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Archive for the ‘Reconciliation’ Category

Have we noticed how many Prodigals we have among us?

Just read the news.

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

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

The “Classical”  Prodigals

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

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

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

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

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

The “Hidden” Prodigals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

< As One From a Dream Awakens >

As one from a dream awakens,

So the day I came to the light of life.

As the whirlwind of the Spirit entered,

The door to my soul opened wide.

It broke through the shell of self, erected

To defend the self against the embrace of Love,

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

 

Oh ! I built my defenses well!

In my narcissist enclave all was to justify the Self.

All I said and did was well under the control

Of reason and science and intellectual disdain,

Of a measured theology and attitude profane,

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

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

 

But then as if from nowhere, I heard …

A word that pierced and shook me to my very depths

A word that revealed the sham that I was living

A word that deflated my ego and my pride

It told me that nothing in me was worthy

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

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

 

As into my heart His Word descended,

I was overcome by the intensity of His Love.

As His Love called out to me and sought me,

Willingly, I ceded self to its manifold embrace,

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

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

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

Bartimaeus

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

Recommended Links:

Praying for Prodigals

Prayer: Our Response to His Call

True Spirituality

A Prayer to receive the Holy Spirit

A Pprayer of Dedication

Releasing the Spirit

Hearing God’s Voice …. And obeying it!

Jesus, the Source of Living Water, and us

A History of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal

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

Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Brother In Christ Jesus … Bartimaeus

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

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

Building our Spiritual Life on the Rock

 

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§ Are You at Hand For the Kingdom of Heaven?

Our Father who art in Heaven

Our Father who art in Heaven

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

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

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

Dear fellow pilgrims in Christ Jesus,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Brother in Christ … Bartimaeus

Related Links …
# Prayer to receive the Holy Spirit

Reclaiming Our Legacy In Christ

The Gospel of the Kingdom

The Kingdom of God: Our Spiritual Inheritance

Sweet Yoke of Love

Be Reconciled with God

Releasing the Spirit Releasing the Spirit


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

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Monstrance

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

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

My dear fellow Pilgrims,

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

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

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

jesus-along-the-sea-of-galilee-GoodSalt-pppas0009

Do not be anxious ….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Light Shone in the Darkness

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

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

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

The answer is simple …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OXEN-YOKE

Sweet Yoke of Love

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

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

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

Your Brother  and Fellow Pilgrim In Christ … Bartimaeus

Related Links

Behold, I stand at the Door and Knock

Sweet Yoke of Love

Dedicating our lives to Christ

Avoiding False Mysticism

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

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<> Scriptures Related to Dedicating our Renewed lives to Christ!
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“We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life [in Him].” (Rom. 6:4)

“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.” (Galatians 2:20)

“Those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts.”  (Galatians 5:24 )

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.“ (Matthew 7:13-14 )

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” (Matt 10: 16)

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My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,and fellow Pilgrims,

As lay Christians, we certainly understand that “…while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die.  But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. 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, 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. 5:6-11)

But what we sometimes fail to realize is that the God’s purposes for saving us through the offering of His Son go beyond the majestic demonstration His Love and Mercy. It goes beyond that so far as His desire to conform us to the image of His Son, right now, in the lives we are living in this world. .  Here is what the scripture tells us about the Father’s desire:  “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn of many brethren. And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.” (Rom 8:28-30)

In reconciling us to Himself, the Father also called us to be conformed to the image of the Spirit of Christ He that He has placed in us at our conversion and baptism.

The response He expects to His call is, that we, through the gift of our free will and out of agape Love, offer ourselves totally to Him so that through the transforming power of His Holy Spirit He bring to life in us the very Spirit of Jesus, His Son. And so, through that transformation we can truly  become His instruments in bringing forth His Kingdom into this world — for in this way Jesus can continue fulfilling His Mission through our dedication (consecration) of ourselves to Him and His Purposes (NOT ours). Praised Be His Holy Name!

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Dedicating ourselves to Christ

On several occasions I have written of the need for us to formally dedicate (or set our lives apart for God’s use) our lives to Jesus at least every every New Year so that the life we live out will continue to be His Life in us and not just our own self-willed vision. In this way, though our dedication (or consecration) , His Spirit will continue working in us and though us to empower us in bringing forth His Kingdom in to this fallen world, thus conforming us more and more in the image of His Son.

The need for dedication should be obvious to us. For as we walk our path with Him in this world the more the “world system” attempts to make inroads in us to deviate us of from our “narrow path” with Jesus as we grow spiritually in our fellowship with Him. When the purity of our intent begins to weaken through the incursions , we begin to confuse our divine directives more and more and thus losing our ability to hear His Voice and follow His Spiritual Directives for our lives. Our ability to walk in His Word also begins to fail us as we become distracted by the World and the circumstances the Evil One begins to throw at us to dislodge our faith.

That is why the Apostle Paul exhorted the newly discipled Roman believers to consecrate themselves as the first step in opening themselves to the transforming help of the Holy Spirit in maintaining the holiness to which they had been called :

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St. Francis giving Himself Totally to God

“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. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.”   (Romans 12:1-3)

And similarly he instructed the Ephesian community on how to respond spiritually to the incursions of the evil one in their lives, saying, “… be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”  (Eph. 6:10-17)

Now in order to be strong in the Lord and maintaining the strength of His Power in us an through us, we must always be alert that we do not fall into letting our fallen humanness ( the flesh) control us. For this reason, our self-dedication helps us to avoid complacency and always be obedient to God’s commandments as we live our our lives dedicated to Him.

It is usually for lack of dedication that we become complacent in our walk that we fall into our fleshly tantrums. As Paul tells the Galatians (and us):  “Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21)

Of course, the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist are there to keep us on the right path. However even there the enemy may still intervene through His deceptions when we are not careful as to the examination of our consciences. But consecration lets the Holy Spirit work in us to strengthen us by an act of our will to be partners with the Divine by submitting ourselves to His Reign in us, so that as the “disciples prayer” states, “His Will may be done through us, in this world was it is in Heaven”.

Without an intentional dedication (or consecration), it difficult to be spiritually alert for the enemy’s deceit and snares that easily divert us from the Father’s perfect will for out lives. For we know the enemy will use even the smallest of our weaknesses to disempower us from fulfilling Christ’s calling for us.

wolf-in-sheeps-clothing

For instance. the enemy may introduce a person into our lives who appears to be one of us but is in reality  a wolf in sheep’s clothing whose intent is to cause us to falter. Therefore,We must always seek discernment and wisdom whenever a new person enters our select relationship group. Consecration releases these necessary gifts in our lives so that we can truly “imitate Christ’  in our spiritual walk with Him. Praised be His Holy Name!

Also we must remember that the Lord has upgraded His command for us to “love” one another. Yes, what He is seeking in us is not just to love (philos) our neighbor as ourselves but to love (agape) one another as He has loved (agape’d) us. Yes, He wants to transition us from a purely human  brotherly love to his divinely implanted agape Love that is in us (see Rom. 5:5). In John’s Gospel here is what He tells His disciples (and us) : “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35). It is by and through this agape Love exhibited in our fellowship that identifies us as His disciples.  Again, without an intentional dedication to Him , we cannot on a human level attain to the “agape” level of Love He is asking us to live out.

As disciples, however we also have responsibilities. The main one being obedience to His Commandments (ie., directives). Not just the ten commandments but personal directives where He instructs you to do something in His Name. Obeying such directives usually requires the exercise of Agape Love, where you negate your own will to do His will.

“Now by this we may be sure that we know him, if we obey his commandments. Whoever says, “I have come to know him,” but does not obey his commandments, is a liar, and in such a person the truth does not exist; ( 1John 2:3)

Here is the sad news, then,  if we disobey the directive of Agape Love for one another, we are no longer considered as belonging to His Kingdom of Light and have re-entered the Kingdom of Darkness!

“Whoever says, “I am in the light,” while hating a brother or sister, is still in the darkness. Whoever loves a brother or sister lives in the light, and in such a person there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates another believer is in the darkness, walks in the darkness, and does not know the way to go, because the darkness has brought on blindness.” (1 John 2:9-11)

The good news is “… that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.  If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”   (1John1: 5-10)

So, if we fall in our walk with Him, we should always remember that His forgiveness is always available through faith and sincere repentance.  All we have to do is … “ask and you shall receive”.

In our walk with Him just keep in mind the word of encouragement that the Lord gave to Joshua:  “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. 9″Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:8-9)

Remembering that, as Dedicated Lay Christians, the strength we receive comes directly from the Indwelling Spirit of His Love that unites us with Him when we believe and obey His Word, for …“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.  For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome,  for whatever is born of God conquers the world.  And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith.  Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5: 15)

When we yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit through an intentional (formal) dedication, the work we do in following His leadings is NOT our work but HIS! So prepare yourselves for the New Year ahead by intentionally offering yourself as a “living sacrifice” to His Spirit and learn to follow His leadings so that His Will is done and NOT yours as you walk the path of true discipleship.

In this coming New Year, brethren, I leave you with the following list of things that will help you know whether you are indeed walking in the Spirit and NOT in your fallible human flesh. So that as you walk the walk with Him in as disciples in full Obedience to His Word and His Love, you need to be be aware of the following…

Incorrect Attitudes to be Avoided :
Complacency (taking everything for granted without first checking with His Spirit), Naivety (unwarranted trust in yourself and others),  Prideful Self-Assurance

Repentance from Soulish or Fleshly emotions:
Hate, Slander, Anger, Bitterness, Resentment, Un-forgiveness, etc.

Daily asking for the Godly Virtues needed to persist in your walk:
Prayer, Humility, Obedience, Faith in God and His Word, Repentance, Forgiveness. And, above all – LOVE – the Love of God, and the Love for one another as God has loved us.

To this end I attach a prayer (below) of Dedication that you may amend or use, as the Spirit leads, to formulate your own personal response for your resolution to enter into Life. I pray that you will listen to what the Spirit is urging you now so that you may take your first step into the Kingdom of God’s Love!

Praised be His Holy Name! To Him be all the Glory Forever and ever . Amen!

Your brother in Christ Jesus …. Bartimeaus
© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-20017].

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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 dedicate 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 that will bring forth your kingdom in my life.
I yoke myself to You Lord Jesus, cleanse me from my sins and make me a fit vessel for your presence. I yield myself entirely to you, 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!
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Related Links …
# Prayer to receive the Holy Spirit
I Stand at the Door and Knock
Sweet Yoke of Love
Releasing the Spirit
The Kingdom of God: Our Spiritual Inheritance
Reclaiming Our Legacy In Christ
Hearing God’s Voice, and Obeying It
Pentecost and the Promise of the Father
The Empowerment Gifts (Part 1)
The Empowerment Gifts (Part 2)


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

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The Essence of true Discipleship …

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True Discipleship begins in Imitating Christ’s Humility

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

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

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

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

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The Way of True Discipleship

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

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

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

Yielding Ourselves to The Spirit to be “Disciples”

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

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

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

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

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

Discipleship is Sometimes Misunderstood

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Conclusion …

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

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

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

Relevant Links for Those Interested in Continuing in this Topic…

The Transforming Work of the Cross

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

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

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

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

Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit

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Our Father: It all begins with relationship

Our Father who art in Heaven

“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:

“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.6:7-13)

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

My dear fellow pilgrims,

It all begins with relationship.

Only when we enter into the awareness that we are truly The Father’s Spiritual Children in Christ Jesus and enter into a personal relationship with the Divine can we begin to fully understand our inheritance in His Kingdom (cf., § Becoming Children of God). And that, through that understanding and the Divine Wisdom that comes with it, we may find our place and role in the here and now so that, through us, His Kingdom may indeed be manifested here on Earth as it is in Heaven.

For just like children of the flesh in this world who mature to fill distinct and varying roles and positions of responsibility, so too, we, God’s Spiritual Children, are purposed by Him to be His Arms of Love extended to the world – the world He created and redeemed so that He could manifest His Kingdom in their midst.

In His loving will He also has determined where and how are to serve Him and the spiritual gifts we will need to accomplish His will in this world.  That is why it is so important that we discern our individual calling and ask for His Holy Spirit to empower us to carry out that calling. But we cannot do this outside of a relationship with Jesus and the Father.

Lest we let this concept of being His instruments incorrectly exalt us, we must also be aware that this work is not to be accomplished by us, but by the Son of God who lives in us and works through us. He, and He alone, is the author and source of the work of the Kingdom. The only way we may participate in this work is through our complete surrender to Him and His Love. This surrender is not easy and is termed by Jesus as “ carrying your Cross”.  Believe me it is a difficult cup to drink from because requires us to die our own self-sufficient mentality and enter into a God-centered mentality – where we acknowledge to ourselves that, “without Him we can do nothing” (Jn.15:5)!

The Foundational Prayer for Discipleship  – The “Our Father”

That is why the prayer form that Jesus taught His disciples (cf., Matt.6:7-13) begins with the acknowledgement that God is “Our Father” and that we, as His Children, are totally dependent on Him and His Glory and power. A recognition that, although His Name, that is His Character and Person, is Holy and beyond the reach of any human rapprochement, He, through His Son, has breached the gap of holiness that separated us, so that we enter into a full and true relationship with him through His Son!

The prayer further states that, it is only through this relationship of obedience and love with Him, as Father, our source of life, provider, and sustainer, that we can be His instruments in bringing His Reign (Kingdom) into full manifestation in this world.

But of course, before we can be channels of His Love, His Reign must begin in us through our full surrender to Him and His Holy Spirit so that He might begin the work of His Kingdom in us!  The work of His Kingdom in us begins by His Spirit working in our lives to conform us to the image of His Son! Blessed be His Holy Name!

Recognizing that it is His work that must be accomplished, we ask for His daily sustenance and provision.  Although most of us take this request to mean “food for the table”, the reality is, that it is a request for His continual and daily spiritual empowerment, the infilling of His Spirit, to be able to carry out His Will. For us today, it refers to the living spiritual strength that is derived from communion with Christ in the Eucharist.

In the prayer we also recognize that our human failings against Love are a major impediment to the fulfillment of His Will and therefore ask for His forgiveness, in accord with our forgiveness of those who trespass against us.  In doing this we clear out anything in us that would impede His Will from being accomplished.

Recognizing, also, that the enemy will come against us through temptations to impede the Father’s Will from being completed, we also petition that He not permit any testing that goes beyond our ability to resist.

The reason this prayer, which we term “The Our Father”, is so important is because it is foundational to establishing the appropriate spiritual attitude of faith which underlies our ability to serve Him as His Children and fully committed disciples. That is why many have stated that this prayer really ought to have been named “The Disciples Prayer”.

If the problems of your life situation are creating impediments to your progress as a disciple, always keep in mind the admonition Jesus gave His disciples,

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? … [S]eek first the Kingdom of Heaven and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you”.  (cf., Mat. t6:25,33)

Or, put in today’s modern dialect, “ Do not let the worries and concerns of everyday life deter you … your first priority must be to let God reign in your life so that you are always faithful to accomplish His Righteous Will, then you will find that the worldly concerns in your life will be resolved appropriately”.

The Necessity of Prayer

Once, when through faith in His Word and Prayer, you have entered into an intimate relationship with the Father through Jesus and deeply desire to follow Jesus in discipleship, you will find that your need for a deeper continuing prayer life increases.  Just as Jesus, spent most of his evenings or early mornings in prayer, so to we who are following Him, must do the same.  We will do so, not so much as an imposed devotional practice, but instead to fill our awareness of the increased spiritual need for His presence in our renewed lives.

As we go deeper into discipleship we will find that we will not be able to adequately deal with the events and situations which we are called to handle without our daily prayer encounters with Jesus and the Father. Once we begin our prayer encounters and see the results in our everyday lives, we will willingly seek out these payer times on our own – for we begin to understand that our continuous need to tap into the source of LIFE without which we cannot function spiritually.

First of all we need to remember, that it is only through the intimacy of prayer that we receive from Him the wisdom, knowledge, empowerment, and Love we will need in preparation for the next day’s events. Secondly, it is through meditative  prayer in union with His Inspired Word, that we continue to be taught by the Holy Spirit in order to be formed and grow spiritually and learn from our experiences. St. Ignatius of Loyola tells us that “…there are very few people who realize what God would make of them if they abandoned themselves into his hands, and let themselves be formed by his grace.”

Once we have entered into true discipleship we will find that we can no more do without daily prayer than we can do without food or water.

The Need for Discernment

One of the problems we face as Lay Disciples of Jesus, is that the modern church is not structured to properly assist lay people, who are not part of the “religious establishment”, to follow the personal path of discipleship the Lord is calling them to follow.  The modern church establishment does not expect lay people to enter into such individual callings.  The establishment expects that any one who has such a call to either enter a seminary to become a priest, deacon, or minister or to join some religious order. It is difficult to overcome the prejudices of the past that have placed lay Christians as passive , un-empowered, servants of the clergy, having no understanding of things spiritual.

As a result, until the Lord works to change the situation we must seek the Lord intensely for personal discernment and guidance for what the Lord wants of us each day– a discernment that goes beyond that of our calling – a discernment that leads us to hear the voice of the Head Shepherd, Jesus Our Lord! (Cf., § Hearing and Obeying His Voice)

It is only through hearing and living His Word, inspired by the Holy Spirit that we will be able to distinguish between our fleshly-driven instincts and the spiritual directives and revelations from Our Heavenly Shepherd. Praised be His Holy name!

Now, I don’t discount our need of our earthly shepherds because they are still the dispensers of the sacraments, especially those of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. It is just that some of them cannot fully comprehend where we Charismatics are, spiritually, making it difficult for them to provide in-depth spiritual guidance for us when they themselves have never experienced the fullness and spiritual gifts of the Spirit and, in many cases, even resist them.

I try to maintain good relations with all members of the clergy, but I usually feel them out before going into spiritual issues until I sense they are on the same page with me and with the Holy Spirit. I know its not their fault, its just that the depth of their spirituality varies depending on their seminary and life experiences especially if they have not been introduced to the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

By the way, I expect that this spiritual lethargy that is still evident with some of our clergy will all be changing in the church of the new era we are entering, where the Spirit of God will overwhelm all Christians with His Glory and many of those who are now holding back will be surprisingly renewed in the Spirit. It will be a very difficult era for Christians and He is preparing us for those times when we will need to draw upon His power and strength to manifest His Kingdom on this Earth!

I must also mention that If you are struggling with discerning the Lord’s Will in your life, obedience to the Father is of the essence. If you yoke yourself to the Lord He will bring you though the times when you are being tested because of the fleshly baggage we all have to contend with.

Even the very smallest thing that we allow in our lives that is not under the control of the Holy Spirit is completely sufficient to account for spiritual confusion, and spending all of our time thinking about it will still never make it clear. Spiritual confusion can only be conquered through obedience. As soon as we obey, we have discernment. This is humiliating; because when we are confused we know that the reason lies in the uncertain state of our mind. But when our natural power of sight is devoted and submitted in obedience to the Holy Spirit, it becomes the very power by which we perceive God’s will, and our entire life is kept in simplicity.

Relationship is Everything

Finally brethren, in order to make clear the importance of our relationship with Jesus and the Father, let us recall the words of  Our Teacher when he told His disciples to …

“Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ “But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’  “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’  “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’  (Luke 13:24)

Yes, we also may claim a mundane familiarity with Him through your religious practice and even have worked signs and wonders in His name, but unless you personally “KNOW” Him, He will tell you when you come to His door: “depart from me you workers of iniquity, I do not KNOW you”.

Relationship, then, is everything, and without it our works for God become meaningless for entry into the Kingdom.

I pray brethren that the preceding discussion has been of help in encouraging you to move through the “narrow door” into a personal and private discipleship relationship with the Father through Jesus.  If you have that desire in your heart then you can be sure that the Holy Spirit placed it there. Pay heed, then, to that desire and seek the face of the Lord in prayer. If He placed it there He will confirm it and bring you to the open door to the Kingdom!

Baruch Ha Shem! Blessed be the Name!

Your Brother In Christ Jesus …. Bartimaeus

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

Related Links

<> Sweet Yoke of Love

<> Husbands Love your Wives

<> Walking the Walk

<> Discerning the Spirit’s Call 

<>  Hearing God’s Voice and Obeying It

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