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Posts Tagged ‘Charismatic Renewal’

The Holy Spirit and The Double Portion Anointing

My fellow pilgrims,

The Paraclete - Our Helper

Come Holy Spirit! Come!

In a previous post, which I titled “Releasing the Spirit”, I mentioned that The Father’s purpose for us in this world is to conform us to the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29) so that we may be an extension of His Kingdom of Love here, in this world. I also stated that in order to do this He sent the Holy Spirit to enlighten us, bring us to life in Christ (Eph. 3:13-19), and to empower us (Acts 1:8) to send us forth to minister the Good News of His Love to the Christian community and the world.

This posting is intended to clarify the distinction between the “Indwelling” of the Holy Spirit in us and an “Anointing” by the Holy Spirit. The distinction needs to be made because many of us mistakenly consider the terms to be synonymous. This misunderstanding hinders many of us from coming to a full awareness of the power of the Spirit in us and, thus a barrier to entering fully into the Father’s purpose for our lives.

Under this fairly common misconception we assume that since the Spirit of God dwells in us, no response on our part is required for the graces of the Spirit to manifest themselves in and through our lives.  After all if grace is to be grace why is there a need for us to do anything?

In response to this attitude we point out that St. Luke in his Gospel tells us that, “If you then being human know how to give good things to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” (Luke 11:13). Since Luke was writing to Christians in whom the Spirit already dwelt we must conclude that what the Father desires is for us to freely and willingly ask for the gifts of the indwelling Spirit to be made manifest in us and through us to address the circumstances and challenges we face in each of our lives.

You see the Father sees us as His children and in bringing us in conformity to His Son, He desires that we be His willing partners in bringing forth His Kingdom in this world. By permitting us to ask, we not only are drawn into further intimacy with Him but we now have a part to play in the flow of His Love to this world.

Of Course, all this hinges on the atoning work of Jesus and His resurrection. You see, the Lord sent His Son not only to die for our sins so that we could have access to heaven, but also so that He, Jesus, would be the firstborn of many brethren.  We believers, His body, the church, are then the next-born and we are now here on earth to continue Jesus’ ministry to the world through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

The Indwelling Spirit and the Inner Anointing

“And as for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.“ (1John 2:27)

When we are converted and baptized we receive the Holy Spirit to dwell in us and begin the work of conforming us to Jesus.  The indwelling Spirit then works through and in us by what the scriptures call an anointing. An anointing is the infusion of Divine Power for manifestation either in our “inner man” or through our “outer man”. Each anointing is manifested through a set of spiritual gifts that permit us to partner with the divine in bringing forth his Kingdom. In this way the Father Himself works through us as He worked through Jesus when He was on Earth.

The gifts associated with the inner anointing relate to the gifts accorded the Messiah in Isaiah Chapter 11, they are often referred to as the sanctifying gifts. When we become new creations in Christ, these gifts operate in our inner being to bring us into conformity with the image of the Son. When activated in our lives through faith, these gifts lead us to an intimate life of holiness, communion with the Father, and worship through prayer and the sacraments.

Now, for myself, the gifts associated with this inner anointing (see Isaiah 11: 1-6) are mainly activated in me through intimate prayer and reception of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist. Then, as I live out the Word of God each day of my life, I have the inner assurance that my Helper, the Holy Spirit is there to infuse his Grace into my human attempts to communicate His Love to others. As I grow in loving obedience to His Word so I grow in being conformed to the Spirit of Christ in me.

Being human, I often stumble of course, but the Spirit is right there at my side to hold me up and lead me to repentance, confession, and restoration to the Walk of Love with my Jesus.  All this is in accord with the teaching of the Apostle John, who tells us,

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.” (1 John 1:8-10)

“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense — Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:1-2)

Baptism of the Spirit and the Outer Anointing

Just as the Spirit anoints our inner man for our sanctification and enlightenment, so also our outer man needs the anointing of the Spirit to empower us for ministry (service) to the community and the world thus bringing us into total conformity to Jesus.

Jesus himself, in whom the fullness of the Godhead dwells, set the example for us when received the anointing of the Holy Spirit in order to fulfill His calling as Messiah (Luke 3:21-22).  Then, as He initiated His ministry under the anointing of the Spirit, Jesus declared that:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
(Luke 4:18-19)

Just as Jesus received the Spirit’s anointing to minister the Father’s Love to the world so to we the members of His Body, the church, receive the anointing of the Dove of Pentecost at confirmation to empower us to minister to the community and to the world the Divine love of the Father through the Spiritual Gifts described in the Book of Acts, Chapters 2, and in 1st Corinthians, Chapter 12. In anointing the outer man with the Power of the Spirit we become the extension of Jesus’ ministry in this world for building up the church and for the propagation of His Kingdom in the world.

This anointing of the Spirit is termed the “Baptism of the Spirit” because this is the term Jesus used to describe it. Remember what he said to his disciples just before his Ascension:

“And gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised,  “Which,” He said,  “you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” ( Acts 1:4-5)

The Anointing of the Spirit on the outer man is conferred on every baptized Christian at Confirmation. The Spirit Baptism is our is our legacy and all that we need to do is to activate the gifts which correspond to this anointing is by yielding to the Holy Spirit and releasing Him into our lives, asking Him to work through us and in us so that the will of the Father may be accomplished and so that He and He alone may receive the Glory for His works in us.

The  Double Portion Anointing

St. Thomas Aquinas in His  Summa Theologica (Summa Theologica, Vol XI, Nature and Grace, 12ae, Q111, Art.1, Par. 3) affirms the dichotomy of grace just stated above when he states that the graces we receive as Christians may be categorized into two main classes or types: Sanctifying Grace, which is intended to sanctify the individual who receives this type of grace and Actual or Free Grace which is not intended for the individual who receives this type of grace but rather for the community and the individuals to whom the individual ministers. The grace we receive in Baptism is the former type while the grace we receive at Confirmation is the latter. The Indwelling Spirit is above all graces, indeed, He is the source of all graces and divine power.

The Holy Spirit gives us these two types of graces with the intent that they be manifested in tandem in our lives. They are like the two seals on a coin. A coin to be authentic and of value must exhibit the appropriate seal on both of its facets. Likewise, in order for our lives to be fully authentic in Christ, have been sealed by the Holy Spirit on Both of our facets – the inner man and the outer man so that we can be His instruments to the fullest extent.

If we wish to truly enter into discipleship we cannot ignore the seal we carry on either of our facets for it is only with these seals fully active that we can truly represent the Image of the Son in this world. Without the sanctifying gifts our lives will soon be separated from God by sin. And without the empowerment gifts we deny the Holy Spirit the channels He need to bring forth  the Kingdom of the Father in this world. The choice is ours but He provides the Graces if we but accede to the leadings of His Love in us.

Elisha Asking for Elijah's Mantle

To conclude let me make you aware that Elisha’s receipt of Elijah’s mantle as he was taken to heaven by a fiery chariot (2 Kings 2:1,6-14) was a prefiguring of the church of God receiving Jesus’ mantle at Pentecost. And just as Elisha requested a double portion anointing from Elijah so we believers, the church that Jesus founded, have also received the double portion anointing that was on Jesus.

That is why Jesus told the apostles the night before He was crucified that:

“Now I am going to the one who sent me,
and not one of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’
But because I told you this, grief has filled your hearts.
But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go.
For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you.
But if I go, I will send him to you.”
(Jn 16:5-&)

When he appeared to them after His resurrection he promised them his mantle, telling them that:

“… you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

On the day of Pentecost the disciples received that mantle and then passed that mantle to the new converts as when the Apostle Peter proclaims to the astonished crowd  …

“Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:  “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” (Acts 2:14-21)

Then after preaching the Good News to them and calling for them to repent He further states,

… “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And [then] you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is [also] for you and your children and for all who are far off — for all whom the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:38-39)

Since the promise applies to us who have been called even though we are far off, we believers, the church of God, are thus also the receptors of the mantle of Jesus.  Let us then with all urgency take up the mantle with the  double portion anointing, and, by the grace it accords, fulfill our calling to the fullest by releasing the Holy Spirit to do His work in us and through us!

May the Spirit of God be with you and may The Father and the Son be glorified as you release your lives to Him! Amen and Amen!

Bartimaeus

PS: I highly recommend your accessing the following links to receive further encouragement:

Prayer to the Holy Spirit: Come, Holy Spirit!

What Makes A Christian Charismatic?

http://www.holyspiritinteractive.net/features/charismaticrenewal/cr_john.asp

The Catholic Experience of Renewal

https://quietplace4prayer.wordpress.com/conversion-and-empowerment/charismatic-renewal/

Video: A History of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal

“Understanding The Promise of the Father” (a pdf  doc.) – Click here to go to our download section

Prayer to Receive The Holy Spirit

Related Scripture for Meditation :   Acts Chapter 2, 1 Corinthians Chapter 12

© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2009].

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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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Has Jesus Arisen In Your Heart? (part 2)

From Enlightenment to Empowerment and Consecration

Jesus receives the Anointing

Jesus Baptized in the Spirit

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

Jesus Welcomes Children

Jesus begins teaching us as children

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need some one to teach you again the first principles of God’s word. You need milk, not solid food; for every one who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their faculties trained by practice to distinguish good from evil. (Heb. 5:11-13)

“Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, with instruction about ablutions, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits.” (Heb. 6:1-3)

My dear fellow pilgrims in Christ Jesus,

In the first article of this title I postulated that, at the very least, there are three major phases or stages possible in our growth to spiritual maturity while we are in this world. Sadly, most of us Christians rarely get beyond the first stage which I summarized in part 1 of: ”Has Jesus Arisen in your Heart?”. The stages that I listed in that article are as follow:

Stage 1 – Unbelief to a Living Faith and Spiritual Awakening (Enlightenment)

Stage 2 – Spiritual Awakening to Spiritual Empowerment and Consecration

Stage 3 – Spiritual Consecration to Spiritual Union With Christ

<> What we learned from the first stage and why we need to grow out of it …

I described the first stage as basically consisting of how, upon hearing the Good News of Jesus Christ, our spirits come into an awareness of our fallen state and an inner desire seek to be the reconciled with the Father through repentance and faith in Jesus His Son. This Enlightenment results in a re-born spirit within us that enables us, through conversion and baptism to experience God in our lives and begin a relationship with Him through Jesus as our Savior, Lord, and Shepherd.

You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was destined before the foundation of the world but was made manifest at the end of the times for your sake. Through him you have confidence in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere love of the brethren, love one another earnestly from the heart. You have been born anew, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord abides for ever.” That word is the good news which was preached to you. (1 Ptr. 18-25)

This turning to God and spiritual re-birth is a decision that is the beginning of our conversion and initiates a personal relationship with the Jesus that, if we endure in faith, will take us to our eternal destiny with Him in Heaven. I term this stage as an Awakening or Enlightenment because through this process of conversion our spirits re re-born and become sensitive to the spiritual presence of God in our lives. That is why the church also calls this phase “Enlightenment”. However, we really need to understand that this Phase is only the beginning of our enlightenment, for really, once we become spiritually aware we will continue growing in our enlightenment through eternity. In this initiation stage, in most cases, we merely gain enough enlightenment to enable our faith in who Jesus is and our dire need to receive Him so that we turn to Him for salvation.

In this stage we find ourselves, like babes, thirsting for His Word and immersing ourselves in His loving presence through prayer and worship. Some of us enjoy this stage so much that we have the tendency to linger and not understand that this is only the beginning – an open door to even more wondrous transitions that are part of our legacy in Christ Jesus! But we need to continue growing into that legacy. That is, the legacy to be conformed to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29), so that we may one of His many brethren as true children of God.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 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. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Rom.8:28-31)

Yes, brethren, in Christ, we are called into a glorious spiritual inheritance, an inheritance that involves several transitions, from spiritual babes to spiritual maturity. Unfortunately some of us, like myself, tend to get stranded in the infancy stage

However we don’t have to remain in this stage but taking the apostle peter’s advice we can grow by feeding on the Word of God…

Like newborn babes, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation” (1 Ptr.2:2)

Those of us who tend to get stranded in this stage, do so mainly because we end up being conformed to the world rather than to Jesus. I, for instance, though I grew up in a Catholic Christian family and was more or less compliant to all that my tradition required of me, I did not, however, experience an renewed spiritual awareness until adulthood, when for the first time the Word of God reached my heart and I gave myself to Him and encountered Him in a personal relationship! Praised Be His Holy Name!

Also, not all of us who enter this phase take appropriate action in responding to our newly awakened spiritual sensitivity and continue operating the venue of the ”flesh” or our human nature., thus grieving the Holy Spirit within us.

The apostle Paul makes this possibility clear to the Christians in the Corinthian community when he tells them …

“But I, brethren, could not address you as spiritual men, but as men of the flesh, as babes in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food; for you were not ready for it; and even yet you are not ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving like ordinary men?” (1 Cor. 3:1-3)

<> Now –  Proceeding on to the Next Stage – Our Consecration as True Disciples in the Spirit …

The apostle indicates that even though they are baptized “brethren”, they have not yet broken through to the spiritual maturity they ought to have and he further informs them that without their appropriate response to the Spirit they will not be equipped to become disciples and proceed into the next phase that requires an even greater acuity of spirit…

“…God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For what person knows a man’s thoughts except the spirit of the man which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who possess the Spirit. The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Cor.10-16)

So likewise in our age we must understand that … The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

Here, we need to ask ourselves, “am I able to understand and receive the spiritual gifts mentioned by Paul in his letters to the Romans, Corinthians and Ephesians? If they appear to be folly to me, does that mean I am ‘unspiritual’?

Sadly, brothers and sisters, unless we learn to operate and grow with our newly awakened spiritual nature, we should consider ourselves as ‘unspiritual’ and, because of this, we will not be able to cooperate with the Spirit of God that is in us as converted Christians to truly carry out the ultimate purpose for us in this world: which is to be a disciples and to make disciples. To put it in Jesus’ terms, you will not be able to hear the Shepherd’s voice in order to be able to follow Him (see Jn. 10:27).

You would think that once we entered the first stage of spiritual awareness through our conversion and subsequent enlightenment, that proceeding on to the next stage would be easier. But, as you can see from what I stated prior, that if we cannot get out of the rut of walking in the flesh, we will not be able to move on ‘in the spirit’. It requires a renewal of our minds (Rom 12:1-2) as well as our spirits. That is not that easy for us humans, we like to live in ruts – we feel more comfortable when we are not challenged. We can only progress in our spiritual growth if we cooperate with the Holy Spirit and NOT grieve Him by ignoring Him and His Gifts!

In the opening quotation from Paul’s letter to the Galatians (Gal.4:19) we see the apostle express his frustration the Galatian community. A community of newly evangelized and baptized Christians who found it so difficult to proceed on to spiritual maturity that Paul said that he was in prayerful “travail” for them until Christ be formed in them! This clearly indicates that the work of the Holy Spirit in us only begins at our initiation into Christ Jesus, our initial conversion and enlightenment being only the door to the Spirit bringing us to perfection (completing our transformation to the image of Christ).

The reason Paul was concerned for the Galatians was that, although they had accepted Christ in the spirit so as to be enlightened through faith as to the nature of the salvation that had been won for them by Jesus’ Crucifixion and Resurrection from the dead, they still did not have any notion of the continuing spiritual transformation involved in being conformed to the Spirit of Christ (Rom.8:28-29) and the cooperation that was required of them to proceed to the stages that followed in their spiritual growth.

Here is Paul expressing himself again on the reasons behind his frustration in their lack of progress in their spiritual lives:

“Formerly, when you did not know God, you were in bondage to beings that by nature are no gods; but now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and beggarly elemental spirits, whose slaves you want to be once more? You observe days, and months, and seasons, and years! I am afraid I have labored over you in vain.” (Gal. 4:8-11)

The background behind the situation that Paul encountered was, that after evangelizing and founding this nascent Christian community, certain unauthorized “missionaries” came from Jerusalem with the intent of “Judaizing” the new converts to the religious practices of the Jerusalem community. Of course, they came with a misguided zeal, to ensure that these gentiles be circumcised and be faithful to the rules and regulations they thought were needed for them to be part of their belief system.

You see, it was still unthinkable to these “Judaizers”, who had accepted the Messiah as Jews, that any one could be part of God’s plan of salvation unless they were truly “practicing Jews”. They still did not fully understand that the Messiah was sent not just to save the Jewish people but the whole world and, salvation would come, not through compliance with religious rules and regulations, which were but a shadow of God’s ultimate intent, but by Grace through Faith in the Messiah Himself! All of this would come through the Holy Spirit working in the hearts of men as “The GIFT of the Father” and not due to any merits or works on our part so that the Glory of His Gift would be totally His through the sacrifice of His Only Begotten Son!”

What we moderns also don’t seem to realize is that when we first come to Christ, our human nature (that is our flesh) causes us to behave in a manner very similar to the Galatians. That is, we have a hard time understanding the “Truth” that our salvation is NOT dependent on our compliance with the religious practices of the community into which we were assimilated.

Rather, our religious practices and our “good” works must come as the “fruit” of God’s indwelling Spirit in us and from our need to express our worship through praise and thanks to the Father, for the magnificence of His Love for us through Jesus who as the Lamb of God, offered Himself in propitiation for our sins so that we might become a new creation, acceptable to the Father in Him! By taking our place to satisfy God’s justice, He, Jesus, freed all humanity from the bondage of sin and reconciled us to the Father, enabling us to take our place as His Children and as brothers to Him, the very Jesus who brought us to salvation! A salvation, that was provided to us while we were yet sinners and did not in any way merit the inconceivable generosity of His Grace! Praised be His Holy Name!

Its clear then, that many of this generation have not come to fully comprehend is that Christ died for us, not only to save us and reconcile us with the Father, bringing us into the Kingdom of Grace, but also so that we might be conformed into His Image here on earth, so that He, living through us (abiding in us), might continue, through us, to bring forth fruit to the Glory of God the Father!

<> Consecration as  a Disciple Requires a Decision

This, then, is our purpose in Christ, a role that we take on as we enter into this, the next stage of our spiritual growth where we go from Enlightenment to Empowerment and Consecration. It is not a stage we automatically enter into, it is a stage that requires our full understanding and willingness so that we may consecrate our lives fully to Him, through the renewal of our minds (Rom.!2:1-2). It is a stage where He sends His Holy Spirit to empower us so that the works that we do are empowered by the Spirit of Christ in us so that they are truly His works and NOT ours! It is a stage where it requires us to make a decision to yield ourselves fully to Him – in fact to yoke or “consecrate” ourselves to Him by denying our self-driven instincts and letting His Spirit to totally take hold of us and direct us down the narrow path of discipleship to Him and Him alone! Praised be His Holy Name!

The Way of  True Discipleship

The Way of True Discipleship

This is the stage where our transformation truly begins. Where we truly take up our cross of self-denial. Again, it is Paul that instructs us, regarding the requirement for this stage, the first of which is moving from walking in the flesh to walking in the Spirit (see Rom. 8:4; Rom 8:9; Gal. 5: 16; Gal. 5.25). A walk that requires entering into an enhanced intimate spiritual relationship and awareness of the Trinity, so that we may know and understand the Father’s desires and enable us the ability to cooperate with the work of the Holy Spirit in us to carry out these desires in our lives.

This level of spiritual awareness permits us to understand and receive the gifts of God as well as the divine wisdom we need to operate in these divine gifts (NOT our natural gifts). It also, necessarily, brings us into a closer relationship to the Divine through Jesus Christ who is the Door and who has told us that …

“No one comes to Me unless the Father draw him…”                             (Jn. 6:44)

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.”

(Jn 14:6)

and …

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.                                                                                          (Jn. 15:45)

When Jesus accepted His role He submitted to be baptized by John in order to identify with sinful humanity thus assenting with the will of the Father to be the Sin Offering four us. When the Holy Spirit came upon Him after His baptism with water, He received the anointing and authority He needed to fulfill His Role as Savior and King.

So it is with us, when we are converted and baptized in water we identify with Him and the role He accepted to take on our sins. When we receive the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit” we are empowered (anointed) with His anointing to carry on His ministry in this world.

Shortly after His baptism, when Jesus attended a Sabbath service in Nazareth, …

…and there was given to him the book of the prophet Isaiah. He opened the book and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” And he closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4: 17-21)

In the same way we, His Disciples, are called not only to be baptized in water but also to be anointed (with His Anointing) to empower us to fulfill our roles when we receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit as all the apostles, disciples and believers received at Pentecost.

The spiritual gifts mentioned by Paul in his letters are, in fact, the manifestation of the anointing of the Holy Spirit (see 1Cor. 12) needed by us to carry on our Master’s work for the building up of the Church. The anointing is the anointing that was on Jesus and is now distributed amongst ua to continue His ministry to His body, the church.

This is the baptism of which John said “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” (Mathew 3:11)

It is also termed by Luke (who wrote The Acts of the Apostles) as the “Promise of the Father” as the source of the Gifts received at Pentecost, saying …

“… the day when he was taken up, after he had given commandment through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. To them he presented himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days, and speaking of the kingdom of God. And while staying with them he charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me, for John baptized with water, but before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:2-5)

And Peter, at Pentecost, also spoke of this “Promise of the Father” as follows…

“Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and [then] you shall [also] receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him.” (Acts 2:38-39)

Thus, brothers and sisters, it is clear that if we are to progress on to our calling and growth in the spirit in this phase of our transition, we cannot ignore the need to be empowered to serve by asking for and receiving the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

In conjunction with this empowerment is also the need to intentionally consecrate ourselves as disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ by offering our selves totally to Him for His Service. Listen to what the apostle Paul exhorts regarding our consecration…

“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)

Many of us take for granted that if we are believers we are “automatically” disciples of Jesus. No, my brethren! To enter discipleship requires a separate decision from believing in who Jesus is or entering into a relationship with Him. It is a decision that must be made freely, out of “agape” love, and NOT as a condition on our salvation. That is why Jesus admonished those who believed in Him and were ready to follow Him MUST measure the “cost” of discipleship before making a decision – a discipleship of which the first step is to “deny oneself and carry that cross daily”. It is a sacrifice of your right to yourself by a thorough and complete yoking of your life to His! But since your salvation is already assured by your faith in Him, you make this decision freely without any coercive thoughts that you might lose your salvation.

Besides the carrying the cross of self-denial daily, you also need to understand that you are committing your self to the Holy Spirit so  He may  continue to conform you to the image of Christ. And that this process of transformation will, of necessity involve the “renewal of your mind” so that you will no longer live your life in conformance to the world but to the Spirit of Christ who is in you. This is the process the apostle Paul refers to “as working out your salvation” when tells the Philippian community…

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.” (Phil.2:12-16)

Paul, in order to ensure that they maintain their commitment and their consecration, also asks the Galatian community to…

“… 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. 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.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”                       (Gal. 5: 16-25)

Let us, who consecrate ourselves as intentional disciples of Christ Jesus, set for ourselves the same goal that Paul set for himself …

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

I urge you therefore, beloved pilgrims in Christ Jesus, to consider carefully in prayer and meditation the themes that I have presented here, based on the Word of God. And, asking for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, seek the desire of the Father for your life and freely commit yourself to fulfill the Fathers desire. I pray this in Jesus’ mighty Name! Amen and Amen!

Your brother and fellow pilgrim in Christ Jesus …. Bartimaeus

PS: If my presentation here has moved you to further inquiry I now refer you, below, to several  previous articles on this matter that will provide you further information that will permit the Holy Spirit to guide you as you prayerfully consult Him!

Important Related Articles:

Prayer to receive the Holy Spirit

Cast your Net on the Other Side

Sweet Yoke of Love

Husbands Love your Wives

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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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Coming into the Fullness of the Spirit

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

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit

My dear fellow pilgrims in Christ Jesus,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grieving the Spirit

Grieving the Spirit of God

Grieving the Spirit of God

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quenching the Spirit

Quenching the Spirit

Quenching the Spirit

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

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

The World, the Flesh, and the Devil

The World, the Flesh, and the Devil

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

Remember the warning of preparation that Jesus gave His disciples:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hardening of the Heart

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

The Hardened Heart

The Hardened Heart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baruch ha Shem!

Your Brother In Christ Jesus … Bartimaeus

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

Links to Related Articles

<>  Sweet Yoke of Love

<>  Releasing the Spirit

<>  Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit

<> The Renewal of Our Minds

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

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Faith Challenges:  the 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)

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Praying In the Spirit

Recognizing our need for a renewed mind

In this post, I take another look at the scriptural theme that we discussed in my prior article regarding our conformance to the “world” as being one of the primary impediments to fulfilling our purpose as Disciples of Christ. In that sharing I commented that the way we counter the enticement of the flesh to the ways of the world is by surrendering our very “selves” to the Holy Spirit in cooperation with His Grace so that He can begin the process of renewing our minds to enable us to discern the will of God’s in our lives.

Without such discernment and yielding to the will of the Father, we cannot truly become a living sacrifice because we will not have placed our own self-will on the altar of Love, as St. Paul exhorts us through the cited scripture. Unless we crucify the flesh (especially our egos) we will not be able to be fully responsive to carry out God’s will in our lives – because the ego is so deceptive that, unless we disconnect from it completely, even the religious things we do will be done to satisfy our “selves” and NOT for the Glory of the Father and His Son.

Jesus does not intend for us to bear this burden alone – indeed He offers to ease the burden by asking us to be yoked in Love to Himself (cf., Sweet Yoke of Love). For it is only in being yoked to Him and His Love that the Holy Spirit can begin the process of renewing our minds.

Yielding to the renewal of our minds

Yielding to the renewal of our minds

In this posting I intend to flesh out just what the “renewal of our minds” entails so we may more easily accommodate ourselves to the Graces the Holy Spirit will bring into our lives as He conforms us more and more to the image of Christ (cf., Rom. 8:29) by leading us to follow in His example:

…..

“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)

The renewing of our minds, then, is the process the Holy Spirit uses to bring us to the point where we no longer have to ask ourselves. “what would Jesus do?” but instead, without constraint and in response to the agape Love that has  been deposited in us (Rom. 5:5)), we instinctively think and do what Jesus would do in similar circumstances. In bringing us to this point the Spirit works in the particular story of our life experiences to gradually bring the mind of Christ into manifestation in our lives so that we as the Apostle Paul may also say, “For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?”  But we have the mind of Christ.” (1Cor. 2:16 )

Our access to the mind of Christ is not just an upgrading of our own natural mental processes but an entry into the divine wisdom of God through direct revelation by the power of the Holy Spirit. For as St. Paul also says,

“… a wisdom, however, not of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom, which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; but just as it is written,  ‘Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, And which have not entered the heart of man, All that God has prepared for those who love Him.’ For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man, which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.  Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God…” (1 Cor. 2:6-12)

For most of us, the renewal of our minds is indeed a difficult task, for first of all we must divest ourselves of the mindset that has been ingrained in us by the world culture since our youth – the self-centered attitude that we must “look out for number one” because if you don’t look out for ourselves no one else will. And the associated attitudes that say: “It matters not how straight the gate/how charged with punishment the scroll/ I am the master of my fate/ I am the captain of my soul” and, that, you must do whatever it takes to survive in human society regardless of the moral fences you have to break.

No my brothers and sisters the TRUTH is that we are not our own (1Cor.6:19-20)! We have been bought at a price through Jesus’ atoning sacrifice on the cross and the ONLY way we can fulfill our destiny is to yield ourselves to HIM and to HIM alone so that He and HIS LOVE reigns in our hearts. We must make a decision to renounce the world and the flesh and walk in the Spirit through the renewal of our minds.

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed it cannot, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.”  (Rom. 8:5-9)

In order to set your mind on the indwelling Spirit, you must rid yourself of all those attitudes that place you and your “self” at the center of your universe. You must renounce the false god of “self” and place Jesus at the center of all your life events, thoughts, actions and motivations. If you are to bear fruit for His Glory you must be firmly attached to the TRUE VINE (John 15:1), Jesus, the son of the Living God! For as He says, “without me you can do nothing” (Jn.15:5), and, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, No one comes to the Father but by me” (Jn.14:6).

Divesting ourselves of self-sufficiency, then, becomes one of our greatest challenges because it goes against the world mindset, But if we are attached to the TRUE VINE, He will be the provider of our strength, our resolve, and the faith that is required for the task. If we detach our selves from the vine we will be on our own and thus disable ourselves from brining forth fruit for His Kingdom!

Now, such a life dedicated to the Lord cannot be reached unless our relationship with Him deepens and we are able to discern His voice in us, through every moment of our lives (cf., On Hearing His Voice …) This level of communion and intimacy with the Divine requires that we go deeper and deeper in prayer through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and the Light of His Word reaching our hearts.  We cannot come to this level through mere perfunctory religious activity or rote recitation of scripted prayer — it involves our total giving of our deepest self and the emptying of our hearts to Him so that He can place His desires in us. Even in this He will help us if we give ourselves totally to Him.

It is very important brethren that we permit the Holy Spirit to activate and inspire our reading of His Word. For, it is only through His inspiration that the Word can break through the veil of our human minds and reveal and activate the truths He wishes us to act on in faith. The more we imbibe of His Word and interact with the Holy Spirit, the more and deeper our relationship to Jesus becomes to the point where we like Paul can also say, “We have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16).

Now, it is true that all those who abide in Him have access to “His mind”, but if we let the cares and worries of the world occupy us, the “mind” of Christ will never be able to surface in our lives. We, like Jesus, must set time apart from the world to still our hearts and commune with the Divine so that the Spirit of His Love that has been poured into us (Rom. 5:5) may take the appropriate place of dominance in our lives.

As our trust and communion with the Lord increases so will our ability to activate our faith to bring forth fruit for His Kingdom out of the circumstances that He places before us in our lives. So many of us don’t realize that the world systems in which we are embedded affect our ability to live out our faith. This is because the negative emotions and attitudes the world promotes weaken our faith, just as Peter’s faith was weakened by the roar of the waves and the wind when he attempted to walk on water at Jesus’ behest (cf., Matt.14:28-31). For that reason it is important to ignore whatever attitudes the world is attempting to impose on us and to place our entire focus trust and faith in Jesus and His Word regardless of what is going on around us!

Through the renewal of our minds and our renewed fellowship with Christ we develop an increase in trust in HIM, His promises and His directives to us. In this way whatever the world says or thinks is placed into the irrelevant background of our lives, as it rightly should.

As our faith and fellowship with Christ increases through the renewal of our minds so also our ability to enter into worship is increasingly enhanced by the Holy Spirit. Although we may not realize it, the activities we currently categorize as “worship” are really only the means the Lord uses to bring our spirit to the level of awareness where we can enter into and experience true worship “in the Spirit and in truth”. One of the main reasons we are hindered is that our natural minds “get in the way” and act as a veil before the Holy of Holies. The renewal of our minds rips out that veil of self-consciousness and permits us to enter into the Spirit (or God-consciousness) without our human intellects getting in the way.

As our minds continue in the renewal process we will find ourselves being drawn more and more by the Spirit into the true worship that the Father desires (cf., John 4:23), a worship where we lose all consciousness of “self” and are drawn in to a spiritual union with the Divine – a state where He and He alone matters and NOT the attitude and postures of ourselves or others around us. Worship, true worship, only starts when our surrender to Him is so total and complete that our only awareness is of Him and of being enveloped in His Glorious Presence. It is the point where we, like Jacob, personally experience a “Beth El” (cf., Gen.28:10-17) and we can, like Jacob, say ” truly I have been in the Presence Of God”! The Lord has graciously provided the spiritual gifts that enable this entry into His Presence – one of these being “Praying or Singing in the Spirit“. Praised be His Holy Name!

Now, you may say or think to yourself, ” but I know the life I have lived and I am not worthy to enter into His Presence”.  That thought, in itself, brethren, is exactly what qualifies you to enter. For He himself said, “the first shall be last and the last first” (Matt. 19:30), whereas to the Scribes and the Pharisees, who thought themselves to be “first” He said, “…even the prostitutes and tax collectors enter in before you”(Matt.21:31). Yes you are qualified because, “…blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven”.

Recognizing your own unworthiness indicates your poverty of spirit and Fear of the Lord. But the blessing comes with recognizing that He took on your unworthiness to give you His worthiness.  All you need to do is throw yourself at His feet, repent and accept the robe of righteousness that He offers, His Robe of Glory that lets you come before the Heavenly Throne. Let yourself, then, be enveloped in Him and His Mercy by surrendering yourself to Him and His Love. Do this with a pure heart and you will enter into the Kingdom, and inherit the Promise of the Father!

In closing, brethren, I exhort you to deepen your relationship with Jesus so that you may fully realize the spiritual strength He provides us in facing the difficulties of life. He has not left us orphans (Jn. 14:18) to deal with the problems that face us on our own strength. Rather, He has sent us His Holy Spirit to indwell us, enlighten us, strengthen us and guide us through all the intricacies of our lives to reach the point where we are made whole in every sense, in spirit, soul and body. He desires to share with us every portion of our life experiences, our failures, and our successes, our pain and sorrows as well as our joy and happiness. He has a purpose for us but He can only achieve His purpose in us if we let Him.

As long as we want to be in control of our lives in both the material and spiritual spheres we will be disconnected from the TRUE VINE and really be “on our own”. I urge you therefore, do not cling to the world, do not cling to your fleshly pleasures and ambitions, cling only to the VINE. For only in abiding in HIM can the purposes of God for you be realized and you can bear fruit for His Glory!

Do not be afraid then of yielding yourselves to the Holy Spirit and receive all of the Gifts He has set aside for you – for other wise, how can He work in you and through you, if you, in your own willfulness and self-centeredness, refuse to accept the very Spiritual Gifts that will enable you to fulfill His purpose?

May the Lord renew your minds and bless you in all your undertakings for His Glory….. Bartimaeus

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

RECOMMENDED LINKS

<>  Sweet Yoke of Love

<>  Releasing the Spirit

<>  Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit

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

Other Articles

~ Breaking the Mold

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Faith Challenges: Responding to the Spirit’s Call

My Brothers and Sisters in Christ and Fellow Pilgrims,

Today, I want to call your attention to a problem many of us Christians have. That problem is our tendency to stay at a particular level in our spiritual growth because we feel a certain level of comfort there and because moving to the next level challenges our current level of faith.  The Holy Spirit is always nudging us to move forward but we resist because moving to the next level always entails giving up more of our selves to the Divine that is in us. Yes, the Spirit is calling out to us, but because of our spiritual inertia we are just not listening, thus, we are not responding as we ought.

Sometimes we need to be challenged, intellectually and spiritually, in order to realize our sad state and open our hearts to hear what the Spirit is saying and respond to where He is leading us; and that is what I hope, with the help of the Holy Spirit, this article will accomplish.

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The Holy Spirit was nudging Nicodemus, a Pharisee, and a member of the Sanhedrin, when he came to Jesus at night to attempt to resolve an inner struggle he was having about who Jesus was. He sought Him out secretly, at night, in order to preserve his status and his perceived dignity (cf., John 3:1-10). After all, he had the equivalent status a Cardinal of the Church would have today, and what would people say if he, a teacher of Israel, sought out an unemployed itinerant carpenter without any religious training for answers to his questions.

His first words to Jesus were not just flattery; they truly expressed what was in his heart. When he came before Jesus, he acknowledged that he sensed that Jesus was truly a teacher sent by God, for the miracles He was performing bore witness to the anointing that was on Him.

Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “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.” (John 3:1-2)

Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” (John 3:3)

In the Scripture cited here, Jesus makes it very clear – the only reason Nicodemus came to Him is because the Holy Spirit was already working on him, leading Him to come to Jesus. This leading came because Nicodemus “saw” the manifestation of the “Kingdom of God” in the works of power that Jesus was performing. That is why Jesus “answered” him by telling Him that the only reason that he became aware that the works Jesus was performing were of God was because the Holy Spirit had quickened his human spirit to that awareness. That is, he had been revived or reborn from above so that he could “see” what was being done in the spirit plane of existence. With this revived spirit, a glimmer of supernatural faith was also instilled in Nicodemus.

Nicodemus, however, was still constrained by his intellect, and trying to reconcile Jesus’ metaphorically descriptive words with his humanly oriented thinking, he responded:

“…. How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” (John 3:4)

At this point, Jesus attempts to explain to Nicodemus that the fact that he had been made aware of the divine source of Jesus’ Ministry is an indication that he was being called by the Holy Spirit to enter into discipleship with Jesus.  An affirmative response was being elicited by the Spirit because the Spirit was leading Nicodemus beyond just “knowing'” who Jesus is. He was leading him to  this encounter with Jesus so he would have to make a decision accept Jesus and to follow Him as a disciple.

Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit (John 3:5).

Following the Spirit’s leading, Jesus further tells Nicodemus what further actions he must take to activate his faith by indicating to  him that only those whose spirit has been spiritually regenerated or renewed through repentance/conversion (water baptism) and subsequent empowerment through the impartation of the Holy Spirit (baptism in the Spirit) can function as His disciples and share in His ministry (i.e.,  enter  the ministry of the Kingdom).

Knowing the internal struggle Nicodemus was dealing with, Jesus continued to elaborate further to help him through His doubts. He tells Nicodemus that …

What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. 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.” (John 3:6-8)

Now, to those of you who claim to be baptized and confirmed Christians and claim to be disciples of Jesus and thus supposedly “born of the Spirit”, I ask of you the following questions: do you “hear the sound of the Spirit”, as Jesus said to Nicodemus? That is, are you sensitive to the leadings and calling of the Holy Spirit in your lives? And, more importantly, are you obedient to the Spirit by following those leadings? And, If not why not? After all, this is the “litmus” test that Jesus says is the confirmation that you are, indeed “born of the Spirit”.

Jesus Offers Living Water

Let me pose to you another scripture from John’s Gospel, taken from Jesus encounter with the Samaritan Woman at the Well (cf., John, chapter 4).

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: 4:23-24)

And, as before, I ask:  How many of you baptized and confirmed Christians can truthfully say that you KNOW, really Know, that you truly have experienced worship in the Spirit and Truth? And if not, why not?

Do you really understand what worship “in the spirit” entails? Do you even understand that your being is composed of body, soul and spirit”(cf., 1Thess.5:23)?  And that it is in only in your “spirit” that true worship may be offered? And if not, why not?

Have you been made aware that it is in your “spirit”, that you sense the Holy Spirit’s call? And that it is in your “spirit” that you, in faith, first respond to that call? And if not, why not?

The reality, my brothers and sisters, is that there are many professing Christians who cannot answer these “why nots”, and, sadly I once was one of those. And like those I also did not have any answers as to those  “why nots?”.

I, like the rest of you, gave my full intellectual assent to all of the basic doctrines of our Christian faith and basically rested on this intellectual assent as being my “faith” and that, even though I did not sense the explicit leadings of the Spirit, I thought it must be so and I assumed that I was just unaware of His leadings or of true worship because I had given my intellectual assent to the doctrines I had been taught, and, after all faith has to be taken without signs or experience or it is not faith.

First of all, let me address the matter of faith. True FAITH believes God’s word, His promises, and the Spirit’s leadings.  This type of faith is a spiritual gift from God it is not merely an intellectual belief in a doctrine or theology – it involves an inner spiritual knowing that God is faithful to His Word or promises for a specific instance in your life. Nicodemus approached Jesus through this type of faith – NOT a faith based on the doctrines of his religion. This faith was stirred up in him through the Holy Spirit, and that was what he was acting on. Now, His acting on faith brought results – He experienced the Truth about Jesus because he came to Jesus to “ask”. And, through his “asking” Jesus opened a door to experience another level of true spirituality. Because he asked, his doubts had been cleared up and his faith strengthened. Thus, Faith, true faith, brings tangible results or experiences, sometimes in the physical plane, sometimes in the spiritual plane, or both!

Yes, it is true that when you step out in faith you may not experience anything. In fact, true faith cannot be based on what you experience or observe. It must be totally based on trusting God and acting on what He tells you either personally or through his Word, because faith, true faith, comes by hearing and hearing from the Word of God (Rom.10:17). But true faith, must be acted upon, in order to produce results (James 2:17) – sometimes immediate and some times delayed. But you will see results, if it is true faith. These results may be spiritual or they may be physically observable or they may be both!

Secondly, Jesus explained a great truth to Nicodemus. Mainly, that only the Holy Spirit can revive us spiritually (John 3:6) to come to the awareness of who Jesus really is and, only if you act on that initial awareness, in faith, and accept Him as your Savior and Lord can you share the full empowerment of the Spirit, that is, in His ministry here on earth!  Thus, when we yield to the Holy Spirit, it is through the Spirit’s impartation in our spirits that we act on that leading by being baptized (by water) into Christ (Rom.6:3, Gal 3:27) and, it is through the Spirit of Jesus in us that we are baptized in the Holy Spirit. For He is the one who baptizes in the Spirit (John1:33, Matt.3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, Acts 1:5)[1].

Once we understand that true faith is more than just intellectual assent and that it is the Holy Spirit working in us to draw us to Jesus, then we have an answer to one of the “why nots” and then, by the grace of God, we may proceed to another of the “why nots”, namely, even if we have come to a “true faith”, if we do not act on what we believe, our faith will be of no consequence (cf.,James 2:17). For instance, say that, through prayer and the reading of the appropriate scriptures (cf., Acts 2:1-40) you now believe, in faith, that the nine spiritual gifts given at Pentecost (cf.,1Cor.12:1-11) are truly available for today’s believers through the baptism in the Holy Spirit. But, because you are not sure, for whatever reason, that you want them for yourself, you postpone taking any action to receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, thus, you and the community, will not be able to benefit from these gifts because you have not activated your faith to receive them even though you are baptized and confirmed and as heirs of Christ have legal access to those gifts.

So, it is brethren, that we cannot just passively take faith for granted, it must be acted on in order to be activated. Our problem is that we have not adequately learned how to activate our faith so that our faith produces fruit.  Sadly enough, much of this is due to our lack of biblical literacy. The New Testament is especially rich in content on the matter of activating faith – however, unless it is explicitly brought out by good teaching materials most of us tend to miss this important information.

Our basic problem is that many of us receive the sacraments of baptism and confirmation mainly out of intellectual assent and cultural obedience rather than as a response to what the Holy Spirit is doing in our spirits and thus hold back our full yielding ourselves to Him

Yes, the sacraments will work around us and though our circumstances but NOT in us and through us unless we will it. For you see, the Holy Spirit respects our individual freedom such that He will not impose Himself on our most intimate self. He needs our fully understood and unequivocal total concurrence in order for Him to truly be our “helper” and our “counselor”. He needs our “YES”; a YES that is given in the clear understanding that we are giving our “self” to Him. Without such an informed unequivocal YES the Holy Spirit is limited in what he can accomplish in us and through us.

Other than that of Our Lord Himself, one of the greatest models we have been given of this yielding to the Holy Spirit is Mother Mary’s acceptance of the Spirit’s call on her, through the Angel Gabriel, to be the Mother of the Son of God.  Luke’s Gospel recounts Mary’s response:

Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:34-38)

When presented with this as the model for our “YES” how can we not likewise yield to the Holy Spirit and accept Him and the spiritual gifts He offers so that we can be the instruments of His Love in this world? Why don’t we realize that we quench the Spirit by accepting only that which we can control and use for our own purposes and hold back in giving of ourselves? Why is it so hard then, when the Holy Spirit offers us the opportunity to be baptized in the Spirit, so that the Life and Spirit of Jesus may be manifested in us and through us, for us to sincerely and unequivocally say: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word”? [2].

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, I believe it is time to stop playing meaningless mind games with ourselves and let the Holy Spirit help you to confront the truth – that the reason we resist the Holy Spirit Baptism is because our human pride resists yielding our “selves” to the Holy Spirit. So lets get right with God, and, like Nicodemus, seek out Jesus in prayer, and ASK Him to confirm what I have just said, lead you to where you may be baptized in the Spirit, and so release yourself to your full and true sharing in His Ministry, the Ministry of the Kingdom!

May it be so in His Mighty Name we pray! Amen and Amen!

“So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:9-13)

Your Brother In Christ Jesus …  Bartimaeus

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

Recommended Links

Hearing God’s Voice, and Obeying It

Pentecost and the Promise of the Father

The Empowerment Gifts (Part 1)

The Empowerment Gifts (Part 2)

The Kingdom of God: Our Spiritual Inheritance

Reclaiming Our Legacy In Christ


[1] Note: for more about water and spirit baptisms see also, [a] Acts 10:34-48, where Peter preaches to Cornelius’ household who are baptized in the Holy Spirit as Peter speaks and then baptized in water to complete the two baptisms, [b] Acts 19:1-6, where Paul baptizes some new converts in the Name of Jesus and then baptizes them in the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands.

[2] In a sense, don’t all who come to Christ experience an “annunciation” of sorts when, at our conversion, the Spirit calls for us to receive the Spirit of Messiah into the innermost “womb” of our hearts?

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