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Archive for April, 2009

Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20-21)

My fellow pilgrims, In the context of the above citation Jesus was attempting to tell his listeners that the Kingdom of God is first of all a spiritual state. It is a state where you, out of love inspired by faith, have ceded your own self will to God’s reign in your heart. Without such a surrender the Holy Spirit will not operate through you. He may operate around you, through people and circumstances, but He will not violate your free will by imposing Himself on you. He still loves you and you may be His child through baptism and Faith in Jesus as savior but He can only use you as His instrument when you personally let Him. To the degree we do so, the Lord will manifest His Love and His Presence through our lives. This, then, is the Kingdom that was preached by Jesus and the Apostles. It is the Kingdom which is at hand, that is, accessible to those who have ears to hear. It is the Good News of this Kingdom through which all believers are empowered, not only to preach, but to manifest through their lives here on earth.

Yes, when we pray the Father’s kingdom to come “on earth as it is in heaven” we are praying that it come through us. Right where we are and in the circumstances where we are!

John the Baptist’s saying, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30), applies to us believers as well. In order for His presence (His Kingdom) in us to manifest through our lives, our own ego-driven self must diminish. The less we get in His way the more His Kingdom is able to be manifested through us.

Our problem is that we always want to be in control, even in spiritual things. We naturally want to take credit for everything we do. That is why the cross we must carry daily is denying our selves so that God the Father can accomplish His works through us. When we humbly and sacrificially serve Him by serving others in His Name He will perform the works and He will receive all the Glory. Without Him we can do nothing.

The surrender of our inner selves to Jesus is the yoke that Jesus spoke of when He said: “Come to me all you who are heavy burdened and I will give you rest. For my yoke is sweet and my burden light”. When you invite Jesus into your heart, not only as Savior, but also to be your Lord and Master you are in fact ceding yourself  to be “yoked” to Him. To be His instrument in this world. It is only in this way that He will manifest His Kingdom directly through your person.

If you have already done so then you are, in fact, His instrument in this world and He will manifest His Kingdom through you and into the circumstances and persons within your sphere of influence. You may not always be aware He is doing so, but the fruit of your life will bear witness to His work in and through you. If you are not seeing fruit, get yourself yoked again to Jesus!

When Jesus proclaimed to all that “The Kingdom of God is at hand” and demonstrated that Kingdom with works of power He was revealing the Father’s desire for all mankind to be His partners in bringing forth His Kingdom in this lost and sinful world. To this effect He invited all who will to take hold of the Kingdom by saying: ,“From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been aggressively advancing, and those who are (spiritually) aggressive (through faith) lay hold of it” (Matt. 11:12).

The single greatest impediment to entering the Kingdom today is that for most of us “The Kingdom of God” is just a catchy religious phrase. It is so because we have we don’t have the faith to believe that our Creator God would use us to manifest His Love to the world. Furthermore most of us are not aware that it is God’s will for all of us. We think that that was only for the “disciples”, as if we are not all called to be disciples..

The second greatest impediment is that even when we are made aware of this fact we are too timid (in faith) to lay hold of the Kingdom. We are not willing to be aggressive in believing the Word, Living by the Word, and obediently following the leadings of the Holy Spirit in proclaiming His Love to the world by our self-denying actions.

Entering the Kingdom: A Work in Progress

When we determine to enter and walk in the Kingdom, we, like Jesus, also will face many testings. One of the most common ones that I have had to face is self-deception in the process of dying to self. The deception comes because of our zeal in thinking we are doing God’s will when we deny ourselves in the various events of our lives where we are opposed.

Yes, we do indeed think we are denying ourselves when we give up our own desires or plans, but internally, without consciously realizing it, we are retaining our ideas, we are holding on to our desires or plans subconsciously! These subconscious attachments and constraints will manifest themselves in dark or angry moods in our behavior that emerge as resentment and bitterness at best when we are put under stress.

How then do we really come to experience a true death of self?

On one occasion, after a string of personal failures to be a channel of God’s love, I was able to come to a more complete death to a part of myself. Since my “self” appears to me somewhat compartmentalized, I came to realize that I could not put to death my total self in one fell swoop. Nor could I do so without help from the Holy Spirit. Because of my own emotional and spiritual limitations, the Spirit only helps me to put to death that part of my “self” where my awareness is focused; the part that is being actualized by a particular situation. So when I say I came to a more complete death, I mean a more complete death for that part of me that was manifesting itself in a particular situation. I understood then that dying to self is a work in progress that will not be completed until the Lord calls me home.

To answer my own question: in order to completely die to self in a particular area, we must not just go through some external effort of denying our selves from carrying out our will in a particular situation, but, most importantly, we must die to self in the innermost part of our being, We must die to our repressed desires, our motivation, our selfish emotions, and most of all, the need for our ego to express itself in this particular situation.

Now once, by the Grace of God and by the Spirit, I achieved putting a certain part of my “self” to death, I opened the door for the Holy Spirit to enter in and begin to change me and renew me in that specific area. When that happened I sensed a certain freedom from sin in that segment of my life and I began to see the fruit of the Spirit come forth in that sector.

However, no sooner did I put one part of me to death when the other sectors of my “self’ now began to act up causing myself and others more grief. I immediately turned in repentance to my Lord and requested that He continue His work in me to correct these works of the flesh. In prayer, I then, by the grace of God, renewed my mind to open those sectors of myself that were being actualized, to the work of the Spirit and to ask for His Grace to bring His victory in these other areas as well.

I am indeed a work in progress. Praised Be His Holy Name!

Bartimaeus

© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2009].

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Praying Down the Kingdom:

The Prayer of Intercession …   by Jorge Madrid Sr.

(Posted with author’s permission)

Moses in Intercession

Moses in Intercession

There are forces of darkness in the spiritual realm that actively oppose any effort to bring people into the Kingdom of Light. Occasionally, when we pray the prayer of petition and don’t receive answers it is sometimes due to the opposition by the forces of darkness. Again, if we ask for discernment in such cases, the Lord will reveal to us the existence of such opposition. In such cases, our mode of prayer needs to move from that of petition to that of intercession. The prayer of intercession brings to bear the forces of Heaven to break the power of resistance that the Love of God and His Kingdom of Light might be made manifest in this world (eg. Daniel 10:12-13).

From what I now understand, I see that my prayers prior to my spiritual revitalization were merely like self-centered whimpers to God to provide me some necessity or to help me in some life crisis of the moment. Occasionally I would pray for someone near and dear to me out of the human compassion I felt for his or her plight. But it never occurred to me that God had in mind a greater destiny for our prayers, a destiny that involved God wanting to use our prayers to bring His Kingdom to manifestation. After all, I thought, God is sovereign and he is working out His plan for this world through whatever process that He wants and we fallible humans mainly just tend to get in His way.  It did not occur to me that since we are the Body of Christ and since the Son always completed what He saw the Father doing, we also must be about bringing to completion His saving work in this world. This work cannot be accomplished without prayer because it is through prayer that the Lord reveals to us what He is about, namely, the bringing forth of His Kingdom.

The bringing forth of His Kingdom is very much likened to a human birthing process where after conception and a gestation process of nine months a new human life is brought forth to this world. Similarly, after Jesus’ Ascension, the word of God took seed in the still disempowered, but expectant, group of disciples and after nine days of intercession and travail the Lord brought forth from the community a fully empowered church, His Body in this world.

This process of intercession is still the means God uses to bring forth spiritual life. Paul, in exclaiming to the Galatians, “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you” (Gal. 4:19), indicated that once again he was in intercession for them that they might be brought to spiritual maturity in Christ. Similarly, comparing intercessory prayer to wrestling, he tells the Colossians that, “Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured”(Col. 4:12) .

Unfortunately, for the most part, the average member in the modern church does not relate to true intercessory prayer because he or she does not know what it means nor have they ever seen it practiced. The most they can conceive of is some sort of prayer of petition, which may have to be repeated, over and over again. We need to understand that the prayer of intercession is to the prayer of petition as an Olympic cross-country race is to a morning jog.

To the Galatians, Paul uses the terms of a woman’s travail to convey the intensity involved in the prayer of intercession.  For a woman who has given birth knows exactly what travail means and can relate to that. In today’s modern environment the “travail” of intercession has more meaning for women than for men. For that reason women are more open to intercessory prayer than men because they can relate directly to the birthing process. Paul, in addressing the Colossians, attempts to convey the process of intercession to men by the use of the term “wrestling”. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul also refers to intercession when he says , “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places”(Eph. 6:12) .

Intercession is a mediation between God and man. As such it can only be undertaken under the High Priestly role of Jesus the Messiah. For He alone is the One Mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5) .  However, when Christ became our life, we also took on His priestly role as it applies to our responsibilities in life. For instance as a husband and father I have been given the role as “priest” for my family. In that role it is my privilege, nay, my obligation, to intercede for my family. Paul as an apostle of Christ exercised his priestly role by interceding for the churches he planted. Similarly, when the pastor of a church senses that there is a need to bring spiritual revival to his community, he has the privilege of praying down God’s kingdom through the prayer of intercession. He can delegate this privilege or gift to any person or group he chooses. Usually a group is selected because deep intercession is spiritually draining and the members of a group help to sustain one another in intercession.

Besides praying for guidance for the pastoral team, such a group first begins by praying for a spirit of intercession to come on them so that the Holy Spirit praying through them can intercede for the new work. The Holy Spirit responds by placing a prayer burden on the group so that they identify themselves personally with what God wishes to bring forth work from this effort. The Holy Spirit leads them in identifying the major obstacles that need to be submitted to prayer so that these “mountains” can be moved to ensure the effort’s success. Each member of the group becomes so personally identified with their intercession that they continue praying individually even during their daily activities. Each time the group meets the members share their prayer experiences and the leader coordinates the praying to focus on what the Spirit is leading the group to pray during each particular period. As the prayer achieves successes in the spiritual realm, the Holy Spirit lightens the prayer burden until final success is achieved. Although the results of the intercession may not be immediately evident, the prayer participants know that the battle has been won and move on to other prayer assignments.

Of course, deep intercession may take many forms depending on the circumstances. For instance when the Israelites sinned against God and God wanted to destroy them it was Moses who stood in the breach to keep God’s wrath from destroying them (Ps. 106:23) . When the armies of Israel were facing an implacable foe such as the Amalekites, Moses, Aaaron, and Hur interceded to God for victory (Ex 17:10) . When Israel was in captivity and their fate was uncertain was it not Daniel who interceded for the nation ? In His High Priestly prayer Jesus interceded not only for his disciples but also for all those who believe in their message . Whatever the case, we dare not undertake any spiritual endeavor without some level of intercessory prayer. How can we fulfill our destiny to be the channels by which the Lord brings His Kingdom into manifestation if we ignore the very tools he gave us to accomplish His work?

Today the Lord is again saying, “And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none” (Ezek. 22:30) .

I pray that all of us may be called to intercession so that we, as a Kingdom of Priests (1Ptr. 2:9), may pray down His Kingdom into a world that is in dire need of His Peace and His Love! Amen.

(excerpted from “Thy Kingdom Come”  by Jorge Madrid Sr.; © 2003 Madrid Family Trust, all rights reserved)

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