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About 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

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

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

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

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

“…. 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, [2008-2018])

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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<> About Coming to Spiritual Awareness

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going. ”Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?               (John 14: 1-9)

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Eat my flesh … Drink my Blood

My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Jesus also says to us, who have received Christ through Baptism…“Have I been with you all this time,… and you still do not know me?” … are you still not aware of my presence amongst you?

Being sensitive to the Spirit of God is very important to us as Christians if we are to fulfill The Father’s purposes for us in our lives. Now, it is true that Jesus told His disciples that, after He left, He would send them another “helper” (the Holy Spirit) that would teach them and lead them as they went about carrying out their mission. In accord with this Word, we, as repentant and baptized Christians, can be sure that the Holy Spirit is with us as we live out our Lives in Christ.

However, unless we activate the Holy Spirit that is in us to hear the Good Shepherd, most of the time we are operating in a very insensitive way to the Holy Spirit’s leadings for our lives. Because of this, we are every easily deceived by the enemy and fall into his traps, thereby forestalling the Spirt’s ability to work out the Father’s purposes for our lives. For this reason it is essential for all of us to come to a more intimate and personal encounter with Our Shepherd and learn to hear His Voice, so that when we yield ourselves to Him as one of His sheep we hear HIS VOICE in order to follow Him – and not the world or the evil one.

There are several reasons we have problems in hearing His voice. The first being that we must have “spiritual ears” in order to hear what He is trying to tell us in “the spirit” through “faith”. Remember that Jesus told us that “True” Faith comes by (spiritual) hearing and (spiritual) hearing comes by the spoken and anointed Word of God (cf.,Rom. 10:17). Of course if we can’t discern what is “spiritual” from what is not, we have a problem.

In attempting to discern the “spiritual” from the “natural”, remember that scripture also tells us that the Word of God is a “double edged sword” that helps us to do just that (cf., Heb. 4:12). So then, our starting point to activate our “spiritual” awareness must always be an “anointed” Word of God that activates our spiritual sensitivity, not our own initiative. For as scripture also says “flesh can only beget flesh” but it takes “Spirit to beget spirit” (cf.,John 3:6).

<>Regarding Nicodemus and Coming to “Spiritual” Awareness

An example of how the Spirit leads us to open ourselves to the leadings of the Spirit is found in the Gospel of John, (Chapter 3) where we are given the story of Nicodemus, a member of the Sanhedrin who was being drawn to Jesus by what he heard of Him and the works He was performing. In order to avoid criticism he came to Jesus by night to try to discern how this carpenter from Nazareth was preaching,teaching, and performing works of healing and deliverance that could only be so if the Almighty was working through him.

Of course, the Holy Spirit was working in Nicodemus to move him to find Jesus. What the Spirit probably used to engage Nicodemus was His understanding of the scriptures and how the Divine manifested Himself through the prophets. But beyond that. he probably wondered how could a lay person with no formal religious training be empowered by God to perform such wonders. Wonders that were obvious signs of God’s Kingdom. Could this man possibly be the promised Messiah?

Upon confronting Jesus he asks: “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” (cf., John 3:1-2)
Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above”. (John 3:3)

Nicodemus, then said to him, “How can this be! Can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born again?” (John 3:4)

Reacting to his astonishment Jesus tries to tell him that his seeking him was due to a flashing awareness of the Kingdom, but it was given as just the beginning of what God wanted to work in him. What Jesus wanted him to understand that his sensitivity flash was just a sign that the Father is also inviting him to go beyond spiritual awareness and, as a disciple, enter into a permanent relationship with the Father and His Kingdom.

Jesus, then, in order to explain entry into the Kingdom entailed, said to him …
“ ‘Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter His kingdom without being born of [both] water and Spirit. [for] What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit’ ”. (John 3:5-6)

Jesus wanted Nicodemus to understand that  those who have been re-born spiritually are continuously sensitive to the Spirit, telling him …”The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (cf., John 3:7-9)

Again Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?”

<> What About Us Today …

In my case, I was just like Nicodemus, religious and Intellectually curious, but insensitive to the Spirit. Although I am a cradle Catholic Christian and was familiar with the Bible (including the Nicodemus story) I also asked myself, “how can this be?”.

I truly had never experienced the “wind of the Spirit” in my life, that is, until I met a Catholic Charismatic priest who proclaimed to me the anointed Word of Salvation and How to release the Spirit of God that was in me. Because of him and the Word he preached, I joined a Catholic Charismatic Prayer Group and received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit at one of their meetings.

The Spirit’s active presence in my life changed my life and my personal relationship with Jesus forever! It was only then, that the following Words of St.Peter were validated in my Life…

“Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have […been infused with God’s] genuine mutual [all encompassing agape] love, [thus] love one another deeply from the heart. [Understanding from this type of Love that] You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring Word of God.” (1 Peter 1:22-23)

<> Pause and Pray ….

If the Holy Spirit is nudging you to enter into the Kingdom of His Love right now, I recommend that you click on the following link to a prayer that could satisfy your spiritual desire to release the Spirit of Love in your life as well! … # A Prayer to Release the Holy Spirit

Brethren, regardless of what you may be thinking in your mind, I encourage you to turn to your spirit (in your heart) and seek for His Kingdom of Love to be infused in you, then true discipleship will follow and the Wonder of His Love will manifest itself in you and through you! May All Glory and Honor Be His! In Jesus Mighty in Name! Amen and Amen!

Your Brother in Christ Jesus … Bartimaeus
Praised Be His Holy Name!

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

<> Recommended Articles for Aspiring Disciples:
Hearing and Obeying God’s Voice
Cast your Net on the Other Side 

Sweet Yoke of Love
Enter in by the Narrow Gate
Walking the Walk
Reflections on the Beatitudes (Part 1)
Reflections on the Beatitudes (Part 2)
Reflections on the Beatitudes (Part 3)
Reflections on the Beatitudes (Part 4)

 

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Living The Crucified Life After Celebrating Jesus’ Resurrection

“Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor. “  (John 12:23-26)

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As we enter the Pascal Season of Christ’s victory over sin and death, let us also keep in remembrance of Jesus’ passion, crucifixion, and resurrection so that we can learn to live “crucified life ” of a  disciple.  Remembering that we can only live as a disciple if we maintain our focus on Jesus and our need to bear the cross daily!

One of the problems some of us Christians have in observing Lent is that sometimes we place an excessive focus on our sinfulness – leading to an unhealthy and self-centered state of introspection and guilt. Yes, Jesus suffered and died for our sins, but our meditation during lent should not be focused on our sins or our hypocritical attempts to be holy.  Rather, we MUST focus on Jesus and  what He did for us in cleansing us of our sins and gaining the Victory Of God’s Love through His Passion, Crucifixion and  Resurrection.

We need to be like Mary of Bethany (and Magdala) who, realizing the magnificence of Jesus’ forgiveness, “… took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” (Jn 12:3).  We need to magnify the Glory of God for His extravagant Mercy and Forgiveness provided through the Blood of His Son on the  Cross of calvary. And, we must glorify Jesus for giving totally of Himself in Love, subservient to the Father’s will so that The Love of the Father might be manifested for the entire universe to see.

It is all about HIM and any attempt to bring ourselves into the picture, is not only disrespectful but detracts from the Glory that belongs to Him and Him alone! Praised be His Holy Name!

The lenten experience is presented to us as a means of identifying ourselves with Jesus and His Love in a way that we come to a deeper level of understanding the Love of the Father for us and the incredible generosity of His Grace in sacrificing Himself (through His Son) to atone for all the sins of mankind from Adam to the end of time. The victory that Jesus won was completed on the Cross when He said “it is finished”, meaning, the work of redemption of humankind was completed at His death on the Cross. In eternity, before God, every sin was paid for and all humankind has been reconciled to the Father through the Blood of the Lamb!  There is nothing left for us to do but receive this Gift through Faith!

The only problem is that the world doesn’t understand an act of Love such as this.  And, not understanding, many reject this Gift of Eternal Life and Reconciliation with God, thinking instead that it is only through our own merits and suffering that full atonement for our sins can be realized. But the Grace of God and His Love will not be frustrated by mankind’s blindness, rather His magnificent Love desires that those who receive the Blessing of Salvation carry on the Ministry of Christ so that all Humanity has the opportunity to hear and receive the Good News of the Kingdom of His Love!

That is where we come in. As born-again brethren of Jesus, we are called to be the envoys of this message of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18) and in order to be His personal envoys the Father places the Holy Spirit within us to conform us to the Image of His Son (Rom. 8:29) so that He may empower us just as he empowered His Son!

“…. Who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began”.  (2 Timothy 1:9)

Our calling as disciples is to be conformed to His Image in such an intimate and complete manner that He can Live through us right now here in this world to bring forth the Father’s Kingdom of Love. For it is the Father’s intent that Jesus be the firstborn of many brethren (Rom. 8:29) so that as His Body Here on earth we can continue His Ministry to the world until He comes again!

Just as Jesus Himself was taken to the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to be tested and prepared for His calling, so, we too need to be prepared in the “wilderness” to enter into our calling as Jesus’ disciples and envoys of His Love,

In our own “wilderness” experience the Holy Spirit separates us from the enticements of the flesh and the world to so that we may yield ourselves to Him so that He can move in us to conform us to the image of the Son and prepare us to identify with Him on the Cross of Calvary. For we cannot follow him as disciples without coming to the point where we crucify the flesh so that the life if Christ that is in us may be made manifest through us in our lives. For it is only in entering into the Crucified Life that Christ can Live through us. It must be so for us just as it was for the Apostle Paul who said, “I am crucified with Christ, therefore it is no longer I who lives but Christ who lives in me.” (Gal 2:20)

Return to Jerusalem

Brethren, since we are being called to discipleship, it is incumbent on us we that we not limit our wilderness experience to a purely symbolic liturgical forty days of lent. No, we must enter a real, though vicarious, wilderness experience that must be the entry point of a life lived In Christ, For Christ and Through Christ until we can complete the divine mission to which we also have been called and to which we can also come to the point where we can say with Christ, “it is finished”.

The only manner we may enter into the Crucified Life is if we totally yield ourselves to the Spirit of Christ in us so that He and He alone is King and ruler over our lives. And that my brothers and sisters brings up my subsidiary topic, that is, that  the main reason most of us have not been able to fulfill our calling in this world is because we have let ourselves be conformed to the world rather than to Christ (Rom. 12:2).

Yes, if we are Christians at all, we accept Jesus as Our Savior who has atoned for our sins, but yet, in responding to faith for salvation, we nonetheless insist on retaining control of our lives and doing things our way – we dedicate our self-willed religious works to God rather than yielding to the Holy Spirit and letting God work His Will through us For His Glory!

Yes, because of His Great gift of salvation we are destined for heaven, but because we have not fully surrendered to Him, we constrain what God can do through us in this world so that His Will and His Kingdom may be accomplished (cf., Matt. 6:10; Luke 11:2).

Unfortunately, brethren, one of the reasons we are in such a sad state is that our cultural conditioning has structured our thinking and expectations that tell us that discipleship is not for the laity and that the only role of the laity is to “Pray, Pay, and Obey”.  This conditioning boxes us in us into ” religious classes”, each with its own expectation of fulfillment. A concept far from what St. Paul taught, that each of us is a living stone in the temple of God with each of us being of equal importance to the fulfillment of God’s Kingdom in this world (cf.,1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19; 12:7-31).

Just as Jesus refused to be boxed in by the cultural expectation that he was only a “carpenter” let us also breakaway from the concept that we are only “laity”. We need to recognize that we, each of us, constitute the body of Christ and each of us is called to specifically manifest the person of Christ in whatever role or profession we may be involved in this world. The distinguishing mark of a disciple is that we love as Jesus loves (Jn 13:34-35). Only the Holy Spirit working in us can accomplish this – for it is not our work but His. This the essence and purpose for the Crucified Life.

This Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday). my friends, is the appropriate opportunity to dedicate ourselves to each other and to the Crucified LIfe in Jesus. It was at the Last Supper that the Lord Jesus offered Himself to the Father and to the Church – He, of course , carried out that dedication at Gethsemane but it was at the Supper with His Disciples that He offered Himself as the Passover Lamb:

“Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me. And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.  (Luke 22:19-20)

The motive for our dedication should be that, each day, there should be less of us and more of Him so that in our yielding ourselves as a Living Sacrifice to the Father, we might Glorify Jesus in accord with St. Paul’s exhortation:

“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)

Remembering that the carrying out of this dedication is by faith. We act on that faith by submitting ourselves to the renewal of our minds through obedience to His Word as inspired by The Holy Spirit, letting His Spirit Guide you in all matters considering also the following exhortation:

“For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you …; for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God,  who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.” (2 Timothy 1:6-9)

In conclusion my fellow pilgrims keep in mind the prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas:

“Give me, O Lord, a steadfast heart which no unworthy thought can drag downwards; an unconquered heart which no tribulation can wear out; an upright heart which no unworthy purpose may tempt aside.  Bestow upon me also, O Lord my God, understanding to know you, diligence to seek you, wisdom to find you, and a faithfulness that may finally embrace you; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.”  (Prayer of Thomas Aquinas)

Your Brother in Christ … Bartimaeus

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Note:  Aside from Jesus Himself, there are many saintly souls in the church who we can model ourselves to in living a crucified life. To name a few: St, Francis of Assisi, St. Ignatius Loyola, and St. Therese of Lisieux (etc.), however, I, personally, have taken to a humble monk named Brother Lawrence, because  he exemplified to me how you can take any basic work or office for making a living, such as kitchen work, and  use that as your entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven by living out the Crucified Life within its limited constraints.

The Booklet about Brother Lawrence’s spirituality,  The Practice of the Presence of God. was compiled by Father Joseph de Beaufort, later vicar general to the Archbishop of Paris, after Brother Lawrence died. It became popular among Catholics and Protestants alike, with John Wesley and A.W. Tozer recommending it to others.

To find our more about Brother Lawrence’s biography see:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brother_Lawrence

The Booklet may be obtained at the official “Presence of God” web site:

http://www.practicegodspresence.com/

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

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True Worship must be from our Hearts
The Lord Desires We Worship from Our Hearts – Not Just Rote Observance of Tradition

Disciple Praying

Deep Prayer

“Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.”
He answered them, “And why do you transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him surely die.’ But you say, ‘If any one tells his father or his mother, What you would have gained from me is given to God, he need not honor his father.’ So, for the sake of your tradition, you have made void the word of God. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said:
‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’ (Matt:15:1-9)

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Note that Jesus, here, is criticized as not being a true rabbinical leader by the Pharisees for deviating from Jewish religious tradition. Jesus response to His critics telling them that following the precepts of God in faith and sincerity supersedes any human ritualistic traditions when it involves our relationship with the Divine. He pointed out to them that true worship of the Divine must be based on a heart-to-heart relationship with the Father and not just rote following of human religious tradition.

When we are baptized into Christ as children we have His Spirit in us. However, it is necessary for our parents and the Church to catechize (teach) us and guide us to  our spiritual empowerment at  Confirmation thus activating His Spirit in us so that the awareness of the the spiritual becomes a part of our life experience. It is through this awareness that your faith becomes more effective in living our lives in harmony with the Father’s will.

Without this awareness, our participation in the practices of the Church become merely routine observance of human tradition and custom, and thus deadening us to the spiritual connection His people should have with the Divine.

That is what happened to many in Israel, not only is Jesus’ time, but also in Isaiah’s time and that is why Jesus quotes Isaiah when he tells them … ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’ (Matt:15:9)

In attempting to understand the citation above, let us review its context…

In the Old Testament, it was revealed to Isaiah that a time would come when the nations around Ariel (Jerusalem) would surround her and lay siege to to her and that the Lord would come at that time to defend her and bring defeat to her enemies. But although the vision of His protection and been given them trough the Word and Vision He provided, the spirits of those charged with making the vision known were as in a deep sleep, so that they were unaware of the vindication the Lord had planned for Ariel in their time of trouble.

Isaiah recorded what God told him about the situation in this way … “For the Lord has poured out upon you a spirit of deep sleep, and has closed your eyes, the prophets, and covered your heads, the seers.… the vision of all this has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed. When men give it to one who can read, saying, “Read this,” he says, “I cannot, for it is sealed.”  And when they give the book to one who cannot read, saying, “Read this,” he says, “I cannot read.” (Is. 29: 10-12)

In the next verse, Isaiah then records God’s explanation for the cause of their loss of spiritual awareness (inability to access the spiritual guidance provided) as follows… “And the Lord said, [this is happening] … “Because this people draw near (me) with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear (reverence, including worship) of me is [merely done as a response to] a commandment of men learned by rote …

… so [because of this] I will again do amazing things with this people, shocking and amazing.The wisdom of their wise shall perish, and the discernment [awareness] of the discerning shall be hidden.”  (Isaiah 29:13-4, Revised Standard Version)

Thus, in John’s Gospel, when the Samaritan woman met Jesus at the well and tried to divert Him from scrutinizing her morals, she told him …

Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.” (John 4: 20)

In response to her use of the the term “worship” … Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:21-24)

Jesus used the occasion to attempt to clarify to her (and to us) that true worship emanates from a true relationship with God, for the word “know” indicates that we “intimately know” “in spirit” the one whom we worship. And, that the true worship that God desires is for those who worship Him to do so out of a true spiritual knowledge of Him and who He Is in His Person.

So now let us understand what the Word says about what God desires of us in order that we may truly worship Him in “Spirit” and in “Truth”.

Let us begin by considering that Jesus tells us through the WORD, that, “ I am the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE; no one can come to the Father but by Me” (John 14:6). It follows then, that if we are to truly come before the Father to worship Him, we can only do that through the Spirit of Christ and The Revealed Truth of His Word.

The only way then, that we can approach the Father to Worship is through the active purity of the spirit of Jesus in us.

The “Way” is Being in The Spirit…

As scripture tells us the Spirit of “Christ in us the Hope of Glory” (Col 1:27) is the WAY to the Father. And since flesh cannot beget spirit” our spirit life must be begotten by the Holy Spirit before we can even “walk in the spirit” much less worship in the spirit”.

Just as Jesus told Nicodemus when he came to Him at night… “you came because the Holy Spirit incited your spiritual awareness of the ‘Kingdom’ but in order to make your spiritual awareness permanent your spirit must be activated by being “reborn of Water and the Spirit” (see John chapter 3).

So, the Way into the Spiritual temple where true worship begins when “by One Spirit you are baptized into Christ” (Gal. 3:27). Here we repent of our sins, accepting Jesus and His sacrifice for our sins, being purified by water at the entrance to His Tabernacle in our hearts. This purification is necessary as explained by this excerpt from Psalm 24 …

3 Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
 And who shall stand in his holy place?
 4 Those who have clean hands and pure hearts,
 who do not lift up their souls to what is false,
   and do not swear deceitfully.
5 They will receive blessing from the Lord,
  and vindication from the God of their salvation.
6 Such is the company of those who seek him,
  who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah

And then, in the Book Of Hebrews in the New Covenant we believers are told that through our faith in Jesus and His Sacrifice we are purified and sanctified to come before the throne to Worship for He has indeed prepared the Way for us to enter into Worship!

For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.  And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us, for after saying…and I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”(Heb. 10:14, 17)

It must also be understood thet being Truly in the Spirit requires that we must also be in the Truth, that is,  in embedded in Divine Love (agape Love), for our God is Love …

“Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Heb. 10: 19-25)

Our Responsibility is maintaining our fellowship in His Life… (I John 1)

Once we have entered into the awareness of His Spirit in us and have experienced true worship in His Spirit, we, as His Children are given the responsibility of maintaining our fellowship with Him by acting as channels of His Love and Fellowship to our Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus. By giving our selves to Love we bring Him the Glory that is His; this then, is the continuation of the True Spirit of Worship in us! Praised be His Holy Name!

In the first chapter of his first letter, the Apostle John expresses this sentiment perfectly…  (read 1 John 1 in it entirety)

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;
That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.”

John tells his readers that what he is sharing to them what the disciples saw heard from Jesus because he wants his readers to understand the Light of His Love and Joy that God has them in their fellowship with Christ, and that he desires that his readers understand and experience that same Joy in their lives. He further informs them, that in maintaining that fellowship of Love with one another the Blood of Jesus will continue to cleanse us from all sin so that so that we may maintain our fellowship with the Father bringing Him the Glory which is His.

“And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin.”

Because of this John also tells us that we do not need to hide from our sins but rather readily confess them before Christ in order to let the Blood Of Christ continue His work of cleansing throughout our lives.

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

“And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he is revealed we may have confidence and not be put to shame before him at his coming. If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who does right has been born of him.” (1 John 2 28-29)

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In trying to understand how to open our hearts to God in Worship hear how David prayed from his heart to God regarding how he opened his heart, while in dire distress, contending with the accusations of men as to his faith in God.

ascending-temple“My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.  When shall I come and behold the face of God?  My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me continually, “Where is your God?” These things I remember, as I pour out my soul:  how I went with the throng, and led them in procession to the house of God, with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival.” (Ps. 42:2-4)

In his human weakness listen to how he asked for the Spirit of God to lead Him before the altar to worship …

“Oh send out your light and your truth; let them lead me, let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling! Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy;  and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God.” (Ps. 43:3-4)

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Thus my brethren, I share this with you that your joy may be in your fellowship with the Divine so that your True Worship may not falter and that His Blessings be continually on you and your loved ones.  Amen and Amen!
Your Brother In Christ … Bartimaeus

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

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The Empowerment Gifts (Part 1)
The Empowerment Gifts (Part 2)

Building our Spiritual Life on the Rock

 

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Being Conformed into Christ’s Image —  is how we come to Spiritual Maturity in our Walk with Christ

scroll2“Now before faith came, we were confined under the law, kept under restraint until faith should be revealed. So that the law was our custodian until Christ came, that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a custodian; for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” (Gal. 3:23-29)

“And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “abba! Father! (Gal. 4:6)

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

“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” (Rom. 8:29)

My Dear Brothers and sisters in Christ,

The Apostle Paul, in writing to the Galatian community begins with the statement indicating that, “ … in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God”, yet in the next part of his letter he indicates he is perplexed by their current behavior and that because of that behavior they indicate to him that, although sons, they are not yet fully formed into Christ. So much so that he is still in travailing prayer for them – for they are essentially still in the womb as far as understanding the graces, freedom and responsibility we have in Christ Jesus.

About the Transformation Process

This problem of a delay in maturing in Christ is still with us today. I know because was just like the Galatians. I was a baptized, confirmed and a compliant cradle Christian. But like the Galatians, was still in the spiritual womb of “mother” Church. I had not yet awakened to who I, as a person, was in Jesus Christ and had not yet come out of the womb crying “daddy” or “abba” to my Father in Heaven. And, I had not yet met with my brother, Jesus, although I knew about Him. I also did not know that it was the Father’s purpose in conceiving me in Christ to conform me into His image! It was just beyond my imagination!

Are you being Conformed to Christ's Image?

Are you being Conformed to Christ’s Image?

I now, by His Grace, understand it is the Father’s clearly stated purpose that all those who are baptized into Christ be conformed to the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29). I now believe, in consequence, that our maturity in Christ and subsequent spiritual growth also needs be assessed in accordance to the progress we are making, after submitting our will to His, and in cooperating with His Transforming Spirit in us.

It should be expressly noted that our transformation is the work of the Holy Spirit in us – as Jesus says, “It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (John 6:63). Our only contribution to God’s work in us and through us is our cooperation, in faith, for He will not violate our free will. The Father always gives us the opportunity to yield ourselves to His will and purpose before He initiates any creative work of the Spirit in us.

Listen to how the Virgin Mary responded to the Angel Gabriel when told that she had been selected to conceive and bear a son by the Holy Spirit – a son that was to be the Father’s anointed Messiah, not only for Israel but also for the all humankind!

”And Mary said, Behold, the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1: 38)

That, my brothers and sisters is the manner in which He expects us to respond when the Good News of salvation is presented to us. The Good News that the Father not only wishes to save us but that He also wishes to birth His Son in us and conform us to His image us so that He might be the firstborn of many brethren. (Rom. 8:29)

Yes, the appropriate response, is an act of our will, inspired by faith, to repent, believe, and to open the door to our heart to His Person as Our Lord and Savior saying to Him, “Lord save me, let your Spirit, be born in me … be it done to me according to your Word”. It is only such a response that will bring us to a true spiritual birth in Jesus and subsequent transformation into His Image. Praised be His Holy Name!

With this said, let us, then, discuss this transforming process for this Conformation. For, indeed, it is through that process which we have initiated with our declaration whereby we begin to grow in spiritual maturity by the power of the Holy Spirit in us.

We are all aware of the demarcation points in our physical lives in this world, namely, our birth, our entering school, our graduations, our military service (if any), our wedding day, the birth of our children, our profession, etc. . As important as these events in our earthly lives are in indicating our maturity and progress in our earthly lives, we need to ask ourselves: what are the similar key events in our religious/spiritual lives and what is their value to us in assessing our growth and maturity in living for God?

Of course, our first attempt at listing these stages in our religious lives these events could possibly be like this: our birth, our baptism and confirmation, our first communion, our marriage, our ordination, our entry into service to the church, etc.

Today I am proposing that we take a distinct and more mystical view at assessing our progress in the spiritual life. I am thinking that maybe we should look at the metaphors used in the New Testament used by Jesus and the writers of the New Testament as a more spiritual way of understanding the stages of our spiritual growth to maturity in Christ Jesus. Some of these metaphors include, spiritual travail, spiritual rebirth, being as babes in Christ, and the subsequent process in coming to maturity in spiritual wisdom an knowledge in Him.

From Conception to a New Life

Let us consider, for instance, that when we are spiritually conceived in Christ at baptism we are held within a spiritual womb, within our parents and the church. While in this womb we are taught, nurtured and fed spiritual milk from the Word and Sacraments. Eventually, as our spiritual fetus matures on the Word, we act on that Word declaring Jesus as our Savior and thus reach out to the eternal life and relationship with Jesus that He offers us as a gift.

This act of cooperation with God’s grace brings us out of the womb and into a new awareness, a spiritual awareness of the presence on the Holy Spirit and the Spirit of Jesus in us! An awareness that tells us that we are out of the womb and that we are now Living Children of the Living God here in this world and we KNOW it, not theologically, but experientially, because the Holy Spirit confirms it in our spirits. This, being an awareness that we are a new Creation or, a re-born man as the Apostle Peter expresses it when he states:

“Forasmuch as ye KNOW that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which lives and abides for ever.“   (1 Peter 1:18-23)

Some call our coming to this stage where we know, that we know that we have a “daddy’ and have personally encountered our brother, Jesus, as an “encounter” with the Divine or as a “conversion”. The terms are somewhat irrelevant to those of us who enter into a new spiritual awareness of life in Christ, because, for us, there is NO DOUBT in our souls that we have entered into a new stage in our spiritual lives and it doesn’t matter to us what you call it! Now, we are able to live in this new life and are made aware by the Holy Spirit that we are, indeed, Sons of the Most High and able to commune with Him in the Spirit! Praised Be His Holy Name!

From Conversion to Putting On the New Man

After this first stage in our transformation, the Holy Spirit leads us deeper into the Word, teaching us , Not in our minds but in our spirits, so that we might be led of the Spirit as Jesus was led. The events and circumstances of each day being provided our hearts and our spirits are brought into alignment with the thoughts and desires of Jesus Himself. We learn to pray as Jesus prayed, to Love as Jesus Loved, to as a means of testing the principles and spirit of faith that the Holy Spirit is infusing in us as we grow more and more closer to Christ!

We also pass through a phase of growth where we are essentially babes in Christ. Paul refers to this phase when writing to some of his early communities, such as the Corinthians to whom he exhorts as follows … Brothers, I couldn’t speak to you as to spiritual, but as to fleshly, as to babies in Christ. I fed you with milk, not with meat; for you weren’t yet ready. Indeed, not even now are you ready, for you are still fleshly. For insofar as there is jealousy, strife, and factions among you, aren’t you fleshly, and don’t you walk in the ways of men? For when one says, ‘I follow Paul’, and another, ‘I follow Apollos’, aren’t you fleshly? (1 Cor. 3:1-4)

In this phase of growth we can barely find evidence of spiritual growth, yet with continued persistence and teaching from the word we begin to produce fruit, and it is by this fruit that others will assess your progress. In his epistle to the Galatians Paul lists the characteristic fruit of living in divine, “agape”, Love. He clearly says … But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23). Our growth in this area is gradual but constant as long as we maintain our fellowship with Christ.

If we do stumble and fall (as we all do), the results will also be plainly evident. “Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God”. (Gal. 5:19-21)

In exhorting the Galatians on this matter, Paul tells them “…. [Although,] you were called to freedom, brethren; … do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another take heed that you are not consumed by one another. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would. But if you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law.” (Gal.5: 13-18)

Remember, that acknowledging and repenting of our sin is extremely important in maintaining our fellowship with Him, and, as the Apostle John tells us:

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to 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 cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

“… write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”     

( 1 John 1:5-10; 2:1-2)

In entering the more mature stage, the Holy Spirit uses the circumstances of our lives to bring us the point where we dedicate ourselves to the Lord totally, renouncing the flesh and seeking only that God’s will and purpose be accomplished in our lives through the “New Man”, that is the “New Spiritual Nature” we have in Christ.

By faith, man completely submits his intellect and his will to God. With his whole being man gives his assent to God the revealer. Sacred Scripture calls this human response to God, the author of revelation, ‘the obedience of faith’ (CCC 143).” Obedience of faith is a willed act of love for God who loved us first.

Paul puts it in this way:

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you once walked, when you lived in them. But now put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and foul talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old nature with its practices and have put on the new nature, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator”

(Col. 3:1-10).

Putting on the New Man Until our Conformance to Christ Is Complete

Now, putting to death our Old Man, that is, our old nature, is not something we accomplish by ourselves. Again, it is something we must do in cooperation with God’s Grace and the Holy Spirit. It begins when we place our old self on the altar as a living sacrifice. Here again we turn to Paul to explain it to us…

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

(Rom 12:1-3)

Yes, brethren, when we make a decision to dedicate ourselves totally to the service of God and we present our old self a s a sacrifice, the Lord Himself will work in our lives to burn out the old nature and begin the renewal of our minds so that all that we say, and do, and think will be renewed by the Spirit of Christ in us.

Do not think this will be easy. It will be painful because we are, in fact crucifying our old nature and severing our old attachments and desires will be difficult. But the Lord will help us in our weakness so that the nature of his Son may be manifested in us – not for our glory, but for His. Praised be His Holy Name!

This process will last a lifetime and will not be completed until we receive our new spiritual bodies at the Second Coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus, our King! Again, Paul summarizes this process with Spirit-inspired words …

“I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. And he who searches the hearts of men knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

 We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose [i.e., to become His adopted Sons]. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren. And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified”

(Rom. 8:18-29).

Our “glorification” comes at Jesus’ Return when we receive our glorified bodies as the concluding act of God in conforming us to the image of His Son.

But even while we are here in this world, as incomplete as our conformation may be we still share in the inheritance of Christ and in the anointing He received to accomplish His appointed Role in bringing forth the Kingdom. For, after all we are not only His brethren, but also His chosen disciples to carry on His work.

What I am saying, brethren, is that our conformance to Christ also includes our share in His empowerment with the anointing of the Holy Spirit. For Just as we are baptized in water as He was, so also we need to be anointed with the spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit, just as He was. For, in order to be like Him and minister the Gifts like Him, we also need to have the Holy Spirit come upon us so we can truly minister to the body of Christ in His Name.

Listen to what Jesus said about His empowerment …

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, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”

(Luke 4: 18-19)

In like manner it must be understood that we cannot truly carry out our roles of the “Great Commission” to “proclaim the gospel to the whole world” and “make disciples” without a commensurate anointing of God’s Spirit on us who believe.

That is why he said to his disciples to wait at Jerusalem before going out minster so they would also be anointed by the Holy Spirit, whom He termed … “The Promise” of the Father”. This “promise” is the baptism of the Holy Spirit that Peter also preached to the crowds at Pentecost saying …

Then Peter said unto them, repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and [then] ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For [this] the “promise” is [also] unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call.”

(Acts 2:38-39)

In continuing our walk to maturity in Christ in this world it is important that we also receive the “baptism in the Holy Spirit”. If we are to take our part in building up the body of Christ we need to be empowered by the Spirit because this is the way He has chosen to manifest himself through us is in spiritual service to His Body the Church. In the wisdom of God that come with your maturity, therefore, ask for the impartation of the Gifts that you need to partner with Him in bringing forth His Kingdom.

As we go forth to serve the Lord, my brothers and sisters, let us take to heart the words that St. Ignatius of Loyola gave to his disciples, namely ….

“There are very few people who realize what God would make of them if they abandoned themselves into his hands, and let themselves be formed by his grace”.

St. Ignatius’ Prayer Yielding Himself to the Lord 

(from Spiritual Exercises No. 234)

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,

my memory,

my understanding,

and my entire will,

all that I have and possess.

You gave it all to me;

to you, Lord, I give it all back.

All is yours,

dispose of it entirely according to your will.

Give me the grace to love you,

for that is enough for me.

May the Lord, in His Name, work in you and through you as you proceed onward to spiritual maturity, so that all that you think and say and do in this world may be for His Glory and NOT for yours. Amen

Your brother in Christ … Bartimaeus

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

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Praying in the Spirit

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Reviewing Our Call to a Deeper Walk With Jesus

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 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 us.

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 my 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, [2008-2017])

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• The Crucified Life

•  The Cost of Discipleship

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Are you Living God’s Love?

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

My fellow pilgrims …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Way of  True Discipleship

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

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

and …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

<> Activating the Divine Love that is in us

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

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

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

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

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

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

# PRAYER OF COMMITMENT

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

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

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

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

Your servant in Christ … Bartimaeus

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

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