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Archive for the ‘Healing’ Category

Healing the Broken Hearted

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised …” (Luke 4:18)

 

Dear Fellow Pilgrims, my Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

There is perhaps nothing more pernicious that can happen to us than the experience of a broken heart.  Not only does a “broken heart” cause emotional damage to the person involved but it also causes spiritual damage because it provides an entrance to the enemy of our souls into our lives. An unresolved inner hurt that is not spiritually resolved provides the enemy a foothold (stronghold) in our spirit that leads us into un-forgiveness, addictive immoral behavior, or worse, thus preventing us from establishing a full and complete relationship with the Holy Trinity because it inhibits our ability to love as Jesus loved and to walk as Jesus walked.

A broken heart is an inner emotional hurt that can be brought about by a variety of causes, the main ones being [1]:

1. Result of an offense* brought to us from others.

* (People say and do things to hurt us): cf.,Proverbs 18:8.

2. Result from our own sinful behavior: cf., Psalms 25:18, Proverbs 17:19,

II Samuel 24:10.

3. Result from a calamity where one is overcome by the experience:

cf., Job 3:25-26

4. Result of the sins of the forefathers: cf., Exodus 34:6-7.

5. Result from drug and alcohol use:    cf., Proverbs 23:29-35.

6. Result from occult involvement:        cf., Leviticus 20:6.

Now it must be made clear that, in the case of personal offenses, as mentioned in item 1, are, in some cases, only “perceived” offenses. That is, the offense is only perceived by the person affected and is not an intentional offense by the other person. The offense, however, is as real to the affected person as an intentional offense because the affected person makes a judgment about the “intent” of the other party – a judgment that is never resolved because the affected person immediately severs the relationship with the other, thus never engaging the other in dialogue to inquire as to the true motives behind what was taken as an offense. And, even if dialogue later occurs, the person affected has so bought into his/her judgment that admitting an error of judgment would bring about self-condemnation.

That is why the gospels tell us that If we feel we have been emotionally injured we should privately bring it to the attention of the one who hurt us and enter into dialogue with that person. If this is done early in the situation you may find that the person may not even realize he/she had hurt you, and if they did realize it, your initiative provides them the opportunity to apologize and be reconciled with you.

“If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one.” (Matt. 18:15)

So many times our pride or self-justification gets in the way and something that could be resolved through a logical explanation of some human error that occurred without evil intent grows into a major wounding of the heart and the unnecessary breaking of a relationship. In fact, it becomes a virtual prison for those who cannot forgive. Listen to what Jesus tells His disciples:

“You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister [or, mother or father], you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire.

So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny”. (Matt. 5:21-26)

In most cases “Broken Heartedness” can also lead to “Hardness of Heart”, where the injured soul retreats into a “shell” to protect itself from further hurt. But in so doing, the heart is hardened so that all communications attempting to break into the shell are ignored and thus a vicious trap closes around the individual. Such traps are termed the “Snare of the Fowler” by certain scriptures (cf.,Psalm 91: 3 ff.)

Now, it must be said that “Broken Heartedness” that is caused by coming to an awareness of one’s own sinful state (see item 2 above) can lead to repentance and conversion. This is the godly sorrow of which scripture speaks. It is the godly sorrow that fell on Peter upon realizing that he had disowned His Master and Lord in the events following the arrest of Jesus at Gethsemani. This godly sorrow usually comes when the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin and does not lead us to hardness of heart but instead breaks through the shell we have placed around ourselves. This is what the scripture tells us about his type of sorrow,

“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted,

and saves the crushed in spirit.”  (Ps. 34:18)

God also gives the strength to resist or endure a broken heart as when Paul was returning to Jerusalem and was warned by the prophet Agabus about what would happen to him if he continued on his way – setting all the community to weeping…

“ While we were staying there for several days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. He came to us and took Paul’s belt, bound his own feet and hands with it, and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘This is the way the Jews in Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’” When we heard this, we and the people there urged him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” Since he would not be persuaded, we remained silent except to say, “The Lord’s will be done.”  (Acts 21:10-14)

The Lord Jesus Himself experienced a broken heart on several occasions but did not let this brokenness hinder his mission and obedience to the Father’s will. For instance when …

a.) Jesus wept over Jerusalem (Lk. 13:34),

b) Jesus wept before the tomb of Lazarus (Jn. 11:35),

c) Jesus, on the cross exclaimed,

“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46, Mark 15:34 )

   and then says in faith,

 “Father, Into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46)

It was also prophesied that Jesus’ mother Mary would suffer a broken heart,

“Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed, so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul [heart] too.” (Luke 2:34-35)

In these cases we see that, through Faith in God and His Word, the Grace of God helps us to endure the pain and attain a spiritual victory over a “Wounded Heart” even though we have been exposed to tremendous emotional suffering. It of course requires a deep spiritual maturity which most of us are still lacking.

Because “Broken Heartednss” occurs through a broad spectrum of human events, I am recommending an internet posting that summarizes the main problems that arise when we encounter situations in our lives that deeply wound us in the spirit (ie., our heart). You may connect to the site by clicking on the following title: “Dealing with a Wounded Heart

Of course, since the article is intended only as a summary of several approaches to the problem, you need to pray for the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit before you take any action in this regard. The reason being is that every case is sufficiently different so that only the Lord’s specific guidance will lead you to the specific prayers and resulting actions you need to take for your own or for a friend/s particular situation.

Healing the Heart

In praying, just remember, “Nothing is impossible for God”, pray in faith,  through the Word, in the Spirit and persist,never giving up.  For the Lord cares for the broken-hearted to heal them and deliver them from the oppression of the enemy. Let the Spirit guide you because only the Spirit knows what is in the hearts of men.

I personally have found the guidance provided in this article in conjunction with prayer and meditation on God’s word to be of great benefit and consolation in dealing with emotional hurts. I pray that it will also be of help to you as we all walk along the Lord’s narrow path to spiritual maturity.

Praised Be His Holy Name!

Your fellow Pilgrim and Brother in Christ … Bartimeaus

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

Footnotes:

[1] list excerpted from reference article “The Wounded Heart”

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Other Related Links

§ Escaping the Snare of the Fowler

§ Coming to the Fullness of the Spirit

The Wounded Heart

§ Enter in by the Narrow Gate

§ Walking the Walk

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Here is a brief list scriptures you might consider for your meditation:

(Luke 4:18)  “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised …”

(Ps. 51:17) The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

(Ps. 34:18) “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

(Ps. 27:10) “Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.”

(Joshua 1:5) “… I will never leave you nor forsake you.”.

(John 15:9) “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love ……..”

More Comfort From the Word of God

(Ps. 41:4) “I said, Lord, be merciful and gracious to me, heal my inner self, for I have sinned against You.  “

(Ps. 146:3) “He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds” (curing their pains and their sorrows.)

(John 7:38) “He who believes in Me (who cleaves to and trust in and relies on Me) as the Scripture said, From his innermost being shall flow (continuously) springs and rivers of living water”.

(John 15:10-11) “If you keep my commandments (if you continue to obey My instructions), you will abide in My love and live on in it, just as I have obeyed My Father’s commandments and live on in His love.  If have told you these things, that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy and gladness be of full measure and complete and overflowing.” 

 

(Eph. 3:16) “May He grant you out of the rich treasury of His glory to be strengthened and reinforced with mighty power in the inner man by the (Holy Spirit) (Himself indwelling your innermost being and personality)”.

(Prov. 17:22) “A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.” 

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Coming into the Fullness of the Spirit

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:1-4)

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit

My dear fellow pilgrims in Christ Jesus,

Just recently we celebrated Pentecost Sunday, the birthday of the Church, that is, the day when those who first believed in Christ came together as an anointed community to form the Body of Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit to act as His witnesses to the world. Today, we continue in community through the anointing that is imparted to us through the sacraments of baptism and confirmation bringing us to life in Christ so that we, His Body, may continue to be His witnesses to the world until He comes to reign as King of Kings and Lord of lords.

However, for some of us, our celebration of Pentecost tends to be that of half-hearted traditional routines that honors the tradition and spirit of the historical event of Pentecost but not a celebration of something that should be an integral part of our lives in that it is something we have personally experienced – that is, the personal outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our own lives. It is in this sense that the “fullness” of Pentecost has not yet “fully come” for many of us today.

Yes, we all, in faith, have come to a new birth in Christ and have received the Holy Spirit in the inward man”, but for many of us Pentecost remains merely a historic event because we have not fully come to a realization of what that “fullness” really means. We have not fully yielded ourselves to the Holy Spirit and His Gifts so that He may truly take His place in our lives and thus have not released Him to complete the work in us for which He was sent, that is, to bring us into full conformity to the image of Christ – both through an inward transformation and an outward empowerment to preach and live the Gospel with His power working in us and through us. Instead we have taken our consecration as merely being a signal for us to use our own self-willed energies to attempt to please God with our own works and ambitions.

Yes, we are taught and believe that we are recipients of the seven sanctifying gifts that the Spirit of God uses to form the Character of Christ in us. We likewise expect the fruit of the Spirit to be manifest in our lives through the indwelling Spirit of Love that has been poured in us by the Holy Spirit. But, in many of our lives the fruit of the Spirit is unable to come to maturity, mainly because, through ignorance and the gut-wrenching circumstances of our daily lives, our thinking and our behavior is being conformed to the world rather than to Christ. This conformance includes an attitude of pride and self-sufficiency that thinks we can do everything on our own, not understanding that the desire of the Father is that He wants to work through us and in us by the Spirit of His Grace which he so generously places in us. This attitude of conformance to the world also looks to the world for acceptance rather than to the Gracious God who created us.

You can sense this even in how we moderns define the graces received at Pentecost. Note that only the “socially acceptable” gifts of the Spirit (cf., Is. 11, Gal. 6;22) are mentioned in our churches. Whereas, the nine foundational or empowerment Gifts of the Spirit (cf.,1 Cor. 12) which were referred to by Jesus as the “Promise of the Father” and  which were actually the gifts manifested at Pentecost, are hardly ever mentioned in polite religious society. Why do you think this is? I suspect that the main reason is that we don’t want to look or be different from the world. We want to be accepted in the world and so we compromise the Word of God to match the world’s expectations.

This attitude weakens our faith and without faith we cannot please God – thereby hindering us from activating the actual release of the Holy Spirit into our lives and into the lives of those around us.

In this post it is my desire to discuss three of the most common problems (aside from plain ignorance) facing us Christians in exercising the spiritual gifts in the modern world – problems that hinder us in realizing the fullness of the Spirit in our lives. These three problems being: 1) grieving the Spirit, 2) quenching the Spirit, and 3) unbelief or “hardening of our hearts”. It is my hope that by bringing the awareness of these problems to the surface we may take action to repent and ask the Holy Spirit to renew us and restore us to the place in our walk with Christ so that we may truly be fruitful workers in the Kingdom of God! Praised be His Holy Name!

Grieving the Spirit

Grieving the Spirit of God

Grieving the Spirit of God

The Holy Spirit is “grieved” or “saddened” when we turn aside from His leadings in our lives and we instead begin to form attachment to the world and its lifestyles. He is grieved with us just as Jesus was grieved over Jerusalem because their unwillingness to receive Him at the time of His visitation (Matt. 23:37-39).  Let us then not grieve the Spirit by distancing ourselves from the world and welcoming Him and His Gifts into our lives.

Perhaps no one other than other St. Paul is better able to express the need for the Christian community to align itself with Christ and detach itself from the world. Listen to what he says to the church in Ephesus:

“Now this I affirm and insist on in the Lord: you must no longer live as the Gentiles live, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance and hardness of heart. They have lost all sensitivity and have abandoned themselves to licentiousness, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. That is not the way you learned Christ! For surely you have heard about him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus. You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil. Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy. Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. 

Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 4:17-32; 5:1-2)

You may be sure my brethren that, because God is Love, He, in His compassion for us, will lovingly intervene in our lives to confront us with our sin in this regard, because it is a sin. Indeed, a sin that Paul refers to as “grieving the Spirit of God”. A sin that usually leads to another sin, that of “Quenching of the Holy Spirit”.

Quenching the Spirit

Quenching the Spirit

Quenching the Spirit

Scripture commands us not to “quench the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19). To “quench” is to extinguish something, like throwing water on a campfire as you are preparing to break camp. The sin of quenching the Holy Spirit is when God’s Spirit is prompting us to say or do a certain thing and we refuse. Quenching the Spirit could also be failing to discover and use the gifts that God has given us.

The reason this is important is because we are ignoring or not using the charismatic gifts mentioned by St. Paul in his first epistle to the Corinthians (cf.,1 Cor. 12). It is through these nine foundational or empowerment gifts that the members of the church are empowered to carry out the church’s ministry of taking the Good News to the world, making disciples, and manifesting the power of Father’s Kingdom to the world. The Sanctifying Gifts (cf., Is.11) permit the Spirit to bring us in conformity to the character and spirit of Christ but it is the endowment with the charismatic gifts, however, that permits us to share in the empowerment of the Holy Spirit that was on Christ so that His ministry of manifesting or enforcing the Kingdom of God in this world may continue through us, His Body!

The World, the Flesh, and the Devil

The World, the Flesh, and the Devil

Because this ministry dethrones the power of the Evil One and the dominance he holds over the world and fallen humanity, he will do everything in his power to extinguish the Holy Fire of the Holy Spirit that has been placed in us, the Body of Christ. He does this on three main battle-fronts: the world, the flesh, and the devil.  We have already spoken of how the world conforms us to its thinking and behavior. This conformity to the world also acts in us to extinguish the fire or leadings of the Holy Spirit in carrying out His purposes for us in this world.

Remember the warning of preparation that Jesus gave His disciples:

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He may give to you. “This I command you, that you love one another.  “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.  “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 15:16-19)

Thus, you should not be surprised that the world will not accept you if you deviate from what it expects and demands of you. This, of course, includes the “politically correct” suppression of the spiritual gifts that have been distributed to us by the Holy Spirit to accomplish His purposes in us and through us.

In attempting to hinder us, the Ruler of this world takes advantage of our fallacious human reasoning, our weaknesses and our lustful desires (the flesh) so that we might succumb to the lures and demands of this world. And, to our dismay, he sometimes even uses the voice of misguided religious authority to attempt to shut the door to our exercise of the gifts by telling us that they are not needed today or that they (ironically enough) are of the “devil”.

The devil also tempts us by presenting us with counterfeit “gifts” that are really witchcraft under his control rather than from God. He also hinders the use of the actual gifts by presenting skepticism or doubts as to our worthiness or the appropriateness of our exercise of the gifts.

All of the above briefly summarize the means by which we may fall into the sin of quenching the Spirit. For this reason, brethren, it is very important in walking the walk of exercising the spiritual gifts that you keep in mind St. Paul’s exhortation and admonition to the church of Thessalonica:

“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.” (1 Th. 5:16-22)

Hardening of the Heart

Regarding hardness of heart I refer you again brethren to St. Paul’s admonition to the church at Ephesus:

The Hardened Heart

The Hardened Heart

“…. you must no longer live as the Gentiles live, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance and hardness [blindness] of heart. (Eph. 4:17-18)

In this citation Paul makes it clear that the condition he terms “hardness of the heart” (the term “blindness” is used in some translations) alienates us from the life of God. This alienation comes because the “hardness of heart” condition blinds our spiritual understanding, making us ignorant of God, His Grace, and His purposes for us in this world.  In other words it is an attitude of heart that leads to unbelief.

What we sometimes miss in Paul’s exhortation is that he is directing it to baptized Christians with the implication that these Christians, although converted are still living within their un-renewed worldly mindset – that Paul terms the “futility of their minds”. The reason we miss this point is that we modern Christians don’t realize that we are pretty much subject to the same condition, that is, we too are affected by a “hardening of the heart” or “unbelief”, the cure for which involves the “renewing of our minds”.

The main reason we miss this point that Paul makes is, because we consider ourselves faithful Christians, supposedly operating in faith, we find it difficult to understand how there could be unbelief in our lives.

This failure to understand is, in itself a sign of a certain level of unbelief. You see brethren what we don’t understand is that we, as fallible human beings can harbor both faith and unbelief within us at the same time.  The vestiges of our fallen self, although crucified with Christ are still with us, even though we are in the process of transformation into the image of Christ. But we are not there yet and never will we be completely there until we are united with Him in the life to come.

These vestiges of the flesh still mould our thinking into the ways of the world and place a veil over our minds when it comes to understanding the Spirit of God and walking in the Spirit.  Although we may see our spiritual path clearly in some areas of our lives there are some areas where the old way of thinking still holds sway.

For instance, supposing that upon your yearly medical checkup you doctor discovers some shadows in your x-rays and, upon more testing, informs you that you have a variant form, of lymphatic cancer.  The first anxious thoughts and fears you encounter within yourself are those of your old nature. Yes, you believe in healing and Jesus’ promises regarding healing, but you find your heart placed in a test between your faith and your anxieties and fears. If you place more value on your anxieties based on what the doctor said than your faith in what the word of God says, then you have entered the realm of “hardening of your heart” and this places a veil over your faith in the promises of God.

The more our mind is “renewed” in Christ the less influence the world and our “old man” will have on our thinking and judgments because Jesus and His Word will be the center of our focus in life. When our focus is on Him and His Word our faith will overcome the world just as He overcame the world (John 16:33).

There are many instances in the New Testament where Jesus admonishes his disciples for their “weak (or ‘little’) faith” caused by their hardness of heart. This is not because they did not have faith in Jesus it is because their own faith was still linked to what they observed in the world and was thus diluted by the circumstances they were facing, as in the multiplication of the loaves (Matt.14:13-20 and the healing of the demon possessed boy (Cf., Matt. 17). In this latter case, when the father came to Jesus saying that he had taken the child to His disciples and they could not heal the boy, Jesus said, “You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him here to me.” ( Matt. 17:17)

After delivering and healing the boy, the disciples asked, “why could we not heal him?”  Jesus answered them saying, “Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matt. 17:20).

So clearly, if we are to exercise our spiritual gifts fruitfully, as Jesus tells us from the citation above, we cannot afford to have this veil of unbelief or “hardness of heart” be a hindrance to us. That is why it is so urgent that we cooperate with God’s grace not only in discerning and exercising the gifts that have been allocated to us, but also in continuing to grow in the Spirit through the renewal of our minds, so as to minimize the hindrances that so easily disable us from carrying out God’s purposes for us in this world. Praised be His Holy Name!

In conclusion, brothers and sisters in Christ, I urge you to take everything I have relayed to you here, that has touched your heart, and present it sincerely, in prayer, to the Holy Spirit for confirmation and impartation so that you may be fully enabled by Him to enforce the Father’s will here on earth as it is in Heaven!

Baruch ha Shem!

Your Brother In Christ Jesus … Bartimaeus

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

Links to Related Articles

<>  Sweet Yoke of Love

<>  Releasing the Spirit

<>  Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit

<> The Renewal of Our Minds

<>  Hearing His Voice…. and Obeying it!
<> Praying In the Spirit
<>  Responding To the Spirit’s Call
<>  The Kingdom of God Our Spiritual Inheritance

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Challenges of Faith: Growing in the Spirit

My Dear Fellow Pilgrims in Christ,

In a previous article regarding “Responding to the Spirit’s Call” I indicated to you the challenge of faith that we are faced with when we first come to a deeper awareness of the Holy Spirit in our lives and thus “enter” the Kingdom of God, that is, sharing in Jesus’ ministry in this world. In this article it is my intent to give you an example of the faith challenges we, as disciples of Jesus will continue to face as we enter more and more into the empowered life of the Kingdom. In fact we will find that the more we enter into our Kingdom empowerment, the more and more we will have to face these challenges. It is the Lord’s intent that only by meeting these challenges head-on, in faith, with the Word of God and the Holy Spirit at our side that we can grow in the Spirit. It is our training camp where we learn to discern the Holy Spirit’s voice, to walk in the Spirit, and to use the spiritual weapons that are available to us to bring the victory of the Kingdom into our lives and the life of the community.

In addition to some relevant scriptural examples I will contribute some examples from my own “boot camp” experiences. The personal examples I will be sharing with you are taken from my own experiences and I present them to you so that it may encourage you and help your faith to grow as you face the forces and circumstances in your lives that are constantly attempting to quench the fire of the Spirit in you. These sources forces, which impede our progress, may be generally indicated as: the World[1], the Flesh[2], and the Devil[3]. All of these forces are at war with the Spirit and will use any means to prevent you from coming to spiritual maturity in bringing forth the fruit of the Spirit into you life and the lives of others – the fruit of the Spirit that comes from the Word of God that has been planted in you by and through the Holy Spirit.

One of the particular impediments I will be referring to today is that of “cultural expectation”. This type of impediment is of the “World” Class of impediments and, is often manifested in religious cultures. Mainly, it evidences itself in the reaction of people, who have been brought up in a specific “religious” culture to limit their expectation of what God can do only to that which falls within the constraints of their traditional or cultural experience and understanding.

There are many examples of this type of behavior by the religious authorities in attempting to impede Jesus’ ministry and discredit Him. Their favorite method was to try to show that Jesus was not complying with the Jewish traditions regarding the Sabbath.  As our first example let us look at Jesus’ healing of the man with a withered hand.

He left that place and entered their synagogue; a man was there with a withered hand, and they asked him, “Is it lawful to cure on the sabbath?” so that they might accuse him. He said to them, “Suppose one of you has only one sheep and it falls into a pit on the sabbath; will you not lay hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a human being than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the sabbath.” Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and it was restored, as sound as the other. But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him.” (cf., Matt.12:9-14)

Now, Jesus, was not doing anything that was against the Word of God, in fact He was fulfilling it. But the religious folk did not comprehend that because they were limited by the Jewish “traditions of the elders” and thus thought that what Jesus was doing was sinful, at least within the limited framework of their religious cultural worldview.  Jesus Himself said, “I do nothing of myself, but what I see the Father doing”(John 8:28). In this way it is clear that the works of power He was doing were the Father’s work and thus, explicitly, not a violation of His Word or commandments. But certainly we see how such human religious expectations could impede us from accomplishing the work of the Kingdom if we let them override what the voice of the Holy Spirit in us is telling us to do.

Now let me make it clear, in order to reach this level of sensitivity to doing the Father’s specific will in our lives and discerning the voice of the spirit requires a total surrender to the Divine Spirit and obedience to His call (cf., Hearing His Voice …). Such a level is reached only when an intimate spiritual union has been reached with the Father so that we are perfectly attuned to Him and His Word.

Even then, as fallible human beings, we must always “test every spirit” (1Jn.4:1) before we run off doing something that may have originated with the “World”, the “Flesh”, and the “Devil”. Our human religious traditions, developed over time, were not created with the intent of quenching the Spirit, but are a very human attempt to provide guidelines or “fences” to help the community from breaking the actual sacred commandments given in scriptures.  The problem we humans have when we “invent” these supposedly preventative guidelines is that they are usually products of our fallible human wisdom and do not generally reflect the Divine intent of the Word of God and we tend to apply them legalistically to exert control over people rather than teaching how to use them in tandem with the Word of God for discerning the true leadings of the Holy Spirit and responding to those leadings in harmony with the Father’s Will. Thus, whenever we have a conflict between our human traditions and the Leading of the Spirit in accord with the “Inspired Word”, the “Inspired Word” of God must always prevail. (Note that an “Inspired Word” is a Word which the Holy Spirit has brought to life in your heart as a leading expressly from Him for a specific purpose)

Although He was accused of it many times, Jesus never violated any of the sacred traditions given by God to the Jewish people. It was only when the Jewish authorities extended or modified the traditions to burden the people unjustly with these “fences” so that they distorted the Father’s Divine intent, that Jesus would challenge them. Take for example the following passage from scripture,

Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said,  “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands before they eat.”

He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.’ But you say that whoever tells father or mother, ‘Whatever support you might have had from me is given to God,’ then that person need not honor the father. So, for the sake of your tradition, you make void the word of God. You hypocrites! Isaiah prophesied rightly about you when he said:  ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.’” (Matt. 15:1-9)

As it was then, so it is today.

Another type of impediment is our lack of faith. This particular impediment is of the class of the “Flesh”, and occurs when we let our human weakness in believing only what we can observe and understand limit the ability to exercise the “mustard seed” of faith we have been given by the Spirit. Take for example the case of the epileptic boy oppressed by a demon whose father brought him to the disciples but who were unable to heal him (cf, Matt. 17).

When they came to the crowd, a man came to him, knelt before him, and said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly; he often falls into the fire and often into the water. And I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.” Jesus answered, “You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him here to me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was cured instantly. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matt.17:14-20)

With these examples from scripture as background, I now share with you two instances as to how the Holy Spirit has worked in me to help me apply the Word of God to my prayer life so that I might bear fruit for the Kingdom. In the first of the situations, I learned how to go against my human inhibitions and pray the prayer of command, In the second, I failed the test during group prayer by not obeying the Spirit’s leading. I present these to you for your discernment in order to assist you in your pilgrim’s walk with Christ and avoid some of the pitfalls that we all encounter along the way of faith.

CASE 1:  Learning The Prayer of Command

The first experience I have to share is that of my prayers for our son who lost the use of his kidneys through a severe allergy attack. He had graduated from a university and was working in a city distant from us when he called us from a hospital and told us that he was at the hospital for treatment and that the doctors were preparing him for dialysis, which he would have to use until he became eligible to receive a donated kidney in a transplant operation.

Of course, my wife and I went to see him and help him as he entered this phase of his life. Because of his disability, after a year he was not able to continue working because his energy levels were very low.  I left my job, and my wife and I moved to the city where He was living and asked him to move in with us so we could care for him.  All of this time my wife and I were in continuous prayer for his healing and for the availability of a donated kidney, which by the way was very difficult because of our son’s unique blood type.

This situation continued for four years with no prospect in sight for an appropriate kidney donor. My son’s condition was worsening daily, he lost a lot of weight and could hardly stay awake during the day. He was very sensitive to colds and infections and could not eat properly. It got to the point that my wife and I were praying for the Lord to take him if he was destined to live such a life – a life that was no life at all.

My wife and I normally prayed together daily in the traditional manner of posing our petitions to our Lord, using scripture and appropriately selected prayers. After a time I continued praying on my own after my wife had retired for the night. In my personal time I decided to ask the Lord directly to teach me how to pray specifically for our son, since I began to think that one of the things that might be hindering our prayer is that we limiting ourselves by not opening our hearts to God and praying from our hearts instead of from just scripted prayer.

I first asked the Lord to lead me to the scripture He wanted to speak to me through to address my problem of how to pray for our son.  It took several weeks of prayer for me to open up a dialog with Jesus and His Word. I believe the reason it took that long is because I was in a rut, in that I had to struggle against my instinctual need to follow the traditional manner with which I had been taught to pray.  In leading me to selected scriptures, the Holy Spirit began to build up my faith in the Word and how Jesus elicited faith form all those who came to Him for healing.  I began to see that praying in faith did not revolve around the use of scripted prayer but rather prayer that was from the heart.

After the Holy Spirit had prepared me, and I had become familiar in hearing God’s voice through His Word, He led me to the scripture narration on the raising of Lazarus (John 11:1-44).  As I read the scripture, a sense of anticipation began to stir in my heart. After all, my wife and I had been praying, out of desperation and, admittedly, a lack of faith, that, since our son was as good as dead, for the Lord to take him. I was thinking, “was the Lord leading me to this scripture because he wanted to raise our son from the ‘dead’ ”?

I meditated as I read very slowly through this scripture, every verse came to life before me, it was as if He was confirming my initial anticipation.  When I read that Jesus waited for four days before going to see Lazarus, it was as if He was telling me that He had waited four years to come to see our son and bring Him to life!  Every verse began to raise my faith more and more until I came to the last verses that read:

“Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” (John 11:38-44)

At that point, I was so sure that the Lord was going to do something, but I still did not know how he wanted me to pray or what part he was asking me to take in the resurrection of Lazarus (our son). So I was emboldened by the Spirit to ask, “Lord, I thank you for bringing me in the Spirit to this point but what do you want me to do?”  He answered me (in my spirit), “this is the way you are to pray in this instance, I want you to say and do as I did”.

In my naiveté, I said, “but Lord how do I roll away the stone?”.  He then patiently told me, “Just as I told you to speak to the mountain, you speak to the stone and cast it into the sea and it will be removed for you”.

At this point my cultural inhibitions began to take hold of me and I thought, “it must be my flesh, is this really happening? After all I have NEVER prayed like this and I have never seen anyone from my tradition pray like this, So I stopped my prayer time short asking the Lord to forgive me.

The next night as I was again praying alone, I heard the Lord ask me: “ why did you not pray as I asked you, did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”.  I feebly responded with: “Lord, I thought it might be my flesh”. Then He gently asked me again saying, “but now you know differently, so now stand before the tomb and roll back the stone!

This time I promptly and boldly obeyed and I spoke to the stone that was holding our son in the tomb saying:  “In the Name of Jesus, I command you, the stone that is holding my son in the tomb, be removed and be cast into the sea! At his Jesus now told me, “Now, say and do what I did next”.  Meekly complying, I said, “My son, come out in the Name of Jesus, In His name come out of the tomb of death! Amen!”

I concluded my prayer time by praising God and thanking Jesus for guiding me to the answer to my initial prayer on how to pray for our son.

When I told my wife the next day she also felt led to join me in standing in faith for our son and on the “prayer of command” which Jesus had just taught me.

We then prayed in affirmation every night believing that the prayer was being realized.  One week exactly to the day (September 28, 2005), we received a phone call at midnight from the hospital where he was on the list to receive a kidney.  They told us that a kidney had just been donated for which our son was a candidate and that if we went to the hospital immediately, they would test our son for compatibility and if successful, the transplant surgery would be done at once.

Of course, we immediately knew our prayers had been answered, and gave thanks and praise to God for this miracle of His compassion. We woke up our son, disconnected him form the home dialysis machine and drove to the hospital in the early morning darkness. He was immediately admitted, the testing performed, and upon notifying us of his compatibility moved into surgery for the transplant, which was successful. Praised be His Holy Name!

Of course the story does not end here as my wife and I went to the hospital for days on end, until the doctors told us that our son’s body had overcome organ rejection and accepted the new organ. All of this time my wife and I were in intense prayer but by now our faith had been lifted higher than a kite so our prayers were mainly of thanksgiving and praise to the wonderful Father we have and to Jesus who led taught us specifically how to pray for our Son. Blessed be His Holy Name!

The story with our son continues to this day as the Lord continue to work miracles in his life, but I have only related enough of the story to make my point. In order to pray specifically and properly for our son I had to ask, I had to struggle against my cultural inhibitions to pray as Jesus requested, and I had to struggle against my flesh to continue to stand in faith until the miracle was completed!

Yes, I learned very much about the prayer of command from this experience, and, most of all my faith grew by leaps and bounds. But, as I will share with you in the next case, my struggle against the flesh and the world was not over and as the Lord tested me on this other occasion, I found out that, being successful in prayer, while alone in my prayer closet did not ensure that I would be successful when dealing with a situation in a group prayer situation.

CASE 2: Failing the Test

Dear fellow pilgrims, after the teaching, the Grace, and the guidance I received in Case 1 you would think that I would be ready for any situation regarding prayer. This case demonstrates how easy it is to think that because we have passed one hurdle we the rest of the race will be easier.

Not so, in fact, just like in a military training camp (boot camp), the hurdles and the tests get even harder.  The first thing the Lord wants to rid us of is our self-confidence. In prayer, self-confidence is perhaps the greatest barrier we have to overcome. For, you see, the true prayer of faith is entered only when we have NO confidence in ourselves – our TOTAL confidence MUST BE IN CHRIST! NOTHING in ourselves! So we need to come to every prayer experience just as we came to the first one – acknowledging our total helplessness and aware of dire need of God’s Grace.

So it was that in this next case I will be discussing the Lord detected a little bit of self-confidence growing in me that had to be deflated – and deflate it He did!

This is what happened. About two years after the Case 1 experience, a distraught mother came to our prayer group to ask for help for her daughter (her daughter was not with her).  She had been coming for a few weeks but since we break up into small groups for prayer, I did not become aware of her need until one week I was selected into the same small group with her. Each of us presented our needs in turn, the members of the group then, would all then participate in prayer for the individual requesting prayer, as the Spirit led.

When, her turn came up, this dear lady began to briefly repeat the request she had been making for a the last couple of prayer meetings, but to which I had not been privy because I had not been in her small group. The mother asked for prayers for her daughter who was experiencing emotional and psychological problems, which she took to be somehow due to her recent divorce. The girl, in her mid-teens, was also apparently cutting herself secretly. When her mother found out she tried speaking with her daughter but to no avail, even though the daughter said she was trying to control herself.

The leader of this small group asked that all the members gather around the mother and lay hands on her for the gifts of the Spirit she needed to minister to her daughter and then we all prayed that the Holy Spirit work in the daughter to free her from her compulsive behavior. The leader then suggested that if possible she should bring her daughter to the next meeting so that she could be prayed over directly. I continued praying for them in my prayer closet during the week.

The next week both mother and daughter attended. When we were divided into small groups. I was coincidentally placed in the same small group as the daughter. As prayer began, through the Spirit, I began to sense that the source of the problem was spiritual and that she was under oppression by demonic forces. I also sensed that the Holy Spirit was leading me to pray the prayer of command over her to cast out the spirits of bitterness, resentment and guilt.

When it came for my turn to pray over her, however, I found myself literally paralyzed because this type of prayer had NEVER been done in this prayer group and I sensed that, If I prayed the prayer of command and deliverance, the more conservative members would report me to the pastor. I also felt that I would lose the respect of the leadership of the group. This, of course, was my FLESH at work.

Unfortunately, in this time of crisis, I took the cowardly path, I prayed for the girl, but I prayed in a non-controversial manner, praying that the Holy Spirit would envelop her in His Love and fill her so that her heart would be healed and so that there would be no room in her for any emotional or psychological disturbance, but I DID NOT pray the prayer of command to cast out the evil spirits!

While the prayer that I managed to pray might sound reasonable to you, it really was an act of disobedience on my part, because I had not followed the directives of the Spirit. My disobedience was not due to a lack of faith (cf., Mk.16:17) but because of my cultural inhibitions and cowardice in going against, what I thought were the group’s cultural expectations. Because of this, the moment for the Holy Spirit to bring deliverance to this girl passed and both she and her mother went away disappointed – never to return to the prayer group.

Of course, I was greatly disappointed in myself. I repented of my disobedience and cowardice and prayed intensely that the Lord send someone with more valor and faith than I to minister deliverance to that young lady and strength and faith to her mother.

(Note: In His compassion, the Lord gave me another chance a few months later when, at a Life in the Spirit seminar I was selected to lead one of the small groups praying for the Baptism of the Spirit. As one of the petitioners came forward for prayer I sensed that she was under demonic oppression and this time I did not hesitate to pray the prayer of command to cast out the spirits that were oppressing her.  The spirits departed with some growling sounds coming from the woman and then, as she later told me, with a sense of inner peace she received the Baptism of the Spirit and attended our meetings until she had to move out of the area.)

I pray, brothers and sisters that the information I have shared with you will help you in your spiritual growth and your walk with Jesus so that you may yield yourselves totally  to be His instruments in bringing forth His Kingdom into the world!

Praised Be His Holy Name!! To Him Be all the Glory Forever and Ever. Amen!!

Your Brother in Christ Jesus,

Bartimaeus

 

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[1] By the “World”, I mean those human cultural, social, and governing institutions and customs that are founded and empowered by the Flesh and Pride of human endeavor, controlled by satanic powers, that use their power and influence to bring and maintain human individuals into spiritual and personal bondage in direct opposition to the Freedom of the Kingdom of God.

[2] By the “Flesh”, I mean the basic drives and lusts of our human nature, that war against the spirit, that is, those instincts, drives and thoughts in our fallen nature, that move our will to go against the Father’s will and purpose for our lives and which thus, drive us directly into bondage and the control of Satan.

[3] By the “Devil”, I refer to the personalized Satanic evil power and its minions under which the World currently operates with the intent of establishing itself in triumph over the Kingdom of Heaven.

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