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Unless a Grain of Wheat ….

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

Unless a Grain of Wheat ...

Unless a Grain of Wheat …

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

My fellow pilgrims in Christ,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Abide in Me to Bear Fruit

Abide in Me to Bear Fruit

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

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

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

Romans 8:29

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

Romans 12: 1-2

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

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

It_Is_Done_113111965“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20)

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

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

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

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

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

To the Corinthians –   Reverencing and Maintaining Our Union with Christ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

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

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

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

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

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


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


And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.”


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


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

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

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

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

Your Brother In Christ …. Bartimaeus

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

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Our Father: It all begins with relationship

Disciple Praying

Our Father who art in heaven …

“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

(Matt.6:7-13)

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My dear fellow pilgrims,

It all begins with relationship.

Only when we enter into the awareness that we are truly The Father’s Spiritual Children in Christ Jesus, and enter into a personal relatiuonship with Him, we can begin to fully understand our inheritance in His Kingdom (cf., § Becoming Children of God). And that, through that understanding and the Divine Wisdom that comes with it, we may find our place and role in the here and now so that, through us, His Kingdom may indeed be manifested here on Earth as it is in Heaven.

For just like children of the flesh in this world who mature to fill distinct and varying roles and positions of responsibility, so too, we, God’s Spiritual Children, are purposed by Him to be His Arms of Love extended to the world – the world He created and redeemed so that He could manifest His Kingdom in their midst.

In His loving will He also has determined where and how are to serve Him and the spiritual gifts we will need to accomplish His will in this world.  That is why it is so important that we discern our individual calling and ask for His Holy Spirit to empower us to carry out that calling. But we cannot do this outside of a relationship with Jesus and the Father.

Lest we let this concept of being His instruments incorrectly exalt us, we must also be aware that this work is not to be accomplished by us, but by the Son of God who lives in us and works through us. He, and He alone, is the author and source of the work of the Kingdom. The only way we may participate in this work is through our complete surrender to Him and His Love. This surrender is not easy and is termed by Jesus as “ carrying your Cross”.  Believe me it is a difficult cup to drink from because requires us to die our own self-sufficient mentality and enter into a God-centered mentality – where we acknowledge to ourselves that, “without Him we can do nothing” (Jn.15:5)!

The Foundational Prayer for Discipleship

That is why the prayer form that Jesus taught His disciples (cf., Matt.6:7-13) begins with the acknowledgement that God is “Our Father” and that we, as His Children, are totally dependent on Him and His Glory and power. A recognition that, although His Name, that is His Character and Person, is Holy and beyond the reach of any human rapprochement, He, through His Son, has breached the gap of holiness that separated us, so that we enter into a full and true relationship with him through His Son!

The prayer further states that, it is only through this relationship of obedience and love with Him, as Father, our source of life, provider, and sustainer, that we can be His instruments in bringing His Reign (Kingdom) into full manifestation in this world.

But of course, before we can be channels of His Love, His Reign must begin in us through our full surrender to Him and His Holy Spirit so that He might begin the work of His Kingdom in us!  The work of His Kingdom in us begins by His Spirit working in our lives to conform us to the image of His Son! Blessed be His Holy Name!

Recognizing that it is His work that must be accomplished, we ask for His daily sustenance and provision.  Although most of us take this request to mean “food for the table”, the reality is, that it is a request for His continual and daily spiritual empowerment, the infilling of His Spirit, to be able to carry out His Will. For us today, it refers to the living spiritual strength that is derived from communion with Christ in the Eucharist.

In the prayer we also recognize that our human failings against Love are a major impediment to the fulfillment of His Will and therefore ask for His forgiveness, in accord with our forgiveness of those who trespass against us.  In doing this we clear out anything in us that would impede His Will from being accomplished.

Recognizing, also, that the enemy will come against us through temptations to impede the Father’s Will from being completed, we also petition that He not permit any testing that goes beyond our ability to resist.

The reason this prayer, which we term “The Our Father”, is so important is because it is foundational to establishing the appropriate spiritual attitude of faith which underlies our ability to serve Him as His Children and fully committed disciples. That is why many have stated that this prayer really ought to have been named “The Disciples Prayer”.

If the problems of your life situation are creating impediments to your progress as a disciple, always keep in mind the admonition Jesus gave His disciples,

“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? … [S]eek first the Kingdom of Heaven and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you”.  (cf., Mat. t6:25,33)

Or, put in today’s modern dialect, “ Do not let the worries and concerns of everyday life deter you … your first priority must be to let God reign in your life so that you are always faithful to accomplish His Righteous Will, then you will find that the worldly concerns in your life will be resolved appropriately”.

The Necessity of Prayer

Once, when through faith in His Word and Prayer, you have entered into an intimate relationship with the Father through Jesus and deeply desire to follow Jesus in discipleship, you will find that your need for a deeper continuing prayer life increases.  Just as Jesus, spent most of his evenings or early mornings in prayer, so to we who are following Him, must do the same.  We will do so, not so much as an imposed devotional practice, but instead to fill our awareness of the increased spiritual need for His presence in our renewed lives.

As we go deeper into discipleship we will find that we will not be able to adequately deal with the events and situations which we are called to handle without our daily prayer encounters with Jesus and the Father. Once we begin our prayer encounters and see the results in our everyday lives, we will willingly seek out these payer times on our own – for we begin to understand that our continuous need to tap into the source of LIFE without which we cannot function spiritually.

First of all we need to remember, that it is only through the intimacy of prayer that we receive from Him the wisdom, knowledge, empowerment, and Love we will need in preparation for the next day’s events. Secondly, it is through meditative  prayer in union with His Inspired Word, that we continue to be taught by the Holy Spirit in order to be formed and grow spiritually and learn from our experiences. St. Ignatius of Loyola tells us that “…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.”

Once we have entered into true discipleship we will find that we can no more do without daily prayer than we can do without food or water.

The Need for Discernment

One of the problems we face as Lay Disciples of Jesus, is that the modern church is not structured to properly assist lay people, who are not part of the “religious establishment”, to follow the personal path of discipleship the Lord is calling them to follow.  The modern church establishment does not expect lay people to enter into such individual callings.  The establishment expects that any one who has such a call to either enter a seminary to become a priest, deacon, or minister or to join some religious order. It is difficult to overcome the prejudices of the past that have placed lay Christians as passive , un-empowered, servants of the clergy, having no understanding of things spiritual.

As a result, until the Lord works to change the situation we must seek the Lord intensely for personal discernment and guidance for what the Lord wants of us each day– a discernment that goes beyond that of our calling – a discernment that leads us to hear the voice of the Head Shepherd, Jesus Our Lord! (Cf., § Hearing and Obeying His Voice)

It is only through hearing and living His Word, inspired by the Holy Spirit that we will be able to distinguish between our fleshly-driven instincts and the spiritual directives and revelations from Our Heavenly Shepherd. Praised be His Holy name!

Now, I don’t discount our need of our earthly shepherds because they are still the dispensers of the sacraments, especially those of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. It is just that some of them cannot fully comprehend where we Charismatics are, spiritually, making it difficult for them to provide in-depth spiritual guidance for us when they themselves have never experienced the fullness and spiritual gifts of the Spirit and, in many cases, even resist them.

I try to maintain good relations with all members of the clergy, but I usually feel them out before going into spiritual issues until I sense they are on the same page with me and with the Holy Spirit. I know its not their fault, its just that the depth of their spirituality varies depending on their seminary and life experiences especially if they have not been introduced to the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

By the way, I expect that this spiritual lethargy that is still evident with some of our clergy will all be changing in the church of the new era we are entering, where the Spirit of God will overwhelm all Christians with His Glory and many of those who are now holding back will be surprisingly renewed in the Spirit. It will be a very difficult era for Christians and He is preparing us for those times when we will need to draw upon His power and strength to manifest His Kingdom on this Earth!

I must also mention that If you are struggling with discerning the Lord’s Will in your life, obedience to the Father is of the essence. If you yoke yourself to the Lord He will bring you though the times when you are being tested because of the fleshly baggage we all have to contend with.

Even the very smallest thing that we allow in our lives that is not under the control of the Holy Spirit is completely sufficient to account for spiritual confusion, and spending all of our time thinking about it will still never make it clear. Spiritual confusion can only be conquered through obedience. As soon as we obey, we have discernment. This is humiliating; because when we are confused we know that the reason lies in the uncertain state of our mind. But when our natural power of sight is devoted and submitted in obedience to the Holy Spirit, it becomes the very power by which we perceive God’s will, and our entire life is kept in simplicity.

Relationship is Everything

Finally brethren, in order to make clear the importance of our relationship with Jesus and the Father, let us recall the words of  Our Teacher when he told His disciples to …

“Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ “But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’  “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’  “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’  (Luke 13:24)

Yes, we also may claim a mundane familiarity with Him through your religious practice and even have worked signs and wonders in His name, but unless you personally “KNOW” Him, He will tell you when you come to His door: “depart from me you workers of iniquity, I do not KNOW you”.

Relationship, then, is everything, and without it our works for God become meaningless for entry into the Kingdom.

I pray brethren that the preceding discussion has been of help in encouraging you to move through the “narrow door” into a personal and private discipleship relationship with the Father through Jesus.  If you have that desire in your heart then you can be sure that the Holy Spirit placed it there. Pay heed, then, to that desire and seek the face of the Lord in prayer. If He placed it there He will confirm it and bring you to the open door to the Kingdom!

Baruch Ha Shem! Blessed be the Name!

Your Brother In Christ Jesus …. Bartimaeus

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

Related Links

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