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Archive for the ‘Grace and Repentance’ Category

Have we noticed how many Prodigals we have among us?

Just read the news.

Have we read the scripture about how God changed the desires of a prodigal son and he decided to return to his father?

Let us pray, as a community, that God will work in the prodigal youth among us that they also may return to Our Heavenly Father and His Son!

When he [the prodigal son] had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.” ’ (Luke 15:14-19)

 

So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ (Luke 15: 20 -21)

 

But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.  (Luke 15: 22-24)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As we grow older and experience more of the evils that this fallen world throws at us, we will all without doubt, encounter those whom we would classify as “prodigals”. That is, someone who has deserted his/her Christian roots in their futile and misdirected attempt to find “fulfillment” in the enticements that the fallen world system offers.

The “Classical”  Prodigals

Of course the term “prodigal” is best understood by the allegorical tale that Jesus told about a young man, one of two heirs to his fathers’ estate, who decided to seek independence from his father and take his share of the estate to “become his own man”, so to speak, and make a future for himself in the world system. What he found in the world was not the freedom and independence he envisioned but rather an enslavement to the world and its vices and evils. Instead of fulfillment he experienced spiritual hunger and desolation; instead of being fed he found himself feeding the pigs of his own fallen nature. It was through this experience and disillusionment with the world, that he finally “came to his senses” and said to himself, “I will return to my father’s house, maybe he will take me on as a servant…”.  His father, who had been expectantly waiting for his return was waiting for him and when he saw him on the way he ran to meet him, lovingly embraced him, and fully restored him as a “son” and not as a servant. (Read the story for yourselves: Luke 15:11-32)

In his day Jesus told his disciples this story to illustrate that the Love the Heavenly Father had for His sons was not dependent on their mere performance of their family duties but because they were under covenant relationship; they were legitimate heirs and truly his “sons” – sons, because of how they were related to Him by covenant and birth, NOT by how they performed their duties. The implied condition is that both brothers had a personal covenant relationship with the father to start with, and the story deals with how one of the sons, while still under covenant, distanced himself from the father, and how upon his sincere repentance was accepted back into his covenant relationship with the father because of the father’s unconditional and loving acceptance of his son’s act of repentance. Repentance is critical to the prodigal’s acceptance. Of course, his act of returning to his father was THE demonstration of his repentance and that was the only thing the father was waiting for – it was all that mattered, and that is why on-going repentance (through confession) is critical to us!

In telling the story, Jesus especially wanted to point out to the Pharisees who were present in the audience that tax collectors, prostitutes, and other outcasts remained part of the old testament religious covenant system relationship to the Father, and, were as much God’s children as those who legalistically followed the religious requirements of the Mosaic Law. He wanted to make it clear that God  was just as eager to receive them back into covenant relations as His children as those who remained compliant to the Law, if not more so.

The story also points out, that the Father longs to reach out to those who, although being His sons and daughters, leave His care to seek their own way in life. He lovingly waits for them, so that they, through their mistaken dip into the world of sin, would realize their error and return to Him in repentance so that He might envelop them and restore them in His Love. Because He loves them He does not interfere with their choices using their own free will, but rather, waits until they taste what the world offers (and what it does not) so they can experience for themselves that the Father is the only one who can satisfy their spiritual hunger and discover their true self in Him. And, so as a result of coming to their spiritual senses, they will freely repent and return to Him once they have realized their error, appreciating all the more what they left behind in their Father’s house.

Of course, when we come across such “prodigals’ in our day-to-day experiences, it is not for us to judge them, but rather, pray that the Holy Spirit would hover over them so that, by whatever means, He, the Holy Spirit, may “bring them to their senses”, permitting them to repent and return to the arms of the Father.  Normally, this type of intercession requires spiritual warfare because the reason many of our brothers and sisters depart from our Christian religious traditions is not only to erroneously seek self-fulfillment but also because they have been deceived by the lies of the enemy and/or hurt and abused in our families, in our fellowships, and in our churches, for which we also need to repent so that we are not impediments to their return

The “Hidden” Prodigals

More importantly, we need to realize that the story of the “prodigal” may also be our story, although, this realization may have been, until now, hidden from our hearts. Yes, “hidden”, because in our self-righteousness, as the other brother in the story, we did not think of ourselves as separated from the Father because we had been faithful in the performance of our religious obligations, but not in the desires of our “hearts”. That is, in regard to our spirits (hearts) we, in fact, were as far from the Father as the other brother. Yes, we considered ourselves as religiously compliant but were doing it with the wrong motives. We were obedient for what we could get out of our religious performance rather than as a result of manifesting our love for the Father Himself  – for who He is, our Creator, Our Father, and Our Savior. He is the HOLY ONE, the lover of our souls.

He freely embraces us with His Love because He desires to Love us as His Children of Covenant and not because of our insincere religious acts and devotions! While we were yet sinners He loved us and sent His Son to die for us as the ultimate manifestation of His Love! Thus, through our impure motives, we, like the Prodigal, also distance ourselves from a true relationship with the Father – a relationship to which he is now urging us to return.

So, before we pray for what I call the “classical Prodigals”, we need to examine ourselves as to where we stand in our relationship to God. Are we merely paying  “lip service” to God by practicing our religion because it is culturally of intellectually comfortable for us, or have we come to a true conversion in our lives where we have personally encountered the Father through Jesus, who is the Way to the Father? Are we using compliance with religious rules and regulations as a fig leaf to cover our spiritual nakedness?

Or, on the other hand, have we come to the point in our lives where our spirits have been revived to where we can truly say that we can worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth, as Jesus asked of the Samaritan woman (John 4:23-24)? Can we truly say that we discern the move and leadings of the Holy Spirit in our lives John 3:6-8)?  And, in loving obedience to His call, do we have a steady personal spiritual prayer relationship with the Godhead? If not, then I think that we should consider the possibility that we may in fact be “hidden Prodigals” ourselves and the Lord is calling you right now to turn back to Him in repentance with a sincere and faithful heart! Remember! He is waiting, just waiting for you to say to yourself, “I have been deceiving myself long enough, I will return to my father’s house …”. He is waiting with open arms to embrace you and restore you as a SON, how can you refuse?

Now, brothers and sisters, I am making this plea, not as someone apart from you all. No, in fact, it is from my own fig-leaf experience as a “hidden prodigal” that I speak.  Yes, I am one of you, an elder brother who, in the past, justified himself by saying, “ I have served Him all these years… “

I was like the prodigal’s brother. Who didn’t want to enter the party that the father had thrown for his younger brother when he returned home. I speak as a cultural religionist who thought that I was living the “Christian” life, who kept all the rules (well, at least so I thought). I was married to a wonderful Christian woman and we parented two wonderful children who we were sending through the Catholic school system. My uncle was a Jesuit priest and I was in the Catholic educational system through my first years at University. I attended worship services weekly with my family and did all that was required of us in the Church community.

However, I was a prodigal and didn’t know it. Without realizing it, I had given my heart to another master, another god who ruled my life and my desires. This “god” was My career! My profession!  My personal ambitions and pride! (notice how often I use the term “MY”) . Yes, in all appearance, I was doing all that my religion required but I was very far from the Father! I was seeking my own self-fulfillment in what I was doing and achieving. My heart was dedicated to intellectual pride in what my achievements in the engineering profession offered, I was serving an evil master and spiritually I was far removed from the Father who was calling and waiting for me. I was feeding the pigs of my own ambition and getting nowhere fast!

Then, the Lord in His compassion, through the excesses I was putting my mind and my body through, permitted me to come down with walking pneumonia. I was hospitalized and then ordered to medication and bed rest for two weeks. It was during this time the Lord began to speak to my heart. First of all through the loving care my wife provided and then through some leaflets she placed at my bedside regarding a priest who was giving a series of lectures on the Charismatic Renewal in the Catholic Church.

Since I had very little to do as I lay in bed, I began to read these leaflets and, catching my interest, I asked my wife to bring me the Bible my dad had given to me upon graduation from High School. A bible I kept as a memento but had never read.  But now, every word and every chapter of the Gospels and the Book of Acts leapt out to my spirit as I tried to reconcile what the leaflets and scripture were saying with respect to Jesus, the Father, the baptism in the Holy Spirit, and Eternal Life.  The more I read from the Bible the more the Spirit spoke to my heart and I became spiritually hungry, very hungry, not only for the WORD but for the Promise of the Spirit and a closer more intimate relation to the Father, through His Son, Jesus.

Again, the Lord used my wife, she suggested upon my recovery that we attend a spiritual retreat being given by the same priest who had spoken at our parish. Because the Lord was already working in me, I somehow sensed this meeting would lead me to the spiritual uplift I was sensing I needed. I was not wrong. It was toward the end of this retreat, inspired by the teaching and preaching of the Word that I repented, asking and receiving Jesus into my heart as my Lord and My savior. In asking to receive the Baptism of the Spirit, I received a word indicating that such would be forthcoming but I needed further inner preparation. Indeed two week later on Pentecost Sunday night my wife heard of a group that was meeting for the very purpose of receiving the Promise of the Spirit. Again the Lord permitted me to be Baptized in the Spirit and to begin speaking in other tongues and given other charismatic gifts to share with the community.

Spiritually, I began a new Life, I experienced some very intimate times with my Lord Jesus in prayer and was given some very personal consolations and revelations that turned my whole life upside down. I was indeed a new creature in Christ Jesus and He introduced me to the Father, so that I could truly experience Him as a SON! Blessed be His Name forever!

The first few months were extremely extraordinary. So much so, that I have not sufficient words to express myself, the most I can do is to share with you a poem that came to me during this period (see below). I pray that my witness to His Love will encourage you other hidden prodigals to follow me and answer His Call to return Home to the Father. He is waiting for you too!

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

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

< As One From a Dream Awakens >

As one from a dream awakens,

So the day I came to the light of life.

As the whirlwind of the Spirit entered,

The door to my soul opened wide.

It broke through the shell of self, erected

To defend the self against the embrace of Love,

…. That Eternal Love for which my soul was made.

 

Oh ! I built my defenses well!

In my narcissist enclave all was to justify the Self.

All I said and did was well under the control

Of reason and science and intellectual disdain,

Of a measured theology and attitude profane,

But sorely wanting of the very thing from which I fled,

…. That Eternal Love for which my soul was made.

 

But then as if from nowhere, I heard …

A word that pierced and shook me to my very depths

A word that revealed the sham that I was living

A word that deflated my ego and my pride

It told me that nothing in me was worthy

But that He who Loves me, died that I might have

…. That Eternal Love for which my soul was made.

 

As into my heart His Word descended,

I was overcome by the intensity of His Love.

As His Love called out to me and sought me,

Willingly, I ceded self to its manifold embrace,

Basking in the warmth of His Compassion, the Mercy of His Grace,

Asking only that He renew and restore me, to receive more of

…. That Eternal Love for which my soul was made.

Bartimaeus

© Bartimaeus, BRTimeo and quietplace4prayer, [2008-2018].

Recommended Links:

Praying for Prodigals

Prayer: Our Response to His Call

True Spirituality

A Prayer to receive the Holy Spirit

A Pprayer of Dedication

Releasing the Spirit

Hearing God’s Voice …. And obeying it!

Jesus, the Source of Living Water, and us

A History of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal

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jesus-cleanses-the-templeCleansing Our Temple
The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” (John 2:13-22)

Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,

The scripture cited above brings up a question that we must all, at sometime or other, ask ourselves, and that is, are we aware that the cleansing of our spiritual temple is also required. It is our problem of lack oi spiritual awareness that I wish to address in this post.

The Apostle Paul sometimes used very pointed questions to critique his evangelized communities’ lack of awareness or spiritual sensitivity. For instance, he asked the Corinthian believers  several questions, beginning with, “do you not know…?”,

When he used such question indicated that he was trying to exhort them regarding their lack of awareness to certain particular spiritual articles of faith that were affecting their ability to truly live a totally pure and obedient life committed to our God and Savior, Jesus our Lord!

The primary question was … “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God with your body. (1 Cor. 6 :18-20)

This question is also relevant for us today, in that many of us Christians do not appear to really have a truly spiritual awareness (knowledge) of the presence of “Christ in us, the Hope of Glory”(Col. 1:27).  For those of us who are mainly “cultural” Christians, we treat the concept of the persons of the Trinity as a theological term beyond our realm of experience. You can understand then, why we have so much trouble in understanding how we can be aware of the Spirit of God in us.

Theologically speaking we acknowledge a God and Creator who loves us but whom we cannot approach because of our sinful nature. It is hard for us to realize that “in Christ”, the Spirit of God truly indwells in us through faith, and that, because of this, we have a responsibility as His stewards to maintain the Holiness of the Temple Of God in us!

Now, Paul in attempting to bring the Corinthians to acknowledge their lack of the true spiritual awareness needed to be a participant in God’s Heavenly Kingdom, further rebuked them by continuing with another of this soul-searching questions, namely …

“… do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor. 6:9-11)

The reason I bring this up for us today is not to condemn anyone of being anything like these Corinthians who Paul was trying to reach, but to make us aware that as temples of the Spirit of God in us, we also have to be aware that, like the Jews in Jesus’ time, the bringing the ways of the world to the entrance of the temple of the Spirit of God, that is in us, we also compromise the Holiness needed to place God at the forefront of our spiritual lives.

By the ways of that world, I mean our business and secular affairs, our personal ambitions, our troubled family relationships, our fears, jealousy, and envy (and so on). These may not be sins to the level of the Corinthians but unless they are also attended to they block our entrance to communion with the Spirit of God that dwells in us –  a communion that is essential to maintaining our intimate relationship to the Father, through Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

That is why we must be as scrupulous as Jesus in cleansing our inner man from the entrance to our spiritual temple. I use the metaphor of Jesus cleansing the temple as the opening scripture to emphasize our need to regularly perform a cleansing of our inner temple, especially in examining ourselves prior to worship and communion.

As we approach the lenten season this is the approach we need to take in preparing our hearts for Jesus to enter in. Of course, confessing and repenting our sins in confession takes precedence in our cleansing, but sometimes we forget to cleanse our consciences from the inroads the world and its minions have made into our minds and hearts – the entrance to our temple.

It is not difficult enter into the awareness of His spiritual Kingdom and unite ourselves with His Holiness. Jesus himself tells us…

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” (Matt 7:7-11)

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matt, 7:13-14)

In strengthening our faith for our inner cleansing  remember St.Paul’s Prayer for the Ephesians and know that it also applies to us as we walk the narrow way towards union with Jesus in faith …

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen “          (Ephesians 3: 14-21)

Your Brother In Christ Jesus … Bartimaeus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2018])

Recommended Links
Sweet Yoke of Love
Responding to the Spitit’s Call
The Kingdom of God: Our Spiritual Inheritance
Reclaiming Our Legacy In Christ
Hearing God’s Voice, and Obeying It
Pentecost and the Promise of the Father
The Empowerment Gifts (Part 1)
The Empowerment Gifts (Part 2)

Building our Spiritual Life on the Rock

 

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In Relating the Birth of Messiah to our own spiritual re-birthing and growth. Let us begin by understanding and contemplating on the pertinent scriptures:

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child.

While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. (Luke 2:1-7)

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,

and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

(Luke 2:8-14)

My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As we approach the celebration of the birth of Messiah, the Christ, Let us prepare our hearts by humbling ourselves in the knowledge of whom it is we are coming to worship and our own unworthiness before Him.  For it is only in approaching Him in humility and repentance that we can fully experience His presence in our hearts, for it is to the poor in spirit that He reveals Himself and invites into His Kingdom.

The first persons invited to celebrate the birth of the Messiah were not those from the elite classes of Judea, certainly not its king or its princes or magistrates. Nor was it anyone from the religious class, the Priests and Sanhedrin, or the Pharisees and Sadducees. No, it was a group of poor shepherds tending their sheep who were called as first witnesses to the birth that changed destiny of humanity for all time – the birth of its savior-redeemer, indeed its King! Even the wise men, magi, or Kings from the east were strangers to Israel, but they came days or months later – it was this group of poor humble shepherds that were granted the privilege of being the first to honor the Messiah and be Blessed by His Presence – to be the first to see the Light of the World manifested in human form.

As it was then, so it is today, regarding our ability to come into the presence of the King of the Universe. Those who are considered last by human society, and consequently by themselves, are to be the first and those who are considered first by human society because of their status, whether religious, secular or political, will be last in coming to a renewed spiritual awareness of His Person, not because their status itself prevents them, but because their status puffs up their human pride and self-esteem to the point that it takes them longer open their hearts to be receptive to God’s grace and, thus, transition to the level of humility required to receive the spiritual awareness needed to come into His presence.

Unfortunately, the materialistic manner with which we celebrate the Christmas holidays works against us – for our social customs places the emphasis on the gifts (to each other) rather than on the Giver (of Himself for our salvation). Instead of leading us an awareness of our own unworthiness, our worldly traditions lead us to think more highly of ourselves than we really ought, thus blinding us to our individual need for salvation and diminishing the infinite value of the Father’s Gift of His only son for our redemption.

Note that the Father did not select any one from the esteemed classes of the time, Joseph, Mary, and the shepherds were from the poor and needy class which scripture terms the “Anawim” (Zeph.3:12).  “Anawim” is a Hebrew term meaning “poor,” “humble,” or “afflicted.” Some scholars note that, it came to mean those who, because of their condition, could not rely upon their own strength but had to rely completely upon God. These same scholars speculate that, because of their simple faith and piety, most of the early believers in Messiah were from the Anawim, the poor and needy class and composed their own Jewish-Christian canticles of praise for God’s salvation in Jesus.

Listen to what the Old Testament had to say regarding the Anawim:

“Ah, soiled, defiled, oppressing city! It has listened to no voice; it has accepted no correction. It has not trusted in the LORD; it has not drawn near to its God.

At that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call on the name of the LORD and serve him with one accord. From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia my suppliants, my scattered ones, shall bring my offering. On that day you shall not be put to shame because of all the deeds by which you have rebelled against me; for then I will remove from your midst your proudly exultant ones, and you shall no longer be haughty in my holy mountain.

For I will leave in the midst of you a people humble and lowly. They shall seek refuge in the name of the LORD, the remnant of Israel; they shall do no wrong and utter no lies, nor shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouths. Then they will pasture and lie down, and no one shall make them afraid.”   (Zephaniah 3:1-2, 9-13)

With this scripture in mind Let us briefly review the list of the participants at the Birth of Messiah:

Joseph, was from a branch of the Davidic lineage (Jeconiah a descendant of Jehoiakim, cf. Jeremiah 36:1-32) that was under a curse, a divine curse that stated that no one from this lineage would succeed to the throne of David and would not prosper.

Mary, although a descendant of David, through Nathan, herself was under a cloud of shame because, to the uninformed, she became pregnant out of wedlock and thus was under a possible judgment of stoning.

Those who tended the sheep were from the lowest classes in Judea – they were usually uneducated, simple people living day-to-day in the most meager of circumstances, not being sure where their next meal would be coming from, relying totally on their trust in God.

Jesus, then, came from this class of disenfranchised people, the son of a carpenter, who offended His hometown residents when He claimed that God had anointed him. Essentially, they said to Him, “Who do you think you are? You are nothing but the son of a carpenter, you don’t have any religious training and we know all your relatives and they are also of no consequence, and here you are claiming to be God’s Messiah” (Luke 4:16-30).

Jesus’ disciples were no better, they were fishermen, tax collectors, political rebels, and people of no reputation. This, then, is the class of people the Lord calls to Himself, the disenfranchised, the despised, the poor in spirit. These are the ones the scriptures refer to as “my Hidden Ones”. These are the ones that the Lord told the despairing Elijah, that “… I have Seven Thousand who have not bowed the Knee to Baal” (Rom. 11:1-6).

This, my brothers and sisters is what we need to remind ourselves when the Lord calls us to discipleship. It is the grace to be formed and united to this class of people that we need to ask of the Lord as we approach Him on this the celebration of His Birth. Here is what the Apostle Paul says indirectly to us regarding our attitude in coming to Christ:

“Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus, who, being in very nature, God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!” (Phil. 2:4-8)

It is only when we permit the Holy Spirit to purify us of our pride and self-centeredness, and begins to form us into the image of Christ, that we can approach the Babe in the manger of Bethlehem and present Him our gifts. Yes my bothers and sisters, I said “our gifts”, for you see, the gift He wants from us is our very selves, and only when we have stripped our selves of our attachments to this world and become poor in spirit that we are able to open and offer our presents before Him for the Glory of His Name!  Baruch ha Shem! Amen and Amen!

Keep in mind what Our Lord Jesus said to His disciples:

“…Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.” (Matt. 19:23-29)

I confess to you my brethren that, I, myself  am struggling to be one of those who are poor in spirit and thus join myself spiritually to the Anawim, In this struggle I am having trouble in detaching myself from the affairs of this world and giving myself totally to the Lord.  I pray daily for the grace to draw closer and closer to Him and to the Anawim of old. Will you not join me, then my brothers and sisters, in this, my pilgrim quest, as I “… follow the Bright and Morning Star to the dawning of the Day, to the revelation of the Christ as He in His cradle Lay”? And, As you travel on your way, remember what our Master had to say..,”

“If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world—therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘Servants are not greater than their master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. (John 15:18-21)

“… ‘I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes [anawim?]. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight. All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knows the Son, but the Father; neither knows any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him’ ”. (Matt. 11: 25-27)

As you approach His presence in the hay, give yourself to Him today – become one of the Anawim and let Him reveal Himself to you this Christmas day !

With this said, I take leave for now, that I may go to worship the King on the day of His appearing. May the Lord richly bless you and your loved ones during this wonderful Christmas Season.

Your Brother in Christ … Bartimeaus

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

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§ Are You at Hand For the Kingdom of Heaven?

Our Father who art in Heaven

Our Father who art in Heaven

The Message that John the Baptist proclaimed before Jesus was baptized was:
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 3:2)

The Message that Jesus proclaimed at the beginning of His Ministry was:
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 4:17)

The directive He gave to the twelve disciples as He sent them out during His Ministry was:
“And as you go, preach saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons; freely you received, freely give.” (Matt. 10:7-6)

Dear fellow pilgrims in Christ Jesus,

The Gospels make it clear that the theme for evangelizing by John the Baptist, Jesus, and His Disciples was “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” And that the works that followed were miraculous confirmation of the Word that was preached. We understand that the term “Kingdom is at Hand” is used in these scriptures referring to the accessibilty of entry to the Kingdom for those in the audiences who came seeking belief in Jesus, as the Christ

However, for us who have believed and are baptized the term no longer applies. For, according to Paul the Apostle, at our coming to Faith in Jesus the Christ we have already been translated to “The Kingdom of the Son” (see Col.1:9-14). Therefore for us the more appropriate question we might ask ourselves is “are we aware of the presence of the Kingdom in us?” And, subsequently, and more importantly, the question we need most to understand is… “are we at hand to the Kingdom of God that is in us?” That is, have we committed ourselves to be available to be at the service of the King in every aspect for our lives in the Kingdom?

Before continuing, it should be clear to us who have accepted Christ that what Jesus was proclaiming was NOT a material kingdom in this space-time continuum, but rather a Spiritual Kingdom under Christ and that, as a Spiritual Kingdom, every person who believes and repents becomes a participant in this Kingdom and under the Reign of the King.

It is also clear that from the citations and other scriptures that “repentance” is the main key to being received into the Kingdom. Repentance is not a “human work” in the traditional sense, indeed, it consists of Spirit-inspired words and action by the believer affirming their faith in the “promise” preached, to the extent that they renounce sin and turn their lives over to God. Of course, the “promise” refers to “The Word Of God”, the “Good News” of the Redemption and Forgiveness offered to those who turn from their worldly lives and believe the Good News of Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice and resurrection.

True repentance is also NOT intended to be a one-time occurrence but an on-going practice in our lives. This is because although the forgiveness and redemption we receive is eternally complete in Jesus, our repentance, in order to be sincere, is limited to our past and present sins – sins that we can only honestly acknowledge after we commit them. We cannot repent of sins we have not yet committed. That is why the Church through the Holy Spirit and the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist provides us the means to maintain, throughout our lives, the state of grace we obtain at our reception of the sacrament of Baptism.

Belief and Repentance are therefore, not only the Keys to the Kingdom. but are also the Keys that permit us to remain in the Kingdom of God let us yield ourselves to Him so that His Spirit may function in us for Glory of His Kingdom!

This then brings us to a better understanding as to why we need to ask ourselves the question … “are we at hand to the Kingdom of God that is in us?”

Because, if we cannot answer that question positively, then we need to determine how we can move in our spiritual lives so that the “Kingdom”, that is, The King and His Love will reign in us in everything we do in our lives? And I mean everything … relationships, words, thoughts, emotions, intents and actions. That, my friends is what it truly means to “be at hand for the Kingdom of God”!

Now Jesus’ disciples faced the same problems we do. So even as they followed Jesus He noticed from their conversation and worldly concerns that they yet had to learn how to focus on HIM and His Word and leave their anxieties behind. So here is the direction He gave them … “seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness and all these other things will be resolved for you.” (cf., Matt. 6:33)

The question they (and us) might yet ask would probably be … “Lord I hear your directive but how do I seek the Kingdom?”

The main answer the Lord gave them is a prayer. In fact it is a prayer we now call the Lord’s prayer but, in reality, it should really be called “the disciples” prayer because it is the exact prayer need by the disciples to the Father asking for access to the Kingdom (the Kingdom of His Love) that they were seeking.

Here is the text of that prayer:
“Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
[may] ‘Your kingdom come. [into us and through us]
[so that] Your will may be done [by us],
On earth as it is in heaven. [and, to sustain us in your Kingdom]
‘Give us this day our daily bread.
‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
[For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’] For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. (Matt. 6:9-15)

As disciples, this prayer then, should also be our prayer also. It is a prayer that is also our prayer of commitment to the Father and our yielding to Him and the Kingdom of His Love in our lives.

It should also be clear to us from the above citations and other scriptures that the main God-Given mission of the Church, and all believers is to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom, not only through words but also by the way we live out the Kingdom in faith.

In the citation below notice how Paul prays that the Colossian converts live out their lives in accord with the spiritual Kingdom that is in them (ie., Christ in us, the Hope of Glory). This prayer by Paul indicates how the Father places the Spirit of His Kingdom in us so that the Holy Spirit, working through our willing cooperation will see that … “His will may be done on this Earth as it is in Heaven”. (see underlined portion in the citation below)

“ For this reason also, since the day we heard of it (your faith in Christ), we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. (By this you will see how by your abiding in loving obedience to Him…) He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Col. 1: 9-14)

In conclusion brethren, I also pray that the Lord guide you and led you through His Spirit that we may all be one as we live out our lives in His Kingdom so that His Love may be made manifest through our unity in Christ Jesus. Amen and Amen.

Your Brother in Christ … Bartimaeus

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

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Let Love Prevail – Love Never Fails!

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


My fellow pilgrims and bothers and sisters in Christ,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

jesus-knocking-the-door

Jesus is knocking at your door …

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

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

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

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

(Prayer of Commitment)
Lord Jesus, I believe that you, the Son of the Living God came down from heaven to reveal the Father’s Love to me by suffering and dying for my sins. I believe that through your death and resurrection you have brought redemption and life not only to me but also all else who believe in you. I further believe that it is only through knowing you in a loving personal relationship of discipleship that I can know the Father.


It is because I have a burning desire to know you and abide in you that I now yield myself completely to you and your love. I open the door to my heart so you can come in and sup with me and thus begin the special relationship with you for which you died and for which I hunger. At this moment I yield myself to your love. Enter in and activate my spirit with your Holy Spirit so that I can go beyond just mere intellectual belief in you to a personal spiritual knowledge of you and the Father.


Lord, cleanse me from my sins and make me a fit vessel for your presence. Permeate my entire being with your life and your love so that I can truly be your instrument in this world. Be my Lord, Be My God, Be my King to rule and to reign in me. In faith and by your grace I receive you and I receive your word. Abide in me just as you abide in the Father and the Father in you! Thank you for giving yourself for me. Amen


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

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

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

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

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

Here is prayer Jesus taught them….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Brother In Christ and Fellow Pilgrim … Bartimaeus

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

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Shall we then continue in sin that Grace may abound? (Rom. 6:15)

God forbid! (cf., Rom, 3:31; 6:2; 6:15; 7:7; KJV)

The King within us

“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. (2Tim. 4:1-3)

Brothers and Sisters,

The signs of the times clearly indicate that we are indeed in the “Days of Noah” and the “Days of Lot” as indicated by Jesus in the Gospels (cf., Luke 17:16-28 ) and also in the “perilous times” as indicated by St. Paul to Timothy:

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,  Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.  For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.  But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was.” (2 Tim. 3:1-9)

false_prophets_2I am posting this article because we all need to be made aware of the many false teachers and preachers in our midst who are twisting the Word of God to peddle their “gospels” of permissiveness, self-indulgenece, and prosperity as being  “enlightened” forms of understanding scripture.

Recognizing False “Gospels” Regarding Grace”

Amongst the many false deceptive messages being delivered today is that of a libertine form of “Grace” (a licentious grace) that teaches that, because of Christ’s atoning work on the Cross we are no longer under “law” and can live pretty much as we wish and be assured of our salvation. Since all of our sins have been paid for and since we have all been reconclled with God through Christ, the moral law, declared by God for all humanity is of no more consequence to us who consider ourselves to be “under Grace”.

This devious, anti-nomian concept (lawlessness) is attractive to many in today’s world because it is in line with the ego-centric, self-centered, free-wheeling spirit of the current generation, who abhors any constraint on their ability to live as they please and who are in the process of being conformed to the “world”.  It comes from a religious spirit that wants to put a fig leaf over their moral nakedness so that they may continue dabbling in the world system with it’s enticements, lusts, greed, and carnal excesses, without exacting any feelings of guilt. The intent of what is being taught is, of course, to attract uninstructed youth to fall into their snare by attempting to appease their consciences using selectively misinterpreted scriptures, out of context, telling them that “God’s Grace” has freed them to do whatever pleases them without losing their salvation – while all the while they are being used to satisfy the pride and greed of the false teachers, whose own spiritual lives are in tatters.

In the attempt to justify themselves the proponents of this deviation from the true purpose of Grace in our lives, teach that since God has reconciled us to himself in Christ it would be an act of unbelief to “repent” of our sins, since our sins have already been forgiven at the cross. In a previous post, “Be Reconciled to God” I provided a scriptural argument against this  erroneous position. In that article I point out that it is the apostle Paul, himself, who, after having proclaimed that God has “reconciled us to Himself”, is, in this same letter, he then exhorts the Colossian beleivers to “be reconciled to God” (Col.1: 21-23). Clearly indicating to us, that we, whom God has reconciled, also need to respond to His infinite act of Reconciling Love by an act of faith that activates in our renewed spirit the reconciliation He offers.  This act being our repentance.

Now that act of faith, is in effect, an act or word on our part, that acknowledges our godly sorrow, our need for reconciliation, and our willingness to receive God’s forgiveness – an act that, directly or indirectly, expresses repentance, on our part. Being keenly aware, that this act of faith is incited by God’s Grace and Love, as an act of gratitude and is NOT deemed by us as somehow earning a grace or favor that was freely provided to all humanity while we were yet sinners more than two millenia past.

Jesus:  Regarding the Gospel of Repentance

After His resurrection. Jesus gathered his disciples at an unscheduled prayer beakfast and tried to explain to them that what had happened in Jerusalem during His Passion was all contained in the scriptures, saying to them …

“…This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms. Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.  He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day,  and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.” (Luke 24:44-48)

Quickly bring  a robe and put it on him ...In the parable of the prodigal son (cf.,Luke 15:11-32), Jesus, portrays very clearly how  the Grace of Reconciliation is received through a sincere act of repentance. Namely, when the son who has left the father’s house to “do his own thing” in a far-off land finds himself in a famine with nothing to eat and feeding pigs instead of himself, he, because of his circumstances, “comes to his senses” and says to himself “I will return to my father’s house”. And the father, who, holding nothing against him, has been lovingly waiting for his son, such that when sees him approaching he runs to him and embraces him, telling his servants to provide the son with a family robe and sandals while he places the ring of family authority on his finger.

In this parable,Jesus paints  an allegorical picture about how grace and repentance relate to one another! It is provided to us through scripture for our instruction to let us know how we are loved by the Father, without condemnation, and how we, in returning to Him, should respond to the unmerited Grace he showers upon us by accepting his embrace and the symbols of His love for us: the Robe, the sandals and the ring he places upon us,as unworthy as we are. But the story also tells us that when the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, and, although sensitive of our own unworthiness, we need to freely turn to the Lord without fear of condemnation, because we know in our hearts that He loves us and  will accept us as we are. (see also my article on “The Prodigals Amongst Us”)

Branches Bearing FruitIn another allegory, Jesus tells us that our relationship (fellowship) with Him should be like the branches to the Vine, that is,   in our attachment to Jesus. And, just like the branches, if we are to function and bring forth fruit, we must remain attached to the Vine. Otherwise, if we become detached (lose our  fellowship with Him) we risk being like dried up branches that must be cut off and burned (John 15:1-8). Our fellowship with Jesus is, of course, is the outcome or the purpose for the Grace of Reconciliation and implies  that this Grace, that comes through the Vine, must continuously  flow in our lives in order for us to remain attached to the Vine and  bear fruit for the Kingdom and the Glory of the Father. (see also my article on “Bearing Fruit Through Prayer”)

Through Jesus parables like these and through the teaching of the apostles in scripture, the case can be clearly established that this Grace of Reconciliation through Repentance is freely provided to us believers, not only to enter into fellowship with the Divine, but also in order to continue in and maintain that fellowship throughout our lives so that we may bear fruit!

The Apostle John; Regarding Fellowship, Sin, and Confession

John the Evangelist affirms this thesis when he says in His first epistle…

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

And, in order to ease our discomfort, when we do sin, he says…

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

The Apostle Paul: Regarding Putting on the New Self after our Justification

The apostle Paul also make some clear statements regarding how to carry out our responsibility to “walk as Jesus walked’, in our loving response to the Grace of Reconciliation and Fellowship which we freely receive at our justification. Now, it must be clearly  understood, that this ability to maintain fellowship also emanates from the Grace of Reconciliation and reflects the work of the Holy Spiirt in us in conforming us to the Image of Christ. (Rom. 8:29)

From all of this, It is should be clear to us that when we sin by living by the flesh rather than the Spirit we begin to break out of our fellowship relationship with the Divine and the Holy Spirit, who is in us, works in us to help us recognize our failings, so that through the on going Grace of Reconciliation, we may be brought back into full fellowship with the Divine.

I challenge you to take seriously, these statements from the apostle Paul, who is sometimes misunderstood or misquoted on the subject of being “under Grace and not under law”…

“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?

CrossBy no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Rom. 6:1-2)

Here also for your discernment, is  his exhortation to the Ephesians (Eph. 4:17-32) regarding the sin problem amongst (apparently) justified believers, and what Paul proposes they do …

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

“Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.  Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

To this, Paul, adds an important statement indicating that the intent of living a holy life after justifications is not to claim any gain on our part for His Magnificent and free provision of Grace, but to lovingly yield ourselves to Him in acknowledgment  and thanksgiving for the sacrifice of His Son for our salvation.

“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.  For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person — such a man is an idolater — has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God”

“Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” (Eph 5:1-14)

What then is to be our response?

In conclusion brethren, in light of what I have just presented and in light of the darkness that is coming over this world, I think we all need to pray and meditate on these scriptures and, in discerning God’s will, we should ask ourselves:

<>”Have I arisen with Christ?” or am I just sliding along in life with one foot in the “world’ and the other foot in “church”?

<>”Have I truly awakened to the light of Christ and the Resurrection Life He brings us, or am I still stumbling along in the spiritual darkness of the world and its enticements?

<>Let us then awake and rise up, understanding that the full intent Grace that God provides is not merely  to “justify” us so that we can go to heaven, but to also give us the opportunity to yield ourselves fully to the Holy Spirit so that He may initiate the process of conforming our lives to the image of our master, Jesus. So that, being under His anointing for service, we may be filled with His Light and become envoys of His Light to this fallen world in which we live, for the Glory of His Name and for His Kingdom!

May God, our Father who loves us, and His Son who saved us, be praised for ever and ever. Amen!

Your Brother In Christ and Fellow Pilgrim … Bartimaeus

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

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Monstrance

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

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

My dear fellow Pilgrims,

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

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

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

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Do not be anxious ….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Light Shone in the Darkness

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

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

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

The answer is simple …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OXEN-YOKE

Sweet Yoke of Love

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

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

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

Your Brother  and Fellow Pilgrim In Christ … Bartimaeus

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

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