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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…

jesus-knocking-the-door

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])

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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].

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From Repentance to a Renewed Life

The Word is a Double Edged Sword

The Word is a Double Edged Sword

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12)

 

 

 

My Dear Brothers  and Sisters in Christ Jesus,

Self assessment

Assessing Our Inner Self

Yes, God does make a distinction between “Soul” and “Spirit”, but it takes the inspired Word of God to help us discern between them.

The inspired Word of God is key to discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Without access to the inspired Word and prayer we cannot fully come to the sincere self-assessment appropriate to this season of Lent.

As we enter the season then, let us remember that the main objective of this liturgical season is to stir our minds and our hearts to look at ourselves in God’s spiritual mirror and, upon seeing what God sees in us, to turn to Him in sincere and deep repentance, asking not only His forgiveness, but also for His transforming grace to conform us to the image of His Son.

This is, a transformation that activates the Spirit of Christ in us so that His will, His thoughts, and His desires become one with our own. This transformation does not happen automatically – one must yield and permit the Holy Spirit to work in us and through us!

We must also remember that the traditional group or personal devotions we observe during lent are only meant to act as spiritually inspired  catalysts to enable us to go deeper into our very spirits and hear what His Word is telling us about where we need to change.

The Holy Spirit must also lead us to open ourselves for Him to work in us and through us, to effect the changes that will enable Him to fulfill His purpose in our lives – that is, to permit God to use the circumstances of our earthly lives to form us to His Image, thus fully becoming another of Jesus’ spiritual brothers and sisters.

<> This Season we need to Re-affirm Our On-Going Transformation

“For whom he foreknew, he also predestinated to be conformed to the image of his Son; that he might be the firstborn amongst many brethren.”  (Rom.8:29)

As always we should never enter this season with fear and trepidation regarding our sins and failures for the Lord has already reconciled us to Himself through the sacrifice of His Son on the Cross. All we need to do to continue our progress is to sincerely repent and reaffirm our commitment for Him to continue our transformation.

Because of God’s Mercy at our sincere repentance, our sins and failures can no longer impede us. As St. Paul indicates to us, “Therefore there is no more condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” ( Rom. 8:1).

And again, we find words of encouragement in the Letter to the Hebrews:
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14-16)

<>  Confession and  Sincere Repentance Is Gateway to Reconciliation

In order to ensure our access to the reconciliation procured for us in Christ Jesus we must come before the Father in Faith and sincere repentance.

Listen to what scripture tells us about our ability to enter into fellowship with Him if our sin  get in the way: “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear.”—Psalm 66:18

So it is that  without confession and repentance our sins impede God’s ability to hear our prayers and thus hinders us from cooperation with His Grace for His purposes.

“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.” (1 Jn 1: 6-10)

Thus Scripture makes it clear that Repentance is key to the  Good News of His Reconciliation that is feely offered through His Son’s sacrifice on the Cross and His Resurrection. As Jesus told His Apostles …

“…Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. (Luke 24: 46-47)

Since our sins have already been forgiven by Him in eternity, All that the Father wants us to do receive His Reconciliation is to reach out to Him in sincere repentance, as an act of faith – to freely draw in His eternal forgiveness for the salvation of our souls to meet our present day need for justification through the Blood of Jesus.

<> Our Practice of Repentance Needs to be Continuous

Saint Paul, in order to help us cooperate with the Father’s Grace in conforming us to the image  of His Son, explains our need to continuously receive the Father’s Reconciliation …
“…namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  (2Cor. 5: 19-21)

And, at the same time he (Paul) exhorts them (and us), that because of the above we are to consider every day of continuous repentance as a day of “Salvation”…
“Working together [with the Spirit], we entreat also that you not receive the grace of God in vain, For he says, “At an acceptable time I listened to you, in a day of salvation I helped you.” Behold, now is the acceptable time. Behold, now is the day of salvation. ” (2 Cor. 6:1-2)

Our main challenge, then, to freely and continuously to receive this Grace of Reconciliation, is to remain in Christ, as branches on the Vine, so as to maintain our attachment to the Vine, through Faith, otherwise,unless we repent, we may fall from Grace and be be cut off and cast into the fire (cf., Jn. 15:5ff).

Now, even though the Father has eternally reconciled  us to Himself, we can only cooperate and receive that reconciliation in our present “today” through the continuous practice of sincere repentance. This is so because we can only “sincerely” repent of our past and present sins and, thus, we must also continue in our practice of repentance to receive our share in the “eternal” reconciliation until we come into the heavenly realm where day-to-day “time” no longer reigns.

<> Our Continuous Repentance Reaffirms Our Continuing Transformation

The Father cannot begin His process of conforming us to His Son as His adopted Children until we have first been reconciled to Him, and since it is beyond our ability to do so, He, through the death of His Son, has paid the price for all the sins of humanity, to reconcile us to Himself for all eternity. So, since in order to remain in the sanctifying Grace of Reconciliation, we must likewise practice continuous repentance in order for the Holy Spirit to continue His work of Conforming us to the Image of Christ, whose Spirit Lives in us.

If we break this process through our sinfulness, The Father has graciously provided provided us the necessary Graces through the sacraments of Confirmation, Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist. These sacraments restore us to the necessary state of Reconciliation and provide us the spiritual strength to overcome the World and the evil spirits that control the world system that surrounds us.

<> Understanding Sincere Faith-Inspired Repentance

From the above reasoning we understand why “repentance” is most certainly one of the Keys for entrance into the Kingdom.

The only condition placed on our repentance is that it must be a sincere act of faith on our part.  That is, it must be a result of the Holy Spirit working in our hearts through His Word to give us the awareness that we done something that is against God’s will for us and, at the same time, an awareness that by turning to The Father for mercy we immediately receive access to the “eternal forgiveness” which has already been obtained for us through Jesus’ death on the Cross.

“Repentance in faith”, then, is the manner which the Lord has ordained through which we humans are to access the eternal blessings of His eternal forgiveness for all humanity. This, without doubt qualifies, the grace of repentance, as a primary Key to the Kingdom.
Just remember that we can only sincerely repent of our past and present sins – we cannot sincerely repent of the sins we commit in our futures. Thus the Lord has ordained that through such a faith-inspired repentance we can continue to draw on His forgiveness as we live out the span of our lives.

Also, Remember that “True Repentance” includes a sincere commitment to turn to God and His grace to keep you from committing, not only the sin(s) you are confessing, but also all thoughts, words, and actions that are counter to God’s will for you. Without such a commitment your “repentance” cannot be considered  “sincere”.

<> Carrying Out Our Commitment

Since we as fallible human beings are not capable of living a transformed life out of our own effort, the way the scripture indicates for us to truly live a life surrendered to Christ is to offer ourselves as living sacrifices to Him so that the the Spirit of Christ that is in us  may live out His Life through us, in our submitted body and soul.

St. Paul expresses this commitment to a New Transformed Life in Christ 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.” (Romans 12:1-2))

He also tells us the effects such a commitment had on him and, through inference, the effect it will have on those of us, who commit ourselves to live a New Life In Christ.

Jesus-crucified

It is finished!

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

 

 

<>  Living out Our Renewed Life In Christ

In conclusion. I add the exhortation Paul gave the Colossians about how to begin to live out this Renewed Life in our Communities:

“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus, the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ. For in Him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have come to fullness in Him, who is the head of every ruler and authority.” (Col. 2:6-10)

May the Lord Bless You and Keep You and may the Holy Spirit inspire you, to not only make this commitment (see below), but also provide you the faith, strength and graces you need to carry out the Father’s purposes for you in your Renewed Life in Christ Jesus.
Praised Be His Holy Name!  Amen and Amen!

Your Fellow Pilgrim In Christ Jesus … Bartimaeus.

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

PS:  The following are some additional items that may help you in making your decision:

<> A Quote from St.Ignatius:
“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.”

<> A prayer of personal commitment:
“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 also acknowledge that these sins impede me from fulfilling the Father’s purposes for me. I, therefore, 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.

In addition, I abandon my life to you totally, body soul, and spirit as a Living Sacrifice So that Your Spirit in me may be the driving force to let your Love work through me.  Come into my heart, be the Lord of my Life, as well as 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.

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The Holy Spirit and The Double Portion Anointing

My fellow pilgrims,

The Paraclete - Our Helper

Come Holy Spirit! Come!

In a previous post, which I titled “Releasing the Spirit”, I mentioned that The Father’s purpose for us in this world is to conform us to the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29) so that we may be an extension of His Kingdom of Love here, in this world. I also stated that in order to do this He sent the Holy Spirit to enlighten us, bring us to life in Christ (Eph. 3:13-19), and to empower us (Acts 1:8) to send us forth to minister the Good News of His Love to the Christian community and the world.

This posting is intended to clarify the distinction between the “Indwelling” of the Holy Spirit in us and an “Anointing” by the Holy Spirit. The distinction needs to be made because many of us mistakenly consider the terms to be synonymous. This misunderstanding hinders many of us from coming to a full awareness of the power of the Spirit in us and, thus a barrier to entering fully into the Father’s purpose for our lives.

Under this fairly common misconception we assume that since the Spirit of God dwells in us, no response on our part is required for the graces of the Spirit to manifest themselves in and through our lives.  After all if grace is to be grace why is there a need for us to do anything?

In response to this attitude we point out that St. Luke in his Gospel tells us that, “If you then being human know how to give good things to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” (Luke 11:13). Since Luke was writing to Christians in whom the Spirit already dwelt we must conclude that what the Father desires is for us to freely and willingly ask for the gifts of the indwelling Spirit to be made manifest in us and through us to address the circumstances and challenges we face in each of our lives.

You see the Father sees us as His children and in bringing us in conformity to His Son, He desires that we be His willing partners in bringing forth His Kingdom in this world. By permitting us to ask, we not only are drawn into further intimacy with Him but we now have a part to play in the flow of His Love to this world.

Of Course, all this hinges on the atoning work of Jesus and His resurrection. You see, the Lord sent His Son not only to die for our sins so that we could have access to heaven, but also so that He, Jesus, would be the firstborn of many brethren.  We believers, His body, the church, are then the next-born and we are now here on earth to continue Jesus’ ministry to the world through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

The Indwelling Spirit and the Inner Anointing

“And as for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.“ (1John 2:27)

When we are converted and baptized we receive the Holy Spirit to dwell in us and begin the work of conforming us to Jesus.  The indwelling Spirit then works through and in us by what the scriptures call an anointing. An anointing is the infusion of Divine Power for manifestation either in our “inner man” or through our “outer man”. Each anointing is manifested through a set of spiritual gifts that permit us to partner with the divine in bringing forth his Kingdom. In this way the Father Himself works through us as He worked through Jesus when He was on Earth.

The gifts associated with the inner anointing relate to the gifts accorded the Messiah in Isaiah Chapter 11, they are often referred to as the sanctifying gifts. When we become new creations in Christ, these gifts operate in our inner being to bring us into conformity with the image of the Son. When activated in our lives through faith, these gifts lead us to an intimate life of holiness, communion with the Father, and worship through prayer and the sacraments.

Now, for myself, the gifts associated with this inner anointing (see Isaiah 11: 1-6) are mainly activated in me through intimate prayer and reception of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist. Then, as I live out the Word of God each day of my life, I have the inner assurance that my Helper, the Holy Spirit is there to infuse his Grace into my human attempts to communicate His Love to others. As I grow in loving obedience to His Word so I grow in being conformed to the Spirit of Christ in me.

Being human, I often stumble of course, but the Spirit is right there at my side to hold me up and lead me to repentance, confession, and restoration to the Walk of Love with my Jesus.  All this is in accord with the teaching of the Apostle John, who tells us,

“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 1:8-10)

“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.” (1 John 2:1-2)

Baptism of the Spirit and the Outer Anointing

Just as the Spirit anoints our inner man for our sanctification and enlightenment, so also our outer man needs the anointing of the Spirit to empower us for ministry (service) to the community and the world thus bringing us into total conformity to Jesus.

Jesus himself, in whom the fullness of the Godhead dwells, set the example for us when received the anointing of the Holy Spirit in order to fulfill His calling as Messiah (Luke 3:21-22).  Then, as He initiated His ministry under the anointing of the Spirit, Jesus declared that:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
(Luke 4:18-19)

Just as Jesus received the Spirit’s anointing to minister the Father’s Love to the world so to we the members of His Body, the church, receive the anointing of the Dove of Pentecost at confirmation to empower us to minister to the community and to the world the Divine love of the Father through the Spiritual Gifts described in the Book of Acts, Chapters 2, and in 1st Corinthians, Chapter 12. In anointing the outer man with the Power of the Spirit we become the extension of Jesus’ ministry in this world for building up the church and for the propagation of His Kingdom in the world.

This anointing of the Spirit is termed the “Baptism of the Spirit” because this is the term Jesus used to describe it. Remember what he said to his disciples just before his Ascension:

“And gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised,  “Which,” He said,  “you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” ( Acts 1:4-5)

The Anointing of the Spirit on the outer man is conferred on every baptized Christian at Confirmation. The Spirit Baptism is our is our legacy and all that we need to do is to activate the gifts which correspond to this anointing is by yielding to the Holy Spirit and releasing Him into our lives, asking Him to work through us and in us so that the will of the Father may be accomplished and so that He and He alone may receive the Glory for His works in us.

The  Double Portion Anointing

St. Thomas Aquinas in His  Summa Theologica (Summa Theologica, Vol XI, Nature and Grace, 12ae, Q111, Art.1, Par. 3) affirms the dichotomy of grace just stated above when he states that the graces we receive as Christians may be categorized into two main classes or types: Sanctifying Grace, which is intended to sanctify the individual who receives this type of grace and Actual or Free Grace which is not intended for the individual who receives this type of grace but rather for the community and the individuals to whom the individual ministers. The grace we receive in Baptism is the former type while the grace we receive at Confirmation is the latter. The Indwelling Spirit is above all graces, indeed, He is the source of all graces and divine power.

The Holy Spirit gives us these two types of graces with the intent that they be manifested in tandem in our lives. They are like the two seals on a coin. A coin to be authentic and of value must exhibit the appropriate seal on both of its facets. Likewise, in order for our lives to be fully authentic in Christ, have been sealed by the Holy Spirit on Both of our facets – the inner man and the outer man so that we can be His instruments to the fullest extent.

If we wish to truly enter into discipleship we cannot ignore the seal we carry on either of our facets for it is only with these seals fully active that we can truly represent the Image of the Son in this world. Without the sanctifying gifts our lives will soon be separated from God by sin. And without the empowerment gifts we deny the Holy Spirit the channels He need to bring forth  the Kingdom of the Father in this world. The choice is ours but He provides the Graces if we but accede to the leadings of His Love in us.

Elisha Asking for Elijah's Mantle

To conclude let me make you aware that Elisha’s receipt of Elijah’s mantle as he was taken to heaven by a fiery chariot (2 Kings 2:1,6-14) was a prefiguring of the church of God receiving Jesus’ mantle at Pentecost. And just as Elisha requested a double portion anointing from Elijah so we believers, the church that Jesus founded, have also received the double portion anointing that was on Jesus.

That is why Jesus told the apostles the night before He was crucified that:

“Now I am going to the one who sent me,
and not one of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’
But because I told you this, grief has filled your hearts.
But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go.
For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you.
But if I go, I will send him to you.”
(Jn 16:5-&)

When he appeared to them after His resurrection he promised them his mantle, telling them that:

“… you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

On the day of Pentecost the disciples received that mantle and then passed that mantle to the new converts as when the Apostle Peter proclaims to the astonished crowd  …

“Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:  “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” (Acts 2:14-21)

Then after preaching the Good News to them and calling for them to repent He further states,

… “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And [then] you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is [also] for you and your children and for all who are far off — for all whom the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:38-39)

Since the promise applies to us who have been called even though we are far off, we believers, the church of God, are thus also the receptors of the mantle of Jesus.  Let us then with all urgency take up the mantle with the  double portion anointing, and, by the grace it accords, fulfill our calling to the fullest by releasing the Holy Spirit to do His work in us and through us!

May the Spirit of God be with you and may The Father and the Son be glorified as you release your lives to Him! Amen and Amen!

Bartimaeus

PS: I highly recommend your accessing the following links to receive further encouragement:

Prayer to the Holy Spirit: Come, Holy Spirit!

What Makes A Christian Charismatic?

http://www.holyspiritinteractive.net/features/charismaticrenewal/cr_john.asp

The Catholic Experience of Renewal

https://quietplace4prayer.wordpress.com/conversion-and-empowerment/charismatic-renewal/

Video: A History of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal

“Understanding The Promise of the Father” (a pdf  doc.) – Click here to go to our download section

Prayer to Receive The Holy Spirit

Related Scripture for Meditation :   Acts Chapter 2, 1 Corinthians Chapter 12

© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2009].

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Unless a Grain of Wheat ….

Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew went with Philip and they told Jesus.

Unless a Grain of Wheat ...

Unless a Grain of Wheat …

And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If any one serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if any one serves me, the Father will honor him. (John 12:20-26)

My fellow pilgrims in Christ,

The scripture presented above is one that is taken from the Gospel reading on the 5th Sunday of Lent. It’s main intent is to re-affirm to us the main purpose of Jesus’ first coming, that He , like “the grain of wheat” that had to fall to the ground and die in order to bear fruit, also had to die for our sins in order to bring us from the darkness of sin into the light of the Father’s Kingdom – in effect, to bring us from spiritual death to a new spiritual life in Him.

To Jesus, the appearance of people from the Greek culture inquiring about Him, affirmed the leading of the Holy Spirit that His mission to Israel for His first coming was at its end and His sacrifice for the sins of mankind was imminent. He knew that the mission to the gentile world was to be left to His Church. Anticipating the doubts that would arise amongst His disciples, He presents the metaphor of the fallen seed to Philip and Andrew to give them to some understanding of why all this would happen to Him as He yielded His life to the Father as a seed planted, not only to save mankind, but also to bring forth disciples and His Church for the Glory of God the Father.

However, we must not overlook that this comparison with “the seed” is also intended, by implication for each of us believers as well. Notice that Jesus says that He, the One AND ONLY TRUE SEED, must die in order for there to be more seed(s) in His image. He also tells those who would be His disciples (His seeds) that if they wish to follow Him, by serving Him, they also must die (like a seed), to their carnal self, that is in them, so that their new spiritual self in Him can come forth to eternal life, continuing to bring for the fruit for the Glory of the Father..

One of the primary intents of the Lenten Season, is exactly to bring us to the awareness of the need for us also to die to our “carnal” self so that HE working in our spirits can continue the work of brining forth the Kingdom in this world through us His Church.

Understanding this, we need, then , to discern our responsibility to hold that our fleshly “self” has over us and, through sincere confession and repentance decisively yield ourselves to the Spirit of Christ that is in us so that, through Him and His Victory over the flesh, we can exercise the spiritual freedom we have in Him and bear fruit for His Glory!. To Him Be Glory and Honor Forever!

Yes, we who believe in Jesus as savior are all potential seeds to bring forth more fruit. But, unless we as individual seeds are willing to fall to the ground and die to “self” we will not be able to bear fruit for the Kingdom. Unless we yield ourselves like Jesus to the Father’s purposes and to His Holy Spirit so that His “empowering presence” is what takes charge of our lives we are NOT plantable seeds. In order for us to be eligible to be planted as a seed His Word and His Spirit MUST “abide” and be activated in us!

In this regard, Jesus Himself also elaborates about our need to “abide” in Him…

Abide in Me to Bear Fruit

Abide in Me to Bear Fruit

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abides in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit; so shall you be my disciples.” (John 15: 5-8)

We are given new life in Christ through conversion and baptism, but unless we willingly yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit to conform us to His image, He cannot work in us and through to fulfill the Father’s purpose for each of our lives, that purpose being to bear fruit for the Glory of the Father.

St. Paul in his letters stresses the need for believers to yield themselves to be conformed unto Christ – he indicates that in doing so, we must present ourselves as a “living sacrifice” to the Father so that our minds can be renewed by His Spirit to live our lives in accord with His Will.

Romans 8:29

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren.

Romans 12: 1-2

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.

The following scripture indicates how St. Paul expresses this precept, with regard to his own transformation, in a very compact yet powerful manner:

It_Is_Done_113111965“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20)

This is the goal we need to set for ourselves also if we are to be a “plantable seed” to be able to totally fulfill the Father’s purposes in our lives.

Through the Word of God then, it becomes clear to us then, that in order to be a seed suitable for planting we must unite our new self with His by dying to our “old self” and putting on the “new self” in Him, with the understanding, that in doing so, we willingly accept of our responsibility to continue to “abide in Him” so that we can bear fruit for the Father.

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If you consent to being conformed to Christ then you must decide to put on the New Self and crucify the Old Self. It is a decision you must make – it cannot be taken for granted, or done for you! It is this consecration of your “self” that opens the door for the Holy Spirit to begin His work of conformance in your spirit.

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Once the process of transformation begins you will experience in your lives direct confrontation with the forces of the world, the flesh, and the devil, that will try to deviate you from the path of sanctification to which the Spirit will lead you.

Again Paul clearly summarizes these challenges in several of his letters as follows. (I recommend reading an meditating on these, as guidelines for plantable seeds, as we proceed to seek to draw closer to Jesus this Lent, but also throughout the year as we go forth “walking in the Spirit” and not “in the flesh”.)

To the Corinthians –   Reverencing and Maintaining Our Union with Christ

“…. he who is united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. [Therefore] shun immorality. Every other sin which a man commits is outside the body; but the immoral (carnal) man sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Cor. 6: 17-20)

To the Colossians – Our Basis for Living in Union With Christ

Chap. 2: 6 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.

11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.

13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

To the Colossians – How to Let Christ Live In and Through you

Chap.3:1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming.

7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

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In Joseph and Mary We can find no better example of two individuals who died to their earlthy selves in order that the Messiah might be brought forth. You can meditate on their example by reading of their participation in obedience to God’s leadings In the gospels of the New Testament.

For now, I only need to point out the Virgin Mary’s example of what dying to self entailed:

The angel Gabriel appeared to Mary …  And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”

But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.

Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”


But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?”


And the angel said to her in reply, “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 called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.”


Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”


Then the angel departed from her
.   (Luke 1:26-38)

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My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, dying to our “self” begins with obedience to the Word of God and walking “in the Spirit” is living out that Word in our lives.

In dedicating ourselves to be “plantable seeds”, that is dying to our “self”, let us learn from Mary and when the Word of God speaks to our hearts, calling us to Himself and His purposes let us also respond with Mary’s words …

Lord … “May it be done to me according to your word.”

Your Brother In Christ …. Bartimaeus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2015])

Related Text Article Links …

Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit

Cast Your Net On the Other Side

A Heart Rending Experience

Hearing God’s Voice and …

Forming Intentional Disciples

Related Video Links …

Disciples Rejoice in the Spirit

About the Holy Spirit

A Catholic Pentecost is Here

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Living in the Strength of the Kingdom, Now!

“May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son(Col. 1:9-13)

My dear fellow pilgrims in Christ Jesus,

Although the Apostle Paul tells us that we have been transferred into the Kingdom of the Divine Son, how often the circumstances of our lives and the attractions of the world and the flesh divert us from our walk with the Lord and prevent us from fully operating in the Kingdom – the very Kingdom of God which Jesus came to proclaim, and, through His Death and Resurrection, bring into manifestation in the lives of all who believe!

This is the Kingdom that Jesus declared to be “at hand”, that is, it is accessible, through Him, in the NOW of our every day lives. It is just that the accessibility of the Kingdom is sometimes hindered not only by our lack of faith in the Kingdom but also by a variety of obstacles: moral, intellectual and spiritual.

One of the first obstacles is that we Christians tend to center our understanding of the promised “Kingdom” as our future destiny after we pass through the portals of death due to the Saving Grace of Christ’s Sacrificial Death on the Cross. And, although, this is entirely true, there is another aspect of the “Kingdom” which we tend to neglect, or at least give it little thought, and that is that the Good News of the Kingdom that Jesus asked us to preach to the whole world was that the Kingdom, which He preaches, was “at hand” – that is, accessible in the NOW of our lives.

The reason this confuses us is because the Lord Jesus sometime uses the term the “Kingdom of God” or the “Kingdom of Heaven” in a variety of connotations – none of which are contradictory but are sometimes confusing to us because we do not completely understand the context in which they were used by Him.

Without going to extraordinary detail on this subject let me just say that Jesus understood His mission was not only to be a sacrifice for the sins of mankind to open the door to a “heavenly ” Kingdom in eternity, but also to be a reconciler and restorer of the relationship between the Father and His creation here and NOW in this world so that the Father would again reign in the hearts of men and women as it did in the time of Adam and Eve before the Fall. This was an integral part of His ministry, as it also should be for those of us who follow Him as disciples.

Through the Incarnation He became the first of many brethren who would contain the Spirit of the Living God in the temple of their hearts and who, through their yielding to the Holy Spirit, would be empowered to become the Father’s partners in this world and thus bring His Kingdom of Love into manifestation in this time-space continuum, thus overcoming the current kingdom of darkness which currently dominates the world.

Without detracting from the promise of a “heavenly” Kingdom after our passing, Jesus attempted to convey to His disciples that he was appointing them to the task of being envoys of the Father to bring about the restoration of His reign in the hearts of all mankind in this created time frame in which we live – in the Now of our lives.

Return to Jerusalem

Go into all the world ...

That is also why He taught them to pray, by volunteering themselves, to the Father, that His “Kingdom Come” in them and through them, so that, in this way, the Father’s will would be done here on earth as it was in the “heavenly Kingdom”.  This is the Good News of the Kingdom, our partnership with God, that He directed them to preach to the whole world with works of signs and wonders attesting to truth of their preaching and teaching, that the Kingdom of god was to be manifested in the “Now” of this existence.

This, then, is the Kingdom that I also proclaim to you NOW! A Kingdom under the reign of the Father that is accessible by all wherever they may be in this world today! A Kingdom in which we believers are empowered by the Father to bring the reign of God and His Loving Compassion into every nook and cranny of our every day lives!

But it is a Kingdom that we can only enter by yielding ourselves willingly to His Holy Spirit so that His will, and only His will, may be done by us and through us! This is the Door to the Kingdom about which Jesus said, “…many are called but few are Chosen”.

Jesus is the Open Door

Jesus is the Open Door

Yes, there is a door to the Kingdom here and NOW, and that Door is through union with Jesus Himself. It is a door that can only be entered through a relationship with the Lover of our souls and our acceptance of His Kingship over our lives. It is a door that may only be entered when, through sincere repentance, we recognize that we are but hopelessly lost sinners and gratefully accept His Loving sacrifice for us and sincerely desire the new life He offers us through the power of His resurrection. It is also the door to our discipleship where, through loving obedience, we deny our very self and consecrate ourselves to Him – to be dedicated Envoys for His Kingdom. Praised Be His Holy Name!

But, sometimes, because we do not understand the magnificence of God’s gift and our own unworthiness, we attempt to enter that Kingdom on the basis of our own righteousness, that is on the basis of our religious performance. That is why Jesus told the Scribes and the Pharisees that tax collectors and prostitutes would enter the Kingdom before them (cf., Matt. 21:31). The Kingdom He was referring to, in this instance, was the manifestation of the Kingdom of God’s Loving Compassion through Himself and His ministry, and the ability for those who believed in Him to come under His ministerial anointing as disciples, such as Matthew and Mary Magdalene were doing. Because of their self-righteous attitude, the Scribes and the Pharisees did not believe in Him and so, not only could they not enter in, but they hindered others from entering.

In order to bring home this point Jesus told them the parable of a King who gave a wedding feast for his son but the important people of the land made all sorts of excuses in order not to attend. The King then said to his servants …

The Unwelcome Guest Is Cast Out“‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. ‘Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.’ “And those slaves went out into the streets, and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests.  “But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw there a man not dressed in wedding clothes, and he said to him,  ‘Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?’ And he was speechless. “Then the king said to the servants,  ‘Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ “For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matt. 22: 9-14)

The Kingdom is the wedding to which we, who hear the Good News of the Kingdom, are invited.  The man that did not put on the wedding robe was a man who received the invitation but believed in his own worthiness (righteousness) to the point that he thought that his clothes and his person were good enough to attend the wedding as he was. That is the way some of us approach our entry in to the Kingdom, and, in our arrogant presumption and un-repentance, neglect to put on Jesus’ robe of righteousness, an act that acknowledges our unworthiness and our dependence on the redeeming Grace of God through the Sacrifice of His Son.

Another obstacle to entering the Kingdom is that we enter with the wrong expectations and when our expectations are not fulfilled, we falter in our walk with Him, because our faith was not focused on Him and His Word but on our own false presumptions of what a walk with Jesus entails and what we would get out of it. Yes, we enter at the behest of the King and we surrender our all to Him but if we expect that the road ahead will be without suffering, trials and rejection we will be very surprised.

Disciples in the making

For you must understand that, in this fallen world, walking the walk of the Kingdom is not acceptable to the World. The world system will reject us just as Jesus was rejected, we will be tested just as Jesus was tested, and, like Daniel’s three friends, we will be placed in a fiery furnace of testing, but through all this Jesus will not only be at our side, He will be IN US to guide us and strengthen us so that we may bring forth the fruit of the Kingdom for His Glory!

Listen to what the Apostle James says:

“My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)

Yes, we must remember that when we commit ourselves to follow Jesus, the trials we face are but a confirmation that we are on the right path. So we must rejoice knowing that we have indeed been accepted as envoys not just to bring people to Jesus but to bring Jesus to the people.

The Deutero-canonical Book of Sirach gives a clear summary of what the path of discipleship entails. Let us take this segment, taken from Chapter 2, to heart, as we proceed forward into the NOW of the Kingdom that is at hand for us!

1 My Son, when you come to serve the Lord,* prepare yourself for trials.

2Be sincere of heart and steadfast,

and do not be impetuous in time of adversity.

3Cling to him, do not leave him,

that you may prosper in your last days.

4Accept whatever happens to you;

in periods of humiliation be patient.

5For in fire gold is tested,

and the chosen, in the crucible of humiliation.

6Trust in God, and he will help you;

make your ways straight and hope in him.

7You that fear the Lord, wait for his mercy,

do not stray lest you fall.

8You that fear the Lord, trust in him,

and your reward will not be lost.

9You that fear the LORD, hope for good things,

for lasting joy and mercy.

If you read this and still feel you have been called to “enter the Kingdom” – the continuation of Jesus’ ministry in you and through you – then you have not only been called but you have been chosen.

So, then, my brethren, knowing that you, have been chosen, even to be the least in His Kingdom, let us step out boldly on behalf of our King and prayerfully commit your life to HIM, asking for the guidance of His Holy Spirit and the anointed strength of His power in you for the Glory of His Name!.  For as Jesus said …

“I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.”  (Matt. 11:11-12, NIV)

And as you walk the walk of His Love Always keep in your soul the words of encouragement that the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians:

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.” (2 Cor. 4:8-10)

“As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. For he says, 

“At an acceptable time I have listened to you,

and on a day of salvation I have helped you.” 

See, NOW is the acceptable time; see, NOW is the day of salvation! “

(2 Cor. 6:1)

To this brothers and sisters, I can only say, Amen and Amen!

Your Brother in Christ Jesus … Bartimaeus

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

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Recommended Links

§ The Cost of discipleship

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§ Releasing The Spirit

§ Hearing His Voice…. and Obeying it!

§ Praying In the Spirit

§ Responding To the Spirit’s Call

§ The Kingdom of God Our Spiritual Inheritance

# Prayer to Receive The Holy Spirit

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Finding Strength in our Weakness

I am weak but you are strong! “Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor. 12:10)

My fellow pilgrims in Christ Jesus,

One of the great challenges of faith we face in living in this fallen world is that of maintaining our faith in the midst of the trials that come into our lives as we attempt to walk along the narrow path of discipleship.  What we don’t often realize is that it is exactly these trials that are there to strengthen our faith. God is not the source of these trials but are permitted by Him because by his grace He uses them to bring us to perfection – to bring us to the level of spiritual awareness we need to open ourselves to Him and His strength working in and through us, thus enabling us to bring forth  His Kingdom in  our lives.

We also fail to realize that in bringing us to perfection does NOT mean He is making us any more worthy or spiritually capable than what we already are …  merely simple sinners saved by grace!

No, brethren, just as Moses did not think He was capable of what the Lord was calling Him to do, so also we are most certainly not capable of His calling for us in this world.  He does not upgrade our humanity in order that we might better serve Him, rather, He chooses to use us just as we are, with all of our weaknesses, so that we may not be tempted with spiritual pride into thinking that we have something to do with what He, in His mercy and Grace, accomplishes through us. In fact you might say he chooses us exactly because we have been freed of any illusions of greatness and so extremely aware of our weaknesses, that we have no doubt that without HIM we can do nothing!  That is the point of perfection He is seeking from all who would be His disciples.

The Apostle Paul, who was overwhelmed with the special revelations given Him, was acutely aware of His own weaknesses and yet experienced the temptation to take pride in what the Lord was doing through him. Regarding His experiences, he relates his struggle against these prideful feelings as follows:

“…. on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses. But if I wish to boast, I will not be a fool, for I will be speaking the truth. But I refrain from it, so that no one may think better of me than what is seen in me or heard from me,  even considering the exceptional character of the revelations. Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me,  but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for [My] power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong (2Cor, 12:5-10)

It must be noted that Paul (aka, Saul) did not come to this understanding immediately upon his conversion experience. No, indeed, his first reaction to the graces given him upon His encounter with Christ was to basically just reorient his religious zeal from being a promoter of Judaism to being a promoter of his new-found faith in Christ. In principle, that would not seem bad in itself, what was wrong was that he had not relinquished his own self-centered zeal but instead merely re-directed it. Everything he was doing was being done out of his own self-enhancing religiosity and NOT from a surrender to the Spirit of Jesus that was in him.

In order for the Lord to use Him, He had to empty Saul (aka, Paul) of his “self” and cause him to yield himself totally to the Holy Spirit. The Lord accomplished this by letting Saul start a riot in Damascus that resulted in threats to his life so that the small Jewish-Christian community there had to help him escape by taking him out of the city (cf., Acts 9:1-31). After this event the Lord led Him into the Arabian desert for spiritual retreat of three years (Gal 1:15-18). It was during this period that he was given revelations and wisdom to understand the true nature of the Gospel and the Spirit of Self-denying Love that would motivate him the rest of His life.

Yes, brothers and sisters, like Paul/Saul, we must also be emptied of our self -willed religious piety so that the Love of the Lord may truly manifest itself in us for the Glory of His Name and NOT for our exaltation! Just as John the Baptist said, “He must Increase,[therefore] I must decrease” (brackets are my own)  (cf, Jn. 3:30).

To be filled, We  must be first emptied out ...

To be filled, We must be first emptied out ...

Before the Lord can fill our clay vessels with His Spirit of Love, and His power and strength we must be emptied of our self-centered, prideful, approach to life. We must rid ourselves of our fallen human attitude that focuses al our thinking, emotions, and activities on our “self” and NOT on pleasing Our Creator and Loving Father who created us to be an expression of His Love in this world – in the image of His Son, Our Lord and Savior Jesus, the Anointed of the Father.

Discipleship Entails Carrying Our Cross Daily

Discipleship Entails Carrying Our Cross Daily

In conforming us to the image of His Son, He gives us His Word and His Spirit to transform us from our self-centeredness to the God-centeredness He desires of us.  It is exactly this transition that is the “cross” Jesus told His disciples that they are to bear daily if they are to be His followers. Because thus transition involves a “dying-to-self” process that goes against the instincts of our fallen human nature, it is, for most of us, a painful and gut-wrenching change, that, of necessity, involves internal pain and suffering. Adding to this already excruciating pain, the world system and its demonic leader, does everything in its power to keep us from bringing this transition to fulfillment in our lives by continually placing worldly temptations in our path to derail us from becoming an earthly expression of the Christ that is in us!

You may think of this disoriented “self” or “ego” we have in us as an unemployed actor coursing through life looking for a stage in which to exalt itself and its lustful desires. The world system provides these stages or platforms that accommodate themselves to bring to life the desires of our flesh. It may even be those activities we consider legal and moral, such as business, science, academics, art, theater, politics, and sports. In each of these arenas the world provides a stage for our un-reformed “self” to create a part for itself, to promote the self, and to assert its self-sufficiency independent of the Living God!

And, even though you may not expect it, the major stage provided may be that of “religion”. This is the stage where the Scribes and the Pharisees played their parts “par excellence”. This is the stage where the wolves put on the “sheep’s clothing”, the clothing of religion, to exalt their unredeemed carnality.

In our Christian tradition, it is the period we call, “Lent”, where we are annually provided the opportunity of “emptying” our clay vessels of all traces of the “Old man” in us and to assist us in putting on our “New Man” in Christ Jesus.

And, just how you might ask, do we put on this “New Man”? In response, we, refer to Paul’s exhortation to the Ephesians…

“For surely you have heard about him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus. You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Eph. 4:21-24)

Seek the Spirtual Renewal of Our Minds

Seek the Spiritual Renewal of Our Minds

This “renewing of our minds is not just theological rhetoric, it involves a total transformation in our way of thinking and living, which, if not fully and sincerely put in place in our lives, will grieve the Holy Spirit, who is moving in us to conform us to Christ (cf., Eph.4:30-31,; and Eph.5:1-21)

This makeover of our lives cannot take place without our full cooperation – yes we are called to make a choice to walk in the Spirit, so that through the Spirit we may put to death the works of the flesh (cf., gal. 5:1-26), so that we, like Paul may also state  that … “ it is no longer I who lives but Christ who lives in me [and through me]” (Gal. 2:20).

Only in this way can the strength of the Lord be manifest in our lives so that we may comply with Paul’s exhortation to the Ephesians:

“ Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints” (Eph. 6:10-18).

In keeping with our desire that you be strengthened in your weaknesses by the power of the Living God, I conclude with the Apostle Peter’s prayer to the Christians dispersed throughout the the Roman Empire:

 “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. And, after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen”.

(1 Peter 5:6-11)

Your Fellow Pilgrim and Brother in Christ Jesus ….. Bartimaeus

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

Links to Related Articles

The Renewal of our mind

The Crucified Life

The Cost of Discipleship

Overcoming the World

The Sweet Yoke of Love

Praying as Jesus Prayed (part 1)

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