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Archive for January, 2012

House on Rock

Built on Rock

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came,and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!” (Matt.7:24-27)

My Fellow Pilgrims,

When I was going through engineering school I thought I had mastered the basics of a subject when I took the “101” course in that subject, like “Physics 101” or “Chemistry 101”. But in each case, to my dismay, when I took “laboratory course in that subject I found that just knowing the basic principles is not enough! You have to actually do something with the intellectual knowledge and learn to experience and manage the effects of these principles before you can really begin to say that you understand them. And then, when you do, you find that you don’t really need to memorize the equations because now you “really” understand where the equations came from, and you can reconstruct them intuitively!

The same is true of the spiritual principles on which true discipleship is based.  Just hearing the Word of God and deriving a set of spiritual principles from the Word is not enough! You have to let the Word come be activated in your Spirit by acting, in Faith, on that Word. When you do you will experience that Word in its spiritual fullness and thus have it become an unshakable reality in your life! That is why the Lord Jesus tells us that, unless you act on the Word you hear from Him, the basis for your discipleship is built on shifting sand. Only when you act on that “Rhema” Word in Faith will it become a Rock for you in your discipleship.

I have written much to you regarding entering into a true discipleship through a personal relationship with Jesus and the spiritual basics behind following Him. Now, however, it is time to talk you a bit about how to put your faith in God’s Word by putting Jesus’ Word and teaching into practice so that the Word can manifest and bring forth fruit in your lives – fruit that will endure for His Glory!

Like all apprenticeships, we learn the most and fastest by putting what we learn into practice, that is, through on-the-job training. Although most of us Christians are routinely exposed to the Word of God in our religious services, our ability to put the Word we hear into practice in our lives is not usually very consistent. And even when we attempt to put what little we do into practice we are every selective about what we choose to do – and it is usually those items in which we feel comfortable doing.  Just read the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7) and ask yourself “how much of this teaching am I comfortable putting into practice?”

In order to make you more aware of our failings in putting Jesus’ words into practice, I will pose a few more questions so that you can grade yourself on your progress towards discipleship.

[1] “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’  But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also…” (Matt. 5:38-39)

[2] “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.”  (Matt” 5:43-45)

[3] “ … bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” (Luke 6:28)

[4] “Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise.” (Jn.5-19)

If we are truly His disciples and are following Him, can we truly say that we only do what we see the Father or Jesus doing? If not, why not?

[5] “Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.”(Jn 14: 12)

If we are truly His disciples are we doing the works of power that he did? If not, why not?

From what we read in the Gospels, it should be clear to us all that Jesus expected ALL his disciples to follow after him in how He related to the Father and how He, in obedience to the Father, manifested His Kingdom in all that He said and did.

[6]“They who have my [directives] and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”  (Jn. 14:21)

[7]“If you keep my [directives], you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s [directives] and abide in his love. (Jn. 15:10)

Here is one of the “directives” He gave to his disciples when He sent them out – a directive that has been termed “the Great Commission” and which we have been told by our church leaders applies to all Christians:

[8]“And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mark 16: 15-18)

Do you consider yourself in compliance in putting this “directive” into action in your lives?  If not? Why not?

In doing all that the Father expected of Him, Jesus himself modeled the ideal type of apprenticeship He wanted us to follow. Admittedly, we are NOT Jesus, so our individual ability to emulate Him is limited. However, He did not intend that we would merely attempt to imitate Him out of our own human strengths and abilities. No, His intent was that He would send the Holy Spirit to empower us, just as He was empowered, so that we could live out our discipleship totally dependent on the Father’s power. In this manner, it will be clear, that all that proceeds out of our willing service is attributable only to Him! Thus through faith and our obedience, He would manifest His Kingdom, His Power and His Glory.

He taught His disciples the manifestation of power through the working of miracles, healing and deliverance intermixed with preaching and teaching so that is was clear that The Kingdom He was proclaiming was more than just holy rhetoric but a spiritual reality that could be observed through its power manifesting itself among men. He also taught using parables intermixed with explanations that related the works of power to the Kingdom of Heaven.  His private teaching to His disciples was centered on teaching them how, to enter the Kingdom (that is, the reign of God) in their own lives so that they could act as the Father’s instruments, under the empowerment that was on Jesus, to bring forth fruit for the Kingdom. When He gave them a directive and sent hem out to carry it out, He also empowered them with the Holy Spirit so they could fulfill that directive.

So I suspect, brethren, that one of the reasons we cannot answer the above questions is that, although we have heard the Word and His directive, we don’t have the faith to believe that we have been empowered to carry it out.

If that is the case, no problem, He has provided the empowerment at Pentecost. And, all who believe and have been baptized have the empowerment within them – Jesus, in us, the Hope of Glory (cf., Col.1:27) !

All we need to do is ASK and yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit so that we may receive the empowerment and the Charismatic Gifts of the Spirit to begin to carry out our calling to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom with signs following! Praised be His Holy Name!!

Everything He did with His disciples was a learning event about how to bring the Kingdom of God into manifestation in the events of God’s people. In their on-the-job training, the Kingdom of God was preached and manifested by them, through faith in Jesus, to the most needy, both spiritually and physically, of the community so that, through their experiences, they understood that the anointing that was on Him was covering them as they ministered in His Name!

It also became clear, through Jesus’ teaching, that the anointing and empowerment of the Holy Spirit that was on Him was merely the Father’s way of attesting to the truth of who He claimed to be (the anointed of the father). Thus Jesus’ works of power affirmed the Good News of the Father’s Love by communicating this Love in a visible emancipating manner so that the proclamation of God’s Kingdom could not be denied! As disciples, He is calling each of us to do likewise, in the very environment in which we live.

It is not recorded anywhere that Jesus taught His disciples religion or how to comply with the religious practices of His day.  He did not come to disregard or negate these practices, derived from God’s Word, but rather to fulfill them in His Person by His example and His actions.

He did make it clear, through His confrontation with the religionists of His day (the Scribes and the Pharisees), that the legalistic keeping of religious statutes was not the ultimate desire of the Father. Rather, the law was given to assist His people in discerning the Love He had for them – a Love that could only be understood by their obeying the teaching of the Torah with a spiritual vision as to what was in the Heart of God.

That is why, in His “sermon on the mount” (Matt. 5-7), Jesus challenged them to go beyond the literal keeping of religious rules and fulfill the Spirit of the Law and not just the letter. In doing so, He also indicated that those desiring to be His disciples needed to realize that they must rise above the literal and human sense of compliance of the Law and operate at the spirit level of their hearts in order to be part of the Kingdom that God wanted to bring to realization through them!

Of course, He would later reveal to them that the only way they could accomplish this is to be attached to the Vine (Himself) so that His Spirit could work through them to comply with the Spirit of the Law and truly bring forth fruit for the Kingdom! (Jn. 15:1-2)

The objective of Jesus’ discipleship program was NOT to make His disciples more religious, but to bring them to the awareness that the Father wanted them to be more and more like himself and thus cooperate with the Holy Spirit so that after His departure they would continue to bring the Ministry of the Kingdom of God’s Love to all humanity.

In this manner, acting as channels of God’s Ministry of Love, they would go out into the world as His yielded instruments to bring the spiritual reality of the Father’s Love into palpable demonstration through the proclamation of the Word and the corresponding works of power that follow the anointed preaching of the Word! This, would validate not only their preaching of the Good News of Salvation, but would also open the door for the Holy Spirit to draw the people to God through conversion and baptism and thus enter the door to the Kingdom through faith in Jesus, the Anointed Son of the Living God!

At a certain point in Jesus’ ministry, the people finally caught on that Jesus’ preaching and teaching was, in reality, an invitation for them to follow Him and thus enter the Kingdom by letting God reign in their hearts. His teaching and accomplishments incited them to ask, “How can we do the Works of God?”, that is, “ how can we do what we see you doing?”.  Jesus’ plain and simple response was… “Believe in Him who He has sent”!

This, then, is also our starting point for discipleship, but it is only the Door to the Kingdom, a door that we must go through to really progress into true discipleship, where we can come to the point where we fulfill Jesus’ further directive to do the works that he did  (cf., Jn. 14;12).

Jesus is the Open Door

Jesus is the Open Door

Isn’t it clear then, brethren, that we who are baptized believers, are standing before an open door to discipleship, a door to becoming more and more like Jesus, to the point here we begin doing the works that He did — the only things constraining us, however, is our unbelief and our fear of yielding to the Holy Spirit, through whom comes the empowerment that was on Jesus.

Well, I shouldn’t say the only things, because we are also constrained by the artifices of our human culture and tradition which restrains us from being more like Jesus and from being fully empowered channels of God’s Love. Oh yes, we are exhorted by our churches to exhibit our Christian virtues of taking care of the physical needs of the poor and the needy and visiting prisoners, which is as it should be, but when the Holy Spirit leads some of us to preach, teach and  lay hands on the sick so that they may recover, we are told that doing so is presumptuous and  beyond our role as laity!  That is pretty much how the world views our acting on our faith! But that is exactly the  attitude we have to go against when we act on God’s Word in our daily living! Praised be His Holy Name!

Yes, brethren, Divine Agape Love (Charity) MUST INDEED be the foundation of our discipleship but such Love does not exclude us from bringing healing, deliverance, and a prophetic word to those to whom we minister. In fact, if we don’t bring them the supernatural help from the Father that they need are we not instead doing them a disservice?

So when we enter into discipleship, we must not be choosy about what we do in obedience to the Lord, doing only what we feel comfortable doing. If the Lord asks us to preach or to teach in His Name, we must certainly do so! If He asks us to cast out demons and heal the sick, then we must do so! Remembering that if He asks us to do something, He will provide the anointing and empowerment to fulfill the task to which he asks us. (cf., 1Ptr.4:10-11 )

Return to Jerusalem

Go into all the world ...

That is why the discipleship that the Lord is calling us to is NOT the type to be practiced in some convent or monastery. The discipleship we laity are being called to is in the rough and tumble of the real world around us. We, brethren, are at the front lines of the battle against darkness and we need all the empowerment we can get to bring about the VICTORY OF THE KINGDOM. In order to FULLY put to practice al that the Lord has asked of us we cannot take NO for an answer! Not from the world and certainly not from our religious communities!  Behold, He says..” I hold before you an open door!” (Jn 3:8), an open door through which you, as He did, will face rejection and obstacles, an open door for On-the-Job Training under Jesus’ yoke of Love. Seek that open door and enter in, no matter what, for He is indeed calling you, but you need first to ask and to seek in order to find the door to His calling!

Every day each of our lives and the lives of those around us there are lives and relationship being broken, there are children with terminal illnesses, there are homeless, hungry and desperate people all around us who, not only are being deprived materially but spiritually – being deprived of the Good News of the Kingdom and its manifestation in their midst! Are you ready to answer the call? Then, get ready, for the Lord is indeed calling for those who have an ear to hear and a sincere and faithful heart, which is the good ground for the Word to take root and flourish a hundred fold!  Be one of the workers the Lord is sending to collect the harvest for His Glory and the Glory of His Kingdom!

May His Name be glorified forever and ever! Amen and Amen!!

May the Spirit of he Father confirm His call in you this day for the Glory of His Name!!

Your Brother and Fellow Pilgrim in Christ … Bartimaeus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2012])

Recommended Links
Sweet Yoke of Love
Responding to the Spitit’s Call
The Kingdom of God: Our Spiritual Inheritance
Reclaiming Our Legacy In Christ
Hearing God’s Voice, and Obeying It
Pentecost and the Promise of the Father
The Empowerment Gifts (Part 1)
The Empowerment Gifts (Part 2)

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