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Let Love Prevail – Love Never Fails!

painting-picture-image-jesus-christ-love copy“Listen, stay alert, stand tall in the faith, be courageous, and be strong. Let love prevail in your life, words, and actions” (1 Cor. 16:13-14).


My fellow pilgrims and bothers and sisters in Christ,

In reading the words of the opening citation some of us who are struggling to move forward in our spiritual lives might be tempted to say: “easier said than done”.

Without realizing it, we are actually stating  a realization of a truth that God the Father wants us to be fully aware of. Namely, that when we attempt to grow spiritually out of  our own human zeal and drive, no matter how well intentioned, our devotions, we will always be disappointed.

The main reason being, that somehow, because of the lack of inspired catechesis and prayer, we do not realize that spiritual growth CANNOT come from within us. It must come from the the Holy Spirit giving us Spiritual Birth, Spiritual Food, and Spiritual Energy. I say this, remembering what Jesus told His disciples… “ [only] Spirit can beget spirit” (see Jn 3:6) and “without me you can do nothing” (see Jn 15:5) , we begin to understand that there is nothing in our unredeemed human nature that can generate or maintain spiritual life, we must totally rely on God for all that is spiritual.

That is why Jesus also told us that He was “the Door” and that “no one can come to the Father But by Me”

True Spiritual Life can only come when we, through an act faith willingly acknowledging that Jesus died for our sins and, through believing in Him in repentance for our sins, we repent, yielding ourselves to Him and accept to be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Now, what we also don’t understand is that if we are baptized as babies and confirmed at 13 years of age, the Spirit of Christ may be in us but has not necessarily been activated through a deep personal knowing and willing act of our will. Without such an activation the Holy Spirit may work around us or through the circumstances of our lives but He will not be active in the inner sanctuary of our lives, “our spirit”, because He respects our inner self so much that He will not force Himself on us.

This lack of understanding will prevent us from establishing a true and living personal relationship with Jesus. There may be various reasons and circumstances why this happens, but the main one being that we don’t come to “know Jesus”  as a living person, who loves us and  lives in us. Such a personal relationship with Jesus begins when we open the our hearts to Jesus the Son of God, not only as Our Savior but also as Our Lord who earnestly desires for us to know Him and dialogue with Him. Remember Jesus, Himself, expressed His desire to commune with us as follows…

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Jesus is knocking at your door …

Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Rev. 3:20)

Incited by His Word, we may ask ourselves, “I want to yield to Him and activate His Presence in me – how do I go about doing that?”

First of all, I suggest that we put ourselves in the right state of heart and, meditating on His Word and especially, what the Lord said through Jeremiah, and speak out His promise:  , “And [if] you shall seek me, [you] will find me, when you search for me with all your heart.” (Jer. 29:13)

We do this in such a manner that we express our utmost desire to be with Him with all our heart …. Then,as you sense His Presence before you, in your spirit, open the door and let Him into your heart by praying  smoethiung like this …

(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 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 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


Admitting Him in this way, personally into our lives, also means that not only are we are yielding ourselves to His reign, but also we enter into His Kingdom – The Kingdom of His Divine His Love. And it is His Love that must prevail in our lives if we are to fulfill the Father’s for each of us!

That my brothers and sisters, is why at one point this is what Jesus was emphasizing to His disciples when He told them about seeking the Kingdom (of Divine Love)…

“… seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness and everything else  in the Father’s purposes for you will follow” (see Mathew 6:33).

This Kingdom – the Kingdom of Agape Love – is what Jesus was referring to, not only to His disciples then but to us,His disciples today. This is the Kingdom of Love that you have just yielded yourself to.  Praised be His Holy Name!!

We also should note that the prayer that we call the “Our Father” was, in fact, intended by Jesus to be a prayer for his disciples teaching them on how to dedicate themselves to the “Kingdom of Love” and how to maintain themselves in that “Kingdom” so that His will would be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Here is prayer Jesus taught them….

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
 Give us this day our daily bread,
 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (Matt. 6:9-13)

However, because we believers sometimes practice our devotions with such a routine of custom and tradition that we lose sight of  the inner depth of what Jesus was really teaching in this prayer.

First of all we must remember that this was NOT Jesus’ exact prayer to His Father. If it were His prayer it would have begun with “My Father”, since He always made the distinction: “my Father and your Father” to indicate their adopted status versus His as “only Begotten”. So the prayer that He taught them should really be termed the “disciple’s prayer”, since it was tailored for them, so that, in praying to the Father, they made clear that the person they were praying to was so Holy or hallowed, that they should not even pronounce His Name! However, the Key point was that as His adopted children in Christ they now could petition Him as “Father”.

The second thing to remember is that the first petition of the prayer was not just  a petition that the Lord sovereignly bring about His Kingdom on Earth. NO, the petition He was asking His disciples to make was to yield themselves totally, body,soul and spirit to the Father so that by His Spirit of Love working in them and through them His Will could be accomplished in this world “as it is in Heaven”. Rephrasing the prayer accordingly it could be more appropriately stated as follows:

“Our Father… [Let] Your Kingdom come [into me so that the Your LOVE will reign in me and through me, so that] Your will may be done on Earth as it is in Heaven”.

This brethren, is the key offering or dedicating of oneself, totally to God – it is how one truly enters into true discipleship under the kingdom of His Love. It is the same as St. Therese give herself fully to God’s “Agape” Love, which she termed “Charity” and entered into her discipleship following Jesus. (“It was December 25, 1886, that I received the grace of leaving my childhood, in a word, the grace of my complete conversion . . . I felt charity enter into my soul, the need to forget myself and to please others; since then I’ve been happy!” – St. Therese of Lisieux )

For you see, the “Kingdom” that Jesus referred to in the “Our Father” was not an apocalyptic “kingdom” to come in the future but a Real Spiritual Kingdom that all believers can enter right NOW! And it we enter it when we yield ourselves totally to the Father’s Love that is in us (Rom. 5:5) and submit ourselves to His reign, the reign of Divine Love in us and through us every day of our lives. This is what St.Therese did and why she manifested God’s Divine Life through the remainder of her life!

Now, in order to fulfill our yielding to the Divine each day of our lives, our commitment to God needs to be strengthened and affirmed on a regular basis. That is why the Disciples Prayer continues by asking for the Spirit to re-affirm His Love in us through a frequent, if not daily, reception of the Eucharist, the Sacrament of His Love! And also to forgive us our sins that tend to weaken our fellowship with the Divine and thus our ability to truly be a channel go His Love to others. For, Jesus told His disciples (and us) that we are to “Love one another as I have Loved you” (John 15:12). And not just the human kind of love, but the Divine kind… “As the Father has  Loved Me so I have Loved you” (John 15:9).

The common way we understand Jesus’ directive to “Love one another as I have Loved you” is to think we are to force or discipline the natural love with which we have been endowed to imitate Jesus’ love for his disciples. We take to this understanding because the real spiritual meaning is too hard for us to believe. For you see the Love which Jesus is asking us to place into action in our lives is the Divine Love that the Father has placed in us for His Glory, not ours.

This kind of love is the supernatural Divine Love that flowed from Jesus to His disciples through the Holy Spirit, who is the Divine Love. It is a Love that can only be experienced through a relationship with the Divine. It is such a Love that He is now asking to flow between each of us as the manifestation of His Kingdom.

This is the Divine Love that has been poured into our spirits. However, Living out our lives in this type of Love is not easy. The following is what the Apostle Paul says about living out the spiritual pathway to this type of Love…

“ … we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His [divine, agape] love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us”. (Rom. 5:3-5)

This kind of Love cannot be forced through any natural discipline it can only come when we Christians enter into a personal relationship with the Father through the Son and surrender ourselves completely to the Holy Spirit so that we are totally free to be channels of this Divine Love to each other. In order for His Kingdom of Divine Love to come in us we must, out of our faith and will, come to the awareness of this divine type of Love and, surrender our human selves to its embrace, and the dying to self that it entails.

Now, besides our Faith and the free will offering of ourselves, there are conditions placed on our entering and maintaining ourselves in His Kingdom of Love.

<> The first of these conditions is that we Love One another:

“If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make Our home with him. Whoever does not love Me does not keep My words. The word that you hear is not My own, but it is from the Father who sent Me.… (John 14:22-24)

We must rely continually on His Spirit to strengthen us in our resolve – that is why we need to repent, and receive our daily bread from the Sacrament of His Love – the Eucharist.

<> The other condition being that we express our Love by forgiving others in the same way He has forgiven us.

“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matt. 6:14 )

<>  If we are faithful to His Command of Love Jesus will ask the Father to empower us with the Holy Spirit so that we can fulfill our role as the messengers of His Love.

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.” (John14:15)

In conclusion brethren, I pray that His Kingdom Of Love come into each one of us so that, in yielding to His Reign, we may become His instruments in seeing that His will is accomplished, here on earth as it is in heaven! Praised be His Holy Name!

Your Brother In Christ and Fellow Pilgrim … Bartimaeus

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

Recommended Links

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Be Holy as I am Holy!

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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?

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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!

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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)

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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

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

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A Renewed New Life for the New Year!

Shepherds at Nativiy

Christ is our New Life

“When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son,born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. As proof that you are sons,  God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts,  crying out, “Abba, Father!”So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then also an heir, through God.” (1 Gal. 4:4-7)

Brothers and Sisters, my fellow Pilgrims in Christ,

Regarding Resolutions for the New Year

It is common practice, for most of us in the west, to make some resolutions at the beginning of each new year that will lead to improvement our lifestyles through the removal of unhealthy habits and/or the initiation of what we may suppose are good ones that will truly bring about the desirable changes in we envision.

Unfortunately, especially for those of us who are Christians, the truth is that we always approach these attempts at personal renewal from a purely worldly viewpoint ,that is, mainly to permit us to live longer and, we hope, more enjoyable and prosperous lives in todays world. Rarely,if ever, do we undertake “New Year” resolutions to improve our spiritual lives to really come to a renewed spiritual  life in Christ, a union so intimate, we can without any hypocrisy, cry out “Abba or Daddy” to His Father and our Father. A union that permits us to dialog with the Divine in such way as to truly experience, in the spirit, our heritage as adopted sons of the Father and heirs of His Kingdom.

The primary reason for this secular tendency on our part, is that our life in this world remains the focus of our reason for living. For many of us the “spiritual life” is merely a theological term that does not resonate with us as being an accessible reality. Oh yes, the songs and hymns we sing in church may stir up some pietistic emotions that we may consider as spirituality but hardly ever do we find these emotions moving us to act in faith so that the Spirit of God may transform our lives so that we can truly see the changes we know we need, so that we may escape from the enticements and lusts of the world that have such a hold on our lives.

A Resolution Where God Brings You To Life – Through His Grace

Because all of us are a composite of spirit, soul, and body we usually have a hunger for true spirituality that goes unfulfilled. The reason for this is, that although we pay great attention to the needs of our soul and body, we tend to ignore and neglect the spiritual side of our being. We mainly attempt to meet the spiritual emptiness inside of us with non-spiritual solutions for our soul and our body,without tending to our spiritual needs first.

Yes, we need to make a resolution for the New Year, but it should  be a resolution to open ourselves to the Holy Spirit, to yield ourselves to Him, so that He can activate our spirit, work in  us to feed us with His Word, and bring us to a new life in the Spirit by conforming us daily to the Spirit of Christ that is in us through our conversion and baptism (cf., prayer to the Holy Spirit in the referenced links)

In making such a resolution we must avoid thinking that what we will be doing is a dedication of our own human efforts to enable a spiritual change in ourselves. Please understand, we have NO WAY to bring spiritual life to our selves or to others. Just as Jesus said: “Spirit begets spirit and flesh beget flesh”.  True spiritual life can only come from the source of all Life, Jesus, the Word of Life. As John the Evangelist said: “In Him was Life and the Life was the light of men” (Jn.1:4), Jesus who is the Word made flesh, He is the one who brings us to life, not only in human flesh but in our spirits as well. He, and He alone, is the Door to spiritual life and, as He told us: “I am The Way The Truth, and the Life; No one comes to the Father but by me” (Jn.14:6).

So you see, our resolve must be to yoke ourselves to Jesus (Matt:11-29) and yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit for the rest of our lives. For only through Him and His Word can the Spirit of God be released in us to bring us to new life in Christ and thus satiate our spiritual hunger!  Our only part in the resolve is through an act of faith in Christ, that is, an act of our will where we repent of our attachments to the world system and ask Jesus to come into our hearts and be, not only our savior, but also our Lord, and thus open the door for Him to take control of our lives through the working of the Holy Spirit. In this manner it will be the Holy Spirit working in you and through you who will effect a true living spirituality in your person to the Glory of His Name!

Our Response to God’s Renewing Grace In Believing Communities

It is the making of such a resolution that is the foundation for a sincere and true Christian life. It is a resolution that has has also been the foundation of all historical Christian communities. Yes, God has provided the Graces needed for renewal through Christ, but in order to activate these Graces we must respond in Faith. That is the Challenge for all  Christians and for their communities.

As an example let us look at St. Paul’s dealings with the Colossian community, whom he initially founded. He tells the community, in His letter to them, that he is constantly praying for them that they may be strengthened in Christ who will sustain them in their resolve. He does this because he knows that, although they received the Gospel, they are struggling to extricate themselves from the pagan culture and world in which they are embedded and that they are in need of an affirmation of their faith to strengthen their resolve. Listen to the words of encouragement he gives them and take it to heart for yourselves.

Jesussmercydark“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation — if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.”    (Col. 1:9-24)

Then, to the Ephesian community, which was also struggling in being conformed to Christ, Paul exhorts them to “Put of the old nature and  put on their new nature in Christ, which is, of course what yoking yourself to Christ will effect in you!  Listen to Paul in his own words:

“So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.  Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;  to be made new in the attitude of your minds;  and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Eph. 4:17-24)

In accord with Paul’s exhortation and encouragement, I urge you, my brethren and fellow pilgrims, to commit or renew your resolution in this New Year and to separate yourself from the world by to yoking yourself to Christ and by yielding yourself to the Holy Spirit so that , together, we may continue more faithfully in our walk in the spirit through the narrow gate to Life, not the flesh but in the spirit! There is no other way, for it is only in the spirit that we can truly worship and it only through true worship that we can drink from the living water of Life!

To this end I attach a prayer (below) to the Holy Spirit that you may amend or use, as the Spirit leads, to formulate your own personal response for your resolution to enter into Life. I pray that you will listen to what the Spirit is urging you now so that you may take your first step into the Kingdom of God’s Love!  

Praised be His Holy Name! To Him be all the Glory Forever and ever . Amen!

Your brother in Christ Jesus …. Bartimeaus

© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-20017].
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# Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit

Receiving the Gift of the Holy Spirit

As I have indicated before, a true and sincere conversion is the scriptural prerequisite to receiving the “Promise of the Father”, the Gift of the Holy Spirit, in your own personal Pentecost. This means you first need to discern whether you are indeed a converted Christian and not just a cultural one as I was. If you are not sure, and you have determined in prayer that you want to be right with God and have a hunger to know the Lord Jesus personally then that is easy to remedy.  Just pray as follows:

“Lord Jesus, I am deeply aware that my sins have separated me from you and from the eternal life which you have promised to those who believe. I repent of my sins and turn to you in faith for the salvation and forgiveness you won for me on the cross through the shedding of your blood even when I was yet a sinner and without merit before God. I surrender my life to you. Come into my heart, be the Lord of my Life. Be my Savior and my King. Live in me and through me so that I can truly represent you in my service to others in your Name. Amen.”

Now, if the terminology,  “baptism in/with the Holy Spirit”, creates a theological hurdle for you receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, just think of what you are desiring as a  “release of the Holy Spirit” that is already in you through baptism and confirmation. The Holy Spirit is not so much concerned as to your theological understanding of the Promise of the Father as much as He is looking for your sincere desire to be open to His working within you and through you no matter how or what you call it! All He wants is your permission! Your surrender to His purposes in and through you!

Once this is settled in your mind, then you need to pray about what you are sensing in your spirit. If, after prayer and meditation on the scripture you sense a strong sincere desire to receive all that the Holy Spirit has for you and to be open to His working in and through your life (without restrictions on your part), then you are ready to proceed to the next step.

In asking for the Holy Spirit to empower you (whether in a community setting or a personal one) come into the Father’s presence and ask (something like this):

“ 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, all of me, so that the Father’s Kingdom may be manifested in and through my life. I ask this in Jesus’ mighty Name. Amen!”

Now, begin praising and worshiping God with all your heart. 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!

© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-20017].

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Related Links

I Stand at the Door and Knock

Sweet Yoke of Love

Releasing the Spirit

The Kingdom of God: Our Spiritual Inheritance

Reclaiming Our Legacy In Christ

Hearing God’s Voice, and Obeying It

Pentecost and the Promise of the Father

The Empowerment Gifts (Part 1)

The Empowerment Gifts (Part 2) 

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

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The Mystery of Christ In Us!
Letting Jesus Live in us and through us

Baptism-of-Christ-xx-Francesco-Alban“As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” (Galatians 3:27)

“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?”(Rom.6:3)

“… the mystery that has been hidden throughout the ages and generations but has now been revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. It is he whom we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone in all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ.” (Col. 1: 26-28)

Dear Fellow Pilgrims in Christ Jesus,

St. Paul tells us that one of the main themes he proclaims and teaches about the Kingdom of God is the hidden “mystery” of “Christ in us”, the hope of Glory. It is One of the mysteries of the “Good News” that we need to hear more of in order that to grow spiritually in Christ Jesus.

As a lifelong Catholic, I can attest about my need to hear more teaching on this subject. I certainly can confirm my need because I often heard the words above spoken in church but had never fully understood them sufficiently. I failed to realize that what God the Father was saying all along was, that the “Good News” that as preached by the Apostles not only to told us that Jesus, His anointed One, died to pay the penalty of our sins (atonement) to save us, but that He also died so that, Jesus His Son, might live anew in us, His Earthen Temple.

“We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life (in Him)”. (Rom. 6:4)

“Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. (Col. 2:6-7)

Living in the Spirit is Letting Jesus Live through you.

Brethren, notice how Paul emphasizes the term “IN HIM”. He does this because our new life is “IN HIM” and “without HIM we can do nothing”. It is in this way that the Father determined to establish His Spiritual Kingdom in the spirit of all who believe, birthing us as brothers and sisters of Christ, with His Spiritual DNA in us, to enable us to act in His Name, literally, so that the Father’s will might be done on Earth as it is in Heaven! Conditioned , of course, on our receiving Him through repentance and Baptism — and through an additional act of faith and love (agape), giving up ourselves to Him so that He could continue living through us!

St. Paul, in fact, urges the Baptized Roman believers about the manner which this additional act of Love may be enacted, namely, by consecrating themselves just for this purpose — to give their living selves to Jesus so He could continue His life in theirs.

Here is how Paul exhorts them on how to let the Spirit of Christ live in them and through them:

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2)

So when Paul speaks of our “walking” or “living” in the Spirit, in his other writings, he is referring to letting Christ live in us and through us so that the Father’s will will be done here on this earth as it is in heaven. Here is some of  Paul’s exhortations in this regard…

“… so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Rom: 8:4)

pictures-of-jesus-baptism-holy-spirit“… and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells (lives) in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. …” Rom. 8:8-17

We, indeed may be truly Christian and Catholic, but without this consecration we cannot fully mature to the fullness of Christ to which the Father has called us so we can be His instruments on this earth. The Corinthians believers were indeed baptized but here is what Paul said to them …

“… brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ.” (1 Cor. 3:1)

and
“ … for you are still of the flesh. For as long as there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving according to human inclinations?” (1 Cor. 3:3)

It is implied by these scriptures, and others, that believers are to derive their holiness not of our works but out of the Spirit of Christ that abides (lives) in us and that it is only by consecrating ourselves to His Spirit in us, that we can be conformed into His Image, and to the renewal of our minds in Him! Works affirm the changes that are being made in us by the Spirit, but our works do not perform the changes. Praised be His Holy Name!

My Own Experience

After years of a spiritually fruitless life, I, by the Grace of God, came to this understanding. And when I yielded myself to His Holy Spirit and encountered Jesus personally, my personal relationship with Jesus grew, and I became more and more detached from the flesh and more and more in consonance with the Spirit of Jesus in me. This encounter and my subsequent conversion permitted me to truly let Jesus “live in me and through me” changing my life forever, and it is the reason, why today, I am able testify to His work in me on this cybernetic medium that the Lord provided.

The problem we all face in growing spiritually is two-fold. First we fail to understand the spiritual meaning and power of the Word of God, and the Father’s desire to activate the Spirit of Jesus in us through His Word. So that in activating the mind of Jesus in us, we may become His instruments to bring His Love into the world in which we live. Secondly, because of our spiritual insensitivity to the dynamics of His Kingdom we fail to make the critical decision we need to offer ourselves to His Spirit as a “living sacrifice” so that His Holy Spirit can begin to transform us into the image of The Son!  “Baruch ha Shem Adonai – Blessed Be His Holy Name!

Why would the Father do it this way? If the Spirit of Christ in us at Baptism why is there need of a special commitment?

The answer is simple, He wants our commitment as a living sacrifice to be an act of Agape Love, an act of the will that has to be freely given. If it were a condition for our salvation, then it would be conditional on us and Not on Jesus’ sacrifice the cross. When we repent, concert and are baptized we freely accept the gift of salvation that is offered without any sacrifice or conditions on our part.

Now, because we have accepted the gift of salvation without any conditions, we are free to give ourselves to the Father without any obligation – this is what makes our commitment a “Living Sacrifice” on our part.

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This Christmas, Let Christ Live in You

What I recommend we all do this Advent Season is that each time we receive the Eucharist we meditate on the Spirit of Jesus in us, in our cleaned up inner “human stable”, and praise and thank Him for the sacrifice of His very self (body, soul, and spirit) to the Father, taking on the guilt of all humanity thus paying the price for every sin ever continued by man – including my own, so that we could all be reconciled with the Father as His adopted sons and daughters.

In thanking Him tell Him that, on Christmas Day, as an act of Agape Love, in gratitude for His sacrifice, you will be offering your very self, to the Father, so that He, Jesus, can live and act in you and through you for the Glory of the Father! All you ask is that through the Eucharist, He prepare you to be be conformed by the Holy Spirit to reflect His Image in your Life.

Then, on Christmas Day formalize your commitment and sacrifice of your self so that you set yourself apart to be His forever!

When you hear the Call, all you have to do is say as Mary said, ” I am the servant of the Lord, be it done to me according to your Word” (Luke 1:31))

You can be sure this is the best present you could give Jesus on His Birthday!

Praised be His Holy Name!

“There are very few people
who realize what God would make of them
if they abandoned themselves into his hands,
and let themselves be formed by his grace.” (Saint Ignatius)

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed …continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” (Phil. 2:12-15)

Your Brother in Christ Jesus … Bartimaeus

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


Related Links
<> Sweet Yoke of Love
<> Husbands Love your Wives
<> Walking the Walk
<> Discerning the Spirit’s Call
<> Hearing God’s Voice and Obeying It
<> Discipleship: Accepting the Challenge

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The Essence of true Discipleship …

jesus-washing-feet-14
True Discipleship begins in Imitating Christ’s Humility

“If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross …” (Phil.2: 1-8)

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Just as Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God, emptied Himself of His divinity to fulfill the Father’s purpose for Him (Phil.2:5-8) — So also we Christians, as His clay vessels that He created, need to empty ourselves, out of Loving response to His sacrifice (agape), so that in abandoning our self-centered and self-driven egocentric approach to living religiously, we may be filled and activated with the very Life of Jesus to bring forth His Kingdom in us for the Glory of the Father!

Paraphrasing this principle as John the Baptist expressed it: “ the “I” in me must decrease so that “His Life” in me may Increase …” (John 3: 30, my translation)

Jesus_carrying_the_cross

The Way of True Discipleship

That, in brief, is the founding precept behind discipleship – releasing our very selves to be conformed to Jesus. Or, as St. Paul reiterated  the goal for the true disciple: “ … I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ (who) lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Gal. 2:20)

Of course, this intrinsic principle and essence of discipleship stated above seems impossible for any human to achieve. And that is exactly the point. Only the Holy Spirit working in us and through us can conform us to this image of Christ. And any attempt by us to “be His disciples” through human effort or discipline alone will utterly fail. It is only when we willingly surrender the right to ourselves that the Spirit will begin His work of conformance in us, But it must be His Work in us, NOT our human zeal to “do something” for Christ. It is ONLY “Having the mind of Christ” that permits us to cooperate fully in Faith with the Spirit of God in His work of transformation in us.

All believers are called to be disciples but it is not a condition for our salvation. In order that our conformance to His image be a work of Love, the Lord has designated becoming a disciple as free choice made willingly with no consequences on our salvation. He specifically stated that “many are called but few are chosen” (Matt. 22:14).  There is no condemnation, if we do not choose to enter into full discipleship, it is really just up to us if we wish, out of pure love, to offer our total self to Jesus or not. We can still be fully fulfilled believers as Lay people serving the Lord.

Yielding Ourselves to The Spirit to be “Disciples”

The Apostle Paul, whose own yielding to discipleship is well documented in the New Testament, exhorts us regarding yielding ourselves to our formation as disciples as follows:

“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.” (Rom12:1-2)

This work of transformation in us begins when we “intentionally” offer ourselves up as a “living sacrifice” to the Father so that so that His Holy Spirit will begin His work of transformation in us, beginning with the renewal  of our mind so that we, indeed will have “the mind of Christ” throughout our spiritual formation.

We also begin to understand that this work of transformation is also the “Cross” that Jesus said we, that we “intentional disciples” must bear daily.  Once we begin, it encompasses all the instances in our lives where we must divest ourselves of all our self-willed desires and thus be conformed to the Father’s very specific will in every aspect of our lives in Christ.

Now it is true, that as our transformation progresses, and we are more and more conformed to Christ, our own will and desires become more and more like His, then our main responsibility will be to carefully discern those areas in our life where our human will and desires still rule in our lives and where the weight of our cross still has its impact.

Discipleship is Sometimes Misunderstood

One of the things that saddens me most about we lay Catholics in our modern western culture is the extent to which we misinterpret our call to discipleship as merely using our human talents in complying with the demand for stewardship we all have in our Christian communities.

When we comply with the demand for stewardship that is placed upon us, not out of our love and dedication to Jesus, but out of our own self-will and need for recognition, zeal and ambition within the parish, then we are not acting out of true “agape” discipleship but rather out what might be considered as good human intent but lacking a surrender of our self will and yielding to the Holy Spirit so that what our efforts are directly due to God’s Grace working in us and through us.

If you sense this is happening to you, use this opportunity to repent and change your intent to give of yourself totally out of “agape” Love and truly make it a part of your commitment to discipleship.

Also, we tend to give ourselves to, piety and religious services, mainly where we feel more comfortable among our peers and neglecting God’s calling you to ministries where you feel out of place with respect to how others may view you. In fact, sometimes we go to extremes to avoid entering into a true and deep spirituality. A spirituality that results from being filled with the Holy Spirit and manifesting His Gifts in our communities. This is especially true of  the Charismatic Ministries within the Parish.

That is why we need to continuously examine our walk with Christ to be sure we are being faithful to what He desires of us and NOT what we desire for ourselves.

If you fall into any of these categories, it may be that the Lord is testing your call to discipleship so that you may discern where He wants you to be. All  you have to do is ask the Father in prayer as to where He wants you and, by responding, remain a faithful disciple. That is why having a personal relationship with the Shepherd is indispensable if you truly wish to be a disciple.

Yes, in our religious practice we have all the major doorways to let the Spirit of God enter into our hearts (ie., the Sacraments) but somehow we fail to release the Holy Spirit into our lives so that He will manifest himself in us and through us in everything we do!  We just expect that the Holy Spirit will automatically work in us without any faith underlying our beliefs.

While it is true that through the sacraments the Holy Spirit works in our lives to forgive us our sins and maintain our fellowship with Christ through the circumstances of our lives, nonetheless, we do not seem to realize that without our yielding our very selves to His Spirit He will NOT enter the spiritual tabernacle of our spirit and the door of our will to do the works of Christ in us and through us as He desires!

The Spirit of God respects our personal FREE WILL to the ultimate,even to the degree that He will NOT force us to do anything IN US or THROUGH US without our FULL cooperation.  He will work around us and through our circumstances and our labor but He will not force Himself on our will and our spirits because He desires that we yield ourselves to Him solely out of love and NOT from obligation..

The Father Desires that we Yield Ourselves Freely to His Spiritual Formation

The Father’s greatest desire for us, indeed, His predestined will for us, is that we, our of our own free will , offer ourselves to His Spirit (cf., Rom. 12:1,2) so that we may be conformed to the Spirit of His Son ( cf., Rom.8:28-29) and thus become His partners in manifesting His Kingdom in today’s world! . He will not do this unless we willingly open the door of our spirit man to Him so that He can carry out His deepest spiritual calling on our lives. Praised be His Holy name!

Now, I also do not want you feel any condemnation. For there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Rather it is my hope that through my message and the inspiration His Word and of His Holy Spirit you will turn to God in prayer, in Jesus’ Name, and ask for the understanding and wisdom you need to have Him activate your spirit so that you may hear His Voice and Understand His Word so that you may become aware of your need to enter into His “Spiritual Kingdom”.

For, without  incurring any guilt, the problem with all of us humans is that our human senses are so overwhelmed by the world and cosmos around us that we are essentially blinded to the reality of the spiritual in which our existence is embedded. Only through by yielding ourselves to the Holy Spirit can He reactivate and empower our abilities to see and hear Jesus Voice as He speaks to us from the spirit realm.

It only natural to be cautious in seeking to enter into the realm of the spiritual, since satan is also a spiritual being and he relishes in beguiling us through false and deceptive experiences. This is also the reason that we should NOT attempt to enter into this realm unless we are truly dedicated in Faith to Christ through Baptism and filled with His Holy Spirit.

Then, and only then, when we have given ourselves to Christ and are truly His, the enemy cannot deceive us. For we are His Sheep and are Called to Hear His Voice — and ONLY His Voice.  Jesus tells us that, when we are in Him and in His Flock we will not listen to the voice of a stranger.

So do not be afraid my brethren, go to Him in prayer so that He may confirm through His Word all that I am now telling you. And having the Spirit’s confirmation in your hearts surrender your very “Self” to  Him and let Him baptize you in the Spirit so that you may truly begin to experience your relationship with Him and be able to worship Him in the Spirit and in Truth! praised be His Holy Name!  (cf., Prayer of Commitment)

When your spiritual ears are opened as we’ll as your spiritual eyes, then the Lord will  permit you to experience snapshots of His spiritual Kingdom – a reality that is beyond the natural realm in which we live. And indeed, it is the eternal reality that awaits us when we  we are separated from our bodies to be with Him Forever!

In Conclusion …

By now Brethren, if you feel the Holy Spirit has nudged you regarding “discipleship”, I recommend that, after praying for the Holy Spirits advise, you look into reading Sherry Waddell’s book: “Forming Intentional Disciples – The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus” *

May the Lord Richly Bless you and Lead You Into The Kingdom!
Your Brother in Christ Jesus …. Bartimaeus
(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2016])

[* Note:  In her book “Forming Intentional Disciples – The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus” Sherry makes it clear that there are three concurrent spiritual journeys to what one might call “normative” Catholicism.  She lists these as:
    1. The personal interior journey of a relationship with Christ resulting in intentional discipleship.
    2. The ecclesial journey into through the Church through the sacraments of initiation.
    3. The journey of active practice (as evidenced by attending mass, receiving the sacraments and     participating in the life and mission of the Christian community).
She also makes it clear that in a study conducted by her and a Catholic Cleric indicated that the majority of Lay Catholic Christians basically assume that all that is needed to be “Catholic” are to be involved in paths 2 and 3 (the ecclesial journey and the practice of the religious tenets of the faith).  ]

Relevant Links for Those Interested in Continuing in this Topic…

The Transforming Work of the Cross

http://www.focus.org/blog/posts/forming-intentional-disciples.html

http://www.amazon.com/Forming-Intentional-Disciples-Knowing-Following/dp/1612785905
Catherine of Sienna Institute
http://www.siena.org/Article/who-we-are

CDM Discipleship Resources
http://www.navigators.org/us/ministries/cdm/about/

CDM Intentional Discipleship Ministry
http://www.navigators.org/us/ministries/cdm/idc/

Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit

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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

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Our Father: It all begins with relationship

Our Father who art in Heaven

“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

(Matt.6:7-13)

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My dear fellow pilgrims,

It all begins with relationship.

Only when we enter into the awareness that we are truly The Father’s Spiritual Children in Christ Jesus and enter into a personal relationship with the Divine can we begin to fully understand our inheritance in His Kingdom (cf., § Becoming Children of God). And that, through that understanding and the Divine Wisdom that comes with it, we may find our place and role in the here and now so that, through us, His Kingdom may indeed be manifested here on Earth as it is in Heaven.

For just like children of the flesh in this world who mature to fill distinct and varying roles and positions of responsibility, so too, we, God’s Spiritual Children, are purposed by Him to be His Arms of Love extended to the world – the world He created and redeemed so that He could manifest His Kingdom in their midst.

In His loving will He also has determined where and how are to serve Him and the spiritual gifts we will need to accomplish His will in this world.  That is why it is so important that we discern our individual calling and ask for His Holy Spirit to empower us to carry out that calling. But we cannot do this outside of a relationship with Jesus and the Father.

Lest we let this concept of being His instruments incorrectly exalt us, we must also be aware that this work is not to be accomplished by us, but by the Son of God who lives in us and works through us. He, and He alone, is the author and source of the work of the Kingdom. The only way we may participate in this work is through our complete surrender to Him and His Love. This surrender is not easy and is termed by Jesus as “ carrying your Cross”.  Believe me it is a difficult cup to drink from because requires us to die our own self-sufficient mentality and enter into a God-centered mentality – where we acknowledge to ourselves that, “without Him we can do nothing” (Jn.15:5)!

The Foundational Prayer for Discipleship  – The “Our Father”

That is why the prayer form that Jesus taught His disciples (cf., Matt.6:7-13) begins with the acknowledgement that God is “Our Father” and that we, as His Children, are totally dependent on Him and His Glory and power. A recognition that, although His Name, that is His Character and Person, is Holy and beyond the reach of any human rapprochement, He, through His Son, has breached the gap of holiness that separated us, so that we enter into a full and true relationship with him through His Son!

The prayer further states that, it is only through this relationship of obedience and love with Him, as Father, our source of life, provider, and sustainer, that we can be His instruments in bringing His Reign (Kingdom) into full manifestation in this world.

But of course, before we can be channels of His Love, His Reign must begin in us through our full surrender to Him and His Holy Spirit so that He might begin the work of His Kingdom in us!  The work of His Kingdom in us begins by His Spirit working in our lives to conform us to the image of His Son! Blessed be His Holy Name!

Recognizing that it is His work that must be accomplished, we ask for His daily sustenance and provision.  Although most of us take this request to mean “food for the table”, the reality is, that it is a request for His continual and daily spiritual empowerment, the infilling of His Spirit, to be able to carry out His Will. For us today, it refers to the living spiritual strength that is derived from communion with Christ in the Eucharist.

In the prayer we also recognize that our human failings against Love are a major impediment to the fulfillment of His Will and therefore ask for His forgiveness, in accord with our forgiveness of those who trespass against us.  In doing this we clear out anything in us that would impede His Will from being accomplished.

Recognizing, also, that the enemy will come against us through temptations to impede the Father’s Will from being completed, we also petition that He not permit any testing that goes beyond our ability to resist.

The reason this prayer, which we term “The Our Father”, is so important is because it is foundational to establishing the appropriate spiritual attitude of faith which underlies our ability to serve Him as His Children and fully committed disciples. That is why many have stated that this prayer really ought to have been named “The Disciples Prayer”.

If the problems of your life situation are creating impediments to your progress as a disciple, always keep in mind the admonition Jesus gave His disciples,

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? … [S]eek first the Kingdom of Heaven and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you”.  (cf., Mat. t6:25,33)

Or, put in today’s modern dialect, “ Do not let the worries and concerns of everyday life deter you … your first priority must be to let God reign in your life so that you are always faithful to accomplish His Righteous Will, then you will find that the worldly concerns in your life will be resolved appropriately”.

The Necessity of Prayer

Once, when through faith in His Word and Prayer, you have entered into an intimate relationship with the Father through Jesus and deeply desire to follow Jesus in discipleship, you will find that your need for a deeper continuing prayer life increases.  Just as Jesus, spent most of his evenings or early mornings in prayer, so to we who are following Him, must do the same.  We will do so, not so much as an imposed devotional practice, but instead to fill our awareness of the increased spiritual need for His presence in our renewed lives.

As we go deeper into discipleship we will find that we will not be able to adequately deal with the events and situations which we are called to handle without our daily prayer encounters with Jesus and the Father. Once we begin our prayer encounters and see the results in our everyday lives, we will willingly seek out these payer times on our own – for we begin to understand that our continuous need to tap into the source of LIFE without which we cannot function spiritually.

First of all we need to remember, that it is only through the intimacy of prayer that we receive from Him the wisdom, knowledge, empowerment, and Love we will need in preparation for the next day’s events. Secondly, it is through meditative  prayer in union with His Inspired Word, that we continue to be taught by the Holy Spirit in order to be formed and grow spiritually and learn from our experiences. St. Ignatius of Loyola tells us that “…there are very few people who realize what God would make of them if they abandoned themselves into his hands, and let themselves be formed by his grace.”

Once we have entered into true discipleship we will find that we can no more do without daily prayer than we can do without food or water.

The Need for Discernment

One of the problems we face as Lay Disciples of Jesus, is that the modern church is not structured to properly assist lay people, who are not part of the “religious establishment”, to follow the personal path of discipleship the Lord is calling them to follow.  The modern church establishment does not expect lay people to enter into such individual callings.  The establishment expects that any one who has such a call to either enter a seminary to become a priest, deacon, or minister or to join some religious order. It is difficult to overcome the prejudices of the past that have placed lay Christians as passive , un-empowered, servants of the clergy, having no understanding of things spiritual.

As a result, until the Lord works to change the situation we must seek the Lord intensely for personal discernment and guidance for what the Lord wants of us each day– a discernment that goes beyond that of our calling – a discernment that leads us to hear the voice of the Head Shepherd, Jesus Our Lord! (Cf., § Hearing and Obeying His Voice)

It is only through hearing and living His Word, inspired by the Holy Spirit that we will be able to distinguish between our fleshly-driven instincts and the spiritual directives and revelations from Our Heavenly Shepherd. Praised be His Holy name!

Now, I don’t discount our need of our earthly shepherds because they are still the dispensers of the sacraments, especially those of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. It is just that some of them cannot fully comprehend where we Charismatics are, spiritually, making it difficult for them to provide in-depth spiritual guidance for us when they themselves have never experienced the fullness and spiritual gifts of the Spirit and, in many cases, even resist them.

I try to maintain good relations with all members of the clergy, but I usually feel them out before going into spiritual issues until I sense they are on the same page with me and with the Holy Spirit. I know its not their fault, its just that the depth of their spirituality varies depending on their seminary and life experiences especially if they have not been introduced to the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

By the way, I expect that this spiritual lethargy that is still evident with some of our clergy will all be changing in the church of the new era we are entering, where the Spirit of God will overwhelm all Christians with His Glory and many of those who are now holding back will be surprisingly renewed in the Spirit. It will be a very difficult era for Christians and He is preparing us for those times when we will need to draw upon His power and strength to manifest His Kingdom on this Earth!

I must also mention that If you are struggling with discerning the Lord’s Will in your life, obedience to the Father is of the essence. If you yoke yourself to the Lord He will bring you though the times when you are being tested because of the fleshly baggage we all have to contend with.

Even the very smallest thing that we allow in our lives that is not under the control of the Holy Spirit is completely sufficient to account for spiritual confusion, and spending all of our time thinking about it will still never make it clear. Spiritual confusion can only be conquered through obedience. As soon as we obey, we have discernment. This is humiliating; because when we are confused we know that the reason lies in the uncertain state of our mind. But when our natural power of sight is devoted and submitted in obedience to the Holy Spirit, it becomes the very power by which we perceive God’s will, and our entire life is kept in simplicity.

Relationship is Everything

Finally brethren, in order to make clear the importance of our relationship with Jesus and the Father, let us recall the words of  Our Teacher when he told His disciples to …

“Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ “But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’  “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’  “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’  (Luke 13:24)

Yes, we also may claim a mundane familiarity with Him through your religious practice and even have worked signs and wonders in His name, but unless you personally “KNOW” Him, He will tell you when you come to His door: “depart from me you workers of iniquity, I do not KNOW you”.

Relationship, then, is everything, and without it our works for God become meaningless for entry into the Kingdom.

I pray brethren that the preceding discussion has been of help in encouraging you to move through the “narrow door” into a personal and private discipleship relationship with the Father through Jesus.  If you have that desire in your heart then you can be sure that the Holy Spirit placed it there. Pay heed, then, to that desire and seek the face of the Lord in prayer. If He placed it there He will confirm it and bring you to the open door to the Kingdom!

Baruch Ha Shem! Blessed be the Name!

Your Brother In Christ Jesus …. Bartimaeus

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

Related Links

<> Sweet Yoke of Love

<> Husbands Love your Wives

<> Walking the Walk

<> Discerning the Spirit’s Call 

<>  Hearing God’s Voice and Obeying It

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