to my assistance immediately and supported me in prayer and the Word, through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

It was they that proclaimed the Word that Jesus used to raise the faith of His disciples, “…take courage; I have overcome the world!” (Jn. 14:33). Since He was in me, through conversion and baptism, I needed to stand in faith, in that Word of encouragement in order for me to see the results of His Victory in my life. That was what the Word “waiting on the Lord” meant to me!

By God’s Grace I stood in steadfast obedience in my relationship with Him and Faith in His Word, and by His empowerment and Grace, over time, I received the graces and strength to overcome the circumstances in my life that were threatening to overpower me. Praised be his Holy Name!

It was Just like the scriptures stated…
“He gives power to the faint,
    and strengthens the powerless.
Even youths will faint and be weary,
    and the young will fall exhausted;
but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
    they shall walk and not faint.” (Is. 40: 29-31)

And that is why Paul’s word of exhortation to the Corinthians also means so much to me and why I recommend it to those, who like me, are also “waiting on the Lord” to bring His Victory into their lives!

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Col. 4:16-18)

In conclusion Brethren, I leave with you St. Paul’s blessing for his Colossian congregation… “May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:11-14)

May the Holy Spirit guide you as you act on your faith in the Name of Jesus, so that all you do to is dedicated to bring forth the Kingdom for the Glory of the Father.

Praised be the Name of Jesus! … Bartimaeus

© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2019]

Recommended Links
Responding to the Spirit’s Call
Regarding Spiritual Freedom
The Gospel of the Kingdom
The Cost of Discipleship
Putting on God’s Armor

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Jesus therefore said to them,  “Children, you do not have any fish, do you?” They answered Him,  “No.”  And He said to them,  “Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you will find a catch.” They cast therefore, and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish. That disciple therefore whom Jesus loved said to Peter,  “It is the Lord.” And so when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer garment on (for he was stripped for work), and threw himself into the sea.  But the other disciples came in the little boat, for they were not far from the land, but about one hundred yards away, dragging the net full of fish. (John 21:5-8)

My fellow Pilgrims,

Today Jesus is asking us, his aspiring disciples-in-training: “Children, you do not have any fish, do you?”.

Putting the question to ourselves in today’s vernacular:  “Do you consider that, as a follower of Christ, you are being successful in reaching people for Christ and bringing them nearer to Him?

And, like the disciples, your answer, like most of us aspiring disciples, is also probably “No”, or “Not many”.

Now, in the incident after Jesus’ crucifixion and death cited above,  Peter was still so distressed, that it took John to remind Him that it was the Lord who was hailing them from the shore. And when He realized that it was truly the Lord calling He jumped out of the boat in response to His call.

John, realized it was the Lord because he remembered that when they first met Jesus on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, he also told Peter, after a day of fruitless fishing, to do out to the deep and cast their nets on the other side and the net were so full of fish they could not draw them into the boat (Luke 5:4-11). When reminded by John, Peter came out of his depression and swam to shore to be with Jesus, whom he had denied, which is what was probably augmenting his state of depression.

So also for us today, we, who are attempting to serve the Lord with the intent of being His disciples, sometimes feel somewhat depressed when our wholehearted efforts are not producing results for His Kingdom and we don’t seem to understand why.  While in this state we also, like Peter, may not be listening to Jesus’ call and need to be nudged into hearing His call – His call, telling us to “fish on the other side of our boat”. “Our boat”  being our basic human nature.

About the Other Side of Our “Boat”

Yes, there are two sides to our human nature, our soulish, fleshly, self-centered side and our spiritual or God-centered side.  Before we are born of the Spirit, as mentioned in Chapter 3 of John’s Gospel, the only side we are aware of is our soulish or fleshly side. For, as Jesus tells Nicodemus (Jn.3), unless one is born again (spiritually revived), one cannot be sensitive to the Spirit of God. And I might add, from my own experience, even if you are born again, if you are not walking in the spirit, you will automatically revert back to the fleshly side of yourself.

For those of us in this state, the story cited gives a lesson that, because, when we are in service to the Lord, we always need be walking in the Spirit or be part of a discipleship team that will nudge us back to the Spirit side when we find ourselves drifting back to the fleshly side of our human boat.  When we attempt to serve the Lord from our fleshly side you may be sure that your efforts will not produce lasting spiritual results, no matter how well motivated you are. The Lord has told us that … “without Me you can do nothing [of spiritual value]” (John 15:5). Yes our self-willed service may produce earthly results that lift up our ego, but we cannot reach men’s hearts without the anointing of His Holy Spirit.

For this reason, as we begin our walk in discipleship, it is extremely important that we not only accept Christ as our Lord and Savior but also be Baptized in the Holy Spirit so that, through the Spirit and personal prayer we may learn to be fully sensitive to the leadings of the Holy Spirit and thus permit Jesus to work in us and through us as we minister in His Name. In fact, that is what it means to minister “in His Name”!

All too often we get so carried away by the drive to “do something for God” on our own human initiative that we forget what the Lord wants is for us to yield ourselves to Him and be empowered by His Spirit so that He can work in us and through us, even in our moments of weakness, to bring forth His Purposes from our efforts. That is what is meant by learning to “cast our nets on the other side”.  He wants us to be His partners in bringing forth His Kingdom, while we in our human pride, mainly want to provide our services for the exaltation of our own egos rather than for His Glory.

Lay Discipleship  Today

The problem we, as lay disciples, have is that the Christian churches, as they are structured today, tend to ignore the need to train or make lay disciples at the spiritual depth needed for us to really function as disciples. It is my belief that the reason for this is that our modern Christian culture has downplayed the role of lay discipleship. The main emphasis for training has been placed on the education and training of clergy to minister and lead our churches and to send as missionaries to the world. Discipleship for the laity, if taught at all, is merely taught as an extension of the stewardship responsibilities and methods for “spiritualizing” our service to the community.

Yes, we lay people are taught about accountability to one another, and to live moral lives in accord with scripture and tradition but there is little training on spiritual discernment and how to totally yoke ourselves to Jesus so that we may faithfully follow Him in every situation in our lives. We also are lacking teaching on how to hear His Voice in our inner man, and how to sense and follow the leadings of the Spirit so that we can truly be obedient to the callings of God on our lives so that we may truly be His partners in bringing forth His Kingdom in this World.

In entering a path of discipleship, we the laity, need to follow the leadings of the Holy Spirit in order to move forward in our spiritual growth. We need to do this even if our churches and parishes are not providing instruction at the depth of spirituality needed to be continuously in touch with the Spirit of God whose guidance we need in order to function as a disciple.

Formation of Disciples

It is my belief the primary reason the formation of intentional lay disciples is not  usually supported at most parishes/churches is the lack of resources and trained personnel to get these programs started (see my addendum on such resources). However, once  a lay discipleship program is started it can usually sustain itself – for that is part of the discipleship mission.

Another factor, in this lack of discipleship formation amongst the laity in some communities, may be due to the structure of our modern Christian culture, which has created an imagined division between clergy and laity that blandly assumes that a deep spiritual intimacy with the Godhead is beyond the capacity or need of the un-ordained, thus, unwittingly relegating us, laity, to some kind of second-class citizenship in the Kingdom of God.

Paul, in His letters to the Corinthians asks the question, “Can the Body of Christ be divided? Yet, today, we are not only divided into denominations but also into the false distinctions between religious professionals (clergy) and laity.  We need to understand that, although we all have distinct roles within the Body, we are all attached to one another and to the Head of the Body Jesus Christ, our Lord and Master. We, each of us, has received through our conversion and Baptism, the same capacity to interact with the Head as any other part of the Body. And, with the Baptism in the Spirit we are all given the spiritual gifts needed for us individually and in groups to contribute to the building up of the Body of Christ in this world. Without the empowerment gifts (charisms) promised by the Father and provided to all the believers at Pentecost, we cannot fulfill the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20) to make disciples until, we, like the apostles, are empowered to be His witnesses, wherever we are throughout the world (Acts 1:4-8).

In addition, our current modern intellectually-based Christian culture impedes the laity from truly being formed as deeply spiritual disciples because of its emphasis that all our thoughts and actions be solely based on our “natural” capabilities and with disregard to anything involving the “supernatural”, that is, anything beyond our ability to experience with our senses or rationally contemplate with our minds. This places a constraint on believers such that we look askance at anything in the practice of our “Faith” that is beyond our “normal” human traits and abilities. For that reason many churches avoid attempting to teach on the empowering spiritual gifts (cf.,1Cor. 12) or charisms received by believers at Pentecost and beyond. Spiritual Gifts, which go well beyond our “natural” capabilities and involve a direct interaction with the Persons of the Godhead.

Because of these attitudes, it also becomes difficult for the teachers in our Christian culture to teach on how the Holy Spirit communicates with us since the a majority of the culture does not recognize that we have been created with a “spirit” component as well as with a “soul” and “body”. Our “spirit” component being the channel by which we may interact with the Divine, not only to receive direction but also to receive the power of the Divine in our very selves to be used for His Glory. Now, since, it is difficult to deny that there are and have been persons who have exhibited such supernatural traits, it was only natural that the culture, again, creates a separation that “defines” such people as “mystics”, who have been given such traits because of their “holiness”, so that it is made clear that such traits are out of the scope of normal and should not be sought by the “unholy” laity.

Since we are all embedded in such a culture it is not difficult to understand why the reception of the “empowerment gifts” (cf. 1 Cor. 12)) is not promulgated or celebrated on the feast of Pentecost and why formation of lay intentional disciples, who require training in the use of these gifts in order to be fully effective, is something that our churches are not very anxious to take up.

What Can be Done?

As a result, we laity must also realize that we also have contributed to our own disenfranchisement by accepting and taking a passive role in acceding to our cultural impediments and not seeking the empowerment of the Holy Spirit and the spiritual charisms to which we are entitled, regardless of our ordained status or lack thereof. Once we begin to understand the Word of God that promises all believers the empowerment to be His witnesses and we yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38-39), then, and only then, will He begin to work in us to realize the true discipleship potential of every believer by fully conforming us to the image of Christ so that we can begin to truly be of service to the Father for the building up of His Kingdom. Praised  be His Holy Name!

So,  if you hear the Spirit calling you to follow Jesus as an intentional disciple, do not hesitate, commit yourself to Jesus right where you are and, in prayer,  ask Him to lead you along the narrow path. Pray that the Holy Spirit inspire the Word of God so that it will enter your heart and  open its meaning and its truth to your spirit. Do not let any of your circumstances or other persons prevent you. He is Knocking at the Door, open the door to your heart and let Him In to sup with you.  If you do this He will begin to work in your circumstances and your relationships so  that you can begin your discipleship right then and there.  He will lead you and  instruct you step by step and if you stumble he will pick you up and take you to the next step. Place yourself entirely in His Hands; He will mold you and take you to where He wants you, where you will partner with Him in bringing forth is Kingdom,. He is, after all not only your Teacher, but also your Master, your Shepherd, your Savior, Your King and your God … and, above all, your Friend! Praised be His Holy Name!

Initially, when we set out on our own private formation as intentional disciples, we may be loners, who in attempting to use our gifts in a community that has not yet experienced the power of the Spirit, will experience some form of rejection or distancing from the community – a rejection that may seem at first painful – but a rejection that, because we are acting in obedience to Jesus’ calling in our lives, our efforts will eventually be redeemed and bring forth fruit for the Glory of His Name!. Blessed be the Name!

Of course, I would hope we all have come to a personal encounter with Jesus, but how many of us have yet to encounter the person of the Holy Spirit and received His empowering charisms, without which we literally cannot fully function as God’s emissaries to our families, to our community, and to the world? And, even more important, how many of us have entered into the deep, intimate prayer relationship with the Father, that we need to really worship Him in Spirit and in Truth? In order to be true disciples of the Lord and walk in the spirit it essential that learn how to release the Holy Spiirt in us so that we may truly operate at these levels of intimacy with Our Shepherd and His Father.

Always keep in mind that a large part of our problems as laity stem from the fact that, to some degree or other, we are all afraid of yielding to the Holy Spirit in our lives.  A basically misplaced fear, that emanates from the fact that most of our churches do not place a high priority on teaching us about interacting with the person of the Holy Spirit, His desire to fill us with His Love, the Empowerment Gifts He provides to work through us, His gentle approach to working with us, and, how through our cooperation with His Grace we can bring His Blessings to the entire Body.

In saying all this, I am not trying to place blame on our church leaders because I understand that they are in the same “human” boat as we are, and, that since many of them, though devoted to Christ, have not yet experienced the person and power of the Holy Spirit in their own lives, we should, therefore, not expect them to be able to teach us about the leading of the Spirit and the charisms. Instead, as part of our discipleship, we need to lift them and our churches in prayer to God for an all-encompassing spiritual revival among us all, and, at the same time, turn to our Head Shepherd, the Lord Jesus, to lead us and guide us until such a time as our churches catch up to where the Spirit is leading all those of us who have opened their hearts to “cast our nets on the other side” of our human boats.

Listen to what the Apostle John wrote regarding the inner anointing we have received through the Holy Spirit to teach us individually as we walk along the way of the Spirit:

“And as for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.”  (1 John 2:27)

In closing, let me conclude with this exhortation by our fellow pilgrim, St. Paul, regarding walking on “the other side”, that is, in the Spirit!

“Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”        (Gal 5: 24-25)

May the Holy Spirit guide you in all that you do to bring forth the Kingdom for the Glory of the Father.

Praised be the Name of Jesus! …   Bartimaeus

© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2019]

(For your benefit I have referenced a Siena Institiute Blog that will provide more information about Sherry Weddell, her books on “Intentional Discipleship” and the Siena Institute)

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Disciple-Making Resources For Catholics:

In order to inform you, I bring to your attention, a discipleship movement in the Catholic Church that I am sure will assist you in furthering your calling into a deeper discipleship relationship with Jesus and, as result receive the empowerment, you need to serve your local parish or diocese. Sherry Anne Weddel and Fr. Michael Sweeny, O.P. initiated this movement, represented by the Catherine of Siena Institute for the purpose of promoting the formation of “Intentional Disciples” within the parish structure. Their Mission Statement follows:

“The Catherine of Siena Institute (CSI) is an affiliated ministry of the Western Dominican Province dedicated to equipping parishes for the evangelization and formation of lay Catholics for the sake of their mission to the world. The Institute provides innovative resources and programming that are faithful to the teaching of the Church and will enable parishes to become lively and dynamic centers of evangelization and formation.   Since our founding in 1997, we have worked with over 65,000 lay, religious, and ordained Catholics in hundreds of parishes in 100 (arch)dioceses on 5 continents.

“The Church clearly teaches that all of the baptized are called by Christ to proclaim his Gospel in the world. Although the Church teaches that “Formation is not the privilege of a few, but a right and duty of all.” (Christifideles Laici, 63) parishes rarely attempt or are equipped to provide a formation that prepares Catholics for so great a mission. We seek to bridge the gap between the Church’s vision for the laity and the reality of the current evangelization and formation practices and structures in our parishes, which are the only contact that 98% of Catholics have with the Church.”    (http://www.centerforrenewal.org/Catherine_of_Siena.html)

Sherry Weddel’s Latest Book: Forming Intentional Disciples”

(see Our Sunday Visitor Books at:  https://search.catholiccompany.com/search?w=Sherry%20Weddel)

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Recommended Articles for Aspiring Disciples:

Releasing the Spirit 


Responding to the Spirit’s Call


The Kingdom of God: Our Spiritual Inheritance


Reclaiming Our Legacy In Christ


Hearing God’s Voice, and Obeying It


The Promise of the Father (Part 1)


The Promise of the Father (Part 2)


Sanctifying Gifts (Part 1)


Sanctifying Gifts (Part 2)


The Empowerment Gifts (Part 1)


The Empowerment Gifts (Part 2)

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Jesus_carrying_the_cross

The Way of True Discipleship

Losing Your Life for His sake…

Then Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?… (Matt:16:24-26)

“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34).

My Fellow Pilgrims in Christ Jesus,

One of the greatest obstacles we christians face in living the true christian life is our own “persona” or “soul”. Yes, even the most dedicated and devoted believer has to struggle with his or her “persona” every day of their lives because our persona is essentially more responsive to our “flesh” than to the Spirit, and it is the “flesh” that keeps us from truly “walking” in the Spirit. This is the “cross” that we as disciples of Christ must carry daily. And especially during Lent.

With the help and graces of the Holy Spirit we can usually come to a level of self control that permits us to grow spiritually step by step in our walk with Jesus. This is the process of transformation the Holy Spirit uses to gradually conform us to the image of “Christ in us, the Hope of Glory”.

“And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. And those He predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified.…” (Rom. 8: 28-30)

It must be said, however, that cooperating with the Holy Spirit in our transformation is a continuous struggle throughout or lives. Our main problem is that our fleshly persona is drawn completely to the ways of the world from our very beginnings. The Church attempts to provide us, through our priests and our parents, the ambience of holiness and grace, derived from the Word, the sacraments and devotions, needed by families to draw us away from the temptations of the “world, the flesh and the devil”. But alas not all of us are open to respond or receive the graces provided and thus become conformed to the world and NOT to Jesus, Our Lord!

The Season of Lent evolved in the Church specifically to provide its members with a structured approach to strengthening its members spiritually to not only resist the “World the Flesh and the Devil”, but to restore the integrity and union of our spirits with that of Christ himself. For without His Spirit empowering us to holiness we can accomplish nothing spiritual out of our own zeal and energy. (see John 15:4-6).

In order to fully cooperate with the Spirit of God in our spiritual renewal it must be based on a full free will offering of ourselves to Almighty God.

The Apostle Paul who also went through a severe struggle with his own persona exhorts us as to the type of consecration required of us to cooperate with the Spirit of God in His desire to conform us to the Spirit of His Divine Son, who already dwells in us through Baptism.

Seek the Spirtual Renewal of Our Minds

Finding our True Self

This is what Paul proclaims to the new Roman Christians the path to consecrating ourselves to God’s Plan for us:

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2)

As you read about Paul’s life in the New Testament writings you see that, as Saul (Paul’s original name) pursued Jesus’ followers to Damascus the Lord took him off his “high” horse and brought him to conversion at the hands of Ananias in Damascus. Saul was so impacted by his encounter with Jesus that he immediately began to preach and proclaim the Gospel in the Damascus area. However, because of his own “persona” he was basically operating under his own religious zeal (now converted). As a result he caused such a tumult in Damascus that the Christians there had to rescue him and take him out of the city for his own safety! (see Acts 9:9-23).

For this reason, as Paul later explains the Lord took him on a long “retreat” to Arabia (see Gal.1:15-17) where the Holy Spirit brought his conversion to a conclusion and gave him the revelations he needed to wholly surrender his hyper-self to Jesus and let Him be His Lord and His God! That is why Paul was later able say: “It is no longer I who lives but Christ who lives in me and through me” (Gal.2:20).

The same happens to some of us in order become fully Christian – we have to take retreat and empty ourselves of our old “persona” behind and let the Spirit fill us with the Spirit of Jesus through our consecration to Him.

It is as John the Baptist said, “I must decrease [so that] He may increase” (John 3:30). That is why in lent our main intent should be that through prayer and fasting we depose the control of our fleshly persona and ask the Spirit of Christ to take dominion of our hearts so that He may conform us to His Spirit.

Now some modernists place psychological objections to the terminology “denying our self” or losing our self”. What we believers need to understand is that we are NOT diminishing our mental health by denying our selves but, on the contrary, we are replacing our “old self” or “old man” with the “New Man” we are in Christ Jesus.

In Conclusion Brethren …

I leave you with the hope that this Lenten Season you heed St. Paul’s exhortation to the Romans to put on the Lord Jesus Christ and walk in His Spirit and with the strength of character which He alone can provide”!

“11 Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; 12 the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; 13 let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” (Romans 13: 11-14)

May the Lord Bless you as you turn to Him for wisdom and strength …

Your Fellow Pilgrim In Christ Jesus … Bartimaeus

© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2019]

Related Links that will assist you…
as you turn to Him in Repentance & Faith this Lent….

<> A Heart Rending Experience

<> A Litany of Humility

Denying One’s Self: The Cost of Discipleship

Return to Jerusalem

Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? (Luke 14:25-28)

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Discipleship is the process the Holy Spirit uses to conform us to the image of Christ and, through the obedience of Love, brings our souls into full conformance into the image of our Master by delivering us from the dominion of sin in our lives.

Our entrance into a discipleship relationship with Jesus, however, is not automatic with Baptism and conversion; it requires a decision of our will to enter in. Some few of us may make this decision at conversion as adults but for most of us it usually comes later in life when the Holy Spirit has given us the maturity and awareness of the personal cost that true discipleship entails (cf., Luke 14:25-28).

Once we enter into such a relationship, the process progresses throughout our lives, because although our spirits have been instantly redeemed at our conversion and Baptism, the purification and transformation of our souls involves time and the cooperation of our wills so that the sin that dominates our lives may be overcome by the washing of the Blood and by the washing of the Word.

Because the issue of sin is so crucial to our decision let me first go over with you the reasons why overcoming the evil one and the sin nature which dominates our lives so essential to our entrance into discipleship.

The sin that Adam and Eve committed was to believe and act on the lie that through their own human understanding, judgment, and  self-will they could administer their own lives without any dependence on God, their creator. It is in this sense that Satan tempted them with the lie that they could be their own “gods” (cf.,Gen.3:5).

That is why the key principle to Discipleship must be the denial of this lie by the submission of our “selves”  and thus, our “self-will” to the One who created us. This is the sense in which the terms “self-denial” or “dying to self” as used in scripture must be taken.  This is why Jesus emphasized this in all his teaching and preaching, as for example when He tells His disciples that, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Matt.16:24). Also, it is in this vein that He also told them to “… seek First the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness and all these things will be added to you”(Matt. 6:33). For, indeed, you cannot enter the Kingdom unless you submit to the King and do His Will (ie.,His Righteousness).

This principle of  “self denial”, then,  is not some sort of Nirvana where we blank out our minds to achieve some sort of inner peace. No! it is the act of surrendering and yielding our self-will to the Holy Spirit so He can renew our “self” in the image of Christ so that our renewed “self” and “self-will”  will always be in harmony with the Father’s will. It is effected by yoking ourselves to Christ.

At the risk of repeating myself, we must then understand that true discipleship is the process where we willingly submit out of agape Love to permit the working of the Holy Spirit, in us and through us for the restoration of our souls to the state of union and relationship with the Father for which we were created. This redemption that has been bought for us through Jesus’ blood not only cleanses us from Adam’s “original sin” but redeems us from the control of sin over our lives.  All we need to do is to receive it through Faith in Jesus the Son of the Living God!  Blessed be His Holy Name!

We can still see the effect this “original sin” has in us today and from this discussion I pray that you my see the reason why entering into discipleship is so important in living out the Christian Life.

As we grow into adulthood our fallen human nature always places our human judgment before that of our creator, thus affirming the sin that pervades our fallen humanity, an implicit attitude that we are the captains of our souls, exalting ourselves, in oblivion to our total dependence on the Father, an attitude that only increases the continuing separation between our creator and us and opens us to further transgressions against Him and His Holy Spirit.

It is this “original sin” which is the door to all our temptations and our other sins and lusts that bring us under the control of Satan and the spirit of the world that he uses to maintain us in bondage and eternal judgment.

However, God the Father, in His continuing Love for us, predestined from the beginning to save us from our sins and restore us to spiritual communion with Himself as His adopted Children through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus, the Anointed Son of God. For, in fact, He is the only one who could take responsibility for our sins – the only one whose death could atone for every sin ever committed by mankind – that is, the one who created us – God Himself, incarnated as Jesus our Savior and Redeemer.

He further affirmed this incomprehensible act of Love by resurrecting His Son and giving Him the Name that is above every other Name – His own. Praised be The Holy Name! (cf., Acts, 4:12)

The Father’s generous and intense love for us did not culminate only in bringing us the gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus, so that we could be in heaven with Him. No! He also created us as new creations in Christ to be His envoys in this world, so that we could continue the ministry of His Son to this fallen world, so that His saving Grace would continue to draw more and more of His children into His Kingdom of Light and away from Satan’s Kingdom of darkness.

For this reason we are all called to be disciples, because we are all called to become like Jesus in every aspect of our lives. And it is through the process of discipleship that we permit the Holy Spirit to work in our lives.  Not only to transform us in His Holiness but also to permit us to share in His empowerment and anointing so that we can be His partners in bringing to fulfillment His mission  in this world, namely,

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,

because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives

and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free,…”

( Luke 4:18)

Entering into discipleship, however, requires a decision by us – a decision that goes beyond our baptismal confession – a decision to yield ourselves completely to Jesus and His Holy Spirit – a decision to yoke ourselves to our Lord and Master and to follow Him and Him alone in the obedience of Love!  Praised be His Holy Name!

Before we can enter into such a relationship however, we must assess the personal cost involved (cf., Luke 14:28). For although the Lord calls all of us He does not force us to make the decision because it must be decision of agape Love where we give ourselves freely to our Savior. Being a free decision, we must be certain that we, in Faith, are willing to make the decision, fully understanding all that our choice entails.

For instance, we cannot call Him Lord and then attempt to pick and choose what we will do for Him and what we will not. We cannot call ourselves disciples and decide that we will not receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit to be empowered to do His work.  As disciples we place ourselves at His beck and call in obedience to His Word, not on what and how we think we ought to do or act. As His disciples we must open ourselves to hear the voice of the Spirit so we can respond to His Call. As disciples we must be continuously into His Word and in prayer consult Him regarding everything in our lives. And of course, as His Disciples we must yield ourselves to Him in all things: our emotions, our desires, our family relationships and our attachments to the things of the world and, indeed, our very lives. This, my brothers and sisters, is what the Cross of Self-denial is all about.

We must also fully understand that the commitment to discipleship entails not only maintaining an intimate relationship with The Master but also the taking up the cross of self-denial and to put aside our own desires and ambitions to fulfill only the direction and desires that He Himself places in our hearts. God in His compassion and grace does not compel us in making this decision and there is no condemnation regarding our salvation facing us if we decide not to enter into a full discipleship relationship. As Jesus told his disciples, “… many are called but few are chosen” (Matt.2o:16).   And as St. Francis de Sales stated in his motto, “All through love, nothing through constraint!”.

As stated before, entering into discipleship is first and foremost, an act of agape Love, and such Love is not Love if it is coerced or forced. It is a sacrificial offering of yourselves as is well stated by the apostle Paul:

“ I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Rom. 12:1-2)

It is this transformation process, this renewal of our minds by the Holy Spirit at work in us that marks a true disciple.

The process of discipleship enables that transformation by yoking us to Christ, our Master who, through His Word, will lead us step by step through the events and circumstances of our lives. With Him at our side He will teach us how to listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and how to deal with the world around us so that we can be His envoys of love to those He places around us.  Once we have placed Jesus first in our lives He renews the relationships we had in our pre-discipleship life and adds more, because now, with His strength we can handle more.

Now, brethren, I wish to make clear that due to the cultural traditions of this world we have been conditioned to expect that the only manner we can enter into such a discipleship process is by making a commitment to enter the religious life either as a nun, monk , deacon or priest.

While not disparaging those callings, specifically, I must clearly state that ANY Christian is called to enter into a personal discipleship relationship with Jesus regardless of your state in life or connection to a religious order. Upon entering such a relationship, it will be Jesus who will direct you as how and where He wants you to be a disciple. It may be that he will want you to remain in the lay state where you presently are, or He may want you to start in the lay state and then move you into a religious order. Certainly, St. Francis of Assisi and St. Ignatius Loyola began in this manner.

However there is a lay state that, in my experience, is most suitable to enter into discipleship, and that is the Married State, for both men and women. Speaking as a man, it is in this state that the Lord has called me into discipleship. And it all began when the Holy Spirit inflamed my heart with St. Paul’s challenge to husbands – a challenge that eventually became my calling into a discipleship relationship with My Lord!

Here is the Word that ignited my Spirit to come to an understanding of true Love – and after all, that is the objective of discipleship!

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, so as to present the church to himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind—yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish. In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, because we are members of his body.  “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church. (Eph. 5:25-32).

After meditating and praying on this scripture the Lord led me to understand that it was in the framework of the married state within which He wanted me to follow Him and learn from Him. By God’s grace, once I committed myself to follow Him, I have received the greatest spiritual blessings in my life.  But it was an intimate decision between the Lord and I. Except for my wife, there was no need for any one to know. My only reason for sharing this with you because I feel led of His Spirit that many men need to know this because the Lord is calling them also to this type of discipleship. I believe that because of our cultural prejudices the Lord’s call to this mode of discipleship has been overlooked, as well as the blessings and graces that come with such a dedication of oneself.

It was in the married state, through the help of my wife, that I was born again spiritually. It was also through my wife’s assistance that I received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and, again, it is through my wife’s love, patience and understanding that I have learned to go beyond mere human love and learned to Love my wife as Jesus Loves His Church. I assure you that my wife can attest to what the Lord has done in me, with me, and how He is continuing to work in me! Praised Be His Holy Name!

In order not to be repetitive about “The Discipleship of Marriage” I refer you to a previous article titled, “Husbands Love Your Wives”.  However, I might add that it was in and through our marriage relationship that the Lord taught me (and continues to teach me) about what “dying to self” really means.

Speaking to my married brothers in Christ, who would like to make their marriage a school of discipleship, to consider praying to the Lord about it. Let Him guide you through His Word in making the decision. Please consider this even if you are currently experiencing some troubles in your marriage. In fact, the Lord, can use the circumstances of your situation and the discipleship process to heal and renew your marriage – only believe – all things are possible to them that believe! After all, isn’t He is the one who said, “…what God has joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matt. 19:6)and “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (John 15:7).

So brethren, stand on His Promises and it will be done for you!

Your Brother in Christ ….. Bartimaeus

© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2019]

Recommended Links: Related prior posts dealing with Discipleship and Love that will help you!

§ Husbands Love Your Wives

§ Loving Submission is aTwo-Way Process

§ Sweet Yoke of Love

§ Enter in By the Narrow Gate

§ Walking The Walk

§ Hearing God’s Voice … And Obeying it

Disciple Praying

Christ in us the Hope of Glory!

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

— I believe in Jesus’ Miraculous Birth, The Incarnation, …
                    But what about My being Reborn as a New Creation in Jesus?

Dear Fellow Pilgrims in Christ Jesus,

As a result of the activation of my conversion and the attending revelation, the Holy Spirit has brought to life my understanding of His Word and a fuller understanding of the Mystery of the Incarnation, that in His birth through the virgin Mary, Jesus, the Son of God, became one of us while at the same time Retaining His Divinity, so that he would be the Father’s atonement for the sins of all humanity.

What has been harder for me to truly grasp is that through His Birth , Passion, Death and Resurrection the door has also been opened for me (and all believers) to become partakers of His Divinity (see, 2 Peter 1:4) – to be reborn in HIM! This is what I found hard to fully comprehend.

As John also states in His Gospel… “He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God”. (John 1:13 )

Now, all the new communities founded by the apostles faced the challenge of bringing the new believers to a deeper understanding of what it meant to be “Children of God”. In order to enhance the understanding of the Galatian community (and us) regarding being “heirs” or “adopted” children of God, the Apostle Paul, in his letter to them tried to explain to them using the Roman legal system of their day. At that time a legally born child, although an “heir” could not exercise his privileges as an heir until such a time, determined by tradition and His Father, that he was legally “adopted” as an official “son” or “heir”. Only after that point could he exercise his authority as a “son” within the family.

Using this comparison to explain to the Galatians what our “adoption” meant, Paul expanded on this theme as follows…

“I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God” (Gal. 4:1-7)

We believers have the power (choice) to become “Adopted” children of God

“He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power [“choice” ] to become [“adopted” ] children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1-18)

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Cor. 5:17)

As we mature spiritually, our challenge in living a truly Christian life comes in understanding exactly when it is that we are “empowered” spiritually, what our spiritual “authority” is, and how to operate within that authority. First of all we need to have have the awareness that we are a New Creation “in Christ” or as St. Peter said: “ You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.” (1 Peter1:23)

Operating in our traditional Cristian culture we are formed as “un-empowered” children and learn to obey and follow our beliefs and traditions faithfully. But as we grow in faith and maturity we are never taught how to go deeper regarding the use our faith and spiritual authority properly within our normal sphere of influence and prayer life so as to bring forth the Kingdom of God that is in us. Instead we passively permit the circumstances of our lives to overwhelm God’s purposes for our lives, especially that we are being conformed to the image of Christ in us (our Hope of Glory).

“And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. And those He predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified.…” (Rom. 8:28-30)

We must understand that we cannot enter into the use of our authority in Christ without yielding our selves to Him as a living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1-2) so that the process of our conformance may begin. This is how we activate the Spirit of Christ in us and permit us to act “in His Name”! In doing this we may restart our lives by walking as a new creation in Him! ( see, 2 Cor. 5:17)

God makes us into a new creation in Christ so that with His Divinity in us we become partners with Him so that by His Love working through us we become participants in bringing forth His Kingdom in and through His Son Christ Jesus! Yes, it is the intent of the Lord to bring forth his Kingdom right now, in the present day! He does this because His Kingdom begins in the hearts of those who believe in Him!

Entering into the Kingdom

Entering into the Kingdom to be partners with Jesus however does not come automatically to us. We have to make a decision — a decision of Agape Love, to willingly, and without compulsion, give our very selves to Christ so that He can enter into our spiritual temple, our spirits, and let Him truly reign in our hearts as Our King and Savior. In entering in we must understand that we will also share in the cup of His suffering.

This is the lesson Jesus was trying to teach Nicodemus when he sought out Jesus (John 3) coming to Him at night to ask Him about his awareness of what God was doing through Him. In meeting with him, Jesus told Him that it was one thing to be made aware of “the Kingdom” and another to “enter into the Kingdom”. That is, God can permit you to be partially aware of His doings, but you cannot participate in His doings unless you have been “born again” spiritually!

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot [truly] enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born anew.’ The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:5-8)

How does this happen?

While it is true that we receive the Spirit of Christ when we receive Baptism and Confirmation, yet because of our free will, the Holy Spirit will not take us further in our transformation into conformance until we willingly, out of love for our Savior, activate the seed of His Spirit that is in us by yielding ourselves completely to the Holy Spirit so that His Kingdom may rule in our hearts and body and soul.

Only those who have activated their spiritual seed in this way can be sensitive to the leadings of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Without this awareness and His anointing you cannot Hear the Word of the Shepherd, and thus be able to carry out the acts needed to be a partner with Jesus and the Father in bringing forth His Kingdom!

This is what it takes to be a true disciple of Christ. It is also why Nicodemus remained a “disciple-in-waiting” until he made his decision after Jesus’ passion and crucifixion. Because he was afraid of the repercussions in the Sanhedrin, of which the was a member, he kept his belief in Christ as a private matter, at least until Jesus Passion and Death!

Don’t follow Nicodemus’ example, instead, follow Mary who responded to the Angel of God immediately, saying, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word.”(Luke 1:38) !

Faith Formation is Important

We must also be careful not to deviate from the Faith while we are in process of having our faith formed.

The Galatian community at its inception, for instance, was very much like young child heir, who did not fully understand their responsibility in the faith as a newly initiated children of the Father. Children who were being led astray by the Judaizers from Jerusalem who were telling them that they needed to be circumcised in order to be part of the religion.

Here is what St. Paul said to them….You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly exhibited as crucified! The only thing I want to learn from you is this: Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the law or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? Having started with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh?” (Gal. 3:1-3)

Paul also felt so strained in straightening them out that he had to explain to them that they were no longer un-empowered babes that were governed by slavish rules, but were fully adopted sons an daughters responding to their relationship with the Father directly… “… because you are His [adopted] children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, of God Himself…” (Gal. 4:6-7)

Paul also cautions them however, that because they are behaving like babes still in the womb, that they are open to falling prey to the “circumcision sect” and are at risk of losing their inheritance in Christ, Therefore, he, Paul, is concerned about them to the point that he informs them that he is constantly praying for them because “…I travail in birth again until Christ [is truly] formed in you” (Gal. 4:19).

Putting on the Lord Jesus Christ — An Urgent Appeal

As you can see, in order to be truly formed in Christ we have to make an act of the will in accordance with the faith and grace given us at salvation. The apostle Paul expresses that act of faith to the Roman community as an urgent appeal to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ”.

“Besides this you know what hour it is, how it is full time now for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed; the night is far gone, the day is at hand. Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. (Rom. 13:11-14)

In is letter to the Galatians he expands that appeal further implying that “putting on the Spirit of Christ” also means “living and walking in the Spirit of Christ:

“Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Gal. 5:16-26)

The Results of Living and Walking in the Spirit

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed it cannot, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

“But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, [if indeed] the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.” (Rom. 8: 1-11)

Pray about Making a Resolution

So Brethren, this New Year meditate about what has just been presented to  you, consult the Lord and find out what His purpose and desires are for you. Then ask for the Holy Spirit’s help in making a decision to truly “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” and “enter into His Kingdom”!

May the Lord Bless you and keep you. May His Face Shine upon you and Bring you His Peace!

Your Brother in Christ … Bartimaeus

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Recommended Links

<> Jesus the Source of Living Water

<> The Kingdom of God; Our Spiritual Inheritance

<> Reclaiming Our Legacy in Christ

<> Receiving the  the Holy Spirit

© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2019]

pictures-of-jesus-baptism-holy-spirit“For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” (Galatians 3:27)

“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:3-4 )

My Fellow Pilgrims In Christ Jesus,

We Christians have been taught from sacred scripture that when were baptized we received the Spirit of Jesus in our hearts. We also Learned that because of this, the virtues of Jesus’ Spirit also dwell in us. These virtues of His character are also considered to be the seven “Sanctifying Gifts of the Spirit” that are available to us in our lives as we are conformed by the Holy Spirit to the Image Of Christ in us!

The following is the Prophesy from Isaiah Chapter 11 regarding the coming Messiah from which this teaching is derived. It goes as follows …

1 Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse,
And a branch from his roots will bear fruit.
2 The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him,
The spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The spirit of counsel and strength,
The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
3 And He will delight in the fear of the Lord, (Isaiah 11:1-3)

When I review the gifts specified in verse two I always ask my self why is it that, if the “Church” today has the Spirit’s sanctifying gifts of “Wisdom and Knowledge”, that the “Church” does not canonically recognize at Confirmation the Spirit’s Pentecostal Empowerment Gifts, which are also the legacy of believers as specified by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians, chapter 12., namely:

1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak. 3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says “Let Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit.

“4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.” (1 Cor.12:1-11)

Now it is true that the “sanctifying” gifts indicated in Isaiah are provided to baptized believers so we can grow spiritually to be conformed to our Savior and Redeemer (see Rom 8:28-29). But it is equally true that we are given the Empowerment Gifts (the gifts of Pentecost) so that we all (Laity and Clergy) can be used by the Holy Spirit to contribute to the Spiritual Growth of the community.

“1 Pursue love and strive for the spiritual gifts (of empowerment) , and especially that you may prophesy. 2 For those who speak in a tongue do not speak to other people but to God; for nobody understands them, since they are speaking mysteries in the Spirit. 3 On the other hand, those who prophesy speak to other people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. 4 Those who speak in a tongue build up themselves, but those who prophesy build up the church. 5 Now I would like all of you to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. One who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up.”(1Cor. 14:1-5)

We all, as the body of Christ, do indeed need to have access to both sets of gifts in order to fulfill the Father’s purposes for us in our lives . St. Thomas Aquinas made that very clear in his “Summa Theologica” where he specified the sources of these two sets of spiritual gifts (Sanctifying Grace & Actual Grace). And the Book of acts also makes it very clear that the Apostles were told to wait in Jerusalem until they received the Spiritual Empowerment Gifts they needed to carry out their mission to preach and teach the Gospel to the whole world.

“4 While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. “This,” he said, “is what you have heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”  6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:-8)

After the Pentecost experience, scripture also indicates the difference in the impartation of these two sets of gifts. The Sanctifying gifts at Baptism and the Empowerment Gifts at Confirmation.

14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. 15 When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 8:14-16)

This is in accord with the example Jesus gave us when he was first baptized to accept His role as Messiah and then, after His Baptism, received the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to carry out the Father’s purposes for Him as Messiah!

21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”  (Luke 1:21-22)

Likewise for us, we receive the Spirit of Christ in Baptism and it is the Father’s intent for us to receive the Empowerment Gifts to carry out our role in the evangelization of the world by manifesting the Power of His Kingdom in and through our earthly lives.

For example, in our own era, the Lord God, desired to revive us spiritually so we might be His instruments in bringing other people to an active faith in Jesus and the Good News of the Kingdom. In our church, Roman Catholic, the Spirit began our spiritual empowerment in 1967 by stirring up some college students at Duquesne University to study about what happened at Pentecost and deeply desire to receive the Holy Spirit as at the birth of the Church at Pentecost.

The result was that that after a week of prayer and intercession the Holy Spirit came upon them and the Empowerment Gifts were manifested among them. This event triggered the Charismatic Renewal in our Church and the movement that began there, spread throughout the world bringing more than a million new converts into the church at that time. The Charismatic movement was especially well accepted in Latin America where church growth was beyond belief!

(The following link documents as a youtube video the beginning of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-QDOcDGDWA)

Here in the United States, the impact of that Renewal has somewhat died down now, mainly because passing on the Graces of Empowerment to the new generations has been greatly dampened by the spiritual darkness brought on by our secular culture. But now the Lord has indicated that another epoch is coming upon us when the Lord will revive us again with His Power and Truth so that the powers of darkness which are coming upon this nation will not succeed and so that the Victory of His Light and His Love may again prevail! Praised Be His Holy Name!

We do not know exactly how or when the Lord will bring about this New Renewal but we do know that it will be soon and will involve the Renewal of the Empowerment Gifts — Because the main purpose of these gifts is to have His People come into His Light again so that they may again be the channels of His Light to the World! All He needs from us is for us to ardently seek Him in prayer and worship – and willingly yield ourselves to the leadings of His Holy Spirit so that He, and He alone, can lead us into this new epoch of revival we are about to enter. Praised Be His Holy Name!

I am sending this message to you my Brothers and Sisters so that you may begin interacting with the Trinity, through inspired prayer, in such a way that you may be transformed and prepared spiritually for the new epoch in salvation history that is coming.

May the Lord Bless you and keep you; and May His Face Shine upon you and bring you His Peace!

Your Brother in Christ Jesus … Bartimaeus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2018])

Related Links…
Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit
The Double Portion Anointing
The Kingdom of God: Our Inheritance
St. Theresa: Regarding Prayer
Releasing the Spirit
The Key Of Knowledge