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Archive for August, 2013

The Gospel of the Kingdom: Living Out The Word! 

 (In other words, Letting Christ Live Through us!)

We are Heirs to the Kingdom

Let Christ Be Your KING! Obey His Word!

(The Psalmist says:) “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee”. ( Ps 119:9-11)

“Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.  Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.  I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous judgments. I am afflicted very much: quicken me, O LORD, according unto thy word.” (Ps. 119:104-107)

 (Jesus says:) “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”  (Matt. 7:24-27)

“As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.” He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”  (Luke 11:27-28)

My Fellow Pilgrims in Christ,

It should be evident to you by now in your walk with the Lord just how essential the Word of Life is to your calling to follow Him.  Jesus told His Disciples: “Without Me you can do nothing” (Jn..15:5) – and, since Jesus IS THE LIVING WORD of God made flesh, this truth may also be stated as: “Without  the Word of God you can do nothing (of spiritual value“).

Unfortunately, many who call themselves ‘Christians” today, are not faithful to that truth and have watered down the Word or deviate from it entirely in order to please our modern “politically correct ” society.  However, we who still honor the Word of God as it needs to be honored, must do more than merely state our position about the TRUTH of the WORD – we must “live it out” daily!  If we do not live out the Word in our lives we are building our “houses” on sand and, as Jesus said, The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

shipwreck-lying-on-the-rocks-in-the-breakers

We cannot, in fact, call ourselves Disciples of Christ, without living out the Word of God in every moment of our lives. Jesus said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me (John 8:28 ).

As His disciples we must also be able to sincerely state, ” I do nothing of myself, I only do what the Father, through the Holy Spirit, tells me to do”. In order to be, at this stage of discipleship, we must be in a day-to-day personal relationship with Jesus and guided by the Word every minute of our lives. The moment we start to deviate from what Jesus or the Father tells us through His Word we will stumble in our walk with Him and open ourselves to the deception and destruction of our souls by the enemy of our souls  – Satan, the Father of Lies.

When we do stumble, for we all do, and we are yoked to Jesus, He will quickly pick us up and help us recover with minimal impact (1 Jn. 1:9).  What we need to understand is that as fallible human beings we cannot attempt to accomplish this level commitment to “Live Out the Word” on our own. If we are truly yoked to Jesus, then, It is only through His Spirit in us that He accomplishes this, in us and through us. It is not of ourselves, so that no man may boast but rather it is of Grace through Faith in the Spirit of Christ that is in us!

Girls can do anything!

Obsatcles to living the Word

What obstacles, then, still hinder us?  Why is do we find it so difficult to live out the Word in our lives and thus truly be His disciples?

Sadly, my brethren, the answer is that the human “self” in us is the major obstacle to true discipleship. Even when we “try” to follow Him, without realizing it, we are doing the very opposite — just because it is our “self” that is doing the “trying”.  Now, don’t condemn yourself. Jesus did not come to condemn us He came to set us free from these foibles of ours. He came to bring us to the “Truth”, so that through understanding the Truth, in the Spirit, we could be set free to follow Him as a New Creation in Him and through Him!. His inspired Word is the “Truth” for He is the Word made flesh – and He and He alone can set us free so that the will of the Father may be accomplished through our lives – the only condition being, that we must deny our “old selves” and thus take up our cross DAILY in order to follow Him (Matt. 16:24).

Now, here is the hard part to understand. All of our lives we have been trained and taught to accomplish things in life out of our own self-directed efforts. In the world around us we are taught from early youth that we can do anything we set our sights on “through performance, ambition and hard work”. It is in fact the primary driving factor in most of the developing world and beyond. Because of this cultural conditioning we all grew up in, we injected these same ideals into the practice of our religion. It was thus natural for us to think that the best way we could honor God is by doing something “for” Him “through performance, ambition and hard work”. The problem is that when we enter into this type of self-directed effort we diminish its spiritual value because we derive our own personal glory from what we are doing, even though it is for a noble cause.

The “Good News of the Kingdom” or “Gospel” that Jesus proclaimed, however, was a Heaven-shaking pronouncement that was essentially telling all mankind that the Father was introducing to us a new way of living our humanity that would truly bring Him the Honor and Glory He desires from us, His children. Jesus termed this New Way of Living out our lives as, “the Kingdom of God” or “the Kingdom of Heaven”.  He further told us that our entry into this “Kingdom” was to begin in the “heart” of each of those who believed in Him and His proclamation, He further said, that what God, the Father wanted was for us to enter into a relationship with Him, through belief in Jesus, so that we could be filled with His Spirit and, that through that infilling, His Spirit would work in us and through us to accomplish His will here on earth as it is in Heaven by living out His Word!  In this way by, yielding to Him and His Spirit, it would be that He, the Godhead, would work through us to bring forth His Kingdom, instead of us trying to do “for” Him, that which, as humans, is really out of our reach.

The  “Good News of the Kingdom” Jesus proclaimed, was essentially telling us that the Father, being aware of our human incapacity to fully satisfy His desires to bring Him Honor and Worship, was bringing forth, through the sacrifice of His Son, a new epoch for Humanity wherein He Himself, in the person of His Son, would enter into us so that as His partners He would work in us and through us to bring forth His Kingdom in this world! Praised be His Holy Name!

That is why when His disciples asked Him about how to pray, He told them that the foundational prayer of discipleship (the “Our Father”) is to first acknowledge the Father for who He is and then to submit to Him by asking for Him to Reign over us so that through our obedience to Him (and His Word) His Will would be done by us and through us in this world (as it is in Heaven).

All that is required of us is to submit to “His Kingdom” or “His Reign” over us and to believe the Gospel, repenting in Faith, and yielding our “old selves” totally to Him so that He could give us a  “New Self” through which His Spirit could operate in this world. In this way, the impediment of the “old self”  “trying to do things for God” would be taken out of the way and a “New self”, conformed to the image of Christ would be placed in us, empowering us to do His Will, and only His Will, here on earth (as it is in Heaven).

Of course, yielding to Him, as King, involves yoking ourselves, spiritually, to Christ (Matt.11:28-30), so that the Spirit of Christ in us would bring all Honor and Glory to the Father through living out His Word in our lives. This is what the process of “discipleship” is intended to accomplish in us, so that, through obedience to His Word the renewal of our mind to be conformed to the mind of Christ (Rom. 8:29) would proceed and so that we become truly single-minded in devoting our all to Christ as a living sacrifice to the Father for the Glory of His Name!

Return to Jerusalem

Go into all the world …

Our problem as “Christians” today, is that, although we are all called to be Christ’s disciples, we have not all been fully successful in yielding to the Spirit and denying our “old selves” so that the Spirit of Christ can be released in us.  Instead we live out our lives with one foot in the flesh and the other in the spirit. This is what St. James termed, a “dual-minded man” (James. 1:7; 4:8). Yes, the “Good News” is sometimes not fully realized by us because it is “bad news” for our “old man” in the flesh, who doesn’t want to hear it. That is why the call to discipleship is being made again to all believing Christians – so that, with the help of the Holy Spirit we can truly assess whether we are being conformed to the world or to Christ. We are either in one state or the other – we cannot do both and be His disciples!

At The Cross

We are Crucified with HIM

Remember, our “old man has been crucified with Christ and no longer has any power over us but it is up to us to affirm the freedom from sin that Christ won for us on the cross – it is up to us to renounce sin, which no longer has power over us and to put on the “New Man” in Christ so that He and He alone may live in us and through us so that yielded to Him in this manner He may bring forth His Kingdom in us and through us to the Glory of the Father!

This, brethren, is the Gospel of the Kingdom that Christ asked us to preach and which I, again, proclaim to you today so that you may assess your walk with Him.  Examine yourselves and crucify, therefore, your “old man” of the flesh and put on the “New Man” you are in Christ Jesus by surrendering yourself to Him as your King, Your Lord, and your Savior; obeying His Word and following the leadings of His Spirit!  Praised be His Holy Name!

Here are Paul the Apostle’s words exhorting us regarding this matter:

“…do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life [right now, in this world]. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him [and, indeed, are alive in Him], knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”  (Rom 6:3-11)

Ask yourself now: Am I ready to strive for spiritual growth in Christ to the level that the apostle Paul set for himself?

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.” (Gal. 2:20)

Also understand just what this striving entails as depicted by Paul’s exhortation to the Romans:

“Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.  You, however, are controlled, not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” (Rom. 8:5-11)

“For the love of Christ urges us on (controls us), because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.” (2Cor. 5:14-15)

Are you ready, no longer to live for yourself but for Him who died and was raised for you?  Pray about it.

If you would like to ask the Holy Spirit to help you rededicate yourself to Jesus so that you may be truly live out the inspired Word in faithfulness to the Gospel of the Kingdom, I refer you to the “Prayer Of Commitment” (see link  below).

If your motives are sincere, you CAN BE SURE that the Holy Spirit will work in you to bring you fully into the Kingdom, where Jesus will comfort and strengthen you personally and you will continue in His Rest!

Blessed Be the Name of the Lord!

Your Fellow Pilgrim in Christ Jesus … Bartimaeus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2013])

Recommended Links…

The Prayer of Commitment

Cast Your Net on the Other Side!

Sweet Yoke of Love

Regarding Spiritual Growth

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Discipleship at Work: A Personal Testimony

fix-your-eyes

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.” (Col. 3:1-5)

Dear Fellow Pilgrims in Christ Jesus,

There is NO “single-template” approach to true discipleship – or putting it another way there is NO “one size fits all” model for following Jesus. The Holy Spirit “tailors” each of our discipleship life stories to accomplish His purposes in us to the Glory of the Father. The basic underlying principle in true discipleship with Jesus lies in  rendering ourselves, out of “agape” love, as a living sacrifice to His Glory (Rom:12:1-2) – a decision of the heart, where we yield our entire life: body soul and spirit to Him who died for us so that He may live in us and through us to the Glory of His Name!

Once we have committed ourselves to follow Him along the “Narrow Way” (Matt. 7:13-14) of self-denial and have “set our minds on things above”, we compare notes with other fellow pilgims, we will find that each of our paths, though bearing some similarity in the gospel principles operating in our lives, nonetheless exhibit a great deal of unique differences in the details of our walk. The reason for this is that Jesus works at a very intimate, individual level with each of us in forming us into His Image in a way that is tailored to our own distinctive person-hood to achieve His purposes NOT ours. Because His purpose is to mold us like clay, He accepts us to walk with Him regardless of ur status in life. He takes us from where we are to where He wants us to be – but ONLY if we let Him! That is what True Discipleship is all about, “letting” Him do what he wants with us without any pre-condtions on our part.

Because He knows each of us intimately He knows that we are affected distincly by the circumstances and relationships in our lives as we wander through this fallen world. He, however, uses the flow of our life’s story to achieve His ends with us. That is why we cannot enter the way of true discipleship unless we have an intimate, transparent, working, and conversational relationship with Him! It is only within such a relationship that He can direct us along all the twists and turns of our lives.  Yes, it is His Word in Scripture that keeps us within bounds, but also His inspired Word working within us is what we must also rely on to work our our salvation in the everyday details of our daily existence. That us why daily prayer and meditation on His Word are essential to our walk with Him! Praised be His Holy Name!

My failure as an example

The other day, for example, I responded dishonestly to a business form I was requested to fill out. I, without thinking, I made a false statement that would let me look good in a particular business situation. As soon as I had sent that statement off, the Lord, speaking in the spirit, brought my dishonesty to my attention.  I stopped all that I was doing and concentrated on the strong awareness of my wrongdoing that His incisive judgement had made on me. I immediately repented, knowing that I had sinned and had tripped over a pot hole in my walk with the Lord.

I asked for forgiveness and that He restore me to our walk together, by the washing of His Blood. He only said: “Yes my son, I have forgiven you, even at the Cross I forgave you, but now you have understood that you cannot take what I have done for you for granted. You have to keep yourself constantly aware that you are still human and have a strong tendency to sin. You have to use the Grace I am providing you daily in the Eucharist to discern and fend off these temptations so that you will not fall into another hole along the way. It is through such an exercise of your conscience, based on my Word, that your spiritual formation will proceed.”

This event in my walk with the Lord is still resonating in me. I keep asking myself how could I have done this? I certainly receive His forgiveness but I began to see that I had become spiritually overconfident and prideful, such that I blinded myself to my own shortfalls and pride. I believe that if I had truly kept His Word in my heart for everything I do in my life, I would have reacted appropriately to the temptation and would not have fallen.

But I also realized that without the intimate personal relation I have with my Lord, I would have completely been blinded to my failure and deeply damaged the purity of my walk with Him! Thank you Jesus, for your Mercy and Grace! Thank you for letting me see where I failed so that I can ask the Holy Spirit to keep me from such a failure again!

I pass my experiences on to you my fellow pilgrims so that you may profit from them in you walk with the Lord and, that my witness, may incite you to  keep your heart pure every step of the way as you grow closer to Him.

Another example of the Lord using my transitions in life to teach me

During my daily prayer time, the Lord also reminded me that my spiritual formation will involve several transition periods which will also test my ability to remain faithful to my walk with Him and remain open to His Spirit in me.

The reason that this reminder came is that my wife and I are currently in the midst of  a “transition” whereby we are downsizing and moving to a smaller residence as we have become “empty nesters”.  In preparing for this transition, my wife and I both find ourselves being tested spiritually because we are being confronted directly with our attachment to “things” – things, like clothing, books, paintings, hobbies, etc., that, becuse of our attachments, we find difficulty in donating or discarding these objects.

It became clear to me that these attachments were drawing me away from my resolve to walk in the spirit with Jesus. This challenge, of course, also made me realize that my fleshly weakness would only lead to sin if I did not follow through in my intent to follow Him.  This tension within me prompted me to ask the Lord for His help in disconnecting from such worldly attachments. So I am dedicating daily prayer time for the Lord to grant me the grace and courage I need to be true to my desire to be His entirely, discarding all my worldly attachments..

Again, as I prayed about my down-sizing” problems, the Spirit brought to my mind the story of the rich young man, who was drawn to Jesus and approached Him asking,

“Master what good thing must I do to obtain eternal Life?’

“And He said to him,  “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.”

He said to Him,  “Which ones?”

And Jesus said,  “You shall not commit murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother; and You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

The young man said to Him,  “All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?”

Jesus said to him,  “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieved; for he was one who owned much property.” 

(Matt. 19:16-22)

Note that Jesus only mentioned the commandments regarding interpersonal relations – He intentionally left out the commandments regarding our relationship to God and covetousness (which is a form of idolatry). He did not mention them, because He knew this young man had undue attachments to his wealth – attachments which mean that his wealth was his god and He wanted the young man to come to that realization and repent of it in order to be able to be His disciple.

In going over this story in my mind, I realized that, in bringing this scripture to my attention, the Holy Spirit was trying to tell me that the young man’s problem was my problem also. In my Lord’s view I was like this rich young man who was desiring to follow Him but was unable to separate Himself from his wealth and his belongings.

Yes, I too was being drawn to Jesus, and yes I too was being asked to disconnect from my belongings so that I could truly be yoked to my Lord and Master. It was then, that I realized that my “belongings” were aslo controlling me and that I could not truly be yielded to Jesus as my Lord as long as I remained connected to my “things”.

As a result, I have made the decision to donate or discard whatever is needed to downsize without giving regard to any attachment I may have. I am drawing up the plans to do so and I pray that the Lord will strengthen me as I proceed to carry out my plans. Praised be His Holy Name!

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My dear family in God, the main reason telling you about these personal circumstances in my walk with Him, is to give you a feel about how the Lord Jesus will interact with you to teach you and guide you in even the small details of your life. It is the way that He merges His life with ours so that, with our willing cooperation, He may bring forth the Reign of God the Father in our lives. And, as He accomplishes His work in us He will also use us to influence those around us to draw other into the Kingdom as well. This is what happens when we yoke ourselves to Jesus. I can testify that if you are carrying a heavy burden, such yoking to HIm will bring rest for your soul (I refer you to my article on “The Sweet Yoke of Love”).

When you Yoke yourself to Jesus, you have submitted yourself to the Father’s Reign in your lives and from then on, you are a participant in His Kingdom – you are truly a Disciple!

Praised be His Holy Name!

May the Lord Bless you and Keep you. May the Lord be gracious to you and Shine His Face upon you and Bring you His Peace!

Your Brother in Christ and fellow pilgrim …. Bartimaeus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2013])

For Further Information on “Intentional Discipleship” please Click on:

1]  “Cast your Net on the Other Side

2] “Build your Spiritual House on The Rock”

3) “Prayer of Commitment”

4)  “Forming Lay Disciples”

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