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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

§ Sweet Yoke of Love

§ 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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Healing the Broken Hearted

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised …” (Luke 4:18)

 

Dear Fellow Pilgrims, my Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

There is perhaps nothing more pernicious that can happen to us than the experience of a broken heart.  Not only does a “broken heart” cause emotional damage to the person involved but it also causes spiritual damage because it provides an entrance to the enemy of our souls into our lives. An unresolved inner hurt that is not spiritually resolved provides the enemy a foothold (stronghold) in our spirit that leads us into un-forgiveness, addictive immoral behavior, or worse, thus preventing us from establishing a full and complete relationship with the Holy Trinity because it inhibits our ability to love as Jesus loved and to walk as Jesus walked.

A broken heart is an inner emotional hurt that can be brought about by a variety of causes, the main ones being [1]:

1. Result of an offense* brought to us from others.

* (People say and do things to hurt us): cf.,Proverbs 18:8.

2. Result from our own sinful behavior: cf., Psalms 25:18, Proverbs 17:19,

II Samuel 24:10.

3. Result from a calamity where one is overcome by the experience:

cf., Job 3:25-26

4. Result of the sins of the forefathers: cf., Exodus 34:6-7.

5. Result from drug and alcohol use:    cf., Proverbs 23:29-35.

6. Result from occult involvement:        cf., Leviticus 20:6.

Now it must be made clear that, in the case of personal offenses, as mentioned in item 1, are, in some cases, only “perceived” offenses. That is, the offense is only perceived by the person affected and is not an intentional offense by the other person. The offense, however, is as real to the affected person as an intentional offense because the affected person makes a judgment about the “intent” of the other party – a judgment that is never resolved because the affected person immediately severs the relationship with the other, thus never engaging the other in dialogue to inquire as to the true motives behind what was taken as an offense. And, even if dialogue later occurs, the person affected has so bought into his/her judgment that admitting an error of judgment would bring about self-condemnation.

That is why the gospels tell us that If we feel we have been emotionally injured we should privately bring it to the attention of the one who hurt us and enter into dialogue with that person. If this is done early in the situation you may find that the person may not even realize he/she had hurt you, and if they did realize it, your initiative provides them the opportunity to apologize and be reconciled with you.

“If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one.” (Matt. 18:15)

So many times our pride or self-justification gets in the way and something that could be resolved through a logical explanation of some human error that occurred without evil intent grows into a major wounding of the heart and the unnecessary breaking of a relationship. In fact, it becomes a virtual prison for those who cannot forgive. Listen to what Jesus tells His disciples:

“You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister [or, mother or father], you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire.

So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny”. (Matt. 5:21-26)

In most cases “Broken Heartedness” can also lead to “Hardness of Heart”, where the injured soul retreats into a “shell” to protect itself from further hurt. But in so doing, the heart is hardened so that all communications attempting to break into the shell are ignored and thus a vicious trap closes around the individual. Such traps are termed the “Snare of the Fowler” by certain scriptures (cf.,Psalm 91: 3 ff.)

Now, it must be said that “Broken Heartedness” that is caused by coming to an awareness of one’s own sinful state (see item 2 above) can lead to repentance and conversion. This is the godly sorrow of which scripture speaks. It is the godly sorrow that fell on Peter upon realizing that he had disowned His Master and Lord in the events following the arrest of Jesus at Gethsemani. This godly sorrow usually comes when the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin and does not lead us to hardness of heart but instead breaks through the shell we have placed around ourselves. This is what the scripture tells us about his type of sorrow,

“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted,

and saves the crushed in spirit.”  (Ps. 34:18)

God also gives the strength to resist or endure a broken heart as when Paul was returning to Jerusalem and was warned by the prophet Agabus about what would happen to him if he continued on his way – setting all the community to weeping…

“ While we were staying there for several days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. He came to us and took Paul’s belt, bound his own feet and hands with it, and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘This is the way the Jews in Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’” When we heard this, we and the people there urged him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” Since he would not be persuaded, we remained silent except to say, “The Lord’s will be done.”  (Acts 21:10-14)

The Lord Jesus Himself experienced a broken heart on several occasions but did not let this brokenness hinder his mission and obedience to the Father’s will. For instance when …

a.) Jesus wept over Jerusalem (Lk. 13:34),

b) Jesus wept before the tomb of Lazarus (Jn. 11:35),

c) Jesus, on the cross exclaimed,

“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46, Mark 15:34 )

   and then says in faith,

 “Father, Into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46)

It was also prophesied that Jesus’ mother Mary would suffer a broken heart,

“Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed, so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul [heart] too.” (Luke 2:34-35)

In these cases we see that, through Faith in God and His Word, the Grace of God helps us to endure the pain and attain a spiritual victory over a “Wounded Heart” even though we have been exposed to tremendous emotional suffering. It of course requires a deep spiritual maturity which most of us are still lacking.

Because “Broken Heartednss” occurs through a broad spectrum of human events, I am recommending an internet posting that summarizes the main problems that arise when we encounter situations in our lives that deeply wound us in the spirit (ie., our heart). You may connect to the site by clicking on the following title: “Dealing with a Wounded Heart

Of course, since the article is intended only as a summary of several approaches to the problem, you need to pray for the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit before you take any action in this regard. The reason being is that every case is sufficiently different so that only the Lord’s specific guidance will lead you to the specific prayers and resulting actions you need to take for your own or for a friend/s particular situation.

Healing the Heart

In praying, just remember, “Nothing is impossible for God”, pray in faith,  through the Word, in the Spirit and persist,never giving up.  For the Lord cares for the broken-hearted to heal them and deliver them from the oppression of the enemy. Let the Spirit guide you because only the Spirit knows what is in the hearts of men.

I personally have found the guidance provided in this article in conjunction with prayer and meditation on God’s word to be of great benefit and consolation in dealing with emotional hurts. I pray that it will also be of help to you as we all walk along the Lord’s narrow path to spiritual maturity.

Praised Be His Holy Name!

Your fellow Pilgrim and Brother in Christ … Bartimeaus

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

Footnotes:

[1] list excerpted from reference article “The Wounded Heart”

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Other Related Links

§ Escaping the Snare of the Fowler

§ Coming to the Fullness of the Spirit

The Wounded Heart

§ Enter in by the Narrow Gate

§ Walking the Walk

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Here is a brief list scriptures you might consider for your meditation:

(Luke 4:18)  “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised …”

(Ps. 51:17) The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

(Ps. 34:18) “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

(Ps. 27:10) “Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.”

(Joshua 1:5) “… I will never leave you nor forsake you.”.

(John 15:9) “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love ……..”

More Comfort From the Word of God

(Ps. 41:4) “I said, Lord, be merciful and gracious to me, heal my inner self, for I have sinned against You.  “

(Ps. 146:3) “He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds” (curing their pains and their sorrows.)

(John 7:38) “He who believes in Me (who cleaves to and trust in and relies on Me) as the Scripture said, From his innermost being shall flow (continuously) springs and rivers of living water”.

(John 15:10-11) “If you keep my commandments (if you continue to obey My instructions), you will abide in My love and live on in it, just as I have obeyed My Father’s commandments and live on in His love.  If have told you these things, that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy and gladness be of full measure and complete and overflowing.” 

 

(Eph. 3:16) “May He grant you out of the rich treasury of His glory to be strengthened and reinforced with mighty power in the inner man by the (Holy Spirit) (Himself indwelling your innermost being and personality)”.

(Prov. 17:22) “A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.” 

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“Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come closer to me”; and all the people came closer to him. First he repaired the altar of the LORD that had been thrown down;  Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD came, saying, “Israel shall be your name”; with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD. Then he made a trench around the altar, large enough to contain two measures of seed. Next he put the wood in order, cut the bull in pieces, and laid it on the wood. He said, “Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.” Then he said, “Do it a second time”; and they did it a second time. Again he said, “Do it a third time”; and they did it a third time, so that the water ran all around the altar, and filled the trench also with water.

 

At the time of the offering of the oblation, the prophet Elijah came near and said, “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your bidding. Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so that this people may know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.”

 

Elijah Contends Against ThePriests Of Baal

Elijah Contends Against ThePriests Of Baal

Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering, the wood, the stones, and the dust, and even licked up the water that was in the trench. When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The LORD indeed is God; the LORD indeed is God.” (1 Kings 18: 30-39)

After his confrontation with the priests of Baal (1 kings 18: 17-40), Elijah, the prophet, fled into the wilderness to avoid the wrath of Queen Jezebel who was in the process of executing all the prophets of Israel she could find  (cf., Kings 19). It is interesting to note Elijah’s very human response to the queen’s threats after he had experienced the power and Glory of God overcome the priests of Baal and thus overwhelmingly show the people that there is only one true God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

His reaction shows that Elijah did not let the anointing the Lord had placed on him go to his head. He knew that he was only a channel and instrument through which the Lord was working and that all of the power manifested during his ministry originated with the Divine and he had nothing to do with it other than being His willing servant. He knew that he was a weak human being in need of God’s protection and blessing. So he cried to the Lord for help.

Elijah in despair

Elijah in despair

“Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life like the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” Then he was afraid; he got up and fled for his life, and came to Beer-sheba, which belongs to Judah; he left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.” “(1 Kings 19: 1-5)

As the Lord led him to refuge at various locations Elijah kept complaining to the Lord saying, that he was the last of the prophets who was faithful to the God of Israel, until finally the lord rebuked him telling him that He had seven thousand more who “had not bowed the knee to Baal” (1Kings19:14-18), “Seven Thousand”, hidden ones, who, by implication were His reserve force against the forces of darkness. These, then, were the “hidden ones” of that epoch. They were hidden because they were under the protective cover of the Lord to be used by Him for His purposes in dealing with Israel.

Thy Hidden Ones

Thy Hidden Ones

These former “hidden ones” were “hidden” not only in the sense that they were under the covering of His wings (cf., Ps.91: 4) but also in the sense that they had no rank or status within Israel or the world of that day and thus were indistinguishable from the common people, the poor, the despised, the lay people of that time, sometimes referred to as the “Anawim”.

Yet, it is these simple ones that the Lord holds up to Elijah as his reserve force against the power of evil in the pagan culture into which Israel was being drawn; the term “Seven Thousand” being merely a cultural metaphor for a significant number.

The implication is that these “hidden ones” were the righteous praying ones whose prayers for the restoration of Israel was the reason the Lord was acting through Elijah to bring about the changes needed in the heart of the people so that Israel could once again be considered as “the people of God”.

Today's Golden Calf

Today's Golden Calf

Today, it appears, is no different from the times of Elijah. For we indeed live in a world that worships other “gods” – gods of their own making: money , sexual immorality, lust, power, ambition, greed, narcissism and so on – gods which pervade even our Christian communities and thus prevent the faithful from achieving the personal holiness and service to which they were called.

Today, we also have our “Elijahs”, God’s ministers and prophets who are being persecuted for their stand against the evil world culture through the proclamation of Word of God and His Kingdom! These Elijahs are also being sustained in prayer by God’s elect intercessors, today’s “Seven Thousand”.

These intercessors are also “hidden” in the sense that they attempt, as they ought, to keep in the background of our religious culture. Their relative anonymity provides them the degree of freedom needed to focus and practice the “charism of intercession” under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and apart from any influence that would quench the fire of the Holy Spirit that is working through them.

Because they operate “under the radar”, so to speak, these servants of the Lamb may not have come to your attention. You will find them in almost every Christian denomination eschewing any publicity, because their calling, their Charism, depends on their separation from the world and from the religious politics and worldly influences that surround them. Their great desire is to yield themselves totally to the Spirit of God so that He and He alone rules in their hearts, so that their prayers become the supplications of the Spirit of God for His people.

Each intercessor must be free to express what the Spirit places in his or her heart and thus the modes of prayer will vary form intercessor to intercessor. There will be some who pray and sing in tongues, some who fast and pray continually, some who praise and worship in Song, some who use the prayer of authority to bind the demonic spirits that they are challenging, some who specialize in silent contemplative prayer reaching deep into the Heart of the Divine. Most mainstream Christians would probably not understand the various and distinct modes of prayer and spiritual gifts which come into play when the Spirit of God is given full liberty to express Himself through these intercessors.

Such servants of God would not normally fit in to our over-structured and regimented religious culture where human tradition and formality rule the with regard to the accepted modes of prayer, where there is no liberty to express the true gifts of the Spirit, or to speak the oracles of the Lord as He gives them to us. So it is natural that they would want to congregate in their own small groups, while yet being dedicated to praying for the whole body of Christ.

Today, brothers and sisters, the Lord is calling out for us to pray and support these “hidden ones”, these intercessors of the Lamb. For because they are in fact our front-line prayer warriors against whom the Evil one is waging war against to “take them out”, so to speak, so that he and his evil spiritual companions may continue to disable the church from performing its commission. These “hidden ones” are sent to war against the Satanic powers and thus bring about the Victory of Kingdom of God into manifestation through the power of the charism of the deep prayer of intercession.

The reason the charism of intercession is such a threat to Satan is because it is not merely a human form of supplication but it is, in fact, Christ’s prayer of intercession through His elect servants who yield themselves to His Spirit. For you see, the charism of intercession is the Lord’s charism, for He and He alone, is the one mediator between God and Man (1Tim.2:5). Those who yield themselves to this charism are yielding themselves totally to the Intercessory Spirit of Christ in them so that through that spiritual union they may become His instruments of intercession for His people.

In the Catholic tradition, this type of prayer is not usually well understood because it does not usually follow the traditional forms of prayer but rather depends heavily on the unfettered work of the Holy Spirit through spiritual gifts and contemplative levels of prayer required to enter into spiritual union with the heart of Christ. It is for this reason that most of these type of intercessors usually do their praying inside of convent or monastery walls.

Recently, however, some intercessor communities are coming “out of the closet”, so to speak, but, in certain occasions, are not being welcomed into the mainstream Christian community as they ought. That is why I am asking you, my fellow pilgrims to enter into intercession for them.

In order to focus your prayers for the moment, I am asking that you lift up a specific group of brothers and sisters who have been “crucified with Christ”. Namely, the community of intercessors once called the “Intercessors of the Lamb”, but now, due to suppression by their Diocese [1], humbly call themselves the “Bellwether Lambs” or the “Companions of the Lamb”.  I have placed the links to this organization in my sidebar under the Label: “NEED PRAYER?”, so that you may frequent their prayer site when you also are I need.

Please ask for the Holy Spirit’s guidance as you enter into prayer for them. Ask to be joined in the spirit with them in unity with the Divine so that you may fully comprehend in the Spirit, the Father’s Love and desire for this group and their leader and foundress, M. Nadine Brown.

May the Lord empower you prayers and may He bring them to the place where He wants them for His Glory! Amen and Amen!

Your Brother In Christ Jesus  … Bartimaeus.

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

Recommended Links:

Thy Hidden Ones at Bellwether

The Prayer of Intercession

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[1] Note: keep in mind the suppression of Padre Pio as reported below:

The Suppression of Padre Pio

(Excerpted from the  National Catholic register

http://www.ncregister.com/info/email-a-friend/his_friends_remember_padre_pio )

…  

It was on Sept. 20, 1918, that Padre Pio received the stigmata — the wounds of Christ’s crucifixion — while praying in the choir loft of the 16th-century church attached to the friary. After this event, his fame grew, and by 1922 he had attracted the attention of many people — including the Vatican’s Holy Office, which began an investigation. As a result of this investigation, which concluded that Padre Pio was not experiencing anything supernatural, the Holy Office attempted to transfer him to another monastery in 1923. An uprising of the people in San Giovanni prevented the move. Nevertheless, the friar was not allowed to say Mass publicly, or even to correspond with those who wrote him. In Terlizzi, a small town near Bari, about two hours from San Giovanni, another Capuchin who knew Padre Pio said of him, “Knowing Padre Pio was like knowing Jesus Christ,” he said. The key examples from Padre Pio’s life he says, are “silence and obedience.” Referring to the years when Padre Pio was suppressed, Padre Pancracio noted: “With one word he could have changed things, but he kept silent.”

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Clergy Confronts Jesus

Clergy confronts Jesus

“… they came again to Jerusalem. And as He was walking in the temple, the chief priests, and scribes, and elders came to Him, and began saying to Him,  “By what authority are You doing these things, or who gave You this authority to do these things?”

 (Mark 11:27-28)

My Dear fellow pilgrims in Christ Jesus,

If the event in Jesus’ day that the above citation (Mark 11:27-28) is reporting were to appear in one of today’s newspapers the headlines might read something like this:

“Clergy Leaders Confront Preacher of Radical Lay Movement on Steps of Local Worship Center”.

Although the tension that existed between the then “Clergy” and the “Lay Movement” initiated by a carpenter from Nazareth over two thousand years ago still exists today, it would probably not be manifested in such a public fashion today. In fact, this tension, created by a tendency amongst the professional religionists to essentially challenge any lay spiritual movement that attempts, to step into their presumed spiritual “domain”, is usually quietly handled by denials of permission, made in the “back-rooms” of the dioceses or parishes so as to avoid any publicity or visibility into the motives or justification for their decisions.

In the case of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, the Holy Spirit, in His wisdom, got around this kind of clerical opposition by first moving in a Catholic University amongst lay professors and students, where, thanks be to God, once it got going it was impossible to stop. The manifest movement of God was so strong that even the Pope and the Vatican were forced to admit it was a genuine work of the Spirit and encouraged the movement as a “New Pentecost”. Yet, when one of my friends was touched by the Holy Spirit to begin a parish prayer group in a former parish, he had to begin with home meetings because the diocese and the parish would not approve it until we underwent a TSA screening process (TSA, for Theological Security Assessment).

This latter response may be largely attributed to a scripturally incorrect attitude, which we moderns call “Clericalism”.  This derives from a mind-set that presumes that the Holy Spirit and the manifestation of the nine spiritual gifts (cf., 1 Cor.12) are the exclusive domain of the clergy and that the laity have no business or authority to initiate anything in this area. Thus, when the Holy Spirit begins moving in a parish through the laity, the first instinct by the professional religionists is to “quench” it before it gets started. The assumption, being, as always, that “if it is not initiated by the clergy, it must not be of God”. The local clergy, in their lack of appreciation to the work of the Holy Spirit amongst the laity, almost always react with a “lording it over you” attitude to quench any lay-initiated spiritual movement in the community.  Such an attitude, of course, is very much out of line with Jesus’ admonition to His disciples where He said:

“Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 11: 42-49)

This “clericalist” mind-set which pervades our religious culture is one of the primary sources of the suppression or quenching of the working of the Holy Spirit within parishes and congregations, and needs to be discussed by all Christians, both lay and clergy. Not for judgmental purposes but out of fraternal Love to understand those things in our human nature which rise up to oppose and quench the work of the Holy Spirit in our communities. By understanding our weaknesses as both lay persons and clergy then we can pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance, that through his word and prayer, we may receive guidance as to how to proceed in exercising the spiritual gifts within the community out of love and respect for one another and the specific roles and gifts that have been given each of us.

I believe if such discussions occur in a spirit of Agape Love, then we can truly began to behave in the unity of the “Body of  Christ” where we all can see the place we each have in the community and are free to share the gifts we have been given with each other for the strengthening of the Body, without, envy or strife.

I also believe that if our leaders open themselves to the Holy Spirit they will receive the appropriate spiritual gifts of leadership such as spiritual discernment, administration, knowledge and wisdom that will permit them to coordinate the manifestation of the gifts within the community in an orderly an purposeful fashion for the edification of the Church of God and for His Greater Glory!!.   Amen and Amen!!

In order to further inform you regarding “clericalism” and its effects on the Christian community, I provide you the following additional links that provide a more educated and varied view from my own. The first two sources are articles by Roman Catholic priests whereas the Third presents an opinion from a priest from the Eastern Orthodox persuasion. The latter article, which I find extremely interesting, is also presented verbatim immediately following the links.

May the Lord bless you, as you continue on your pilgrim walk…

Bartimaeus

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

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Recommended Articles

1   Clericalism and the New Pentecost, by  Fr. Paul PhiliBert (NCR)

2.   The Christian Laity, by Fr. Jordan Aumann, O.P.

3. The Orthodox Layman’s Position in Christ, by Rev. Archimandrite Fr. Eusebius A. Stephanou, Th.D.

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Full copy of Article 3 follows:

THE ORTHODOX LAYMAN’S

POSITION IN CHRIST

Rev. Archimandrite Fr. Eusebius A. Stephanou, Th.D.

Brotherhood of St. Symeon the New Theologian

Miramar Beach, Florida

http://www.stsymeon.org/archive/theorthodoxlaymanspositioninchrist.htm

Fr. stephanou, Thd

Fr. stephanou, Thd

Clericalism can be lethal in our Orthodox Church. One evil it produces is the fact that the lay people in the Church become spiritually passive, indeed religiously helpless. Clericalism foments an inordinate dependence on the priest.

“Active Members” of the Church

The extent of any religious activity among lay men and women usually is singing in the choir or teaching children in Sunday School. Lay participation in parish life ordinarily is connected with serving on the Parish Council, the Philoptochos Society and with fund-raising activities.

In these areas of church life all parishioners are usually encouraged by the priest to show enthusiasm and initiative. You are considered an “active member” of the church when you get involved in such familiar structured activities. They pretty much determine the landscape of parish life. The more one engages in these areas the more likely he or she will be singled out for special recognition and honor.

The moment, however, a church member begins to show out of the ordinary spiritual interests, indeed spiritual zeal, too often the priest (there are, of course exceptions) will feel uncomfortable. If a parishioner goes as far as appearing to be fired up for Christ, for Bible study, and generally for the things of God, the priest can possibly view that as something unsettling. At one time I was one of those kind of priests.

I have to confess in all honesty that in my younger years in the priesthood I would avoid anyone who would come up to me holding a big Bible in their hands. I felt I was about to be confronted by something from the Bible of which I was ignorant. To be candid, I have to say I felt inadequate and embarrassed. It was a threat to my pride. I had to admit to myself how limited the knowledge of scripture is with many priests despite their seminary training.

Renewal at the Grassroots Level

In view of these facts, it becomes very clear why viable and lasting spiritual renewal in the Orthodox Church has to begin at the grassroots level. The charismatic renewal in the Roman Catholic Church is the best example I can think of in this regard. Laymen not only initiated the renewal, but provided the leadership and teaching ministry for those in the renewal.

It was primarily laymen who authored the books and manuals that became standard for all renewal groups in the Roman Church. As a matter of fact, priests who got involved in renewal often sat at the feet of lay teachers to be discipled in the principles and guidelines of renewal.

Unlike the priests in the Roman Church who, though not excited about renewal, tolerated and learned to live with lay renewal activities in their parishes, our Orthodox priests, as a rule, show displeasure and usually ban any lay initiated renewal. I recall hearing the president of Notre Dame University interviewed on TV who made this comment on renewal: “That’s not my cup of tea.”

That is truly a mild reaction in contrast to many of our priests who view lay initiated home Bible study meetings and any such renewal activities as subversive of authentic Orthodoxy. Such priestly opposition has sadly caused many Christ-loving, Godly church members to leave the Orthodox Church for Pentecostal or Evangelical churches.

The result has been to reinforce dead religious formalism in the Church. How can such professional priests be called shepherds of souls? They serve the kingdom of darkness by quenching the fire of the Holy Spirit. Christ calls such religious leaders “workers of iniquity”. They lack the capacity of rejoicing with the angels when lives are regenerated and the name of Jesus is highly exalted. They feel threatened by anything religiously unfamiliar.

Wherever we find religious functionaries in the Church, they reinforce and foment the evil of clericalism. But our Lord Jesus Christ warned us that they are to be found in every generation of believers: “Beware of the leaven of the scribes and Pharisees.” (Matthew 16:6).

Ignoring the Church Fathers

Such promoters of clericalism and of our over-institutionalized Church are the first to champion the Church Fathers. Yet, in effect they violate their teachings and fail to embody in their pastoral ministry the basic principles and precepts of our Holy Fathers.

In the teachings of the Church Fathers we find an unmistakable emphasis on faith rooted in a heart experience. They do not teach an intellectual theology. Christ as the object of faith is experienced with the personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s heart. The fact of personal communion with Christ is fundamental.

Every member of the church, be he a layman or ordained clergyman, by obedience to God’s word becomes a recipient of the charismata (gifts) of the Holy Spirit. It follows a face to face, life-changing meeting with our divine Spouse. This personal experience of rebirth enables any believer, lay or ordained, to minister in the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit.

St. Symeon the New Theologian, for example, states the following in this regard: “They who do not have the Spirit operating and speaking within them are unbelievers. If Christ says that He gives the Spirit to those who believe in Him, then they who do not have the Spirit are not heart believers” (Moral Chapters X).

The lack of formal seminary training should never keep a layperson from claiming a life-changing experience of Christ and of personal rebirth. The right to minister in the body of Christ does not come with seminary training. St. Symeon, third in the line of theologians after St. John the Evangelist and St. Gregory of Nazianzus, never saw the inside of a seminary.

Like other Church Fathers, St. Symeon did not have theological credentials from a theological seminary. Instead, following the example of the holy apostles, St. Symeon the New Theologian, like other Church Fathers before him, finished the theological school of the Holy Spirit. There is no better professor of theology than the Holy Spirit. But today church officials very often give the impression they don’t trust the Holy Spirit.

The Right of Any Layman

Every man and woman who with faith is baptized in water and in the Spirit is qualified to be an active witness unto Christ. It is not Ordination that qualifies you to be active in ministry. But each believer who is not ordained is entitled, for example, to minister as an evangelist, prophet or teacher in the body of Christ. It is for performing the sacraments that ordination is necessary. But to minister the Word of God is not only the right of any believer, but also a mandate of Christ for every believer.

Most priests and hierarchy will affirm that Christ is the head of the church, as theological theory, but in the same breath they will glibly refer to archbishop so and so or patriarch so and so as “the head of our Church.” After all, we want a head of the Church who is tangible and visible, and, moreover, the laity feel better and more reassured that their head and leader is someone they can see, hear and hold his hand to kiss it..

It is for any member of the Church, clergy or layperson, to verify experientially if he or she is truly a child of God and a vessel of the Holy Spirit. St. Symeon states: “It is necessary to search ourselves, brethren, and to know our souls with certainty, whether or not we have received the Lord Jesus when He was evangelized to us, and that we possess Him on the inside of us, in order that, as John the Evangelist said, we know if we have received authority from Him to become children of God.”

Religious ambiguity is rampant today in the Church. To be more specific, I areferring to ambiguity in connection with our relationship with the Lord. Rarely, if ever, does the average church member have any living testimony of a personal relationship with Christ – one that he delights in sharing with others in the church. Such ambiguity and uncertainty usually leads to an erroneous assessment of one’s standing with God. It can end in self-deception and self-righteousness.

The consequences according to St. Symeon can be ominous. Our eternity can be at stake. He exhorts as follows: “Let each of us pay attention to what is said in the holy scriptures and also to know himself so that he might not deceive himself in vain, regarding himself to be a believer, while he is found to be an unbeliever, thinking he has the Lord in him and exits his body empty, as having nothing. Such a person will be condemned, losing even what he thinks he has and will be cast into the fire.”

Reacting Against Spiritual Zeal

What makes things still worse is that reverence and piety are viewed as a sign of a right relationship with God. It is merely a trap that Satan sets for both priest and people to reinforce contentment with religious formalism and religious routine. What threatens Satan is not religion, but a personal life-changing experience of Christ.

What banishes Satan is to receive in faith and obedience the gift of rebirth, that is, to be “born of God.” By His atoning death upon the Cross, the Son of God calls upon “the children of wrath” to become children of God and new creatures by accepting Him as personal Savior, that is, as the “…Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Revelation 13:8).

In my experience of forty years of renewal ministry, I have found that spiritual zeal which becomes visible to everyone in the parish, as a rule, is frowned upon by the priest (with rare exceptions). It seems that it has been my calling from God to restrain church members, who are fired up for Christ and His gospel, from leaving the Orthodox for greener pastures in other churches.

I can’t begin counting the people who through the years have told me: “Father Eusebius, if it weren’t for what you are doing in renewal ministry, I would have left the Orthodox Church.”

When someone’s religious enthusiasm and exuberance for Christ unsettles other parishioners who get confused religiously and they lodge their discomfort and even displeasure with their priest. He in turn will do his utmost to secure “calm” and “harmony” in the parish. He seeks out the one who is rocking the boat in his otherwise quiet parish. He becomes a fire extinguisher and thinks he is rendering God a service by throwing a damper on the fires that are inflaming the hearts and lives of certain parishioners for Christ and His gospel.

Few priests, if any, have any taste for religious controversy in their parish. A priest can get apprehensive over the possibility it might get to the bishop’s attention. He possibly could suspect the worst – that his job security could be jeopardized. And the very thought of that prospect could be a nightmare for him!

Very likely there are a small number of members in every parish that claim to have had a rebirth experience that has made a visible difference on their relationship with the Lord. It is glaring evidence that such people have sensed an inner void that has not been filled by religious routine and even receiving frequently of the Holy Communion.

Reacting to the Negative Reaction

What I say here is not mere speculation. It is a common testimony that such church members have shared with me in person through forty years of renewal ministry. It goes something like this: “I served in the altar for years. I was involved in the Church youth activities. I sung in the choir. I served on the parish council. I worked hard in every Greek Festival. And yet I ended up with an inner emptiness – a painful spiritual void on the inside of me.”

A word of caution to those who had the void in their hearts filled: Please do not expect everyone in your church to understand your rebirth experience and to celebrate with you. Be realistic. Ordinarily, other members get troubled with religious confusion. They are apt to get uptight and even convicted by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The ego gets engaged in the case of a negative reaction to your new fire for the things of God. It could reach the stage of overt displeasure and even opposition.

When a personal testimony of rebirth elicits displeasure, it should not puzzle the one with the new spiritual experience. Such a person should avoid a corresponding negative reaction.

It is only normal for those devoid of the Spirit to get unsettled over the presence of the Holy Spirit in someone else’s life. Jesus clearly cautioned that authentic believers will be misunderstood, slandered and even persecuted by those of their own household, members of their family, but even members of the household of faith.

I encourage spiritually regenerated believers to take it as a badge of honor when they become a target of criticism. Spiritual conflict, the Lord assured us, is evidence that we are His true disciples, ready to pay the price for going all the way with Christ.

Even when the priest turns the heat on them, such “born of God” lay people, must react with a sense of peace, humility and love. Least of all, they must not be startled, if even the priest does not support their newly found relationship with God. I counsel them to stay radiant with Jesus indwelling in them.

Remember how the Jewish religious leaders reacted when they saw the apostles radiating with the Holy Spirit aura: “They recognized that they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13). Stay in the church and continue to light a candle wherever there is darkness.

Satan will not take sitting down the redeeming impact of the Holy Spirit on the lives of otherwise nominal Christians. He will stir up opposition and controversy. As a matter of fact, if this does not occur, then our witness for Christ proves to be inadequate, weak and less than authentic. The more intense the opposition the more genuine our evidence of rebirth.

Jesus made it crystal clear: “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth; I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law; and a man’s foes shall be they of his own household” (Matthew 10:34).

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Sermon on the Mount

Sermon on the Mount

The Beatitudes (Matt.5:3-11)

“Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn,  for they will be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

My fellow Pilgrims,

One of the greatest challenges facing us as believers in Christ is that of transitioning from merely being believers to being conformed to His image (Rom. 8:29) as adopted sons and daughters – as heirs of the Kingdom.  The process of being conformed to Him is not our of own doing or ability, it is a process of transformation driven by the Spirit of the Living God who indwells all who believe in the Son, Jesus the Messiah.

It is not a process forced upon us, rather it is a process that we are invited to enter into willingly and freely of our own accord, in faith and out of love, the love of Him who died for us!  It is a yielding that surrenders our total being, spirit, soul and body, so that He may deliver us from the bondage of the world through the renewal of our hearts and minds and in this way conform us to His image and His Spirit to the point where we can all say that “… we have the mind of Christ” (1Cor. 2:16).

This, my brethren, is what the process of becoming a disciple is all about. It is a process that entails a personal cost – namely, our very selves. It the process whereby we divest ourselves of our own ambitions and desires and yield ourselves to Him who has bought us at the cost of His own life through the shedding of His precious blood!

When Jesus called His disciples to a mountainside to teach them (Matthew, Chapter 5) it was not to give them a “pep-talk” but rather, to indicate to them what the cost and depth of their commitment to Him as disciples really signified.  Significantly, Jesus prefaces His teaching, which we refer to as the “Sermon on the Mount”, with a very direct summary of the process which the Holy Spirit will work in them and through them as they enter into the Narrow Gate and begin their walk of discipleship with Him.

In this introduction, the fundamental aphorisms of discipleship, are posed as “Blessings” or “Manifest Favor of God” to let them explicitly understand that what they will be experiencing, is the power of God working through them and in them to bring them to the point where they will sacrifice even their own lives in doing the Father’s will and thus bringing forth His Kingdom on this Earth!

For us, today, these “Beatitudes” are the indicators of where we are in the transition the Holy Spirit is working in us on the way to being conformed to the image of Christ. These Beatitudes represent for us, the progressive phases that all of us, who truly and willingly enter into the walk of discipleship and take on Jesus’ yoke, will experience as we continue on our walk with Him.

Of course, some of us, enter the walk not fully realizing what our commitment to “following Christ” entails, and thus are tempted to opt out of the Walk at the first sign of resistance from the world system in which we live. And there are even some, who attempt to enter the Walk without renouncing the world thus making shipwreck of their faith (1Tim. 1:19). But we, brethren, are of faith and not those who draw back and of whom the Lord says, “my soul has no pleasure in them” (Heb. 10:38).

So, in order to be fully informed and permit the spirit of the Beatitudes to prepare us and guide us in our walk with Him, I will share with you (in summary form) my reflections on the essential elements of these stepping stones into the Kingdom of God in this and the several other postings that will follow this one.

Before I do, let me first point out that for many of us the use of the word “discipleship” is a hindrance because it has been so misused and abused by certain persons who attempt to control and manipulate the people of God under the guise of “authority”.  Let me be clear – when I use the term it is as a personal and private discipline to bring to perfection our relationship with Jesus and the Father.  It merely formalizes what we all as Christians are called to do – hear the voice of God in love and meekly and humbly obey His calling by putting into action the Word of God in our lives, and thus manifesting His Love into this fallen world.

This is something each of us can do in private regardless of our state in life! We don’t have to be monks or nuns, or preachers or deacons. All we need to be is the persons the creator made us to be, whether married or single, ordained or un-ordained, in whatever occupation or profession in which we are currently involved (except a sinful one, of course).

All that the Lord is calling us to is to let His Spirit work in us and through us in our every day lives so that as we become more and more like Jesus, more and more of the Jesus that is in us will be manifested to the world. To do that we have to be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit and His gifts of discernment and wisdom, otherwise, our own flesh may deceive us and take us down the wrong path. A path that definitely would not be discipleship.

The First Beatitude – “Blessed are the Poor in Spirit …”

The first Beatitude or work of Grace in us is that of bringing each of us to a distinct awareness of the state of our spiritual bankruptcy or poverty. For us adult believers, this usually comes during a crisis in our lives. It may be an emotional, physical or spiritual crisis involving our work, our relationships, our financial status, or our moral situation (or a mix of all of these). In any case, the Holy Spirit uses such circumstances in our lives to help us to understand that we cannot on our own human effort save ourselves, physically, emotionally, or spiritually. To bring us to this self-assessment usually requires that we enter a stage of brokenness so that the shell we have built around our hearts is open to the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

“The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Ps. 51:17)

It is through the brokenness that occurs in such circumstances that Holy Spirit is able to reach our hearts and lets us properly assess our desperate plight so that we are willing to turn to God for help. Remember that Jesus, at another place in scripture, told His disciples, “Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it” (Luke 18 17). It is through this Beatitude or grace that the Holy Spirit brings us to the point in our lives where we become as dependent as a little child so that our hearts are opened to receive God’s saving grace . Praised Be His Holy Name!

Please note that I am speaking of adults becoming as little children – children, who, because of their dependent state, normally are very open to the Spirit and, usually, do not need to be brought to such a stage because they are already “poor in spirit”.

We adult believers, however, because of the worldly environment in which we are forced to live and survive, have made pride and self-sufficiency our idols and, in fact, many of us raise our own children to honor those same idols in their lives. It is to the breaking of these idols to which the first Beatitude speaks. It is the doorway to the rest of the Beatitudes and to the “Kingdom of Heaven” – it is, above all, the doorway we must re-enter when we fall along the Way – as we all do because of the moral weakness inherent in our human nature.

This Beatitude, then, leads directly into the next Beatitude where, when like Peter, we realize we have betrayed the Lord, and are led into the Godly sorrow that leads to repentance. Thus, blessed by this holy mourning as stated in the Second Beatitude, we cooperate with the Spirit of Grace by responding to this sorrow for our sin with a corresponding attitude of repentance. This beatitude and the other four that follow are part and parcel of the inner sub-process of  “conversion” which will be the subject of my next posting.

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As I conclude this particular sharing, my brothers and sisters. I pray that The Spirit of His Love hover over you and inspire in you that which is appropriate for you in your stage of the spiritual walk with Him who died for us all!

May He abundantly bless you … Bartimaeus

© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, 2010, all rights reserved

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The Problem of Rejection and Resentment

Rejected for the Gospel?

Rejected for the Gospel?

“Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.” (Luke 6:22)

My fellow pilgrims,

Today I wish to discuss with you a topic regarding a facet of discipleship that many of us encounter as we, in obedience to our call to proclaim the Good News of Jesus and His Love. I am speaking of is the response we sometimes elicit from those to whom we are trying to reach, namely, a shunning and rejection of not only of the message we bring but of our person.

Now, Jesus has told us to expect resistance and rejection from the “world” but when that response comes from friends and family, and members in our own “Christian” community we are, very often, deeply hurt by this reaction, a hurt that, if we don’t counteract can limit us in being instruments and messengers of God’s Love in the world.

The reason these hurts ensuing from rejection and shunning limit us is because our human ego sometimes becomes too attached to the role and message we have been called to. This happens when we take too personal an interest in what we are doing and saying for the Lord and thus, when we, in obedience to what Jesus is calling us to do, are rejected by others we take it personally. This injury, left untreated, is left to molder in us, can become an inner resentment that prevents us from being conformed to the image of Jesus and His Love for which we were created and for which we were sent, thus inhibiting the anointing that He places on our service to others.

First of all we must remember that when we are ministering to others in Jesus’ name, we are NOT ministering in our own person. So when rejection occurs in the carrying out of our call, we must detach our own feelings and person from what we do and leave the work that God wants to do in that person to the Holy Spirit. Leave everything at the foot of the Cross, knowing that you have been faithful to what has been asked of you. As it says in psalm 37(v.5), “Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will accomplish His will through your service”.

Secondly, if, in spite of your best intentions, you happen to fall in such a situation, merely repent of your attachment, forgive those who hurt you, confess it to the Lord, and “He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgement as the noonday” (Ps. 37:6). Pray that the Lord will redeem your error and bring about His will through your faithful efforts. Remember what Jesus told us, “If they reject you they are really rejecting me”. So then don’t get in the way and let Jesus handle the situation.

This lesson that I am passing on to you I have learned at the cost of my own mistakes and through the saving insight provided me through Holy Spirit, the inspiration of the Word of God, and the teachings of St. Francis de Sales.

Francis had to learn this lesson himself as he endured the rejection of those whom he was trying to reach with the Gospel of Love.

In a presentation on Salesian spirituality, an anonymous religious Sister of the Visitation said the following in summarizing this teaching, “So, human liberty resides, not in not caring about what happens (even if that were possible) but in caring more that God’s results be accomplished whatever the outcome. As indicated …., the practice of Salesian liberty becomes a freedom to serve in a spirit of detachment or indifference to our personal “I’d rathers.” And its effects in one’s personality and life, according to Francis in this same letter “are a great inner serenity, a great gentleness and willingness to yield in everything that isn’t sin; it’s a flexible disposition, able gracefully to do the virtuous or charitable thing.” In short, the freedom of the children of God is the birthright of those who know they are loved. This freedom leads one to detachment of the heart from all things so that it is free to follow the known will of God.”

(excerpted from — http://www.visitationmonastery.org/stlouis/talk_living_in_the_moment.htm )

Brothers and Sisters, I pray that, through the Holy Spirit, this teaching has reached your hearts as it has in mine and that it will bear fruit in your lives to the Glory of God the Father. May the Lord Bless you all. …. Bartimaeus

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

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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?

Shall we not suffer with Him?

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!

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

Bartimaeus

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