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Posts Tagged ‘Christian Suffering’

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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Unless a Grain of Wheat ….

Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew went with Philip and they told Jesus.

Unless a Grain of Wheat ...

Unless a Grain of Wheat …

And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If any one serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if any one serves me, the Father will honor him. (John 12:20-26)

My fellow pilgrims in Christ,

The scripture presented above is one that is taken from the Gospel reading on the 5th Sunday of Lent. It’s main intent is to re-affirm to us the main purpose of Jesus’ first coming, that He , like “the grain of wheat” that had to fall to the ground and die in order to bear fruit, also had to die for our sins in order to bring us from the darkness of sin into the light of the Father’s Kingdom – in effect, to bring us from spiritual death to a new spiritual life in Him.

To Jesus, the appearance of people from the Greek culture inquiring about Him, affirmed the leading of the Holy Spirit that His mission to Israel for His first coming was at its end and His sacrifice for the sins of mankind was imminent. He knew that the mission to the gentile world was to be left to His Church. Anticipating the doubts that would arise amongst His disciples, He presents the metaphor of the fallen seed to Philip and Andrew to give them to some understanding of why all this would happen to Him as He yielded His life to the Father as a seed planted, not only to save mankind, but also to bring forth disciples and His Church for the Glory of God the Father.

However, we must not overlook that this comparison with “the seed” is also intended, by implication for each of us believers as well. Notice that Jesus says that He, the One AND ONLY TRUE SEED, must die in order for there to be more seed(s) in His image. He also tells those who would be His disciples (His seeds) that if they wish to follow Him, by serving Him, they also must die (like a seed), to their carnal self, that is in them, so that their new spiritual self in Him can come forth to eternal life, continuing to bring for the fruit for the Glory of the Father..

One of the primary intents of the Lenten Season, is exactly to bring us to the awareness of the need for us also to die to our “carnal” self so that HE working in our spirits can continue the work of brining forth the Kingdom in this world through us His Church.

Understanding this, we need, then , to discern our responsibility to hold that our fleshly “self” has over us and, through sincere confession and repentance decisively yield ourselves to the Spirit of Christ that is in us so that, through Him and His Victory over the flesh, we can exercise the spiritual freedom we have in Him and bear fruit for His Glory!. To Him Be Glory and Honor Forever!

Yes, we who believe in Jesus as savior are all potential seeds to bring forth more fruit. But, unless we as individual seeds are willing to fall to the ground and die to “self” we will not be able to bear fruit for the Kingdom. Unless we yield ourselves like Jesus to the Father’s purposes and to His Holy Spirit so that His “empowering presence” is what takes charge of our lives we are NOT plantable seeds. In order for us to be eligible to be planted as a seed His Word and His Spirit MUST “abide” and be activated in us!

In this regard, Jesus Himself also elaborates about our need to “abide” in Him…

Abide in Me to Bear Fruit

Abide in Me to Bear Fruit

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abides in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit; so shall you be my disciples.” (John 15: 5-8)

We are given new life in Christ through conversion and baptism, but unless we willingly yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit to conform us to His image, He cannot work in us and through to fulfill the Father’s purpose for each of our lives, that purpose being to bear fruit for the Glory of the Father.

St. Paul in his letters stresses the need for believers to yield themselves to be conformed unto Christ – he indicates that in doing so, we must present ourselves as a “living sacrifice” to the Father so that our minds can be renewed by His Spirit to live our lives in accord with His Will.

Romans 8:29

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren.

Romans 12: 1-2

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.

The following scripture indicates how St. Paul expresses this precept, with regard to his own transformation, in a very compact yet powerful manner:

It_Is_Done_113111965“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)

This is the goal we need to set for ourselves also if we are to be a “plantable seed” to be able to totally fulfill the Father’s purposes in our lives.

Through the Word of God then, it becomes clear to us then, that in order to be a seed suitable for planting we must unite our new self with His by dying to our “old self” and putting on the “new self” in Him, with the understanding, that in doing so, we willingly accept of our responsibility to continue to “abide in Him” so that we can bear fruit for the Father.

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If you consent to being conformed to Christ then you must decide to put on the New Self and crucify the Old Self. It is a decision you must make – it cannot be taken for granted, or done for you! It is this consecration of your “self” that opens the door for the Holy Spirit to begin His work of conformance in your spirit.

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Once the process of transformation begins you will experience in your lives direct confrontation with the forces of the world, the flesh, and the devil, that will try to deviate you from the path of sanctification to which the Spirit will lead you.

Again Paul clearly summarizes these challenges in several of his letters as follows. (I recommend reading an meditating on these, as guidelines for plantable seeds, as we proceed to seek to draw closer to Jesus this Lent, but also throughout the year as we go forth “walking in the Spirit” and not “in the flesh”.)

To the Corinthians –   Reverencing and Maintaining Our Union with Christ

“…. he who is united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. [Therefore] shun immorality. Every other sin which a man commits is outside the body; but the immoral (carnal) man sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Cor. 6: 17-20)

To the Colossians – Our Basis for Living in Union With Christ

Chap. 2: 6 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.

11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.

13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

To the Colossians – How to Let Christ Live In and Through you

Chap.3:1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming.

7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 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.

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In Joseph and Mary We can find no better example of two individuals who died to their earlthy selves in order that the Messiah might be brought forth. You can meditate on their example by reading of their participation in obedience to God’s leadings In the gospels of the New Testament.

For now, I only need to point out the Virgin Mary’s example of what dying to self entailed:

The angel Gabriel appeared to Mary …  And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”

But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.

Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”


But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?”


And the angel said to her in reply, “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 called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.”


Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”


Then the angel departed from her
.   (Luke 1:26-38)

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My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, dying to our “self” begins with obedience to the Word of God and walking “in the Spirit” is living out that Word in our lives.

In dedicating ourselves to be “plantable seeds”, that is dying to our “self”, let us learn from Mary and when the Word of God speaks to our hearts, calling us to Himself and His purposes let us also respond with Mary’s words …

Lord … “May it be done to me according to your word.”

Your Brother In Christ …. Bartimaeus

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

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Becoming Children of God

He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (John 1:11-13)

“… it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as descendants. (Rom. 9:8 )

Jesus Welcomes Children

Jesus Welcomes Children

“At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” (Matt.18-1-5)

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My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,

We have all been taught to respect all of humankind as “children” of God and, in the limited sense that we have all been created by Him, that is certainly true. But the New Testament introduces us to another perspective – and that is, that, we who believe in Christ have become a “new creation” and are literally “in Christ” and “Christ in us”. Because we are created in His image, we are now His brethren and thus “spiritual” Children of the Father and are of the same genre as the Son and destined to be like Him.

Our Current Situation

Our problem today is not so much that we are unaware of this truth but that we have not comprehended that truth in its full spiritual intent so that through faith in this truth we may bring forth its manifestation in our lives. Without this spiritual understanding we end up living our lives as fleshly children ignorant of the spiritual inheritance and the spiritual power and purposes that the Father intended for us in the manifestation of His Kingdom here on earth.

That is why the Lord tells His disciples: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

In saying this, of course, He was comparing the disciple’s obvious spirit of pride and competitiveness to the humility of little children who had not yet been affected by the spirit of the world – whose hearts had not yet been conditioned to thinking and acting like the world but were open and responsive to “true” love.

It is this openness and humility of heart that the Lord is trying to instill in His disciples – a trait, without which, they cannot enter the spiritual realm necessary to undertake a sharing in His ministry – which He termed, “the Kingdom of Heaven”. This doorway into the Kingdom permits us to transition from mere fleshly children to our “New Creation” in Him – spiritual children who have been “born of God” – “children” who KNOW, UNDERSTAND, OBEY and LOVE their Spiritual Father. It is this challenge that the Lord sets before all of us who have been called to be His disciples – the challenge of changing from our fleshly approach to life and truly becoming the Father’s Spiritual Children, Jesus’ Brethren, by yielding to the Spirit of the Son that indwells us.

The Process of Change  Involved

Although the process of becoming or changing into spiritual children is begun in Baptism and conversion, it is a challenge to us because it doesn’t just automatically happen – it requires an action of the will. An action based on our full consent and knowledge of what it means to let Jesus be the Lord of our lives and our yielding to the Holy Spirit to conform us into His image.

It is a challenge because such a commitment goes against our human nature and our fleshly instincts. We must forget our natural responses to life and begin a process of renewing our minds (Rom12:1-2) to what the Spirit of God is leading us to do. We must even change the motives behind our religious activities. For indeed, we find that we are no longer here “to do something for Christ” but to let the Christ that is in us live and work through us to bring forth the Kingdom.

In becoming a child of the King we have to learn to love as He loved, to walk in the Spirit as he Walked, to hear the voice of the Father as He heard the Voice of the Father, and to learn to be an obedient servant as He was a servant.

In becoming a child of the King, we have to move from being self-centered to being God-centered. We have to yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit and be empowered as He was empowered. And, most of all, we have to learn to pray as He prayed – to bring ourselves before the Throne of God by putting on Jesus’ Robe of righteousness and, in His Name, relate to the Father directly as His Children, be enveloped in His Love, and to go forth from His embrace to fulfill His will in this world, knowing that the Spirit of His Son is in each of us and that He will never, never forsake us no matter what.

Is this transformation easy? No, of course not! Not only will you be going against your own fleshly nature but you will be going against the world culture itself. Just as the world did not receive Jesus you will not be received. Just as, His home town, Nazareth, did not receive Jesus so also you will find that not all in your religious community will accept you.

Of course, Jesus is there to help you all you have to do is YOKE yourself to Him!

Encouragement and Good News!

Yet, if you KNOW your calling, like Jesus did, you will persist in doing what the Father has called you to accomplish in His Name, regardless of the obstacles. If you do this in Faith, although you will endure suffering, you will see the mountains removed and the Will of the Father prevail! Praised be His Holy Name!!

Now, in order to encourage you to step out in faith and live out the life of Christ that is in you, I present to you a series of scripture and commentaries that in meditative prayer, will assist you in opening your heart to God’s Spirit so that He may guide you into the process of becoming His Spiritual Children in Christ Jesus.

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Jesus, a Child, and the Holy Spiirt

The Spirit bears witness that we are the Children of God. Has the Spirit witnessed to your Heart that you are His Child?  If so, then you can ask yourself, are you being led by the Spirit of God or by your own fleshly desires? If you are not aware that you are being led by the Spirit of God – then why not?

“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you. So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.” (Rom. 8:11-17)

Who, then, is it that dares to detain us “Lay Children” from coming closer to Jesus in the Spirit?  Is it the Legalists who demean us? Is it our religious culture that misinforms us about who we are in Christ? Or is not our own ignorance of the Word that tells us of our inheritance as children?

“Then little children were being brought to him in order that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples spoke sternly to those who brought them; but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” And he laid his hands on them and went on his way.” (Matthew 19:13-15)

In the past, when we were not yet His spiritual children, religion was a disciplinarian that made us aware of those things in us that limited our access to the Divine. But, now that Christ has died for our sins and has exchanged His Life for ours, what is it that keeps us from coming to the spiritual awareness of the Spirit of Christ that abides in each of us and that we are co-heirs according to the promise? Why do we still act and think like slaves and not as heirs to the Kingdom?

“Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.” (Gal. 3:24-29)

“My point is this: heirs, as long as they are minors, are no better than slaves, though they are the owners of all the property; but they remain under guardians and trustees until the date set by the father. So with us; while we were minors, we were enslaved to the elemental spirits of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,  in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God. (Gal. 4:1-7)

But now, as co-heirs with Christ, we have been brought near – we have access to the Father, and no one can separate us from His Love. Have you so yielded yourselves to Christ so that you KNOW that He abides in you and you in Him? If not – why not? Is it because you feel unworthy? Is it because you know you are a sinner?

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us, [how] much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. (Rom.5:6-10)

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?

He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written,  “For Thy sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 8:28-39)

There will be some of you who think to yourselves: “ … well, I’m not such a bad guy – I go to church and do all the things I’m required to do, I guess this doesn’t apply to me.” Well stop justifying yourself, meditate on the Word, let it divide your soul from your spirit (Heb 14:1-2), and the Spirit will show you your failings,  But this is exactly what God wants of you so that you may turn to Him in repentance.

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

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.Now by this we may be sure that we know him, if we obey his commandments.

Whoever says, “I have come to know him,” but does not obey his commandments, is a liar, and in such a person the truth does not exist; but whoever obeys his word, truly in this person the love of God has reached perfection. By this we may be sure that we are in him: whoever says, “I abide in him,” ought to walk just as he walked.” (1Jn. 5-10; 1Jn 2:1-6)

If we repent and confess our sins He is righteous and just to forgive us (1 Jn 1:9). Then, If we receive His Body and His Blood we will abide in Him and He in us (Jn.6:56) – giving us access, through Christ our High Priest, to the Throne of Grace.  When we do this, we put on the robe of His righteousness (Rom.13:14), so that we can then come boldly before the Throne of Grace. Do not let anything or anyone stand in your way, for you are truly a Child of the King and if you open yourself to Him and His Reign, He will live and manifest Himself through you to the Glory of God the Father! Praised be His Holy Name!!

Approach the Throne as a Child

Approach the Throne as a Child

“Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:14-16)

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In Conclusion

So then brethren, this is the message we heard from Him –  the Good News about becoming God’s Children, that we pass onto you, so that your inheritance in Christ may not go unrealized and so that in knowing who you are in Christ you may go boldly before His throne in prayer to bring forth His Kingdom in you and in those around you! This is how our spiritual Childhood is manifested and how, in so doing, we enter into a partnership with the Divine in what He intends to accomplish in this world for His Glory through the Spirit of His Son that is in us, His Children!

Consider the words of Therese of Lisieux, A Carmelite nun who died of tuberculosis at the age of twenty-four, wrote to a friend:

“… Jesus has so incomprehensible a love for us that he wills that we have a share with him in the salvation of souls. He wills to do nothing without us. The Creator of the universe awaits the prayer of a poor little soul to save other souls redeemed like it at the price of all his Blood.” When God’s word is spoken his kingdom is revealed and his power is released. When people respond to God’s word with faith and obedience they are changed and made “a new creation” in Christ” (cf., 2 Corinthians 5:17).

Do not let the message of the Good News and your calling be quenched for it is not from me but from His Holy Spirit! Praise His Holy Name!

There are many modern Pharisees in the world that will tell you… “no, don’t pray like this” or “don’t teach in His name or heal in His Name for it is against our customs”. But do not listen! They are trying to close the door to the Kingdom – a door that they, themselves, will not enter but are quick to prevent others from entering (cf., Matt.23:13-22).

Place all your trust in Jesus and His Word, guided by the Holy Spirit that is in you and enter the Door into the Kingdom – the Door that no man can shut!  Of course, that Door is Jesus Himself. Blessed be the Name!

Jesus is the Open Door

Jesus is the Open Door

Your Brother In Christ …  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

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Challenges to Discipleship: The Role of Suffering

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” (1Peter 4:12-13)

One of the great barriers to entering into true discipleship with Christ is our problem in understanding the role that suffering plays in those who, through faith, have dedicated their lives to follow Jesus.

Shall we not suffer with Him?

Shall we not suffer with Him?

The first thing that hinders us about accepting the role of suffering in discipleship is that our natural selves cannot comprehend it. If Christ Suffered for us and took on our sufferings why then should believers still endure suffering as part of our calling? The second thing which hinders us is that, even upon beginning to understand the Lord’s calling for us to endure (certain types of) suffering, we cannot receive it because we lack sufficient faith to enter into and willingly receive the suffering to which we have been called.

After all, why would a good and loving God, insist that those He loves pass through the trials of suffering, especially when that suffering comes on us seemingly without cause or seeming justification. Wasn’t Jesus’s suffering sufficient?

This of course brings up the topic that the citation from Peter’s Epistle alludes to, that is, our participation in the sufferings of Christ. From this brief mention we begin to surmise that we, His Body, like the apostles, are destined to drink the same cup as he drank from, that is , the cup of suffering. That is, the suffering caused by His rejection and torture by the world and the establishment for the proclamation of the Good News of the Kingdom.

This then is the main theme of Peter’s Epistle to the suffering church at Rome. To encourage them to endure their persecution in Love, as Jesus endured His persecution in Love.

The Testing of our Faith

In the beginning of this first epistle, the Apostle Peter indicates that the primary reason that the father permits this type of suffering to enter into their lives (and therefore ours as well) is that, through their endurance, through faith, that same faith may be proven to be genuine, just as Gold in order to be assayed must be tested as if by fire.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade — kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:3-7)

Just as Jesus’ faith was tested through suffering so our faith also will be tested to determine if it is genuine. For there is such a thing as false faith and many have been deceived by their own human desires into presuming that their misdirected human zeal is the faith needed for discipleship. The Apostle Paul himself decries that, “ .. Demas has abandoned him for this present world” (2 Tim: 4:10), and in his first letter to Timothy he says: “… By rejecting conscience, certain persons have suffered shipwreck in the faith; among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have turned over to Satan, so that they may learn not to blaspheme” (1 Tim. 1:19-20).

In the Deuterocanonical literature we have the challenge for discipleship clearly stated :

“ My son when you come to serve the Lord prepare yourself for trials. Be sincere of heart and steadfast, undisturbed in time of adversity. Cling to Him, forsake Him not; thus will your future be great. Accept whatever befalls you, for in fire Gold is tested and worthy men in the crucible of humiliation”. (Sirach 2: 1-5)

Discerning the Types of Suffering We are to Endure

Peter makes it clear in his epistle that the type of suffering that he is exhorting us to endure is the unjust suffering imposed by others on us because of our faith or stand for righteousness. For this, he says, is consistent with our calling. Note that he does not include that suffering which comes to us because of our own unjust ways and sin.

“For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” (1 Peter 2:19-23)

We also note that Illness or disease is not listed as the type of suffering we need to endure as Christians, In fact, he concludes the above paragraph as follows:

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” (1Peter 2:24-25)

Because of Jesus’ suffering and atoning work on the cross disease is not deemed a suffering that we Christians must endure as part of our path to discipleship. For this reason we attend to medical doctors and for this reason we are exhorted to pray for each other healing. Jesus did not have any sick disciples. It is not the Father’s will for us.

No! The types of trials we are to endure as disciples is how others treat us because we are outspoken disciples of Jesus. Not those who hide in a corner and are afraid to express their faith but those who openly confess Christ not only by their confession but also by the fruit of their confession – that is, the very lives they live!

Yes! They will revile us, persecute us, censor our prayers, expel us from their fellowship. We will lose many whom we formerly called “friends” but in being bold to proclaim Christ to the world we will be drawn into a new community, a new family of brothers and sisters in Christ who are not afraid of being called Christians and who live their lives in the truth of the Gospel, empowered by the Holy Spirit!

“Baruch haShem” – Praised be His Holy Name! Amen and Amen!

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

Bartimaeus

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