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From Repentance to a Renewed Life

The Word is a Double Edged Sword

The Word is a Double Edged Sword

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12)

 

 

 

My Dear Brothers  and Sisters in Christ Jesus,

Self assessment

Assessing Our Inner Self

Yes, God does make a distinction between “Soul” and “Spirit”, but it takes the inspired Word of God to help us discern between them.

The inspired Word of God is key to discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Without access to the inspired Word and prayer we cannot fully come to the sincere self-assessment appropriate to this season of Lent.

As we enter the season then, let us remember that the main objective of this liturgical season is to stir our minds and our hearts to look at ourselves in God’s spiritual mirror and, upon seeing what God sees in us, to turn to Him in sincere and deep repentance, asking not only His forgiveness, but also for His transforming grace to conform us to the image of His Son.

This is, a transformation that activates the Spirit of Christ in us so that His will, His thoughts, and His desires become one with our own. This transformation does not happen automatically – one must yield and permit the Holy Spirit to work in us and through us!

We must also remember that the traditional group or personal devotions we observe during lent are only meant to act as spiritually inspired  catalysts to enable us to go deeper into our very spirits and hear what His Word is telling us about where we need to change.

The Holy Spirit must also lead us to open ourselves for Him to work in us and through us, to effect the changes that will enable Him to fulfill His purpose in our lives – that is, to permit God to use the circumstances of our earthly lives to form us to His Image, thus fully becoming another of Jesus’ spiritual brothers and sisters.

<> This Season we need to Re-affirm Our On-Going Transformation

“For whom he foreknew, he also predestinated to be conformed to the image of his Son; that he might be the firstborn amongst many brethren.”  (Rom.8:29)

As always we should never enter this season with fear and trepidation regarding our sins and failures for the Lord has already reconciled us to Himself through the sacrifice of His Son on the Cross. All we need to do to continue our progress is to sincerely repent and reaffirm our commitment for Him to continue our transformation.

Because of God’s Mercy at our sincere repentance, our sins and failures can no longer impede us. As St. Paul indicates to us, “Therefore there is no more condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” ( Rom. 8:1).

And again, we find words of encouragement in the Letter to the Hebrews:
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14-16)

<>  Confession and  Sincere Repentance Is Gateway to Reconciliation

In order to ensure our access to the reconciliation procured for us in Christ Jesus we must come before the Father in Faith and sincere repentance.

Listen to what scripture tells us about our ability to enter into fellowship with Him if our sin  get in the way: “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear.”—Psalm 66:18

So it is that  without confession and repentance our sins impede God’s ability to hear our prayers and thus hinders us from cooperation with His Grace for His purposes.

“If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true;  but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 Jn 1: 6-10)

Thus Scripture makes it clear that Repentance is key to the  Good News of His Reconciliation that is feely offered through His Son’s sacrifice on the Cross and His Resurrection. As Jesus told His Apostles …

“…Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. (Luke 24: 46-47)

Since our sins have already been forgiven by Him in eternity, All that the Father wants us to do receive His Reconciliation is to reach out to Him in sincere repentance, as an act of faith – to freely draw in His eternal forgiveness for the salvation of our souls to meet our present day need for justification through the Blood of Jesus.

<> Our Practice of Repentance Needs to be Continuous

Saint Paul, in order to help us cooperate with the Father’s Grace in conforming us to the image  of His Son, explains our need to continuously receive the Father’s Reconciliation …
“…namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  (2Cor. 5: 19-21)

And, at the same time he (Paul) exhorts them (and us), that because of the above we are to consider every day of continuous repentance as a day of “Salvation”…
“Working together [with the Spirit], we entreat also that you not receive the grace of God in vain, For he says, “At an acceptable time I listened to you, in a day of salvation I helped you.” Behold, now is the acceptable time. Behold, now is the day of salvation. ” (2 Cor. 6:1-2)

Our main challenge, then, to freely and continuously to receive this Grace of Reconciliation, is to remain in Christ, as branches on the Vine, so as to maintain our attachment to the Vine, through Faith, otherwise,unless we repent, we may fall from Grace and be be cut off and cast into the fire (cf., Jn. 15:5ff).

Now, even though the Father has eternally reconciled  us to Himself, we can only cooperate and receive that reconciliation in our present “today” through the continuous practice of sincere repentance. This is so because we can only “sincerely” repent of our past and present sins and, thus, we must also continue in our practice of repentance to receive our share in the “eternal” reconciliation until we come into the heavenly realm where day-to-day “time” no longer reigns.

<> Our Continuous Repentance Reaffirms Our Continuing Transformation

The Father cannot begin His process of conforming us to His Son as His adopted Children until we have first been reconciled to Him, and since it is beyond our ability to do so, He, through the death of His Son, has paid the price for all the sins of humanity, to reconcile us to Himself for all eternity. So, since in order to remain in the sanctifying Grace of Reconciliation, we must likewise practice continuous repentance in order for the Holy Spirit to continue His work of Conforming us to the Image of Christ, whose Spirit Lives in us.

If we break this process through our sinfulness, The Father has graciously provided provided us the necessary Graces through the sacraments of Confirmation, Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist. These sacraments restore us to the necessary state of Reconciliation and provide us the spiritual strength to overcome the World and the evil spirits that control the world system that surrounds us.

<> Understanding Sincere Faith-Inspired Repentance

From the above reasoning we understand why “repentance” is most certainly one of the Keys for entrance into the Kingdom.

The only condition placed on our repentance is that it must be a sincere act of faith on our part.  That is, it must be a result of the Holy Spirit working in our hearts through His Word to give us the awareness that we done something that is against God’s will for us and, at the same time, an awareness that by turning to The Father for mercy we immediately receive access to the “eternal forgiveness” which has already been obtained for us through Jesus’ death on the Cross.

“Repentance in faith”, then, is the manner which the Lord has ordained through which we humans are to access the eternal blessings of His eternal forgiveness for all humanity. This, without doubt qualifies, the grace of repentance, as a primary Key to the Kingdom.
Just remember that we can only sincerely repent of our past and present sins – we cannot sincerely repent of the sins we commit in our futures. Thus the Lord has ordained that through such a faith-inspired repentance we can continue to draw on His forgiveness as we live out the span of our lives.

Also, Remember that “True Repentance” includes a sincere commitment to turn to God and His grace to keep you from committing, not only the sin(s) you are confessing, but also all thoughts, words, and actions that are counter to God’s will for you. Without such a commitment your “repentance” cannot be considered  “sincere”.

<> Carrying Out Our Commitment

Since we as fallible human beings are not capable of living a transformed life out of our own effort, the way the scripture indicates for us to truly live a life surrendered to Christ is to offer ourselves as living sacrifices to Him so that the the Spirit of Christ that is in us  may live out His Life through us, in our submitted body and soul.

St. Paul expresses this commitment to a New Transformed Life in Christ as follows:
“ I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2))

He also tells us the effects such a commitment had on him and, through inference, the effect it will have on those of us, who commit ourselves to live a New Life In Christ.

Jesus-crucified

It is finished!

“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)

 

 

<>  Living out Our Renewed Life In Christ

In conclusion. I add the exhortation Paul gave the Colossians about how to begin to live out this Renewed Life in our Communities:

“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus, the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ. For in Him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have come to fullness in Him, who is the head of every ruler and authority.” (Col. 2:6-10)

May the Lord Bless You and Keep You and may the Holy Spirit inspire you, to not only make this commitment (see below), but also provide you the faith, strength and graces you need to carry out the Father’s purposes for you in your Renewed Life in Christ Jesus.
Praised Be His Holy Name!  Amen and Amen!

Your Fellow Pilgrim In Christ Jesus … Bartimaeus.

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2016])

PS:  The following are some additional items that may help you in making your decision:

<> A Quote from St.Ignatius:
“There are very few people
who realize what God would make of them 
if they abandoned themselves into his hands,
and let themselves be formed by his grace.”

<> A prayer of personal commitment:
“Lord Jesus, I am deeply aware that my sins have separated me from you and from the eternal life which you have promised to those who believe. I also acknowledge that these sins impede me from fulfilling the Father’s purposes for me. I, therefore, repent of my sins and turn to you in faith for the salvation and forgiveness you won for me on the cross through the shedding of your blood even when I was yet a sinner and without merit before God.

In addition, I abandon my life to you totally, body soul, and spirit as a Living Sacrifice So that Your Spirit in me may be the driving force to let your Love work through me.  Come into my heart, be the Lord of my Life, as well as my Savior and my King.  Live in me and through me so that I can truly represent you in my service to others in your Name.” Amen.

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The Kingdom of God is at hand … are you ready to enter?

His Kingdom is Near

His Kingdom is Near

“The kingdom of God is within you, says the Lord. Turn, then, to God with all your heart. Forsake this wretched world and your soul shall find rest. Learn to despise external things, to devote yourself to those that are within, and you will see the kingdom of God come unto you, that kingdom which is peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, gifts not given to the impious.

Christ will come to you offering His consolation, if you prepare a fit dwelling for Him in your heart, whose beauty and glory, wherein He takes delight, are all from within. His visits with the inward man are frequent, His communion sweet and full of consolation, His peace great, and His intimacy wonderful indeed.

 Therefore, faithful soul, prepare your heart for this Bridegroom that He may come and dwell within you; He Himself says: “If any one love Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and will make Our abode with him.”                                                          [From the Imitation Of Christ by Thomas à Kempis]

Entering the Kingdom

My Fellow Pilgrims in Christ Jesus,

For most nominal Christians today, the term “Kingdom of God” is mainly a theological concept of the spiritual realm where God dwells and certainly nothing we can relate to in our personal lives in this world. Thus when we read in the Gospels Jesus telling His disciples to “seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness”, we have no idea what He is really asking them to do. One of the objectives of Thomas à Kempis in his book, “The Imitation of Christ” was to bring us to the recognition of just what Jesus was asking of His Disciples, and now, is also asking of us. The primary concept presented by Thomas is that “The Kingdom of God” is a spiritual Kingdom that is within those who have admitted Jesus, their King, into the Temple of their spirit, through a renewed spiritual awareness brought about by Grace, through faith in Christ and His Redemptive Sacrifice on the cross and His Resurrection.

In the Gospel of John Jesus tried to explain to Nicodemus that although a person may be given a personal spiritual awareness of that Kingdom, in order to enter the Kingdom, that person must willingly make a commitment to enter into a deeper spiritual relationship with the King. The resulting spiritual awareness permits the Holy Spirit to transform us by initiating an intimate personal fellowship with the King that permits the Spirit to conform us us to the image of Christ Himself. It is through this personal relationship with the King that we enter into His Kingdom. However, in maintaining our stay in the Kingdom our endurance in faith will be tested to ensure that, as a branch in the vine, we will “abide in Him” and thus bear fruit for the Kingdom.

Staying in the Kingdom : The Endurance of the Saints

 Entering into a stronger spiritual awareness, brings us to a new area of testing we have not previously experienced. Here, we will face, if anything, even tougher problems than when we were spiritually naïve. For now our faith and our endurance will be severely tried in keeping our spiritual channels open. We need to maintain these open channels so that the revelation knowledge of God’s word can continue to feed and strengthen us. Maintaining this fellowship with the Holy Spirit is one of the greater challenges in the Christian life after you have come into this rebirth of your spiritual awareness.

There are many situations, which can break this fellowship with God. Most of them however, can be categorized as unbelief, disobedience, strife, rebellion, or deliberate sin. These causes are summarized in the letter to the Hebrews, where we read, “Today, if you (would) hear His Voice, harden not your hearts as at the revolt in the day of testing in the desert (Heb. 3:7-8). The implication is that the “hardening” of our hearts presents an obstacle to hearing God’s voice and, of course, if we can’t hear God’s voice we cannot fellowship with Him. The problem is that today’s Christian finds it difficult to relate that passage to himself/herself. First of all, the terminology: “… harden not your hearts” does not carry much meaning for us except as a quaint old English expression. Secondly most of us are not willing to admit that we are in rebellion against God – after all haven’t we yielded our lives over to Him?

Once the deeper meaning of the words is understood, it is seen that all of us, even though we are deeply committed Christians, are susceptible to the hardening of our hearts and this comes to us in the most unsuspecting ways. Continuing with the reading from Hebrews we begin to see the cause for this “hardening” or dis-fellowship with God: “…your Fathers tested me and tried me and saw My works for forty years. Because of this I was angered with that generation. (Heb, 3:9)

In order to understand why God was so angered, remember that He was miraculously sustaining the Israelites every day that they were in the desert. Not only were they witnesses to His mighty power but they, themselves, heard the voice of God thundering from mount Sinai. Not only had they been protected by His Glory day and night, but they were also given food and water miraculously. Their sandals and clothing were kept from wearing out. Yet in spite of these things they rebelled against Moses (and therefore, against God) saying why have you brought us out here to die?”(Numbers 21:5). They even justified their rebellion by pointing out that their concern was for their wives and their children implying that it was their welfare they were seeking. Such was their unbelief that they did not trust God to provide for them, even though they witnessed the Lord’s protection every moment of every day. This unbelief came because their minds and their senses (the unspiritual man) could not feel secure unless they knew (intellectually) from where their next meal and drink of water was coming.

 Ah! now we get the picture!

And now it is not so difficult where we have similar situations in our lives where we despair of God’s provision and thus excuse our unbelief as being merely a concern for the well-being of our families. Thus, we relegate God’s Word, His providence, and His sustenance, which has been maintaining us all along, to a lesser place in our lives (if at all). We do this by attempting to resolve all of the difficult situations in our lives on our own energy and talent without any dependence on God.

Then the snowball effect begins: the more we complain the more we walk in unbelief and as our unbelief grows, the greater our anxiety grows. Of course, now that we are operating in unbelief, our prayers also go unanswered, which adds to our complaints, which adds to our unbelief, which adds to our anxiety. We are by then well on the way to dis-fellowship with God. We have permitted our anxiety to dominate us thus beginning the process of “hardening our hearts” and losing our spiritual channels to the father.

Yes, we are still His children. But when we behave in this way we are more and more like the prodigal son who left the father for a “far country” and have placed ourselves in the service of a citizen of that country (guess whom?). Letting our anxieties obstruct our ability to serve God and make Him and His Kingdom first in our lives was exactly what Jesus said we must avoid.

In His Sermon on the Mount He warned His listeners (and us) that, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own”. (Matt. 6: 24-34)

That is why the writer of the letter to the Hebrews, writing to a Hebrew-Christian community, concludes: “See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first”. (Heb.3:12-14)

It is for the cause of assisting us to maintain to the end our faith in Jesus the Messiah, that God in His providence has given us His Word, His Holy Spirit, and the mutual support we receive from the Body of Christ (His Church). These helps are the very Grace of God to assist us through the process of salvation and into the riches of Christ. Let us then, learn to enter into a true spiritual awareness that we may truly discern the Father’s Will for our lives and thus enter into that true spiritual worship that is His due.

Paraphrasing Paul’s prayer for the Colossians, it is my sincere desire and prayer to God for all who read my reflections that the Lord God… “fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding… in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins”. (Col.1:9-11)

Father let it be so, for it is your will in Jesus your Son, Amen!

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

Your Fellow Pilgrim in Christ … Bartimeus

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

Recommended / Related Links …

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 Hearing God’s Voice and Obeying it!

Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit

 Growing in the Spirit

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Living and Praying through Jesus’ Passion

Jesus Condemned

Jesus Condemned

My dear fellow Pilgrims in Christ,

The last week of Lent is the most highlighted period in our annual Christian devotions – – as it  justly should be, mainly because in this period  we are led to focus on the last climactic, episode in the Life of our Lord and Savior, Yeshua Ha Mashiach (Jesus the Anointed Messiah), the Son of the Living God. It is highlighted in our devotions so that in  our prayers and meditations we may put ourselves in Jesus’ place and, thus immerse ourselves in the humiliation, pain, and suffering He endured for our sakes, so that our souls are opened to an inner appreciation of the Father’s infinite love for all of us and for each of us, personally.

During this tragic and yet monumental time-line, which we call the “Passion of Christ”,  the Love of God for humanity was demonstrated in such a tragic yet undeniable, observable, and historical manner that no amount of denial by any religious or secular authority can surmount it! It encompasses Jesus’ triumphant return return to Jerusalem, and His ensuing arrest, trial  passion, crucifixion, death and resurrection, and is, in essence, the period where we see the all-ecompassing magnificence of the Love of the Father, manifested through the self-sacrifice of His Son, who as the image of the Father,  gave himself totally, body soul and spirit to become the atoning sacrifice for the sins of all humanity from the very beginning of the race until the end of this age. It is culminated  by the last words of Jesus to the Father as He hung on the cross …

It is finished!

It is finished!

“It is Finished!” (John 19:30)

and

“Into Your Hands I commit my Spirit”. (Luke 23:46)

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“Finished”, in the sense, that the work of redemption for which He was sent was complete and He relinquishes even His Spirit into the hands of the Father.

Here, by the enthronement of our King on the Cross, the Good News of The Kingdom and the basis for our Salvation is clearly established – The Good News, that, through the substitutionary sacrifice of His Son, the Father has reconciled all of humanity to Himself holding nothing against them, so that out of untarnished and pure gratitude and love we may, through Faith, freely turn to Him and receive the reconciliation with  the Father that He offers – eternal life in Him. And, what is theologically shocking, is that we receive this free gift of eternal life without any effort on our part through merely believing in in His Son and, in faith, accepting Him for who He is- The Son of the Living God and our personal Lord and Savior!

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.”   (John 3: 16-17)

Here, in this last week of Lent, we memorialize Jesus and His sacrifice for us through our devotions and prayers as He accomplishes the will of the Father so completely that there is no doubt in His Promise to us, when he said,

“I am the Way , The Truth, and The Life. No man Comes to the Father but by Me!” (John 14:6)

“The Way” being the way into the Tabernacle through sacrifice and water, “The Truth” being the Lampstand and the Bread upon entering the Holy place in the Tabernacle and “The Life”, being the Life of God which was On the Mercy Seat over the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy Of Holies. Because of His Death and resurrection He, of course has become the author of the New Covenant which brings us from death into eternal life.

Living and Praying the Passion
In order  to permit the Holy Spirit to work through us this Lent and deepen our relationship to Jesus, I propose that we focus on the “Way of the Cross”  or what we Catholics term, “the Stations of the Cross”.  I want all of you to know that this devotion is not only practiced by Catholics but also by Anglican and Orthodox Churches as well as some protestant and evangelical churches.  Of course, because of differing theological issues, there are some differences but the intent of the devotions is the same: to live out the Passion of Christ in a group prayer that will draw us closer to Jesus by meditating on the events and circumstances of His passion.

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(Note: In order to inform all who are interested I am including summary of the “Station”  taken from the the Wikipedia post on thus subject. You will see from this post just how ecumenical this devotion is becoming.  After the summary from Wikipedia I am providing  links to both Catholic and Protestant versions of this devotions for your prayer and discernment.)

Be Reconciled to God!
In conclusion, brothers and sisters, let me be very clear about the intent of drawing your attention to the Passion of Christ.  I am doing this not to bring guilt upon you but to gain your release from  all the self-guilt that you are bearing. For by comprehending the price that was paid by Jesus for all of our sins we are brought to faith in how Father God HAS RECONCILED us to Himself through the death of His Son.  It is only now up to us, out of gratitude, to receive, in Faith, this eternal reconciliation that is freely available to us in and through Christ Jesus! A reconciliation that is effected when we accept Jesus into our hearts as Lord and Savior!
This is the GOOD  NEWS that St. Paul so eloquently proclaimed and which I now quote to you:

. ‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.’  (2 Cor. 5:17-21; 6:1-2)

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.‘Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation —  if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.’ (Col. 1-21-23)

May the Holy Spirit be with you and enlighten you in your prayers and meditation so that you may receive, in Faith, the full blessings of  His PEACE that comes with the free gift of eternal reconciliation with the Father!

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Your Brother and Fellow Pilgrim in Christ Jesus, “Shalom Eleichem” …. Bartimeaus

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+~+~+~+~+~+~+Wikipedia Excerpt+~+~+~+~+~+~+

The Stations of the Cross

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Stations of the Cross (or Way of the Cross; in Latin, Via Crucis; also called the Via Dolorosa or Way of Sorrows, or simply, The Way) is a series of artistic representations, very often sculptural, depicting Christ Carrying the Cross to his crucifixion in the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus before he died, and the devotions using that series to commemorate the Passion, often moving physically around a set of stations. The vast majority of Roman Catholic churches now contain such a series, typically placed at intervals along the side walls of the nave; in most churches these are small plaques with reliefs or paintings, simpler than most of the examples shown here. The tradition as chapel devotion began with St. Francis of Assisi and extended throughout the Roman Catholic Church in the medieval period. It is commonly observed in Lutheranism,[1][2] and amongst the Anglo-Catholic wing of Anglicanism. It may be done at any time, but is most commonly done during the Season of Lent, especially on Good Friday and on Friday evenings during Lent.

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History

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The Stations of the Cross originated in pilgrimages to Jerusalem. A desire to reproduce the holy places in other lands seems to have manifested itself at quite an early date. At the monastery of Santo Stefano at Bologna a group of connected chapels was constructed as early as the 5th century, by St. Petronius, Bishop of Bologna, which was intended to represent the more important shrines of Jerusalem, and in consequence, this monastery became familiarly known as “Hierusalem.” These may perhaps be regarded as the germ from which the Stations afterwards developed, though it is tolerably certain that nothing that we have before about the 15th century can strictly be called a Way of the Cross in the modern sense. Although several travelers who visited the Holy Land during the twelfth, thirteenth, and 14th centuries (e.g. Riccoldo da Monte di Croce, Burchard of Mount Sion, James of Verona),[3] mention a “Via Sacra,” i.e., a settled route along which pilgrims were conducted, there is nothing in their accounts to identify this with the Way of the Cross, as we understand it.[citation needed] The devotion of the Via Dolorosa, for which there have been a number of variant routes in Jerusalem, was probably developed by the Franciscans after they were granted administration of the Christian holy places in Jerusalem in 1342.

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The earliest use of the word “stations,” as applied to the accustomed halting-places in the Via Sacra at Jerusalem, occurs in the narrative of an English pilgrim, William Wey, who visited the Holy Land in the mid-15th century, and described pilgrims following the footsteps of Christ to the cross. In 1521 a book called Geystlich Strass was printed with illustrations of the stations in the Holy Land.[3]

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During the 15th and 16th centuries the Franciscans began to build a series of outdoor shrines in Europe to duplicate their counterparts in the Holy Land. The number of stations varied between seven and thirty; seven was common. These were usually placed, often in small buildings, along the approach to a church, as in a set of 1490 by Adam Kraft, leading to the Johanneskirche in Nuremberg.[4] A number of rural examples were established as attractions in their own right, usually on attractive wooded hills. These include the Sacro Monte di Domodossola (1657) and Sacro Monte di Belmonte (1712), and form part of the Sacri Monti of Piedmont and Lombardy World Heritage Site, together with other examples on different devotional themes. In these the sculptures are often approaching life-size and very elaborate. In 1686, in answer to their petition, Pope Innocent XI granted to the Franciscans the right to erect stations within their churches. In 1731, Pope Clement XII extended to all churches the right to have the stations, provided that a Franciscan father erected them, with the consent of the local bishop. At the same time the number was fixed at fourteen. In 1857, the bishops of England were allowed to erect the stations by themselves, without the intervention of a Franciscan priest, and in 1862 this right was extended to bishops throughout the church.[5]

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Spiritual significance

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The object of the Stations is to help the faithful to make a spiritual pilgrimage of prayer, through meditating upon the chief scenes of Christ’s sufferings and death. It has become one of the most popular devotions for Roman Catholics, and is often performed in a spirit of reparation for the sufferings and insults that Jesus endured during His Passion.[6]
In his encyclical letter, Miserentissimus Redemptor, on reparations, Pope Pius XI called Acts of Reparation to Jesus Christ a duty for Catholics and referred to them as “some sort of compensation to be rendered for the injury” with respect to the sufferings of Jesus.[7] Pope John Paul II referred to Acts of Reparation as the “unceasing effort to stand beside the endless crosses on which the Son of God continues to be crucified”.[8]
The Stations  (Traditional form)

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The early set of seven scenes was usually numbers 2,3,4,6,7, and 14 from the list below.[9] The standard set from the 17th to 20th centuries has consisted of 14 pictures or sculptures depicting the following scenes:
1.    Jesus is condemned to death
2.    Jesus carries his cross
3.    Jesus falls the first time
4.    Jesus meets his mother
5.    Simon or Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry the cross
6.    Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
7.    Jesus falls the second time
8.    Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
9.    Jesus falls the third time
10.    Jesus’ clothes are taken away
11.    Crucifixion: Jesus is nailed to the cross
12.    Jesus dies on the cross
13.    Jesus is taken down from the cross (Deposition or Lamentation)
14.    Jesus is laid in the tomb.
Although not traditionally part of the Stations, the Resurrection of Jesus is sometimes included as a fifteenth station.[10][11]

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Scriptural Way of the Cross

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Main article: Scriptural Way of the Cross
Out of the fourteen traditional Stations of the Cross, only eight have clear scriptural foundation. Stations 3, 4, 6, 7, and 9 are not specifically attested to in the gospels (in particular, no evidence exists of station 6 ever being known before medieval times) and Station 13 (representing Jesus’s body being taken down off the cross and laid in the arms of His mother Mary) seems to embellish the gospels’ record, which states that Joseph of Arimathea took Jesus down from the cross and buried him. To provide a version of this devotion more closely aligned with the biblical accounts, Pope John Paul II introduced a new form of devotion, called the Scriptural Way of the Cross on Good Friday 1991. He celebrated that form many times but not exclusively at the Colosseum in Rome.[12][13] In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI approved this set of stations for meditation and public celebration: They follow this sequence:
1.    Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane,
2.    Jesus is betrayed by Judas and arrested,
3.    Jesus is condemned by the Sanhedrin,
4.    Jesus is denied by Peter,
5.    Jesus is judged by Pilate,
6.    Jesus is scourged and crowned with thorns,
7.    Jesus takes up his cross,
8.    Jesus is helped by Simon to carry his cross,
9.    Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem,
10.    Jesus is crucified,
11.    Jesus promises his kingdom to the repentant thief,
12.    Jesus entrusts Mary and John to each other,
13.    Jesus dies on the cross,
14.    Jesus is laid in the tomb.

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Modern Usage

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The devotion may be conducted personally by the faithful, making their way from one station to another and saying the prayers, or by having an officiating celebrant move from cross to cross while the faithful make the responses. The stations themselves must consist of, at the very least, fourteen wooden crosses, pictures alone do not suffice, and they must be blessed by someone with the authority to erect stations.[14][dubious – discuss]

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In the Roman Catholic Church, Pope John Paul II led an annual public prayer of the Stations of the Cross at the Roman Colosseum on Good Friday. Originally, the Pope himself carried the cross from station to station, but in his last years when age and infirmity limited his strength, John Paul presided over the celebration from a stage on the Palatine Hill, while others carried the cross. Just days prior to his death in 2005, Pope John Paul II observed the Stations of the Cross from his private chapel. Each year a different person is invited to write the meditation texts for the Stations. Past composers of the Papal Stations include several non-Catholics. The Pope himself wrote the texts for the Great Jubilee in 2000 and used the traditional Stations.
Station 5: Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the Cross, Good Friday procession 2011 at Ulm, Germany.

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The celebration of the Stations of the Cross is especially common on the Fridays of Lent, especially Good Friday. Community celebrations are usually accompanied by various songs and prayers. Particularly common as musical accompaniment is the Stabat Mater. At the end of each station the Adoramus Te is sometimes sung. The Alleluia is also sung, except during Lent.

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He Is Risen!

He Is Risen!

Structurally, Mel Gibson’s 2004 film, The Passion of the Christ, follows the Stations of the Cross.[15] The fourteenth and last station, the Burial, is not prominently depicted (compared to the other thirteen) but it is implied since the last shot before credit titles is Jesus resurrected and about to leave the tomb.

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References
1.    ^ http://www.trinitycamphill.org/Way%20of%20the%20Cross/Introduction.htm
2.    ^ http://pastorzip.blogspot.com/2007/04/stations-of-cross.html
3.    ^ a b THURSTON, Herbert: The Stations of the Cross
4.    ^ Schiller, Gertrud, Iconography of Christian Art, Vol. II, p. 82, 1972 (English trans from German), Lund        Humphries, London, ISBN 0-85331-324-5
5.    ^ The Catholic Encyclopedia (1907)s.v. “The Way of the Cross.”
6.    ^ Ann Ball, 2003 Encyclopedia of Catholic Devotions and Practices ISBN 087973910X
7.    ^ Miserentissimus Redemptor, Encyclical of Pope Pius XI
8.    ^ Pope John Paul II, Letter to Cardinal Fiorenzo Angelini, for the 50th anniversary of the Benedictine Sisters of Reparation of the Holy Face, 27 September 2000 (Vatican archives)
9.    ^ Schiller, 82
10.    ^ “The Official Web Site for the Archdiocese of Detroit”. http://www.aodonline.org/aodonline-sqlimages/stationsofthecross/stations.pdf. Retrieved 2012-02-13. “In some contemporary Stations of the Cross, a fifteenth station has been added to commemorate the Resurrection of the Lord.”
11.    ^ “Fr. William Saunders”. http://www.ewtn.com/library/ANSWERS/STCROSS.HTM. Retrieved 2009-04-04. “Because of the intrinsic relationship between the passion and death of our Lord with His resurrection, several of the devotional booklets now include a 15th station, which commemorates the Resurrection.”
12.    ^ Joseph M Champlin, The Stations of the Cross With Pope John Paul II Liguori Publications, 1994, ISBN 0-89243-679-4
13.    ^ Pope John Paul II, Meditation and Prayers for the Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum, Good Friday, 2000
14.    ^ http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15569a.htm
15.    ^ Review, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2004
16.    ^ McBrien, Richard P.; Harold W. Attridge (1995). The HarperCollins encyclopedia of Catholicism. p. 1222. ISBN 978-0-06-065338-5.
17.    ^ Cavanagh, David (February 1997), “ChangesFiftyBowie”, Q magazine: 52–59
18.    ^ Falcon Valley Music Ed., Stefano Vagnini, Via Crucis, Rome, Italy, 2002
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. Related Links to the Stations of the Cross (Catholic)

<>Stations of the Cross (Mother Angelica Version) 

<>Stations of the Cross ( Passionist version)

Related Links to the Stations of the Cross (Protestant)

<>Stations of the Cross ( Dennis Bratcher Version)

<>Stations of the Cross (Joyful Way Version)

<> Here are some related Links that you may also find helpful for Lent:

Prodigals Amongst us

Be Reconciled with God

Rend your Hearts – Not Your Garments

The Crucified Life

The Cost Of Discipleship

The Renewal of Our Minds

Discerning The Lord’s Call

Praying as Jesus Prayed (Part 1)

Praying as Jesus Prayed (Part 2)

I Stand at the Door and Knock

Receiving The Holy Spirit

Growing in The Spirit

Jesus the Source of Living water and Us

Christ In Us The Hope of Glory

<>Vienes Santo PPS Download  (in Spanish):

Viernes Santo (Sp.) Good Friday.pps   — 1.8 meg

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Jesus: The Word Made Flesh

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name ‘Immanuel,’ which is translated, ‘God with us.’ ” (Matthew 1:23)

“And the Word became flesh and lived among us…” (Jn1:14)

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As we approach the celebration of our savior’s birth it is appropriate that we meditate on the unimaginable mystery and magnificence of this event.  A mystery which was kept even from the angels – basically, the Father’s plan to redeem us from the sin which has enveloped humanity since Adam.

A plan not only to redeem us but to restore us to adoption as His spiritually generic Children. A plan that could be wrought only by through the Divine becoming one of us and atoning for our sins through an unjust passion and death at the hands of those whom He was saving. For, indeed  only God Himself, in human form, could take responsibility and be judged for our sins since He is the Sinless and Holy One who created us. In this incarnation of His Divine Self and the Sacrifice of His Son for our sins is the ultimate and immanent manifestation of His transcendent Love -Yet, A love that expresses itself at the level of Human realization – A Love that goes beyond philosophy and theology to the reality of the birth of a human child incarnating God Himself – the birth of the lamb of God –  The Lamb that the Father provided to be publicly sacrificed to atone for our sins,

“For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes on Him might not perish but come to everlasting life” (Jn; 3-16­)

The Father’s giving of His Son begins at the Birth of Jesus – the event we celebrate as Christmas – the key event, on this Earth for His plan of redemption.  The Gift of His Son begins at His Birth, His “incarnation”, where He emptied Himself of His Divine nature and became as one of us. This began the process by which the Word of God, the Son of God, became flesh for the  purpose of sacrificing His Life for for our sins and, in this manner, manifested the Love of the Father for His creation and opened the door for our own re-creation in His “image”.

“… when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”  (Gal 4:4-7)

From this scripture we understand that, in order to accomplish His will in this regard, the Father needed a select volunteer, a human woman without sin to bring forth the Son of God incarnate into this world. This woman was Mary, a pure virgin dedicated to God, selected by Him to be the vessel through which His Son would be conceived and born as the God-Man anointed savior of the world.

And, as you might expect, it all began with an Angel delivering a Word from God.

(For God does nothing apart from His Word).

“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth,  to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you. But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.  The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.  He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David.  He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”  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.” (Luke 1:26-35)

In delivering this Word from God, the Angel was delivering a Divine Promise and in order for this Promise to be realized,  Mary, the chosen mother of His Son, needed to willingly and in faith accept and receive that Promise. Although she asked out of curiosity, “how can this be since I am a virgin?”,  the Angel told her  “.. with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37). And Mary, responding in faith said, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her” (Luke 1:38).

Brethren, I gently remind you of these things that you already have heard but which may not have had the impact it ought on your heart, so that you may be made aware, by the Holy Spirit, that the Father’s Love and purposes for the Birth of Christ, His ministry, His Passion, His Death and His Resurrection go much further than saving us from our sins and bringing us into His Glory. In fact, His intent was, and still is, for Jesus, His Son to be the first of many brethren. His intent is to replicate His Son in us so that His Glory and the Glory of His Son might be multiplied amongst us, and through us who believe, and so that we might be His instruments for the manifestation of His Kingdom in this world. Baruch ha Shem!

Peter, our first pope, expressly stated this underlying destiny for those who have also been born again through the Promises of His Word and who through the preaching of that word, have come to adoption as His children through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Yes! As you might expect, we also are re-born spiritually, through the proclamation  of  God’s Word – the Good News of Salvation in Christ Jesus!

You have been born anew,

not of perishable but of imperishable seed,

through the living and enduring 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 endures forever.” 

That word is the good news that was announced to you.

(1Ptr1:23-25)

And, as the Apostle Peter further amplifies, it is the Father’s intent that we, through our faith in His Promises, may become His partners in brining forth His Kingdom, through our baptism into Christ!

“His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature.” (2Ptr1:3-4)

What shall we say then, to these graces and love that is freely bestowed on us? What is the response that the Father desires of us to His gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus?  If the Living God gave totally of Himself, is it not appropriate that we His creatures give totally of ourselves in response to his Love. Is not this then the most appropriate gift that we can bring to the manger to celebrate the Gift of God’s Son to us?  Here again St. Peter hints the path of giving we must take to enter into the spiritual transformation that enables us to fulfill our destiny …

“Rid yourselves, therefore, of all malice, and all guile, insincerity, envy, and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

 Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”  (1Ptr1:2-5)

And what are these spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God?  Aren’t these, in effect, the  giving of  our  “selves” to God?

To that question the Apostle Paul responds affirmatively ….

“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)

In order to assist you in accepting this challenge Brethren, I follow this article with a Prayer of Commitment, so that those of you whom the Holy Spirit has touched may, upon personal meditation use it to formulate your own payer of commitment wherein you not only dedicate your “self” as a Living sacrifice in response to the Father’s Love but you also yield yourself to the Holy Spirit so that He can fill you and mold you and empower you to bring forth the Father’s kingdom in and through your lives.

I conclude with the Apostle Paul’s prayer to the Ephesians who were also at the same point you now are, in being invited to enter the Kingdom through the gift of yourselves to the Father and to bring the Good News of the Kingdom to others….

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”     (Eph.3:16-21)

Your Brother In Christ … Bartimaeus

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

O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O

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 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!

Prayer for Empowerment in the Holy Spirit

Father, as your child in Jesus I desire to be totally an instrument for Your Kingdom to manifest through my life. I desire to receive your Promise of the Holy Spirit to those who believe. Jesus, my Savior and King, baptize me in the Holy Spirit so that the power of your resurrection will work in me and transform me according to your will. Holy Spirit, empower me and fill me to overflowing. I hold nothing back from you. Work your gifts in me and through me so that the Father’s Kingdom may be manifested in and through my life. I ask this in Jesus’ mighty Name. Amen!

O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O

Now, begin praising and worshipping God with all your heart. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you, renew you, and praise God through you. Release yourself from all the inhibitions you have and raise your voice in songs and psalms. Express those longings you have held in your heart for so long but were unable to let loose because of your inhibitions. As you sing and worship release yourself to the Holy Spirit so that He can pray and worship through you.

As you enter this time of praise and worship you will begin to experience a sense of the presence of the Lord. You will begin to lose your self-consciousness and you will sense that the flow of your prayers and song is coming as if from out of nowhere. In fact, as your praise increases you sense that you are uttering words that are no longer in your mother tongue. But you know in your spirit that these words are honoring God so your flow in these phrases increases. You have just received your prayer language. You are feeling so blessed, you find that you don’t want to stop. Don’t stop. Pray and sing your heart out, glorifying God!

Praised be His Holy Name! You have now ”Entered the Kingdom” of the Father! Walk in the leading of the Holy Spirit and be obedient to His call! May the Lord Bless you and anoint you with the Holy Spirit in all that you do!

 

 

Your Brother In Christ,

Bartimaeus

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

 

O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O~O

 

Resource Links In Preparing for the Baptism In the Spirit

Catholic Charismatic History

§ Releasing the Spirit

§ The Double Portion Anointing

§ Jesus, the Source of Living Water, and Us

§ Pentecost and the Promise of the Father

§ The sanctifying Gifts (Part 1)

§ The Sanctifying Gifts (Part 2)

§ Praying in The Spirit

§ Empowerment Gifts (Part 1)

§ The Empowerment Gifts (Part 2)

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What is Spirituality Anyway?           

(Excerpted from a booklet by Jorge  Madrid Sr.,  with the Author’s permission)                          

The Word is a Double Edged Sword

The Word is a Double Edged Sword

“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart”  (Hebrews 4:12 emphasis mine)

In our rationalistic culture we somehow believe or think that by assigning a definition or label to a concept that somehow we have captured the spirit of that which we so define. It is like thinking that we can capture the essence of a uniquely aromatic field of lavender by passing the butterfly net of our intellect over it and attempting to describe it with words.

No!  To really capture the essence of that field of lavender you have to be in that field, walking in it, breathing in the air, and smelling and absorbing the richness of its essence under the imbuement of the associated color and light. Then, if we have a poetic or musical strain, we may attempt to convey our experience to others through the inspiration of our art. But it is never the equal of the experience itself. Only a personal visit to the field of lavender will really suffice. And even then each person’s experience, while having some commonality, will differ because the experience will evoke different reactions from the visitor’s inner person, that is, the non-intellectual part of the person.

I bring this up to indicate our need to emphasize that the terms we use to define some of our concepts are but mere place-holders that we use to attempt to communicate a reality that cannot be intellectualized but can only be fully comprehended through our experiencing it! And, that if the person we are trying to communicate with has not experienced something similar, our words will be just that, words. Empty words. Words that will not transmit the essence of our experience but merely a statement that indicated we visited some place called  “a field of lavender” and that we had a “wonderful” experience.

“Spirit”, “spiritual” and “spirituality” are words that are commonly used to attempt to communicate such concepts. In fact, they are so commonly used that our first reaction is to assume that we understand want is meant because we have read so many books and materials on the subject. But if someone were to pin us down with the question: “ when was the last time you experienced something spiritual”, most of us would be hard pressed to answer. And if we did, we would usually respond with something that evoked our emotions, because that is the usual way we tend to misunderstand the meaning of the term, “spiritual”.

It is because of this misunderstanding that many Christians are somewhat afraid of “spiritual” experiences because it might make them appear as too emotional, especially in church. And of course, what Christian wants to be emotional, especially, in a church environment?  After all, anything that looks like emotionalism indicates a lack of self-control and would bring some unwanted attention from the congregants and the ministers[1].

First of all, true “spiritual’ experiences initiated by the Holy Spirit are not emotional outbursts or esoteric feelings. They are exceptional events that occur deep in our “inner selves’. Sometimes they involve visions, dreams, and prophecy, but mainly they are a non-cognitive awareness of something beyond that which can be perceived by our senses but which imparts an infused understanding, knowledge or wisdom beyond ourselves. They involve a perception into that which lies beyond our normal sense or cognitive experience.

These experiences may evoke emotions on our part but our responses are always entirely under our control. The Holy Spirit does not take over our personality but instead values our free will and a cooperative attitude.  What the Holy Spirit desires from us, in granting us these experiences, is “communion” with the divine and that communion takes place in the quiet center of our inner being. What we sometimes term as our “spirit” or our “heart”. It is our “Holy of Holies”, our sanctuary where our spirit can commune with the Holy One.

The human spirit was designed by God to have a desire or a “hunger” for communion with He who created us and those things in our lives which can, in some way, satisfy or satiate this “hunger” or “thirst” are, therefore, referred to as “spiritual”.   Spirituality is the term we use to describe this nature or characteristic of the spirit that yearns for communion with the Divine in the stillness of our inner sanctuary.

Every person on this planet, whether they realize it or not, are seeking to be in touch with their spirituality. This is only natural because it is an essential part of our being and its neglect brings us to a dysfunctional state which we humans, in our ignorance, attempt to repair by attempting to fill our spiritual hunger with ego-satisfying ambitions, and the empty lure of worldly lusts and emotions. Thus, amplifying our state of disarray and personal agony.

Another of the problems in our rationalistic western culture is our inability to comprehend the tripartite nature (body, soul, and spirit) with which we have been endowed.  Since our spiritual nature cannot be observed and studied as our body and our soul (mind, psyche, emotions, etc.) we tend to ignore its needs and demands. As a result when the Holy Spirit knocks at the doors of our hearts we do not know how to open the door or, if we do, we are afraid to because it may lead us to an area of our lives for which our culture has not prepared us, or in fact, has blocked the door because being “spiritual” is considered by some to be “anti-intellectual”.

Before continuing, let me say that because of this, simple, less intellectually sophisticated persons are usually better able to open the door to the Holy Spirit because they are not hampered by the intellectual or philosophical predispositions introduced by our culture.

In order to get past these barriers it is necessary for us to comprehend is that spiritual experiences in the Holy Spirit are our legitimate Christian legacy and, if properly practiced and understood, are perfectly compatible with our Faith. They are, in fact, at the core of our Faith.

That being said, it must also be affirmed that one must be aware that a person can be deceived, not only intellectually, but also spiritually. There are counterfeit spiritual experiences just as there are false teachers of deceptive philosophies. For that reason, the gifts of the Holy Spirit include, the gift of prophecy, teaching,, wisdom, knowledge, and discernment of spirits, so that those leaders of the community that are charismatically endowed can help keep the community from spiritual and intellectual deception.

In the early centuries of the church, both intellectual and spiritual deception was rampant. The Greek intellectual environment of those days scrutinized every religion (new and old) with respect to discovering some “new” wisdom.   Such wisdom was sought both intellectually through philosophy and logic as well as through the esoteric “hidden” wisdom sought out by the mystery cults and the Gnostics.  Because of these trends, the faith of the early Christians was very vulnerable to being hi-jacked by these movements.

In their defense of the true Faith, the early church fathers went to great extremes to establish a solid theological foundation that could counter the attacks of the cultural Greek intellectual elite and the mystery cults. They also attempted to define the clear bounds for discerning orthodox spiritual experiences from the occult and pagan demonic experiences. In doing so they had to define the terms “spirit”, “spiritual” and “spirituality” in a manner that was consistent with orthodox theology and concepts that would become the bulwark against the prevalent deceptions of the Greek intellectual and pseudo-spiritual culture of those days. These diversions from the truth had attempted to twist Paul’s theological concept of “body, soul, and spirit” to accommodate Gnostic and Manichean dualistic concepts of good and evil that usually ended up postulating that we had two natures, one evil and one divine.

In those early theological battles it also became essential to define what was meant by the term “soul” and what was meant by the term “spirit”.  In the Gnostic concept, our spiritual nature was the “good” part of us while our natural self and body were inherently evil. In their view, salvation could only be achieved through an esoteric knowledge (gnosis) through which our real “self” could escape our “evil” nature into the “pleroma”  (union with the highest divinity). This of course implied that our natural soul was part of the evil nature and that we had within us another spiritual entity which, although “good” was imprisoned within the natural. Replete with errors, the ultimate conclusion of this heretical line of reasoning was that our salvation depends on ourselves (through our achieving gnosis) and NOT on the saving sacrifice of God’s son.

In order to quell such heretical dualistic disparities, the church councils clearly established the true teaching that we only have one spiritual nature and that is our soul. What is sometimes lost because of the intricacies of the theological discourse is the fact that the councils did not refute scripture regarding the separate identity of the human spirit. Rather, the councils affirmed that the human spirit, though it has its own intrinsic functions, is embedded in the soul, and is of the same spiritual essence. This unique spiritual entity, together with the body, form one living being[2]. Their main intent was not to negate the existence of man’s spirit but rather to affirm that there are not two spiritual natures (or essences) in man but one.

Today, because we have forgotten the intent of the councils to differentiate essence from function, there is some confusion over the functional distinction between soul and spirit to the degree that, in general, they are generally considered to be synonymous

St. Augustine, the Bishop of Hippo, and one of the Fathers of the Christian faith, clearly indicates in his writings that the human spirit exists as the deepest most intimate part of our soul and that it exhibits distinct functions from the rest of the soul. In his letters to a confused cleric, Augustine states: “It now remains for me to show how it is that while the designation spirit is rightly predicated of a part of the soul, not the whole of it,–even as the apostle says, “Your whole spirit, and soul, and body;” or, according to the much more expressive statement in the Book of Job,’ “Thou wilt separate my soul from my spirit,” –yet the whole soul is also called by this name” (cf., A Treatise on the Soul and its Origin, Book 4, Chapter 36)

Now, if we don’t really understand that the term “spirit” as used in scripture refers to a component of man’s being that, although an integral part of the soul, has its own distinct functions[3], how can we really understand what spirituality or spiritual growth entail?

In the past, theologians wrapped themselves around a proverbial axle trying to define the distinction between “spirit” and “soul” by deferring to classical philosophical definitions between essence and form. This usually led to abstruse discussions about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.  All we need to know is that the Holy Spirit through His infallible Word has revealed to us that in the eyes of God there is a special part of us that He designates as our “spirit”. If we trust His word we should not need to go into any arcane classifications between form and essence in attempting to understand with our limited human intelligence something beyond what God has revealed to us. We merely trust Him to tell us what we need to know to adequately manage our spiritual lives. And knowing that we have a “spirit” is something we need to know in order to understand the dynamics of what happens in the spiritual domain.

First of all, we read in Genesis 2:7 that when God created man in his image, He breathed His Spirit [Hebrew, neshamah, Strong’s Hebrew #5397] on man so that He could become a living entity or soul [Hebrew, nephesh, Strong’s Hebrew #5315] [4]. This leads us to the following implications: 1) man’s higher spiritual nature [neshamah] is created directly from the creative power of God’s Spirit, 2) the spiritual entity which is created from God’s Spirit is co-natural with the Divine (that is, it is of a similar nature, though not the same essence), and 3) the union of body and a spirit-empowered soul forms one single living entity [nephesh].

The spiritual part of this single living entity created by God contains two separate functional units, much as a peach has two parts apart from the skin: a fruit part, and a seed part. However, when we think about what makes a peach a “peach” we usually have the fruit part in mind.  So also when we think about man’s spiritual essence or “soul” we usually only think about those identifiable intangible personal assets that we are conscious of, namely, our personality, our ego, our intellect, our emotions, our will, our psyche, and so on. The reason we forget to include our “spirit” in our associations is that we are not normally aware of the spiritual organ deep within us that the scripture calls “spirit”.  This part of us, our “seed” part, is just as much “soul” as our self-awareness part. But, just because it is beyond our normal self-awareness, we tend to ignore its existence.

What we normally consider the “soul” part is created as man’s control center, to manage the interface between man, his body, his senses, his mind and the natural space-time environment, while, at the same time, being connected through his “spirit” to the divine which transcends this space-time environment in which we exist. The “spirit” part is created to interface with the divine and contains the necessary faculties to do this. Jesus himself reiterated this fact when he spoke with the Samaritan “woman at the well”, telling her that God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship him in spirit and in truth[5]. Paul, who was clearly aware of the functional distinction[6] between soul (mind) and spirit (heart), says, “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind (soul) is unfruitful. So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind[7].

From this and many other scriptural references which affirm the above we see that our spiritual faculties, though intertwined with those of our soul, are there for the purpose of receiving Life from God and for man to fellowship with His Creator. It is that component of our being that is designated to interface God and therefore the enabler our fellowship with Him. What we normally consider our “soul” part, contains the faculties needed to interact with each other and the material universe, including our bodies. Our “spirit” part contains the faculties needed to interact with the divine.

God, through the scripture, tells us that man’s being is functionally composed of spirit, soul and body[8]. The fact that there are three facets or levels of awareness to our human nature may be compared to the statement that the human body is composed of a central nervous system, a circulatory system, a muscular system, a respiratory system, and a skeletal system. Just as the central nervous system can impact our circulatory system, so our spirit has influence over our soul and over our body and vice-versa. Just as sometimes problems in our central nervous system may be misdiagnosed as circulatory problems so problems in our spirit are sometimes misunderstood as being psychological problems. This does not mean that our spiritual faculties are one and the same as those of our soul. It merely means that what is happening in our spirit is reflected in our soul (and vice versa). One of the functions of the spirit is to communicate what it senses in the supernatural realm to the soul whose main function is to permit us to function in the natural realm.

In God’s original design, the spirit (heart) of man was meant to be in submission to the divine and to exercise direct influence over our “soul” just as the “soul” was to have direct influence over the body. When mankind fell from Grace, the faculties in man’s “spirit” became disconnected from God (the spirit “died”) and our “souls” became the dominant part of our nature. Jesus came to take on our death and revive the “spirit” component of our nature so that our renewed spirit could aspire to regain its God-inspired dominance and we could again be truly called God’s children (in the spiritual sense).

With this understanding in mind, the term “spirituality” denotes any improvement in our condition that begins to move our renewed spirit back into the place of influence originally designed by God. The process of improvement cannot begin unless our spirits are revived. Man cannot revive his own spirit, only God, through His Holy Spirit, can revitalize our spirits[9]. When Paul, speaking to the Corinthians says, “Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly — mere infants in Christ[10], he is telling them, that although they are truly his brothers in Christ through baptism, he cannot speak to them in spiritual terms because they have not yet reached the place where their renewed spirits exert a direct influence on their minds (soul). Since the unspiritual man cannot understand the things of God[11], he must address them in terms of their reason, so that through their reason he can motivate them to come to spiritual maturity. That is why He exhorts them to “be renewed in the spirit of your mind[12].

The same is true today. I was just like those Corinthians. I was spiritually in Christ through baptism but my mind (soul) needed to be renewed so that I could begin to grow spiritually.  The first barrier I had to remove to receive God’s grace for renewal was to dethrone the “self” which had been ruling my mind (soul) and turn my life over to Jesus so that He and He alone would rule in me through my spirit. Then, as the Holy Spirit worked in me through meditation on the Word of God and prayer, my renewed soul was opened to receive more of God’s life by way of my spirit.

This symbiotic relationship between soul and spirit is what God intended for man. In this way man is led to integrate his spirit, soul, and body to bring about the wholeness for which God destined us. The final step in this integration is union with the Divine. Thus we understand, that true spirituality is achieved when we cooperate with God’s Grace by permitting the Holy Spirit to work through us in those activities which bring us to total integration with God’s will. This will in turn reflect itself in the wholeness (holiness) of our lives (spirit, soul, and body). This is true spirituality.  Anything that diverts us from this goal is unspiritual.

Realizing that we have a spiritual nature and learning to respond to the leading of the Holy Spirit through that nature is only the first step in spiritual growth. We must also come to the realization that the primary reason the Lord created us with such a capacity is so that we can delight in His presence to the point of total worship and for communion And fellowship with Him. At the same time, He also designed us with this spiritual nature so that He could manifest His Kingdom in this world through us, His children. In the process of bringing us to conformity us to the image of His Son, we are to be His partners in all the works He plans for this world[13]. We, therefore, have a great responsibility before God to work with His Grace and Anointing to perform His Will on this earth[14]. The way we do this is through prayer and resulting action. In doing this we become participants in bringing His Kingdom into manifestation in this world. This is, in essence, what we are asking when we pray: “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven[15]”, as we say the “Lord’s Prayer”.

Our response to this Grace that the Father has freely provided through the Blood of Jesus is to keep our vessels pure and to abide in Him so that His power and anointing will flow through us to our society to bring His Love, His peace, and His justice to this world. For this reason, when we come into this renewed spiritual awareness we should freely and willingly rededicate ourselves and all of our activities to Him so that all that we undertake and accomplish is truly in His Name and not out of our own zeal and energy.


[1] Just as David was despised by his wife, Saul’s daughter for dancing before the Ark of the Covenant as He was leading the procession bringing it to Jerusalem. (2 Samuel 6:14-16)

[2] Catechism of the Catholic Church: 365, 366, 367

[3] Because of the inadequacy of our language the term “spirit” can be used in two different ways. One is to use the term as a description of the essence of the immaterial part of our being. The other way is to use the term to indicate the set of faculties attributable to a distinct spiritual “organ” within our immaterial being.

[4] The definitions found in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance imply that the primary distinction between Neshamah and Nephesh is that the former refers to  a  spiritual-level life energizing force while the latter refers to a the sentient-level soul life of a created being.

[5] John 4:24

[6]  Hereafter I will use the terms “soul” and “spirit” not  in reference to their essence (which are the same) but rather to their distinctiveness in faculties or functions, which is how scripture mainly uses these terms.

[7] 1 Corinthians 4:14-15

[8] 1 Thessalonians 5;23

[9] John 3:6, “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit”

[10] 1 Corinthians 3:1

[11] 1 Corinthians 2:14

[12] Ephesians 4:23

[13]Do you not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters?”. (1 Corinthians 6:2)

[14] We must be careful to note that our performance of God’s will on Earth is not a condition for our salvation but rather the outcome of our acceptance of Gods free gift of salvation in Jesus, His Son.

[15] Matt. 6:10

[Excerpt from:  Thy Kingdom Come! Reflections on Personal Spirituality, Prayer and Worship. Copyright ©2006 – 2008 by Jorge Alfonso Madrid Sr.

Recommended Links
<>   §  The Prayer of the Inward Man
<>  § Releasing the Spirit
<>  §  Praying in the Spirit

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

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

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Return to Jerusalem

Go into all the world ...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bartimaeus

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.practicegodspresence.com/

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

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