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Posts Tagged ‘Beatitudes’

Part 1 of : Awakening to the Father’s Love

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. And every one who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.” (1 Jn. 3:1-3)

Sacred Heart“We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. Any one who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1 Jn, 3:14-16)

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, and Fellow Pilgrims,

When Jesus instructed His disciples to “Love one another…” (Jn.13:34-35) He raised the level of that directive beyond that of the human love expressed by the Torah to “Love your Neighbor as yourselves”. He raised it by indicating that they were to “Love one another as I have Loved you”. In giving them this command He was implicitly imparting to them the power to Love with the same kind of Love as the Father Loved Him! For He also told them, “as the Father has loved me, so have I loved you”(Jn. 15:9). That is why the scripture tells us that it is for this purpose that “the Love of God has been poured into our Hearts” (Rom., 5:5)

Our problem is that while we can readily comprehend loving our neighbor as ourselves at the human level, we find ourselves at an impasse as to how to operate in the same Divine Love that transpires between the Father and the Son.

This article, in two parts, is my attempt at inciting us to understand and awaken that Divine Love that is in us, so that in activating this Love through Faith, we may be the Father’s partners in manifesting His Kingdom of Love through our relationships in this world.

Part One to my article on this theme follows…

Jesus’ Prayer for Impartation of the Divine Love

“Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17: 25-26 NRSV)

Synopsis : The common way we understand Jesus’ directive to “Love one another as I have Loved you” is to think we are to force or discipline the natural love with which we have been endowed to imitate Jesus’ love for his disciples. We take to this understanding because the real spiritual meaning is too hard for us to believe. For you see the Love which Jesus is asking us to place into action in our lives is the Divine Love that the Father has for the Son. This kind of love is the supernatural Divine Love that flowed from Jesus to His disciples through the Holy Spirit, who is the Divine Love. It is a Love that can only be experienced through a relationship with the Divine. It is such a Love that He is now asking to flow between each of us. This kind of Love cannot be forced through any natural discipline it can only come when we Christians enter into a personal relationship with the Father through the Son and surrender ourselves completely to the Holy Spirit so that we are totally free to be channels of this Divine Love to each other. This treatise deals with our coming to the awareness of this divine type of Love, surrendering to its embrace, and the dying to self that it entails.

What Manner of Love Is This?

Most of us who live on this planet are blessed to have experienced “love” before we even understood that there was a word for it. A mother’s pure, unconditional and unselfish love for her child is experienced and understood by her child by the loving care and tender concern a mother manifests toward her child through her relationship with that child. If this is this is about the closest we can get, in human experience, to help us understand the pure and unconditional love that God the Father has for his human creation can you imagine the deep, tender, and intimate love that He must have for His only begotten Son, Jesus? This is a love that transcends human experience. It is a supernatural love that can only be manifested in and through the Spirit of the Loving God!

So, in His prayer, Jesus asks the Father that it is His desire that those who believe in Him come to know the Father as He knows the Father so that the Holy Spirit through a relationship with Jesus may communicate this Divine Love directly to the believers!

To Truly Understand Divine Love, We must Experience it!

For many of us, this Divine Love, is merely a theological concept, which we accept intellectually but without any expectation of the affirmation or spiritual awareness of this Divine Love that clearly Jesus and the Father desire us to have. In our case, we have an understanding of the concept but, unlike the baby in our example, we have yet to enter into a spiritual awareness of that Love. The primary reason being, that like a mother’s love for her child, that awareness must come through an active, loving relationship.

The prophets and writers of the Old Testament attempted to convey the interpersonal and relational nature of the Divine Love for humanity and for Israel through metaphors, similes and allegories, such as comparing the

Love of Yahweh for Israel being compared to that of a bridegroom for his bride[1] and a mother for her child[2].

In spite of this, those who practiced of the Hebrew religion, instead of hearing and receiving the message of love the Lord was conveying to them through the Law and the Prophets, instead attempted to please God through dead religious legalism. That is why the prophet Hosea rebuked them in The Lord’s name saying, “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice and the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6:6 NRSV). Jesus, on several occasions when challenged by the Pharisees as to why he consorted with sinners and publicans, cited this same verse from Hosea (e.g.,Matt.9:13).

Amongst all the parables that Jesus used to convey the picture of the Father’s Love for humanity, perhaps none is perhaps more poignant and descriptive of this Divine Love than the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15: 11-32).

Not only does the Father desire that we come to experience His Love, like the prodigal son, but He also desires that we also be channels of His Love. Jesus’ directive to His disciples to “Love one another as I have loved you” was also intended for us. And since He was the express image of the Father, it was the Father’s Love that they experienced through Him and it was the Father’s Love they, and we, are commanded to express to each other. Only the Holy Spirit working in us to form a relationship with the Father through the Son can accomplish this!

Our Loving Father, manifests His magnificent and magnanimous Love to our desperately alienated humanity by entering into human history, and offering the gift of this Eternal Love, the Love for which we were created, by reconciling us to Himself through the sacrificial death of His Son on the cross. But this Eternal Love does not stop at just reconciliation. After Jesus’ resurrection, He empowers us, the body of His Son, with the Spirit anointing that was on Jesus when He was on earth. Thus permitting us to participate in His Divinity through faith in the One He sent, who is, in fact, the image of His Love. In this participation we enter into a deeper relationship that takes us from being just friends to being His Spiritual Sons and Daughters in Christ.

How tragic, then, was humanity’s initial response to this offer of Love, that the One He sends to communicate His Love is rejected, tortured and crucified. How can this be? How can anyone reject so great a Love as this? And yet, even today, though millions upon millions have accepted His Love, there are still those in the world who, because of ignorance and misunderstanding, have not really comprehended the Good News of the Father’s Love. Much of the reason for this rejection, unfortunately, lies in the perception that they do not see God’s Love demonstrated in the lives and relations of those who live in what they consider to be “Christian” nations.

Awakening to the Father’s Love In Us!

God, in His mercy and loving kindness, is not impeded by humanity’s desperate situation. For since He does not wish that any should perish He has predestined us, in His undying love for humanity, that, we believers, the body of Christ in this world, be the communicators of His message of Love and reconciliation to the world – not only through The Word of His Love, the Gospel of the Cross, but also through the Power of His Love, the Holy Spirit, the Dove of Pentecost, who empowers all believers to be channels of this Divine Love to all the world both individually and as a community. It is the Father’s will, therefore, to release the miraculous power of His Love through our living out our loving obedience to the Gospel of His Love. A Love that is not only confirmed by the works of power that accompany the anointed proclamation of His Word but also by the power to reach into the human heart and reveal His Love directly to those who hear and believe the Messenger of His Love, Jesus, His Son!.

For this reason, it is even more urgent that we who are called by His Name be more and more resolved to not only live the life of holiness to which we are called but also to manifest and demonstrate the Father’s Love to all with whom we come in contact. For we, indeed, are His hands of Love extended to the world and to our own communities.

But, as with all things spiritual, we cannot demonstrate or manifest that which we ourselves have not experienced. How can we convince others of the intimacy of the Father’s Love when we ourselves have yet not come to know our creator in a personal way? For some of us, because of the spiritual lethargy inherent in our human nature, this personal encounter with the Lover of our souls does not always come immediately upon our intellectual assent to the faith. There is usually a gradual transition where the Holy Spirit takes us from learning about the Father’s Love, through His Word and Sacraments, to spiritually experiencing this Love through a deepening personal relationship with Jesus, who is the incarnation of the Father’s Love. Then, as we continue our walk with Him, we become truly aware of His personal embrace of Love, which gathers us to Himself in spite of our own unworthiness. Then, and only then, can it be said that we begin to experience the true and redeeming Love that flows through a relationship with the Father through the Son.

Such a spiritual epiphany is the necessary door to our continued spiritual growth. In fact, without a personal encounter with Christ our spiritual growth is held in abeyance[3]. Yes, we may know and give intellectual assent to all the basic doctrines of the Christian faith, but without the personal experience of “knowing” Christ intimately, our spiritual growth will be deprived of the very sustenance needed to keep from being conformed to the world instead of to Christ.

One of the impediments most of us have to entering into a personal and intimate relationship with our Father is that we have been taught to have such a reverence and awe for God that it is inconceivable to us, who are so painfully aware of our own sinfulness, to imagine how this holy all-powerful supernatural and holy being would even permit us to come before Him. While it is absolutely necessary that we not lose this sense of awe and reverence it does not mean that we cannot approach him or enter into a personal relationship with Him. For we, who abide in the Son, come before His throne garbed in Jesus’ robes of righteousness and not the filthy rags of our fallen nature.

What we tend to forget is that He first loved us and took the necessary action to remove the obstacle of sin that separated us from Him, namely, through the atoning and sacrificial death of His Son on the Cross and His subsequent resurrection. Through His Word He also us provided the faith we needed to believe in His Son and thus become His Children In Him. And it is through the Son, and In Him alone, that we have access to this intimate relationship with the Father. This is the reason for which we were created. For God Is Love and Love requires an object to be Loved. He created us so He could pour out His Love on us through the Holy Spirit [4].

Through our conversion, baptism, confirmation and the other sacraments of the church the Holy Spirit provides us the means to enter into and maintain this intimate relationship with the Lover of our souls. Only one thing is necessary, and that is, that we open the door to the One who stands at the Door of our Hearts, knocking and earnestly waiting for us to open our hearts to Him, who deeply desires that we activate that relationship for which He created us. When with all sincerity we proclaim, “Yes, Lord. come into my heart and abide therein”, He enters in and sups with us and we with Him.

Maintaining this abiding relationship is a constant challenge to us for the world, the flesh and the devil are constantly attempting to distract us from the heavenly fellowship. So as we read this brief reminder of this Heritage of The Father’s Love let us all reaffirm our YES and rededicate our hearts to be receptive and obedient to the Father’s Love by asking Jesus to renew His life in us. And, if at all possible, do so by receiving the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist, the Sacrament of His Love.

<><><> To Be Continued in Part 2 ====> Click Here

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

If this article has touched your hearts, reach out to Jesus now and ask Him to manifest Himself to you so that you may become fully aware of the Father’s Love and be empowered to manifest that Love to whomever the Father brings into your life.

May you so be blessed in His Name! Amen!

Your Brother In Christ … Bartimaeus

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

Footnotes:

[1] “For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your builder marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you..” (Is. 62:5 NRSV)

[2] “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” (Is. 49:15)

[3]“There is no Christianity without an encounter with Christ. Christianity is not simply a doctrine; it is a meeting, in faith, with God, present in our history with the incarnation of Jesus.” ( Pope John Paul II-World Youth Day 2004)

[4] And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (Rom.5:5 NRSV)

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The Making of  a Disciple: Accepting the Challenge

Regarding Discipleship …

Where I am - there my disciple will be also ...

Where I am – there my disciple will be also …

Jesus said: “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 12:24-26)

Paul said: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”  (Gal 2:19-20)

And …  “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)

 And… “Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. (Rom. 13:11-14))

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,

Coming into a True Discipleship Relationship with Jesus can only come by dying to one’s self-life so that the Christ-life that us in us through conversion and baptism can work through us to bring Forth the Father’s Kingdom in this world. The yielding of our very selves to Him as an act of Love enables us, who are nothing, to be His partners in bringing forth His eternal reign of Love, both in what remains of our life here on earth, and in the next life with Him in eternity.

This post is a sequel to my previous overview on discipleship.  In that discussion I gave an overview to the overall topic of what I believe Jesus meant by the term, “disciple” and what it should mean to us, in whom the Lord has placed a calling to be His disciples. I also made it clear that being a baptized believer does not automatically make you a “disciple”.

While every believer is called to be a disciple, not every believer responds to the call to discipleship. A call to discipleship is a call to yield ourselves to the Spirit of Jesus that is in us so that He can bring forth the Kingdom of God through us! It is a call to place our “old man” on the cross with Jesus and “put on the New Man” (Rom.12:14), the life of the resurrected Jesus, so that He may continue His ministry (service) to humanity directly through us – for the Glory of the Father and In His Name, NOT ours!

The Way of True Discipleship

Those of us, “wannabe” (want to be) disciples, who deep in our hearts, want to respond to the call – are faced with a life-changing challenge – in order for His Life to be manifested through our lives, we must willingly empty ourselves out so that the Holy Spirit may activate His Life in us.

The process of emptying of ourselves is the daily cross we are asked to bear. This is the process by which we die to “self”, that is, to living a self-centered life.! The Way of the Cross is the Way of Discipleship.

Right now, most of us who are sincerely trying to be disciples, are doing it out of our own fleshly zeal – attempting to emulate Christ in our lives. While, our intentions are to be admired, the manner with which we are carrying it out leaves something to be desired. You see, while attempting to imitate Christ with our own internal drive and ambition, we are actually frustrating the work of GRACE the Holy Spirit wishes to work in us and through us!  You cannot have Grace and Works operating at the same time. One excludes the other! You MUST deny your “self” for Grace to be operative!

Let us very clearly understand this: WE CANNOT IMITATE CHRIST! What we are being called to do is, out of “agape” Love, permit the very Life and Spirit of Christ to express itself in us and through us! The only manner that the Spirit Of Christ can be activated and manifest through us is if we willingly accede to Him and lovingly empty ourselves of all our personal ambitions (even though they be religiously motivated) so that His Spirit which is already in us through conversion and Baptism, may use us as earthen vessels to bring His Presence and His Gifts through us. But in order for our earthen vessel to be used by God we must first empty it of our self-willed motivations.  It is just as John the Baptist said:  “He must increase but I must decrease” (John 3:30)! The Holy Spirit can only use us to the degree that we empty our will of our own desires and ambitions. The process of emptying our earthen vessels takes time but it is the process the Spirit uses to conform us to Jesus (Rom.8:29).

This process by which the Holy Spirit conforms us to Christ is a transformation that involves the renewal of our minds. Our minds (and souls) must be cleared of all of our self-centered motivations and reactions to a God-centered and God-directed approach to living to the point where we no longer have to ask: “what would Jesus do” because our “new self” is, in fact, Jesus – for “we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor.2:16).

The Father does not want us to be merely imitators of His Son, His desire is that the unique Life of His Only Begotten Son be manifested in us and through us so that the HOLY SEED that was planted at Calvary (Jn 12:24) may multiply and bring forth His Kingdom in this world. We are called, not to be imitators, but rather REAL EXPRESSIONS of the one and only living Christ in every part of the life of this world! This is how His Kingdom will come!

This is a hard concept for Modern Christians to accept, because it involves yielding control of our lives to God – yet this is the fundamental principle behind true discipleship.

At this point, in order to refresh yourselves as to Jesus’ teaching on the phases or steps in approaching discipleship I would recommend you review my articles on the Beatitudes, as this teaching by Jesus summarizes not only the process of transformation but the basic personal cost to those who would follow Jesus as His disciples. The following are links to those articles:

Reflections on the Beatitudes  (Part 1), (Part 2), (Part 3), and (Part 4)

Assessing the Cost

Now comes the even harder part – assessing the cost to you personally.

Francis accepts his call to dsicipleship

Aside from St. Paul, one of the most astounding stories of how the Holy Spirit working through the faith of one individual led him to not only assess the cost of discipleship but gave him the spiritual courage to accept the challenge and overcome the world and its attachments by giving himself totally to Jesus to the point where it was evident that many understood that Jesus Himself was living through this individual. I am, of course referring to St. Francis of Assisi who literally disrobed himself before the Bishop to emphasize the sincerity of his acceptance of the call to discipleship and his renunciation of the world ( cf., please read the biography of St. Francis in the Catholic Encyclopedia).

However, I do not want you to be discouraged if you feel overwhelmed by Francis’ story. In fact, the less worthy you feel, the more qualified you are to entering into such a commitment – “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matt. 5:3) . The Kingdom of Heaven, being the metaphor Jesus uses to describe His ministry here on earth and the discipleship for those who were called to operate under His Ministry. It is a truth that Francis understood and for which he gave up everything in order to enter in! It was a truth that Jesus offered to Nicodemus but who did not enter in because of His attachments to his position in the Jewish Sanhedrin.

In order that your decision be made lovingly and freely in Love, you need to understand that your salvation is NOT contingent on your decision. – The Free Gift of Salvation is solely based on Jesus’ atoning sacrifice on the cross while we were yet sinners (Rom.5:8) and not on any works or decisions of service that might be attributed to us, so that no man may boast (Eph 2:8-9). All that is needed to receive the gift of salvation is to repent and believe that Jesus, the Only Begotten Son, of the Father, freely and willingly gave His life on the cross as the atoning sacrifice not only for your sins but for the sins of the whole world.

The decision to enter into a discipleship relationship with Jesus is separate from your repentance upon accepting Jesus as your savior. It is basically your acceptance of giving yourself to Him to act as a stand-in for Him in this world, as your response to His loving sacrifice. The gift of yourself must be based solely on a deep desire to give yourself totally to God for the Love the Father demonstrated towards you in giving His Only Son as an offering for your sins.

To be a disciple you must make a choice ...

To be a disciple you must make a choice

In making this free decision you must be totally aware of the cost of your decision and your assessment, in faith, as to whether you can keep it (cf., Luke 14:28). You must determine, in Faith, whether the strength of God’s call on you is stronger than your attachments to the world, the flesh and the devil. You must determine whether you are willing to place Jesus and the Father’s will above your own and above your personal attachments to all interests in your life – including, family, relationships, job, hobbies, intellectual interests, and so on..

At the same time, don’t assume that the Lord, necessarily, wants to separate you from what you consider the primary, and moral, aspects of your life – He may, in fact, want to use you in exactly those things and circumstances which form the ambience of your life. He just wants you to surrender what you believe is your right to them – mainly your over-dependence and attachment to them. He wants you solely depend on HIM! He needs this yielding from you as evidence of your Love for HIM and so that, in whatever situation in Life, He has your total obedience and are completely receptive and free to do His Will in anything He asks. Anything that has a hold on your life beside God is in competition with God and you cannot other gods before HIM and still be faithful to your commitment.

Other fundamental teachings on the cost of Discipleship may be found in the following links:

Walking the Walk, Enter In by The Narrow Gate, The Cost of Discipleship, Yielding to the Kingdom Anointing.

Making the Commitment

I personally, recommend that you make your commitment in private, and not like St. Francis in the city square. There are exceptions, of course, but in general it is best not to call attention to ourselves or to how we intend to live for God. It is best to keep the deepest part of our spiritual development between our selves and God.

The minimal exceptions are those required by your state in life. For instance, before making this commitment, it is wise if you discuss your desire to make such a decision with your spouse, if you are married or, if not, with your parents. As the Lord has said,  “person’s greatest adversaries will be His Family and friends”. When you do so, and obtain their opinions, I guarantee that, like Francis, you will begin to understand the true “cost” of the decision you are proposing to make.

It is also important that you have a person close to you to partner with in making the decision – if married, your wife or husband would be the best choice. The reason for this is that we are all blind to our own mistakes and to the direction the Lord is guiding us. It is best to have someone close to us who can hold us accountable when we begin to deviate from our commitment. Note that when Jesus sent out “the Seventy” He sent them out two-by-two (Luke 10:1).  When we operate as a pair the Lord will work through both of us and permit us to check out our directives from Him with each other.

When you make a decision to enter into this “unofficial” type of discipleship, except for your similarly committed partners, keep your commitment between yourself and God. Do not look upon discipleship as a means of gaining favor or promoting yourself in the church, such motives go completely against the purity of heart you need to be a true disciple. You need to pray for a servant’s heart – heart that is ready to serve the Father in the most menial of daily tasks where you may get rejected and criticized rather than complemented and promoted. This self-denying type of Love is the kind of Love that is required to truly represent Jesus to the world (cf., 1 Cor.13 ff.).

When to make the Commitment

One of the best opportunities to make this commitment is when you receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit in your church or parish.  Although your personal commitment to discipleship may be private, you may readily, and silently, incorporate your prayer of commitment at the time you attend a Life in the Spirit Seminar or Retreat, since all of the proceedings are very much oriented to entrance into a discipleship relationship, even though it may not be mentioned.

Jesus receives the Anointing

Jesus Baptized in the Spirit

One of the reasons for the appropriateness of this event to making your commitment is that “the Baptism in the Spirit” represents the time that Jesus Himself accepted His call to ministry in being baptized in water by John the Baptist and then receiving the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to carry out His Calling (John 1:32) !

Of course, if you feel reticent about receiving the Baptism in the Spirit, you should reconsider making a commitment at all. It is an indication that you have not yet surrendered your own self-consciousness and are not yet ready to give yourself totally to Jesus as His disciple.  If it is just an intellectual hang-up, that can be easily be cleared up by reading some of the following articles on the Sanctifying Gifts and the Empowerment Gifts as our legacy as disciples:

The Promise of the Father (Part 1) and (Part 2) ;

The Sanctifying Gifts (Part 1) and (Part 2) ;

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

Reclaiming Our Legacy In Christ

Building on the Rock

Living Out Our Commitment

Living as a true (yet hidden) disciple of Jesus begins right where we are in our lives at the time of our commitment.  Reflections on how one can carry out such a discipleship commitment in a marriage is given in the article: “Husbands Love Your Wives”. (My Postscript on Brother Lawrence and the Crucified Life [below] is another example)

You begin living for Christ as soon as you begin to live every event in your life “In His Name”, NOT in yours. In this way you acknowledge that He and He alone is working in you and through you in all that you do or say or think. Praised Be His Holy Name!

As for living out your commitment in the world I can personally attest that, If you have been sincere in your commitment to “enter into the Kingdom” and not as an ”ersatz disciple”, it will be difficult and, at times, even excruciating to the point of testing your faith. Remember Jesus’ exhortation to His Disciples …

“If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world—therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘Servants are not greater than their master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.” (John 15: 18-21)

Yes, even if you are living your commitment as a “hidden” disciple just obeying the Lord in your current state of life, you will find all these things: rejection, criticism, hatred, envy, and so on. Take these things to be a confirmation that the Life of Christ is coming through to the world and the world will not accept you because they sense the Spirit of Christ in you – stand firm in your faith and love your enemies, forgiving them so that His Love will flow through all the more to them!

The Key to carrying out our service to the Lord is “the obedience of Love” – even in the smallest things. It is to pray, listen to His Voice, and heed the leadings of His Holy Spirit with joy and courage knowing that, as long as you persist in obedient faith, the Lord will bring forth fruit from your labors for His Glory, in whatever task you have been given, no matter how small or insignificant it may be.

In conclusion I leave you with St. Paul’s exhortation to the Colossians:

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

“Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient. These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life. But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth.

“Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!

“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  (Col. 3:1-17)

I pose the following Prayer of Commitment as something you might use to model your own prayer in your response to the “call” , of course, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit:

Prayer of Commitment:

Lord Jesus, I believe that you, the Son of the Living God came down from heaven to reveal the Father’s Love to me by suffering and dying for my sins. I believe that through your death and resurrection you have brought redemption and life not only to me but also all else who believe in you. I further believe that it is only through knowing you in a loving personal relationship of discipleship that I can know the Father.

    It is because I have a burning desire to know you and abide in you that I now yield myself completely to you and your love. I open the door to my heart so you can come in and sup with me and thus begin the special relationship with you for which you died and for which I hunger. At this moment I yield myself to your love. Enter in and activate my spirit with your Holy Spirit so that I can go beyond just mere intellectual belief in you to a personal spiritual knowledge of you and the Father.

    Lord, cleanse me from my sins and make me a fit vessel for your presence. Permeate my entire being with your life and your love so that I can truly be your instrument in this world. Be my Lord, Be My God, Be my King to rule and to reign in me. In faith and by your grace I receive you and I receive your word. Abide in me just as you abide in the Father and the Father in you! Thank you for giving yourself for me. Amen

(see also: Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit)

My dear fellow pilgrims in Christ, in order to help you make a decision  I add a commentary regarding Dieterich Bonhoeffer,  pastor who was imprisoned by the Nazis for his Christian faith and criticism of their racism:

“Dieterich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor who died for his faith by opposing Nazism, contrasted cheap grace and costly grace: “Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves… the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance… grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate… Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.”

May the Lord shine His Face upon you and fill you with His Peace …

Bartimeaus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2012])

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Postscript: A Note from the Crucified Life

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 service 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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Sermon on the Mount

The Beatitudes (Matt.5:3-11)

“Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn,  for they will be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

My Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We have now come to my reflections on the final three Beatitudes – the conclusion of the Beatitudes of Expression – the Manifest Favor of God in us whereby the Lord expresses Himself both inwardly and outwardly in our lives so that we truly are become the “Sons” or “Children” of God – that is, we become expressions of His nature.

Again this is an awesome phase and one for which I am still praying that I will, by God’s Grace be permitted to enter. It is the phase in our spiritual lives where we have so yielded to the Spirit of Love in us that we, like St. Paul, are able to say, “… it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20)

I will begin my discussion with the Beatitudes Seven and Eight.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

These two beatitudes may only be properly understood when placed in juxtaposition to each other – the Seventh Beatitude indicates as “Blessed” those who bring or make peace, while the Eighth Beatitude indicates that in bringing peace through the righteousness of God expressed through you will cause such division that you will be persecuted. We thus are confronted with the need to discern just what kind of peace is this that brings persecution.

In order to resolve this seeming paradox, we must remember that these “Blessings” are the work of the Holy Spirit in us, bringing us into conformity with the image of the Son, Jesus, the anointed of God, the Prince of Peace (Rom.8:29). This is the same Jesus who in one instance told his disciples that, “ I have not come to bring peace but a sword ..” (Matt. 10:34), and in another place, that. ”Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you, not as the world gives do I give…” (John 14:27), These sayings thus indicate to us that  the term “peace” may be understood in at least two distinct ways.

In the first, instance the word “peace” as used by Jesus is the antithesis of division or conflict between human individuals or groups. In the second instance He uses the term “My Peace” to mean the spiritual peace derived from His relationship to the Father. It is this “peace” that He promises his disciples and believers today. “I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!” (John 16:33).

It is an inner peace that comes from the work of the Cross, where Jesus completed the work for which He was sent, namely, to reconcile mankind to the Father through the shedding of His blood. As St. Paul clearly states, “therefore there is now no more condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom.8:1), and “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation;” (2 Cor. 5:18). Clearly, then, we are called to be messengers of the “Good News” of this reconciliation – this is the “peace” of which the beatitude speaks, the peace of reconciliation with the Father.

Christ will, of course, ultimately also bring a relational peace to the whole human race at His Second coming. For now, however, His Peace is propagated through His indwelling presence in us, His people who are designated by His grace as channels of His Love and therefore, His Peace as we love one another as He loved us!

On occasion, as we follow the leadings of the Holy Spirit, He will lead us to minister in situations where we can act on His behalf as mediators in human affairs where He gives us the anointing to bring His peace into a situation involving Human conflict. But we must be sure we are following the leadings of the Holy Spirit and not just our human desire to try to bring peace under our own efforts. Although we may have a good intent, it is still a human work and the results will not be lasting because the problem that lies in the human hearts cannot not remedied through human means. I speak by experience, because I have tried to be a peacemaker based on my own efforts and naive desires without having the anointing that comes from a pure heart and the express presence of the Lord in my life. It does not work, because, as He said, “Without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

Thus, my brothers and sisters, entering this phase of the beatitudes involves great responsibility because in order to be true “peacemakers” we must be totally yielded to the Prince of Peace and walk as He walked: in His righteousness, not ours. If we try to be peacemakers and ourselves are not at peace with God, we will not only fail but we bring disrepute to our faith and ourselves. That is also why the Eighth Beatitude is so essential to being a peacemaker, for our lives must be the expression of His righteousness so that we can truly make peace in His Name!

Jesus also tells us that the unconverted world cannot receive His kind of peace or His righteousness (John 14:17). In fact, when, through the work of the Holy Spirit in us, our lives are a living expression of His righteousness and His Love, the world will hate us and resist us just as the world resisted Him (John 15:19). This, then, is the confirmation that we have reached this stage in our spiritual growth: when you experience persecution for the sake of His Righteousness as expressed in and through your lives in words and actions.

The unconverted world, is still in rebellion against God and it wants to control us and conform us to itself. The peace the world gives is not really peace at all – since it cannot change the hearts of mankind, it merely creates a subterfuge for peace to control us and place us in bondage to its own humanistic and godless rule. That is why Jesus warns His disciples, “in the world you will have trouble” (John 16:33) and, “Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my sayings, they will keep yours also” (John 5;20).

When such is evident in your lives then, as the beatitude states, you know that you have entered the Kingdom of Heaven, that is, you have entered into a full sharing in the Ministry of Christ Himself because you are now also sharing in His sufferings.

The Ninth Beatitude: The Forgotten Beatitude

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

I call this beatitude the “Forgotten Beatitude” because it is left out of most lists of the Beatitudes, which only list the first eight.

As I began reflecting on this beatitude I began to comprehend why it might not be mentioned in most commentaries. First of all it appears that the First eight address the general crowd that is before Jesus (eg., “Blessed are they …” , “Blessed are those …”, etc.) while the ninth beatitude appears to be addressed to the disciples themselves (ie., “Blessed are you …”).  Secondly, the Ninth indicates that the persecution and sufferings are not only more intense but they are inflicted “because of Me” or “because of My Name”. This is an implication that the ones who are indicated by this work of the Holy Spirit are His disciples, but especially those who bear the special anointing of apostles. That is, those who have been “sent” by Jesus in His authority to preach the Gospel at the risk of their very lives. This is borne out by the manner in which the beatitude concludes: …  for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Thus implying that they have been sent to proclaim God’s word – or, in essence, to prophesy.

I have some disagreement with this limited understanding, in that the gift of prophecy is not limited to ordained persons –indeed St. Paul exhorted the community to seek the gift of prophecy. Here is what St. Paul says about this, Pursue love and strive for the spiritual gifts, and especially that you may prophesy” (1Cor.14:1). The exercise of the prophetic gifts was only limited much later in the early church period to the ordained, when it was also redefined as “preaching” because actual “prophecy” came into disfavor in church practice.

Now, while most of us lay persons are not “officially” ordained to preach, historically, there have been many cases of lay persons who have proclaimed the Gospel in Jesus’ Name without “official” ordination and have been persecuted (and some even martyred), as for example, St. Francis of Assisi and St, Ignatius of Loyola. Admittedly, the officials of the Church later recognized their calling and obliged them to be ordained, Francis, as a deacon, and Ignatius as a priest.

If you reach this stage in your spiritual walk, I therefore urge you, my Brothers and Sisters, not to ignore your calling if you are led to preach or to prophesy. Remember what our first Pope said,

“As every person has received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any person speak, let that person speak as the oracles of God; if any person minister, let that person do it as of the ability which God gives: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 peter 4:10-11).

Yes, this beatitude and the gift of prophecy is for all Christians, both lay and ordained. I guarantee that you will be persecuted and insulted for His Name when you are blessed by this beatitude, but you will be rewarded in heaven. So, if you are genuinely called, seek and find where and how the Lord would have you exercise His gift to the church.  The time of the Lord’s coming is near and we need to hear what the Lord is saying to His Church because the time is near and we need to be ready!. Here is a sample from one of us who is used of God in this Fashion (Re: Mark Mallett, Prophecy Site#3):

THIS word came to me while my spiritual director and I were together. Understand… the dawn of Hope is upon us…

Little ones, do not think that because you, the remnant, are small in number means that you are special. Rather, you are chosen. You are chosen to bring the Good News to the world at the appointed hour. This is the Triumph for which my Heart awaits with great anticipation. All is set now. All is in motion. The hand of my Son is ready to move in the most sovereign way. Pay careful attention to my voice. I am preparing you, my little ones, for this Great Hour of Mercy. Jesus is coming, coming as Light, to awaken souls steeped in darkness. For the darkness is great, but the Light is far greater. When Jesus comes, much will come to light, and the darkness will be scattered. It is then that you will be sent, like the Apostles of old, to gather souls into my Motherly garments. Wait. All is ready. Watch and pray. Never lose hope, for God loves everyone.

In conclusion I leave you with a prayer by one who we all agree reached this level of Beatitude in His Spiritual walk, namely, St. Francis of Assisi.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;

where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is injury, pardon:

where there is doubt, faith ;

where there is despair, hope

where there is darkness, light

where there is sadness, joy

O divine Master,

grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;

to be understood, as to understand;

to be loved, as to love;

for it is in giving that we receive,

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Amen.

This concludes my reflections on the Beatitudes. I pray that this sharing will help you in the coming to the discernment you seek to accomplish the work the Spirit of the Living God is doing in you, to the Praise and Glory of His Name! Amen and Amen!

Your Brother in Christ Jesus … Bartimaeus

P.S.: If you have missed the other parts of this series (see below for links), I recommend that you read through all of them so that you may discern the context in which these reflections were composed.

© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, 2010, all rights reserved

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Related Links:

Make Me a Channel / http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwGOYEIK5eo&feature=fvw

St. Francis (Biography) / http://www.ewtn.com/library/mary/francis.htm

Prophesy in the Church Today  (sample sites) :

Prophecy Site #1 / http://pelianito.stblogs.com/

Prophecy Site #2 / http://www.presentationministries.com/general/prophecies.asp

Prophecy Site # 3 / http://www.markmallett.com/blog/

The other parts of this Series:

§ Reflections on the Beatitudes (Part 1)

§ Reflections on the Beatitudes (Part 2)

§ Reflections on the Beatitudes (Part 3)

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Sermon on the Mount

Sermon on the Mount

The Beatitudes (Matt.5:3-11)

“Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

My Fellow Pilgrims,

Having shared with you my reflections on the first five Beatitudes dealing with, the brokenness of spirit that leads us to the “Beatitudes of Conversion”, I now, with much trepidation, share with you my reflections on the “Beatitudes of Expression”. These are the beatitudes that conclude the work of the Holy Spirit in us – that brings us into full conformity to the to the “image of Christ” – the outward expression of the life of Christ in us.

Notice, that I say, “with trepidation”, because in sharing my reflections with you, I need to admit to you that what I am sharing is only what I see ahead for me in my walk of discipleship. Right now, I go in and out of this stage in my spiritual growth as the Holy Spirit is still working on my conversion phase.  The works of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21) are being pruned from me so that the fruit of the Spirit might come forth to His glory (Gal. 5:22-23)!  The beatitudes I am reflecting on, here, are what give me hope as I continue my walk along the path of discipleship.

Thus, as I proceed to tell you what is in my heart, I ask your loving understanding and prayers and request that you please submit what I am sharing to discernment, in prayer, through the Holy Spirit and the Word Of God. Praised Be The Holy Name!

The Sixth Beatitude: Blessed are the Pure in Heart, for they shall see God …

This beatitude poses what appear to be two impossible challenges of faith to the dedicated disciple who, by now has all his focus on drawing near to the Father by yielding himself totally to the Spirit of Jesus, so that in Him and through Him we may come into communion with the Father.

These two challenges of faith are:  (1) How can man with a fallen human nature obtain to the purity of heart required to draw near to the throne of the Most High? (2) How can man with a fallen human nature see the transcendent and Holy God who is beyond our nature to see? After all, scripture tells us that when Moses asked to see the Lord God the Lord said, …

“I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you my name, ‘The Lord’; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.  But,” he said, “you cannot see my face; for no one shall see me and live.’ (Ex.33:18-20)

And the Book of Psalms (Ps24: 3-4) poses the two rhetorical questions …

Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD?

And who shall stand in his holy place?

And provides a seemingly unachievable rhetorical response …

[Only] Those who have clean hands and pure hearts..”

For the Old Testament believer these were indeed formidable barriers to coming to know or see the Holy God, the Creator of heaven and Earth.

Even the High Priest who entered the Holy of Holies once every year could only come into the Sacred Presence before the Ark of the Covenant after a sacred ritual of purification in the holy Laver and bearing the Blood of the Holocaust Victim in his hands. Any impurity or deficiency, either in ritual or in his person, would result in certain death.

But, ah! Brethren, we must not forget that we are “New Creations” in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17) and we come before the Throne of Grace not on the basis of our own righteousness or works (Heb. 4:16). We have the imputed potential to come near, in faith, robed in the Righteousness of the Son and through His cleansing blood!

But the decision is ours, we must, in faith, put on our “New Man” in Christ (Rom: 13:14). We must transition from an imputed righteousness to our own expressed righteousness or holiness (flawed though it may be) so that we can truly be a living expression of the very life of Christ in us. We must cry out to the Lord just as David, in his repentance, cried out for the Lord to create in him a clean heart.

“You desire truth in the inward being;

therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;

wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Let me hear joy and gladness;

let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.

Hide your face from my sins,

and blot out all my iniquities.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,

and put a new and right spirit within me.

Do not cast me away from your presence,

and do not take your holy spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation,

and sustain in me a willing spirit.” (Ps. 51: 6-12)

Now if we have just emerged from the conversion/repentance experience, as through the Beatitude of Holy Mourning, we have lived this prayer ourselves. But if we, on the way through the other beatitudes, have sinned, and separated ourselves from the Lord, we must, at this point, return to the Beatitude of Holy Mourning so that, with a pure heart, we can proceed again in our quest to enter the Beatitudes of Expression, where the Lord so rules in our being that everything we do, or say, or think, comes from His Heart in us and NOT from our own desires or thinking.

The Lord wants to set us free from the burden of guilt and from the destructive force of sin in our personal lives. He wants to purify our hearts and renew our minds so we can love and act in every situation as he would love and act. The Lord is ready to change and purify our hearts through the grace and help of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. Like a physician who probes the wound before treating it, God through his Word and Spirit first brings sin into the light that we may recognize it for what it truly is and call upon his mercy and grace for pardon and healing. The Spirit of truth is our Consoler and Helper. His power and grace enables us to choose what is good and to reject what is evil.

It is in just such a cycle of purification that I find myself in. For a moment, it seems, that I enter the expressive phase of the beatitudes and in that moment I am no longer my own, but Jesus’. However, because I still have trouble keeping my flesh under control, very shortly, I find myself responding to the flesh rather than to the spirit and thus I fall from the grace to which the Holy Spirit had taken me.

Then, through the compassionate Grace of the Holy Spirit, I regress back to the Holy Mourning and the sacraments of Reconciliation and Communion that restore me again to the place where I can be an instrument of His Grace and His Love in this world!  In this purification process, I find that the more frequently I partake of these sacraments the longer I am able maintain my state as His instrument of Love in this world. Praised Be His Holy Name!

Whenever, I am in this state I find myself more and more open to see what God is doing in and around me and this permits me follow Him, obey Him, and thus complete His work in this world. Remember, Jesus only did something if He saw the Father doing it (John 5:19), and He was able to see what His Father was doing because of His intimate relationship with Him. In this way we see the Father as Jesus saw Him. Also as, we obey the Father in our lives through the Spirit of Jesus in us, our intimate relation with Jesus permits us to see the Father, for, after all , He is the image of  the triune God incarnate!

It is essential, then, that as we progress in our pilgrim’s walk, we keep in mind that it is in maintaining this intimate relationship with Jesus that we are able to “see” the Father and His Love so that, through this “seeing”, His purpose in us may be fully accomplished. Remember what Jesus told His disciples …

“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 14:7-9)

It is at this stage, when you are totally yielded to the Spirit of His Love and “see God” through Jesus, that all that you do is anointed with God’s Love – the “agape” or divine Love that Paul speaks of in his letter to the Corinthians when he declares that,

“If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have 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 do not have love, I am nothing.

If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” (1Cor. 13:1-3)

That is why it is so important that we as Christians yield ourselves completely to the Holy Spirit and through a Pure Heart maintain our communion with the Son. In this way, and only in this way, can we truly be the instruments of His Love in this world!

But we must be very careful in our walk at this stage. We must not presume that due to our state of intimate fellowship with Jesus that we cannot fall. In fact, because of our human tendencies we are even more susceptible to fall into sin, especially, the sin of spiritual pride.  Thus we must be very honest with ourselves and with Our Lord regarding our weaknesses, asking for the graces we need to keep from falling. As you proceed, keep in mind the following scriptures …

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

“Whoever says, “I have come to know him,” but does not obey his commandments, is a liar, and in such a person the truth does not exist; but whoever obeys his word, truly in this person the love of God has reached perfection. By this we may be sure that we are in him: whoever says, “I abide in him,” ought to walk just as he walked.” (1John 2:4-6)

Beloved, now are we the children of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure.” (1John 3:2-3)

I conclude with this quotation from “The Imitation of Christ” by Thomas A Kempis:

“You must bring to God a clean and open heart if you wish to attend and see how sweet the Lord is. Truly you will never attain this happiness unless His Grace prepares you and draws you on so that you may forsake all things to be united with Him.” (Chapter 8, The Intimate Friendship with Jesus)

I pray, brethren, that my sharing with you has helped you on your spiritual Journey. In my next posting I will continue with my reflections on the remaining  “Beatitudes of Expression”. In the meantime I exhort you to enter into your secret place with the Lord and ask Him to evaluate your spiritual progress so that you can determine those aspects of your spiritual walk need to be corrected or strengthened by Him.

May the Lord richly bless you as you walk along the Narrow Path with Him!

Bartimaeus

© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, 2010, all rights reserved

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Related Links:

Reflections on the Beatitudes (Part 1)

Reflections on the Beatitudes (Part 2)

Surrendering to Divine Love

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Sermon on the Mount

Sermon on the Mount

The Beatitudes (Matt.5:3-11)

“Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

My fellow Pilgrims,

In my previous posting I shared with you my thoughts on the Beatitudes in general and how the First Beatitude is the doorway to the others. I also indicated in my reflections as to how the Beatitudes represent the work of the Holy Spirit in us in bringing us into conformity to image of Christ and, how, by coming to a deeper understanding of the Beatitudes, we can gauge our progress on our walk of discipleship with Jesus.

The first Beatitude or Manifest Favor of God in our lives opens the door to the Kingdom by bringing us to an awareness of our total spiritual bankruptcy or poverty. This usually is initiated through a state of brokenness in our lives that permits the Holy Spirit to break into the hard shell of our self-centeredness and pride. This opens the way for the seed of Word of God’s Love may be planted in our broken hearts to bear fruit to salvation and thus permit us to enter into our inheritance in the Kingdom of God.

The Second Beatitude – “Blessed are those who mourn …

” The brokenness initiated by the First Beatitude, forces us to confront our sin, its consequences, and our inability to change ourselves. But more importantly, the Word of His Love, coming to meet us in our brokenness convicts our heart because now we also realize that it is our rebellious nature that has separated us from His Love – Love that He has manifested so generously on the cross.

Upon realizing who it is our sin has offended, we, in our desperation, drop all our worldly intellectual pretenses and in sorrow, turn our hearts to the One who Loves us, and who, in spite of our sin and has been working to draw us to Himself. Just as the Apostle Peter who, despite his fleshly claim that He would never betray Him, denied the Lord Jesus three times, and was later drawn into Godly Sorrow, a sorrow that is called “Godly” because it led him to repentance, having received the promise of forgiveness from Jesus beforehand.

So the Second Beatitude, then, is a reminder to us that this Holy Mourning we have entered into is a blessing because instead of condemnation, we have received, through His Word, the comforting promise of forgiveness, pending our repentance.

The Third Beatitude – “Blessed are the meek …

” The term “meek” sometimes causes misunderstanding of this Beatitude because of the many facets in the meaning of the word both in English and Greek. I will not go into its etymology here; rather, I leave that to the inquisitive reader. The point that Jesus is making here, however, is not that we are to be pushovers or people who lack resolve in their lives. On the contrary His use of the word is to indicate a meaning of meekness that sometimes escapes us because we usually do not find any models of this type of meekness in our world today.

In order to understand Jesus’ use of the word “meek” we should use Jesus himself as our model. Scripture abound with descriptions of the type of meekness that Jesus modeled for us. But the one that impacts me the most was that written by the Apostle Paul:

“Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross.” (Phil. 2:4-8)

This then is the type of meekness that is indicated by this Beatitude – and its main characteristic is obedience to the Father, obedience to the point of dying to ourselves. And it this is the type of meekness we are called to take on as disciples – even though we may not conceive that we are capable of reaching this level of commitment. Yet He does not mean for us to make that as something that comes through our achievement, rather, that the blessing comes through the work of the Holy spirit in us – who with the empowerment of His grace provides us the strength to enter into this type of meekness – as He forms us into the image of Christ.

We receive the blessings of “meekness” when we transition from accepting Jesus as “Savior” and make the decision to make Him the Lord of our lives – submitting to Him and the Father in total obedience to His will in our lives. By giving ourselves in Loving obedience, He then is able to work His Grace in us to bring out the quality of character corresponding to His image in us. Praised be His Holy Name!

The Fourth Beatitude – “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, …”

As we continue our cooperation with the Spirit of Love by yielding completely to the Divine Grace and Love that has overwhelmed us, He now brings us to the point where we are established in an intimate relationship with the Father. The reconciliation with the Father which was bought through Blood of Jesus is now made fully effective in us and the hunger and thirst for that reconciliation which was moving in us to this point is now completely satisfied and we become aware that we are now living as a new creation in Christ – as Sons and Daughters and heirs of the Kingdom – with a spiritual and personal knowledge of Jesus and, through Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit. It is as the Apostle Paul tells us,

“From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor. 5: 16-21)

It is in Him and only in Him, that is in Jesus, that our thirst to be set right or reconciled with God is completely satisfied! In fact, in Jesus, we become the very righteousness of God – that, indeed, is full satisfaction of our hunger and our thirst!

The Fifth Beatitude – “Blessed are merciful, …”

Of course, once we understand the love and mercy that we have received, our loving response, in the Spirit, is to manifest that same love and mercy to those around us.

In receiving the Grace reconciliation with the Father, we instinctively understand that we are called to be ambassadors for Christ and have been given the ministry of mercy and reconciliation. We cannot remain in harmony with our calling and our new creation in Christ if we do not also manifest His mercy in our lives by forgiving others as we have been forgiven. For how else can we be ministers of reconciliation with the Father if we hold un-forgiveness and bitterness towards others in our hearts?

Thus, the transformation wrought in us by our acceptance of the reconciliation won by Christ obliges us to be ministers of this same reconciliation to others. Before we can come into the Father’s presence, as implied by the next Beatitude, we must be first reconciled to our brothers and sisters just as Jesus tells us,

“So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.” (Matt. 5:23-24)

Comments on this portion

My brothers and sisters in Christ, I consider the Beatitudes discussed above as the “Conversion Beatitudes” because they represent the work the Holy Spirit does in us in bringing us into a living and intimate relationship with Jesus. Without such a living working, relationship with the Him, we cannot go further on our walk of discipleship.

Many of us, including myself, spend a lot of time in this phase, especially in the mercy and reconciliation part, because of the personal baggage we hang onto that must be disposed of before we can proceed to the next phase in the Beatitudes.

In entering the next phase we must understand that, although our salvation is assured through our faith in the Son of God and our relationship with Him, we cannot complete the purpose for which we have been called to discipleship unless we also permit the Spirit of Jesus to work in us and through us to reach others IN HIS NAME so that His Kingdom of Love is manifested through us, even to the point of dying for Him and for His Kingdom.

In my next sharing I will comment on the remaining Beatitudes that await us as we cooperate with the Holy Spirit in this work of Grace, His School of Discipleship. I call these beatitudes the “Expression Beatitudes” because when we reach this level our surrender to His Grace is so complete that our lives become an expression of Jesus living through us. So that, we may truly say as Paul says,

“ ..and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal 2:20)

May the Spirit of Love and Mercy fill your hearts as you continue cooperating with His Love and His Grace. … Bartimaeus

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Related Links:

Reflections on The Beatitudes (Part 1)

“I Then Shall Live  as one who’s been Forgiven”

“I Surrender All”

© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, 2010, all rights reserved

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Sermon on the Mount

Sermon on the Mount

The Beatitudes (Matt.5:3-11)

“Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn,  for they will be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

My fellow Pilgrims,

One of the greatest challenges facing us as believers in Christ is that of transitioning from merely being believers to being conformed to His image (Rom. 8:29) as adopted sons and daughters – as heirs of the Kingdom.  The process of being conformed to Him is not our of own doing or ability, it is a process of transformation driven by the Spirit of the Living God who indwells all who believe in the Son, Jesus the Messiah.

It is not a process forced upon us, rather it is a process that we are invited to enter into willingly and freely of our own accord, in faith and out of love, the love of Him who died for us!  It is a yielding that surrenders our total being, spirit, soul and body, so that He may deliver us from the bondage of the world through the renewal of our hearts and minds and in this way conform us to His image and His Spirit to the point where we can all say that “… we have the mind of Christ” (1Cor. 2:16).

This, my brethren, is what the process of becoming a disciple is all about. It is a process that entails a personal cost – namely, our very selves. It the process whereby we divest ourselves of our own ambitions and desires and yield ourselves to Him who has bought us at the cost of His own life through the shedding of His precious blood!

When Jesus called His disciples to a mountainside to teach them (Matthew, Chapter 5) it was not to give them a “pep-talk” but rather, to indicate to them what the cost and depth of their commitment to Him as disciples really signified.  Significantly, Jesus prefaces His teaching, which we refer to as the “Sermon on the Mount”, with a very direct summary of the process which the Holy Spirit will work in them and through them as they enter into the Narrow Gate and begin their walk of discipleship with Him.

In this introduction, the fundamental aphorisms of discipleship, are posed as “Blessings” or “Manifest Favor of God” to let them explicitly understand that what they will be experiencing, is the power of God working through them and in them to bring them to the point where they will sacrifice even their own lives in doing the Father’s will and thus bringing forth His Kingdom on this Earth!

For us, today, these “Beatitudes” are the indicators of where we are in the transition the Holy Spirit is working in us on the way to being conformed to the image of Christ. These Beatitudes represent for us, the progressive phases that all of us, who truly and willingly enter into the walk of discipleship and take on Jesus’ yoke, will experience as we continue on our walk with Him.

Of course, some of us, enter the walk not fully realizing what our commitment to “following Christ” entails, and thus are tempted to opt out of the Walk at the first sign of resistance from the world system in which we live. And there are even some, who attempt to enter the Walk without renouncing the world thus making shipwreck of their faith (1Tim. 1:19). But we, brethren, are of faith and not those who draw back and of whom the Lord says, “my soul has no pleasure in them” (Heb. 10:38).

So, in order to be fully informed and permit the spirit of the Beatitudes to prepare us and guide us in our walk with Him, I will share with you (in summary form) my reflections on the essential elements of these stepping stones into the Kingdom of God in this and the several other postings that will follow this one.

Before I do, let me first point out that for many of us the use of the word “discipleship” is a hindrance because it has been so misused and abused by certain persons who attempt to control and manipulate the people of God under the guise of “authority”.  Let me be clear – when I use the term it is as a personal and private discipline to bring to perfection our relationship with Jesus and the Father.  It merely formalizes what we all as Christians are called to do – hear the voice of God in love and meekly and humbly obey His calling by putting into action the Word of God in our lives, and thus manifesting His Love into this fallen world.

This is something each of us can do in private regardless of our state in life! We don’t have to be monks or nuns, or preachers or deacons. All we need to be is the persons the creator made us to be, whether married or single, ordained or un-ordained, in whatever occupation or profession in which we are currently involved (except a sinful one, of course).

All that the Lord is calling us to is to let His Spirit work in us and through us in our every day lives so that as we become more and more like Jesus, more and more of the Jesus that is in us will be manifested to the world. To do that we have to be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit and His gifts of discernment and wisdom, otherwise, our own flesh may deceive us and take us down the wrong path. A path that definitely would not be discipleship.

The First Beatitude – “Blessed are the Poor in Spirit …”

The first Beatitude or work of Grace in us is that of bringing each of us to a distinct awareness of the state of our spiritual bankruptcy or poverty. For us adult believers, this usually comes during a crisis in our lives. It may be an emotional, physical or spiritual crisis involving our work, our relationships, our financial status, or our moral situation (or a mix of all of these). In any case, the Holy Spirit uses such circumstances in our lives to help us to understand that we cannot on our own human effort save ourselves, physically, emotionally, or spiritually. To bring us to this self-assessment usually requires that we enter a stage of brokenness so that the shell we have built around our hearts is open to the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

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

It is through the brokenness that occurs in such circumstances that Holy Spirit is able to reach our hearts and lets us properly assess our desperate plight so that we are willing to turn to God for help. Remember that Jesus, at another place in scripture, told His disciples, “Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it” (Luke 18 17). It is through this Beatitude or grace that the Holy Spirit brings us to the point in our lives where we become as dependent as a little child so that our hearts are opened to receive God’s saving grace . Praised Be His Holy Name!

Please note that I am speaking of adults becoming as little children – children, who, because of their dependent state, normally are very open to the Spirit and, usually, do not need to be brought to such a stage because they are already “poor in spirit”.

We adult believers, however, because of the worldly environment in which we are forced to live and survive, have made pride and self-sufficiency our idols and, in fact, many of us raise our own children to honor those same idols in their lives. It is to the breaking of these idols to which the first Beatitude speaks. It is the doorway to the rest of the Beatitudes and to the “Kingdom of Heaven” – it is, above all, the doorway we must re-enter when we fall along the Way – as we all do because of the moral weakness inherent in our human nature.

This Beatitude, then, leads directly into the next Beatitude where, when like Peter, we realize we have betrayed the Lord, and are led into the Godly sorrow that leads to repentance. Thus, blessed by this holy mourning as stated in the Second Beatitude, we cooperate with the Spirit of Grace by responding to this sorrow for our sin with a corresponding attitude of repentance. This beatitude and the other four that follow are part and parcel of the inner sub-process of  “conversion” which will be the subject of my next posting.

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As I conclude this particular sharing, my brothers and sisters. I pray that The Spirit of His Love hover over you and inspire in you that which is appropriate for you in your stage of the spiritual walk with Him who died for us all!

May He abundantly bless you … Bartimaeus

© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, 2010, all rights reserved

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