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Disciple Praying

Christ in us the Hope of Glory!

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

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

Dear Fellow Pilgrims in Christ Jesus,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Entering into the Kingdom

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

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

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot [truly] enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born anew.’ The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:5-8)

How does this happen?

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

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

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

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

Faith Formation is Important

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

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

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

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

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

Putting on the Lord Jesus Christ — An Urgent Appeal

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

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

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

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

The Results of Living and Walking in the Spirit

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

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

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

Pray about Making a Resolution

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

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

Your Brother in Christ … Bartimaeus

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Recommended Links

<> Jesus the Source of Living Water

<> The Kingdom of God; Our Spiritual Inheritance

<> Reclaiming Our Legacy in Christ

<> Receiving the  the Holy Spirit

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

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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])

Recommended Links

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Why won’t you receive my Gifts?

Be Holy as I am Holy!

Yielding to the Kingdom Anointing

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Concerning Spiritual Gifts

Opened Your Gifts Yet?

Opened Your Gifts Yet?

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


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

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

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

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

The Empowerment Gifts: The Promise of the Father

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus receives the Anointing

Jesus Baptized in the Spirit

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

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

Peter Proclaims and Explains the Gifts

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

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

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

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

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

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

How The Sanctifying Gifts Relate to the Empowerment Gifts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Spiirt of the Lord is Upon Me...

The Spiirt of the Lord is Upon Me…

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    because he has anointed me
        to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
    and recovery of sight to the blind,
        to let the oppressed go free,  (Luke 4:18)

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

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

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

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

In Conclusion

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

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

Praised Be His Holy Name!     Amen and Amen!

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

Baruch Ha Shem! Blessed be the Name!

Your Brother in Christ … Bartimaeus

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

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Related and Pertinent Links

Has Jesus Arisen In your Heart ? (Part 2)

Has Jesus Arisen in Your Heart? (Part 3)

Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit

Cast Your Net on the Other Side!

The Promise of the Father (Part 2)

Jesus, The Source of Living Water and Us!

 

 

 

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The Kingdom of God is at hand … are you ready to enter?

His Kingdom is Near

His Kingdom is Near

“The kingdom of God is within you, says the Lord. Turn, then, to God with all your heart. Forsake this wretched world and your soul shall find rest. Learn to despise external things, to devote yourself to those that are within, and you will see the kingdom of God come unto you, that kingdom which is peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, gifts not given to the impious.

Christ will come to you offering His consolation, if you prepare a fit dwelling for Him in your heart, whose beauty and glory, wherein He takes delight, are all from within. His visits with the inward man are frequent, His communion sweet and full of consolation, His peace great, and His intimacy wonderful indeed.

 Therefore, faithful soul, prepare your heart for this Bridegroom that He may come and dwell within you; He Himself says: “If any one love Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and will make Our abode with him.”                                                          [From the Imitation Of Christ by Thomas à Kempis]

Entering the Kingdom

My Fellow Pilgrims in Christ Jesus,

For most nominal Christians today, the term “Kingdom of God” is mainly a theological concept of the spiritual realm where God dwells and certainly nothing we can relate to in our personal lives in this world. Thus when we read in the Gospels Jesus telling His disciples to “seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness”, we have no idea what He is really asking them to do. One of the objectives of Thomas à Kempis in his book, “The Imitation of Christ” was to bring us to the recognition of just what Jesus was asking of His Disciples, and now, is also asking of us. The primary concept presented by Thomas is that “The Kingdom of God” is a spiritual Kingdom that is within those who have admitted Jesus, their King, into the Temple of their spirit, through a renewed spiritual awareness brought about by Grace, through faith in Christ and His Redemptive Sacrifice on the cross and His Resurrection.

In the Gospel of John Jesus tried to explain to Nicodemus that although a person may be given a personal spiritual awareness of that Kingdom, in order to enter the Kingdom, that person must willingly make a commitment to enter into a deeper spiritual relationship with the King. The resulting spiritual awareness permits the Holy Spirit to transform us by initiating an intimate personal fellowship with the King that permits the Spirit to conform us us to the image of Christ Himself. It is through this personal relationship with the King that we enter into His Kingdom. However, in maintaining our stay in the Kingdom our endurance in faith will be tested to ensure that, as a branch in the vine, we will “abide in Him” and thus bear fruit for the Kingdom.

Staying in the Kingdom : The Endurance of the Saints

 Entering into a stronger spiritual awareness, brings us to a new area of testing we have not previously experienced. Here, we will face, if anything, even tougher problems than when we were spiritually naïve. For now our faith and our endurance will be severely tried in keeping our spiritual channels open. We need to maintain these open channels so that the revelation knowledge of God’s word can continue to feed and strengthen us. Maintaining this fellowship with the Holy Spirit is one of the greater challenges in the Christian life after you have come into this rebirth of your spiritual awareness.

There are many situations, which can break this fellowship with God. Most of them however, can be categorized as unbelief, disobedience, strife, rebellion, or deliberate sin. These causes are summarized in the letter to the Hebrews, where we read, “Today, if you (would) hear His Voice, harden not your hearts as at the revolt in the day of testing in the desert (Heb. 3:7-8). The implication is that the “hardening” of our hearts presents an obstacle to hearing God’s voice and, of course, if we can’t hear God’s voice we cannot fellowship with Him. The problem is that today’s Christian finds it difficult to relate that passage to himself/herself. First of all, the terminology: “… harden not your hearts” does not carry much meaning for us except as a quaint old English expression. Secondly most of us are not willing to admit that we are in rebellion against God – after all haven’t we yielded our lives over to Him?

Once the deeper meaning of the words is understood, it is seen that all of us, even though we are deeply committed Christians, are susceptible to the hardening of our hearts and this comes to us in the most unsuspecting ways. Continuing with the reading from Hebrews we begin to see the cause for this “hardening” or dis-fellowship with God: “…your Fathers tested me and tried me and saw My works for forty years. Because of this I was angered with that generation. (Heb, 3:9)

In order to understand why God was so angered, remember that He was miraculously sustaining the Israelites every day that they were in the desert. Not only were they witnesses to His mighty power but they, themselves, heard the voice of God thundering from mount Sinai. Not only had they been protected by His Glory day and night, but they were also given food and water miraculously. Their sandals and clothing were kept from wearing out. Yet in spite of these things they rebelled against Moses (and therefore, against God) saying why have you brought us out here to die?”(Numbers 21:5). They even justified their rebellion by pointing out that their concern was for their wives and their children implying that it was their welfare they were seeking. Such was their unbelief that they did not trust God to provide for them, even though they witnessed the Lord’s protection every moment of every day. This unbelief came because their minds and their senses (the unspiritual man) could not feel secure unless they knew (intellectually) from where their next meal and drink of water was coming.

 Ah! now we get the picture!

And now it is not so difficult where we have similar situations in our lives where we despair of God’s provision and thus excuse our unbelief as being merely a concern for the well-being of our families. Thus, we relegate God’s Word, His providence, and His sustenance, which has been maintaining us all along, to a lesser place in our lives (if at all). We do this by attempting to resolve all of the difficult situations in our lives on our own energy and talent without any dependence on God.

Then the snowball effect begins: the more we complain the more we walk in unbelief and as our unbelief grows, the greater our anxiety grows. Of course, now that we are operating in unbelief, our prayers also go unanswered, which adds to our complaints, which adds to our unbelief, which adds to our anxiety. We are by then well on the way to dis-fellowship with God. We have permitted our anxiety to dominate us thus beginning the process of “hardening our hearts” and losing our spiritual channels to the father.

Yes, we are still His children. But when we behave in this way we are more and more like the prodigal son who left the father for a “far country” and have placed ourselves in the service of a citizen of that country (guess whom?). Letting our anxieties obstruct our ability to serve God and make Him and His Kingdom first in our lives was exactly what Jesus said we must avoid.

In His Sermon on the Mount He warned His listeners (and us) that, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. 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? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own”. (Matt. 6: 24-34)

That is why the writer of the letter to the Hebrews, writing to a Hebrew-Christian community, concludes: “See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first”. (Heb.3:12-14)

It is for the cause of assisting us to maintain to the end our faith in Jesus the Messiah, that God in His providence has given us His Word, His Holy Spirit, and the mutual support we receive from the Body of Christ (His Church). These helps are the very Grace of God to assist us through the process of salvation and into the riches of Christ. Let us then, learn to enter into a true spiritual awareness that we may truly discern the Father’s Will for our lives and thus enter into that true spiritual worship that is His due.

Paraphrasing Paul’s prayer for the Colossians, it is my sincere desire and prayer to God for all who read my reflections that the Lord God… “fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding… in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins”. (Col.1:9-11)

Father let it be so, for it is your will in Jesus your Son, Amen!

“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)

Your Fellow Pilgrim in Christ … Bartimeus

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

Recommended / Related Links …

Responding to the Spirit’s Call

 Hearing God’s Voice and Obeying it!

Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit

 Growing in the Spirit

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Unless a Grain of Wheat ….

Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew went with Philip and they told Jesus.

Unless a Grain of Wheat ...

Unless a Grain of Wheat …

And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If any one serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if any one serves me, the Father will honor him. (John 12:20-26)

My fellow pilgrims in Christ,

The scripture presented above is one that is taken from the Gospel reading on the 5th Sunday of Lent. It’s main intent is to re-affirm to us the main purpose of Jesus’ first coming, that He , like “the grain of wheat” that had to fall to the ground and die in order to bear fruit, also had to die for our sins in order to bring us from the darkness of sin into the light of the Father’s Kingdom – in effect, to bring us from spiritual death to a new spiritual life in Him.

To Jesus, the appearance of people from the Greek culture inquiring about Him, affirmed the leading of the Holy Spirit that His mission to Israel for His first coming was at its end and His sacrifice for the sins of mankind was imminent. He knew that the mission to the gentile world was to be left to His Church. Anticipating the doubts that would arise amongst His disciples, He presents the metaphor of the fallen seed to Philip and Andrew to give them to some understanding of why all this would happen to Him as He yielded His life to the Father as a seed planted, not only to save mankind, but also to bring forth disciples and His Church for the Glory of God the Father.

However, we must not overlook that this comparison with “the seed” is also intended, by implication for each of us believers as well. Notice that Jesus says that He, the One AND ONLY TRUE SEED, must die in order for there to be more seed(s) in His image. He also tells those who would be His disciples (His seeds) that if they wish to follow Him, by serving Him, they also must die (like a seed), to their carnal self, that is in them, so that their new spiritual self in Him can come forth to eternal life, continuing to bring for the fruit for the Glory of the Father..

One of the primary intents of the Lenten Season, is exactly to bring us to the awareness of the need for us also to die to our “carnal” self so that HE working in our spirits can continue the work of brining forth the Kingdom in this world through us His Church.

Understanding this, we need, then , to discern our responsibility to hold that our fleshly “self” has over us and, through sincere confession and repentance decisively yield ourselves to the Spirit of Christ that is in us so that, through Him and His Victory over the flesh, we can exercise the spiritual freedom we have in Him and bear fruit for His Glory!. To Him Be Glory and Honor Forever!

Yes, we who believe in Jesus as savior are all potential seeds to bring forth more fruit. But, unless we as individual seeds are willing to fall to the ground and die to “self” we will not be able to bear fruit for the Kingdom. Unless we yield ourselves like Jesus to the Father’s purposes and to His Holy Spirit so that His “empowering presence” is what takes charge of our lives we are NOT plantable seeds. In order for us to be eligible to be planted as a seed His Word and His Spirit MUST “abide” and be activated in us!

In this regard, Jesus Himself also elaborates about our need to “abide” in Him…

Abide in Me to Bear Fruit

Abide in Me to Bear Fruit

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abides in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit; so shall you be my disciples.” (John 15: 5-8)

We are given new life in Christ through conversion and baptism, but unless we willingly yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit to conform us to His image, He cannot work in us and through to fulfill the Father’s purpose for each of our lives, that purpose being to bear fruit for the Glory of the Father.

St. Paul in his letters stresses the need for believers to yield themselves to be conformed unto Christ – he indicates that in doing so, we must present ourselves as a “living sacrifice” to the Father so that our minds can be renewed by His Spirit to live our lives in accord with His Will.

Romans 8:29

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.

Romans 12: 1-2

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.

The following scripture indicates how St. Paul expresses this precept, with regard to his own transformation, in a very compact yet powerful manner:

It_Is_Done_113111965“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)

This is the goal we need to set for ourselves also if we are to be a “plantable seed” to be able to totally fulfill the Father’s purposes in our lives.

Through the Word of God then, it becomes clear to us then, that in order to be a seed suitable for planting we must unite our new self with His by dying to our “old self” and putting on the “new self” in Him, with the understanding, that in doing so, we willingly accept of our responsibility to continue to “abide in Him” so that we can bear fruit for the Father.

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If you consent to being conformed to Christ then you must decide to put on the New Self and crucify the Old Self. It is a decision you must make – it cannot be taken for granted, or done for you! It is this consecration of your “self” that opens the door for the Holy Spirit to begin His work of conformance in your spirit.

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Once the process of transformation begins you will experience in your lives direct confrontation with the forces of the world, the flesh, and the devil, that will try to deviate you from the path of sanctification to which the Spirit will lead you.

Again Paul clearly summarizes these challenges in several of his letters as follows. (I recommend reading an meditating on these, as guidelines for plantable seeds, as we proceed to seek to draw closer to Jesus this Lent, but also throughout the year as we go forth “walking in the Spirit” and not “in the flesh”.)

To the Corinthians –   Reverencing and Maintaining Our Union with Christ

“…. he who is united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. [Therefore] shun immorality. Every other sin which a man commits is outside the body; but the immoral (carnal) man sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Cor. 6: 17-20)

To the Colossians – Our Basis for Living in Union With Christ

Chap. 2: 6 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.

11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.

13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

To the Colossians – How to Let Christ Live In and Through you

Chap.3:1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming.

7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

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In Joseph and Mary We can find no better example of two individuals who died to their earlthy selves in order that the Messiah might be brought forth. You can meditate on their example by reading of their participation in obedience to God’s leadings In the gospels of the New Testament.

For now, I only need to point out the Virgin Mary’s example of what dying to self entailed:

The angel Gabriel appeared to Mary …  And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”

But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.

Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”


But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?”


And the angel said to her in reply, “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 called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.”


Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”


Then the angel departed from her
.   (Luke 1:26-38)

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My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, dying to our “self” begins with obedience to the Word of God and walking “in the Spirit” is living out that Word in our lives.

In dedicating ourselves to be “plantable seeds”, that is dying to our “self”, let us learn from Mary and when the Word of God speaks to our hearts, calling us to Himself and His purposes let us also respond with Mary’s words …

Lord … “May it be done to me according to your word.”

Your Brother In Christ …. Bartimaeus

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

Related Text Article Links …

Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit

Cast Your Net On the Other Side

A Heart Rending Experience

Hearing God’s Voice and …

Forming Intentional Disciples

Related Video Links …

Disciples Rejoice in the Spirit

About the Holy Spirit

A Catholic Pentecost is Here

Read Full Post »

Praying as a Disciple …

Letting the Holy Spirit Help us in our weakness

Deep Spiritual Prayer - Rises to the Highest

Deep Spiritual Prayer – Rises to the Highest

“… if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. And in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for {us} with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to {the will of} God. And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to {His} purpose.” (Rom. 8:25-29)

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today, I am writing about one of the greatest deterrents for those just entering into a discipleship relationship with Jesus, And here, I am presupposing that you have already gotten past the primary deterrent, and that is understanding what is it that entails a true discipleship with our Lord and Master. It is, of course, more than just believing in Jesus and being Christian, it is a conscious decision to no longer live for yourself but to let Jesus live and reign in you and through you. It is setting for yourself the goal that St. Paul set for himself, namely….

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me: and that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me.” (Gal. 2:20)

About Entering into Discipleship

In this new life we enter when we come into true discipleship, we leave behind, the apparently noble, but yet self-driven independent intent to dedicate ourselves to doing things “for” Christ, to that of yielding ourselves so completely that the Spirit of Christ that is in us takes over all that we do or think or say. In this manner, it is He, and He alone, who is working in us, and who manifests His Kingship in us and through us by using us as His bond-servants to manifest the Father’s Perfect will in this world. That is why the “Our Father “ prayer (Matt.6:9-13) He gave his disciples should really be called the “Disciples Prayer” for in this prayer He clearly states the commitment to the Father’s Kingship over us that brings us to discipleship in the first place.

Unfortunately, this statement of commitment that yields our “self” to God is not truly understood as intended, by us moderns. Restating the commitment statement in modern terms, it should probably be read as…

“Father, I yield my “self” completely to your Kingship, over me, so that Your Will may be done in me and through me, here on earth just as it is in Heaven”

Here, you see, what the term, “thy Kingdom Come” really is intended to mean in the Lord’s prayer.

 So if this meaning is only just being made clear to you, I suggest that you pray about it and let the Holy Spirit bring you to that same understanding so that you may proceed along the path to discipleship.

“If any man comes unto me, and hates not his own father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yes, even his own “self” as well, he cannot be my disciple. Whosoever does not bear [this] his own [personal] cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26-27)

Accentuating our call to discipleship, there is of course, Paul’s exhortation to the Romans:

 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may understand what is the good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”         (Romans 12:1-2)

About Praying as a Disciple

Now, getting back to my other point on the second-most important deterrent to a life of active discipleship, and that is a continuous dedication to deep and intimate prayer with God. And by prayer I mean a life of continuous personal dialogue with the Divine, be it the Father, The Son, or the Holy Spirit. A dialogue where you spend much of your time listening to what the Spirit of God is saying to you and asking Him any questions you wish to ask regarding His purposes for you and your life. Without such a fellowship with God you cannot follow though on your commitment to discipleship.

Here is what Jesus says on this subject:

 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.” (John 10: 26-30)

Of course, it is a given, that if you hear His Voice, and listen and converse with God, your commitment to Him and His word will lead you to obey and live by what He says.

 “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ 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 is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to 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.” (John1 1: 5-10)

An active and pure prayer life combined with mediation on His Word is essential to keeping on the path to life and maintaining ourselves as instruments of His Love. Prayer is what keeps us in His Kingdom.

Our problem as humans is that not all of us understand how to enter into such a prayerful communion with God and how to bring that communion into our everyday lives. The main reason being that we have been brought up to think that our secular lives are to be lived separately from our religious lives. Oh yes. We understand that we need to behave morally and equitably in the world, but most of us moderns think that God is not interested in our decisions at work and the business world – that all He wants of us is to behave morally.

No! My brothers and sisters. The Father, through His Son Jesus, desires that we invite Him into every aspect of our lives. We have to realize that when we enter into discipleship with Jesus, we are entering into a partnership with the Father so that He is involved in every aspect of our lives. This is the way that the Father uses our persons to bring His Kingdom into this world . For in this way, the Spirit of Jesus, uses us in manifesting the Kingdom of His Love into this world. This is what it means when we pray or act in “Jesus’ Name”. When we do things in our name, we are NOT building His Kingdom, His Kingdom can only be manifested when we act and pray “in His Name!”, and not in ours.

Jesus, does not assert Himself over us. He always asks us to invite Him into our lives and our affairs. He will not violate our free will because His Love can be manifest only out of our “agape” or selfless willingness to yield our selves to Him. Here is what He says to us:

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” (Rev. 3:20-21)

Now, in order to maintain a prayer life that is fruitful we must take care that our prayer be consistent with His Word. For that reason a part of our prayer life must be dedicated to mediation on His Word. It is through prayerful meditation on the Word that the Holy Spirit inspires our prayer life with the appropriate segments His Word to empower our prayers to be representative of a Holy Spirit empowered prayer for a particular intention.

A Story – In order to make a point

In order to give you a concrete example of how prayer can be brought into our everyday lives, I am going to propose a very real-world type of situation where a young man and his wife are involved in initiating a new business which will be operated mutually between them. They are making this intent because through certain situations in their lives their family economics are in a crisis situation but also because they have entered in to a discipleship relationship with Jesus, they have been led, through prayer and meditation, that Jesus has indicated to them that He wants to join them in the start-up of a new business – He wants to be their partner!

In order to understand how this situation suddenly came about and why Jesus wants to be involved, consider for instance, that the husband has just been laid off from his professional job, and the wife, who a year ago just gave birth to twins, is just now getting back to working part time. The income crisis upon them is such that there is no way they can cover their family expenses.

But why are they not panicking? Instead what they do is turn immediately to the person they have been in fellowship and dialogue for the last 6 years.   After breakfast each morning they invite Jesus to join them during their day and ask Him to take over the events of that day for His Glory. They place the entire situation in His hands and ask him to guide each of them in the affairs of the coming day.

Because, they have both entered into a personal discipleship with Jesus, they are not dismayed at the circumstances they are facing. Rather, they know that, for those that love Him and are called according to His purposes (ie., called to be disciples), all the circumstances in their lives can work for His Glory (Rom. 8:28) as long as we discern them and dedicate them for His Glory. In these situations He uses not only our prayers but those of our prayer partners, such as with our parents to work out His plan to redeem the circumstances and not only rescue us from them but to redeem them for His Glory (to understand this read again the story of Joseph, Genesis 37-45).

The Lord works in the life situations of disciples in a variety of ways, but all begin with disciples inviting the Lord into their specific situation. And not only their own personal prayers, but also those of their prayer partners such as their parents,

In this particular instance God, the Father, begins to help the couple by placing in their hearts the desire to start their own business. Their inspired dream is somewhat based on contacts the husband has made and their mutual talents. But they, in their commitment to the Lord, have placed this dream before Him in prayer and, in response, both have received a certain peace about what is in their hearts regarding the fulfillment of this dream or desire.

The wife’s parents, praying on their own, have also received some assurance of the Lord’s favor on their children’s desired venture. In communicating their inspiration to them, they propose to the couple that if this business is His will for them, let them pray that if the Lord provide a client who will provide them initial support, they in turn, for this sign from the Lord, will dedicate themselves and the new business to the Lord and, that through their commitment, more souls may be brought into His Kingdom as they interface with the public.

No sooner had they prayed that, out of the blue, to their surprise one of the husband’s prior contacts tells him that he has a client that is willing to give them the initial support they were praying for. They immediately take that as a sign that the Lord is encouraging them to begin the new business. After meeting with the client, who by the way offers them a place for the business, they go to their lawyers and initiate the business under very favorable conditions.

In order to help them further in satisfying their commitment to Jesus, the wife’s parents provide them with a prayer of dedication to the Lord that integrates the Word of God with their business intentions. They have come to the wording of this prayer through meditation and prayer so they truly believe the Holy Spirit is guiding them to provide this prayer to them. They, then, ask the couple to pray and meditate on what they have provided them in order to complete the dedication of their new business to the Lord.

The couple agree to their proposal and after praying over the materials given them they, as a couple pray to dedicate themselves and their business together for the Glory of the Father and in thanksgiving for what the Lord has done for them.

The following is the material that the couple took to themselves to pray over …

•    Psalm 37 (NASB2)

 1Do not fret because of evildoers, Be not envious toward wrongdoers.

2For they will wither quickly like the grass, And fade like the green herb.

3Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.

4Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.

5Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.

6And He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your judgment as the noonday.

 •   Prayer of Dedication, in accord with Psalm 37

We thank you Father for placing your desires for us in our hearts.

We also thank you Father for the Blessings you have given us in our new business. We consider this business as the “Land “in which you have placed us to “Dwell”. We therefore dedicate this “Land” to you and we dedicate ourselves to “Delight” in you and your Word through meditation and prayer. We confide in your promise that by being faithful to you and committing ourselves to You, You will guide us in our business by placing Your desires for this business in our heart. And, that, by committing our plans and our trust to You, then, You, and You alone, will bring all our plans to fulfillment thus vindicating our trust in You and Your Compassionate Love.

We pray this in the Name of Jesus Your Son for the sake of Your Glory working in our Lives. Amen and Amen.

 In Conclusion …

This narrative that I have just provided could have been the experience of any faithful believer or believers who acted and prayed in faith on God’s Word. However, if these are not committed disciples, the Holy Spirit would have a harder time working with them because, since they are not in constant dialogue with the Divine, the believers would probably not have been sensitive to the way the Lord was nudging them to pray, especially, in their invitation to the Lord to work in them and through them in their specific situation.

 Discipleship IS NOT a way to earn the Lord’s favor for anything– no, it is our way of yielding ourselves to the Lord to permit Him to work in our life circumstances to fulfill His Purposes and for His Glory, not ours! That is why we have to empty ourselves to Him so that He may fill us with His Spirit so that He and He alone may be glorified in us and through us! Blessed Be His Name Forever! Amen!

 Brethren, I submit this writing to you, mainly to incite you to ask the Holy Spirit reveal Himself to you in a very personal way so that He, and He alone, can teach you what you need to hear so that you may invite Him into the very special circumstances you are being submitted to at this moment in your life, and that in so doing you also may see the Lord’s Glory manifest itself in your lives! May it be so in Jesus’ Name! Amen and Amen

 Now, for your benefit, I re-state Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians …

 “ … that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man; so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; {and} that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fulness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him {be} the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:16-21)

May the Lord be truly with you as you continue in your walk with Him. Praised Be His Holy Name!

Your Brother and fellow Pilgrim in Christ Jesus … Bartimaeus

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

Related Text Article Links …

Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit

Cast Your Net On the Other Side

Hearing God’s Voice and …

Forming Intentional Disciples

Related Video Links …

Disciples Rejoice in the Spirit

About the Holy Spirit

A Catholic Pentecost is Here

Read Full Post »

Are you Living God’s Love?

<>   Letting God’s Divine Love work in us and through us.

Spirit-Of-Love -by B.R.Timeo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)

My fellow pilgrims …

In walking the narrow path of discipleship with our Savior and Master, Jesus the Son of the Living God, we must remember that the utmost characteristic of a disciple is “Love”. Not just a brotherly type of love, but a God-ordained type of Love, “agape” or selfless Love. This type of love is the “Love” that characterized Jesus; it is the Divine Love of the Father Himself that is in us through our immersion in His Spirit, through baptism (cf., Rom. 5:5).

This is the “Love” defined by Jesus: “As the Father has loved me so I have loved you” (John 15:9) and “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:34). It is the manifestation of this type of love, in us and through us, that distinguishes us as true disciples. It is NOT a love that we can release out of our own human efforts. It is a love that must flow from the Spirit of God that is in all baptized believers. But the problem being, that not all believers have come to the point in their faith-lives where they have released that spirit of God’s love into their everyday lives.

Unless we can place the love of our brothers and sisters in Christ above our own lives we cannot lay claim to that kind of love as guiding our everyday lives. As an aspiring disciple, the most I can say is that, on certain special occasions, the Spirit of God working in me has unexpectedly brought me to that point, but upon realizing it I become aware that it was not me, so much as the Spirit of Christ working in me and through me, that manifested in a particular instance. I constantly struggle against my flesh to bring Christ into every moment of my everyday life so that His Kingdom of Love may manifest itself continuously through me.

It helps me to understand that Peter, the apostle, had to struggle with this as well. Before Jesus’ Passion and Crucifixion, Peter, out of his inflated ego and pride, attempted to stake out his love for Jesus by saying that he would defend Him to the end. To which Jesus, knowing Peter full well, responded, “… Jesus said to him, “Truly, I say to you, this very night, before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.” (Mark 14:30)

Later, after Jesus’ resurrection when he appeared to the disciples as they were fishing, He took Peter aside, to help him overcome his self-guilt, and asked him, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”(John 21: 15). Note that here, Jesus addresses Peter as, “Simon”, and uses a verb derived from the Greek word “agape” for “love”.

Peter, now humbled from His prior denials and recognizing that Jesus was inviting him to restore fellowship, responded … “Lord, you know that I love you”, but using a derivative of the Greek word “phileo” (ie., brotherly love) for the word “love”. Thus now indicating that he could not, at this point, overextend himself by stating that he, in his human weakness, was able to commit himself to the divine level of “agape love”.

Jesus, after asking again, then asked the third time “… do you love me?”(John 21”17), but this last time He used the verb “phileo” for ‘love” thus indicating to Peter that He was accepting His response at the level he could offer because he was being sincere and placing the level of love he could genuinely muster. However, Jesus also, at the end of that conversation, told Peter that at the end of His Life his “love” for Jesus would, by the Spirit be brought to the ‘agape” level because he also would be crucified as a manifestation of that “Love”.

As it was for Peter so it shall be for us, if we also respond sincerely to begin our walk with Jesus at the level of love that we are confident we can offer. It is with that level of love, then, that we begin our consecration to our master, with the door of our spirit open to the work of the Holy Spirit in us to conform us to the image of Christ and move us into the “agape” level of love.

The Way of  True Discipleship

The Way of True Discipleship

Yes, just as in Peter’s case, personal suffering will ensue. Because ‘agape” love always means carrying our cross of denying our own self-will and ripping off our attachments to the “world” and to “self”. This is part of the cost of discipleship. For as Jesus said…

 “If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple.”  (Luke 14:26-27)

and …

“If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:19)

<> If we abide not in His Love we can do nothing

 Jesus made it clear that if we do not abide in Him and His Love we will not be able to bear fruit for His Kingdom …

 “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples.” (John 15:4-8)

Of course the inherent interpretation is that without the empowerment of His Spirit of Love abiding within us, and obedience to His Word, nothing of spiritual value for His Kingdom can be accomplished. We may be very pious an religious, but if we are not acting out of selfless Love they will not be of service to the Lord and His Kingdom. In other words, in order to serve the Lord, our will must be submitted to Him and not our own ambitions and purposes.

But the saying may also be understood to indicate that we, as believers, are only branches of His Vine of His Love, and, if we do not maintain an intimate relationship with Jesus, who is the Vine, nothing of spiritual value for His Kingdom can be accomplished since He alone is the source of Divine Love.

St. Paul reiterates this principle of the need for a disciple to abide in “agape Love” in his first letter to the Corinthians (Chap. 1 vs.1-3) …

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (1 Cor. 13: 1-3)

Since it is clear that agape Love is essential to discipleship, the question remains as to how is this type of Love manifested in a believer that distinguishes him/her from those in the “world” ?.

Again, Paul tells is how the fruit of true Love is manifested through those who maintain their attachment to the Vine…

“Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude.

Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.

 For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood.

 So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor. 13:4-13)

<> Activating the Divine Love that is in us

Now, being made aware of the Father’s purpose regarding abiding His Love, we come to the challenge of assessing whether we are living our lives in accord with His purpose for us.

First of all, we must ask ourselves if we are in an intimate personal relationship with Jesus and are we submitting ourselves in love to His Love so that the Father’s will may be done in our lives as it is in Heaven. Are we walking in such a spiritual commitment and are we involved with a constant dialogue with Jesus as we perform our daily activities in this world. If not, then the first thing we must do is enter into such a consecration.

The consecration that I refer to is termed by St. Paul as that of dedicating ourselves as a “living sacrifice” to the Father, we do this by a total surrender of ourselves to the Spirit of God in us. Paul describes this consecration as follows:

 “I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I bid every one among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith which God has assigned him.” (Rom. 12:1-3)

If we are already walking in such a relationship, then we need to test ourselves daily regarding these virtues, so that we can, through repentance and communion, maintain our connection to the Vine and thus bear fruit for the Kingdom.

However, if we are unsure of exactly where we stand in our relationship and commitment then I would recommend that you click on the following link for instructions as to how to make such a commitment to Christ.

# PRAYER OF COMMITMENT

Above all Brethren, please ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in all that I have been saying and obey His guidance – for it is only through Him and the inspired Word of God that your spirit may be activated to interact and dialogue with the Divine! As you pray, keep in mind this Word about knowing Love …

“We have come to know love by this: that Jesus laid down his life for us; thus we ought to lay down our lives for our fellow Christians.” (1John 3:16)

Above all Brethren, please ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in all that I have been saying and obey His guidance – for it is only through Him and the inspired Word of God that your spirit may be activated to interact and dialogue with the Divine!

May the Lord bless you and guide you, and may His Face Shine upon you, and bring you into His Peace!

Your servant in Christ … Bartimaeus

© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-20014]

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

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Sweet Yoke of Love

Enter in by the Narrow Gate

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 Prayer and the Word are the two essential elements for spiritual growth in the New Year. In that regard, I present the following article on prayer that I pray will incite my readers to go deeper into the Word of God and prayer.
 
Your brother in Christ … Bartimaeus
 
Regarding the Modalities of Prayer
(excerpted from “Thy Kingdom Come” a book on the personal reflections of Jorge Madrid Sr., Posted with the author’s assent)
The Essence of Prayer is in Personal Dialogue with God

The Essence of Prayer is in Personal Dialogue with God

Why Prayer is Essential

Prayer is the most essential component of a Christian’s spiritual life after conversion because it is prayer that enables a personal communion and dialogue with the Divine Mystery and from that interaction we derive the spiritual energy needed to grow spiritually. No relationship can function or grow without a person-to-person interaction or dialogue. This is especially true of the relationship we have to the Father through Jesus His son. However, because of our own limited understanding and experience of what is meant by “prayer”, we limit the capacity of our prayer life  and correspondingly our capacity to develop the intimate personal relationship the Lord  desires of us.

Although the religious environment in which we are raised provides us with our initial exposure and training in prayer, it also tends to limit us because the teaching of prayer is constrained by the cultural and self-imposed limitations on the teachers themselves, be they parents or ministers. The limitations are understandable from the standpoint that we all are conditioned by our culture to specific worldviews regarding the human experience and how we are to relate to God. Our religious conditioning is no exception. If we are exposed only to verbal prayer in our families and churches to the detriment of non-verbal or silent modes of prayer then breaking out of that conditioning will require some degree of prayer and effort on our part and some competent direction on the part of our pastors.  One of the reasons silent or mental prayer (contemplation or meditation) is not emphasized in some bible-oriented religious traditions is that there is not a clear example of this type of prayer in the scriptures. Since we are not given any insight as to how Jesus prayed when he went off to be alone with the Father we only assume that he prayed verbally in the same manner as he prayed in public or with his disciples,

Prayer and its Modalities

It is clear from scripture, however, that there are different modes of prayer, depending on the nature of the circumstances which impel our prayer. Communal or group prayers by their very nature need to be verbal while personal prayers are not limited to the verbal mode. We are so conditioned by our communal prayers that we think the Lord can hear us only if we express ourselves in words.  Just as when we use words there is a  distinction between our prayers of petition, intercession, thanksgiving, praise, dedication so also our intimate prayers when we focus only on our relationship with the Father have distinct modes of silent expression. Jesus said that this latter type of prayer (meditation) we are to do in our “closets” in private. I think we may safely assume that since God knows our hearts intimately this type of prayer need not be verbal at all. In fact, as we grow in our intimate relationship with the Lord, words may actually get in the way and a silent contemplation or meditation provides a more ample channel of communication between our spirits and the Lord of Glory. For this reason when we pray it is best to have separate times for our verbal prayers and our more intimate personal dialogues with the Lord (yes, we can have dialogues with Him, especially in times of silent prayer)

Another of the limiting concepts we have of prayer is that we incorrectly assume that its main intent is for us to communicate our needs to the Father so that he can intervene to help us in our time of need. Without diminishing the importance and validity of that type of prayer, we must understand that the Lord already knows our  needs. While Jesus has told us to “ask and you will receive”, what the Father primarily yearns for is a personal relationship with us from which our worship will spring. Our dilemma is that, even when we are aware of this, we find it difficult to enter into intimate one–on-one prayer with the Lord because, as soon as we enter into prayer, our mind begins to bring up our list of needs that has been constantly running through our minds.

This reaction on our part, reminds me of our little granddaughter who lives with her parents in a city very distant from us. We usually phone them each week to see how they are and to share briefly in the events in  their lives. On one occasion my wife them called to discuss arrangements we were making to visit them. Suddenly, our daughter interrupted what she was telling my wife to announce that our three year old granddaughter wanted to speak with her.  My wife immediately greeted our grand daughter and began to tell her about how excited we were in anticipation of our visit. The three year old responded with a stream of excited baby-talk which Laura could hardly understand. When she asked our daughter what she was so excited about, she told her that our grand daughter was trying to tell grandma what she wanted for her next birthday. Our proposed visit was not so much the cusp of her excitement as was the gift she wanted to receive.

For us as grandparents we were thrilled that our granddaughter was aware that grandma and grandpa were the source of some of her most beloved gifts. We in turn are blessed in giving her the gifts she desires because it enhances our relationship with her. We know that when the emotion of the moment passes, the intangible bond of relationship will have been enhanced and strengthened so that as she grows she will relate to us in terms of her relationship and not for what she can receive from us.

What Our Initial Approach to Prayer Should Be Like

The Lord similarly, loves to listen and respond to our prayers for His help in our lives, but his ultimate desire is that as we grow spiritually we will begin to relate to Him personally  for who He is and not just for the answered prayers and gifts he continuously provides.  We need to value His person more for who He is than for what He provides.

Praying In the Spirit

Praying in the Spirit

What we need to do when entering our intimate prayer state is to begin with praise and worship, preferably praying in the spirit, then after spending  a quiet time meditating on His Person and His Presence, we quietly slip into quality time with our Father sometimes without even uttering a vocal prayer but merely contemplating the beauty of the Lord! Then, just as Jesus said, “Seek to give yourself totally to the Father so that His will may be manifested in you and through you; and all the things that you thought were so  important will be added unto you without your even asking”[1].

Of course, there will always be needs or circumstances where we need to ask the Father to come to our assistance. However we will find that our prayers of petition come more naturally if we come before Him from the position of our on-going relationship rather than from a “what’s-in-it-for-me” approach. In fact you will find that as your dialogue with our Heavenly Parent improves He will ask you or suggest the things for which you should pray. It is from this standpoint that we should approach experimenting with the various modalities of prayer. As our intimacy with the Lord grows we will also come to understand more clearly His will for us. This in turn will help us when we pray in intercession or petition because now when we pray we will be praying in HIS will. His Word tells us in general His will for us but it is through intimacy with Him that He reveals His will for specific circumstances in our lives.

My Witness Regarding Prayer

I must admit, for most of my life I was not a praying person so the Holy Spirit really had to work on me regarding prayer. Even now I consider myself only a raw novice when it comes to prayer. Prior to the point of my spiritual revitalization, the term “prayer” only meant to me repeating a scripted or memorized prayer and directing it heavenward. Although, I was aware of other forms of prayer, I had never had the incitement to attempt anything beyond the routine prayers that I recited at either liturgical functions or at desperate moments in my life.

But when I received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit all of this changed. Suddenly I became so hungry for God and His Word I  literally “devoured’ the scriptures for almost a year. At the same time my prayer life was jump-started by God’s grace so that the mere recitation of scripted or memorized prayers no longer satisfied the thirst I had for intimacy with My Father in Heaven. Once I had tasted of the Lord, I could not find enough ways to satisfy my thirst for Him and His Presence.

It was only after my spiritual awareness was activated that I began to see that prayer is not so much what you do, or say or think but a giving of our very self to God through our spirits. That means that by investing all that we  do with a spiritual motive everything in our lives can be turned into prayer and so the modalities and depth of prayer may be as varying as the colors of the rainbow. In this way every prayer no matter how simple is heard by God as long as it is the sincere, humble, and loving cry of our hearts (spirits) as we approach the Lord’s throne truly seeking His Face.

Entering Into Intimate Prayer and Moving in the Distinct Modalities

If one wishes to progress in intimate one-on-one prayer there is one key principle to remember: purity of motive.  Jesus in giving his disciples the principles of the Kingdom said, “Blessed are the pure in spirit[2] for they shall see God”[3].  For me this meant that the primary driving motive for intimate prayer must first be a sincere desire to Glorify God by unreservedly giving myself totally to Him, especially during our times of intimate communion. I found that when I came to Him in this type of prayer with tainted or ulterior motives, my time with Him was not spiritually satisfying.

We should not enter our intimate prayer time motivated by what we expect to gain from prayer, even spiritually. If we enter prayer merely to  enhance our spiritual experiences, we are attempting to come before the throne of God with tainted motives. When we come before the Deity, we come as we are: broken, repentant sinners washed in the Blood of Jesus with no merit of our own, only our desire to “present (y)our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is (y)our spiritual worship”[4]

            If one keeps this principle in mind, the modality of prayer, although important in itself, is secondary. The modality of the moment should be the one with which the Holy Spirit is leading you to enter at a particular time and place. If you follow the Spirit’s leading you will be in the will of God and if your motives are pure you will enter before His Throne. Notice that I use the term “modality” rather than “method”. This is because, although methods of prayer can be helpful at first, they can quickly become a hindrance because we become bound to them out of habit and thus lose the freedom to respond to the Spirit as He would lead us. The Holy Spirit does not minister to us with regard to any method to which we might resort. Rather he ministers to us out of our freedom, our willingness to move wherever and however He is leading us. The term “Modality” speaks more of an entry approach to prayer which leaves us free to move in any direction the Spirit chooses.

The modality of prayer we choose is something we as humans need to get ourselves out of our “selves” and flowing into our “spirits”. Thus the modality we use is usually relative to the circumstances out of which our prayer arises. However, once the “pump” of our spirits have been primed to the flow of the Holy Spirit we need to let our prayer be guided by Him and not by any particular “method” of prayer.

As I have mentioned before, silent contemplation before the Presence is itself a prayer and almost certainly the purest form of prayer. But such a modality of prayer comes as a gift from God and usually comes only after we have nurtured our relationship with Him in the various modalities of prayer we have been introduced to through our religious upbringing, namely the various forms of mental and vocal prayer. Being a novice at prayer I certainly am not qualified to comment on such modes of prayer as : Centering Prayer, Lectio Divinae, The Labyrinth,  or The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. There are many excellent references regarding these which I will not mention here because they are so numerous. I have listed some of them in the bibliography.

My intent in the next section is merely to reflect on some of my experiences with personal modalities of prayer that had a lasting impact on  my own prayer life.  I hope, through this testimony, to show how the Holy Spirit working through our yielded human spirit, melds and blends the various modes of our prayers, however simple, into a harmonious spiritual symphony before the Lord. A spiritual symphony that produces fruit to His Glory! Praised be His Holy Name!

Copyright © 2008 Madrid Family Living Trust

(Note by Bartimaeus: the section referred to by the author will be presented in another posting on this website. Please consider this as merely an introduction explaining what the author considers as “the Modalities of Prayer”)


[1] My own paraphrase of the citation from Matthew 6:33

[2] All of man’s motives flow from his spirit

[3] Matthew 5;3

[4] Romans 12:1

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

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

The King within us

The King is coming – are your ready?

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

Brothers and Sisters,

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

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

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

Recognizing False “Gospels” Regarding Grace”

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

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

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

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

Jesus:  Regarding the Gospel of Repentance

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

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

Quickly bring  a robe and put it on him ...

Quickly bring a robe and put it on him …

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

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

Branches Bearing Fruit

Branches Bearing Fruit

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

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

The Apostle John; Regarding Fellowship, Sin, and Confession

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What then is to be our response?

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

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

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

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

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

Your Brother In Christ and Fellow Pilgrim … Bartimaeus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2013])

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How then Shall we Pray? –

                     Reflections Regarding True Prayer (Part 2)

sheepfollowing

My sheep hear my voice …

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“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand.” (John 10:27-28)

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My Fellow Pilgrims and brethren in Christ,

In the introductory scripture Jesus makes it very clear that if we are to be His disciples (His sheep) we must be able to: (1) hear His voice, (2) have a personal intimacy with Him, and (3) follow Him by obeying the directives He gives us for our lives.

We cannot do this without prayer – true prayer that is, prayer that enables us to fulfill our roles as His disciples.  The scripture cited also indicates to us that the primary purpose of true prayer is to affirm our spiritual union with Him and establish a clear and intimate channel of dialog so that He can communicate His person and His purposes with us in such a manner that we may come to know Him personally. In this way, by becoming His intimate partners in establishing the Kingdom, our obedience to His guidance will be performed out of a love-enabled spiritual relationship and NOT by obligation!

However, we cannot interact at the spirit level with Him, unless the spirit-self within us has been reborn by the Holy Spirit (Cf., John. 3:3-5). Without such a rebirth we humans are insensitive to the voice of our Shepherd. So the first thing the Holy Spirit does, when He draws us to Himself, is to awaken our spirits and lead us to Christ through conversion and baptism so that He may baptize us in the Holy Spirit and thus revive our spirit nature so that we can hear His Voice and thus enable us to respond to Him as truly His Sheep!

Unfortunately, due to the deleterious influence of the world, the spiritual awareness of all Christians has been dulled into insensitivity so that even most of our churches never really teach us laity how to move into the spirit realm but mainly teach us at the intellectual and devotional level in the hope that somehow our head knowledge will open the doors to a deeper spiritual awareness.

Because of this deficit of a truly reborn and mature spiritual sensitivity in us, our prayer life for most of us, has been stunted in that our prayers never enter the realm of the spiritual but, sadly, remain at the soulish mental and emotional level of expression and awareness, seeking only our own self-fulfillment rather the fulfillment of the Father’s will and purpose in our lives.

In general, for most of us, as a result of our current state, our communications with the Lord has become mainly routine one-way expressions of petitions or supplications for healing or assistance in our very day problems but lack the heart-felt loving intimacy of a child asking his or her father for help. Prayers, that, because of the Father’s loving faithfulness to His Promises, are answered according to His loving providence, but are nonetheless lacking in spiritual depth on our part.

Do not hinder themWhile there is no doubt we are in desperate need of His help in our affairs and, that He, as our Father, is more than willing to come to our assistance, our prayers become for us mainly a routine practice that lacks the intimate yielding, in love, of a child to the Father. And that, above all, is exactly what the Father is seeking of us, in our interactions with Him! It is as Jesus pointed out to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven”(Matt.18:3).

Remember, our spiritual growth is directly related to maintaining our child-like intimacy and relationship with Jesus and His Father – this can only be accomplished through “true” prayer.

In order to help those of you who feel a need to assess the state of your prayer life and are seeking to go to a deeper level with Jesus, I thus present to you a sequel to Jorge Madrid’s previous introductory article on the nature of prayer that may incite you to continue on your spiritual journey and a more intimate and personal relation wit the Divine.

With the author’s approval, Part 2 of his “Reflections Regarding True Prayer” follows this preface.

May the Lord move in you as you pray and read through this latest posting, all the while reconciling everything that comes into your mind and your heart with His Holy Word. Amen.

Your Brother in Christ … Bartimaeus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2013] )

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Reflections Regarding True Prayer (Part 2)

By Jorge Madrid Sr. (AMDG)

Faith: The Foundation For Prayer

Faith is the prime requisite for prayer for scripture tells us that “…without faith it is impossible to please God because those who come to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who earnestly seek Him” (Heb. 11:6).  Now one might then argue, “How is it then that unbelievers can become believers? Or how is it that God will answer the prayer of the skeptic: ‘God, if you’re there, help me now when I need you’”.

My words are spirit and they are truth

My words are spirit and they are truth

Let us answer the latter challenge first. His word tells us that He has placed the light of faith in every man (Jn.1:9, Rom.12:3). Even though it is as small as a mustard seed every person is born with at least the faith to cry out to God for help. However, each person can ignore that grain of faith and let skepticism and doubt control him/her and so quench the faith needed for prayer. There is a limit as to how far God will strive with man to keep this seed alive. Once this seed is dead through man’s own decision to reject God, the Lord is not obliged to revive faith again in that person. But God in His mercy and grace has given us His Word of Salvation to be proclaimed so that real living faith can be revived in the those who hear the word and receive it into their hearts (1Ptr. 1:23). This answers the first challenge as well because it is through the hearing of the Word of Life that unbelievers are brought to life through faith.

Now, although faith is necessary to enter into prayer, it is also true that prayer is needed for our faith to increase (Lk.17:5). For those who are seeking spiritual growth, prayer is essential. Prayer is the means through which our relationship to the Father comes to maturity, it allows us to be one in mind with Him and thus permits Him to work through us as He worked through His Son Jesus. In this way, true prayer permits us to discard the self and enter in through the narrow gate. Of course, in true prayer, we gradually surrender ourselves to His Grace so that we live out the results of our prayer by His strength and not ours. I say true prayer, because it is possible to deceive ourselves into thinking we are praying when we deny the Lord the privilege of working through our lives to produce fruit. Prayer that is not fruitful is merely quasi-prayer such as that of the Pharisee talking to himself (Lk. 11:18).

The Elements of Prayer

Communion in the Spirit

The next and foremost principle of true prayer is communion with God.  This is a communion that can only take place in the realm of the spirit. It is a communion that is unique because it is derived out of the spiritual relationship that we as Christians have with God as our Father through Jesus, His Son. Unfortunately, that level of communion is not often reached because we are unaware of the distinct modalities between spirit and soul. This lack of awareness keeps us from placing ourselves at the spirit level when we are praying. Children are able to pray more easily in the spirit because they are not hindered by the intellectual inhibitions with which we are afflicted as adults and thus have no problem in doing things strictly by faith (Mk. 10:14). As we mature as human beings, our rational faculties get in the way of interacting in the spirit because our minds begin to demand a reason behind everything we do whereas our spirit is an intuitive faculty. We also have certain expectations, which are engendered by our limited knowledge of God and His Word, and by the experiences we are having in the world.

Just as man is composed of body, soul, and spirit (1 Thess. 5:23), so also prayer may be thought of as comprising of form, content, and spirit. Just as in man, God intended the spirit to be the main driving and motivating force, so also in prayer, spiritual dedication is of the essence.  This is so because God is spirit and it is only in the spirit that we can attain communion with him (Jn. 4:24) situation without really getting down to our spirit level. That is, we are usually only at our soul level (rational or emotional) when we say this type of prayer. Because of this, the effectiveness of our prayers is very much diminished. Remember what Jesus quoted from Isaiah regarding the religious people of his day:  “These people honor me with their lips but their hearts (spirits) are far from me”(Mk. 7:6) When we pray therefore, it is of the utmost importance that we enter into the Presence of the Lord with all our hearts, for it is only in this state that our prayers will be truly effective. It is only when we are attuned to that Heart of God that our prayers will be His prayers. And if they are His prayers we can be assured that there will be a response.

Now, getting to the “spirit level” is where most of us have problems because the distinction between spirit and soul has usually not been clearly made in our religious education. As a result we confuse the “religious” efforts of our soul as being “spiritual” and thus we usually enter into prayer usually at the soul or mental level because that is where our intellectual faculties are focused. Without going into an abstruse theological discussion, just remember that, as baptized, converted Christians, all we need to do to enter into the spirit is to make a decision of the will by “faith” to enter into that dimension where we are in His Presence. It is by faith because we are making the decision not on what we have reasoned or what we feel, but on the Word of God, which tells us “ Come near to God and He will come near to you”(Jm.4:8). As Christians, by making such a sincere act of the will, in faith, can we enter into His Presence, because the Blood of Jesus has purchased the way to the Father.

When we make take this step make sure that you are in a place where you can honor your decision by quieting your soul and placing yourself apart from distractions. Once we are in His presence we should place our desire on Him and Him alone – yielding even the desire we had to pray to Him.

intercessory_prayer-1By yielding to His Holy Spirit, the Spirit himself is now free to pray through us (Rom. 8:26). Even though we begin our prayer in the natural, the Spirit begins to take over our prayer so that by the time we conclude, it has been His prayer and not ours.  The Spirit will do this gradually, thus imbuing our prayer with the appropriate content and form. The Word tells us that the Spirit assists us in our prayer because we are limited in knowing exactly what and how to pray in certain situations. Because we are so used to expressing ourselves in formula prayers, this may at first appear difficult. But once you experience the Spirit working in your prayers you will not only delight in it but you will be edified by what the Spirit is working in prayer through you.

If you wish, you could begin with the prayers you are comfortable with. Invest them with your yielding to the Holy Spirit, only don’t let yourself be bound by them. As you repeat them slowly and meditatively, let the Holy Spirit express himself through your words. Don’t be surprised if you begin praying something different than with what you started, As you continue in prayer, you will also find yourself at a point where there are no words to express what you sense is in your spirit. At this point don’t resist the Holy Spirit if there are words coming out of your mouth that don’t make sense to you. Express the words as they come. Don’t hold back. You will than find that the Holy Spirit is praying through you the sentiments that are in your spirit but for which you don’t have the words. This is called “praying in the spirit”. In this mode your spirit is bypassing your mental faculties (i.e., your soul) to express to God those precious sentiments that God himself has placed there just for that moment (1 Cor.14:14)).

Of course everything I have just stated is with respect to personal private prayer. However, without understanding the basis for private prayer and learning to pray at the spirit level, your ability to effectively participate in group or public prayer will similarly be diminished. In the personal mode of prayer, our conversations are between the Lord and ourselves. We need to set aside quality time for these conversations. If possible we should find a nice quiet spot where we will not be interrupted and most of all we need to quiet our soul so that our spirit is able to discern the Lord and what he is communicating to us. Initially, our time in prayer may be short. However, you will find that the more you practice this mode of prayer, time will become irrelevant to you as you delight yourself in the Lord and lose yourself in the Glory of His Presence. Praised be His Holy Name!

Content

When we pray, the content of our prayer embodies our objective. Underlying that objective, and usually unspoken, is the motive behind our prayer. When I speak of content, therefore, I imply both the objective and the motive of the prayer. When we are praying, even though we are yielded to the Holy Spirit, it is important that we form in our minds the content or objective of our prayer is in accord with the will of God. In judging whether the content is in God’s will, we must also assess our motives. An objective, by itself, might appear to be something that God would approve, but if our motives are self-centered, you can be sure that it is not God’s will (Jm.4:3). In general, if your motives and your objective are not based on love (the God kind of Love), it cannot be God’s will.

Word-of-GodFor this reason, it is very helpful if your prayers come out of your meditation on the Word of God. In this manner God Himself, through the Holy Spirit will form the appropriate content for your prayer so that it is in line with His will. Jesus tells us that “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you” (Jn 15:7). The key to effective prayer is to lead a life that is in Him. Before we pray for specific objectives for others we need to examine ourselves to ensure that we are “abiding in Him and in His Word”. This is another reason why the daily reading of the Word of God is indispensable. If you still find difficulty in assessing whether your motives are pure or whether your prayer objectives are in His will, you merely, initiate your prayer time with a prayer for wisdom. Asking for wisdom is clearly in His will (James 1:5) and your desire to be in His Will ensures that you will have an answer if you will only open your heart and listen to what he tells you.

Another concept we must also understand is that those prayers of petition that are motivated by the responsibilities the Lord has placed on our lives are usually free of self-centerdness and go straight to the Throne of God. As for instance, the prayers of parents for their children, of pastors for their congregation, and doctors for their patients. In general, prayers for others tend to have purer motives than prayers for ourselves. That is why James exhorts us to “pray for each other that you may be healed”(James 5:16).

When praying for healing we need also to ask for the wisdom as  to how to pray in these cases because, although our God is a Healing God, He alone knows the full circumstances of a person’s life. Pray that the Holy Spirit lead you into the appropriate prayer for that person. Sometimes through a word of knowledge or a word of wisdom you may see what might be hindering God’s work in that person and through your prayer seek release from the bondage holding that person from the fullness of the Lord’s Grace. It may be that in a particular case, He may permit the illness to take its course, not because He doesn’t wish to heal, but because it may fulfill something greater He wishes to accomplish in that person. Like his/her salvation. The Lord does indeed desire healing for all. The only question is how and when that healing takes place. Either here or in eternity.

Form

As one who appreciates the poetic, I find myself admiring well-written formal prayers, wishing I could pray that way.  Although I sometimes use formal prayers, I do not use them without a little bit of preparation. The reason for this is that the Lord wants our prayers to be from the heart and in order for formal prayers to be from our heart, we first need to meditate on each prayer until we can adopt it as our own. When you do that, the form becomes secondary. For that reason, although I may use the formal prayer to inspire me, I usually end up modifying the prayer or making up my own prayer as the spirit takes over. It usually does not read as well as the formal prayer but it is MY prayer from MY Heart and that is what is important to the Lord. Form is mainly important to us because it provides the framework for the content, it keeps us from uttering sheer nonsense, and it permits us to create a beautiful expression that glorifies the Lord. However, there are no explicit guidelines for the form of personal prayer in scripture. Instead we find that the form of the prayer is whatever the Holy Spirit leads us to pray when we are in submission to His leading. Daniel, when He prayed for discernment regarding the Seventy Years of captivity that was prophesied for Israel (Daniel 9:2-3 ), was led into the form of prayer that was appropriate and necessary to intercede for his nation. Similarly when the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray (Luke 11:1), Jesus provided them with an outline for a prayer that would enable them to minister in the Kingdom. In another place, Jesus indicated to His disciples that they needed to pray to the Father in His Name that they might receive. Jesus also told his disciples to keep their personal prayer private (Matt. 6:5-6) and to keep their prayers simple (Matt.6:7), other than that, He placed few constraints on form, His teaching on prayer mainly emphasized a heartfelt purity of objective and motive.

Now, we must keep in mind that praying to the Father in Jesus Name (Jn. 16:23-24) is not just an expression that we can tritely throw out at the end of our prayers without understanding its full implications. In the Hebrew culture, to use this idiom meant that you were the fully authorized representative of the person whose name you were claiming to speak for. So if you used this expression to do business for some important landlord it meant that you could transact any business in his name the landlord would fully support any decision you made. In using the Name of Jesus in petitioning the Father, you are basically asking the Father as if you were Jesus Himself! So before you can pray in His name you must be abiding in Him and He in you. If your spiritual state is such that you are not currently in fellowship with Him (1Jn1:6-7), then quickly and sincerely repent, confess your sin, ask forgiveness, and put yourself back in fellowship with Him. Then restate your prayer and boldly go before the throne because now you approach the throne not with your righteousness (which is garbage) but with the righteousness of Jesus (which is infinite holiness)! This is why praying in the Name of Jesus is all-important and why this should be the main guideline on form that is placed on our prayers. Praised Be His Holy Name!

From the examples of scripture, we see that we have a great deal of flexibility in the specific form of personal prayer as long as we are connecting with God, and our objectives and motives are pure. So be bold in your praying knowing that the Lord is not grading you on grammar, pronunciation, sentence structure, or poetic meter He only wants all of your love and He treasures the personal expression of that love in our prayers.

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2013])

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For those whose spirit has been aroused and are hungry for God, I recommend the following links to continue your instruction in true prayer. May the Holy Spirit Guide you on your way. …  Bartimaeus

Recommended Links to an Enhanced Spirituality

The Promise of the Father

The Promise of the Father is for all that believe.

Prayer of the Inward Man: Praying in the Spirit

Releasing The Spirit

Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit

Spirituality and The Mystic Dimension

The Art of Meditative Prayer

Music as an Aid to Transitioning to the Spiritual

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