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Archive for March, 2010

You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,

You will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.”

For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly affliction; (Ps. 91:1-3)

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Ever since the Garden of Eden when Adam, by believing a lie, relinquished his dominion of the earth to Satan, the great deceiver has continued to use deception as his main tool in keeping humanity under the bondage of sin. One of the many ways in which he and his minions gain control over our affairs and relationships is by keeping us in continuous contention and strife with one another.  He does this is by taking advantage of the failings of our fallible human nature and using these failings to go at one another in rage and bitterness to the point where we become the captives of sin, and thereby, his slaves.

Satan also deceives us into falsely judging others based on misunderstandings that commonly occur in human relationships. In this way he prevents us from coming to fruition in Christ by manifesting the Light of His Love. Instead, when we judge others, through the devil’s deceptive tactics, we sin and become his instruments of darkness in this world.

Snare of the Fowler

Snare of the Fowler

In various places in scripture this strategy of Satan and his minions is depicted metaphorically as “the snare of the fowler”, that is, like a trap the hunter sets for birds in the forest searching for food.  He leaves a trail of crumbs that lead our fleshly nature to a hidden noose or cage that is sprung once we, like an unsuspecting bird, have entered.

Our problem in defending ourselves against this strategy of the powers of darkness in our lives is that we are also taken in by Satan’s deceptions when we take offense at a person who has been deceived and speaks judgment against us and we let our anger take over our responses. It is then we enter into “walking after the flesh” and open ourselves to sin.

We must always be aware that the forces of darkness count on our walking after the flesh because when we open ourselves for them to control us. That is why the apostle Paul warns us to…

“Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger” (Eph. 4:26)

and,

“For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Rom 8:3-8)

The spirits of darkness are waiting to take advantage of our fleshly responses (justified or not) because, as we enter into sin, it gives them the ability to influence and control us. Thus, when we are personally attacked (perceived or otherwise) and let ourselves enter into an uncontrolled anger we fall into the devil’s trap by placing full blame on the person contending with us without realizing that Satan’s demons are merely manipulating us to bring us into a vicious circle of anger, bitterness, anger and unforgiveness thus rendering us useless to represent Jesus and His Kingdom of Love to this fallen world.

In placing blame entirely on the other person we overlook the fact that spirits of darkness are manipulating us and by succumbing to our baser instincts (our flesh) we are drawn into the devil’s trap or “snare”. To avoid being deceived in such circumstances we need to remember the apostle Paul’s exhortation to the Ephesians:

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might

Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 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. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” (Eph. 6:10-13)

Now, of course, all of us bear some responsibility for our actions and words, even when we have been deceived by the forces of darkness, but when we fall into this vicious circle of resentment and unforgiveness with another person or persons, we are caught like a bird in a demonic trap and have no seeming way of escape, since the very instincts of our fallen human nature work against us and we find ourselves seemingly helpless to escape. This is what the psalm refers to as the “Snare of the Fowler”.

Once entrapped, the only way to escape is to understand that there is only one who can deliver us from the “Snare of the Fowler” – The One who has promised to do so By His Word – our creator, the Father Almighty. Understanding this, we call on him in our helplessness so that through our very weakness His Power over darkness may be manifested (2 Cor. 12:9). But in doing so we must sincerely repent before the Father of our own part in falling into the trap and unconditionally forgive our co-victims, loosing them from any judgment and responsibility we might have assigned them. When we do this Satan’s legal hold over all of us is broken because the only power he has over us is the power we give him through our own sin which was brought about through the deception of the enemy, but which, nonetheless, is a violation of the Law of Love (‘thou shall love thy neighbor as thy self’ and ‘love one another as I have loved you’).

He paid for our sins and He is our healing

However, when we confess our sins and ask forgiveness, the Lord is faithful and just to forgive us and restore us to Himself (1 John 1:9), so that when we pray and take a stand against the evil one we stand with Jesus at our side to deliver us from the enemy of our souls. It is in this state then that we ask the Holy Spirit to come into the hearts of all involved and begin the healing process to heal the deep injuries that we afflicted on each other during the time of strife. We do this by covering all of the sins and pain generated by these untoward events and emotions with the precious blood of Jesus who in His atoning work bore on His body all of our brokenness and hurts. And, in His Name we break the power of the evil one over all of us who had been caught in the devil’s trap. We then command that all demonic powers leave under the command of Jesus and the power of His Blood! In conclusion, we also request that the Holy Spirit fill the hearts of all that were afflicted with the marvelous and consoling balm of His Love.

In doing this we are standing in faith on His promise that He will deliver us from the “Snare of the Fowler” for He says to us,

“Those who love me, I will deliver;

I will protect those who know my name.

When they call to me, I will answer them;

I will be with them in trouble,

I will rescue them and honor them.

With long life I will satisfy them,

and show them my salvation.”

(Ps.91:14-16)

This deliverance the Lord provides, frees us from the demonic activity that deceived us and caused us to be caught in this demonic trap. Once the deliverance is fully completed in each of the afflicted persons inner selves it is then up to us to reach out to the other party (or parties) with the Divine Love which has been poured out on us to affirm in our exterior relationships with that person(s) what has already been accomplished by the Spirit in each of our hearts.  This may involve a time of waiting and discernment waiting for the appropriate time to ask personal forgiveness and reconciliation with all the persons involved under the protection of the Holy Spirit.

Now, is this easy? Of course it isn’t. Dying to self is never easy, for that is what unconditionally forgiving someone who has hurt you or spoken ill of you entails. But if you trust on the Lord for His consolation, strength and faithfulness to His promises, you will find that He is indeed with you in trouble and you will be able to forgive and see His Salvation! Praised be His Holy name!

I pray my brethren that what I have shared with you will benefit you as you also stand against the enemy in your personal lives thus permitting you to grow closer and closer to our Deliverer and Savior, Jesus, Our Lord. Blessed Be the Name of the Lord!

Your Brother in Christ … Bartimaeus

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

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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 Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We have now come to my reflections on the final three Beatitudes – the conclusion of the Beatitudes of Expression – the Manifest Favor of God in us whereby the Lord expresses Himself both inwardly and outwardly in our lives so that we truly are become the “Sons” or “Children” of God – that is, we become expressions of His nature.

Again this is an awesome phase and one for which I am still praying that I will, by God’s Grace be permitted to enter. It is the phase in our spiritual lives where we have so yielded to the Spirit of Love in us that we, like St. Paul, are able to say, “… it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20)

I will begin my discussion with the Beatitudes Seven and Eight.

“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.

These two beatitudes may only be properly understood when placed in juxtaposition to each other – the Seventh Beatitude indicates as “Blessed” those who bring or make peace, while the Eighth Beatitude indicates that in bringing peace through the righteousness of God expressed through you will cause such division that you will be persecuted. We thus are confronted with the need to discern just what kind of peace is this that brings persecution.

In order to resolve this seeming paradox, we must remember that these “Blessings” are the work of the Holy Spirit in us, bringing us into conformity with the image of the Son, Jesus, the anointed of God, the Prince of Peace (Rom.8:29). This is the same Jesus who in one instance told his disciples that, “ I have not come to bring peace but a sword ..” (Matt. 10:34), and in another place, that. ”Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you, not as the world gives do I give…” (John 14:27), These sayings thus indicate to us that  the term “peace” may be understood in at least two distinct ways.

In the first, instance the word “peace” as used by Jesus is the antithesis of division or conflict between human individuals or groups. In the second instance He uses the term “My Peace” to mean the spiritual peace derived from His relationship to the Father. It is this “peace” that He promises his disciples and believers today. “I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!” (John 16:33).

It is an inner peace that comes from the work of the Cross, where Jesus completed the work for which He was sent, namely, to reconcile mankind to the Father through the shedding of His blood. As St. Paul clearly states, “therefore there is now no more condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom.8:1), and “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation;” (2 Cor. 5:18). Clearly, then, we are called to be messengers of the “Good News” of this reconciliation – this is the “peace” of which the beatitude speaks, the peace of reconciliation with the Father.

Christ will, of course, ultimately also bring a relational peace to the whole human race at His Second coming. For now, however, His Peace is propagated through His indwelling presence in us, His people who are designated by His grace as channels of His Love and therefore, His Peace as we love one another as He loved us!

On occasion, as we follow the leadings of the Holy Spirit, He will lead us to minister in situations where we can act on His behalf as mediators in human affairs where He gives us the anointing to bring His peace into a situation involving Human conflict. But we must be sure we are following the leadings of the Holy Spirit and not just our human desire to try to bring peace under our own efforts. Although we may have a good intent, it is still a human work and the results will not be lasting because the problem that lies in the human hearts cannot not remedied through human means. I speak by experience, because I have tried to be a peacemaker based on my own efforts and naive desires without having the anointing that comes from a pure heart and the express presence of the Lord in my life. It does not work, because, as He said, “Without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

Thus, my brothers and sisters, entering this phase of the beatitudes involves great responsibility because in order to be true “peacemakers” we must be totally yielded to the Prince of Peace and walk as He walked: in His righteousness, not ours. If we try to be peacemakers and ourselves are not at peace with God, we will not only fail but we bring disrepute to our faith and ourselves. That is also why the Eighth Beatitude is so essential to being a peacemaker, for our lives must be the expression of His righteousness so that we can truly make peace in His Name!

Jesus also tells us that the unconverted world cannot receive His kind of peace or His righteousness (John 14:17). In fact, when, through the work of the Holy Spirit in us, our lives are a living expression of His righteousness and His Love, the world will hate us and resist us just as the world resisted Him (John 15:19). This, then, is the confirmation that we have reached this stage in our spiritual growth: when you experience persecution for the sake of His Righteousness as expressed in and through your lives in words and actions.

The unconverted world, is still in rebellion against God and it wants to control us and conform us to itself. The peace the world gives is not really peace at all – since it cannot change the hearts of mankind, it merely creates a subterfuge for peace to control us and place us in bondage to its own humanistic and godless rule. That is why Jesus warns His disciples, “in the world you will have trouble” (John 16:33) and, “Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my sayings, they will keep yours also” (John 5;20).

When such is evident in your lives then, as the beatitude states, you know that you have entered the Kingdom of Heaven, that is, you have entered into a full sharing in the Ministry of Christ Himself because you are now also sharing in His sufferings.

The Ninth Beatitude: The Forgotten Beatitude

“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.”

I call this beatitude the “Forgotten Beatitude” because it is left out of most lists of the Beatitudes, which only list the first eight.

As I began reflecting on this beatitude I began to comprehend why it might not be mentioned in most commentaries. First of all it appears that the First eight address the general crowd that is before Jesus (eg., “Blessed are they …” , “Blessed are those …”, etc.) while the ninth beatitude appears to be addressed to the disciples themselves (ie., “Blessed are you …”).  Secondly, the Ninth indicates that the persecution and sufferings are not only more intense but they are inflicted “because of Me” or “because of My Name”. This is an implication that the ones who are indicated by this work of the Holy Spirit are His disciples, but especially those who bear the special anointing of apostles. That is, those who have been “sent” by Jesus in His authority to preach the Gospel at the risk of their very lives. This is borne out by the manner in which the beatitude concludes: …  for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Thus implying that they have been sent to proclaim God’s word – or, in essence, to prophesy.

I have some disagreement with this limited understanding, in that the gift of prophecy is not limited to ordained persons –indeed St. Paul exhorted the community to seek the gift of prophecy. Here is what St. Paul says about this, Pursue love and strive for the spiritual gifts, and especially that you may prophesy” (1Cor.14:1). The exercise of the prophetic gifts was only limited much later in the early church period to the ordained, when it was also redefined as “preaching” because actual “prophecy” came into disfavor in church practice.

Now, while most of us lay persons are not “officially” ordained to preach, historically, there have been many cases of lay persons who have proclaimed the Gospel in Jesus’ Name without “official” ordination and have been persecuted (and some even martyred), as for example, St. Francis of Assisi and St, Ignatius of Loyola. Admittedly, the officials of the Church later recognized their calling and obliged them to be ordained, Francis, as a deacon, and Ignatius as a priest.

If you reach this stage in your spiritual walk, I therefore urge you, my Brothers and Sisters, not to ignore your calling if you are led to preach or to prophesy. Remember what our first Pope said,

“As every person has received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any person speak, let that person speak as the oracles of God; if any person minister, let that person do it as of the ability which God gives: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 peter 4:10-11).

Yes, this beatitude and the gift of prophecy is for all Christians, both lay and ordained. I guarantee that you will be persecuted and insulted for His Name when you are blessed by this beatitude, but you will be rewarded in heaven. So, if you are genuinely called, seek and find where and how the Lord would have you exercise His gift to the church.  The time of the Lord’s coming is near and we need to hear what the Lord is saying to His Church because the time is near and we need to be ready!. Here is a sample from one of us who is used of God in this Fashion (Re: Mark Mallett, Prophecy Site#3):

THIS word came to me while my spiritual director and I were together. Understand… the dawn of Hope is upon us…

Little ones, do not think that because you, the remnant, are small in number means that you are special. Rather, you are chosen. You are chosen to bring the Good News to the world at the appointed hour. This is the Triumph for which my Heart awaits with great anticipation. All is set now. All is in motion. The hand of my Son is ready to move in the most sovereign way. Pay careful attention to my voice. I am preparing you, my little ones, for this Great Hour of Mercy. Jesus is coming, coming as Light, to awaken souls steeped in darkness. For the darkness is great, but the Light is far greater. When Jesus comes, much will come to light, and the darkness will be scattered. It is then that you will be sent, like the Apostles of old, to gather souls into my Motherly garments. Wait. All is ready. Watch and pray. Never lose hope, for God loves everyone.

In conclusion I leave you with a prayer by one who we all agree reached this level of Beatitude in His Spiritual walk, namely, St. Francis of Assisi.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;

where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is injury, pardon:

where there is doubt, faith ;

where there is despair, hope

where there is darkness, light

where there is sadness, joy

O divine Master,

grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;

to be understood, as to understand;

to be loved, as to love;

for it is in giving that we receive,

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Amen.

This concludes my reflections on the Beatitudes. I pray that this sharing will help you in the coming to the discernment you seek to accomplish the work the Spirit of the Living God is doing in you, to the Praise and Glory of His Name! Amen and Amen!

Your Brother in Christ Jesus … Bartimaeus

P.S.: If you have missed the other parts of this series (see below for links), I recommend that you read through all of them so that you may discern the context in which these reflections were composed.

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

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Related Links:

Make Me a Channel / http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwGOYEIK5eo&feature=fvw

St. Francis (Biography) / http://www.ewtn.com/library/mary/francis.htm

Prophesy in the Church Today  (sample sites) :

Prophecy Site #1 / http://pelianito.stblogs.com/

Prophecy Site #2 / http://www.presentationministries.com/general/prophecies.asp

Prophecy Site # 3 / http://www.markmallett.com/blog/

The other parts of this Series:

§ Reflections on the Beatitudes (Part 1)

§ Reflections on the Beatitudes (Part 2)

§ Reflections on the Beatitudes (Part 3)

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