Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for January, 2010

Sermon on the Mount

Sermon on the Mount

The Beatitudes (Matt.5:3-11)

“Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn,  for they will be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

My fellow Pilgrims,

One of the greatest challenges facing us as believers in Christ is that of transitioning from merely being believers to being conformed to His image (Rom. 8:29) as adopted sons and daughters – as heirs of the Kingdom.  The process of being conformed to Him is not our of own doing or ability, it is a process of transformation driven by the Spirit of the Living God who indwells all who believe in the Son, Jesus the Messiah.

It is not a process forced upon us, rather it is a process that we are invited to enter into willingly and freely of our own accord, in faith and out of love, the love of Him who died for us!  It is a yielding that surrenders our total being, spirit, soul and body, so that He may deliver us from the bondage of the world through the renewal of our hearts and minds and in this way conform us to His image and His Spirit to the point where we can all say that “… we have the mind of Christ” (1Cor. 2:16).

This, my brethren, is what the process of becoming a disciple is all about. It is a process that entails a personal cost – namely, our very selves. It the process whereby we divest ourselves of our own ambitions and desires and yield ourselves to Him who has bought us at the cost of His own life through the shedding of His precious blood!

When Jesus called His disciples to a mountainside to teach them (Matthew, Chapter 5) it was not to give them a “pep-talk” but rather, to indicate to them what the cost and depth of their commitment to Him as disciples really signified.  Significantly, Jesus prefaces His teaching, which we refer to as the “Sermon on the Mount”, with a very direct summary of the process which the Holy Spirit will work in them and through them as they enter into the Narrow Gate and begin their walk of discipleship with Him.

In this introduction, the fundamental aphorisms of discipleship, are posed as “Blessings” or “Manifest Favor of God” to let them explicitly understand that what they will be experiencing, is the power of God working through them and in them to bring them to the point where they will sacrifice even their own lives in doing the Father’s will and thus bringing forth His Kingdom on this Earth!

For us, today, these “Beatitudes” are the indicators of where we are in the transition the Holy Spirit is working in us on the way to being conformed to the image of Christ. These Beatitudes represent for us, the progressive phases that all of us, who truly and willingly enter into the walk of discipleship and take on Jesus’ yoke, will experience as we continue on our walk with Him.

Of course, some of us, enter the walk not fully realizing what our commitment to “following Christ” entails, and thus are tempted to opt out of the Walk at the first sign of resistance from the world system in which we live. And there are even some, who attempt to enter the Walk without renouncing the world thus making shipwreck of their faith (1Tim. 1:19). But we, brethren, are of faith and not those who draw back and of whom the Lord says, “my soul has no pleasure in them” (Heb. 10:38).

So, in order to be fully informed and permit the spirit of the Beatitudes to prepare us and guide us in our walk with Him, I will share with you (in summary form) my reflections on the essential elements of these stepping stones into the Kingdom of God in this and the several other postings that will follow this one.

Before I do, let me first point out that for many of us the use of the word “discipleship” is a hindrance because it has been so misused and abused by certain persons who attempt to control and manipulate the people of God under the guise of “authority”.  Let me be clear – when I use the term it is as a personal and private discipline to bring to perfection our relationship with Jesus and the Father.  It merely formalizes what we all as Christians are called to do – hear the voice of God in love and meekly and humbly obey His calling by putting into action the Word of God in our lives, and thus manifesting His Love into this fallen world.

This is something each of us can do in private regardless of our state in life! We don’t have to be monks or nuns, or preachers or deacons. All we need to be is the persons the creator made us to be, whether married or single, ordained or un-ordained, in whatever occupation or profession in which we are currently involved (except a sinful one, of course).

All that the Lord is calling us to is to let His Spirit work in us and through us in our every day lives so that as we become more and more like Jesus, more and more of the Jesus that is in us will be manifested to the world. To do that we have to be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit and His gifts of discernment and wisdom, otherwise, our own flesh may deceive us and take us down the wrong path. A path that definitely would not be discipleship.

The First Beatitude – “Blessed are the Poor in Spirit …”

The first Beatitude or work of Grace in us is that of bringing each of us to a distinct awareness of the state of our spiritual bankruptcy or poverty. For us adult believers, this usually comes during a crisis in our lives. It may be an emotional, physical or spiritual crisis involving our work, our relationships, our financial status, or our moral situation (or a mix of all of these). In any case, the Holy Spirit uses such circumstances in our lives to help us to understand that we cannot on our own human effort save ourselves, physically, emotionally, or spiritually. To bring us to this self-assessment usually requires that we enter a stage of brokenness so that the shell we have built around our hearts is open to the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

“The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Ps. 51:17)

It is through the brokenness that occurs in such circumstances that Holy Spirit is able to reach our hearts and lets us properly assess our desperate plight so that we are willing to turn to God for help. Remember that Jesus, at another place in scripture, told His disciples, “Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it” (Luke 18 17). It is through this Beatitude or grace that the Holy Spirit brings us to the point in our lives where we become as dependent as a little child so that our hearts are opened to receive God’s saving grace . Praised Be His Holy Name!

Please note that I am speaking of adults becoming as little children – children, who, because of their dependent state, normally are very open to the Spirit and, usually, do not need to be brought to such a stage because they are already “poor in spirit”.

We adult believers, however, because of the worldly environment in which we are forced to live and survive, have made pride and self-sufficiency our idols and, in fact, many of us raise our own children to honor those same idols in their lives. It is to the breaking of these idols to which the first Beatitude speaks. It is the doorway to the rest of the Beatitudes and to the “Kingdom of Heaven” – it is, above all, the doorway we must re-enter when we fall along the Way – as we all do because of the moral weakness inherent in our human nature.

This Beatitude, then, leads directly into the next Beatitude where, when like Peter, we realize we have betrayed the Lord, and are led into the Godly sorrow that leads to repentance. Thus, blessed by this holy mourning as stated in the Second Beatitude, we cooperate with the Spirit of Grace by responding to this sorrow for our sin with a corresponding attitude of repentance. This beatitude and the other four that follow are part and parcel of the inner sub-process of  “conversion” which will be the subject of my next posting.

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

As I conclude this particular sharing, my brothers and sisters. I pray that The Spirit of His Love hover over you and inspire in you that which is appropriate for you in your stage of the spiritual walk with Him who died for us all!

May He abundantly bless you … Bartimaeus

© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, 2010, all rights reserved

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Walking the Walk: Spiritual Guidance and the Word of God

Thy Word is a Lamp Unto my Feet

Thy Word is a Lamp Unto my Feet


“Thy Word is a Lamp unto my feet

A Light unto my path”

(Ps. 119:105)


My fellow Pilgrims,

When we hear Jesus call us to “Come Follow Me” and in our response we enter in through the Narrow Gate, we realize that, wthout spiritual guidance, we cannot follow Jesus along the strait or difficult path.  In fact, that is one of the characteristics of the strait path. For you see, as we forsake our self-will at the gate, we also leave behind our self-sufficiency – our total dependence must be on the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit in everything we do in our lives from this point onwards. That is why the Lord Jesus tells us that, “… the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matt 7:13-14)

This total dependence is a necessary aspect of “walking the walk” with Jesus. Our decision to follow Jesus along the strait path begins the process of transformation whereby we are able to walk by the Spirit and not the Flesh.  We may liken our initial entry and walk through the gate as entering a darkened path along a cliff side where we can barely see the next step ahead – we cannot do it without a light to guide us. The Lord, in his gracious providence, however, provides just such a light, His Holy-Spirit-inspired Word!

Without the continuous guidance provided by the inspired Word of God we can easily fall and injure ourselves spiritually, thus interrupting our spiritual walk with Him who will, if we remain faithful, pick us up by His hand end restore us to Himself. Nonetheless, each of these can cause severe distress in our spiritual lives.

One of the problems we pilgrims face in “walking the walk”, then, is discerning the Father’s will for us as we go along the way. This we can only do if we ensure if we dedicate ourselves to study and meditate prayerfully on His Word so that the light does not flicker as we go along the path. Accomplishing this in this modern world, where intellectualism reigns, can be quite challenging. That is why I stress the “Inspired” part of the Word of God. For unless the Holy Spirit assists us in letting the Word reach to the depths of our hearts we will be deprived of the fullness of the Light of His Word.

If we are to truly to understand the Father’s will in our lives, the study of the Word must go beyond mere intellectual understanding and proceed into opening our hearts to the Holy Spirit so that He may inspire the Word He has led us to and reveal to us what He intends that Word to signify to us personally. In order to do this we must still our own intellectually striving nature and listen to what He has to say to our hearts. It is only through such inspiration that we may discern the Father’s specific will for us and separate His leadings from the instincts of our own intellectually ascribed, self-willed interpretation of the Word.

Scripture makes it clear that without the inspiration of the Paraclete, the soul (our mind, emotions and will), if left to its own natural capabilities, is not capable of understanding Gods will or understanding His Word.

Isaiah, in speaking for the Father, tells us “… my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD (IS:55:8).

The Apostle Peter tells us that, just as Holy Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit so it’s interpretation must also be facilitated by Him (see 2Pet.1:19-21). In confirmation, the Apostle Paul also tells us that,

“… the natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.” (1Cor.2:14)

Psalm 119 speaks bountifully of the need for The Word of God in our lives for guidance, discipline, and support at the heart or spirit level (notice the words: heart, meditate, rejoice, delight, behold, open my eyes – all of which speak of the effect of the Word at the ‘spirit” level of awareness). Here is just a sample: …

§ How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Thy word.

§ With all my heart I have sought Thee; Do not let me wander from Thy

commandments.

§ Thy word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against Thee.

§ Blessed art Thou, O LORD; Teach me Thy statutes.

§ With my lips I have told of All the ordinances of Thy mouth.

§ I have rejoiced in the way of Thy testimonies, As much as in all riches.

§ I will meditate on Thy precepts, And regard Thy ways.

§ I shall delight in Thy statutes; I shall not forget Thy word.

§ Deal bountifully with Thy servant, That I may live and keep Thy word.

§ Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Thy law.

§ I am a stranger in the earth; Do not hide Thy commandments from me.

(Psalms 119:9-19)

From the above we may infer that It is the “Inspired Word” itself that assists us in discerning God’ voice speaking to us through scripture, and that in order to be effective the Word has to speak to our spirit (our heart). Thus our discernment involves separating our intellectual understanding from what we “know” spiritually in our hearts.

The author of the letter to the Hebrews (whom we assume to be St. Paul), in urging us to enter into “The Father’s Rest” (that is, His Perfect will for us), reveals more explicitly the important role the Word of God plays in coming to such a discernment when he tells us that ..  “Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Heb. 4:12)

It is understood, however, that in order for the Good News of God’s Word to do its work in us we have to accept the fullness of that Word in Faith.  In speaking of those in Israel’s past who were also presented with the Word but failed to profit from it Paul also says:

“But with whom was he angry forty years? Was it not those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, if not to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.

Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest is still open, let us take care that none of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For indeed the good news came to us just as to them; but the message they heard did not benefit them, because it was not perceived with faith by those who listened.”(Heb, 3:17-19, 4:1-2)

In conclusion, we understand that It is only by Faith in His Word and the inspiration and leading of the Holy Spirit, then, that we are able to follow Jesus along the strait and difficult path whereby we transcend our worldly self-will and put on the New Man, a man centered and dedicated in the spirit to accomplishing God’s will here on this earth under the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

It is with this intent, then, that Paul told the believers in Rome (and is applicable to us today as well):

“So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.” (Rom: 8-12-14)

<><><><><><><><><><><>

Speaking from my own experience I can tell you that the transformation the Spirit worked in me as I entered the narrow gate was indeed difficult. I have fallen on the strait way many times and each time His right hand has upheld me, ministered to me and restored me to my walk with Him.

Before my conversion, I was a driven, self-centered individual and had made my worldly career my god.  Because of this, putting my self-will aside was a  traumatic experience that took time for me to truly and fully put aside my need to be in control of my life. I might also add that, before my conversion, the Holy Spirit was nothing more than a theological concept so I never expected any manifestation of His presence in my life and therefore I was in complete spiritual ignorance of the Inspired Word of God and its transforming power.

Later when I came to make my commitment to enter the narrow gate, the Holy Spirit made me aware that I had been resisting Him all my adult life, and that I was still resisting Him, explicitly, because I did not wish to relinquish control of my life to Him. However, when I made my commitment to follow Jesus at a Life in the Spirit Seminar, I did it as part of the process of receiving the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, and as the Spirit overtly manifested Himself to me during the seminar all my resistance broke down and I gave my self totally to Him to lead and guide me along the strait path.

I say this to you because if you have been resisting the Spirit as I did, than the Baptism in the Holy Spirit should be your first step in entering the Walk. Once your spiritual awareness has been activated then you will find that the Word of God will come alive for you. In fact, not only come alive, but indeed you will be so hungry for the Word that you will probably read the entire Bible through at least twice in the first year as I did.

In addition to attending a Life in the Spirit Seminar and receiving the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, I strongly recommend a devotion like, “Lectio Divina”. which is a meditative approach to listening to God speak to your heart by prayerful meditation on the scriptures.

<><><><><><><><><><><>

My dear brothers and sisters, I pray that this teaching has reached your spirit and that The Father has placed in your hearts the desire to enter in by the Narrow Gate. If such is the case, I suggest you go to the recommended links I list below. One of these is a link to the commitment I made to the Lord as I also entered in through the Narrow Gate.

May the Lord bountifully bless you and may His Holy Spirit become powerfully present to you as you walk along the Strait Path following Jesus.

Your Brother in Christ Jesus,

Bartimaeus

© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, 2010, all rights reserved

Recommended Links

The Narrow Gate

Prayer of Dedication

Lectio Divina (Meditative Prayer on God’s Word)

How God Drew me Near

The Double Portion Anointing

The Catholic Charismatic Renewal

About Life in the Spirit Seminars

Read Full Post »