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Disciple Praying

Christ in us the Hope of Glory!

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

— I believe in Jesus’ Miraculous Birth, The Incarnation, …
                    But what about My being Reborn as a New Creation in Jesus?

Dear Fellow Pilgrims in Christ Jesus,

As a result of the activation of my conversion and the attending revelation, the Holy Spirit has brought to life my understanding of His Word and a fuller understanding of the Mystery of the Incarnation, that in His birth through the virgin Mary, Jesus, the Son of God, became one of us while at the same time Retaining His Divinity, so that he would be the Father’s atonement for the sins of all humanity.

What has been harder for me to truly grasp is that through His Birth , Passion, Death and Resurrection the door has also been opened for me (and all believers) to become partakers of His Divinity (see, 2 Peter 1:4) – to be reborn in HIM! This is what I found hard to fully comprehend.

As John also states in His Gospel… “He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God”. (John 1:13 )

Now, all the new communities founded by the apostles faced the challenge of bringing the new believers to a deeper understanding of what it meant to be “Children of God”. In order to enhance the understanding of the Galatian community (and us) regarding being “heirs” or “adopted” children of God, the Apostle Paul, in his letter to them tried to explain to them using the Roman legal system of their day. At that time a legally born child, although an “heir” could not exercise his privileges as an heir until such a time, determined by tradition and His Father, that he was legally “adopted” as an official “son” or “heir”. Only after that point could he exercise his authority as a “son” within the family.

Using this comparison to explain to the Galatians what our “adoption” meant, Paul expanded on this theme as follows…

“I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God” (Gal. 4:1-7)

We believers have the power (choice) to become “Adopted” children of God

“He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power [“choice” ] to become [“adopted” ] children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1-18)

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Cor. 5:17)

As we mature spiritually, our challenge in living a truly Christian life comes in understanding exactly when it is that we are “empowered” spiritually, what our spiritual “authority” is, and how to operate within that authority. First of all we need to have have the awareness that we are a New Creation “in Christ” or as St. Peter said: “ You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.” (1 Peter1:23)

Operating in our traditional Cristian culture we are formed as “un-empowered” children and learn to obey and follow our beliefs and traditions faithfully. But as we grow in faith and maturity we are never taught how to go deeper regarding the use our faith and spiritual authority properly within our normal sphere of influence and prayer life so as to bring forth the Kingdom of God that is in us. Instead we passively permit the circumstances of our lives to overwhelm God’s purposes for our lives, especially that we are being conformed to the image of Christ in us (our Hope of Glory).

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

We must understand that we cannot enter into the use of our authority in Christ without yielding our selves to Him as a living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1-2) so that the process of our conformance may begin. This is how we activate the Spirit of Christ in us and permit us to act “in His Name”! In doing this we may restart our lives by walking as a new creation in Him! ( see, 2 Cor. 5:17)

God makes us into a new creation in Christ so that with His Divinity in us we become partners with Him so that by His Love working through us we become participants in bringing forth His Kingdom in and through His Son Christ Jesus! Yes, it is the intent of the Lord to bring forth his Kingdom right now, in the present day! He does this because His Kingdom begins in the hearts of those who believe in Him!

Entering into the Kingdom

Entering into the Kingdom to be partners with Jesus however does not come automatically to us. We have to make a decision — a decision of Agape Love, to willingly, and without compulsion, give our very selves to Christ so that He can enter into our spiritual temple, our spirits, and let Him truly reign in our hearts as Our King and Savior. In entering in we must understand that we will also share in the cup of His suffering.

This is the lesson Jesus was trying to teach Nicodemus when he sought out Jesus (John 3) coming to Him at night to ask Him about his awareness of what God was doing through Him. In meeting with him, Jesus told Him that it was one thing to be made aware of “the Kingdom” and another to “enter into the Kingdom”. That is, God can permit you to be partially aware of His doings, but you cannot participate in His doings unless you have been “born again” spiritually!

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 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?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot [truly] 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 anew.’ 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.” (John 3:5-8)

How does this happen?

While it is true that we receive the Spirit of Christ when we receive Baptism and Confirmation, yet because of our free will, the Holy Spirit will not take us further in our transformation into conformance until we willingly, out of love for our Savior, activate the seed of His Spirit that is in us by yielding ourselves completely to the Holy Spirit so that His Kingdom may rule in our hearts and body and soul.

Only those who have activated their spiritual seed in this way can be sensitive to the leadings of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Without this awareness and His anointing you cannot Hear the Word of the Shepherd, and thus be able to carry out the acts needed to be a partner with Jesus and the Father in bringing forth His Kingdom!

This is what it takes to be a true disciple of Christ. It is also why Nicodemus remained a “disciple-in-waiting” until he made his decision after Jesus’ passion and crucifixion. Because he was afraid of the repercussions in the Sanhedrin, of which the was a member, he kept his belief in Christ as a private matter, at least until Jesus Passion and Death!

Don’t follow Nicodemus’ example, instead, follow Mary who responded to the Angel of God immediately, saying, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word.”(Luke 1:38) !

Faith Formation is Important

We must also be careful not to deviate from the Faith while we are in process of having our faith formed.

The Galatian community at its inception, for instance, was very much like young child heir, who did not fully understand their responsibility in the faith as a newly initiated children of the Father. Children who were being led astray by the Judaizers from Jerusalem who were telling them that they needed to be circumcised in order to be part of the religion.

Here is what St. Paul said to them….You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly exhibited as crucified! The only thing I want to learn from you is this: Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the law or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? Having started with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh?” (Gal. 3:1-3)

Paul also felt so strained in straightening them out that he had to explain to them that they were no longer un-empowered babes that were governed by slavish rules, but were fully adopted sons an daughters responding to their relationship with the Father directly… “… because you are His [adopted] children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, of God Himself…” (Gal. 4:6-7)

Paul also cautions them however, that because they are behaving like babes still in the womb, that they are open to falling prey to the “circumcision sect” and are at risk of losing their inheritance in Christ, Therefore, he, Paul, is concerned about them to the point that he informs them that he is constantly praying for them because “…I travail in birth again until Christ [is truly] formed in you” (Gal. 4:19).

Putting on the Lord Jesus Christ — An Urgent Appeal

As you can see, in order to be truly formed in Christ we have to make an act of the will in accordance with the faith and grace given us at salvation. The apostle Paul expresses that act of faith to the Roman community as an urgent appeal to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ”.

“Besides this you know what hour it is, how it is full time now for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed; the night is far gone, the day is at hand. Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. (Rom. 13:11-14)

In is letter to the Galatians he expands that appeal further implying that “putting on the Spirit of Christ” also means “living and walking in the Spirit of Christ:

“Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Gal. 5:16-26)

The Results of Living and Walking in the Spirit

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed it cannot, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

“But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, [if indeed] the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.” (Rom. 8: 1-11)

Pray about Making a Resolution

So Brethren, this New Year meditate about what has just been presented to  you, consult the Lord and find out what His purpose and desires are for you. Then ask for the Holy Spirit’s help in making a decision to truly “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” and “enter into His Kingdom”!

May the Lord Bless you and keep you. May His Face Shine upon you and Bring you His Peace!

Your Brother in Christ … Bartimaeus

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Recommended Links

<> Jesus the Source of Living Water

<> The Kingdom of God; Our Spiritual Inheritance

<> Reclaiming Our Legacy in Christ

<> Receiving the  the Holy Spirit

© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2019]

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Has Jesus Arisen in Your Heart? (part 3)

— The Final Stage of our Transformation: Coming into Union with Christ

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Here are the Elemental Scriptures on which this Article is Based:

God’s Transforming Purpose for Believers –

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren.” (Rom. 8:29)

 

Are you being Conformed to Christ's Image?

Are you being Conformed to Christ’s Image?

Paul’s Exhortation to Believers to Yield to God’s Transforming Purpose –

“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.” (Rom:12:1-2)

Believer’s Commitment in Response to God’s Purpose-

“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)

God’s Graces Resulting from our Commitment –

“Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who possess the Spirit. The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Cor. 2:12-16)

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My dear fellow pilgrims in Christ Jesus,

In my previous articles on this subject I indicated to you my contention that the work of the Holy Spirit in conforming us to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29) in this life consists of at least three major stages or transitions of spiritual growth, namely,

Stage 1 – Unbelief to a Living Faith and Spiritual Awakening (Enlightenment)

Stage 2 – Spiritual Awakening to Spiritual Empowerment and Consecration

Stage 3 – Spiritual Consecration to Spiritual Union With Christ

In this article it is my intent to discuss my reflections on the final transition from our consecration as disciples to our spiritual union with Christ. This is a stage to which we are all called but to which few of us attain, mainly because, even though our hearts truly desires such a union, the struggle with our natural selves and the world obstructs us to the very end of our lives on earth.

Scripture clearly indicates that it is Jesus’ prayer to the Father that we all come into such a union so that we may all be one in the Spirit with the Father and the Son.

“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” (Jn. 17:20-21)

Because of the weakness of our faith some take the words to merely indicate the destiny of the Church to be One In Christ, forgetting that the church is made up of us as individuals and in order for that unity to occur we must all, as individuals, come to that unity with the Godhead through the Spirit of Christ that is in us.

In the previous stages of our transition to this unity we discussed how our spirits needed to be renewed through conversion and baptism into Christ by the Holy Spirit so that we are identified with Christ and He with us. We also discussed that in order for the Holy Spirit to conform us to the image of Christ we needed to yield to the Spirit so that we could begin the transformation through a renewal of our minds (souls). In that yielding we also offered ourselves up as a living sacrifice so that the Holy Spirit could work in us and through us to manifest the works of Jesus in and through our lives. This of course, entailed an empowerment by the Spirit of God that has been termed, “the Baptism in the Spirit”.

This second stage, which progresses from our “new birth in Christ” is sometimes called the “discipleship” stage where we learn to follow Jesus by dying to self through the obedience of Love and carry this cross daily as part of our discipline.

The third stage which we are discussing in this article is the successful conclusion to carrying our cross to the point where we are crucified with Christ, and like Paul can state that, “… It is no longer I who lives but Christ who lives in me and through me.”

Those of us who are able to thus yield ourselves to the Spirit of Christ then come to a point of unity with the Spirit of Christ that all that they think, or say, or do comes not as from themselves but as an emanation of the Spirit of Christ that dwells in them. And actually, of course, He dwells in all who truly belong to Christ, but for reasons that are peculiar to each person, we are prevented from maturing sufficiently to reach this stage of Unity with the Divine here in this world.

Now all of us who belong to Christ will ultimately be one with Christ in our next life in the Kingdom. So our ultimate salvation is not at stake, it is only our ability to be fully His representatives in this world that will be diminished to the degree of lack of union with the Spirit of Christ that is in us.

It is the Father’s purpose for sending His Son to redeem us, not only to save us, but to multiply the presence of His Son in this world, through us so that we might be His Partners in continuing Christ’s ministry here on Earth, until He personally come for His Bride! Praised Be His Holy Name!

This is what the Scripture means when it says “… that He might be the First among many Brethren!”

Now I know, that you may have been stirred by what I just related to you – but you are saying to your self: “can this be true can the Lord really be asking us to yield to His Spirit in such away that we come to a place where we no longer represent ourselves but represent Him – after, we indeed, are formed to manifest His Image in us?”

I know because I not only asked myself this question, but I also asked it of the Lord.

Here is His answer, not only to me but all of you who are Seeking His Kingdom – a Kingdom that is only fully realized when we are united with the King in Spirit.

The Lord’s response

“My son, you have been seeking the Kingdom – you have desired to enter into my Kingdom. I am answering your prayer even now.

“Yes, there are obstacles in you that have been preventing the Kingdom from manifesting in your life. I am about to remove these obstacles, but I need your cooperation – your willingness. For you see these obstacles are self-inspired and removing them will cause you some discomfort. But I will give you the faith and strength you need to overcome these obstacles and cast them into the sea.

“I will reveal these obstacles to you one-by-one and together we will remove them from your life. As each one goes you will see more and more of the Kingdom manifested in you life. It is what I have always desired for you but you were not ready to receive this stage of manifestation.

“Through the work of my Spirit, you are now at the entry stage – only give yourself totally to me. Die completely to your own pretentions, ambitions, and self-congratulating desires. Learn to seek My Heart, My Love, My Desires, and my Compassion. Let My Spirit rule in your heart, then you will sense the River of My Love flowing through you. Then you will experience the true fervor of My Love – for all humanity. But in order to arrive to this point you must decrease so that I may increase in you and in your life! Then and only then will you truly enter into My Kingdom!

“Do this and LIVE my son, let your self be merged with mine! Do nothing on your own – seek Me in everything, be obedient to my leadings and you will no longer be your own. Then and only then, when you completely let go of your earthly self, will you enter into oneness with me – your God and Your Savior! “

For about a week I meditated on what the Lord had Just told me when, during a prayer time, a Word from scripture, suddenly came to mind, confirming the Word He have me and leading me as to the path that I needed to take for entry into the Kingdom. The path I needed overcome my first obstacle my ignorance that it is through the intimate person-to-person knowledge of Jesus and His Promises that we become partakers of His Divine Nature, thus granting us entry into His Kingdom. Read for yourselves, this writing from Peter, and understand!

Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours: Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 1and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

(2 Ptr. 1: 1-11)

If anyone, other than Jesus, is capable of telling us about the keys to the Kingdom it would certainly be Peter, to whom Jesus granted the Keys to the Kingdom. And in this scripture He is telling me that one of these keys is the “Key of Knowledge”. I understood then that it was my ignorance of spiritual things that was one of the things holding me back. And here the Holy Spirit, speaking through Peter, clearly lays out the path, in faith, that I must follow to begin my entrance into the Kingdom! Praised be His Holy Name!

Through this understanding of the Word, I dedicated myself totally to Him and His Word, opening myself to the leadings of the Holy Spirit, so that in this manner I yoked myself to Him and began my walk into His Kingdom. And that is what I am encouraging all my brothers and sisters to do, who sincerely desire to come to an intimate union with their Lord and Savior, Jesus, the Anointed of the Father. To Him be Glory Forever! Amen and Amen!

I also was given the understanding that, through receiving the Eucharist in Faith, not only, I would re-affirm my commitment to Him, but I would also be strengthened in my Spirit by His Abiding Presence in Him which is one of the Promises, mentioned by Peter, that make us partakers of His Divinity.

Here are some of the related Promises made by Jesus Himself, regarding our partaking of His Divinity…

Unless you eat of my flesh and drink my blood...

Unless you eat of my flesh and drink my blood…

“… So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” (Jn. 6:53-58)

In His ultimate high-priestly prayer to the Father, Jesus also said … ‘I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me”. (Jn. 17:20-23)

We are kept from manifesting this revelation of our conformance to the image of Christ by a self-imposed veil, similar to the one that Paul discusses with the Corinthians …

“… to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their minds; but when a man turns to the Lord the veil is removed.Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Cor. 3: 15-18)

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us. (2 Cor. 4:7)

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day. (2Cor. 4: 16)

I urge you, then, brothers and sisters, if the Spirit is moving you heart, to avail yourself of this opportunity and commit yourself to Christ as a living sacrifice and let him begin the renewing of you minds and your partnership with His Ministry to this world!

But most of all brethren, I urge you to thank the Lord for all that He has done for you and the Holy Spirit for revealing Christ in you, our Hope of Glory, so that you can fulfill your calling and purpose. Give the Lord Praise and Worship as you come before His throne and bow down before Him, humbling yourself as you offer yourself to Him to become , in His Name,  an instrument of His Love in this world and in the world to come. May it be so for His Glory for ever and ever AMEN!

I only ask that you pray for me as I also walk along the path of spiritual Calvary.

Your Brother and fellow Pilgrim in Christ Jesus …. Bartimaeus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2014])

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<Links to Related Sites>

RC.net : Regarding Discipleship

 

 

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Living and Praying through Jesus’ Passion

Jesus Condemned

Jesus Condemned

My dear fellow Pilgrims in Christ,

The last week of Lent is the most highlighted period in our annual Christian devotions – – as it  justly should be, mainly because in this period  we are led to focus on the last climactic, episode in the Life of our Lord and Savior, Yeshua Ha Mashiach (Jesus the Anointed Messiah), the Son of the Living God. It is highlighted in our devotions so that in  our prayers and meditations we may put ourselves in Jesus’ place and, thus immerse ourselves in the humiliation, pain, and suffering He endured for our sakes, so that our souls are opened to an inner appreciation of the Father’s infinite love for all of us and for each of us, personally.

During this tragic and yet monumental time-line, which we call the “Passion of Christ”,  the Love of God for humanity was demonstrated in such a tragic yet undeniable, observable, and historical manner that no amount of denial by any religious or secular authority can surmount it! It encompasses Jesus’ triumphant return return to Jerusalem, and His ensuing arrest, trial  passion, crucifixion, death and resurrection, and is, in essence, the period where we see the all-ecompassing magnificence of the Love of the Father, manifested through the self-sacrifice of His Son, who as the image of the Father,  gave himself totally, body soul and spirit to become the atoning sacrifice for the sins of all humanity from the very beginning of the race until the end of this age. It is culminated  by the last words of Jesus to the Father as He hung on the cross …

It is finished!

It is finished!

“It is Finished!” (John 19:30)

and

“Into Your Hands I commit my Spirit”. (Luke 23:46)

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“Finished”, in the sense, that the work of redemption for which He was sent was complete and He relinquishes even His Spirit into the hands of the Father.

Here, by the enthronement of our King on the Cross, the Good News of The Kingdom and the basis for our Salvation is clearly established – The Good News, that, through the substitutionary sacrifice of His Son, the Father has reconciled all of humanity to Himself holding nothing against them, so that out of untarnished and pure gratitude and love we may, through Faith, freely turn to Him and receive the reconciliation with  the Father that He offers – eternal life in Him. And, what is theologically shocking, is that we receive this free gift of eternal life without any effort on our part through merely believing in in His Son and, in faith, accepting Him for who He is- The Son of the Living God and our personal Lord and Savior!

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.”   (John 3: 16-17)

Here, in this last week of Lent, we memorialize Jesus and His sacrifice for us through our devotions and prayers as He accomplishes the will of the Father so completely that there is no doubt in His Promise to us, when he said,

“I am the Way , The Truth, and The Life. No man Comes to the Father but by Me!” (John 14:6)

“The Way” being the way into the Tabernacle through sacrifice and water, “The Truth” being the Lampstand and the Bread upon entering the Holy place in the Tabernacle and “The Life”, being the Life of God which was On the Mercy Seat over the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy Of Holies. Because of His Death and resurrection He, of course has become the author of the New Covenant which brings us from death into eternal life.

Living and Praying the Passion
In order  to permit the Holy Spirit to work through us this Lent and deepen our relationship to Jesus, I propose that we focus on the “Way of the Cross”  or what we Catholics term, “the Stations of the Cross”.  I want all of you to know that this devotion is not only practiced by Catholics but also by Anglican and Orthodox Churches as well as some protestant and evangelical churches.  Of course, because of differing theological issues, there are some differences but the intent of the devotions is the same: to live out the Passion of Christ in a group prayer that will draw us closer to Jesus by meditating on the events and circumstances of His passion.

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(Note: In order to inform all who are interested I am including summary of the “Station”  taken from the the Wikipedia post on thus subject. You will see from this post just how ecumenical this devotion is becoming.  After the summary from Wikipedia I am providing  links to both Catholic and Protestant versions of this devotions for your prayer and discernment.)

Be Reconciled to God!
In conclusion, brothers and sisters, let me be very clear about the intent of drawing your attention to the Passion of Christ.  I am doing this not to bring guilt upon you but to gain your release from  all the self-guilt that you are bearing. For by comprehending the price that was paid by Jesus for all of our sins we are brought to faith in how Father God HAS RECONCILED us to Himself through the death of His Son.  It is only now up to us, out of gratitude, to receive, in Faith, this eternal reconciliation that is freely available to us in and through Christ Jesus! A reconciliation that is effected when we accept Jesus into our hearts as Lord and Savior!
This is the GOOD  NEWS that St. Paul so eloquently proclaimed and which I now quote to you:

. ‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.’  (2 Cor. 5:17-21; 6:1-2)

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.‘Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation —  if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.’ (Col. 1-21-23)

May the Holy Spirit be with you and enlighten you in your prayers and meditation so that you may receive, in Faith, the full blessings of  His PEACE that comes with the free gift of eternal reconciliation with the Father!

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Your Brother and Fellow Pilgrim in Christ Jesus, “Shalom Eleichem” …. Bartimeaus

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The Stations of the Cross

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Stations of the Cross (or Way of the Cross; in Latin, Via Crucis; also called the Via Dolorosa or Way of Sorrows, or simply, The Way) is a series of artistic representations, very often sculptural, depicting Christ Carrying the Cross to his crucifixion in the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus before he died, and the devotions using that series to commemorate the Passion, often moving physically around a set of stations. The vast majority of Roman Catholic churches now contain such a series, typically placed at intervals along the side walls of the nave; in most churches these are small plaques with reliefs or paintings, simpler than most of the examples shown here. The tradition as chapel devotion began with St. Francis of Assisi and extended throughout the Roman Catholic Church in the medieval period. It is commonly observed in Lutheranism,[1][2] and amongst the Anglo-Catholic wing of Anglicanism. It may be done at any time, but is most commonly done during the Season of Lent, especially on Good Friday and on Friday evenings during Lent.

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History

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The Stations of the Cross originated in pilgrimages to Jerusalem. A desire to reproduce the holy places in other lands seems to have manifested itself at quite an early date. At the monastery of Santo Stefano at Bologna a group of connected chapels was constructed as early as the 5th century, by St. Petronius, Bishop of Bologna, which was intended to represent the more important shrines of Jerusalem, and in consequence, this monastery became familiarly known as “Hierusalem.” These may perhaps be regarded as the germ from which the Stations afterwards developed, though it is tolerably certain that nothing that we have before about the 15th century can strictly be called a Way of the Cross in the modern sense. Although several travelers who visited the Holy Land during the twelfth, thirteenth, and 14th centuries (e.g. Riccoldo da Monte di Croce, Burchard of Mount Sion, James of Verona),[3] mention a “Via Sacra,” i.e., a settled route along which pilgrims were conducted, there is nothing in their accounts to identify this with the Way of the Cross, as we understand it.[citation needed] The devotion of the Via Dolorosa, for which there have been a number of variant routes in Jerusalem, was probably developed by the Franciscans after they were granted administration of the Christian holy places in Jerusalem in 1342.

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The earliest use of the word “stations,” as applied to the accustomed halting-places in the Via Sacra at Jerusalem, occurs in the narrative of an English pilgrim, William Wey, who visited the Holy Land in the mid-15th century, and described pilgrims following the footsteps of Christ to the cross. In 1521 a book called Geystlich Strass was printed with illustrations of the stations in the Holy Land.[3]

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During the 15th and 16th centuries the Franciscans began to build a series of outdoor shrines in Europe to duplicate their counterparts in the Holy Land. The number of stations varied between seven and thirty; seven was common. These were usually placed, often in small buildings, along the approach to a church, as in a set of 1490 by Adam Kraft, leading to the Johanneskirche in Nuremberg.[4] A number of rural examples were established as attractions in their own right, usually on attractive wooded hills. These include the Sacro Monte di Domodossola (1657) and Sacro Monte di Belmonte (1712), and form part of the Sacri Monti of Piedmont and Lombardy World Heritage Site, together with other examples on different devotional themes. In these the sculptures are often approaching life-size and very elaborate. In 1686, in answer to their petition, Pope Innocent XI granted to the Franciscans the right to erect stations within their churches. In 1731, Pope Clement XII extended to all churches the right to have the stations, provided that a Franciscan father erected them, with the consent of the local bishop. At the same time the number was fixed at fourteen. In 1857, the bishops of England were allowed to erect the stations by themselves, without the intervention of a Franciscan priest, and in 1862 this right was extended to bishops throughout the church.[5]

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Spiritual significance

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The object of the Stations is to help the faithful to make a spiritual pilgrimage of prayer, through meditating upon the chief scenes of Christ’s sufferings and death. It has become one of the most popular devotions for Roman Catholics, and is often performed in a spirit of reparation for the sufferings and insults that Jesus endured during His Passion.[6]
In his encyclical letter, Miserentissimus Redemptor, on reparations, Pope Pius XI called Acts of Reparation to Jesus Christ a duty for Catholics and referred to them as “some sort of compensation to be rendered for the injury” with respect to the sufferings of Jesus.[7] Pope John Paul II referred to Acts of Reparation as the “unceasing effort to stand beside the endless crosses on which the Son of God continues to be crucified”.[8]
The Stations  (Traditional form)

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The early set of seven scenes was usually numbers 2,3,4,6,7, and 14 from the list below.[9] The standard set from the 17th to 20th centuries has consisted of 14 pictures or sculptures depicting the following scenes:
1.    Jesus is condemned to death
2.    Jesus carries his cross
3.    Jesus falls the first time
4.    Jesus meets his mother
5.    Simon or Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry the cross
6.    Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
7.    Jesus falls the second time
8.    Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
9.    Jesus falls the third time
10.    Jesus’ clothes are taken away
11.    Crucifixion: Jesus is nailed to the cross
12.    Jesus dies on the cross
13.    Jesus is taken down from the cross (Deposition or Lamentation)
14.    Jesus is laid in the tomb.
Although not traditionally part of the Stations, the Resurrection of Jesus is sometimes included as a fifteenth station.[10][11]

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Scriptural Way of the Cross

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Main article: Scriptural Way of the Cross
Out of the fourteen traditional Stations of the Cross, only eight have clear scriptural foundation. Stations 3, 4, 6, 7, and 9 are not specifically attested to in the gospels (in particular, no evidence exists of station 6 ever being known before medieval times) and Station 13 (representing Jesus’s body being taken down off the cross and laid in the arms of His mother Mary) seems to embellish the gospels’ record, which states that Joseph of Arimathea took Jesus down from the cross and buried him. To provide a version of this devotion more closely aligned with the biblical accounts, Pope John Paul II introduced a new form of devotion, called the Scriptural Way of the Cross on Good Friday 1991. He celebrated that form many times but not exclusively at the Colosseum in Rome.[12][13] In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI approved this set of stations for meditation and public celebration: They follow this sequence:
1.    Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane,
2.    Jesus is betrayed by Judas and arrested,
3.    Jesus is condemned by the Sanhedrin,
4.    Jesus is denied by Peter,
5.    Jesus is judged by Pilate,
6.    Jesus is scourged and crowned with thorns,
7.    Jesus takes up his cross,
8.    Jesus is helped by Simon to carry his cross,
9.    Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem,
10.    Jesus is crucified,
11.    Jesus promises his kingdom to the repentant thief,
12.    Jesus entrusts Mary and John to each other,
13.    Jesus dies on the cross,
14.    Jesus is laid in the tomb.

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Modern Usage

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The devotion may be conducted personally by the faithful, making their way from one station to another and saying the prayers, or by having an officiating celebrant move from cross to cross while the faithful make the responses. The stations themselves must consist of, at the very least, fourteen wooden crosses, pictures alone do not suffice, and they must be blessed by someone with the authority to erect stations.[14][dubious – discuss]

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In the Roman Catholic Church, Pope John Paul II led an annual public prayer of the Stations of the Cross at the Roman Colosseum on Good Friday. Originally, the Pope himself carried the cross from station to station, but in his last years when age and infirmity limited his strength, John Paul presided over the celebration from a stage on the Palatine Hill, while others carried the cross. Just days prior to his death in 2005, Pope John Paul II observed the Stations of the Cross from his private chapel. Each year a different person is invited to write the meditation texts for the Stations. Past composers of the Papal Stations include several non-Catholics. The Pope himself wrote the texts for the Great Jubilee in 2000 and used the traditional Stations.
Station 5: Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the Cross, Good Friday procession 2011 at Ulm, Germany.

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The celebration of the Stations of the Cross is especially common on the Fridays of Lent, especially Good Friday. Community celebrations are usually accompanied by various songs and prayers. Particularly common as musical accompaniment is the Stabat Mater. At the end of each station the Adoramus Te is sometimes sung. The Alleluia is also sung, except during Lent.

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He Is Risen!

He Is Risen!

Structurally, Mel Gibson’s 2004 film, The Passion of the Christ, follows the Stations of the Cross.[15] The fourteenth and last station, the Burial, is not prominently depicted (compared to the other thirteen) but it is implied since the last shot before credit titles is Jesus resurrected and about to leave the tomb.

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References
1.    ^ http://www.trinitycamphill.org/Way%20of%20the%20Cross/Introduction.htm
2.    ^ http://pastorzip.blogspot.com/2007/04/stations-of-cross.html
3.    ^ a b THURSTON, Herbert: The Stations of the Cross
4.    ^ Schiller, Gertrud, Iconography of Christian Art, Vol. II, p. 82, 1972 (English trans from German), Lund        Humphries, London, ISBN 0-85331-324-5
5.    ^ The Catholic Encyclopedia (1907)s.v. “The Way of the Cross.”
6.    ^ Ann Ball, 2003 Encyclopedia of Catholic Devotions and Practices ISBN 087973910X
7.    ^ Miserentissimus Redemptor, Encyclical of Pope Pius XI
8.    ^ Pope John Paul II, Letter to Cardinal Fiorenzo Angelini, for the 50th anniversary of the Benedictine Sisters of Reparation of the Holy Face, 27 September 2000 (Vatican archives)
9.    ^ Schiller, 82
10.    ^ “The Official Web Site for the Archdiocese of Detroit”. http://www.aodonline.org/aodonline-sqlimages/stationsofthecross/stations.pdf. Retrieved 2012-02-13. “In some contemporary Stations of the Cross, a fifteenth station has been added to commemorate the Resurrection of the Lord.”
11.    ^ “Fr. William Saunders”. http://www.ewtn.com/library/ANSWERS/STCROSS.HTM. Retrieved 2009-04-04. “Because of the intrinsic relationship between the passion and death of our Lord with His resurrection, several of the devotional booklets now include a 15th station, which commemorates the Resurrection.”
12.    ^ Joseph M Champlin, The Stations of the Cross With Pope John Paul II Liguori Publications, 1994, ISBN 0-89243-679-4
13.    ^ Pope John Paul II, Meditation and Prayers for the Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum, Good Friday, 2000
14.    ^ http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15569a.htm
15.    ^ Review, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2004
16.    ^ McBrien, Richard P.; Harold W. Attridge (1995). The HarperCollins encyclopedia of Catholicism. p. 1222. ISBN 978-0-06-065338-5.
17.    ^ Cavanagh, David (February 1997), “ChangesFiftyBowie”, Q magazine: 52–59
18.    ^ Falcon Valley Music Ed., Stefano Vagnini, Via Crucis, Rome, Italy, 2002
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. Related Links to the Stations of the Cross (Catholic)

<>Stations of the Cross (Mother Angelica Version) 

<>Stations of the Cross ( Passionist version)

Related Links to the Stations of the Cross (Protestant)

<>Stations of the Cross ( Dennis Bratcher Version)

<>Stations of the Cross (Joyful Way Version)

<> Here are some related Links that you may also find helpful for Lent:

Prodigals Amongst us

Be Reconciled with God

Rend your Hearts – Not Your Garments

The Crucified Life

The Cost Of Discipleship

The Renewal of Our Minds

Discerning The Lord’s Call

Praying as Jesus Prayed (Part 1)

Praying as Jesus Prayed (Part 2)

I Stand at the Door and Knock

Receiving The Holy Spirit

Growing in The Spirit

Jesus the Source of Living water and Us

Christ In Us The Hope of Glory

<>Vienes Santo PPS Download  (in Spanish):

Viernes Santo (Sp.) Good Friday.pps   — 1.8 meg

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The Holy Innocents of Newtown

Modern_Sympathy_wreath-1

By now all the world is aware of the horrendous massacre of 20 children and six teachers in a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school on 14 December 2012. This posting is intended to honor their memory and to ask for prayers for their parents, friends and loved ones who bear the brunt of the pain and horror this ultrage against human dignity has brought.

The evil that was wrought by this slaughter is, of course, reminiscent of the slaughter of the “Holy Innocents” of Bethlehem by King Herod in the aftermath of the birth of Christ. The Church celebrates a Holy Day in honor of these little “martyrs” on the 28th of December each liturgical year. (see: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07419a.htm)

– Regarding the Blessed Innocence of Children Jesus said:

Jesus Welcomes Children

Jesus Welcomes Children

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Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matt. 19:13-14)

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– Regarding the Holy Innocents of Bethlehem, St. Augustine said:

Holy Innocents of Bethlehem

Holy Innocents of Bethlehem

“Blessed are you, Bethlehem in the land of Judah! You suffered the inhumanity of King Herod in the murder of your babes and thereby have become worthy to offer to the Lord a pure host of infants. In full right do we celebrate the heavenly birthday of these children whom the world caused to be born unto an eternally blessed life rather than that from their mothers’ womb, for they attained the grace of everlasting life before the enjoyment of the present. The precious death of any martyr deserves high praise because of his heroic confession; the death of these children is precious in the sight of God because of the beatitude they gained so quickly. For already at the beginning of their lives they pass on. The end of the present life is for them the beginning of glory. These then, whom Herod’s cruelty tore as sucklings from their mothers’ bosom, are justly hailed as “infant martyr flowers”; they were the Church’s first blossoms, matured by the frost of persecution during the cold winter of unbelief.               (St. Augustine)

26 Candles

A blessed candle for each …That to Heaven our prayers may reach

Regarding the Holy Innocents of Newtown, the Anglican Diocese of All Saints says :
(Posted by Deacon Val on December 16, 2012 in Prayer_)
Although the Feast of Holy Innocents is December 28th, being mindful of the shooting on Friday, December 14th at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, let us pray this prayer daily from now through that Holy Day:
~ Holy Innocents, you died before you were old enough to know what life means, pray for all children who die young that God may gather them into His loving arms.
~ Holy Innocents, you were killed because one man was filled with hatred, pray for those who hate that God may touch their hearts and fill them with love.
~ Holy Innocents, you experienced a violent death, pray for all who are affected by violence that they may find peace and love.
~ Holy Innocents, you were murdered at the hands of men who probably felt they were merely following orders, pray for all who act against their consciences that they may turn to God for strength to do what is right.
~Holy Innocents, your parents grieved for you with deep and lasting sorrow, pray for all parents who have lost young children that God may wrap a warm blanket of comfort around them.
~ Holy Innocents, those around you certainly felt helpless to prevent your deaths, pray for all who feel helpless in their circumstances that they may cling to God for courage and hope.
~ Holy Innocents, you did not know Jesus during your brief lives, but now you praise Him for all eternity, pray for all those who do not know Jesus that they may open their minds to His voice and their hearts to His love.
~Holy Innocents, you died as infants and toddlers, pray for those who are in danger of dying before they are even born through the horrors of abortion that their mothers may recognize the sanctity of all life, turn to God for help, and give their babies a chance to live.
~Holy Innocents, you who are now in Heaven, pray for all of us that one day we may join you there to bask in God’s love forever. Amen.
(excerpted from the Blog: http://www.themdas.org/a-prayer-to-the-holy-innocents/)

Jesus, welcomes every child to His Kingdom

Jesus, welcomes every child to His Kingdom

– Daily Reading & Meditation
(By Don Schwager, as excerpted from: http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/dec28.htm)
Friday (December 28): “Rachel weeping for her children”
~ Scripture: Matthew 2:13-18
13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and  flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt, 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt have I called my son.” 16 Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: 18 “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they were no more.

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~ Meditation: Who can explain suffering, especially the suffering of innocent children? Herod’s massacre of children who gave their lives for a person and a truth they did not know seemed so useless and unjust. What a scandal and stumbling block for those who can’t recognize God’s redeeming love. Why couldn’t God prevent this slaughter? Suffering is indeed a mystery. No explanation seems to satisfy our human craving to understand. What does Paul the Apostle mean when he says: We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called to his purpose (Romans 8:28)?  These innocent children and their parents suffered for Christ. Suffering, persecution, and martyrdom are the lot of all who chose to follow Jesus Christ. There is no crown without the cross. It was through Jesus’ suffering, humiliation, and death on a cross, that our salvation was won. His death won life – eternal life for us. And his blood which was shed for our sake obtained pardon and reconciliation with our heavenly Father.
Suffering takes many forms: illness, disease, handicap, physical pain and emotional trauma, slander, abuse, poverty, and injustice. Jesus exclaimed that those who weep, who are reviled and persecuted for righteousness sake are blessed (Matthew 5:10-12). The word blessed [makarios in the Greek] literally means happiness or beatitude. It describes a kind of joy which is serene and untouchable, self-contained and independent from chance and changing circumstances of life. There is a certain paradox for those blessed by the Lord. Mary was given the blessedness of being the mother of the Son of God. That blessedness also would become a sword which pierced her heart as her Son died upon the cross. She received both a crown of joy and a cross of sorrow. But her joy was not diminished by her sorrow because it was fueled by her faith, hope, and trust in God and his promises. Jesus promised his disciples that “no one will take your joy from you” (John 16:22). The Lord gives us a supernatural joy which enables us to bear any sorrow or pain and which neither life nor death can take way. Do you know the joy of a life fully surrendered to God with faith and trust?
“Lord, you gave your life for my sake, to redeem me from slavery to sin and death.  Help me to carry my cross with joy that I may willingly do your will and not shrink back out of fear or cowardice when trouble besets me.”
(www.dailyscripture.net – Copyright © 2012-2013 Don Schwager )

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