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Archive for the ‘Amazing Love’ Category

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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Part 1 of : Awakening to the Father’s Love

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. And every one who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.” (1 Jn. 3:1-3)

Sacred Heart“We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. Any one who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1 Jn, 3:14-16)

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, and Fellow Pilgrims,

When Jesus instructed His disciples to “Love one another…” (Jn.13:34-35) He raised the level of that directive beyond that of the human love expressed by the Torah to “Love your Neighbor as yourselves”. He raised it by indicating that they were to “Love one another as I have Loved you”. In giving them this command He was implicitly imparting to them the power to Love with the same kind of Love as the Father Loved Him! For He also told them, “as the Father has loved me, so have I loved you”(Jn. 15:9). That is why the scripture tells us that it is for this purpose that “the Love of God has been poured into our Hearts” (Rom., 5:5)

Our problem is that while we can readily comprehend loving our neighbor as ourselves at the human level, we find ourselves at an impasse as to how to operate in the same Divine Love that transpires between the Father and the Son.

This article, in two parts, is my attempt at inciting us to understand and awaken that Divine Love that is in us, so that in activating this Love through Faith, we may be the Father’s partners in manifesting His Kingdom of Love through our relationships in this world.

Part One to my article on this theme follows…

Jesus’ Prayer for Impartation of the Divine Love

“Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17: 25-26 NRSV)

Synopsis : 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 for the Son. 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. 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. This treatise deals with our coming to the awareness of this divine type of Love, surrendering to its embrace, and the dying to self that it entails.

What Manner of Love Is This?

Most of us who live on this planet are blessed to have experienced “love” before we even understood that there was a word for it. A mother’s pure, unconditional and unselfish love for her child is experienced and understood by her child by the loving care and tender concern a mother manifests toward her child through her relationship with that child. If this is this is about the closest we can get, in human experience, to help us understand the pure and unconditional love that God the Father has for his human creation can you imagine the deep, tender, and intimate love that He must have for His only begotten Son, Jesus? This is a love that transcends human experience. It is a supernatural love that can only be manifested in and through the Spirit of the Loving God!

So, in His prayer, Jesus asks the Father that it is His desire that those who believe in Him come to know the Father as He knows the Father so that the Holy Spirit through a relationship with Jesus may communicate this Divine Love directly to the believers!

To Truly Understand Divine Love, We must Experience it!

For many of us, this Divine Love, is merely a theological concept, which we accept intellectually but without any expectation of the affirmation or spiritual awareness of this Divine Love that clearly Jesus and the Father desire us to have. In our case, we have an understanding of the concept but, unlike the baby in our example, we have yet to enter into a spiritual awareness of that Love. The primary reason being, that like a mother’s love for her child, that awareness must come through an active, loving relationship.

The prophets and writers of the Old Testament attempted to convey the interpersonal and relational nature of the Divine Love for humanity and for Israel through metaphors, similes and allegories, such as comparing the

Love of Yahweh for Israel being compared to that of a bridegroom for his bride[1] and a mother for her child[2].

In spite of this, those who practiced of the Hebrew religion, instead of hearing and receiving the message of love the Lord was conveying to them through the Law and the Prophets, instead attempted to please God through dead religious legalism. That is why the prophet Hosea rebuked them in The Lord’s name saying, “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice and the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6:6 NRSV). Jesus, on several occasions when challenged by the Pharisees as to why he consorted with sinners and publicans, cited this same verse from Hosea (e.g.,Matt.9:13).

Amongst all the parables that Jesus used to convey the picture of the Father’s Love for humanity, perhaps none is perhaps more poignant and descriptive of this Divine Love than the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15: 11-32).

Not only does the Father desire that we come to experience His Love, like the prodigal son, but He also desires that we also be channels of His Love. Jesus’ directive to His disciples to “Love one another as I have loved you” was also intended for us. And since He was the express image of the Father, it was the Father’s Love that they experienced through Him and it was the Father’s Love they, and we, are commanded to express to each other. Only the Holy Spirit working in us to form a relationship with the Father through the Son can accomplish this!

Our Loving Father, manifests His magnificent and magnanimous Love to our desperately alienated humanity by entering into human history, and offering the gift of this Eternal Love, the Love for which we were created, by reconciling us to Himself through the sacrificial death of His Son on the cross. But this Eternal Love does not stop at just reconciliation. After Jesus’ resurrection, He empowers us, the body of His Son, with the Spirit anointing that was on Jesus when He was on earth. Thus permitting us to participate in His Divinity through faith in the One He sent, who is, in fact, the image of His Love. In this participation we enter into a deeper relationship that takes us from being just friends to being His Spiritual Sons and Daughters in Christ.

How tragic, then, was humanity’s initial response to this offer of Love, that the One He sends to communicate His Love is rejected, tortured and crucified. How can this be? How can anyone reject so great a Love as this? And yet, even today, though millions upon millions have accepted His Love, there are still those in the world who, because of ignorance and misunderstanding, have not really comprehended the Good News of the Father’s Love. Much of the reason for this rejection, unfortunately, lies in the perception that they do not see God’s Love demonstrated in the lives and relations of those who live in what they consider to be “Christian” nations.

Awakening to the Father’s Love In Us!

God, in His mercy and loving kindness, is not impeded by humanity’s desperate situation. For since He does not wish that any should perish He has predestined us, in His undying love for humanity, that, we believers, the body of Christ in this world, be the communicators of His message of Love and reconciliation to the world – not only through The Word of His Love, the Gospel of the Cross, but also through the Power of His Love, the Holy Spirit, the Dove of Pentecost, who empowers all believers to be channels of this Divine Love to all the world both individually and as a community. It is the Father’s will, therefore, to release the miraculous power of His Love through our living out our loving obedience to the Gospel of His Love. A Love that is not only confirmed by the works of power that accompany the anointed proclamation of His Word but also by the power to reach into the human heart and reveal His Love directly to those who hear and believe the Messenger of His Love, Jesus, His Son!.

For this reason, it is even more urgent that we who are called by His Name be more and more resolved to not only live the life of holiness to which we are called but also to manifest and demonstrate the Father’s Love to all with whom we come in contact. For we, indeed, are His hands of Love extended to the world and to our own communities.

But, as with all things spiritual, we cannot demonstrate or manifest that which we ourselves have not experienced. How can we convince others of the intimacy of the Father’s Love when we ourselves have yet not come to know our creator in a personal way? For some of us, because of the spiritual lethargy inherent in our human nature, this personal encounter with the Lover of our souls does not always come immediately upon our intellectual assent to the faith. There is usually a gradual transition where the Holy Spirit takes us from learning about the Father’s Love, through His Word and Sacraments, to spiritually experiencing this Love through a deepening personal relationship with Jesus, who is the incarnation of the Father’s Love. Then, as we continue our walk with Him, we become truly aware of His personal embrace of Love, which gathers us to Himself in spite of our own unworthiness. Then, and only then, can it be said that we begin to experience the true and redeeming Love that flows through a relationship with the Father through the Son.

Such a spiritual epiphany is the necessary door to our continued spiritual growth. In fact, without a personal encounter with Christ our spiritual growth is held in abeyance[3]. Yes, we may know and give intellectual assent to all the basic doctrines of the Christian faith, but without the personal experience of “knowing” Christ intimately, our spiritual growth will be deprived of the very sustenance needed to keep from being conformed to the world instead of to Christ.

One of the impediments most of us have to entering into a personal and intimate relationship with our Father is that we have been taught to have such a reverence and awe for God that it is inconceivable to us, who are so painfully aware of our own sinfulness, to imagine how this holy all-powerful supernatural and holy being would even permit us to come before Him. While it is absolutely necessary that we not lose this sense of awe and reverence it does not mean that we cannot approach him or enter into a personal relationship with Him. For we, who abide in the Son, come before His throne garbed in Jesus’ robes of righteousness and not the filthy rags of our fallen nature.

What we tend to forget is that He first loved us and took the necessary action to remove the obstacle of sin that separated us from Him, namely, through the atoning and sacrificial death of His Son on the Cross and His subsequent resurrection. Through His Word He also us provided the faith we needed to believe in His Son and thus become His Children In Him. And it is through the Son, and In Him alone, that we have access to this intimate relationship with the Father. This is the reason for which we were created. For God Is Love and Love requires an object to be Loved. He created us so He could pour out His Love on us through the Holy Spirit [4].

Through our conversion, baptism, confirmation and the other sacraments of the church the Holy Spirit provides us the means to enter into and maintain this intimate relationship with the Lover of our souls. Only one thing is necessary, and that is, that we open the door to the One who stands at the Door of our Hearts, knocking and earnestly waiting for us to open our hearts to Him, who deeply desires that we activate that relationship for which He created us. When with all sincerity we proclaim, “Yes, Lord. come into my heart and abide therein”, He enters in and sups with us and we with Him.

Maintaining this abiding relationship is a constant challenge to us for the world, the flesh and the devil are constantly attempting to distract us from the heavenly fellowship. So as we read this brief reminder of this Heritage of The Father’s Love let us all reaffirm our YES and rededicate our hearts to be receptive and obedient to the Father’s Love by asking Jesus to renew His life in us. And, if at all possible, do so by receiving the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist, the Sacrament of His Love.

<><><> To Be Continued in Part 2 ====> Click Here

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

If this article has touched your hearts, reach out to Jesus now and ask Him to manifest Himself to you so that you may become fully aware of the Father’s Love and be empowered to manifest that Love to whomever the Father brings into your life.

May you so be blessed in His Name! Amen!

Your Brother In Christ … Bartimaeus

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

Footnotes:

[1] “For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your builder marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you..” (Is. 62:5 NRSV)

[2] “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” (Is. 49:15)

[3]“There is no Christianity without an encounter with Christ. Christianity is not simply a doctrine; it is a meeting, in faith, with God, present in our history with the incarnation of Jesus.” ( Pope John Paul II-World Youth Day 2004)

[4] And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (Rom.5:5 NRSV)

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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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Be Reconciled with God !

“… God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. [How] Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, [how]much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” (Rom. 5:8-11)

My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Sometimes, due to our superficial and simplistic reading of Scripture, we not only miss the spiritual depth and scope of what is being communicated, but sometimes misunderstand the basic meaning of the concepts being presented. For instance in the concept regarding “reconciliation” being presented by the Apostle Paul in the initiating citation from his epistle to the Romans, Paul is telling us that through Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross, the Father accomplished that which, under human wisdom, was deemed an impossibility, the reconciliation of the relationship between God and humankind. Upon mankind’s fall from Grace, our intimate relationship with God had been ruptured by the sin of pride, rebellion and disobedience against God – a sin that in God’s words could only be atoned for by the death of the sinner …

“The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” (Gen. 2:15-17)

“Thus says Lord, … the soul that commits sin shall die” (Ezek. 18:4)

Our Need for Reconciliation with God

There is little doubt, brethren, that each of us, as children of Adam, have partaken of this forbidden fruit and are children of this rebellion since the carnal brokenness of our fleshly lives gives evidence to our disobedience and separation from God. For as St. Paul also concludes: “… all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).

Thus, if in order to satisfy God’s Justice, you paid with your life, what good would that be to you or to God since, without life, you could no longer derive the benefit of reconciliation from the settlement of your debt to God? Thus, the mere fact that you paid your debt with your life certainly would not result in reconciliation would it? You have to be alive to experience true and complete reconciliation.

The Father’s Gift of Reconciliation in Christ

So in a magnificent display of God’s wisdom, mercy, and Love for those whom He created, He determined from eternity that the only way that true reconciliation, that included the propitiation for the sin of mankind, could be accomplished was to send His Son, the Image of Himself, to take on our sins through His sacrificial death on the Cross and to be resurrected to Life so that those who believe in Him might not only be redeemed from their sins but also be brought to new life in His Anointed and so enjoy the restoration of fellowship with the Father as His adopted children! Now that is a true and complete Reconciliation!. This is the fullness of the Forgiveness, Restoration, and Reconciliation that we who believe have in Christ Jesus! Praised be His Name Forever!

In the Old Covenant, God chose not to reveal this mystery to Israel, the mystery of how He could forgive sin and not hold it against them, even though this apparently went against the principle of His eternal Justice. Instead, through His Word given to Moses, He instituted, a set of sacrificial rituals for sin that symbolized the Mercy and Love that would be later revealed in His Son, the Messiah (His anointed One) and through which His Justice would be eternally satisfied.

With regard to Jesus’ sacrificial offering of Himself, the writer of Hebrews, directing his teaching to the a Jewish-Christian community, states:

“For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled, sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

I have been crucified with Christ…

And for this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, in order that since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. For where a covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it. For a covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives. Therefore even the first covenant was not inaugurated without blood. For when every commandment had been spoken by Moses to all the people according to the Law, he took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded you.” And in the same way he sprinkled both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry with the blood. And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Hebrews 9:13-22)

Thus, my brothers and sisters, in and through the shed blood of Christ Jesus, we have come under a New Covenant, where we, who believe and have been brought into covenant with the Father, are called to be messengers or envoys of the Good News of this Reconciliation to the whole world, so that all may comprehend the universality of His Love and His Mercy for those that believe!

“So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor. 5:17-21)

Appropriating the Reconciliation

Now, here is an apparent conundrum: the Apostle Paul clearly states that, “… we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son”, and “… not counting their trespasses against them”, yet, Paul continues by entreating, on behalf of Christ, that all who hear these “Good News” to ” … be reconciled to God”, obviously seeking a response from them in the present. The questions is: how is it that, if God, in the past tense, “…. having reconciled the world to Himself”, is now, through Paul’s preaching, appealing to all who hear to take some kind of action to complete what has already been accomplished? If reconciliation has already been achieved eternally through Christ’s death and resurrection, what is it that is left for the hearer’s to do to bring that Reconciliation into manifestation in the NOW of their lives?

Obviously, if St. Paul is entreating those who are the object of His preaching, to “be reconciled to God”, it must be that, what he is requiring of his hearers is an act of faith to receive that reconciliation. Like all spiritual blessings and graces, the reconciliation being preached, cannot be appropriated except through faith – a faith that is validated by an act of our will. So what Paul is really asking, is for his audience to “Believe and Repent” in order to receive the Promised Graces of Reconciliation.

This means that even though we all have been reconciled to God in eternity, an act of faith is required by us to appropriate this Grace in the present – in the NOW of our lives. The Grace that we reach out to with our faith is the Reconciliation that Christ has won for us and that is already available to us in the heavenlies, but which may only be appropriated by us through an act of faith – that act of faith being our sincere repentance in faith!

Just remember, repentance is NOT a “work”, it is an act of faith through which God’s Grace proceeds.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—not the result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Eph.2:8-9)

Repentance has to be by Faith and NOT by works, because it is only by Faith that we can please God. And, also, from the context of what Paul is teaching – repentance is a grace that turns our hearts towards God in sorrowful acknowledgment of our sins and in a fully yielded acceptance of the Gift of Forgiveness and Reconciliation that is being offered.

Our need for Ongoing Repentance

Continuing in this train of thought, it then becomes clear to us that, although at our conversion and Baptism we repented of all of our sins to the moment of receiving the sacrament, there will be occasions in our future lives where, due to the weakness of human flesh, we will fall again into sin, and when we do what recourse do we have to maintain ourselves in reconciliation (or Fellowship) with the Father? Since we can only repent of the sins we are aware of, do we have to be baptized again every time we accumulate new sins?

No, of course not! The reason being, that the Lord also provided for us the continuing means whereby, those of us who have become part of the Body Of Christ through Baptism may maintain or fellowship with the Father. The Fountain of Grace that the father provides is not limited by our time-bound constraints on repentance. The Living water He provides is like a never-ending fountain available to us throughout our lives not only here but through eternity. All we have to do is to reach out to this Grace of Graces through our continuing repentance in Faith!

For those of us in the Catholic tradition we believe that the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist are outlets of His continuing and out-flowing Life-giving Grace exactly because they provide us, the faithful, with the sacramental means to express our repentance in faith and receive spiritual restoration continually though out our lifetimes.

Remember when Jesus washed His Disciples feet before the last supper …

“He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” Jesus answered, “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, …..” (John 13:6-10)

Like the disciples we, as His Children, have been washed clean in the eternal cleansing of Baptism but, because we are temporal creatures, we are being continually exposed to the world and it sinfulness. Thus, we also need to have our feet (our souls) washed at regular periods if we want to continue to have part with Jesus. That washing of the feet is what the Sacrament of Reconciliation provides.

Remember also what John the Apostle said about our need to confess our sins,

“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.” (1 John 1:6-10)

In Jesus’ metaphor that He is the Vine, He reinforces the need for us to maintain a continuous fellowship with Him:

“I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.” (John 1:6-10)

If we are to continue to abide in the vine and bear fruit we must undergo a continuous pruning, and that is why our continuous self-assessment under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and His Word (with repentance, as necessary) is extremely important if we are to continue to grow spiritually and not become a “dry branch”.

Maintaining Our Fellowship with God

Again, we find in the Word that God does not ask anything from us for which He does not provide the appropriate Grace. When Jesus ask for us to abide in Him, He also tells us the Grace that is provided to this purpose, namely, the Sacrament of the Eucharist, otherwise called “Holy Communion” or “Holy Fellowship”. For He says to them: “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty,,, I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” (John 6:35, 48-51)

Unless you eat of my flesh and drink my blood…

The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever” (John 6:52-58)

Quickly bring a robe and put it on him …

Beloved, what more can be said about the Father’s generous and unconditional Reconciliation. Not only does He accept us, and forgive all our trespasses and receives us to new life as His adopted children, but, also, through the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist, continuously restores us to Fellowship with Him as a continuation of our inheritance in Christ, just as the prodigal son’s father received and restored His returning runaway son (Luke 15: 22 – 24) and restored Him to his place in the estate by placing his robe of righteousness on his body and his ring of authority on his finger.

In conclusion, brothers and sisters, I pray, that in my simple way, I have clarified the importance of the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist as the institutionalized means by which the church attends to the needs of us, the faithful, to assist us in the restoration and maintenance of Our Reconciliation and Fellowship with Him in Christ Jesus, His Son and to strengthen us to hold fast unto Him as we continue on the way of discipleship to Him.

To Him be all Glory and Honor Forever! Amen and Amen!

As we continue in our walk with Him I leave you with the following scriptures to encourage and strengthen you continue in the Way in Him, Jesus, The Son of the Father and Our Savior and Lord!

Baruch Ha Shem, Blessed Be His Name Forever!

St. John:

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)

St. Paul:

“Now, brothers[and sisters], I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.” (1 Cor. 15: 1-2)

“… Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God,
with which you were sealed for the day of redemption.
All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling
must be removed from you, along with all malice.
And be kind to one another, compassionate,
forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.
So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love,
as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma. (Eph 4:30-5:2)

Moses:

“The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace. (Num. 6:24-26)

Jesus:

“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:25-27)

Be Courageous and Strong in the Lord, for the testing of all Christians is at hand …

Your Fellow Disciple and Pilgrim in Christ Jesus…. Bartimaeus

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

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The Prodigals Amongst Us

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)

 

Quickly bring a robe and put it on him …

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

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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, [2003-2012].

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

Read Full Post »

Jesus: The Word Made Flesh

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name ‘Immanuel,’ which is translated, ‘God with us.’ ” (Matthew 1:23)

“And the Word became flesh and lived among us…” (Jn1:14)

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As we approach the celebration of our savior’s birth it is appropriate that we meditate on the unimaginable mystery and magnificence of this event.  A mystery which was kept even from the angels – basically, the Father’s plan to redeem us from the sin which has enveloped humanity since Adam.

A plan not only to redeem us but to restore us to adoption as His spiritually generic Children. A plan that could be wrought only by through the Divine becoming one of us and atoning for our sins through an unjust passion and death at the hands of those whom He was saving. For, indeed  only God Himself, in human form, could take responsibility and be judged for our sins since He is the Sinless and Holy One who created us. In this incarnation of His Divine Self and the Sacrifice of His Son for our sins is the ultimate and immanent manifestation of His transcendent Love -Yet, A love that expresses itself at the level of Human realization – A Love that goes beyond philosophy and theology to the reality of the birth of a human child incarnating God Himself – the birth of the lamb of God –  The Lamb that the Father provided to be publicly sacrificed to atone for our sins,

“For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes on Him might not perish but come to everlasting life” (Jn; 3-16­)

The Father’s giving of His Son begins at the Birth of Jesus – the event we celebrate as Christmas – the key event, on this Earth for His plan of redemption.  The Gift of His Son begins at His Birth, His “incarnation”, where He emptied Himself of His Divine nature and became as one of us. This began the process by which the Word of God, the Son of God, became flesh for the  purpose of sacrificing His Life for for our sins and, in this manner, manifested the Love of the Father for His creation and opened the door for our own re-creation in His “image”.

“… when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”  (Gal 4:4-7)

From this scripture we understand that, in order to accomplish His will in this regard, the Father needed a select volunteer, a human woman without sin to bring forth the Son of God incarnate into this world. This woman was Mary, a pure virgin dedicated to God, selected by Him to be the vessel through which His Son would be conceived and born as the God-Man anointed savior of the world.

And, as you might expect, it all began with an Angel delivering a Word from God.

(For God does nothing apart from His Word).

“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth,  to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you. But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.  The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.  He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David.  He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”  Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.” (Luke 1:26-35)

In delivering this Word from God, the Angel was delivering a Divine Promise and in order for this Promise to be realized,  Mary, the chosen mother of His Son, needed to willingly and in faith accept and receive that Promise. Although she asked out of curiosity, “how can this be since I am a virgin?”,  the Angel told her  “.. with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37). And Mary, responding in faith said, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her” (Luke 1:38).

Brethren, I gently remind you of these things that you already have heard but which may not have had the impact it ought on your heart, so that you may be made aware, by the Holy Spirit, that the Father’s Love and purposes for the Birth of Christ, His ministry, His Passion, His Death and His Resurrection go much further than saving us from our sins and bringing us into His Glory. In fact, His intent was, and still is, for Jesus, His Son to be the first of many brethren. His intent is to replicate His Son in us so that His Glory and the Glory of His Son might be multiplied amongst us, and through us who believe, and so that we might be His instruments for the manifestation of His Kingdom in this world. Baruch ha Shem!

Peter, our first pope, expressly stated this underlying destiny for those who have also been born again through the Promises of His Word and who through the preaching of that word, have come to adoption as His children through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Yes! As you might expect, we also are re-born spiritually, through the proclamation  of  God’s Word – the Good News of Salvation in Christ Jesus!

You have been born anew,

not of perishable but of imperishable seed,

through the living and enduring Word of God

For  “All flesh is like grass

and all its glory like the flower of grass.

The grass withers, and the flower falls,

but the Word of the Lord endures forever.” 

That word is the good news that was announced to you.

(1Ptr1:23-25)

And, as the Apostle Peter further amplifies, it is the Father’s intent that we, through our faith in His Promises, may become His partners in brining forth His Kingdom, through our baptism into Christ!

“His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature.” (2Ptr1:3-4)

What shall we say then, to these graces and love that is freely bestowed on us? What is the response that the Father desires of us to His gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus?  If the Living God gave totally of Himself, is it not appropriate that we His creatures give totally of ourselves in response to his Love. Is not this then the most appropriate gift that we can bring to the manger to celebrate the Gift of God’s Son to us?  Here again St. Peter hints the path of giving we must take to enter into the spiritual transformation that enables us to fulfill our destiny …

“Rid yourselves, therefore, of all malice, and all guile, insincerity, envy, and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

 Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”  (1Ptr1:2-5)

And what are these spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God?  Aren’t these, in effect, the  giving of  our  “selves” to God?

To that question the Apostle Paul responds affirmatively ….

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  (Rom 12:1-2)

In order to assist you in accepting this challenge Brethren, I follow this article with a Prayer of Commitment, so that those of you whom the Holy Spirit has touched may, upon personal meditation use it to formulate your own payer of commitment wherein you not only dedicate your “self” as a Living sacrifice in response to the Father’s Love but you also yield yourself to the Holy Spirit so that He can fill you and mold you and empower you to bring forth the Father’s kingdom in and through your lives.

I conclude with the Apostle Paul’s prayer to the Ephesians who were also at the same point you now are, in being invited to enter the Kingdom through the gift of yourselves to the Father and to bring the Good News of the Kingdom to others….

“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 saints, 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.”     (Eph.3:16-21)

Your Brother In Christ … Bartimaeus

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

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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 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!

Prayer for Empowerment in the Holy Spirit

Father, as your child in Jesus I desire to be totally an instrument for Your Kingdom to manifest through my life. I desire to receive your Promise of the Holy Spirit to those who believe. Jesus, my Savior and King, baptize me in the Holy Spirit so that the power of your resurrection will work in me and transform me according to your will. Holy Spirit, empower me and fill me to overflowing. I hold nothing back from you. Work your gifts in me and through me so that the Father’s Kingdom may be manifested in and through my life. I ask this in Jesus’ mighty Name. Amen!

O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O

Now, begin praising and worshipping God with all your heart. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you, renew you, and praise God through you. Release yourself from all the inhibitions you have and raise your voice in songs and psalms. Express those longings you have held in your heart for so long but were unable to let loose because of your inhibitions. As you sing and worship release yourself to the Holy Spirit so that He can pray and worship through you.

As you enter this time of praise and worship you will begin to experience a sense of the presence of the Lord. You will begin to lose your self-consciousness and you will sense that the flow of your prayers and song is coming as if from out of nowhere. In fact, as your praise increases you sense that you are uttering words that are no longer in your mother tongue. But you know in your spirit that these words are honoring God so your flow in these phrases increases. You have just received your prayer language. You are feeling so blessed, you find that you don’t want to stop. Don’t stop. Pray and sing your heart out, glorifying God!

Praised be His Holy Name! You have now ”Entered the Kingdom” of the Father! Walk in the leading of the Holy Spirit and be obedient to His call! May the Lord Bless you and anoint you with the Holy Spirit in all that you do!

 

 

Your Brother In Christ,

Bartimaeus

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

 

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Resource Links In Preparing for the Baptism In the Spirit

Catholic Charismatic History

§ Releasing the Spirit

§ The Double Portion Anointing

§ Jesus, the Source of Living Water, and Us

§ Pentecost and the Promise of the Father

§ The sanctifying Gifts (Part 1)

§ The Sanctifying Gifts (Part 2)

§ Praying in The Spirit

§ Empowerment Gifts (Part 1)

§ The Empowerment Gifts (Part 2)

Read Full Post »

 Praying as Jesus Prayed (Part 1)

Jesus In Deep Prayer

Jesus In Deep Prayer

[Jesus:] “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.  …. On that day you will ask in my name. I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.  (cf.,Jn.16:24-27)

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

“Examine yourselves to see whether y are living in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless, indeed, you fail to meet the test!” (2 Cor. 13:5)

“My little children, of whom I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you (Gal. 4:19)

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Dear Pilgrims and Fellow Members of the Body of Christ,

One of the greatest responsibilities we have as members of Christ’s earthly body, His Church, is prayer.  But REAL prayer, not just the rote repetition of scripted religious piety, prayer that is a heart to heart dialogue with the Our God as Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Prayer that flows out of our meditation on His Word. Prayer that is constantly seeking His face and His Will to perform it. Prayer that comes from a yielded spirit that is not seeking anything for “self” but only the Glory of the Father and His Kingdom!  Prayer that comes forth out of the spiritual awareness that we are “in Christ and that Christ is in us” – an awareness that compels us to yield ourselves in Love to Christ so that He may live and pray through us to the Father.

The reason that this level of prayer is required of us is that it is only through this level of prayer that we can fulfill the destiny that Our Father has for us, the Body of Christ – the destiny of being conformed to the image of the Son (Rom. 8:29). For,  “Unto each one of us was the grace given according to the measure of the gift of Christ… till we all attain unto the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God… unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:7, 13).

In order to grow into the Christ-likeness the Father intends for us, we must pray as Christ prayed, we must walk as He walked, we must be empowered by the Holy Spirit as He was empowered and we must fulfill the Father’s will as He fulfilled the Father’s will to bring forth the Glory of His Kingdom here on this Earth. In effect we are here to continue Jesus’ ministry in this world! This is beyond anything our hapless humanity can accomplish – only the Holy Spirit working in us and through us can transform us and empower us to bring us to this point. We are new creation in HIM, but the Holy Spirit will not activate our new self without our yielding totally to the will of the Father.

“And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2Cor.5:15-17)

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.” (1Cor.6:19-20)

Yes, brothers and sisters, we have been bought for a price and our lives are no longer our own, it is our destiny, yea even our mission in life to give ourselves totally to the Spirit of God to conform us to Jesus, so that He, living and working through us, might bring to completion the purpose for which He was sent, namely, to bring the Kingdom of His Father to this world and, thus, restore God’s creation to its original Glory!

Yes, he died to save us from the power of evil and to be with Him in Heaven for eternity, but He also gave Himself for His “called out ones” in this world, His Ecclesia”, that so that we could take His mantle and carry on His ministry until He comes to reign. He died for us, taking on our sins so that we could be restored as children of the Father and, that as His Brothers and Sisters, we might become inheritors of the Kingdom with Him who is our King, so we, that as His commissioned envoys, may enforce, through faith, His Word and His Promises to bring forth His Kingdom for the Glory of the Father!

We, His Body, then, are called to be His deputies in bringing forth the Kingdom in this world in preparation for His Coming as King!   However, without true, intimate, spiritual prayer and communion with the Divine we cannot achieve the end for which we were created.  Without prayer we cannot be attached to Him, the Vine, and without being attached we cannot bring forth fruit!

That is why I previously mentioned, in another article, that the foundational prayer model for true discipleship is “the Lord’s Prayer” or what it really should be called, “the Disciples Prayer”. This prayer, mentioned by both Matthew and Luke, once spiritually understood, clearly lays out the Father’s plan to have us be His Partners in enforcing His Promises and His will in order to bring forth His Kingdom in this world.

Looking more carefully at Chapter 11 of Luke’ Gospel we see that the evangelist was not just recounting a series of unrelated stories about Jesus’ prayer life and His sayings, but rather was taking these sayings and teachings to string together a spiritual lesson, laying out the importance of prayer in bringing forth The Kingdom in our world today!

Let us first analyze these initial themes and order of these teachings/sayings so that we may discern what Luke is attempting to tell us through these teachings of Jesus.

Chapter 11 of Luke’s gospel begins with the three major themes that indicate the importance we need to place on our personal prayer in order to begin to fulfill the roles the Father has destined for us in fulfilling the portion of Jesus’ ministry that has been designated for us. The scriptures that specify these themes are: Luke 11: 1-4; Luke 11:5-8; and Luke 11:9-13. In order to help your meditation on these teachings I will go through each with my own annotations, which are there to help you, but which I urge you to read, test and reinterpret these scriptures as the Spirit leads you.

The First Theme:  The Prayer of Dedication (The Disciples’ Prayer)

(Luke 11:1)  He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”

– Here, in this situation Luke is attempting to convey that the Holy Spirit moved the disciples to desire to pray as Jesus prayed.  Do you feel led by the Spirit to have Him bring you to the point where you can pray as Jesus prayed? This desire is the starting point to the Way of Discipleship. If you don’t have it yet, pray for it when you pray the “Disciples Prayer”, not out of routine piety but out of a heartfelt desire and need to follow our Master.

(Luke 11:2-4) He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom come.

– Here Jesus tells His disciples that through the relationship they have with Him they are to address their prayer directly to the “Father”. In addressing God as   personal “Father” He is going against all the traditions of the Jewish people. In fact this is one of the accusations that was made against Him, that “He claims that God is His ‘Father’ ” (Jn 5:18). Now, Jesus is intimating to His Disciples that if they are to pray as He prays, they are to also address God as their Father not just the Father of the Jewish People, which was acceptable, but as the personal  “Father” for each one of them. Note that the term used by Luke is the more personal, “[my]Father”, not “Our Father”,  as in Mathew’s version. Now, we have to ask ourselves when we say this prayer do we really understand in our spirits that we are addressing our own spiritual parent, the creator of the Universe, the one who has made us a New Creation in Christ, and not just some pietistic name for Deity? Do we really understand the unimaginable upgrade we have in Jesus to be able to address God as “our Father”, presuming, in faith, the same relationship that Jesus had?  And then there is the even more unimaginable offer we are making as His Children, namely. to ask Him to manifest His Kingdom, through us by offering ourselves, through the surrender of our individual will and self to Him? To clarify that this prayer is not to bring you to some “blue sky’ concept of an ethereal paradise, Mathew’s version adds: “…(so that) thy will [may] be done [here and now] on Earth as it is in Heaven”. Now this is what makes this prayer a prayer of dedication for you, as a disciple –  a prayer opens you to the reign of God in your Life!  A prayer that prepares you to “Pray as Jesus Prayed”!

(Luke 11:3) Give us each day our daily bread.

– Here Jesus indicates that our prayer of dedication MUST first acknowledge our humanness and complete dependence on the Father for both our spiritual and material sustenance. Without this sustenance, we cannot our of our own humanness, expect to be effective in being obedient to Him and His Word, That is why Jesus, in John’s Gospel says: “Without me you can do nothing” (Jn.:15:5). And that is also why in another place in John, He says; “I am the Bread of Life” and, “…those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.” (Jn 5:35; Jn 6:56). We, in the Catholic tradition of faith, are able to fulfill this spiritual source of sustenance through the reception of the Eucharist, with the proviso, … “if we receive in faith, so that by partaking of His Body and Blood, He is strengthening and renewing His Presence in us” so that His Kingdom may be realized in us in the events and circumstances into which, by the Father’s grace and providence we have been placed.

(Luke 11:4) “And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial.”

– In Luke’s version, Jesus concludes the model of the prayer of dedication He is teaching His disciples by also indicating that without forgiveness they cannot be the Father’s envoys to bring forth the Kingdom. For His is a kingdom of Love and since He Is Love, His Love must rule your heart. If we do not forgive, we are in sin and we CANNOT do His will when we are in rebellion against His will! But if we sin we have an advocate before the father, so that if we confess our sins we will be forgiven (1Jn.1:8-10). The concluding line indicates our awareness of our human weaknesses and tendency to sin and asks that He keep us from trials that will lead us to sin. Again, in the Catholic tradition, after we confess our sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we ask that He “… keep us from the near occasions of Sin” or situations that are beyond our spiritual maturity and wisdom so that we will not fail to bring forth fruit for His Glory and For His Kingdom.

Psalm 15

1 O LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill?

2 He who walks blamelessly, and does what is right, and speaks truth from his heart;

3 who does not slander with his tongue, and does no evil to his friend, nor takes up a reproach against his neighbor;

4 in whose eyes a reprobate is despised, but who honors those who fear the LORD;  who swears to his own hurt and does not change;

5 who does not put out his money at interest, and does not take a bribe against the innocent.  He who does these things shall never be moved.

“For thine is the Kingdom, and the Power and the Glory for ever, Amen.” (Matt. 6;13))

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This, then, in commentary, is what the Disciples’ Prayer is about. It is a prayer, that, when said from the heart, with full understanding of the commitment you are making, reiterates your desire to pray as Jesus prayed, and commit yourself to the “Obedience of Love” as Jesus committed Himself. In doing so, your focus in life, from here on, will be to seek the Father’s will in all that you do. In so doing you will comply with other of Jesus’ exhortations, namely, to  “seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness…” (Matt. 6:33) and to embody in ourselves Jesus’ own statement of dedication, “… Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise” (John 5:19).

In my next article on this subject (Praying as Jesus Prayed Part 2) I will comment on the remaining two themes on Prayer at the beginning of Luke Chapter 11 (cf., Luke 11:5-8; and Luke 11:9-13).

Please pray, read, and meditate on these scriptures so that you may respond to the Spirit’s call on your life to permit the Spirit of Jesus to live and pray through you!  For it is to this level of prayer we are all called as we are being conformed more and more into the image of Christ.

Praised be His Holy Name!

Your Fellow Pilgrim in Christ …  Bartimaeus

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

Recommended Links

§ Sweet Yoke of Love
§ Releasing The Spirit
§ Hearing His Voice…. and Obeying it
§ Praying In the Spirit
§ Responding To the Spirit’s Call
§ The Kingdom of God Our Spiritual Inheritance

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