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Archive for April 20th, 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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