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Archive for July, 2014

Faith Comes By Hearing

Hearing-Gods-Voice

He who has Ears … Let Him Hear

“Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who possess the Spirit. The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Cor. 2:12-16)

“My words are Spirit and they are Life” (Rom. 10:17 )

But how are men to call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher? And how can men preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach good news! But they have not all obeyed the gospel; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing comes by the Word of God.” (Rom. !0: 8-17)

“He who has [spiritual] ears to hear let him hear” (Mark 4:9,Matt. 13:9 )

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As a fellow Pilgrim it expedient for me to share my personal struggles along the way of discipleship so that my witness may, in some way, help you avoid some of the hindrances that I have encountered – hindrances which could cause one to stumble if the awareness of these were not brought to the fore.

Primary Hindrance – Hard of Hearing

Initially, in my Christian life, I was very spiritually disoriented. In fact, I was so disoriented I could not distinguish between religiosity and true spirituality.   I was a religiously compliant Catholic so I thought that that is all there was to being a good Christian. I was spiritually disabled but did not know it. I routinely heard God’s Word spoken every Sunday at mass but somehow it never reached the very depths of my spirit. I was a believer but most certainly I was also hard of hearing!

I was in a state comparable to what Jesus said of the Pharisees of His time…

‘… seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah which says: `You shall indeed hear but never understand, and you shall indeed see but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are heavy of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should perceive with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn for me to heal them.’ (Matt 13:13-15)

I stumbled along with this spiritual disability for many years, keeping what faith I had, only by the Grace of God and my marriage to a wonderful Christian Lady – a woman who was the Lord’s instrument in permitting God to bring my spirit to life through His Word.

And, it was through the preaching of a Charismatic priest, whose meetings my wife had been attending, that was I delivered from my spiritual hearing disability and brought through the ‘narrow gate’ to an encounter with the person of the Living Christ! Thus began my transition to a truly fulfilling spiritual life.

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”  (Heb. 4:12)

It is my intent to share my experiences of my transition to a true spirituality with you for your edification and to raise your level of awareness so that you may bypass my mistakes and progress more rapidly towards the holiness to which we have all have been called in Him.

Coming to Spiritual Awareness (and Hearing)

One of the first and greatest impediments I had to overcome was that I could not, out of my own human nature, or any one else’s, come to life in the spirit. And, being spiritually deaf, the Word of God could not take root in me. For, as Jesus told Nicodemus, “flesh begets flesh and Spirit begets spirit”. Only the Holy Spirit of God working through the inspired and empowered Word of God (Rhema) could bring me a to a new life in the Spirit.

St. Peter confirms this in his first epistle, where he tells the church, “You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. (Understanding that…) you have been born anew, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding Word of God; for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord abides for ever.” That word is the good news which was preached to you.”(1 Ptr. 18-18; 23-25)

When I, responded to the Word in faith, and became sensitive to the Life of the Spirit that was in me, I was able to spiritually “hear His Word” in my spirit and then, obeying the Word, I yielded myself to the Spirit so that through my willing cooperation He could begin the work of transformation in me – the work of conforming me to the image of Christ through His Word and empowering me to accomplish His Purposes in me for His Glory. Praised be His Holy Name!

In attempting to summarize my experience I can only say that, as a cultural Christian, I was roughly at the same intermediate stage of belief that the Samaritan villagers were when they heard the witness of the woman at the well (Jn. 4:39). That is, I believed the witness of the church in which I was raised based on the reasonable grounds on which the Good News of Jesus Christ was presented to me but not because the Word had reached my heart and enlivened me in the Spirit. Therefore, the Word did NOT have its full effect “because it was not mixed with faith”(Heb. 4:1-2).

Unlike the Samaritans, I was not motivated to seek out Jesus personally, because I was never presented with that option in my training. It was only later in my life that the Word of God reached me with power (as Rhema) and, then and only then, I sought out a personal relationship with Jesus who, through His Holy Spirit, empowered the Word of Salvation to enlighten my heart. It was only then, that I could say, as the Samaritans who sought out Jesus, told the woman at the well, “… now we believe not because of your testimony but because we have heard for ourselves and KNOW that this indeed is the Savior of the World!” (John 4:42)

Upon my spirit being reborn through the empowered Word, My spiritual ears were opened to truly Hear the Word of God clearly speaking to my heart so I could now also hear the voice of Jesus, my Shepherd, guiding me and leading along the narrow path of the spiritual journey. Within that first year, I was so excited in being able sense the Spirit of the Word that, in that first year, I read through the entire bible twice.

“The Word of God is a spiritual book written under the direction of the Holy Spirit. It was not written to our head but to the innermost part of our heart. This is why some people find the Bible so hard to understand. They are trying to comprehend it using only their mind. The Word of God has to inspire our heart before it can enlighten our mind.” (author unknown)

Secondary Hindrance: Not Understanding Discipleship

Once past my spiritual disability of not being sensitive to the Spirit of God within me, the Lord led me to understand that there was yet another hindrance keeping me from totally fulfilling His purposes for me. That hindrance was that of entering into a true and continuing discipleship with Him. Now that I could listen to the Lord through His Word, I began understanding spiritual things as I never had before. However, as I found out in my progress, there were still veils keeping me from a full awareness of the spiritual truths that are embedded in the Word. One of these is “discipleship”.

The veil that hindered me from understanding this truth was that of custom and culture. In our Christian culture we tend to form a world-view about Christianity that prevents us from seeing ourselves as God sees us. We tend to see ourselves as our religious culture sees us. In my case, I made the naïve assumption that now that I had been enlightened and begun a personal relationship with Jesus, my savior, that I was in fact also a disciple. So whenever I read the Gospels speaking of disciples, I assumed that I was one.

One night, while meditating on the scriptures about discipleship, I sensed the Holy Spirit putting the following thought in my mind: “when did you make a commitment to become a disciple and do you know what is involved in that commitment?”. As I pondered that thought, I began to realize that my becoming a true believer did not necessarily imply that I was a disciple. Yes, I not only believed who Jesus is and now have a relationship with Him, but just as the young ruler who came to Jesus ( cf., Lk. 18:18-25), His spirit in me was saying to me: “… yes, you also are very near to the Kingdom [being a disciple], you only lack one thing … you need to put aside your earthly attachments (including your own will) and come follow me”.

You see, what I had not realized because of my self-centered veil, was, that although I had been redeemed and cleansed by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, I had not yet freely given myself to Him in loving response. Instead I was attempting to live a holy life in obedience to the Word and My conscience, but doing it under my own will and effort. Because of the veil I had placed over myself, I did not realize that, in order to be a true disciple of Jesus, I needed to rend that veil of self-centeredness and become a living sacrifice to the Father, so that I would not just be trying to imitate Jesus, but so that Jesus Himself could manifest Himself in me and through me! Praised be His Holy Name.

St. Paul also came to this realization and exhorted his followers with the following words…

“I Beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” (Rom. 12: 1-3)

and …

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but 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)

Jesus, himself told those following him that there was a cost to discipleship and they should assess the cost before making a commitment (Luke 14:28). Regarding this same matter, He also said, “… many are called, but few are chosen”. ( Matt. 22:14

Francis accepts his call to discipleship

Entering into discipleship (the Kingdom) requires us to make a decision in selfless agape Love – a decision to relinquish our right to our selves and giving ourselves totally to God. There is no condemnation if you decide not to but there is a cost if you do – you must deny your very self and give your “self will” to Christ because of the agape Love for Him welling up in your spirit.

It must be a decision made without any compulsion or coercion. It is a decision, apart from our decision to accept Jesus as our Savior so that it does not affect our salvation and thus is freely given, as all sacrifices must be! All of us are called to be His disciples but not all of us choose to do so.

That is the decision that the Holy Spirit confronted me with and a decision I freely made before God in the Spirit. And, this is the decision I now pose to you. Consult with the Holy Spirit in prayer, meditating on the Word deeply and sincerely before you make any decision, remembering there is NO condemnation whatsoever!

Whatever decision you make, I ask the God’s Peace and Blessings fall upon you as brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus – for He will still be your fortress and support in this life and we all are still united in Him as His Body!

Praised Be The Lord Forever!

Your Fellow Pilgrim … Bartimaeus

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Prayer of Commitment (revised):

              Lord Jesus, I believe that you, the Son of the Living God came down from heaven to reveal the Father’s Love to me by suffering and dying for my sins. I believe that through your death and resurrection you have brought redemption and life not only to me but also all else who believe in you. I further believe that it is only through knowing you in a loving personal relationship of discipleship that I can know the Father.

            It is because I have a burning desire to know you and abide in you that I now yield myself completely to you and your love. I open the door to my heart so you can come in and sup with me and thus begin the special relationship with you for which you died and for which I hunger.

            At this moment I also totally yield myself to your love by giving you the rights to my very self, in gratitude, so that you, and only you, will be the center of my life – and so that, through you, the Father’s Will shall be done in my life. With this declaration, I take your yoke of discipleship upon me; enter in and activate my spirit with your Holy Spirit so that I can go beyond just mere intellectual belief in you to a personal spiritual knowledge of you and the Father so that His Will may be accomplished in and through my life for His Glory.

           Lord, cleanse me from my sins and make me a fit vessel for your presence and your purposes. Permeate my entire being with your life and your love so that I can truly be your instrument in this world. Be my Lord, Be My God, Be my King to rule and to reign in me. In faith and by your grace, I receive you and I receive your Word. Abide in me just as you abide in the Father and the Father in you! Thank you for giving yourself  for me, now take me for yourself so that You may live in me and through me, I am yours forever for the Glory of the Father. Amen

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<> If you do not feel that you are ready to make this full commitment to discipleship, don’t worry the Lord will take you as you are as long as you are willing to enter into a relationship with Him and be empowered by His Spirit. Once you let him into Your Heart He will do the rest by His Grace. To that end, I refer you to the following links:

Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit

Discipleship: Accepting the Challenge

Cast Your Net on the Other Side

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(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2014])

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