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A Secular Culture Aasks for Signs

“The Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test Jesus they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times? An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” Then he left them and went away. “ (Matt16:1-)

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,

Signs of the Times

Jesus chided the Pharisees because they and the culture they lived in claimed to be able to discern changes in the weather through observation of signs of changes in the sky but yet were unable to understand from the “signs of the times” that the time of the Messiah was at handWe humans today are now being posed with the same question: “How is it that we have instruments and computers to help us to predict weather, storms, and “Global Warming” and yet we cannot interpret the signs of the eschatological times that are in plain view”

Iceland Volcano

Some Signs are Self Evident

The evidential eschatological signs are all around us, and increasing in occurrence:  Earthquakes, tsunamis, famines, plagues, wars, volcanoes, meteor showers, rampant immorality, and persecution of Christians.

The  Current Pandemic

The judgments of God are not only evident in our physical environment but are evident in the world’s moral environment as well. For instance, all the human institutions that we have idealized are being shaken right before our eyes and hearing: governments, legislatures, the courts, the military, the medical establishments, lawyers, bankers, and even our religious establishments are being shaken to their roots by revelations of corruption, dishonesty, immorality, especially in sexual aberrations and child abuse. All of these things that were being done in secret are now being brought into the light of God’s judgment

Just as Jesus told us: “Nothing is hidden that will not be revealed”. All of these institutional idols in which we have placed our trust are being broken before our eyes so that humanity may be made aware of the wretchedness of our fleshly nature and our dire need to turn to God for salvation. The signs point us to turn to the Lord in repentance by turning from these idols and placing our trust in Him and Him alone for the salvation and reform that He alone can bring. Praised be the Glory of His Name!

The world, however is blind to the significance of these signs, as if these are merely severe but random happenings. But for us, brethren, who have had our eyes opened, it must be clear that these signs are being given to us as a warning that we are at the end of age when the time of separation has been ordained. A time when the wheat is separated from the chaff (Matt. 3:12) and, thus, a time when we must prepare ourselves for the tests trials that will surely come as the separation process proceeds.  It is a time when all our works will be held to the light of God’s judgment and when we will be called to stand before governors and councils (Matt.10: 18) to give witness to our faith. It will be just as the Lord has told us… “So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matt. 13:49-50)

As for the religious establishment, it will be even as St. Peter warned us,
“For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?”  (1Ptr. 4:17)

We see Christian churches everywhere being shaken and divided so that the five faithful virgins (Matt. 25:1-13) may be set apart from the five unfaithful virgins who let their lamps go out, these latter virgins, representing those churches who keep a pretense of the gospel but deny its power. But we, brethren, who are blessed to be open to this awareness of the signs of the times have a great responsibility to be ready to heed the Lord’s call to be His witnesses to the unbelieving world so that we may be His partners in announcing His Mercy to the world.  Yes, it will be a time of darkness but also a time of glory for His Bride, His people, who He will purify and empower to carry forth Good News of His Mercy in the days that are coming on the whole world.

You may be sure of this brothers and sisters, that all of us who believe will be called to be the Father’s partners in evangelization. In these last days there will be no distinction between the ordained and un-ordained when it comes to proclaiming the Good News of Salvation! So, when each of us discerns his/her call it is incumbent on us to respond by proclaiming the Gospel in whatever situation we find ourselves and to whoever is within our reach. So that all may know that Jesus, the Son of God died for the sins of the whole world regardless of their religion or ethnicity and that only by believing in Him and accepting Him is mankind’s only hope for salvation!

It is the Father’s desire that this final outreach of His Mercy reach to the furthest outposts of the world so that every person on earth will have heard the message and will have been given a choice before the “Wrath of The Lamb” (Rev. 6:12-17) falls on the whole world. Will you be ready to respond?  Pray my brethren, that we all will be ready when we hear His call!

But,  “how”, you ask, “may I make myself ready?”

You make yourself ready by understanding our weaknesses, being  repentant and opening ourselves to the Holy Spirit and His empowerment. For this is HIS work and not ours. All He wants of us is to be totally surrendered to Him and put aside those human traditions and religious limitations that quench the Spirit and hinder His ability to work in us and through us. You must be ready to stand up against the challenges that will be posed to what He is calling you to do. For, I guarantee that you will be challenged, not only by the world, but by the very religious systems that have denied His power for so long. But we must be steadfast and faithful to what He is calling us to do in the Name of Jesus!

This I what I mean when I say that you must be ready! For even “getting ready” is His work all you have to do is say, “YES LORD!” and stand willing to act on what He tells you to do!  Yes, you must proclaim the Gospel but you must be EMPOWERED by the Holy Spirit as at Pentecost so that your proclamation of the Good News may be confirmed  with Signs following!

But you must be wary, …   “For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall show signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things. But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. ,And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.  Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near: So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done. Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.” (Mark 23:22-31)

May the Lord open our eyes to see and our ears to hear that we may obey His Call to carry His Message of Love and Mercy to the whole world!

Your Brother in Christ,
Bartimaeus

Recommended Links to help you follow through on your commitment!
<> Prayer of Dedication
<> Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit!
<> Jesus, The Source of Living Water and Us!
<> Are You Ready?   (A Prophetic Warning)

© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2020].

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Let Your Lenten Observance Be A Heart Rending Experience

“Rend your hearts and not your garments” (Joel 2:13)

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As we enter the Lenten season again this year let us open ourselves to the Holy Spirit to let Him guide us in our devotions and our meditations on the Word of God.  Let us not only let Him guide us but also reform us from the inside out!

The Lenten season provides us with the opportunity to identify spiritually with the passion and death of our Lord, Jesus, and prepare ourselves to share with Him the Glory of His resurrection as we observe the devotions and readings of the liturgy for the season

In order to properly consider Jesus’ Passion and Death let us begin by reflecting on His Baptism and ask the Holy Spirit’s guidance so that through our observance and meditations we may grow spiritually closer to the Lover of our souls.

First, consider that Jesus, in accepting His ministry by accepting to be baptized by John the Baptist, identified Himself with all humanity by taking on himself the responsibility for all our sins and thus offering himself – as the Lamb of God as the sacrifice of atonement for man’s sin.

In lowering Himself into the baptismal waters He accepted the death that was due us for our sins. When we, accept our baptism in water, we also identify with Him by lowering ourselves into the waters of His Death. And, by rising up from the waters of baptism we share in the new life in Christ that was won for us at His Resurrection. (cf., Rom.6:3-18)

By reflecting on Jesus’ passion and death we bring to our conscious awareness the magnificence of the Love the Father has for us. For, in sending His only son, the image of Himself, into the world to suffer and die a humiliating death enthroned on the Cross of Calvary, He manifested the magnificence of His Love – a Love that went beyond all imaginable bounds to redeem us and restore us as children of His Love.

Who would ever imagine that the Divine One who created

us would become one of us so as to take on the judgment that was due us for all our sins. And, not only take on the judgment, but to give us His Holy Spirit to remake us in His image so that we could again function as His adopted Children, the objects of His Love!

Such is His Love for us that in order to maintain His Righteousness and Justice as God, the only way left for Him to carry out His Judgment against sin was to come amongst us as a sinless man so that as a man, Jesus the Son of God, could take that judgment on Himself and thus free us from the bondage of sin and envelop us in His Love as his adopted Children.

Because He loves us so much, clearly the main response He desires of us is that we Love Him as He Loved us. He desires our love so much that even our works, though done to Honor Him, are not sufficient to satisfy Him if they are not accomplished in and through Love. That is why the Apostle Paul tells us that unless we respond with this kind of Love (agape Love) we become as a “noisy gong or a tinkling Cymbal” [signifying nothing](cf.,1 Cor. 13:1 ff.).

What we need to ask ourselves this lent is this: “Am I doing what I do during Lent merely out of compliance with tradition, the obligation to participate in a rote procedure, or am I doing it because of my true, intimate, and personal Love for God and in response to the Love He has demonstrated for me through the sacrificial death of His Son in payment for my sins”? Remember that doing something out of obligation or compliance is NOT Love. It may be honorific but it is NOT true Love. Actions that are derived from true Love are done freely out of the desires of our heart for the One we Love and not out of constraint. This is the point of spiritual awareness and purity of motives that we are called to in entering into the season of Lent. This is the kind of heart-rending we need to experience to purify our inner selves in response to His Love. (see also my posting on the second Beatitude)

Listen to what the Lord says through the prophet Joel:

“Yet even now,” declares the LORD,  “Return to Me with all your heart, And with fasting, weeping, and mourning; And rend your heart and not your garments.  “Now return to the LORD your God, For He is gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger, abounding in loving-kindness, And relenting of evil. Who knows whether He will not turn and relent, And leave a blessing behind Him, Even a grain offering and a libation For the LORD your God?” (Joel 2:12-14)

Notice the emphasis on the purity of the motive behind our turning to Him as being with “all your Heart”. It is the full attention of our Heart that He desires, and it is our hearts, that is, our spirits, that He wants us to “rend”, and not just an external ritual of penance, like the rending of our garments; this the way that our true repentance in Love must be manifested before Him if it is to be considered a response to His Love.

That bring up another item that we must also consider as we come before Him in repentance, and that is, that He and he alone must be at the center of our hearts.  If we come before Him with our hearts centered on the world and what we desire from the world, our motives cannot be pure. In fact, if we have these worldly desires in our heart we are considered as adulterers before Him. For He is our Spouse, He is the bridegroom and we are the bride. Can we be His bride and have anything of the world in us? Hear what the Apostle James tells us about the attitude of repentance that must be taken by those who are in such a state:

“Adulterers! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you suppose that it is for nothing that the scripture says, “God yearns jealously for the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives all the more grace; therefore it says,

“God opposes the proud,

but gives grace to the humble.”

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy into dejection. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” (James 4:4-10)

Coming before Him in true repentance then, requires that we purify our hearts and strip ourselves of any double-mindedness that somehow deceives us into thinking that we can have two loves – the world and our Loving God! To truly respond to His Love, He and He alone must be our only Love and desire! As John the Apostle tells us, “Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. “ (1Jn 2:15)

If your conscience bears witness to this, and most of us are in this category, repent from your heart, confess your sin before God and make Him the only Love of your life. In doing so ask for the help of the Holy Spirit, keeping remembrance the following psalm:

Thy Word is a Lamp Unto my Feet

“Your word is a lamp to my feet

and a light to my path.

I have sworn an oath and confirmed it,

to observe your righteous ordinances.

I am severely afflicted;

give me life, O LORD, according to your word.

Accept my offerings of praise, O LORD,

and teach me your ordinances.

I hold my life in my hand continually,

but I do not forget your law.

The wicked have laid a snare for me,

but I do not stray from your precepts.

Your decrees are my heritage forever;

they are the joy of my heart.

I incline my heart to perform your statutes

forever, to the end.

I hate the double-minded,

but I love your law.

You are my hiding place and my shield;

I hope in your word. “

(Psalm 119: 105-114)

In conclusion brethren, remember that we need to forgive in order to receive forgiveness ourselves (cf., Matt. 6:14-15). We cannot respond in love if in our hearts, we harbor un-forgiveness, resentment or bitterness towards anyone, If we truly Love God then our response to His Love and forgiveness must be for us to forgive those who have offended or hurt us in any way; just as He said to those who had Him crucified, ” Father forgive them for they know not what they do”(Luke 23:34).

In coming to a sincere and true repentance, we all need to examine our conscience and assess the quality of our “love” against the standard that was set by Jesus and aptly summarized by Paul:

“Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous;

Love does not brag and is not arrogant,

does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked,

does not take into account a wrong suffered,

does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;

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

Love never fails; “ (1 Cor. 13:4-8).

If we have failed in responding to His Love, we need not despair, for His Mercy, Love and Forgiveness are always available to us.

“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous 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.” (1 Jn 1:8-10)

Thus, brothers and sisters, in entering into Lent , let us be observant, but with the pure motive and intent of responding to the Love that the Father has manifested to us through His Son, Jesus the Christ. Opening ourselves totally to the Holy Spirit who has poured His Love into our hearts (Rom. 5:5), keeping always in mind the following scripture:

“Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.  We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.

He that loves not his brother abides in death. Whosoever hates his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1 Jn 3:13-14)

I pray that the Love Of God envelop you and His Holy Spirit guide you as you meditate and observe the Passion, Death and Resurrection of His Only Son.

May you grow in His Love and may His Love grow in you!

Your Brother in Christ … Bartimaeus

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Recommended Links

<> Jesus the Source of living Water and Us

<> The Kingdom of God; Our Spiritual Inheritance

<> Reclaiming Our Legacy in Christ

<> Receiving the  the Holy Spirit

© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2020].

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Putting on our new self in Christ

pictures-of-jesus-baptism-holy-spirit

“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.” (Eph. 4:22-24)

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Eph. 2:10)

My fellow pilgrims in Christ,

In his New Testament Epistle to the Ephesians, St. Paul sometimes refers to our natural human persona as “our old self” and our baptismally reborn persona as “our new self” or, depending on the translation, “our old man” or “our new man”

The new man, Paul refers to is your inward man which, after conversion and baptism is now being transformed into a new creation in Christ. His spiritual nature is sacramentally placed in us by the Father so that the same spirit of righteousness and true holiness that is in Christ may be manifested in us to bring us into union with Him.

This is all the work of the Holy Spirit renewing our spirit in knowledge after the image of Jesus Christ, the only begotten son of the Father. This is the “new man” created when you are born again of God’s Spirit. The new man is not physical. It is our spiritual DNA in Christ Jesus. For as God’s children we are predestined to be conformed into Christ’s image. So that as the Father’s adopted children we may be His instruments in the building of His Kingdom of Love on this Earth.

Our progression or growth in the New Man depends on our cooperation with the Holy Spirit as He works in us to conform us to the image of “Christ in us, the Hope of Glory”. The progress of our conformance is not automatic after Baptism, it requires that at some point in our lives we freely yield to the Spirit, so that the holiness to which our new nature aspires is not forced on us but we willingly yield ourselves to partake in God’s work in us! In this manner we continuously give ourselves to the Father in through true Agape Love!

Here is Paul’s exhortation for just this purpose, “Therefore I urge you, brothers, on account of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.…” (Rom. 12:1-2)

Once we intentionally consecrate ourselves in this manner the Holy Spirit will begin the process of conformance in us. This is not to say that the Holy Spirit has not been with us or around us – it is only because He respects our freedom that He does not work “in us” (our inner man) without our willing submittal to Him!

“Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.” (Rom 8:12-17)

From the very beginning our progress in being conformed to Christ is strongly resisted by our “Old Man”, which is basically our fallen fleshly nature. Therefore
we are called to resist our fleshly nature with the spiritual nature that dwells in us!

That is why the Father also empowers our spirits with His Sanctifying Graces at baptism so that we can “put off” the flesh and instead “put on” more of the Spirit of Christ that He has planted in us. The very fact that scripture uses the words “put on” and “put off” indicates the need for our will to be active partners with God in the process of conformance. Putting On the New Man, therefore, is our decision to cooperate with the Spirit to empower us to walk in the Spirit of Christ in us!

Letting Christ live in us and Through us

Walking in the Spirit essentially entails letting Jesus live in us and through us,

We moderns have trouble understanding this and therefore have trouble having the faith to truly understand what walking in the Spirit involves. Paul understood this and that is why he made sure his communities had at least the basic understanding of this principle, a principle that is Key to “entering” the Kingdom of God!”.

Paul taught the Galatians (and us) about walking (ie., living) in the Spirit saying… “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (Gal. 5:16-25)

Remember that Jesus himself urged His disciples that in order to remain in Him they must discipline themselves to follow the narrow path in loving obedience to leadings of the Holy Spirit just as He did. Indicating that if they let themselves be conformed to the world they are taking the broad road to destruction

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

Jesus Christ himself is the Narrow Way and the only way to enter the narrow gate is to intentionally yield ourselves to be conformed to the spirit of Christ that is in us so that the Holy Spirit can carry out our transformation!

You can also be sure that the enemy will do everything in his power to keep us from making that commitment. The only way to ensure that we do not get mis-routed in our walk is to partake of the Sacraments and ensure ourselves that we enter into a deeper personal relationship with Jesus and the Word. And, using the spiritual gifts, avoid the temptations of the world, the flesh and the devil. In order to do this, our commitment must include crucifying the flesh so the tempters have no power over us.

This is in line with Paul’s exhortation, that…
“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (Gal 5: 25)

Therefore my fellow pilgrims in Christ Jesus, if we are to be HIS true disciples it is essential that you consecrate your lives entirely to Christ, and Him only, keeping in mind that … He IS the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE …. No one can come to the Father but Through HIM! Amen and Amen!

Your Fellow Pilgrim … Bartimaeus

© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2020])

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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We are Heirs to the Kingdom

The Kingdom begins in our hearts!

Preface…

The Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand
In the Advent season we celebrate the coming of the Messiah King who ushers in the reign of God. The prophets foretold that the Messiah would establish God’s kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy. Those who put their trust in God and in the coming of his kingdom receive the blessings of that kingdom – peace with God and strength for living his way of love, truth, and holiness (Isaiah 40). Jesus fulfills all the Messianic hopes and promises of God’s kingdom. That is why he taught his disciples to pray, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).  In his kingdom sins are not only forgiven but removed, and eternal life is poured out for all its citizens. This is not a political kingdom, but a spiritual one.

Freed from the burden of sin and guilt
The yoke of Christ’s kingdom, his kingly rule and way of life, liberates us from the burden of guilt and disobedience. Only the Lord Jesus can lift the burden of sin and the weight of hopelessness from us. Jesus used the analogy of a yoke to explain how we can exchange the burden of sin and despair for a yoke of glory, freedom, and joy with him. The yoke which the Lord Jesus invites us to embrace is his way of power and freedom to live in love, peace, and joy as God’s sons and daughters. Do you trust in God’s love and truth and submit to his will for your life?

This Christmas Season…
… let us raise our inner awareness of His Kingdom – and enter into it!
“Lord Jesus, inflame my heart with love for you and for your ways and help me to exchange the yoke of rebellion for the sweet yoke of submission to your holy and loving word. Set me free from the folly of my own sinful ignorance and rebellious pride that I may wholly desire what is good and in accord with your will.”

[Excerpted from: http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/2019/dec11.htm
copyright (c) 2019 Servants of the Word, source:  http://www.dailyscripture.net, author Don Schwager ]
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, [2008-2019])

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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Without the Word we can do Nothing

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In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.   (John. 1:1-5)

My Fellow Pilgrims in Christ …

Our Absolute Need for the Word

I believe It is my continuing responsibility to remind you of the importance of maintaining our intimate personal relationship with Jesus during our spiritual journey here on earth. Since He, the WORD, is the source of Life we cannot grow in Life, including our spiritual life without growing closer in our personal relationship to HIM and to His WORD!

Brothers and Sisters, It must also be clear to you who have already come to know Him, that your relationship with Him cannot be maintained without persisting in letting the WORD of GOD enter in and abide in your Hearts to the point of yielding yourself totally to the WORD in your life so He can, not only guide you and Lead you, but so He can also conform into His image! Praised Be His Holy Name!

Since He is the WORD, and the WORD is  the ONLY source of His Spirit, it is clear that if we do not seek his Word to continuously renew us and provide us His guidance daily we will begin to lose our contact and fellowship with Him! Without fellowship with Him we can do nothing of any import spiritually.

Remember that He also told us that He is the Vine and we are the branches  and that if we disconnect ourselves from the Vine we cannot bear fruit … and will be subject  to be cut down and cast into the fire. (cf., John 15:1-5)

However, keep in mind, that He loves us and so it is His deepest desire for us to remain in constant fellowship with Himself – He will not do it by imposing Himself on us — He desires our Love and, Love, true Love, cannot be forced, True Love requires a free act of our will, a Loving resolution to be His and Be His forever! In this way, and only in this way, will all that we do be joined with Him so that all that we say or do or think becomes a manifestation of His Kingdom in this world!

The world system, under its satanic master, is set up to do anything to separate us from  the VINE , so that the satanic kingdom of darkness amy prevail. Beside being Christians, we are also sinners embedded in this world and the kingdom of darkness that controls it. As redeemed believers we have the Spirit of Christ in us to enable us to be envoys of the Kingdom of Light. Indeed, our calling  is to be instruments of His light in this world but we are not of this world. Therefore,the main intent of the enemy is to put our light out by attacking us through deceit and sin to prevent us from fulfilling our calling.

As God’s elect, our spiritual integrity is constantly at risk of being influenced by “the world, the flesh and the devil”. That is why it is all the more important that His Word remain in us in order to work in us continuously to keep us from being overwhelmed by the forces of darkness, who are constantly attempting to seduce us into a bondage that will keep us from fulfilling our divine calling to be instruments of God’s Love in this world’

In order to counteract the darkness that surrounds us It is essential that we depend more and more on His WORD to remain free from these ungodly influences and to persist in the Holy Faith with the resolution we need  to maintain our Love relationship with Him. Keep in mind, However, that in order to be fruitful in us, the WORD of God, must above all be INSPIRED by the Holy Spirit.That is , it must be activated in By Faith so that the inspiration contained in the WORD can reach our spirits and set us on fire spiritually. Without this inspiration the enemy can easily water down our beliefs and divert us to follow a lie.

For instance …

From the time of the so-called “enlightenment” historic period onward “humanistic” and “naturalistic” thinkers began to be very challenged by the “faith” elements of Christianity which pervaded western society. As atheists, they determined that the most effective way of discrediting and killing the faith of “believers” was to attack the “truth” of who Jesus Christ of Nazareth, really was, and thus eliminate Christianity as a social and moral force in the world today.

In their attempt to do this they set out to discredit the so-called religious “dogmatism” and scripture-based traditions on which our faith was based so that they could eliminate the “spiritual” element from our schools and social lives and draw us and our children into the darkness of an atheistic and secular humanist ideology.

Today there is a constant stream of literature attempting to “prove” or, at the very least, “show” that  Jesus was nothing more than an unassuming middle-eastern peasant; a charismatic, itinerant jewish preacher around which the myths an legends of Christianity were derived. To accomplish this they began various so-called “quests” to “discover” what they claimed was the real “Historical Jesus”.

These “quests” being no more than a cover to produce quasi-historical information that would negate the divinity of Jesus as the Christ and thus remove the the value of the scriptures and the Word of God, as a source of knowledge in determining the “reality’ of the identity of Jesus and His True Spiritual and eternal nature. Their intent being, to move all supposedly “thinking and rational” people to discard anything claiming to be supernatural or spiritual and, instead, base their social development on rational intellectualism, based on modern, and humanistic concepts. Thus bringing them closer and closer to their own humanistic and atheistic ideals.

One of the commentaries on the Gospel of John (by Mathew Henry) indicates somewhat why the Humanists are so eager on attacking the God-Given identity of Jesus as the WORD of God and the One who brings true “enlightenment” to the world:

Comments on John 1:1-5 The plainest reason why the Son of God is called the Word, seems to be, that as our words explain our minds to others, so was the Son of God sent in order to reveal his Father’s mind to the world. What the evangelist says of Christ proves that he is God. He asserts, His existence in the beginning; His coexistence with the Father. The Word was with God. All things were made by him, and not as an instrument. Without him was not any thing made that was made, from the highest angel to the meanest worm. This shows how well qualified he was for the work of our redemption and salvation. The light of reason, as well as the life of sense, is derived from him, and depends upon him. This eternal Word, this true Light shines, but the darkness comprehends it not. Let us pray without ceasing, that our eyes may be opened to behold this Light, that we may walk in it; and thus be made wise unto salvation, by faith in Jesus Christ.

This search by the secular humanists for “historic” truths are based on the  false premises, that in order to maintain “truth” in developing concepts of our belief about Historic and Religious Personalities, the results of all our investigations must be formed on the basis of the atheistic and naturalistic historicity surrounding that person.

Of course, the criteria for “historicity” comes from their own naturalistic philosophy. A philosophy which does not consider any so-called  “supernatural” events to be “historic”.  For instance, the history  surrounding Moses’ Passover liberation of the Jewish people from the Pharaoh of Egypt would not be considered by them to be historic unless some naturalistic explanation could be found to “explain” the miraculous events surrounding that period of history. To them these events represent only myths and legends about something that never happened – because according to them such events CANNOT happen. Yet the Jewish people and Israel exist to day as evidence that their do happen!

That is why, not only is the Word of God essential in fending off false prophets and their twisted theology, but it is of utmost importance in defending the purity and integrity of our souls as the enemy attack us in our soul, our moral integrity and our relationships with others of our faith, and especially our relationship with the Father of Jesus.

If we are to survive these attacks, God’s WORD must be to us…  A lamp to my feet, And a light to my path (Ps 119:105). If we receive the Word as merely intellectual or philosophical information it will not help us .  In order for the WORD to be effective as a spiritual weapon it must be inspired by  the Holy Spirit to truly spiritual. That is why we need to pray and meditate over the WORD we receive so that the Holy Spirit may empower the WORD and bring the Holy Fire it contains into our spirit.

The enemy we are facing are spiritual in nature, therefore if our weapon is the WORD it must be activated in us as a “spiritual” weapon and not as “the wisdom of man”.  As we progress on our path, we should always keep mind St. Paul’s exhortation to the Ephesians, that “.., our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the [spiritual] principalities, with the [spiritual] powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.” (Ephesians 6:12)

You Need Armor to Fight the Battle

And, as spiritual warriors we therefor need to “… put on the “spiritual” armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground.” (Eph.6:13)

Remember also that we have not only been given defensive arms but also the most effective offensive weapon against the spiritual enemies of God, namely the Sword of the Spirit, which is the WORD of God. (cf.,Eph. 6:17)

“For the word of God is living and active and full of power [making it operative, energizing, and effective]. It is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as the division of the soul and spirit [the completeness of a person], and of both joints and marrow [the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and judging the very thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12)

Therefore, as Paul also stated to the Corinthians …
“… since we have this ministry through the mercy shown us, we are not discouraged. Rather, we have renounced shameful, hidden things; not acting deceitfully or falsifying the word of God, but by the open declaration of the truth we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God”. (2 Cor. 4:1-2)

That is why brethren, it is so important as we engage the enemy, to keep ourselves pure and in a state of Grace, utilizing the Holy Sacraments the Church provides us (Reconciliation and Eucharist) to maintain our relationship with  the Father an thus be under His protective Providence.

Are you being Conformed to Christ's Image?

When we yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit and yield ourselves to Him, the work of conforming us to the image of His Son begins. In effect the Father sets us apart for His purposes that is, He “sanctifies” us to be molded into the image of His Son. Listen to Jesus’ Prayer to the Father for His disciples:

“14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 15 I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one.[e] 16 They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.” (John 17: 14-19)

If we are predetermined to be conformed  into His image (cf., Rom.: 8:28-29) then this prayer is also for those who respond to His call to Discipleship — those of us who are set apart through His WORD to be saints.

In conclusion …

… remember Paul’s word to Timothy as he encourages him how to continue in his calling to not only to proclaim the WORD but Living the WORD out as well!

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Tm 3:14-17)

I charge you (therefore) in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths. (2 Tm 4:1-4)

I leave you with this Prayer:

Father, in Jesus Mighty Name I pray that all who are touched by You with this instruction be filled with Your Holy Spirit to move forward boldly in the calling which you have given them and may you affirm the calling for those who are just in the process of receiving it!

May it be so in Jesus Name! Amen and Amen!

Your Brother  in Christ Jesus … Bartimaeus

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

Related Links

<> Sweet Yoke of Love

<> Husbands Love your Wives

<> Walking the Walk

<> Discerning the Spirit’s Call 

<>  Hearing God’s Voice and Obeying It

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The Making of a Disciple : An Overview

Return to Jerusalem

“If anyone 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 carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it?”  (Jn.14:26-28)

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

I think it is very important that we have a clear understanding of what it means to be a “Disciple of Jesus Christ”. It is important, because it is in God’s purpose that all believers in Christ be aware of and understand, His call to enter into a discipleship relationship in Jesus His Son.  In order to do so I believe that we must first understand what Jesus meant when He used the term “disciple”. I say this because if we really feel called to a true discipleship relationship with Jesus, that is where we have to start.

In general, the term “to be a disciple” meant and still means is to submit to being taught through a specific discipline. In Aramaic, it referred to the training/discipline you receive as an apprentice, where you learn by observing and doing what your master/teacher does.

What does it really mean to be a disciple of Jesus Christ?

All Christian believers are expected to be “disciples” in that our lives should model the Love that motivated Jesus in every respect.  If practiced according to New Testament scripture, it is not based on our effort to be good and loving, but the process whereby the Holy Spirit works in us to “conform us to the image of Christ” (Rom.8:29) so that our becoming is the result of His indwelling presence in us. It is a process that begins when we yoke ourselves to Christ so that He can do the Father’s works through us! But it requires a decision on our part, a decision beyond accepting the free gift of salvation in Jesus as savior.

Discipleship involves a Transformation

The Holy Spirit can only begin His work in us to conform us to the image of Christ, when we explicitly and freely yield to Him for that purpose. This decision involving the giving of ourselves for this purpose is very emphatically stated in Paul’s Letter to the Romans:

Seek the Spirtual Renewal of Our Minds

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

God uses our offering of ourselves, through LOVE, to mold us in to the image of Christ so that that point on in our lives, the Spirit of Jesus will be manifested in us and though us! This is what is meant when Paul states: “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Rom:8-29)

Now, we know from the Gospels that Jesus said He never did anything of His own will but according to the will of the Father, He also said that He only did what He saw the Father doing and said what the Father told Him to say. If he healed the sick and cast out demons, it was because He was accomplishing the Father’s purposes for Him in His ministry to others.

Discipleship Entails Carrying Our Cross Daily

So too, if we are being conformed to Jesus, the process will involve being His apprentices (disciples) and yielding ourselves fully to the Holy Spirit so He can work in us and through us in doing nothing but what the Father wants us to do in fulfilling His purposes for us. In doing so we have to follow Him in the Spirit, die to our own self-will, carrying our cross of self-denial daily in order to truly be a disciple of Jesus, in the way that Jesus used the term.

We enter this level of discipleship only when we willingly, out of Love, offer ourselves as a living sacrifice (Rom.12:1), emptying ourselves of our own self-will so that He may Increase in us as His Will is done through us! The purpose of a disciple, then, is not so much “bringing people to Christ” but rather “bringing Christ to people” by letting His Kingdom of Love manifest through our obedience to His Call.

Many are Called but Few are Chosen

I think we are all aware that in today’s world, we apply the term “disciple” or “discipleship” in a much looser framework. Many Christians use the term in alluding to their service in the church. We use this term to describe the time we give to ministry,   even when we are usually serving our own ambitions by doing religious work for Him rather than listening and doing what He really wants to do through us.

Others, like myself use the term “disciple” as a synonym to “believer” (although I have now, personally, relented from doing so). Even in the New testament, apart from Jesus’ declarations, we see the term used with a variety of connotations in reference to believers. For instance Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus are referred to as “disciples” in John’s Gospel, even though they did not actually  follow Jesus and did not declare themselves openly because “they were afraid of the Jews”.

I point this out because I just want to make it clear that the term “discipleship” that will be under discussion in this posting is with regard to what Jesus originally meant by the term, not what it later came to mean. The scripture quoted in the header is an example of what Jesus meant by a “disciple”.

The first hurdle we have to cross in coming to a clear understanding is that, while all disciples are believers, not all believers are disciples. A believer receives the free gift of salvation and reconciliation with the Father at the cost of Jesus’ giving of His life for us when he/she accepts Jesus as their personal Savior and repents of their sins in a sincere conversion and subsequent baptism. However, although the new believer also receives a calling to be a disciple of Christ as part of the graces at baptism, not all believers respond to the call to discipleship – essentially, to yield to the Holy Spirit to conform us to Christ and be yoked to Him so as to be His partners in bringing forth the Kingdom.

All believers are called to discipleship but not all, for a variety of reasons, respond to the call. The main reason being, that we are not taught clearly about what discipleship really entails and so we mainly follow traditional thinking that the call to discipleship is merely the call to full time ministry, which is not the case at all, it is a call to yield full control of our lives to Jesus so that HE may continue HIS service to humanity through us!

Discipleship is a Life Consecrated to Jesus

Besides receiving their calling as adopted sons of the Father,  all Christians are also called to be disciples. However accepting this call is left as a free choice to every believer.  To be a disciple is not compulsory to receiving salvation or adoption as children of God.

It is a free choice because it must be a decision that is made out of the deepest love for God.  A decision to yield oneself entirely to  Him so that He, and He alone, may  reign in us! A decision to give up our right to ourselves so that God Himself, through His Spirit, can work in us and through us to accomplish his purpose for us in this world!  And His purpose for us in this world is to bring His Kingdom into manifestation through His Love which he has poured into us by His Holy Spirit!  It is volunteering to be a worker in His Harvest regardless of the cost.

The purpose (or calling) of a disciple is to be a stand-in for Jesus and act in Jesus’ name and in His Spirit to continue Jesus’ ministry to the world – that is, to proclaim and LIVE the Good news of the Kingdom with signs following and to make disciples. This is called the Great Commission. It is the call for workers for the Harvest. But, contrary to popular opinion, it is not necessarily a call to full time ministry – one can fulfill this  calling as whatever state in life you currently are. The Spirit of Jesus in you will then lead you to where He wants you – and it may be in the very same state where you received your calling or He may tell you to go into full time ministry. But it must be His call not yours.

Most of our religious traditions emphasize that “the Great  Commission”  is for all Christians, presuming that all are Christians have accepted their call to discipleship.  In reality, however most Christians, don’t even realize that discipleship does not  automatically ensue from our baptism. Living in discipleship means accepting being Yoked to Christ so He can live in you and through you.

You cannot freely make that decision until you are fully aware of the cost of that decision in that you are surrendering control of your life and placing it in Jesus’ hands. It is a decision to walk by the spirit and not by the flesh. It is a decision to yield to the Holy Spirit to form us into the Image of Christ and empower us for His Service. It is a decision to be empowered by the Holy Spirit with ALL the Spiritual Gifts that are needed to accomplish the task we are assigned. We cannot just pick and choose those gifts we are comfortable with or exercise those gifts wherever we want – we have to follow the leading of the Spirit of God in  all that we say or do.  Everything we say or do must be the Father’s will and not our own.

It must be stated that many of our religious traditions do make the conditions for discipleship VERY clear to those who choose to be ordained or enter into the consecrated religious Life. However, there is need to also reach out to us lay people so that it is clearly understood that  a discipleship relationship with Jesus is available to ALL Christians not just the ordained, religious or ministerial staff.

And the entry point to this “unofficial” type of discipleship for lay people is through prayer. Not just the superficial type of supplication prayer most lay people are accustomed to but a spiritually intimate, contemplative, mode of prayer such as the “Lectio Divina” mentioned in a previous posting. Without an intimate prayer life, it would be extremely difficult to discern the Fathers directives for your life and His specific will for those to whom you are ministering. You need to Hear His Voice in order to Obey!

This type of discipleship may be entered wherever you are in your life – it begins with a sincere prayer of repentance and a re-dedication of your life from that point on to the Lord!  The Lord can use you as a disciple wherever you are. He can use you a as a husband and father, He can use you as a wife and mother, He can use you as a single person and as a student still in school!

He will lead you and guide you using the circumstances of your life, because He will be your partner in the circumstances of your life or, rather, you will be His partner as He works in you and through you!  But you have to let Him In! You have to ask to be YOKED to Him!  And you have to put the Word of God into action in your life and the lives of those around you, so that you too, like Jesus can say: “The Spirit of the Lord is Upon me , because he has appointed me to proclaim the Good News ..” (Luke 4:18 )   through the life you will then live in His Name!

This how you become Jesus’ apprentice – because that is what true discipleship entails!

Here are the major principles to remember:

<>  The Word of  God

— Jesus is the WORD so if you are to Live like Jesus you have to live out the Word in your  life!

— The study and meditation on God’s Word is the Foundation on which the Holy Spirit will build…

—  It must be an integral part of your life as a disciple – HIS WORD is a lamp unto our feet a light unto our path!

— The Word is the most powerful defense and offense we have against the powers of darkness,. It is the Sword of the Spirit that you will need to put off these forces that will come against you when you make your decision.

<>  Prayer

— Prayer is essential to discipleship – but it is only part of the process

— It is through Prayer that we explicitly yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit so that He may conform us to the image of Christ,

— It enables s a deep spirit-to-spirit dialogue with our Teacher to enable us to understand the WORD of  God, and the Father’s Will and His purposes for us so that we can be His instrument in bringing forth the   Kingdom through our lives.

— It provides us the spiritual basis and strength we need to persevere in the faith of our calling.

— It provides us the spiritual insight and empowerment we need to put the Word full into practice.

<>  Discipleship

— Discipleship is apprenticeship – and apprenticeship involves taking action in faith.

— Apprenticeship goes beyond merely learning the principles of the Kingdom and discerning the Fathers will…it is the living out of those principles in our lives so that the Kingdom will be made manifest through us as the Spirit leads;

–Acting on principles of the Kingdom of the Kingdom is not following a lot of religious rules or projects – it is an emptying out of ourselves so that God can fill us with His Spirit and work in us and through us;

— It is NOT us doing something for God BUT letting God do something through us.

–When we thus yield ourselves to the Spirit everything we do or say will always be within  the moral code established by God  because the Spirit of Jesus in us will  NEVER do something outside the Father’s will.

— If we do not put the principles of the kingdom into practice through the Spirit that is in us, we cannot bear fruit for the Kingdom and all our effort at growing spiritually will be for naught.

— If we attempt to take action to carry out the Kingdom  principles on our own we will utterly fail – for  our walk must be in the Spirit and not in the flesh.

<>  Spiritual Sustenance and Restoration

—  In order to sustain us as we “let His Kingdom Come” we also need Our “Daily Bread” – His Body and Blood as presented to us in Holy Communion. If possible,    received on a daily basis.

— As Jesus told His Disciples: – “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day;  or my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.” ( Jn. 6:53-56)

— And since we ought not partake unless we are in a repentant state (1 Cor. 11:23-27)), we also need the: graces offered in the Sacrament (ordinance) of Reconciliation.

<> The Challenge 

The Challenge, for those who sense the Lord is calling them and whose spirit has been incited by this article, is to come to the point of making a decision in faith and carrying out that decision in their lives. To that end the next article will deal with the specific items that we all face in stepping out into a discipleship relationship with Jesus, namely …

— Assessing the Cost

— Making the Decision (and  the commitment)

—  Living out our discipleship within the circumstances of our lives with humility, perseverance and faith.

In going forward only remember this… “Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things — and the things that are not — to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God — that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” (1Cor. 1:26-31)

Praised Be His Holy Name!!

May the Lord Bless you all and may His Spirit enable you to respond to His call!

Your brother and fellow pilgrim in Christ Jesus…. Bartimaeus

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

RELATED LINKS

•  Yielding to the Kingdom Anointing

•  Living In the Kingdom NOW!

• Overcoming the World

• Releasing the Spirit

• Praying In the Spirit

• Renewal of our Minds

• Hearing God’s Voice … and Obeying It!

• The Crucified Life

•  The Cost of Discipleship

• The Sweet Yoke of Love

• Husbands Love your Wives

Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit

The Double Portion Anointing

The Kingdom of God: Our Inheritance

• Awakening to the Father’s Love (Part 1)

• Awakening to the Father’s Love (Part 2)

St. Theresa: Regarding Prayer

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GoodShepherd

Jesus the Good Shepherd

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me — just as the Father knows me and I know the Father…” (John 10:14-15)

As astounding as it might appear, Jesus desires that we (His sheep) know him in the same way that the Father knows the Son and the Son knows the Father.  More astounding yet is how few of us know that this is the level of deep relationship to which we, as Christians, are called.

All who call themselves Christians have received and believed the “Good News” that the Eternal Holy One, who created us, loves us so much that He sent His only Son to die for us that we might come into a relationship with Him as “Our Father”. What we sometimes have a hard time understanding and experiencing is that He also wants that relationship to be one that involves more than just believing that he is our Father but actually coming to such a personal relationship with Him that we actually “KNOW” Him as  Father.

Because of His transcendence, the person of God is by definition unknowable by us in our human state.  For this reason, God in demonstrating His magnificent love for us became flesh in the person of His Son so that through Jesus we might obtain the unachievable, namely a knowledge of Himself  through a relationship with His Son.

Once when challenged by the Pharisees as to His Father, Jesus answered, “…if you had known me you would have known my Father” (John 8:19)

Sincerely believing in Christ brings us to eternal life; knowing Him transforms us  through the concomitant personal self-denying relationship with Him. All this is not due to our efforts; it is accomplished by God’s grace – by the enabling power of the Holy Spirit moving in us through conversion and prayer. This is the essence and foundation for discipleship because it is only through such a sincere giving of ourselves in a loving relationship with Jesus that the Holy Spirit can mold us into the image of Christ to continue the works of Christ here on this Earth. All that is required is for us to unreservedly give ourselves over to Him.

Unfortunately not many of us expect to enter into such intimacy of relationship mainly because we never bridge the gap between ‘believing” and “knowing”. One of the main reasons is that our faith has not taken us beyond the intellectual confidence in what we believe to the next step which is an experiential “knowledge” of the person of Jesus through a living and personal relationship with Him through prayer.

Even Jesus’ disciples had trouble understanding that relationship with the Master was the doorway to a relationship with His Father. Phillip was speaking for the twelve when he asked Jesus to show them the Father. Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how do you say, Show us the Father?” (John 14: 8-9) [emphasis mine].

He told them however that He would soon be leaving this world but that he would not leave them (or us) as orphans and that He would come to them by revealing himself to them in a new way – a way through which they would “know” He was in the Father and they in Him.  By this He was telling them that the relationship he wanted with them (and us through their testimony) was a relationship of such depth and intimacy that it would be like they were part of His person and He part of their persons in the same way as the abiding relationship He had with His Father! Now that is intimacy!

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.  After a little while the world will behold Me no more; but you will behold Me; because I live, you shall live also.  In that day you shall know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” (John 14: 19-20) [emphasis mine; notice the use of the  word “know” not just “believe”]

This new way of experiencing Jesus was not evident to Judas (not Judas Iscariot) who then asked how it is that He would reveal Himself to them but not to the world. Jesus indicated that the world would not be able to receive this revelation because it involved a love-derived obedience, which only those who believe in Him would receive.

If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. (John 14:22-23) [emphasis mine]

Now here comes the hard part.  Many of us, including myself, tend to judge that relationship with Jesus and the Father by the depth of our devotional life However, John in His first epistle asks his readers to really test the effectiveness of that relationship to determine if they really KNOW the Father through the Son. That test goes beyond the devotional life of an individual.  It should not surprise us that the test is how well we express God’s Love through our daily lives. Listen to what John is saying:

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. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him. (1 John 2:3-11) [emphasis mine]

This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence (1 John 3:19)

Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us. (1John 3:24)

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1John 4:8)

We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. (1John 4:13)

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. (1John 4:16)

This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. (1John 5:2)

After our initial conversion, our devotional life is important because it is through  the intimacy of prayer that we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to bring the Father’s Kingdom of Love into this world. But if we do not act on the Love that the Holy Spirit infuses in us through the Word and prayer, we cannot bear fruit. And the tree that does not bear fruit is cut down[1]. The ultimate test of the effectiveness of God’s abiding presence in us is the fruit of love that we bear by being channels of His Love (John 15:1-8)[2].

Another hard fact we have to bear is that when we sin, and we all do, we break this fellowship, this intimacy of love, we have with the Father and the Son.  In fact, if we are truly in relationship with Him we feel this loss at once in our consciences and our souls are saddened with guilt and shame.  Everything in us calls out to be restored to fellowship with the Lord.   John also addresses this problem in his epistle. With respect to getting right with God he says:

“We write this to make our joy complete. This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 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. 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.” (1 John 1:4- 2:2)

The good news for us is that not only has God the Father provided for the forgiveness of our sins after our initial conversion through confession and the continuing application of Jesus’ atonement, as indicated above, but He has also provided for reconciliation, the restoration of the intimate fellowship with Himself through the person of His Son.  I believe that, after repentance and confession, the Lord may move in us to this restoration in many ways, sometimes though the reconciliation in our personal relationships, sometimes through the pastoral care we receive in our churches, and sometimes through the counsel of the Holy Spirit in our devotional life. Whatever the case, our loving Father, looking at the sincerity of our repentance will always lead us to the place where the reconciliation with Him, already secured by the blood of Jesus, can be affirmed in us through faith.

In my reflections on His Word I have also come to believe that the main means He established for this spiritual restoration was through the ordinance of Holy Communion.  It is through this ordinance that Jesus told us that we are restored to the intimacy of His Abiding Presence in us.

‘Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.

Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.” He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” (John 6:53-60)

And it is indeed, to some of us, a hard teaching, even today. However, I urge you not to reject it out of hand. Rather, in your personal fellowship time ask the Lord Himself as to what He meant by His own words. After all we have already heard that “… We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands” and certainly this is one of His commands!

It is important that you hear it from Jesus directly so that you “know” in your heart the truth of His Words – not as something that you may question as coming from the traditions of man but as from the Word of God quickened in your hearts by the Holy Spirit!  It is a Word you need to act on in faith – and acting on this Word in faith will bring results!  I can attest to that!

One of my most memorable transforming experiences occurred on the last day of the spiritual retreat where I surrendered my life to Jesus and asked to be baptized in the Holy Spirit (May 10, 1975). This memorable event occurred as I participated in Holy Communion with my co-retreatants and His Words about His Flesh and His Blood resounded in my mind and in my spirit.

This worship and communion service was like none other I had ever experienced. Not because there was any significant external difference in the proceedings but because with my just-renewed spirit I was open to God’s Spirit, His Word, and His Presence in the worshipping community and in the reception of the communion elements (The Body and Blood of Jesus).

As a cradle liturgical Christian I was no stranger to the communion table. But what made this service so special was that I not only did I sense the stirring of God’s Spirit in me but I actually experienced “Holy Communion” itself.  In my renewed spirit I sensed that I was indeed in union not only with the Lord Himself but also with all those present as they their hearts in praise and worship before the Throne of Glory. Above all was the deep communion I sensed with the Spirit of Jesus as I, in faith, received the elements of bread and wine as His Body and His Blood!

It was a communion experience that lifted my spirit to a point that I thought I was indeed in heaven and before the Holy Presence.  From that point on in my life participation in the Eucharistic Ordinance changed from one of an obligatory and rote participation in what had become, for me, an overly familiar ritual to an opportunity to encounter Jesus anew, to renew and strengthen the presence of His Spirit within me, and to re-dedicate myself to truly serve others in His Name and with His Spirit.

It was an Emmaus experience[3] that I was graced with that day. For like those two disciples, it was in the breaking of the Bread that I became aware of His Presence in my life. An awareness that remains to this very day, as my heart burns within me every time I meditate on His Word.

It was the opening of a door to my spiritual journey into intimacy with the Lord. A journey where I would find out just how sinful and weak a person I really was, but with the consolation that my Redeemer was at my side, conversing with me, forgiving me, lifting me after every fall, covering me with His compassion and love; a journey where I learned from every experience (however good or bad) how to walk closer and closer to the Lord.  The Holy Spirit teaching and strengthening me as I stumbled on!  It is a journey I do not hope to complete in this life – a journey that will continue on to the next life – in His Presence!  Praised Be His Holy Name!

My usual meditation upon receiving the sacred elements is as follows:

Lord Jesus I thank you for giving yourself to us in this manner;

For opening the door to Abiding  Intimacy with You and the Father,

For being broken  for my wholeness and shedding your blood in a sacrificial death

so that I, in turn,  might become truly alive in You.

In receiving the Bread of Life I receive wholeness from Your brokenness.

And I dedicate this wholeness of body, soul, and spirit to you, Lord, so that through this gift

I may truly be an able servant to all to whom you have given me to serve..

In receiving Your Precious Blood Lord, I receive Your Spirit,

so that Your Life may permeate my being entirely – body, soul, and spirit,

so that everything  I say and do and think emanates from your presence within me.

O Lord, as I receive You, abide in me, Be my Lord, be my King, and be my God

so that I may truly serve others in Your Name, and for Your Glory.

May this be so, In Your holy Name!  Amen!

Your Brother In Christ … Bartimeaus

Recommended Link:

https://quietplace4prayer.wordpress.com/2009/09/06/jesus-the-source-of-living-water-and-us/

© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-20019].


[1] It is not my intent to imply by this statement that our salvation depends on our works but that our ability to be God’s instruments in this world is greatly impeded when we do not act on the personally activated Word of God (rhema) that has been placed in our hearts. (see Matt 7:19)[2] See John 15:1-8

[3] Luke 24:30-32

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