Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Exhortation toLove’ Category

 

Monstrance

“Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’ ”. (1 peter 1: 13-16)

“We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He might be the firstborn among many brothers.”  ( Romans 8:28-29)

My dear fellow Pilgrims,

Having trouble understanding and responding to our call to be Holy as He is Holy?

There are many challenges we lay Christians face if we want to grow spiritually
in our walk with Jesus. The first and foremost of these being, living out  the Holiness  to which we have been called. The only way given us is by yielding ourselves in obedience to the Holy Spirit and rendering Him our full cooperation so that “the Grace that is brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ” may be manifested in our lives.

Many of us, for instance, do not even understand what the “at revelation of Jesus Christ” refers to since most of us have never experienced such an occurrence. And if we do not comprehend this point how can we proceed to respond to our call to holiness?

jesus-along-the-sea-of-galilee-GoodSalt-pppas0009

Do not be anxious ….

Let us begin by attempting to understand the term “at the revelation of Jesus Christ” by recounting the revelation that Peter experienced in His walk with Christ, when Jesus asked His disciples, including Peter, “ … who do men say that I am?”

“… they replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”  “But what about you? Jesus asked. “Who do you say I am?”

… Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

… And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon  , because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.  (Matt. 16:14-17)

Note that Jesus’ asked first asked them what the people in their religious culture thought about who He was.  He did this because, all of us, even today, initially base our assessment of Jesus on human understanding and tradition about who Jesus is, and NOT on what the Spirit of God is revealing personally to us. That is why, by asking the first question, Jesus was opening  their spirits to answer the next question: “… but who do YOU say that I am”?

In order to bring us to the same point, He asks us the same question. He wants us to meditate on His Word and go into our inner selves and assess the nature of who WE really think Jesus is? He wants us to distinguish beyond what the world or our culture thinks and what the Father in the Spirit is revealing to us, through His Word, about the divinity of His Son. And not only that, He wants us to testify in faith to the revelation about Jesus we find He has placed in us.

Yes! That is why when Peter proclaimed  that Jesus was “the Anointed one of God”, that Jesus told Him that the only way he could honestly make this statement was if it had been divinely revealed to him by the Father. And yes, it is the Father’s desire for us also — to reveal the person of His Son to us so that we may not only know about Him but KNOW Him personally was Our Lord and Savior and manifest our faith by verbally testifying to His Divinity.

Remember, also, what happened when the Samaritan woman at the well testified to her village that she had encountered the Messiah (cf., John 4:4-42). They believed her witness and believed in Jesus, but not from their own personal experience, but by her testimony. That is where most of us laity are with regards to “knowing” Jesus – indirect believers based on the witness of true believers who have received the grace of His revelation.

Nonetheless, second-hand faith is very important as it initiates our entry into the Kingdom. But its importance rests on what we do with this faith we with which we initially believe..

Notice that the Samaritan believers took that initial faith and sought Jesus for themselves. So that when they found Him they told the woman …“It is no longer because of your words that we believe,  for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.” (John 4-42)

or, in our modern idiom the villagers response to the Samaritan Woman might be something like this …

“… now that we have encountered Him personally, we believe in our hearts not just because of your testimony but, mainly,  because we have heard His Word directed to each of us personally and directly so that now I KNOW spiritually that Jesus is not only the Savior of the world but that He is MY savior and MY Lord!”

That is what the Father desires for each of us – that we take the initial faith in the Good News that has been proclaimed to us in the Church and seek out Jesus personally so that we meet our Shepherd and experience Him and His  Word directly revealed in our spirits to the Glory of His Name. Praised be His Holy Name!

Holy-Spirit-Dove-small copy

The Light Shone in the Darkness

Understanding this, we are then better able to understand that our Holiness comes from the transformation that comes from “knowing” Jesus personally and our yielding completely to Him and His Lordship. And, doing so thus permits the Holy Spirit to work in us and through us that we  may be conformed to His Image, the image of His Holiness (Rom. 8:28-29)

And, of course, this transformation is based from our union with the Spirit of Christ that is in us from our conversion and Baptism. “Christ in us the Hope of Glory!”

But knowing this, you might now ask, how then do we yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit so that He might work in us to bring us to this Holiness in Him?

The answer is simple …

<> First, seek to know the Spirit of Jesus that is in you – “Christ in us, the Hope of Glory”! (Colossians 1:26-28)

…’Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. ‘I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD… (Jeremiah 29:12-14)

‘Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.’  (Matt. 7:7)

“Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away” (John 6:37)

“I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.” (John 10:9)

“Those I love, I rebuke and discipline. Therefore be earnest and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and dine with him, and he with Me.To the one who is victorious, I will grant the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne…”  (Revelation 3:19-21)

<> Then, you set yourself apart exclusively for the Father’s Work – that is, consecrate yourself, (offer yourself as a living Sacrifice) to the Father.

“I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service of worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:1-2)

<> Finally, live out your life placing al your faith and trust in Him, and His Holiness will be made manifest in your lives for His Glory!

“So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.

“Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient. These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life. But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator.” (Col. 3:1-10)

<> And do not be afraid that your load is too heavy, for He Himself will be your Help.

OXEN-YOKE

Sweet Yoke of Love

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30)

+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+

painting-picture-image-jesus-christ-love copyI urge you brothers and sisters, that, especially, this Lenten season, you turn your heart to Jesus and seek a personal communion with Him asking to grow deeper in your relationship with Him. Open the door to your hearts and let Him sup with you – then yield yourself fully to the Grace that flows from Him, the Living Water that will bring you a holy, renewed, and empowered Life In  Him! Praised be His Holy Name!

May the Lord Bless You in all that you dedicate to do In His Name!

Your Brother  and Fellow Pilgrim In Christ … Bartimaeus

Related Links

Behold, I stand at the Door and Knock

Sweet Yoke of Love

Dedicating our lives to Christ

Avoiding False Mysticism

+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+
(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2017])

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Challenges to Discipleship: The Role of Suffering

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” (1Peter 4:12-13)

One of the great barriers to entering into true discipleship with Christ is our problem in understanding the role that suffering plays in those who, through faith, have dedicated their lives to follow Jesus.

Shall we not suffer with Him?

I am Crucified with Christ ..

The first thing that hinders us about accepting the role of suffering in discipleship is that our natural selves cannot comprehend it. If Christ Suffered for us and took on our sufferings why then should believers still endure suffering as part of our calling? The second thing which hinders us is that, even upon beginning to understand the Lord’s calling for us to endure (certain types of) suffering, we cannot receive it because we lack sufficient faith to enter into and willingly receive the suffering to which we have been called.

After all, why would a good and loving God, insist that those He loves pass through the trials of suffering, especially when that suffering comes on us seemingly without cause or seeming justification. Wasn’t Jesus’s suffering sufficient?

This of course brings up the topic that the citation from Peter’s Epistle alludes to, that is, our participation in the sufferings of Christ. From this brief mention we begin to surmise that we, His Body, like the apostles, are destined to drink the same cup as he drank from, that is , the cup of suffering. That is, the suffering caused by His rejection and torture by the world and the establishment for the proclamation of the Good News of the Kingdom.

This then is the main theme of Peter’s Epistle to the suffering church at Rome. To encourage them to endure their persecution in Love, as Jesus endured His persecution in Love.

The Testing of our Faith

In the beginning of this first epistle, the Apostle Peter indicates that the primary reason that the father permits this type of suffering to enter into their lives (and therefore ours as well) is that, through their endurance, through faith, that same faith may be proven to be genuine, just as Gold in order to be assayed must be tested as if by fire.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade — kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:3-7)

Just as Jesus’ faith was tested through suffering so our faith also will be tested to determine if it is genuine. For there is such a thing as false faith and many have been deceived by their own human desires into presuming that their misdirected human zeal is the faith needed for discipleship. The Apostle Paul himself decries that, “ .. Demas has abandoned him for this present world” (2 Tim: 4:10), and in his first letter to Timothy he says: “… By rejecting conscience, certain persons have suffered shipwreck in the faith; among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have turned over to Satan, so that they may learn not to blaspheme” (1 Tim. 1:19-20).

In the Deuterocanonical literature we have the challenge for discipleship clearly stated :

“ My son when you come to serve the Lord prepare yourself for trials. Be sincere of heart and steadfast, undisturbed in time of adversity. Cling to Him, forsake Him not; thus will your future be great. Accept whatever befalls you, for in fire Gold is tested and worthy men in the crucible of humiliation”. (Sirach 2: 1-5)

Discerning the Types of Suffering We are to Endure

Peter makes it clear in his epistle that the type of suffering that he is exhorting us to endure is the unjust suffering imposed by others on us because of our faith or stand for righteousness. For this, he says, is consistent with our calling. Note that he does not include that suffering which comes to us because of our own unjust ways and sin.

“For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” (1 Peter 2:19-23)

We also note that Illness or disease is not listed as the type of suffering we need to endure as Christians, In fact, he concludes the above paragraph as follows:

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” (1Peter 2:24-25)

Because of Jesus’ suffering and atoning work on the cross disease is not deemed a suffering that we Christians must endure as part of our path to discipleship. For this reason we attend to medical doctors and for this reason we are exhorted to pray for each other healing. Jesus did not have any sick disciples. It is not the Father’s will for us.

No! The types of trials we are to endure as disciples is how others treat us because we are outspoken disciples of Jesus. Not those who hide in a corner and are afraid to express their faith but those who openly confess Christ not only by their confession but also by the fruit of their confession – that is, the very lives they live!

Yes! They will revile us, persecute us, censor our prayers, expel us from their fellowship. We will lose many whom we formerly called “friends” but in being bold to proclaim Christ to the world we will be drawn into a new community, a new family of brothers and sisters in Christ who are not afraid of being called Christians and who live their lives in the truth of the Gospel, empowered by the Holy Spirit!

“Baruch haShem” – Praised be His Holy Name! Amen and Amen!

Bartimaeus

© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2016].

Related Links to this Article

Assessing our Discipleship

Discipleship: Accepting the Challenge

Prayer To Receive the Holy Spirit

Read Full Post »

Are you Living God’s Love?

<>   Letting God’s Divine Love work in us and through us.

Spirit-Of-Love -by B.R.Timeo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)

My fellow pilgrims …

In walking the narrow path of discipleship with our Savior and Master, Jesus the Son of the Living God, we must remember that the utmost characteristic of a disciple is “Love”. Not just a brotherly type of love, but a God-ordained type of Love, “agape” or selfless Love. This type of love is the “Love” that characterized Jesus; it is the Divine Love of the Father Himself that is in us through our immersion in His Spirit, through baptism (cf., Rom. 5:5).

This is the “Love” defined by Jesus: “As the Father has loved me so I have loved you” (John 15:9) and “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:34). It is the manifestation of this type of love, in us and through us, that distinguishes us as true disciples. It is NOT a love that we can release out of our own human efforts. It is a love that must flow from the Spirit of God that is in all baptized believers. But the problem being, that not all believers have come to the point in their faith-lives where they have released that spirit of God’s love into their everyday lives.

Unless we can place the love of our brothers and sisters in Christ above our own lives we cannot lay claim to that kind of love as guiding our everyday lives. As an aspiring disciple, the most I can say is that, on certain special occasions, the Spirit of God working in me has unexpectedly brought me to that point, but upon realizing it I become aware that it was not me, so much as the Spirit of Christ working in me and through me, that manifested in a particular instance. I constantly struggle against my flesh to bring Christ into every moment of my everyday life so that His Kingdom of Love may manifest itself continuously through me.

It helps me to understand that Peter, the apostle, had to struggle with this as well. Before Jesus’ Passion and Crucifixion, Peter, out of his inflated ego and pride, attempted to stake out his love for Jesus by saying that he would defend Him to the end. To which Jesus, knowing Peter full well, responded, “… Jesus said to him, “Truly, I say to you, this very night, before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.” (Mark 14:30)

Later, after Jesus’ resurrection when he appeared to the disciples as they were fishing, He took Peter aside, to help him overcome his self-guilt, and asked him, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”(John 21: 15). Note that here, Jesus addresses Peter as, “Simon”, and uses a verb derived from the Greek word “agape” for “love”.

Peter, now humbled from His prior denials and recognizing that Jesus was inviting him to restore fellowship, responded … “Lord, you know that I love you”, but using a derivative of the Greek word “phileo” (ie., brotherly love) for the word “love”. Thus now indicating that he could not, at this point, overextend himself by stating that he, in his human weakness, was able to commit himself to the divine level of “agape love”.

Jesus, after asking again, then asked the third time “… do you love me?”(John 21”17), but this last time He used the verb “phileo” for ‘love” thus indicating to Peter that He was accepting His response at the level he could offer because he was being sincere and placing the level of love he could genuinely muster. However, Jesus also, at the end of that conversation, told Peter that at the end of His Life his “love” for Jesus would, by the Spirit be brought to the ‘agape” level because he also would be crucified as a manifestation of that “Love”.

As it was for Peter so it shall be for us, if we also respond sincerely to begin our walk with Jesus at the level of love that we are confident we can offer. It is with that level of love, then, that we begin our consecration to our master, with the door of our spirit open to the work of the Holy Spirit in us to conform us to the image of Christ and move us into the “agape” level of love.

The Way of  True Discipleship

The Way of True Discipleship

Yes, just as in Peter’s case, personal suffering will ensue. Because ‘agape” love always means carrying our cross of denying our own self-will and ripping off our attachments to the “world” and to “self”. This is part of the cost of discipleship. For as Jesus said…

 “If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple.”  (Luke 14:26-27)

and …

“If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:19)

<> If we abide not in His Love we can do nothing

 Jesus made it clear that if we do not abide in Him and His Love we will not be able to bear fruit for His Kingdom …

 “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples.” (John 15:4-8)

Of course the inherent interpretation is that without the empowerment of His Spirit of Love abiding within us, and obedience to His Word, nothing of spiritual value for His Kingdom can be accomplished. We may be very pious an religious, but if we are not acting out of selfless Love they will not be of service to the Lord and His Kingdom. In other words, in order to serve the Lord, our will must be submitted to Him and not our own ambitions and purposes.

But the saying may also be understood to indicate that we, as believers, are only branches of His Vine of His Love, and, if we do not maintain an intimate relationship with Jesus, who is the Vine, nothing of spiritual value for His Kingdom can be accomplished since He alone is the source of Divine Love.

St. Paul reiterates this principle of the need for a disciple to abide in “agape Love” in his first letter to the Corinthians (Chap. 1 vs.1-3) …

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (1 Cor. 13: 1-3)

Since it is clear that agape Love is essential to discipleship, the question remains as to how is this type of Love manifested in a believer that distinguishes him/her from those in the “world” ?.

Again, Paul tells is how the fruit of true Love is manifested through those who maintain their attachment to the Vine…

“Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude.

Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.

 For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood.

 So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor. 13:4-13)

<> Activating the Divine Love that is in us

Now, being made aware of the Father’s purpose regarding abiding His Love, we come to the challenge of assessing whether we are living our lives in accord with His purpose for us.

First of all, we must ask ourselves if we are in an intimate personal relationship with Jesus and are we submitting ourselves in love to His Love so that the Father’s will may be done in our lives as it is in Heaven. Are we walking in such a spiritual commitment and are we involved with a constant dialogue with Jesus as we perform our daily activities in this world. If not, then the first thing we must do is enter into such a consecration.

The consecration that I refer to is termed by St. Paul as that of dedicating ourselves as a “living sacrifice” to the Father, we do this by a total surrender of ourselves to the Spirit of God in us. Paul describes this consecration as follows:

 “I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I bid every one among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith which God has assigned him.” (Rom. 12:1-3)

If we are already walking in such a relationship, then we need to test ourselves daily regarding these virtues, so that we can, through repentance and communion, maintain our connection to the Vine and thus bear fruit for the Kingdom.

However, if we are unsure of exactly where we stand in our relationship and commitment then I would recommend that you click on the following link for instructions as to how to make such a commitment to Christ.

# PRAYER OF COMMITMENT

Above all Brethren, please ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in all that I have been saying and obey His guidance – for it is only through Him and the inspired Word of God that your spirit may be activated to interact and dialogue with the Divine! As you pray, keep in mind this Word about knowing Love …

“We have come to know love by this: that Jesus laid down his life for us; thus we ought to lay down our lives for our fellow Christians.” (1John 3:16)

Above all Brethren, please ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in all that I have been saying and obey His guidance – for it is only through Him and the inspired Word of God that your spirit may be activated to interact and dialogue with the Divine!

May the Lord bless you and guide you, and may His Face Shine upon you, and bring you into His Peace!

Your servant in Christ … Bartimaeus

© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-20014]

~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+

Recommended Related Articles for Aspiring Disciples:

Sweet Yoke of Love

Enter in by the Narrow Gate

Walking the Walk

Cast Your Net on the other Side

Read Full Post »

Be Reconciled with God !

“… God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. [How] Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, [how]much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” (Rom. 5:8-11)

My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Sometimes, due to our superficial and simplistic reading of Scripture, we not only miss the spiritual depth and scope of what is being communicated, but sometimes misunderstand the basic meaning of the concepts being presented. For instance in the concept regarding “reconciliation” being presented by the Apostle Paul in the initiating citation from his epistle to the Romans, Paul is telling us that through Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross, the Father accomplished that which, under human wisdom, was deemed an impossibility, the reconciliation of the relationship between God and humankind. Upon mankind’s fall from Grace, our intimate relationship with God had been ruptured by the sin of pride, rebellion and disobedience against God – a sin that in God’s words could only be atoned for by the death of the sinner …

“The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” (Gen. 2:15-17)

“Thus says Lord, … the soul that commits sin shall die” (Ezek. 18:4)

Our Need for Reconciliation with God

There is little doubt, brethren, that each of us, as children of Adam, have partaken of this forbidden fruit and are children of this rebellion since the carnal brokenness of our fleshly lives gives evidence to our disobedience and separation from God. For as St. Paul also concludes: “… all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).

Thus, if in order to satisfy God’s Justice, you paid with your life, what good would that be to you or to God since, without life, you could no longer derive the benefit of reconciliation from the settlement of your debt to God? Thus, the mere fact that you paid your debt with your life certainly would not result in reconciliation would it? You have to be alive to experience true and complete reconciliation.

The Father’s Gift of Reconciliation in Christ

So in a magnificent display of God’s wisdom, mercy, and Love for those whom He created, He determined from eternity that the only way that true reconciliation, that included the propitiation for the sin of mankind, could be accomplished was to send His Son, the Image of Himself, to take on our sins through His sacrificial death on the Cross and to be resurrected to Life so that those who believe in Him might not only be redeemed from their sins but also be brought to new life in His Anointed and so enjoy the restoration of fellowship with the Father as His adopted children! Now that is a true and complete Reconciliation!. This is the fullness of the Forgiveness, Restoration, and Reconciliation that we who believe have in Christ Jesus! Praised be His Name Forever!

In the Old Covenant, God chose not to reveal this mystery to Israel, the mystery of how He could forgive sin and not hold it against them, even though this apparently went against the principle of His eternal Justice. Instead, through His Word given to Moses, He instituted, a set of sacrificial rituals for sin that symbolized the Mercy and Love that would be later revealed in His Son, the Messiah (His anointed One) and through which His Justice would be eternally satisfied.

With regard to Jesus’ sacrificial offering of Himself, the writer of Hebrews, directing his teaching to the a Jewish-Christian community, states:

“For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled, sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

I have been crucified with Christ…

And for this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, in order that since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. For where a covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it. For a covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives. Therefore even the first covenant was not inaugurated without blood. For when every commandment had been spoken by Moses to all the people according to the Law, he took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded you.” And in the same way he sprinkled both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry with the blood. And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Hebrews 9:13-22)

Thus, my brothers and sisters, in and through the shed blood of Christ Jesus, we have come under a New Covenant, where we, who believe and have been brought into covenant with the Father, are called to be messengers or envoys of the Good News of this Reconciliation to the whole world, so that all may comprehend the universality of His Love and His Mercy for those that believe!

“So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor. 5:17-21)

Appropriating the Reconciliation

Now, here is an apparent conundrum: the Apostle Paul clearly states that, “… we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son”, and “… not counting their trespasses against them”, yet, Paul continues by entreating, on behalf of Christ, that all who hear these “Good News” to ” … be reconciled to God”, obviously seeking a response from them in the present. The questions is: how is it that, if God, in the past tense, “…. having reconciled the world to Himself”, is now, through Paul’s preaching, appealing to all who hear to take some kind of action to complete what has already been accomplished? If reconciliation has already been achieved eternally through Christ’s death and resurrection, what is it that is left for the hearer’s to do to bring that Reconciliation into manifestation in the NOW of their lives?

Obviously, if St. Paul is entreating those who are the object of His preaching, to “be reconciled to God”, it must be that, what he is requiring of his hearers is an act of faith to receive that reconciliation. Like all spiritual blessings and graces, the reconciliation being preached, cannot be appropriated except through faith – a faith that is validated by an act of our will. So what Paul is really asking, is for his audience to “Believe and Repent” in order to receive the Promised Graces of Reconciliation.

This means that even though we all have been reconciled to God in eternity, an act of faith is required by us to appropriate this Grace in the present – in the NOW of our lives. The Grace that we reach out to with our faith is the Reconciliation that Christ has won for us and that is already available to us in the heavenlies, but which may only be appropriated by us through an act of faith – that act of faith being our sincere repentance in faith!

Just remember, repentance is NOT a “work”, it is an act of faith through which God’s Grace proceeds.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—not the result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Eph.2:8-9)

Repentance has to be by Faith and NOT by works, because it is only by Faith that we can please God. And, also, from the context of what Paul is teaching – repentance is a grace that turns our hearts towards God in sorrowful acknowledgment of our sins and in a fully yielded acceptance of the Gift of Forgiveness and Reconciliation that is being offered.

Our need for Ongoing Repentance

Continuing in this train of thought, it then becomes clear to us that, although at our conversion and Baptism we repented of all of our sins to the moment of receiving the sacrament, there will be occasions in our future lives where, due to the weakness of human flesh, we will fall again into sin, and when we do what recourse do we have to maintain ourselves in reconciliation (or Fellowship) with the Father? Since we can only repent of the sins we are aware of, do we have to be baptized again every time we accumulate new sins?

No, of course not! The reason being, that the Lord also provided for us the continuing means whereby, those of us who have become part of the Body Of Christ through Baptism may maintain or fellowship with the Father. The Fountain of Grace that the father provides is not limited by our time-bound constraints on repentance. The Living water He provides is like a never-ending fountain available to us throughout our lives not only here but through eternity. All we have to do is to reach out to this Grace of Graces through our continuing repentance in Faith!

For those of us in the Catholic tradition we believe that the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist are outlets of His continuing and out-flowing Life-giving Grace exactly because they provide us, the faithful, with the sacramental means to express our repentance in faith and receive spiritual restoration continually though out our lifetimes.

Remember when Jesus washed His Disciples feet before the last supper …

“He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” Jesus answered, “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, …..” (John 13:6-10)

Like the disciples we, as His Children, have been washed clean in the eternal cleansing of Baptism but, because we are temporal creatures, we are being continually exposed to the world and it sinfulness. Thus, we also need to have our feet (our souls) washed at regular periods if we want to continue to have part with Jesus. That washing of the feet is what the Sacrament of Reconciliation provides.

Remember also what John the Apostle said about our need to confess our sins,

“If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.” (1 John 1:6-10)

In Jesus’ metaphor that He is the Vine, He reinforces the need for us to maintain a continuous fellowship with Him:

“I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.” (John 1:6-10)

If we are to continue to abide in the vine and bear fruit we must undergo a continuous pruning, and that is why our continuous self-assessment under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and His Word (with repentance, as necessary) is extremely important if we are to continue to grow spiritually and not become a “dry branch”.

Maintaining Our Fellowship with God

Again, we find in the Word that God does not ask anything from us for which He does not provide the appropriate Grace. When Jesus ask for us to abide in Him, He also tells us the Grace that is provided to this purpose, namely, the Sacrament of the Eucharist, otherwise called “Holy Communion” or “Holy Fellowship”. For He says to them: “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty,,, I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” (John 6:35, 48-51)

Unless you eat of my flesh and drink my blood…

The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever” (John 6:52-58)

Quickly bring a robe and put it on him …

Beloved, what more can be said about the Father’s generous and unconditional Reconciliation. Not only does He accept us, and forgive all our trespasses and receives us to new life as His adopted children, but, also, through the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist, continuously restores us to Fellowship with Him as a continuation of our inheritance in Christ, just as the prodigal son’s father received and restored His returning runaway son (Luke 15: 22 – 24) and restored Him to his place in the estate by placing his robe of righteousness on his body and his ring of authority on his finger.

In conclusion, brothers and sisters, I pray, that in my simple way, I have clarified the importance of the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist as the institutionalized means by which the church attends to the needs of us, the faithful, to assist us in the restoration and maintenance of Our Reconciliation and Fellowship with Him in Christ Jesus, His Son and to strengthen us to hold fast unto Him as we continue on the way of discipleship to Him.

To Him be all Glory and Honor Forever! Amen and Amen!

As we continue in our walk with Him I leave you with the following scriptures to encourage and strengthen you continue in the Way in Him, Jesus, The Son of the Father and Our Savior and Lord!

Baruch Ha Shem, Blessed Be His Name Forever!

St. John:

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense — Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. (1John 2:1-6)

St. Paul:

“Now, brothers[and sisters], I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.” (1 Cor. 15: 1-2)

“… Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God,
with which you were sealed for the day of redemption.
All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling
must be removed from you, along with all malice.
And be kind to one another, compassionate,
forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.
So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love,
as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma. (Eph 4:30-5:2)

Moses:

“The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace. (Num. 6:24-26)

Jesus:

“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:25-27)

Be Courageous and Strong in the Lord, for the testing of all Christians is at hand …

Your Fellow Disciple and Pilgrim in Christ Jesus…. Bartimaeus

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

Recommended Links

Reclaiming Our Legacy In Christ

The Kingdom of God: Our Spiritual Inheritance

 Releasing the Spirit

 Praying in the Spirit

Hearing God’s Voice, and Obeying It

Pentecost and the Promise of the Father

The Empowerment Gifts (Part 1)

The Empowerment Gifts (Part 2)

Read Full Post »

Jesus: The Word Made Flesh

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name ‘Immanuel,’ which is translated, ‘God with us.’ ” (Matthew 1:23)

“And the Word became flesh and lived among us…” (Jn1:14)

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As we approach the celebration of our savior’s birth it is appropriate that we meditate on the unimaginable mystery and magnificence of this event.  A mystery which was kept even from the angels – basically, the Father’s plan to redeem us from the sin which has enveloped humanity since Adam.

A plan not only to redeem us but to restore us to adoption as His spiritually generic Children. A plan that could be wrought only by through the Divine becoming one of us and atoning for our sins through an unjust passion and death at the hands of those whom He was saving. For, indeed  only God Himself, in human form, could take responsibility and be judged for our sins since He is the Sinless and Holy One who created us. In this incarnation of His Divine Self and the Sacrifice of His Son for our sins is the ultimate and immanent manifestation of His transcendent Love -Yet, A love that expresses itself at the level of Human realization – A Love that goes beyond philosophy and theology to the reality of the birth of a human child incarnating God Himself – the birth of the lamb of God –  The Lamb that the Father provided to be publicly sacrificed to atone for our sins,

“For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes on Him might not perish but come to everlasting life” (Jn; 3-16­)

The Father’s giving of His Son begins at the Birth of Jesus – the event we celebrate as Christmas – the key event, on this Earth for His plan of redemption.  The Gift of His Son begins at His Birth, His “incarnation”, where He emptied Himself of His Divine nature and became as one of us. This began the process by which the Word of God, the Son of God, became flesh for the  purpose of sacrificing His Life for for our sins and, in this manner, manifested the Love of the Father for His creation and opened the door for our own re-creation in His “image”.

“… when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”  (Gal 4:4-7)

From this scripture we understand that, in order to accomplish His will in this regard, the Father needed a select volunteer, a human woman without sin to bring forth the Son of God incarnate into this world. This woman was Mary, a pure virgin dedicated to God, selected by Him to be the vessel through which His Son would be conceived and born as the God-Man anointed savior of the world.

And, as you might expect, it all began with an Angel delivering a Word from God.

(For God does nothing apart from His Word).

“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth,  to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you. But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.  The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.  He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David.  He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”  Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.” (Luke 1:26-35)

In delivering this Word from God, the Angel was delivering a Divine Promise and in order for this Promise to be realized,  Mary, the chosen mother of His Son, needed to willingly and in faith accept and receive that Promise. Although she asked out of curiosity, “how can this be since I am a virgin?”,  the Angel told her  “.. with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37). And Mary, responding in faith said, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her” (Luke 1:38).

Brethren, I gently remind you of these things that you already have heard but which may not have had the impact it ought on your heart, so that you may be made aware, by the Holy Spirit, that the Father’s Love and purposes for the Birth of Christ, His ministry, His Passion, His Death and His Resurrection go much further than saving us from our sins and bringing us into His Glory. In fact, His intent was, and still is, for Jesus, His Son to be the first of many brethren. His intent is to replicate His Son in us so that His Glory and the Glory of His Son might be multiplied amongst us, and through us who believe, and so that we might be His instruments for the manifestation of His Kingdom in this world. Baruch ha Shem!

Peter, our first pope, expressly stated this underlying destiny for those who have also been born again through the Promises of His Word and who through the preaching of that word, have come to adoption as His children through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Yes! As you might expect, we also are re-born spiritually, through the proclamation  of  God’s Word – the Good News of Salvation in Christ Jesus!

You have been born anew,

not of perishable but of imperishable seed,

through the living and enduring 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 endures forever.” 

That word is the good news that was announced to you.

(1Ptr1:23-25)

And, as the Apostle Peter further amplifies, it is the Father’s intent that we, through our faith in His Promises, may become His partners in brining forth His Kingdom, through our baptism into Christ!

“His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature.” (2Ptr1:3-4)

What shall we say then, to these graces and love that is freely bestowed on us? What is the response that the Father desires of us to His gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus?  If the Living God gave totally of Himself, is it not appropriate that we His creatures give totally of ourselves in response to his Love. Is not this then the most appropriate gift that we can bring to the manger to celebrate the Gift of God’s Son to us?  Here again St. Peter hints the path of giving we must take to enter into the spiritual transformation that enables us to fulfill our destiny …

“Rid yourselves, therefore, of all malice, and all guile, insincerity, envy, and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

 Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”  (1Ptr1:2-5)

And what are these spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God?  Aren’t these, in effect, the  giving of  our  “selves” to God?

To that question the Apostle Paul responds affirmatively ….

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  (Rom 12:1-2)

In order to assist you in accepting this challenge Brethren, I follow this article with a Prayer of Commitment, so that those of you whom the Holy Spirit has touched may, upon personal meditation use it to formulate your own payer of commitment wherein you not only dedicate your “self” as a Living sacrifice in response to the Father’s Love but you also yield yourself to the Holy Spirit so that He can fill you and mold you and empower you to bring forth the Father’s kingdom in and through your lives.

I conclude with the Apostle Paul’s prayer to the Ephesians who were also at the same point you now are, in being invited to enter the Kingdom through the gift of yourselves to the Father and to bring the Good News of the Kingdom to others….

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”     (Eph.3:16-21)

Your Brother In Christ … Bartimaeus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2011])

O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O

Prayer of Commitment

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 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 yield myself to your love. 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.

Lord, cleanse me from my sins and make me a fit vessel for your presence. 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. Amen!

Prayer for Empowerment in the Holy Spirit

Father, as your child in Jesus I desire to be totally an instrument for Your Kingdom to manifest through my life. I desire to receive your Promise of the Holy Spirit to those who believe. Jesus, my Savior and King, baptize me in the Holy Spirit so that the power of your resurrection will work in me and transform me according to your will. Holy Spirit, empower me and fill me to overflowing. I hold nothing back from you. Work your gifts in me and through me so that the Father’s Kingdom may be manifested in and through my life. I ask this in Jesus’ mighty Name. Amen!

O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O

Now, begin praising and worshipping God with all your heart. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you, renew you, and praise God through you. Release yourself from all the inhibitions you have and raise your voice in songs and psalms. Express those longings you have held in your heart for so long but were unable to let loose because of your inhibitions. As you sing and worship release yourself to the Holy Spirit so that He can pray and worship through you.

As you enter this time of praise and worship you will begin to experience a sense of the presence of the Lord. You will begin to lose your self-consciousness and you will sense that the flow of your prayers and song is coming as if from out of nowhere. In fact, as your praise increases you sense that you are uttering words that are no longer in your mother tongue. But you know in your spirit that these words are honoring God so your flow in these phrases increases. You have just received your prayer language. You are feeling so blessed, you find that you don’t want to stop. Don’t stop. Pray and sing your heart out, glorifying God!

Praised be His Holy Name! You have now ”Entered the Kingdom” of the Father! Walk in the leading of the Holy Spirit and be obedient to His call! May the Lord Bless you and anoint you with the Holy Spirit in all that you do!

 

 

Your Brother In Christ,

Bartimaeus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2011])

 

O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O

 

Resource Links In Preparing for the Baptism In the Spirit

Catholic Charismatic History

§ Releasing the Spirit

§ The Double Portion Anointing

§ Jesus, the Source of Living Water, and Us

§ Pentecost and the Promise of the Father

§ The sanctifying Gifts (Part 1)

§ The Sanctifying Gifts (Part 2)

§ Praying in The Spirit

§ Empowerment Gifts (Part 1)

§ The Empowerment Gifts (Part 2)

Read Full Post »

Becoming Children of God

He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (John 1:11-13)

“… it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as descendants. (Rom. 9:8 )

Jesus Welcomes Children

Jesus Welcomes Children

“At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” (Matt.18-1-5)

~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,

We have all been taught to respect all of humankind as “children” of God and, in the limited sense that we have all been created by Him, that is certainly true. But the New Testament introduces us to another perspective – and that is, that, we who believe in Christ have become a “new creation” and are literally “in Christ” and “Christ in us”. Because we are created in His image, we are now His brethren and thus “spiritual” Children of the Father and are of the same genre as the Son and destined to be like Him.

Our Current Situation

Our problem today is not so much that we are unaware of this truth but that we have not comprehended that truth in its full spiritual intent so that through faith in this truth we may bring forth its manifestation in our lives. Without this spiritual understanding we end up living our lives as fleshly children ignorant of the spiritual inheritance and the spiritual power and purposes that the Father intended for us in the manifestation of His Kingdom here on earth.

That is why the Lord tells His disciples: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

In saying this, of course, He was comparing the disciple’s obvious spirit of pride and competitiveness to the humility of little children who had not yet been affected by the spirit of the world – whose hearts had not yet been conditioned to thinking and acting like the world but were open and responsive to “true” love.

It is this openness and humility of heart that the Lord is trying to instill in His disciples – a trait, without which, they cannot enter the spiritual realm necessary to undertake a sharing in His ministry – which He termed, “the Kingdom of Heaven”. This doorway into the Kingdom permits us to transition from mere fleshly children to our “New Creation” in Him – spiritual children who have been “born of God” – “children” who KNOW, UNDERSTAND, OBEY and LOVE their Spiritual Father. It is this challenge that the Lord sets before all of us who have been called to be His disciples – the challenge of changing from our fleshly approach to life and truly becoming the Father’s Spiritual Children, Jesus’ Brethren, by yielding to the Spirit of the Son that indwells us.

The Process of Change  Involved

Although the process of becoming or changing into spiritual children is begun in Baptism and conversion, it is a challenge to us because it doesn’t just automatically happen – it requires an action of the will. An action based on our full consent and knowledge of what it means to let Jesus be the Lord of our lives and our yielding to the Holy Spirit to conform us into His image.

It is a challenge because such a commitment goes against our human nature and our fleshly instincts. We must forget our natural responses to life and begin a process of renewing our minds (Rom12:1-2) to what the Spirit of God is leading us to do. We must even change the motives behind our religious activities. For indeed, we find that we are no longer here “to do something for Christ” but to let the Christ that is in us live and work through us to bring forth the Kingdom.

In becoming a child of the King we have to learn to love as He loved, to walk in the Spirit as he Walked, to hear the voice of the Father as He heard the Voice of the Father, and to learn to be an obedient servant as He was a servant.

In becoming a child of the King, we have to move from being self-centered to being God-centered. We have to yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit and be empowered as He was empowered. And, most of all, we have to learn to pray as He prayed – to bring ourselves before the Throne of God by putting on Jesus’ Robe of righteousness and, in His Name, relate to the Father directly as His Children, be enveloped in His Love, and to go forth from His embrace to fulfill His will in this world, knowing that the Spirit of His Son is in each of us and that He will never, never forsake us no matter what.

Is this transformation easy? No, of course not! Not only will you be going against your own fleshly nature but you will be going against the world culture itself. Just as the world did not receive Jesus you will not be received. Just as, His home town, Nazareth, did not receive Jesus so also you will find that not all in your religious community will accept you.

Of course, Jesus is there to help you all you have to do is YOKE yourself to Him!

Encouragement and Good News!

Yet, if you KNOW your calling, like Jesus did, you will persist in doing what the Father has called you to accomplish in His Name, regardless of the obstacles. If you do this in Faith, although you will endure suffering, you will see the mountains removed and the Will of the Father prevail! Praised be His Holy Name!!

Now, in order to encourage you to step out in faith and live out the life of Christ that is in you, I present to you a series of scripture and commentaries that in meditative prayer, will assist you in opening your heart to God’s Spirit so that He may guide you into the process of becoming His Spiritual Children in Christ Jesus.

~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+

Jesus, a Child, and the Holy Spiirt

The Spirit bears witness that we are the Children of God. Has the Spirit witnessed to your Heart that you are His Child?  If so, then you can ask yourself, are you being led by the Spirit of God or by your own fleshly desires? If you are not aware that you are being led by the Spirit of God – then why not?

“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you. 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. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.” (Rom. 8:11-17)

Who, then, is it that dares to detain us “Lay Children” from coming closer to Jesus in the Spirit?  Is it the Legalists who demean us? Is it our religious culture that misinforms us about who we are in Christ? Or is not our own ignorance of the Word that tells us of our inheritance as children?

“Then little children were being brought to him in order that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples spoke sternly to those who brought them; but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” And he laid his hands on them and went on his way.” (Matthew 19:13-15)

In the past, when we were not yet His spiritual children, religion was a disciplinarian that made us aware of those things in us that limited our access to the Divine. But, now that Christ has died for our sins and has exchanged His Life for ours, what is it that keeps us from coming to the spiritual awareness of the Spirit of Christ that abides in each of us and that we are co-heirs according to the promise? Why do we still act and think like slaves and not as heirs to the Kingdom?

“Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.” (Gal. 3:24-29)

“My point is this: heirs, as long as they are minors, are no better than slaves, though they are the owners of all the property; but they remain under guardians and trustees until the date set by the father. So with us; while we were minors, we were enslaved to the elemental spirits of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,  in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God. (Gal. 4:1-7)

But now, as co-heirs with Christ, we have been brought near – we have access to the Father, and no one can separate us from His Love. Have you so yielded yourselves to Christ so that you KNOW that He abides in you and you in Him? If not – why not? Is it because you feel unworthy? Is it because you know you are a sinner?

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us, [how] much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. (Rom.5:6-10)

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?

He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written,  “For Thy sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 8:28-39)

There will be some of you who think to yourselves: “ … well, I’m not such a bad guy – I go to church and do all the things I’m required to do, I guess this doesn’t apply to me.” Well stop justifying yourself, meditate on the Word, let it divide your soul from your spirit (Heb 14:1-2), and the Spirit will show you your failings,  But this is exactly what God wants of you so that you may turn to Him in repentance.

“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.Now by this we may be sure that we know him, if we obey his commandments.

Whoever says, “I have come to know him,” but does not obey his commandments, is a liar, and in such a person the truth does not exist; but whoever obeys his word, truly in this person the love of God has reached perfection. By this we may be sure that we are in him: whoever says, “I abide in him,” ought to walk just as he walked.” (1Jn. 5-10; 1Jn 2:1-6)

If we repent and confess our sins He is righteous and just to forgive us (1 Jn 1:9). Then, If we receive His Body and His Blood we will abide in Him and He in us (Jn.6:56) – giving us access, through Christ our High Priest, to the Throne of Grace.  When we do this, we put on the robe of His righteousness (Rom.13:14), so that we can then come boldly before the Throne of Grace. Do not let anything or anyone stand in your way, for you are truly a Child of the King and if you open yourself to Him and His Reign, He will live and manifest Himself through you to the Glory of God the Father! Praised be His Holy Name!!

Approach the Throne as a Child

Approach the Throne as a Child

“Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:14-16)

~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+

In Conclusion

So then brethren, this is the message we heard from Him –  the Good News about becoming God’s Children, that we pass onto you, so that your inheritance in Christ may not go unrealized and so that in knowing who you are in Christ you may go boldly before His throne in prayer to bring forth His Kingdom in you and in those around you! This is how our spiritual Childhood is manifested and how, in so doing, we enter into a partnership with the Divine in what He intends to accomplish in this world for His Glory through the Spirit of His Son that is in us, His Children!

Consider the words of Therese of Lisieux, A Carmelite nun who died of tuberculosis at the age of twenty-four, wrote to a friend:

“… Jesus has so incomprehensible a love for us that he wills that we have a share with him in the salvation of souls. He wills to do nothing without us. The Creator of the universe awaits the prayer of a poor little soul to save other souls redeemed like it at the price of all his Blood.” When God’s word is spoken his kingdom is revealed and his power is released. When people respond to God’s word with faith and obedience they are changed and made “a new creation” in Christ” (cf., 2 Corinthians 5:17).

Do not let the message of the Good News and your calling be quenched for it is not from me but from His Holy Spirit! Praise His Holy Name!

There are many modern Pharisees in the world that will tell you… “no, don’t pray like this” or “don’t teach in His name or heal in His Name for it is against our customs”. But do not listen! They are trying to close the door to the Kingdom – a door that they, themselves, will not enter but are quick to prevent others from entering (cf., Matt.23:13-22).

Place all your trust in Jesus and His Word, guided by the Holy Spirit that is in you and enter the Door into the Kingdom – the Door that no man can shut!  Of course, that Door is Jesus Himself. Blessed be the Name!

Jesus is the Open Door

Jesus is the Open Door

Your Brother In Christ …  Bartimaeus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2011]

Recommended Links
<> Hearing God’s Voice, and Obeying It
<> Pentecost and the Promise of the Father
<> The Empowerment Gifts (Part 1)
<> The Empowerment Gifts (Part 2)
<> The Kingdom of God: Our Spiritual Inheritance
<> Reclaiming Our Legacy In Christ

Read Full Post »

The Challenges of Discipleship: Husbands Love your Wives

The Ultimate Husband

The Ultimate Husband

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, …” (Eph5:25)

My Brothers in Christ and Fellow Christian Husbands,

Although I am addressing this post to Christian husbands I invite you Christian wives to listen in also, for what I am about to tell the men directly affects you and requires your cooperation so that the Lord may bless you both as a one-flesh unit before Him.

All Christians are called to be disciples because we are destined to be conformed to the image of Christ (Rom.8:29) – which is the divine purpose behind true discipleship. The primary distinctive of such discipleship is to “love one another as Jesus loves” (Jn. 13:34-35), that is through the same “agape”, self-denying Love that was in Jesus and has now been poured into our heart by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5).

For a Christian man, I can think of no better place to work out his calling to discipleship than through the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, for it is through this sacrament that we prophetically model Jesus’ love for his church! What better training ground for discipleship than this!

However, brethren, I have to admit that “discipleship” was the farthest thing from my mind when I proposed marriage. Oh, yes, I loved my bride-to-be dearly and I still do but the love I had then was not the “agape” kind of love that is at the core of being a disciple. Although it was god-given, it was a natural love, a romantic love, that brought me to the wedding altar. And, yes my love was sincere in that I had every desire to give myself totally to my bride, but in my spirit I retained my personal baggage, that part of my nature that drove me to self-centered fulfillment, essentially, my sin nature. It was a part of me that I unconsciously had not surrendered, not only to my wife but also to God.

Unfortunately, most of us men enter marriage in just such a state. Oh yes, we do respect the sacrament and the covenant it represents and we do firmly commit ourselves to our brides through the promises to “love and to cherish, until death do us part”. But unfortunately our training for marriage does not usually discuss the magnificent challenge of the spiritual discipleship that marriage involves. Nor does that training include understanding the scriptural basis and tools needed to live out such a calling within the marriage covenant.

This lack of preparation at the “spiritual” level ignores the fact that we are all tri-partite beings consisting of body, soul, and spirit.  Yes, we usually obtain some training at the “ body and soul level” that helps us to maintain a relationship to a certain degree. But since many of the problems in a marriage have their roots at the “spirit” level, we leave the newly married couple at the disadvantage of not knowing how to get to that level and the spiritual tools that are available to them to stand against the wiles of the devil and the vagaries of their own flesh that work against the marriage covenant.

For this reason, many Christian couples struggle through their marriages and usually are unable to obtain competent advice or counselors to help them get at the root of their problems. This is because the counselors themselves have not been trained at the spiritual level and thus limit their counsel to the “body and soul” aspect where their competency lies. It is also true today that spiritual advisors such as priests or ministers do not usually have the time or prayerful discernment needed to help these struggling marriages, because, although they have been instructed in the basics of spiritual growth, they are too consumed with just keeping their ministries or parishes going to dedicate prayer time to  individual cases and asking the Lord to guide them in providing help for these marriages at this deeper level.

Since the scripture lays the initiative on the husband to emulate Christ in marriage I am, today, exhorting all Christian husbands to discover how by surrendering yourself to Christ and yoking yourself to him in discipleship you can be God’s instrument of renewal for your marriage, and in walking the walk with Jesus, you, yourself, will grow spiritually closer and closer to Jesus. In that relationship He, Himself, not some intermediary will teach you, through His Word, all you need to know about Divine Love and how to let that Love encompass you and your bride just as He encompasses His bride, the church. You just have to learn to listen to His voice through His Word and through your spirit, in prayer, as the core part of your discipleship.

One of the reasons many of us Christians shy away from discipleship is because we have been given the wrong impressions of what it entails – usually as someone establishing some kind of strict religious discipline to which you have to adhere. Nothing is farther from the truth! As I said before, discipleship is merely the process that you enter into when you yield yourself to the Bridegroom and let Him teach you one-on-one, day-by day, how to be open to His Love and How to express that Love in all of the situations you encounter in marriage (and in life).  I call it the “Sweet Yoke of Love”. He also provides you the covering you need against the attacks of the devil brought on by your fleshly weaknesses. But you cannot come to this point unless you learn to listen to His Voice and Obey it out of Love for the Master.

True Divine Love can only be expressed inside of a relationship, That’s why the Holy Trinity, IS LOVE, because of the relationship of the godhead. It is the Father’s desire to bring us not only into the relationship He has with the Son but for us to share that living relationship with each other so that we truly become the Bride of Christ.  What better place, then, to learn about Divine Love, agape Love, than in a marriage relationship?

It is through such a loving and living relationship that true discipleship occurs, where we, through the Divine Love that has been poured into us, are conformed day-by-day into the image of His Son.  A Christian marriage relationship is designed by God to model the relationship between the Son and His Bride so don’t you think that God will provide you all the help you need to be the husband He wants you to be and all the graces you need to follow the path of discipleship He asks you to follow within the marriage covenant?

What then keeps us from opening ourselves to Him in discipleship and inviting Him into our marriage? I believe that, for us men, there are four main problems:

1)    Pride, plain and simple, pride. We want to retain control of everything  in our lives – even when everything is going wrong;

2)    We are afraid of the Holy Spirit, we are afraid to yield to Him and to the spiritual gifts He offers – the very gifts we need to help us in our situation;

3)    We are not open to the Word of God and the spiritual guidance and wisdom He has embedded in it!   It is this very Word that the Lord usesto conform us to the image and likeness of His Son;

4) We don’t know how to pray, that is, how to have a one-on-one dialogue with Jesus so He can communicate with you, where you can tell him your problems and concerns, and where He can respond to you and teach you! (click on:  Hearing God’s Voice and Obeying it!)

I have touched on some aspects of these concerns in my other posts but unfortunately right now I do not have a comprehensive teaching guide to give you – maybe in the future.  However, you don’t really need me, or any one else, to get started all you need is Jesus!  And He is always available through prayer – the prayer of dialogue, and through meditation on His Word.

I pray, brethren, that what I have just told you has touched a few sensitive places in your hearts. That is why I am proposing to you, my brothers in Christ, if you really and honestly desire to grow closer to Christ and your bride in and through Divine Love, that you sincerely meditate on the challenge posed to us husbands by the apostle Paul and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you to a decision to enter into a discipleship relationship with Jesus:

The Ultimate Bride

The Ultimate Bride

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, so as to present the church to himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind—yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish.

“In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, because we are members of his body.

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church.” (Eph. 5:25-32)

Of Course, this challenge is really a variant on the challenging command that Jesus gave his disciples (and us): “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. (John 13:34)

It is, however, a more specific variant that raises the bar on what the Lord expects of Christian husbands in their marriages.  Paul’s exhortation challenges us husbands because the love that is requested includes, but goes beyond the human level of love that asks us to “love others as we love ourselves”.  The challenge posed for us husbands is to reach for a much higher goal – the spiritual level of Jesus’ Love for His church – a love that demands a dying to self.

This is an “agape” type of divine, unconditional, Love between husband and wife that reaches the mystical level where it is a prophetic living out of the Love of Christ for His Church!  It is a Love, where we husbands are called to die to ourselves on behalf of our wives in consummation of that love and thus be partakers of  Jesus’ Love for His church.

We cannot achieve such a divine type of love on our own!  This type of love is a  Holy-Spirit-inspired Love, it is a spiritual gift that is activated by faith –  a faith that, Jesus Himself, working spiritually through the Sacrament of Matrimony, will manifest that Love in us and through us as we live out our conjugal covenant. A faith that can only be activated by an act of our will –  a spiritual  act of surrender to Jesus Himself inviting Him to walk with us in our marriage, empowering our love with His, so that we may live out our marriage covenant in the spirit and not in the flesh!

When we willingly surrender to Jesus to let His Love be manifest in us and through us so that we die to ourselves in giving ourselves to our brides, we will find that our brides will respond to that love in the manner that the church responds to Jesus’ sacrifice, namely, by submitting themselves, in turn, to the leadership of love they see in us.

If you truly desire to be a husband thus empowered by the Holy Spirit, I suggest something like the following prayer to get you started in your intent to love your bride as Jesus Loves His Church:

A Husband’s Prayer

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 that I can know the Father and His Love.

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 yield myself to your love. 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.

Lord, cleanse me from my sins and make me a fit vessel for your presence. Permeate my entire being with your life and your love so that I can truly be an instrument of your Love in this world.

As an act of surrender to your Love,  I especially ask that you send your Holy Spirit to empower me to Love My wife as You Love your Church so that we may both be united in your Love and your blessings in our marriage.

I invite you into our marriage and ask that you permit me to live out that Holy Covenant in your Spirit and your Love. In faith and by your grace I receive You and Your word. Abide in me just as you abide in the Father and the Father in you!  Thank you for giving yourself for me in Love. Amen

May the Lord richly bless you as you enter the “Narrow Gate” of the discipleship of Love!

Your Brother In Christ,

B.R. Timeo, AMDG

© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2010]

Recommended Link

RE: Book on marriage spirituality

Related prior posts dealing with Discipleship and Love that will help you!

§ Sweet Yoke of Love

§ Enter in By the Narrow Gat

§ Walking The Walk

§ Hearing God’s Voice … And Obeying it


Read Full Post »

Older Posts »