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Without the Word we can do Nothing

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My Words are Spirit and They are Life!

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.   (John. 1:1-5)
My Fellow Pilgrims in Christ …

Our Absolute Need for the Word

I believe It is my continuing responsibility to remind you of the importance of maintaining our intimate personal relationship with Jesus during our spiritual journey here on earth. Since He, the WORD, is the source of Life we cannot grow in Life, including our spiritual life without growing closer in our personal relationship to HIM and to His WORD!

Brothers and Sisters, It must also be clear to you who have already come to know Him, that your relationship with Him cannot be maintained without persisting in letting the WORD of GOD enter in and abide in your Hearts to the point of yielding yourself totally to the WORD in your life so He can, not only guide you and Lead you, but so He can also conform into His image! Praised Be His Holy Name!

Since He is the WORD, and the WORD is  the ONLY source of His Spirit, it is clear that if we do not seek his Word to continuously renew us and provide us His guidance daily we will begin to lose our contact and fellowship with Him! Without fellowship with Him we can do nothing of any import spiritually.

Remember that He also told us that He is the Vine and we are the branches  and that if we disconnect ourselves from the Vine we cannot bear fruit … and will be subject  to be cut down and cast into the fire. (cf., John 15:1-5)

However, keep in mind, that He loves us and so it is His deepest desire for us to remain in constant fellowship with Himself – He will not do it by imposing Himself on us — He desires our Love and, Love, true Love, cannot be forced, True Love requires a free act of our will, a Loving resolution to be His and Be His forever! In this way, and only in this way, will all that we do be joined with Him so that all that we say or do or think becomes a manifestation of His Kingdom in this world!

The world system, under its satanic master, is set up to do anything to separate us from  the VINE , so that the satanic kingdom of darkness amy prevail. Beside being Christians, we are also sinners embedded in this world and the kingdom of darkness that controls it. As redeemed believers we have the Spirit of Christ in us to enable us to be envoys of the Kingdom of Light. Indeed, our calling  is to be instruments of His light in this world but we are not of this world. Therefore,the main intent of the enemy is to put our light out by attacking us through deceit and sin to prevent us from fulfilling our calling.

As God’s elect, our spiritual integrity is constantly at risk of being influenced by “the world, the flesh and the devil”. That is why it is all the more important that His Word remain in us in order to work in us continuously to keep us from being overwhelmed by the forces of darkness, who are constantly attempting to seduce us into a bondage that will keep us from fulfilling our divine calling to be instruments of God’s Love in this world’

In order to counteract the darkness that surrounds us It is essential that we depend more and more on His WORD to remain free from these ungodly influences and to persist in the Holy Faith with the resolution we need  to maintain our Love relationship with Him. Keep in mind, However, that in order to be fruitful in us, the WORD of God, must above all be INSPIRED by the Holy Spirit.That is , it must be activated in By Faith so that the inspiration contained in the WORD can reach our spirits and set us on fire spiritually. Without this inspiration the enemy can easily water down our beliefs and divert us to follow a lie.

For instance …

From the time of the so-called “enlightenment” historic period onward “humanistic” and “naturalistic” thinkers began to be very challenged by the “faith” elements of Christianity which pervaded western society. As atheists, they determined that the most effective way of discrediting and killing the faith of “believers” was to attack the “truth” of who Jesus Christ of Nazareth, really was, and thus eliminate Christianity as a social and moral force in the world today.

In their attempt to do this they set out to discredit the so-called religious “dogmatism” and scripture-based traditions on which our faith was based so that they could eliminate the “spiritual” element from our schools and social lives and draw us and our children into the darkness of an atheistic and secular humanist ideology.

Today there is a constant stream of literature attempting to “prove” or, at the very least, “show” that  Jesus was nothing more than an unassuming middle-eastern peasant; a charismatic, itinerant jewish preacher around which the myths an legends of Christianity were derived. To accomplish this they began various so-called “quests” to “discover” what they claimed was the real “Historical Jesus”.

These “quests” being no more than a cover to produce quasi-historical information that would negate the divinity of Jesus as the Christ and thus remove the the value of the scriptures and the Word of God, as a source of knowledge in determining the “reality’ of the identity of Jesus and His True Spiritual and eternal nature. Their intent being, to move all supposedly “thinking and rational” people to discard anything claiming to be supernatural or spiritual and, instead, base their social development on rational intellectualism, based on modern, and humanistic concepts. Thus bringing them closer and closer to their own humanistic and atheistic ideals.

One of the commentaries on the Gospel of John (by Mathew Henry) indicates somewhat why the Humanists are so eager on attacking the God-Given identity of Jesus as the WORD of God and the One who brings true “enlightenment” to the world:

Comments on John 1:1-5 The plainest reason why the Son of God is called the Word, seems to be, that as our words explain our minds to others, so was the Son of God sent in order to reveal his Father’s mind to the world. What the evangelist says of Christ proves that he is God. He asserts, His existence in the beginning; His coexistence with the Father. The Word was with God. All things were made by him, and not as an instrument. Without him was not any thing made that was made, from the highest angel to the meanest worm. This shows how well qualified he was for the work of our redemption and salvation. The light of reason, as well as the life of sense, is derived from him, and depends upon him. This eternal Word, this true Light shines, but the darkness comprehends it not. Let us pray without ceasing, that our eyes may be opened to behold this Light, that we may walk in it; and thus be made wise unto salvation, by faith in Jesus Christ.

This search by the secular humanists for “historic” truths are based on the  false premises, that in order to maintain “truth” in developing concepts of our belief about Historic and Religious Personalities, the results of all our investigations must be formed on the basis of the atheistic and naturalistic historicity surrounding that person.

Of course, the criteria for “historicity” comes from their own naturalistic philosophy. A philosophy which does not consider any so-called  “supernatural” events to be “historic”.  For instance, the history  surrounding Moses’ Passover liberation of the Jewish people from the Pharaoh of Egypt would not be considered by them to be historic unless some naturalistic explanation could be found to “explain” the miraculous events surrounding that period of history. To them these events represent only myths and legends about something that never happened – because according to them such events CANNOT happen. Yet the Jewish people and Israel exist to day as evidence that their do happen!

That is why, not only is the Word of God essential in fending off false prophets and their twisted theology, but it is of utmost importance in defending the purity and integrity of our souls as the enemy attack us in our soul, our moral integrity and our relationships with others of our faith, and especially our relationship with the Father of Jesus.

If we are to survive these attacks, God’s WORD must be to us…  A lamp to my feet, And a light to my path (Ps 119:105). If we receive the Word as merely intellectual or philosophical information it will not help us .  In order for the WORD to be effective as a spiritual weapon it must be inspired by  the Holy Spirit to truly spiritual. That is why we need to pray and meditate over the WORD we receive so that the Holy Spirit may empower the WORD and bring the Holy Fire it contains into our spirit.

The enemy we are facing are spiritual in nature, therefore if our weapon is the WORD it must be activated in us as a “spiritual” weapon and not as “the wisdom of man”.  As we progress on our path, we should always keep mind St. Paul’s exhortation to the Ephesians, that “.., our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the [spiritual] principalities, with the [spiritual] powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.” (Ephesians 6:12)

You Need Armor to Fight the Battle

You Need Armor to Fight the Battle

And, as spiritual warriors we therefor need to “… put on the “spiritual” armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground.” (Eph.6:13)

Remember also that we have not only been given defensive arms but also the most effective offensive weapon against the spiritual enemies of God, namely the Sword of the Spirit, which is the WORD of God. (cf.,Eph. 6:17)

“For the word of God is living and active and full of power [making it operative, energizing, and effective]. It is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as the division of the soul and spirit [the completeness of a person], and of both joints and marrow [the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and judging the very thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12)

Therefore, as Paul also stated to the Corinthians …
“… since we have this ministry through the mercy shown us, we are not discouraged. Rather, we have renounced shameful, hidden things; not acting deceitfully or falsifying the word of God, but by the open declaration of the truth we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God”. (2 Cor. 4:1-2)

That is why brethren, it is so important as we engage the enemy, to keep ourselves pure and in a state of Grace, utilizing the Holy Sacraments the Church provides us (Reconciliation and Eucharist) to maintain our relationship with  the Father an thus be under His protective Providence.

Are you being Conformed to Christ's Image?

Are you being Conformed to Christ’s Image?

When we yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit and yield ourselves to Him, the work of conforming us to the image of His Son begins. In effect the Father sets us apart for His purposes that is, He “sanctifies” us to be molded into the image of His Son. Listen to Jesus’ Prayer to the Father for His disciples:

“14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 15 I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one.[e] 16 They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.” (John 17: 14-19)

If we are predetermined to be conformed  into His image (cf., Rom.: 8:28-29) then this prayer is also for those who respond to His call to Discipleship — those of us who are set apart through His WORD to be saints.

In conclusion …

… remember Paul’s word to Timothy as he encourages him how to continue in his calling to not only to proclaim the WORD but Living the WORD out as well!

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Tm 3:14-17)

I charge you (therefore) in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths. (2 Tm 4:1-4)

I leave you with this Prayer:

Father, in Jesus Mighty Name I pray that all who are touched by You with this instruction be filled with Your Holy Spirit to move forward boldly in the calling which you have given them and may you affirm the calling for those who are just in the process of receiving it!

May it be so in Jesus Name! Amen and Amen!

Your Brother  in Christ Jesus … Bartimaeus

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

Related Links

<> Sweet Yoke of Love

<> Husbands Love your Wives

<> Walking the Walk

<> Discerning the Spirit’s Call 

<>  Hearing God’s Voice and Obeying It

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The Essence of true Discipleship …

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True Discipleship begins in Imitating Christ’s Humility

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

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

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

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

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The Way of True Discipleship

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

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

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

Yielding Ourselves to The Spirit to be “Disciples”

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

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Rom12:1-2)

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

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

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

Discipleship is Sometimes Misunderstood

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Conclusion …

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

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

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

Relevant Links for Those Interested in Continuing in this Topic…

The Transforming Work of the Cross

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

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

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

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

Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit

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Christ in Us is Our Hope of Glory  (… His Glory – Not ours)

CrossSt. Paul in exhorting the Colossians says: “I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church. I became its servant according to God’s commission that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery that has been hidden throughout the ages and generations but has now been revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. It is he whom we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone in all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature [complete] in Christ. For this I toil and struggle with all the energy that he powerfully inspires within me.”  (Colossians 1:24-29 )*

My Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,

true_repentanceOne of the obstacles we encounter within ourselves that hinders our spiritual growth is that of a spiritual inferiority complex – a weakness which derives from our lack of depth in truly understanding what God’s word tells us of what the Father has destined for us His adopted Children.  Namely, that He sent His Son not only to die for our sins and save us from eternal punishment, but foremost to recreate us spiritually so that each believer may be transformed inwardly into the likeness of Christ and act as His “agent” in our every day lives to bring forth the Glory of His Kingdom in this world.

It is as Paul says, that by Spirit-inspired preaching and teaching the Word of God he may present every man “complete in Christ’. This brethren, is what the Father desires for us, so that Jesus may be the first of many brethren, thus permitting us to act in His stead in bringing God’s Kingdom to manifestation in this world.

Here is what Jesus said regarding this matter:

“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot. “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” (Matt. 5:13-16 )*

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His Kingdom is Near

Is it not clear then,that we are envisioned by God to be a city on a hill and a light to the nations, that we are to be spiritually transformed beings only awaiting  the stirring of our faith in order to begin our transformation to be molded into the image of Christ. Should we not then, by the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, rise to the occasion?  Why then do we hold back?

When I say we, I mean people like me, regular everyday “Lay People”. Now, it is my assumption that this topic is not news to those in religious orders or the priesthood. But knowing myself and other lay people like me, I can say that we have never been taught that all believers are included in Father’s desires to form us into the image of His Son, and that we all need to do is cooperate with God’s Spirit and surrender to Jesus completely, not only as savior, but as Lord, yielding our person completely to Him so the Spirit can begin conforming us into His image! Praised be His Holy Name!

Yes, I can understand why we are hindered, because I am in the same boat as all of you. I am a sinner and since encountering the Lord I have become extremely aware of my weaknesses and failures that move me to sin against God and my neighbor. It is this awareness that holds me back – with the question im my mind:”how can God use me”? Yet, because of Scripture, it is obvious that most of the people God Chose were certainly “not worthy”, nonetheless, because they yielded to Him and the Holy Spirit He not only used them but molded them to fulfill the assignments they were given. So it will be with me, as long as I obediently abide in Him in Faith and His Word abides in me! praised be His Holy Name!

In my case, because of my conversion experience and sincere repentance, I, by the grace of God have been strengthened in my will more and more to remove myself from my sinful responses and turn more and more of my life over to Jesus, my Lord and Savior, who intercedes with the Father for me and leads me along the path He desires for me. This happens because, as He told us, that since He overcame the World, when we surrender to His Spirit in us,we too, by his strength and inspiration can also overcome the World (if we remain in Him)!

One might ask, what is the scriptural basis for the assertion that “Christ in Us” is the doorway to “our “Hope of Glory”.

<> First of all, it is St. Paul that clarifies that out “hope” is in  God permitting our sharing in His Glory.

Results of Justification : Our Hope is in Sharing the Glory of God
Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.
(Romans 5:1-2 )

<> It is  also clear that only through our becoming a New Creation in Christ that we can have access to that sharing.

We who believe are a New Creation
So if anyone is in Christ, [he/she] is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! (2 Corinthians 5:17 )

Being a New Creation is what matters in order to be conformed to Christ
For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything; but a new creation is everything!  (Galatians 6:15 )

<> And how do we become a New Creation? – Through the Living and  Enduring Word God!

Obedience to God’s Word Brings you to the New Birth ( a New Creation)
Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart.  [ For] You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God. For
“All flesh is like grass
    and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
    and the flower falls,
 … but the word of the Lord endures forever.”
[and] That word is the good news that was announced to you.
(1 Peter 1:22-25)

<> As His new creation we are predetermined to be Conformed to our Redeemer.

The Spirit then uses all the circumstances of our lives to transform us.
We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn of many brethren.” [… of those having His spiritual DNA]
(Romans 8:28-29 )

I don’t know how the Father’s purpose for us could be made clearer  than what is stated in the scriptures above, that is, that He plans for us to become spiritual descendants of His Son, and therefore also His Sons and Daughters in the the spirit.

When we commit ourselves to walk along the path of Discipleship to our Lord and Master, Jesus, we must always keep in mind that, as disciples, we are all predestined to be conformed unto Him so that He may be the Firstborn of many brethren. This means that in order to permit the Holy Spirit to continue His transforming work in us to form us into true, Spiritual “Brethren” of Jesus, we must willingly cooperate with God’s Grace by emptying ourselves of our self-willed approach to living for Christ and, instead, die to our own self-will and begin to permit the Spirit of Christ that is in us to operate sovereignly through us so that it is His Will and NOT ours is what is accomplished through us.  Or, as John the Baptist would say, the “I” in me must decrease so that the “HE” in me may increase.

Getting Started: Decide to Be His Disciple

The first step we must take in order to cooperate with God’s Grace is to “yoke” ourselves to Christ by making a free and sincere commitment of our will to take on his yoke by yielding to Him as “Lord” and “Master” of our lives. in so doing, we surrender our right to ourselves so that every aspect of our lives is placed under His Reign. This is the “cross” that Jesus said anyone who wishes to be His disciple must carry daily.

Of course, such a transition does not take place immediately, and without God’s Grace it would be a tortuous and seemingly impossible challenge. But, because of God’s mercy He provides us the Grace and strength to fulfill our commitment by being yoked to Jesus who submitted Himself to the Father. Remember what he told us, … “my yoke is easy and my burden light” (Matt, 11:30) .

In case you may have not understood scripture properly, this is the same commitment that Jesus asked His disciples to make when the taught them the “Disciple’s Prayer,” (or what we call the “Lord’s Prayer) where the commitment part of it may be understood as, “… may you as my King, Reign In Me and Through Me, so that Your Will May be done today in this Earth as it is In Heaven” (Matt. 6:10).

I pray, brethren, that the words I have shared with you may cause you pray about them and ask the Lord to  indicate you what action, if any, He would like of you that you may strengthen  you walk with Him. Praised be His Holy Name!!

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.

<> Related Links                                                                                                                                                        Has Jesus Arisen in Your Heart?

Cast Your Net on the Other Side!

Jesus, The Source of Living Water and Us!

<>*Note: all scriptural quotes are taken from the “New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition”.

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Concerning Spiritual Gifts

Opened Your Gifts Yet?

Opened Your Gifts Yet?

“Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed …”       (1 Cor 12: 1-3)


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In order for us, as believers, to cooperate with God’s Grace it is important to be informed about the “Spiritual Gifts” because it is through His Gifts that we are conformed into His Image to be channels of His Love.

In order to be properly informed, it must be noted that the Spiritual Gifts mentioned  by St. Paul in the letter to the Corinthians cited at the beginning of this post were in reference to the “gifts” that were manifested at “Pentecost” and recorded in the Book of Acts,

Acts 2: 1 “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.”

The Empowerment Gifts: The Promise of the Father

These “gifts” which all 120 persons initially received at Pentecost are those which Jesus termed, “ the Promise of the Father”. A Promise that was made to Israel by the Prophet Joel … (cf., Joel 2:28-31).

This is the “Promise Of the Father” that Jesus referred to just before His Ascension, when He instructed His disciples as follows:

Acts 1: 4 “While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the Promise of the Father. “This,” he said, “is what you have heard from me; “

The “Promise” manifested itself as spiritual gifts that could be observed and noted by the community and the outside world in which they were embedded.  It was the Lord’s purpose at the initiation of the Church to empower “all” its members to fulfill Jesus’ mission for evangelization of the world (ie.,the Great Commission) – a mission that could be accomplished only if each member received a share in the anointing  that was on Jesus.  That is the reason these gifts are sometimes termed “the Empowerment Gifts”.

Acts 1: “8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Jesus receives the Anointing

Jesus Baptized in the Spirit

The Gifts were basically the same spiritual gifts manifested by Jesus during His Ministry and they were the gifts passed on to His Church by Jesus, when, at His Ascension He told the disciples to return to Jerusalem and wait for the Holy Spirit whom He will send to empower them to continue to carry out His mission to evangelize the world through them as His empowered representatives.

Here is what Peter told the crowd of 3000 regarding what had just happened at the Pentecost gathering, when they were amazed ay what was happening:

Peter Proclaims and Explains the Gifts

Beginning at Acts 2: 14 … “But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. 15 Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 16 No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:

17 ‘In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
    and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
    and your old men shall dream dreams.
18 Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
    in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
        and they shall prophesy.
19 And I will show portents in the heaven above
    and signs on the earth below,
        blood, and fire, and smoky mist.
20 The sun shall be turned to darkness
    and the moon to blood,
        before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.
21 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

This scripture then, refers to the foundational Spiritual Gifts that were manifested to 120 disciples, including the apostles and the initial 3000 converts at the Pentecost celebration described in the Book of Acts.

There are many levels of these gifts, but…
the foundational nine gifts of the Spirit are listed by Paul in the first letter to the Corinthians, Chapter Twelve…

4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit;
5 and there are varieties of ministries, but the same Lord;
6 and there are varieties of manifestations,
           but it is the same God who empowers all of them in everyone.
7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
8 To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and
to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit,
9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.

Now, in the scripture cited in the preface to this article, Paul was exhorting the Corinthian Christians , who were recent baptized converts from paganism. to be informed about the nature of these gifts of the Spirit, in order that the community could grow and function appropriately to fulfill God’s purposes for them. It is for this same reason, we also need to be properly informed of these Spiritual Gifts today. That is why in our study of  Scripture we should put appropriate emphasis on St. Paul’s letters to the Corinthians as well as those to the Romans, Colossians, and Ephesians.

How The Sanctifying Gifts Relate to the Empowerment Gifts

Besides these foundational “Empowering Gifts” it must be emphasized that there are also another set of Spiritual Gifts that are termed, the “Sanctifying Gifts of the Spirit”. These gifts are the spiritual character and gifts of the Messiah as indicated by the verses in Isaiah 11…
1 A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
    and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
2 The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
    the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
    the spirit of counsel and might,
    the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
3 His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
    or decide by what his ears hear;
4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
    and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
    and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
5 Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist,
    and faithfulness the belt around his loins.

The gifts mentioned in this scripture are sometimes termed, the “Sanctifying Gifts”, because they are qualities of character and virtue to which we are called to attain as the Holy Spirit sets us apart to be conformed to the Image of Christ, that is to sanctify us as we progress in our spiritual life in this world.

As you might well imagine, these also are NOT our gifts but, rather the graces and spiritual character of Christ Himself. These are the character traits that characterize our progress in being conformed to His image by the Holy Spirit. These set of graces is in accord to the statement made by John the Baptist ,,, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30). That is, in order for “me” to grow spiritually into His image, the “I” in me must decrease through my “dying to self” so that His Inner Virtues and Character Traits may gradually grow and be manifested in me and through me.

Although the Sanctifying Gifts are not explicitly called out in the New Testament as “gifts”, they are alluded to indirectly as challenges we need to attain to in the growth of our inner man.  St. Paul does list some the “fruit” of these gifts on our personal character in his epistles, but one citation we remember especially is the one to the Galatians…

Gal 5:22 “By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another.”

While the “Sanctifying Gifts” are clearly indicated by today’s church as being those gifts dealing with the spiritual growth of the individual person in the process of being conformed to the inner Spirit of Christ (cf., Rom 8:29) the “Empowerment Gifts” we described prior to this section are the gifts that are manifested by believers outwardly for the benefit of the community, and are those gifts which were received at Pentecost and termed, “the Promise of the Father”.

St. Thomas Aquinas, in his treatise, “Summa Theologica”, clarifies the distinction between these two categories of Grace, namely, Sanctifying Grace and Actual Grace. The Empowerment Gifts clearly pertaining to the latter. This distinction not only helps us to understand the Spiritual Gifts but also how they are to be manifested in our spiritually active Christian lives.

Another concept that helps us in our understanding is how these Gifts, which are really  Christ’s Gifts relate to the Image of “Christ in us, the Hope of Glory”.

In being conformed to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29), the first thing that must happen is that, as we proceed in the process, His self increases in us in proportion as we die to “self”. This is the process of Sanctification that begins to form our inner self into His Inner Self.

Think of it this way, just as he identified Himself with us and our sins at His baptism, so also we are identified with His Spirit at our conversion and baptism and thus acquire access to His Inner Spiritual Gifts or Sanctifying Gifts to permit us to be conformed into His Image. For if we are NOT “in Christ” none of this applies and we are still in our sins.

Also note that after Jesus accepted His commission at water baptism and identified Himself with us to bear our sins, then the Holy Spirit came upon Him so that He could be anointed by the power of the Holy Spirit to carry out His calling. Here is what Jesus testified of that process when He returned to His home town of Nazareth  …

The Spiirt of the Lord is Upon Me...

The Spiirt of the Lord is Upon Me…

“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,  (Luke 4:18)

Thus in order for us who are baptized to share in His commission (ie., His Empowerment) with us, we must similarly receive our share of His anointing in order to carry out the role or purposes of the Father for us, who respond to His calling. This is why access to the Sacrament of Confirmation (ie., strengthening or empowerment) is provided us after our baptism. The only reason most of us don’t receive the Empowerment Gifts allocated to us, being that we are not properly informed about our access to them and thus our faith for these gifts remains dormant.

Before concluding, one of the final points that need to be clarified for us, as we proceed to enter into further study,  is that , in order for us to receive the Empowerment Gifts which are the gifts which enable us to function as envoys of Christ, under His anointing, the Sanctifying Gifts are a prerequisite.  And that satisfy that prerequisite, we must first identify spiritually with Christ and have His Spirit abide in us. For, as He told his disciples (and us), “… without me you can do Nothing”.

That Identification and New life by Abiding in Christ only comes when the Word of God leads us, through faith, to a sincere repentance and conversion leading to a reception of the Sacrament of Baptism, for as scripture says … “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.  … So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Rom. 6: 3,10 )

The reason we must be identified with Christ is that both sets of  Spiritual Gifts are NOT our gifts but a delegation of Christ’s spiritual gifts to us so that HE is the one that operates in us and through us bring us closer to His image, so that all the Glory is His and we are but channels of His Love and Mercy.

In Conclusion

I believe by now we have come to understand in distinguishing the two sets of gifts, that the Sanctifying Gifts are mainly demonstrated in our inner and personal character traits and the fruit of those traits, while the Empowerment gifts are designated to be manifested outwardly though us with the power of the Holy Spirit for the benefit and growth of the community.

This is why Paul, with the intent of building up the community, exhorts the already baptized  Corinthians to continue their growth in Christ by striving for the Empowerment Gifts .…“Pursue love and strive for the spiritual gifts, and especially that you may prophesy. For those who speak in a tongue do not speak to other people but to God; for nobody understands them, since they are speaking mysteries in the Spirit. On the other hand, those who prophesy speak to other people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. Those who speak in a tongue build up themselves, but those who prophesy build up the up the church” (1 Cor.14: 1-4 )

Praised Be His Holy Name!     Amen and Amen!

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My Brothers and sisters NOW is the time to act on the WORD and receive all that the Lord has provided for those who believe! May He reveal His Presence in you and may His Word burn in your hearts forever!

Baruch Ha Shem! Blessed be the Name!

Your Brother in Christ … Bartimaeus

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

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Related and Pertinent Links

Has Jesus Arisen In your Heart ? (Part 2)

Has Jesus Arisen in Your Heart? (Part 3)

Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit

Cast Your Net on the Other Side!

The Promise of the Father (Part 2)

Jesus, The Source of Living Water and Us!

 

 

 

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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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Did Not our Hearts Burn Within Us?

Sacred Heart

Jesus’ Burning Heart is Within Us

When Jesus Proclaims the WORD the Holy Spirit Activates it in our Hearts.
Luke 24: … 30 When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them.31Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight. 32They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?”

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

If there ever as a time in world history where we need a great revival it is now. Our western culture that was once the cultural bearer of the Gospel of Christ to the world has now fallen away and not only rejects Christianity but has fallen into the grasp of the world system and a humanistic ideology that permeates and corrupts our culture to a complete  falling away from the basic Judaeo-Christian principles that has kept our ship afloat.

Without a new, world-wide spiritual revival, that brings us all to repentance and faith in Christ our Redeemer, our Earth will become a living Hell.

I know that there are many Christian groups praying for a spiritual revival … but somehow we must be lacking something … or, Someone, … a Divine Someone who can bring our spirits to a renewed faith and spirituality so we can truly be God’s ministers of renewal in this fallen world. Someone who can empower us to preach the Word of God with power… a pure and explosive spiritual power that will reach the heart of the peoples and set their hearts on fire with a spiritually empowered fire of the Word.

That Someone, my fellow pilgrims, is the Holy Spirit.

Yes, we need the Holy Spirit to empower us to proclaim the Word with signs following so that the deceived world can be turned back to the truth of the Gospel. An empowerment that permits us to speak for Jesus, explaining and proclaiming the Word in such manner that our hearers will also say, “did not our hearts burn within us…” and turn their lives around for Christ.

Yet, we must understand that unless God’s Word has burned within us, as the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is sometimes termed, we cannot speak for Christ as His messengers. Nor can we proclaim a Message that will burn in  the hearts of our hearers.

Of course, it is clear from the cited scripture, that not only did their hearts burn with inspiration at the proclamation of the scripture but their spiritual eyes were opened at  the “breaking of the Bread”. This is the way it should be with us at the celebration of the Mass, where His Word is proclaimed and His Bread (another form of “His Word”) is  also broken for us to receive Him, Praised be His Holy Name!

Remember that Jesus told his disciples that, “ … without me you can do nothing”. So thus, if we have not yielded our lives to Christ and received Him as His Disciples, we cannot make disciples, and likewise we cannot proclaim His Word, which, as disciples is what is needed to comply with the Great Commission.

It is only through the active Spirit of Christ in us and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit  that we can be participants in Christ’s ministry to proclaim the Word and bring the fire of the inspired Word to the world. Without the abiding presence of Christ in us, we can do nothing.

As believers, we are covered by His Blood and reconciled to the Father, but unless we have yielded ourselves to His Lordship and received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit we, as merely self-willed religious humans, have no way to accomplish His Mission here on Earth – that is to bring the Fire of His Word to others in this fallen world.

He has told us that His words are Spirit and Life (Jn. 6:63)and that if we abide in Him and His Words abide in us we can ask whatever we need to fulfill His Mission (Jn15:7) and it will be granted to us. So, if you have opened the door to your heart to him and personally consecrated your life to Him (Rom.12: 1-2), then, you abide in Him, and you can ask for the anointing you need to fulfill the calling He has placed on you as His bond-servants in this world.

If, you have not yet yielded yourself, but are being moved by the spirit to move in that direction then you may grow in that direction by first coming to an understanding that the WORD of God is NOT just a document that you can just read, study and receive spiritual activation. Yes, all those preliminary steps must be taken to satisfy your intellect and reason, but the most important step to spiritual empowerment is to let the Holy Spirit bring the Empowerment of the WORD to life in your Spirit so you become assimilated into the Spiritual Life that is in His Word! This will activate your spirit so that whatever you say and do and think – everything that emanates from that activation, will come not from you but from His Spirit that dwells in you. That is what spiritual empowerment is about!

Unfortunately our modern christian culture does not give us all the teaching we need to move in the spiritual realm and truly understand what “walking in the spirit” really means. We must come to realize that we all need a gradual process of initiation into what a “burning”, empowered spirituality is all about, so that the Holy Spirit Himself will inspire and guide us spiritually the rest of the way.

Our first pope, St. Peter instructs us how this initiation begins …

<> First of all you must let the Word of God bring you to a “New Birth”

1 Peter 1: 23 “You have been born anew [in your spirit], not from perishable but from imperishable seed, through the living and abiding word of God,* 24 for:  “All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of the field; the grass withers, and the flower wilts 25 but the word of the Lord remains forever. This is the word that has been proclaimed to you.”

<> Then walking in the Inspired Word, you must “Grow up to Salvation”
I Peter 2: 1 “So put away all malice and all guile and insincerity and envy and all slander. 2 Like newborn babes, long for the pure spiritual milk [of the Word] , that by it you may grow up to salvation; 3 for you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.”

As we grow in the Word we then understand that to unite ourselves to Christ’s mission here on Earth, requires that we must first consecrate ourselves to Him so that we can truly discern the Father’s Will regarding our role as His bond-servants.

<> St.Paul exhorts the Faithful regarding our Consecration as  a Form of Worship

Rom. 12: 1 “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. 2 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.”
Once we are consecrated to Christ we need the Empowerment of the Spirit to act in His Name. With this empowerment we are then ready to obey our Lord and Master and truly take part in His Ministry to the Church and the World.

<>  Entering the “Kingdom” requires joining your self to Christ’s Ministry

Thus, Jesus, instructing Nicodemus about His Kingdom Ministry, tells him that the Holy Spirit may open your spirit to be aware of what God is doing through the Spirit, but in order to be part of what God is doing (His Kingdom), you have to repent and dedicate yourself to Him (ie., water baptism) and then move into His ministry through the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

John 3: 1 “Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do, unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born anew.’  8 The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit.”

This is in accord with what John the Baptist told His disciples …

Matt. 3:11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Jesus Himself stated His Mission ..

fire_book_800x600_618x463_xlarge

The Spirit Inspired Word

Luke 12:49 “I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!

Now Jesus, in His Compassion, still wishes to bring the Fire of His Word into the World and He is looking for volunteers  …

Matt. 9:  36 But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. 37Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Pray then, brethren, to the Lord of the Harvest and ask: “Lord, am I one of your workers?”

Are you ready to be baptized with the Holy Spirit and with Fire?

Luke 11: 9 “So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 11 Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? 12 Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

May the Lord hear you prayers, and answer them …..

“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few;  pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matt. 9 : 37-38)

Your Brother In Christ Jesus … Bartimaeus

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

Related Links…

Jesus the Source of Living Water and Us

Testimony of the Pope’s Preacher

The Transforming Work of the Cross

Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit

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Assessing our Discipleship / Forming Disciples

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.…” (Rom.8:28-30)

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Are you being Conformed to Christ's Image?

Are you being Conformed to Christ’s Image?

All believers are called to be conformed to the image of Christ! That is God’s purpose for us, and it is to this end we should be living out the fulness of His purpose for us.

One of the main problems we lay people have in living out our faith to its fullness is that most of us have left out one of the main facets of entering into a truly and complete living faith journey, namely, our personal relationship with Jesus and subsequent yielding ourselves to the Holy Spirit so He may conform us into the image of Christ that is in us (Rom.8:29).  Without this facet of our faith life we cannot be “true disciples” or what may be called  “Intentional Disciples”.

Sherry A.Waddell in her book “Forming Intentional Disciples – The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus” makes it clear that there are three concurrent spiritual journeys to what one might call “normative” Catholicism.  She lists these as:

1. The personal interior journey of a relationship with Christ resulting in intentional discipleship.

2. The ecclesial journey into through the Church through the sacraments of initiation.

3. The journey of active practice (as evidenced by attending mass, receiving the sacraments and participating in the life and mission of the Christian community).

She also makes it clear that in a study conducted by her and a Catholic Cleric indicated that the majority of Lay Catholic Christians basically assume that all that is needed to be “Catholic” are to be involved in paths 2 and 3 (the ecclesial journey and the practice of the religious tenets of the faith).

To complicate matters, most of the Catholic participants in the study did not even know or understand that without the personal interior journey of “Intentional” Discipleship (#1) the other two paths become essentially a self-driven religious journey that leaves out what should be our most essential journey, that is, the personal yoking ourselves to Christ so that He and He alone may empower the Living of our Christian Life to its fulness.

Counter to this lack of understanding in our laity, leaders in the Church have reiterated time and time again that “normative” Catholicism must begin with…

“… the proclamation of the Good News that is directed to a conversion of heart and and life and clinging to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior; to disposing a person to receive Baptism and Eucharist and to strengthen a person in the prospect and realization of new life according to the Spirit”

(see on-line at:  http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_exhortation/documents/hf_jp-11_exh_30121988_christifideles-laici_en.html as of May 8,2012)

Because of the lack of in-depth adequate faith formation teaching (catechesis) most Catholic Christians are not properly taught the scriptural foundations behind the essential need for all of us to participate in a personal spiritual relationship with Christ that directly leads us to commit ourselves as “intentional” disciples. Without our direct and intentional consent to becoming Jesus’ disciples the Holy Spirit will NOT force discipleship on us because He respects our free will. Thus unless we come to such a commitment in our lives we CANNOT consider ourselves as TRUE DISCIPLES of Christ no matter how well we practice our religion. Discipleship requires a commitment beyond believing in Jesus – it requires a decision to surrender our lives to the Father so that the Spirit of His Son may act in us and through us for the Glory of the Father.

Being FormedTrue Discipleship is the process the Holy Spirit uses to conform us to the image of Christ during our lives (Rom.8:29). Discipleship is not a process that we perform. It is a divine process of Grace in our inner being that molds us and forms us to become more and more like Christ each day that we live. It is a process that works in every aspect of our being, body, soul and spirit as long as we cooperate with the Holy Spirit in His work of Grace. It is a process that leads to what is called a state of Holiness. That is, a state  where every part of our being is set apart for God’s use and direction to accomplish His purposes, not ours.

In order to facilitate our meditation on assessing our discipleship. I will list below several scriptures and my commentaries so that my readers may pray over this theme and let the Holy Spirit guide them in discerning where they stand as disciples.

One of the first themes I propose we consider for meditation is that of the Good Shepherd. If we are to be truly His disciples then we must truly be one of His sheep.

<1>    Jesus spoke of the relationship between Himself and His Sheep: “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.…” (John 10:14-15)

Point:  Jesus is declaring that to be one of His Sheep you need to have a “knowing, living” relationship with Jesus that emulates His relationship to the Father. Are you in your inner spiritual life living out and experiencing such a relationship? If not. Why Not?

<2>    “The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”  (John 10:2-5)

Point: Jesus leads His sheep through a personal interaction by speaking directly to them so they can recognize His Voice and not follow a stranger’s voice. Do you have a daily dialogue with Jesus in prayer so that you hear and know His Voice and thus are able to follow Him and learn from Him?  If not. Why Not?

<3>    Jesus answered [the Pharisees], “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all ; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:34-38)

Point: Those who are called to be disciples “know” who Jesus is in their hearts and thus have spiritual ears to hear and listen to His Voice and follow Him. If you have heard His Voice, then all you have to do to enter into discipleship is decide to follow Him and act on your decision by making a commitment in faith to Him directly!

Comment: In the above discussion we may be faced with a dilemma. We have a strong desire to act on our desire to follow Jesus but we have never experienced a dialogue with Jesus or really understood what the Kingdom of God that He preaches is about.

Well you are not alone. Nicodemus, a ranking member of the Sanhedrin was in the same situation that you are. So what did He do? He went looking for Jesus to ask Him directly. Of course he came by night because, like you, because it was a little embarrassing. Here is what  happened:

<4> “Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”  Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again ” (John 3:1-3)

Comment: Notice that Jesus equates the effects of God working through His ministry, that Nicodemus is referencing, as the evidence of the “Kingdom of Heaven” at work. Nicodemus, a cleric with standing, was shocked at Jesus’ response. How could this lay person say such a thing to a member of the Sanhedrin? And what is this thing about being “born again”?

Regarding the term “born again”, note how St. Peter comments on this in his first epistle: “ Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for…

“All flesh is like grass
and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
and the flower falls,
but the word of the Lord remains forever.”

And this word is the good news that was preached to you.” (1 Peter 1:22-25)

<5> Nicodemus, in trying to understand this saying, asks Jesus: “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”

Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:4-8)

Point: Jesus indicates that a person’s spirit must be “brought to life” or “activated” in order to be sensitive to the work of the Holy Spirit. Only the Holy Spirit can revive a person’s spirit by Grace, through The Word. Jesus refers to those who have received such sensitivity to the Spirit as having spiritual ears so they can her His Voice.

He also tells Nicodemus that although he has been granted the grace of this sensitivity and has responded to it by coming to Him,  yet in order to be a disciple and participate in His ministry (ie., enter the service of the Kingdom of Heaven) he must take a further step and make a commitment to Jesus to follow Him.

Jesus, is also telling Nicodemus the action he now needs to take to enter the Kingdom, that is become a disciple in His Ministry is two fold:

1) repent of his sins and accept Jesus for who He is (water Baptism),
and
2) yield himself to be empowered by the Holy Spirit (commissioned) to carry out the role he has been called to fill in the Kingdom.

Have you been moved by the Spirit to renounce yourself and your own goals and objectives, as noble as they may be, and turn towards God for the change of life He wants for you. And…, if you have done this, are you willing to freely and openly offer your self as living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1-2) so that the Spirit of Christ that is in you can work in you and through you to achieve the purpose for which the Father has called you?”

If your answer is “yes” to these latter two questions, then you should seriously consider making a declared commitment to follow Jesus. This is what being an “intentional” disciple is about.

Comment: Note that Nicodemus did not take up Jesus’ offer of full discipleship at the time of his encounter with the Master. He did continue as a “discreet” or “undeclared” disciple which is the role most of us lay Christians, in our passive ignorance, inadvertently choose.

Brethren in Christ …

I now implore you to meditate and pray on the themes and Scriptures I have presented to you andask the Holy Spirt to Guide you to discerning your calling.  Then…act on whatever He tells you!  Praised Be His Holy Name, Forever and Ever, Amen!

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

Your Brother in Christ Jesus … Bartimaeus

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

Important Links Relevant to the Current Article

Hearing God’s Voice and Obeying It

Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit

The Cost Of Discipleship

Cast Your Net On the Other Side

Blog Comments On Sherry Weddell’s Book

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

Contacts Regarding Discipleship

The Catherine of Siena Institute
PO Box 26440
Colorado Springs, CO 80936
Web Site: www,siena.org
(719) 219-0056
(888) 878-6789 (toll free US)
(719) 219-0097 (fax)

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