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Posts Tagged ‘Grace’

Disciple Praying

Christ in us the Hope of Glory!

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

— I believe in Jesus’ Miraculous Birth, The Incarnation, …
                    But what about My being Reborn as a New Creation in Jesus?

Dear Fellow Pilgrims in Christ Jesus,

As a result of the activation of my conversion and the attending revelation, the Holy Spirit has brought to life my understanding of His Word and a fuller understanding of the Mystery of the Incarnation, that in His birth through the virgin Mary, Jesus, the Son of God, became one of us while at the same time Retaining His Divinity, so that he would be the Father’s atonement for the sins of all humanity.

What has been harder for me to truly grasp is that through His Birth , Passion, Death and Resurrection the door has also been opened for me (and all believers) to become partakers of His Divinity (see, 2 Peter 1:4) – to be reborn in HIM! This is what I found hard to fully comprehend.

As John also states in His Gospel… “He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God”. (John 1:13 )

Now, all the new communities founded by the apostles faced the challenge of bringing the new believers to a deeper understanding of what it meant to be “Children of God”. In order to enhance the understanding of the Galatian community (and us) regarding being “heirs” or “adopted” children of God, the Apostle Paul, in his letter to them tried to explain to them using the Roman legal system of their day. At that time a legally born child, although an “heir” could not exercise his privileges as an heir until such a time, determined by tradition and His Father, that he was legally “adopted” as an official “son” or “heir”. Only after that point could he exercise his authority as a “son” within the family.

Using this comparison to explain to the Galatians what our “adoption” meant, Paul expanded on this theme as follows…

“I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God” (Gal. 4:1-7)

We believers have the power (choice) to become “Adopted” children of God

“He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power [“choice” ] to become [“adopted” ] children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1-18)

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Cor. 5:17)

As we mature spiritually, our challenge in living a truly Christian life comes in understanding exactly when it is that we are “empowered” spiritually, what our spiritual “authority” is, and how to operate within that authority. First of all we need to have have the awareness that we are a New Creation “in Christ” or as St. Peter said: “ You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.” (1 Peter1:23)

Operating in our traditional Cristian culture we are formed as “un-empowered” children and learn to obey and follow our beliefs and traditions faithfully. But as we grow in faith and maturity we are never taught how to go deeper regarding the use our faith and spiritual authority properly within our normal sphere of influence and prayer life so as to bring forth the Kingdom of God that is in us. Instead we passively permit the circumstances of our lives to overwhelm God’s purposes for our lives, especially that we are being conformed to the image of Christ in us (our Hope of Glory).

“And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. And those He predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified.…” (Rom. 8:28-30)

We must understand that we cannot enter into the use of our authority in Christ without yielding our selves to Him as a living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1-2) so that the process of our conformance may begin. This is how we activate the Spirit of Christ in us and permit us to act “in His Name”! In doing this we may restart our lives by walking as a new creation in Him! ( see, 2 Cor. 5:17)

God makes us into a new creation in Christ so that with His Divinity in us we become partners with Him so that by His Love working through us we become participants in bringing forth His Kingdom in and through His Son Christ Jesus! Yes, it is the intent of the Lord to bring forth his Kingdom right now, in the present day! He does this because His Kingdom begins in the hearts of those who believe in Him!

Entering into the Kingdom

Entering into the Kingdom to be partners with Jesus however does not come automatically to us. We have to make a decision — a decision of Agape Love, to willingly, and without compulsion, give our very selves to Christ so that He can enter into our spiritual temple, our spirits, and let Him truly reign in our hearts as Our King and Savior. In entering in we must understand that we will also share in the cup of His suffering.

This is the lesson Jesus was trying to teach Nicodemus when he sought out Jesus (John 3) coming to Him at night to ask Him about his awareness of what God was doing through Him. In meeting with him, Jesus told Him that it was one thing to be made aware of “the Kingdom” and another to “enter into the Kingdom”. That is, God can permit you to be partially aware of His doings, but you cannot participate in His doings unless you have been “born again” spiritually!

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot [truly] enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born anew.’ The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:5-8)

How does this happen?

While it is true that we receive the Spirit of Christ when we receive Baptism and Confirmation, yet because of our free will, the Holy Spirit will not take us further in our transformation into conformance until we willingly, out of love for our Savior, activate the seed of His Spirit that is in us by yielding ourselves completely to the Holy Spirit so that His Kingdom may rule in our hearts and body and soul.

Only those who have activated their spiritual seed in this way can be sensitive to the leadings of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Without this awareness and His anointing you cannot Hear the Word of the Shepherd, and thus be able to carry out the acts needed to be a partner with Jesus and the Father in bringing forth His Kingdom!

This is what it takes to be a true disciple of Christ. It is also why Nicodemus remained a “disciple-in-waiting” until he made his decision after Jesus’ passion and crucifixion. Because he was afraid of the repercussions in the Sanhedrin, of which the was a member, he kept his belief in Christ as a private matter, at least until Jesus Passion and Death!

Don’t follow Nicodemus’ example, instead, follow Mary who responded to the Angel of God immediately, saying, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word.”(Luke 1:38) !

Faith Formation is Important

We must also be careful not to deviate from the Faith while we are in process of having our faith formed.

The Galatian community at its inception, for instance, was very much like young child heir, who did not fully understand their responsibility in the faith as a newly initiated children of the Father. Children who were being led astray by the Judaizers from Jerusalem who were telling them that they needed to be circumcised in order to be part of the religion.

Here is what St. Paul said to them….You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly exhibited as crucified! The only thing I want to learn from you is this: Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the law or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? Having started with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh?” (Gal. 3:1-3)

Paul also felt so strained in straightening them out that he had to explain to them that they were no longer un-empowered babes that were governed by slavish rules, but were fully adopted sons an daughters responding to their relationship with the Father directly… “… because you are His [adopted] children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, of God Himself…” (Gal. 4:6-7)

Paul also cautions them however, that because they are behaving like babes still in the womb, that they are open to falling prey to the “circumcision sect” and are at risk of losing their inheritance in Christ, Therefore, he, Paul, is concerned about them to the point that he informs them that he is constantly praying for them because “…I travail in birth again until Christ [is truly] formed in you” (Gal. 4:19).

Putting on the Lord Jesus Christ — An Urgent Appeal

As you can see, in order to be truly formed in Christ we have to make an act of the will in accordance with the faith and grace given us at salvation. The apostle Paul expresses that act of faith to the Roman community as an urgent appeal to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ”.

“Besides this you know what hour it is, how it is full time now for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed; the night is far gone, the day is at hand. Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. (Rom. 13:11-14)

In is letter to the Galatians he expands that appeal further implying that “putting on the Spirit of Christ” also means “living and walking in the Spirit of Christ:

“Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Gal. 5:16-26)

The Results of Living and Walking in the Spirit

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed it cannot, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

“But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, [if indeed] the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 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.” (Rom. 8: 1-11)

Pray about Making a Resolution

So Brethren, this New Year meditate about what has just been presented to  you, consult the Lord and find out what His purpose and desires are for you. Then ask for the Holy Spirit’s help in making a decision to truly “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” and “enter into His Kingdom”!

May the Lord Bless you and keep you. May His Face Shine upon you and Bring you His Peace!

Your Brother in Christ … Bartimaeus

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Recommended Links

<> Jesus the Source of Living Water

<> The Kingdom of God; Our Spiritual Inheritance

<> Reclaiming Our Legacy in Christ

<> Receiving the  the Holy Spirit

© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2019]

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§ Letting your Light Shine Before Others

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The Light Shone in the Darkness

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matt: 5: 14-16)

My fellow pilgrims,

I have to confess to you that I was introduced to this saying of Jesus in my religious classes in a catholic elementary school and it certainly helped me in a human way to build up my self esteem as a christian and incite me to live a more disciplined christian life in this world. But it wasn’t until I was an adult, and began to understand the deeper meaning of what Jesus was saying, that the Word He spoke began to affect my inner spiritual life as well in such a way that I began to mature in my spiritual wisdom as well.

You see as I progressed in my adult life I remembered the words clearly but I also began to realize that in the life I was living I was not really being a light to anyone, in fact, I became more sensitive to my relationship problems and how I was contributing more to darkness than to God’s light. More and more, by God’s Grace, it became apparent to me that most of us Christians take our “life in Christ” for granted. First of all this is probably so because we don’t understand the spiritual responsibility behind having the Spirit of Christ living in us!

Although we have been taught the correct scriptural doctrine based on His Word – “Christ In us the Hope of Glory” ( Col. 1:27), we have not been properly catechized to truly understand, in the spirit, not in our minds, the true spiritual implications of the faith and responsibility we have in making this doctrine a true spiritual expression of faith in our lives. That is we are not taught how the Lord desires for us to be “His Spiritual Partners” and not just human individuals seeking to do what we call “good works”

Activating the Light in us

pictures-of-jesus-baptism-holy-spiritWhen the majority of us cradle Christians, after confirmation, take personal responsibility for our religious principles and belief system, we do so from an intellectually sincere basis founded on our inbred desire to be faithful to our traditions, schooling, and our family religious culture. We do this because they represent our human identity of who we are, to ourselves as a person and to our families. However, most of us, at this stage, are not introduced into the spiritual understanding of of the Word nor the Faith in the Word we need to really enter into the Kingdom!

Of course as christian initiates, we also desire, in a human way, to do good, But what is lacking is a spritual understanding that the “good” that the Lord wants us to do is in partnership with Him and His Grace – not out of our own merit-based self-righteous human effort. This partnership with Him must come from a total yielding of our “self” to Him and to His Holy Spirit. It begins with in-depth true spiritual conversion where we come to believe in Christ as our Lord and Savior, and give ourselves to Him out of a deep personal faith encounter and not just out of an intellectual agreement with the doctrine, scriptural tradition, and principles we have been taught.

In other words, we need to understand how to activate the “light”of Christ that is in us through baptism and confirmation before we can truly be a “light” to others. And that activation has to come through a spiritually revealed “faith” encounter and relationship with Jesus Himself!

Using a story from scripture as a metaphor, I refer you to the story of the encounter the “Samaritan Woman” had with Jesus (John Chapter 4), where Jesus told her not only about receiving the Living Water but also made it clear that she needed to change her lifestyle. She not only responded positively, but went back to to her village and told the people about Jesus whom she now believed was the Jewish Messiah! The villagers not only believed her but were incited with a strong desire to encounter Jesus for themselves.

That my friends, is what Jesus is seeking from us. He uses the witness and the Word, that the church presents to us, to entice us to seek Him out so that each of us can encounter Him personally so that His Word (His Light) permeates our new-born spirit. This opens our inner lives so that He can be our light and the light that we project to the world! It is only then that the seven Sanctifying gifts of the Spirit (Is. 11) can truly begin to work in us in order to conform us to the image of Jesus (see Rom. 8:28-30). It is this conformance to Jesus that activates our inner light as we enter into the process of the renewal of out minds – “and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and [thus] put on the new nature, which was created according to God in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. 4:23-24).

Letting Your Light Shine Out

Once your inner light is activated your next step is to yield yourself to the Holy Spirit so that through His power you can be a channel of your light to others (eg., to the community). When you enter this phase and yield yourself to the Holy Spirit (see 1Cor. 12), He will provide you the “empowerment gifts” you need to fulfill the divine purpose for you to reach others (including the community) with the appropriate gifts needed to extend His Kingdom in the world. These are sometimes called the “Charismatic Gifts”.

Note: St. Thomas Aquinas, in his Summa Theologia, explains that there are two types of Spiritual Grace: Sanctifying Grace and Actual Grace. The spiritual gifts just mentioned are emanations of these two types of Grace. Sanctifying Grace helps us to grow spiritually in the inner man. While Actual Grace permits us to be channels of Grace to the community so the Lord may extend His Kingdom into the world. The gifts emanating from latter type of grace are sometimes termed as “empowerment”gifts exactly because they empower us with the grace needed to each others for Christ Jesus!

“So I tell you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.…” (Luke 11:9-10)

As I end this posting I present to you a couple of prayers that you may use to encounter Jesus for yourself by, (1) first activating the Light of Jesus that is in you through Baptism and (2) receive the empowerment gifts you need to fill out the role in community-building that the Lord has in mind for you!

May the Lord Bless you and Keep you, May The Lord Shine His Face on you and be gracious to in all that you pray, say and do in His Holy Name!
… Your Brother In Christ, Bartimaeus

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Suggested Prayers Regarding Activating your Light …

Activating the Sanctifying Gifts
As I have indicated before, a true and sincere conversion is the scriptural prerequisite to receiving the “Promise of the Father”, the Gift of the Holy Spirit, in your own personal Pentecost. This means you first need to discern whether you are indeed a converted Christian and not just a cultural one as I was. If you are not sure, and you have determined in prayer that you want to be right with God and have a hunger to know the Lord Jesus personally then that is easy to remedy.  Just pray as follows:

“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 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. I surrender my life to you. Come into my heart, be the Lord of my Life. Be 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.

If you made this request sincerely and in Faith you can be sure that the Sanctifying Gifts of Isaiah 11 – representing the spiritual virtues of “Christ in you”are now active in your Life! Praised Be His Holy Name!

Activating the Empowerment Gifts
Now, if the terminology,  “baptism in/with the Holy Spirit”, creates a theological hurdle for you receiving the empowerment gifts of the Holy Spirit, just think of what you are desiring as a  “release of the Holy Spirit” that is already in you through baptism and confirmation. The Holy Spirit is not so much concerned as to your theological understanding of the Promise of the Father as much as He is looking for your sincere desire to be open to His working within you and through you, no matter how or what you call it! All He wants is your permission! Your surrender to His purposes in and through you!

Once this is settled in your mind, then you need to pray about what you are sensing in your spirit. If, after prayer and meditation on the scripture you sense a strong sincere desire to receive all that the Holy Spirit has for you and to be open to His working in and through your life (without restrictions on your part), then you are ready to proceed to the next step.

In asking for the Holy Spirit to empower you (whether in a community setting or a personal one) come into the Father’s presence and ask (something like this):

“ 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, all of me, so that the Father’s Kingdom may be manifested in and through my life. I ask this in Jesus’ mighty Name. Amen!”

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Now, begin praising and worshiping God with all your heart. 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!
© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-20018].

Related Link (click on Video URL below)
A Catholic Pentecost is Here (video)

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The Gates of Hell are upon us…
     Some of our shepherds have become Wolves …
         Even so the gates of hell shall not prevail (Matt. 16:18)

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My dear bothers and sisters in Christ,

It certainly appears that the Church of today has entered into a crisis of biblical proportion with respect to certain of its clerics and the fact that so many instances of clerical sexual abuse of our young children and young men are taking place around the world, the most notable right now being in the USA, UK, Ireland, Australia, India, et al.

We sheep admittedly feel helpless and threatened by what is happening in the Church. But we must remember that we belong to Our Heavenly Shepherd who will not forsake us nor abandon us even though the Gates of Hell appear to be coming upon us.

On the contrary, the current failures in Church governance and it inner corruption among the clergy should be seen as indicators that The Lord will bring judgement, justice and mercy to this situation, in a spiritual and mystical way that we cannot begin to comprehend. We must remember that He “is the repairer of the breach”, we just don’t know what His response will be.

Scripture does give us however some hints as to how the Lord God might react to todays major sexual corruption and governance crisis in the Church Hierarchy …

<> He will Restore the Holiness of His Sanctuary

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He will Clean out His Sanctuary and restore it to the Holiness He desires:  “I will now desecrate My sanctuary, the stronghold of your pride, the delight of your eyes, the desire of your soul” (Ezekiel 24:15-23)

 

 

<> He will Seek out His sheep and Rescue Them

“Thus says the Lord God, I am against the shepherds; and I will demand my sheep at their hand, and put a stop to their feeding the sheep; no longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, so that they may not be food for them. As shepherds seek out their flocks when they are among their scattered sheep, so I will seek out my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places to which they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness.” (Ezekikel 34:10-12)

To those victims who have fled the Flock because of the abuse, He says…
“Return, O faithless sons,” declares the LORD; “For I am a master to you, and I will take you one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion.Then I will give you shepherds after My own heart, who will feed you on knowledge and understanding” (Jer 3:14-15).

<> He will Bring Forth Righteousness from His Wrath and Justice

Our role is to love God and one another, His role is to bring justice:  “Vengeance Is Mine, I Will Repay,” Says the Lord (Rom. 12:19-21)

Psalm 90:7: “We are brought to an end by your anger; by your wrath we are dismayed.”

Hosea 13:11: “I gave you a king in my anger, and I took him away in my wrath.”

Romans 2:8: “For those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury [anger].”

1Cor. 6:9-11: Don’t you know that people who do wrong will not receive God’s kingdom? Don’t be fooled. Those who commit sexual sins will not receive the kingdom. Neither will those who worship statues of gods or commit adultery. Neither will men who sleep with other men. Neither will thieves or those who always want more and more. Neither will those who are often drunk or tell lies or cheat. People who live like that will not receive God’s kingdom. Some of you used to do those things. But your sins were washed away. You were made holy. You were made right with God. All of this was done in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was also done by the Spirit of our God.

<> Woe to Wolves in Shepherds Clothing

Certainly Jesus warned us regarding false prophets (and shepherds) coming into His Church …

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s [or Shepherd’s] clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit. A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits.

“Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.’ (Matt. 7:15-23)

Also remember that Jesus also told the consequences for anyone who causes His sheep to falter …
“… if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world for the causes of sin. These stumbling blocks must come, but woe to the man through whom they come!…” (Matt 18:6-7)

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Interestingly enough it was recently brought to my attention that in 1969 the now retired Pope Benedict Predicted that such a crisis could occur, in the then future, that would cause many believers to forsake the Catholic Faith in such a way that it would greatly diminish in size and influence world wide and would become a smaller network of more spiritual communities. (See: https://spiritdaily.org/blog/news/pope-benedicts-church-prediction )

Here is an excerpt from his statements…

“From the crisis of today the Church of tomorrow will emerge — a Church that has lost much. She will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes, so it will lose many of her social privileges. In contrast to an earlier age, it will be seen much more as a voluntary society, entered only by free decision. As a small society, it will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members. Undoubtedly it will discover new forms of ministry and will ordain to the priesthood approved Christians who pursue some profession. In many smaller congregations or in self-contained social groups, pastoral care will normally be provided in this fashion. Along-side this, the full-time ministry of the priesthood will be indispensable as formerly. But in all of the changes at which one might guess, the Church will find her essence afresh and with full conviction in that which was always at her center: faith in the triune God, in Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, in the presence of the Spirit until the end of the world. In faith and prayer she will again recognize the sacraments as the worship of God and not as a subject for liturgical scholarship.”

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It is also interesting, that the Blessed Virgin included the following statement among her prophetic words during the 1973 apparitions at Akita, Japan:

“The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against bishops. The priests who venerate me will be scorned and opposed by their confreres…churches and altars sacked; the Church will be full of those who accept compromises and the demon will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord.”

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I urge you then, Brothers and Sisters, to enter into a period of intercessory prayer for the Church and especially for our Shepherds, that those who have erred may come into a deep Spirit of Contrition and Repentance so that, by God’s Grace, we may enter an epoch of restoration and reconciliation and especially that a Spirit of healing and consolation may come upon the victims of the abuses that have occurred.

Praised be His Holy Name! Baruch HaShem Adonai!

Your Brother in Christ … Bartimaeus                                                                                                                                                 PS: I leave you with a Link to the Gregorian chant of “Dies Irae” that may help you in entering into a spirit of deep prayer => https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fMHms5Cvsw

Also, in praying, I urge you take into account the Lord’s encouragement to His Church ..
“I will make you … a fortified bronze wall; and they shall fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you; for I am with you to save you and to deliver you, says the Lord. I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem you out of the hand of the violent” (Jer. 15:20-21).

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2018])

RELATED LINK

Cleansing Our Temple

Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit

The Double Portion Anointing

The Kingdom of God: Our Inheritance

St. Theresa: Regarding Prayer

Releasing the Spirit

The Key Of Knowledge

Read Full Post »

Psalm 91

You who live in the Secret Place of the Most High,
  who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,
You will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress;
    my God, in whom I trust.”
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
    and from the deadly pestilence;
He will cover you with his pinions,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
    or the arrow that flies by day,
or the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
    or the destruction that wastes at noonday.  (Ps. 91:1-6)

My dear brothers and sisters, and fellow pilgrims in Christ

At a critical time in our lives my wife and I were praying for our son and our daughter as both of them were struggling in the university environment and the Lord led us to base our spiritual prayer of intercession for them on the words of Psalm 91. For certain we knew that He needed to “cover them under His wings” and to “deliver them from the snare of the fowler”.

One thing the Lord led us to understand before we began our prayer program was that in order to pray this prayer we had to have an intimate spiritual relationship with Him, in order to abide in His “Secret Place”, that is His “Place of Shelter” which is His Temple and His Temple is His “House”. As Jesus, as a child, told His parents when they were searching for Him … “did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house!”

Also, as Psalm 27 indicates, King David indicates that his spirit’s desire was to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of his life and that this “secret place” was where he could find protection and peace. That is why we both consecrated ourselves To Jesus as our Lord and Savior. So that we also would dwell in His House / Secret Place all the days of our lives.

Psalm 27
~ One thing I asked of the Lord,
 that will I seek after:
 to live in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the Lord,
 and to inquire in his temple.
~ For he will hide me in his shelter (Secret Place)
 in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
 He will set me high on a rock.      (Ps. 27: 4-5)

Before entering into intercession for our Children we had received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and thus were sensitive to His leadings as we were depending on His leadings to empower our prayer time with the Divine. So just as we need His Spirit to worship in Spirit and in Truth, we knew that we needed to include praying in the Spirit in order to harmonize our petitions with His will. That is why in praying from His Secret Place must of necessity involve letting His Spirit Pray through us, for this is what “Praying in the Spirit” entails.

In order that you may understand more about this manner of prayer I will continue by discussing this way of prayer as the doorway to uniting ourselves to Him as we reach out to Him In His Secret Place.

Praying in the Spirit enables us to Pray from the Secret Place of the Most High!

Praying In the Spirit

“… if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unproductive. What should I do then? I will pray with the spirit, but I will pray with the mind also; I will sing praise with the spirit, but I will sing praise with the mind also. “ (1Cor.14:14 -15)

There are several sayings of the Apostle Paul regarding “praying in the spirit” that I could quote to initiate the discussion on this subject, but I chose this one because it goes directly to the point – a point many of us would try to avoid. That is, that “praying in the spirit” involves praying in tongues and that when we pray in the spirit it is our “spirit” that is involved and that it is distinct from “praying with our minds”, that is, our soul. This distinction between soul and spirit is one many moderns seek to avoid.

Speaking or praying in tongues is one of the more controversial gifts of the Holy Spirit (as per, 1Cor. 12 ff) because many see praying in a language you don’t understand as a demeaning of our persons – especially our intellect. After all how can it be prayer at all if you don’t know what you are saying? How can spouting what appears to be a bunch of gibberish be called prayer? This mystery can only be understood if we properly understand that man has been endowed with a capability to transcend the natural – that capability is embedded in what scripture calls the “spirit” of man.

The main reason for our lack of understanding of this gift is that most of us Christians don’t believe or understand that God created us as a tri-partite being consisting of body, soul, and spirit. For most of us, the only levels of awareness we normally experience is at the body and soul level.  That is the awareness that come through our senses, our physical body and our intellect, thoughts, emotions, feelings and self-identity, that is, our soul. However there is within us, at the very center of our being a sense of awareness that is non-conceptual and non-verbal. This center of our beings is the where our conscience and our innermost unexpressed desires are formed and reside, it is what we might call “our secret place”, or what Jesus termed “our closet” in his sermon on the Mount. Paul also refers to it as our “inner man”. It is this place of inner awareness that the scriptures term “the heart of man” or “the spirit” of man (eg., Is. 57:15, Ezek. 18:31, Ezek. 36:26,  Ps.51:10, Heb. 4:12). It is at this level of awareness that we are enabled, by God to communicate with Him ”in the spirit”. This spiritual capability is there by God’s design so that He could, through this intimate sense of awareness, maintain a personal relationship with every individual human person. Because God is “spirit” it is only at this spirit-to-spirit level that we can commune with God. That is why Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well that…

“… the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23-24)

When Adam and Eve rebelled against God, however, this spirit-to-spirit connection with the Divine was broken, not only for them but for all their descendants, that is, humankind. So while we are still born with a spiritual sensitivity, that sensitivity is NOT attuned to the Divine, because our fallen nature is only attuned to the world and our own self-will and NOT to God’s will. So, it is in this sense that our spirit is termed “dead to God” and, thus, may only be revived by God Himself, because, ”only Spirit can beget spirit” (John 3:6).  For this reason, because of the Father’s love for us, His creation, He sent His beloved Son, Jesus, to pay the price for Adam’s sin and the sins of all humankind so that our spirits could be regenerated (1Ptr.1:23), thus enabling us to be restored to the relationship with the Divine for which we had originally been created, that is, to be His Children, to be formed into the image of His Son.

Without a renewed spirit to enable communion with the Father, not only is the sincerity of our worship hampered but our prayer life as well. That is why on several occasions Jesus rebuked the Scribes and the Pharisees for their hypocrisy in their observance of prayer and worship, saying to them …

“ You hypocrites! Isaiah prophesied rightly about you when he said: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, ….’” (Matt. 15:7-9)

Now, in order to function as a true child of God in the image of Christ, enabled for communion with the Father, we not only need a regenerated spirit but an empowered spirit as well. That is why Jesus told Nicodemus that …

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

That is, that one needs to be converted and baptized in water in order to have a revived spirit and then you need to be baptized in the Holy Spirit to be empowered to share in Jesus’ ministry in this world. Jesus himself, although He was sinless, models this pathway for us in His baptism with water by John and His subsequent empowerment by the Holy Spirit. For our benefit, John the Baptist tells the seekers of his day that, “I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matt:3:11)

In another place and in another setting, Jesus put it this way…

“Nor do men put new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wineskins burst, and the wine pours out, and the wineskins are ruined; but they put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.” (Matt. 9: 17)

So it is, brothers and sisters, that before we can be filled with the  Holy Spirit’s empowerment we need to have “new wineskins” – a renewed spirit in Christ.  Then, and only then, can we receive and hold “the New Wine”, the infilling of the Holy Spirit and His empowering gifts within us.

The empowerment with the Holy Spirit is what we receive with the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. This empowerment is manifested through the Spiritual Gifts summarized in 1Cor. 12. Among the gifts we receive, is the gift of praying in tongues or speaking in other tongues. This gift is what enables us to “pray in the spirit”

This spiritual empowerment is absolutely necessary for the church to carry on the ministry of Jesus. That is why he told His disciples, “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49)

This empowerment by the Holy Spirit is the Promise of the Father (Acts 1:4) that was given to the Messiah and was than imparted by Him to His disciples at Pentecost and to all believers who have converted and been baptized in water. This is testified to us in the book of Acts when Peter preached to the astounded crowd after the Spirit had fallen upon them.  When they were convicted in heart by the message, they asked, “what then shall we do?”.  He told them: “… repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and [then] you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself.” (Acts 2:38-39)

In a later post I will go into more detail on all of the Empowerment Gifts of the Spirit (as distinguished form the Sanctifying Gifts on which I have already posted some articles). Right now the emphasis of this article is to advise you as to the importance of “praying in the spirit” and why there is such a need to accept and exercise this gift for our personal edification and for the good for the community.

Now the Apostle Paul said that he would prefer that everyone would prophesy as opposed to speaking in tongues.

“Pursue love and strive for the spiritual gifts, and especially that you may prophesy. For those who speak in a tongue do not speak to other people but to God; for nobody understands them, since they are speaking mysteries in the Spirit. On the other hand, those who prophesy speak to other people for their up-building and encouragement and consolation.

Those who speak in a tongue build up themselves, but those who prophesy build up the church. Now I would like all of you to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. One who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up.” ( 1 Cor 14;1-5)

The reason that he said this is because prophecy works directly to the building up of the Body of Christ and that was a more urgent objective to him, at that time, than the building up of the individual. However, in our modern culture today, If we neglect the spiritual growth of the individual, the community will also suffer because that neglected individual will not be able to contribute to the community if his or her spiritual growth and thus, the maturity of their gifts, is not at the stage where they can contribute meaningfully to the growth of the community.  In fact they may become a drag on the community because they may require more personal ministry than those who have matured and are better able to minister to others.

One of the reasons we lose many of our youth to the world today is exactly because their spirits have not been activated through praying in the spirit and, thus, sensing a spiritual emptiness in the rote expression of their religious traditions, they wander off into the world in a vain attempt to fill that vacuum in their spirits.

Much of this could be avoided if we introduced our children to the Gifts of the Holy Spirit at an early age, especially the gift of “praying in the spirit”. For you see this gift continues the infilling process of the Holy Spirit in us, The more we pray in the spirit the more of the spirit we imbibe, bringing us to a greater spiritual maturity. This spiritual maturity begins to provide the infilling our spirit is seeking turning us closer and closer to the Divine.  It also permits us to enter into worship in a way that we could never experience at the soul level alone. For instance, John the Revelator was in alone in a cave on the island of Patmos on the Lord’s day worshipping “in the spirit” when he was caught up into Heaven and into the Sanctuary of God (Rev. 1:10)

Praying in the Spirit is usually manifested in a person’s private prayer closet but it may also come up in some of the smaller more cohesive prayer groups where the members all participate in prayer simultaneously as led by the Spirit and where the prayer in tongues (in the spirit) spontaneously erupts into singing in the spirit in praise of the Divine.  In such cases the gift also helps build up the community. The fruit of this type of prayer is the wisdom and love needed to appropriately exercise the other gifts within a community.

Now, speaking in tongues may manifest not only in personal prayer but it may also be the media whereby the Lord wishes to express a word of prophecy to the community. In such cases it is necessary that there be someone in the community to interpret so that it can be of benefit to all.  One is also free to ask the Holy Spirit to interpret their prayer language when praying in private.

One of the main reasons that individuals resist accepting this gift is the erroneous concept that you are going to be controlled by the Holy Spirit like a puppet. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Holy Spirit values your freedom even more than you do. You see the true agape Love He desires in you can only be derived from a free spirit – otherwise it is not agape Love. What the Holy Spirit is seeking is your freely given cooperation, in Love, so that He may inspire you to freely open yourself to what He is giving you. When you do, He gives you an uplift in your spirit that brings you a joy and peace that is beyond understanding and you also experience the intimacy of the presence of God in your hearts. It is this, His presence in you, which fills you and satisfies the longing of your spirit, for this, the purpose for which we were created.

If you really want to know what you are praying in the spirit, just ask the Holy Spirit for understanding. St, Paul, in fact, tells us that we can be praying in our understanding at the same time as we are praying in the spirit (1Cor. 14:14-15).  When you begin praying in the spirit you will find that you do not lose the capability to pray in the understanding at the same time. In fact, this should indicate to you that our spirit and our intellect are two distinct faculties that can operate independently.

Prayer, true prayer that reaches the heart of God, must come from the depths of a pure and sincere heart – a heart that resonates with the Love and Compassion that is in the Father’s Heart, The closer our prayer is to the desires of the Father’s heart the closer that prayer is to being answered. And, because, our access to the heart of God is through His Spirit that is in us, it is, when we pray in the spirit, that is, out of the depths of our heart, the sanctuary of His Spirit, that our innermost desires become one with His and our prayer is, de facto, “according to His Will”. Of course, if you are NOT “in Christ” you have no access to the throne of God or His sanctuary and need to get in Christ as quickly as possible, through confession, repentance, and conversion ( see Related Links).

Praying in the Spirit is the gift that permits us to enter into that sanctuary and where we open ourselves to the Holy Spirit so that our prayers are inspired by His Desires – The desires of the Living God.  In order to express these desires through our prayers in the purity they deserve, the Holy Spirit speaks through us in an unknown tongue so that our own intellect and human motives will not taint the pure prayer that comes from the heart of God through us.

The is why the Apostle says that those who speak in other tongues are not speaking so that other people may understand but they are speaking mysteries (praying secretly) to God (who does understand) (1Cor. 14:1-5).

The exercise of this gift permits the Holy Spirit to use us as His agents, through prayer, to ask for those things the Father desires to achieve in us and through us so that His will might be accomplished and His Kingdom might be manifested in this world.

Now, it is possible for us, using our human abilities, to pray the same prayer with our understanding, but because of our limitations it would take many hours of meditative prayer to get to the depths of our prayer needed to obtain the same level of purity and harmony with the Lord’s desires that praying in the spirit can achieve (see the article on St. Theresa and the Four Levels of Prayer in the related Links).

Thus, from its operation in us, we see that this gift is a supernatural tool that the Holy Spirit uses to permit our very common and otherwise very limited human nature to participate in bringing forth God’s Kingdom without requiring the human effort and prayer talent required to achieve the same level of prayer and communion with the Father’s heart.

We also understand from experience that the practice of this gift increases our spiritual awareness to the Father’s will and desires so that our own spiritual growth is enhanced through the continuous practice of this gift. Our increased maturity, in turn, will assist the community through the increased wisdom and love that flows through our service to others.

And, of course, we must never forget the Apostle’s admonition that, unless we practice the spiritual gifts out of unconditional, selfless agape love, it gains us nothing.

“If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” (1 Cor. 13.1-3)

I pray brethren that this has been of benefit to you and an encouragement to receive and practice the gift of praying in the spirit!

May the Lord richly bless you as He takes you deeper in prayer through the gifts of His Holy Spirit!

Your brother in Christ Jesus … Bartimaeus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2018])

RELATED LINKS

Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit

The Double Portion Anointing

The Kingdom of God: Our Inheritance

St. Theresa: Regarding Prayer

Releasing the Spirit

The Key Of Knowledge

Read Full Post »

jesus-cleanses-the-templeCleansing Our Temple
The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” (John 2:13-22)

Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,

The scripture cited above brings up a question that we must all, at sometime or other, ask ourselves, and that is, are we aware that the cleansing of our spiritual temple is also required. It is our problem of lack oi spiritual awareness that I wish to address in this post.

The Apostle Paul sometimes used very pointed questions to critique his evangelized communities’ lack of awareness or spiritual sensitivity. For instance, he asked the Corinthian believers  several questions, beginning with, “do you not know…?”,

When he used such question indicated that he was trying to exhort them regarding their lack of awareness to certain particular spiritual articles of faith that were affecting their ability to truly live a totally pure and obedient life committed to our God and Savior, Jesus our Lord!

The primary question was … “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God with your body. (1 Cor. 6 :18-20)

This question is also relevant for us today, in that many of us Christians do not appear to really have a truly spiritual awareness (knowledge) of the presence of “Christ in us, the Hope of Glory”(Col. 1:27).  For those of us who are mainly “cultural” Christians, we treat the concept of the persons of the Trinity as a theological term beyond our realm of experience. You can understand then, why we have so much trouble in understanding how we can be aware of the Spirit of God in us.

Theologically speaking we acknowledge a God and Creator who loves us but whom we cannot approach because of our sinful nature. It is hard for us to realize that “in Christ”, the Spirit of God truly indwells in us through faith, and that, because of this, we have a responsibility as His stewards to maintain the Holiness of the Temple Of God in us!

Now, Paul in attempting to bring the Corinthians to acknowledge their lack of the true spiritual awareness needed to be a participant in God’s Heavenly Kingdom, further rebuked them by continuing with another of this soul-searching questions, namely …

“… do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor. 6:9-11)

The reason I bring this up for us today is not to condemn anyone of being anything like these Corinthians who Paul was trying to reach, but to make us aware that as temples of the Spirit of God in us, we also have to be aware that, like the Jews in Jesus’ time, the bringing the ways of the world to the entrance of the temple of the Spirit of God, that is in us, we also compromise the Holiness needed to place God at the forefront of our spiritual lives.

By the ways of that world, I mean our business and secular affairs, our personal ambitions, our troubled family relationships, our fears, jealousy, and envy (and so on). These may not be sins to the level of the Corinthians but unless they are also attended to they block our entrance to communion with the Spirit of God that dwells in us –  a communion that is essential to maintaining our intimate relationship to the Father, through Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

That is why we must be as scrupulous as Jesus in cleansing our inner man from the entrance to our spiritual temple. I use the metaphor of Jesus cleansing the temple as the opening scripture to emphasize our need to regularly perform a cleansing of our inner temple, especially in examining ourselves prior to worship and communion.

As we approach the lenten season this is the approach we need to take in preparing our hearts for Jesus to enter in. Of course, confessing and repenting our sins in confession takes precedence in our cleansing, but sometimes we forget to cleanse our consciences from the inroads the world and its minions have made into our minds and hearts – the entrance to our temple.

It is not difficult enter into the awareness of His spiritual Kingdom and unite ourselves with His Holiness. Jesus himself tells us…

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” (Matt 7:7-11)

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matt, 7:13-14)

In strengthening our faith for our inner cleansing  remember St.Paul’s Prayer for the Ephesians and know that it also applies to us as we walk the narrow way towards union with Jesus in faith …

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 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 Lord’s holy people, 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 “          (Ephesians 3: 14-21)

Your Brother In Christ Jesus … Bartimaeus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2018])

Recommended Links
Sweet Yoke of Love
Responding to the Spitit’s Call
The Kingdom of God: Our Spiritual Inheritance
Reclaiming Our Legacy In Christ
Hearing God’s Voice, and Obeying It
Pentecost and the Promise of the Father
The Empowerment Gifts (Part 1)
The Empowerment Gifts (Part 2)

Building our Spiritual Life on the Rock

 

Read Full Post »

In Relating the Birth of Messiah to our own spiritual re-birthing and growth. Let us begin by understanding and contemplating on the pertinent scriptures:

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child.

While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. (Luke 2:1-7)

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,

and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

(Luke 2:8-14)

My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As we approach the celebration of the birth of Messiah, the Christ, Let us prepare our hearts by humbling ourselves in the knowledge of whom it is we are coming to worship and our own unworthiness before Him.  For it is only in approaching Him in humility and repentance that we can fully experience His presence in our hearts, for it is to the poor in spirit that He reveals Himself and invites into His Kingdom.

The first persons invited to celebrate the birth of the Messiah were not those from the elite classes of Judea, certainly not its king or its princes or magistrates. Nor was it anyone from the religious class, the Priests and Sanhedrin, or the Pharisees and Sadducees. No, it was a group of poor shepherds tending their sheep who were called as first witnesses to the birth that changed destiny of humanity for all time – the birth of its savior-redeemer, indeed its King! Even the wise men, magi, or Kings from the east were strangers to Israel, but they came days or months later – it was this group of poor humble shepherds that were granted the privilege of being the first to honor the Messiah and be Blessed by His Presence – to be the first to see the Light of the World manifested in human form.

As it was then, so it is today, regarding our ability to come into the presence of the King of the Universe. Those who are considered last by human society, and consequently by themselves, are to be the first and those who are considered first by human society because of their status, whether religious, secular or political, will be last in coming to a renewed spiritual awareness of His Person, not because their status itself prevents them, but because their status puffs up their human pride and self-esteem to the point that it takes them longer open their hearts to be receptive to God’s grace and, thus, transition to the level of humility required to receive the spiritual awareness needed to come into His presence.

Unfortunately, the materialistic manner with which we celebrate the Christmas holidays works against us – for our social customs places the emphasis on the gifts (to each other) rather than on the Giver (of Himself for our salvation). Instead of leading us an awareness of our own unworthiness, our worldly traditions lead us to think more highly of ourselves than we really ought, thus blinding us to our individual need for salvation and diminishing the infinite value of the Father’s Gift of His only son for our redemption.

Note that the Father did not select any one from the esteemed classes of the time, Joseph, Mary, and the shepherds were from the poor and needy class which scripture terms the “Anawim” (Zeph.3:12).  “Anawim” is a Hebrew term meaning “poor,” “humble,” or “afflicted.” Some scholars note that, it came to mean those who, because of their condition, could not rely upon their own strength but had to rely completely upon God. These same scholars speculate that, because of their simple faith and piety, most of the early believers in Messiah were from the Anawim, the poor and needy class and composed their own Jewish-Christian canticles of praise for God’s salvation in Jesus.

Listen to what the Old Testament had to say regarding the Anawim:

“Ah, soiled, defiled, oppressing city! It has listened to no voice; it has accepted no correction. It has not trusted in the LORD; it has not drawn near to its God.

At that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call on the name of the LORD and serve him with one accord. From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia my suppliants, my scattered ones, shall bring my offering. On that day you shall not be put to shame because of all the deeds by which you have rebelled against me; for then I will remove from your midst your proudly exultant ones, and you shall no longer be haughty in my holy mountain.

For I will leave in the midst of you a people humble and lowly. They shall seek refuge in the name of the LORD, the remnant of Israel; they shall do no wrong and utter no lies, nor shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouths. Then they will pasture and lie down, and no one shall make them afraid.”   (Zephaniah 3:1-2, 9-13)

With this scripture in mind Let us briefly review the list of the participants at the Birth of Messiah:

Joseph, was from a branch of the Davidic lineage (Jeconiah a descendant of Jehoiakim, cf. Jeremiah 36:1-32) that was under a curse, a divine curse that stated that no one from this lineage would succeed to the throne of David and would not prosper.

Mary, although a descendant of David, through Nathan, herself was under a cloud of shame because, to the uninformed, she became pregnant out of wedlock and thus was under a possible judgment of stoning.

Those who tended the sheep were from the lowest classes in Judea – they were usually uneducated, simple people living day-to-day in the most meager of circumstances, not being sure where their next meal would be coming from, relying totally on their trust in God.

Jesus, then, came from this class of disenfranchised people, the son of a carpenter, who offended His hometown residents when He claimed that God had anointed him. Essentially, they said to Him, “Who do you think you are? You are nothing but the son of a carpenter, you don’t have any religious training and we know all your relatives and they are also of no consequence, and here you are claiming to be God’s Messiah” (Luke 4:16-30).

Jesus’ disciples were no better, they were fishermen, tax collectors, political rebels, and people of no reputation. This, then, is the class of people the Lord calls to Himself, the disenfranchised, the despised, the poor in spirit. These are the ones the scriptures refer to as “my Hidden Ones”. These are the ones that the Lord told the despairing Elijah, that “… I have Seven Thousand who have not bowed the Knee to Baal” (Rom. 11:1-6).

This, my brothers and sisters is what we need to remind ourselves when the Lord calls us to discipleship. It is the grace to be formed and united to this class of people that we need to ask of the Lord as we approach Him on this the celebration of His Birth. Here is what the Apostle Paul says indirectly to us regarding our attitude in coming to Christ:

“Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus, who, being in very nature, God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!” (Phil. 2:4-8)

It is only when we permit the Holy Spirit to purify us of our pride and self-centeredness, and begins to form us into the image of Christ, that we can approach the Babe in the manger of Bethlehem and present Him our gifts. Yes my bothers and sisters, I said “our gifts”, for you see, the gift He wants from us is our very selves, and only when we have stripped our selves of our attachments to this world and become poor in spirit that we are able to open and offer our presents before Him for the Glory of His Name!  Baruch ha Shem! Amen and Amen!

Keep in mind what Our Lord Jesus said to His disciples:

“…Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.” (Matt. 19:23-29)

I confess to you my brethren that, I, myself  am struggling to be one of those who are poor in spirit and thus join myself spiritually to the Anawim, In this struggle I am having trouble in detaching myself from the affairs of this world and giving myself totally to the Lord.  I pray daily for the grace to draw closer and closer to Him and to the Anawim of old. Will you not join me, then my brothers and sisters, in this, my pilgrim quest, as I “… follow the Bright and Morning Star to the dawning of the Day, to the revelation of the Christ as He in His cradle Lay”? And, As you travel on your way, remember what our Master had to say..,”

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

“… ‘I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes [anawim?]. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight. All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knows the Son, but the Father; neither knows any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him’ ”. (Matt. 11: 25-27)

As you approach His presence in the hay, give yourself to Him today – become one of the Anawim and let Him reveal Himself to you this Christmas day !

With this said, I take leave for now, that I may go to worship the King on the day of His appearing. May the Lord richly bless you and your loved ones during this wonderful Christmas Season.

Your Brother in Christ … Bartimeaus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2017])

Related Links

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 Are you “Seeking First the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness” as He has indicated?

Sacred Heart

“O you of little faith? So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.” (Matthew 6:30-34)

My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Sometimes when we read the Gospels a little too rapidly we go right past some very deeply important spiritual precepts that we need to live a truly Christian life, faithful to the Spirit of Christ in us.

For instance, when we read the introductory statement (cited above) that Jesus spoke to his disciples, we understand He was trying to warn them about being distracted from following the Holy Spirit’s directives as they walked “the narrow path” in the midst of what was going on in the world around them. This, of course, is a concern all we Christians should have and therefore, his exhortation to the disciples is also of utmost importance to us believers as well.

The essence of His directive to them, was that, in their walk with Him, it is essential that if they are to maintain themselves within the Holy Spirit’s guidance to fulfill God’s purposes for their lives, they must always follow the spiritual precept to “seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness”.

This statement, was probably clear to the his disciples, who as persons of that epoch and place, understood what the idiom of the “kingdom” meant. For us, in today’s world, however, the way the statement is worded becomes somewhat ambiguous.
For instance we might ask: what does it mean to “seek the Kingdom”? And how do I do that that? And, why would “seeking the Kingdom” be more important than looking for a boat that they needed to take them to their destination across the Sea of Galilee in the morning?

After thinking slowly about the term “the Kingdom” you begin to realize that Jesus is not talking about seeking some apocalyptic kingdom to come. No, the Kingdom that Jesus is referring to is the Reign of God that the Father has placed in the hearts of all believers. It is here, in us where, through our spiritual relationship with Him, we may determine His Will for us in all that we do. This permits us to trust that, as long as we are responding to His Will, He will provide everything that is needed to fulfill His purposes for us!
Of course this affirms the importance of having a personal relationship to the Father, through Jesus. For it is only through such a living, active relationship that we can discern the Father’s Will for us in our everyday circumstances and thus keep us under the cover of His Righteousness in all that we do in Jesus’ Name.

For, you see, His Kingdom, is the Kingdom of His Love, and it is only through a relationship with Him through Jesus that that true “agape” Love can manifest itself in our being.

Using the same analysis we see that it also helps us to better understand the phrase in the “our Father” prayer where it says, “… Thy Kingdom Come Thy Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven” (Matt. 6:9-10).

Here, again, the “Kingdom”. Jesus is referring to the Father’s reign in our hearts and thus the statement in the prayer might best be read as, “ … [Father, let] your Kingdom [of Love] come [to reign in me, so that ] your Will may be done on earth as to is in heaven.”  Understanding this, we can see why it is said that this prayer that was given to the Jesus’ disciples (and us) might be better called “the Disciples Prayer”. As it really is a prayer of commitment that is the key to entering in to Discipleship with Jesus.

Now, from all the thoughts presented, I think we can begin to see what “seeking the Kingdom” really means. It certainly begins by offering our lives totally to the Father so that our continuing desire is yield ourselves to be transformed to the Spirit of Christ in us and thus become channels of His Love here in this world!

Here is what the Apostle Paul has to say regarding this matter,
“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.” (Romans 12:1-2)

Well, brethren, I pray that after reading this article, I believe you should give the scripture cited some thought and prayer so you can begin to realize the concept Jesus was trying to convey to His Disciples and us about seeking the Kingdom. And, of course, if you decide to offer your self as a Living Sacrifice to Him you will also experience living in His Righteousness though Love, keeping in mind Paul’s continuing exhortation regarding Living out the Kingdom in our lives:

“Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (Romans 12:9-19)

Praised Be His Holy Name, and May His Holy Spirit guide you in not only in seeking His Kingdom but entering it as well and thus become true disciple of Christ!

Your Brother in Christ Jesus …. Bartimaeus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2017])

Related Links (if the Holy Spirit is leading you to go deeper) …

Let Love Prevail

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§ Are You at Hand For the Kingdom of Heaven?

Our Father who art in Heaven

Our Father who art in Heaven

The Message that John the Baptist proclaimed before Jesus was baptized was:
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 3:2)

The Message that Jesus proclaimed at the beginning of His Ministry was:
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 4:17)

The directive He gave to the twelve disciples as He sent them out during His Ministry was:
“And as you go, preach saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons; freely you received, freely give.” (Matt. 10:7-6)

Dear fellow pilgrims in Christ Jesus,

The Gospels make it clear that the theme for evangelizing by John the Baptist, Jesus, and His Disciples was “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” And that the works that followed were miraculous confirmation of the Word that was preached. We understand that the term “Kingdom is at Hand” is used in these scriptures referring to the accessibilty of entry to the Kingdom for those in the audiences who came seeking belief in Jesus, as the Christ

However, for us who have believed and are baptized the term no longer applies. For, according to Paul the Apostle, at our coming to Faith in Jesus the Christ we have already been translated to “The Kingdom of the Son” (see Col.1:9-14). Therefore for us the more appropriate question we might ask ourselves is “are we aware of the presence of the Kingdom in us?” And, subsequently, and more importantly, the question we need most to understand is… “are we at hand to the Kingdom of God that is in us?” That is, have we committed ourselves to be available to be at the service of the King in every aspect for our lives in the Kingdom?

Before continuing, it should be clear to us who have accepted Christ that what Jesus was proclaiming was NOT a material kingdom in this space-time continuum, but rather a Spiritual Kingdom under Christ and that, as a Spiritual Kingdom, every person who believes and repents becomes a participant in this Kingdom and under the Reign of the King.

It is also clear that from the citations and other scriptures that “repentance” is the main key to being received into the Kingdom. Repentance is not a “human work” in the traditional sense, indeed, it consists of Spirit-inspired words and action by the believer affirming their faith in the “promise” preached, to the extent that they renounce sin and turn their lives over to God. Of course, the “promise” refers to “The Word Of God”, the “Good News” of the Redemption and Forgiveness offered to those who turn from their worldly lives and believe the Good News of Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice and resurrection.

True repentance is also NOT intended to be a one-time occurrence but an on-going practice in our lives. This is because although the forgiveness and redemption we receive is eternally complete in Jesus, our repentance, in order to be sincere, is limited to our past and present sins – sins that we can only honestly acknowledge after we commit them. We cannot repent of sins we have not yet committed. That is why the Church through the Holy Spirit and the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist provides us the means to maintain, throughout our lives, the state of grace we obtain at our reception of the sacrament of Baptism.

Belief and Repentance are therefore, not only the Keys to the Kingdom. but are also the Keys that permit us to remain in the Kingdom of God let us yield ourselves to Him so that His Spirit may function in us for Glory of His Kingdom!

This then brings us to a better understanding as to why we need to ask ourselves the question … “are we at hand to the Kingdom of God that is in us?”

Because, if we cannot answer that question positively, then we need to determine how we can move in our spiritual lives so that the “Kingdom”, that is, The King and His Love will reign in us in everything we do in our lives? And I mean everything … relationships, words, thoughts, emotions, intents and actions. That, my friends is what it truly means to “be at hand for the Kingdom of God”!

Now Jesus’ disciples faced the same problems we do. So even as they followed Jesus He noticed from their conversation and worldly concerns that they yet had to learn how to focus on HIM and His Word and leave their anxieties behind. So here is the direction He gave them … “seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness and all these other things will be resolved for you.” (cf., Matt. 6:33)

The question they (and us) might yet ask would probably be … “Lord I hear your directive but how do I seek the Kingdom?”

The main answer the Lord gave them is a prayer. In fact it is a prayer we now call the Lord’s prayer but, in reality, it should really be called “the disciples” prayer because it is the exact prayer need by the disciples to the Father asking for access to the Kingdom (the Kingdom of His Love) that they were seeking.

Here is the text of that prayer:
“Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
[may] ‘Your kingdom come. [into us and through us]
[so that] Your will may be done [by us],
On earth as it is in heaven. [and, to sustain us in your Kingdom]
‘Give us this day our daily bread.
‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
[For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’] For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. (Matt. 6:9-15)

As disciples, this prayer then, should also be our prayer also. It is a prayer that is also our prayer of commitment to the Father and our yielding to Him and the Kingdom of His Love in our lives.

It should also be clear to us from the above citations and other scriptures that the main God-Given mission of the Church, and all believers is to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom, not only through words but also by the way we live out the Kingdom in faith.

In the citation below notice how Paul prays that the Colossian converts live out their lives in accord with the spiritual Kingdom that is in them (ie., Christ in us, the Hope of Glory). This prayer by Paul indicates how the Father places the Spirit of His Kingdom in us so that the Holy Spirit, working through our willing cooperation will see that … “His will may be done on this Earth as it is in Heaven”. (see underlined portion in the citation below)

“ For this reason also, since the day we heard of it (your faith in Christ), we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. (By this you will see how by your abiding in loving obedience to Him…) He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Col. 1: 9-14)

In conclusion brethren, I also pray that the Lord guide you and led you through His Spirit that we may all be one as we live out our lives in His Kingdom so that His Love may be made manifest through our unity in Christ Jesus. Amen and Amen.

Your Brother in Christ … Bartimaeus

Related Links …
# Prayer to receive the Holy Spirit

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The Kingdom of God: Our Spiritual Inheritance

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Be Reconciled with God

Releasing the Spirit Releasing the Spirit


( B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2017])

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Shall we then continue in sin that Grace may abound? (Rom. 6:15)

God forbid! (cf., Rom, 3:31; 6:2; 6:15; 7:7; KJV)

The King within us

“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. (2Tim. 4:1-3)

Brothers and Sisters,

The signs of the times clearly indicate that we are indeed in the “Days of Noah” and the “Days of Lot” as indicated by Jesus in the Gospels (cf., Luke 17:16-28 ) and also in the “perilous times” as indicated by St. Paul to Timothy:

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,  Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.  For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.  But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was.” (2 Tim. 3:1-9)

false_prophets_2I am posting this article because we all need to be made aware of the many false teachers and preachers in our midst who are twisting the Word of God to peddle their “gospels” of permissiveness, self-indulgenece, and prosperity as being  “enlightened” forms of understanding scripture.

Recognizing False “Gospels” Regarding Grace”

Amongst the many false deceptive messages being delivered today is that of a libertine form of “Grace” (a licentious grace) that teaches that, because of Christ’s atoning work on the Cross we are no longer under “law” and can live pretty much as we wish and be assured of our salvation. Since all of our sins have been paid for and since we have all been reconclled with God through Christ, the moral law, declared by God for all humanity is of no more consequence to us who consider ourselves to be “under Grace”.

This devious, anti-nomian concept (lawlessness) is attractive to many in today’s world because it is in line with the ego-centric, self-centered, free-wheeling spirit of the current generation, who abhors any constraint on their ability to live as they please and who are in the process of being conformed to the “world”.  It comes from a religious spirit that wants to put a fig leaf over their moral nakedness so that they may continue dabbling in the world system with it’s enticements, lusts, greed, and carnal excesses, without exacting any feelings of guilt. The intent of what is being taught is, of course, to attract uninstructed youth to fall into their snare by attempting to appease their consciences using selectively misinterpreted scriptures, out of context, telling them that “God’s Grace” has freed them to do whatever pleases them without losing their salvation – while all the while they are being used to satisfy the pride and greed of the false teachers, whose own spiritual lives are in tatters.

In the attempt to justify themselves the proponents of this deviation from the true purpose of Grace in our lives, teach that since God has reconciled us to himself in Christ it would be an act of unbelief to “repent” of our sins, since our sins have already been forgiven at the cross. In a previous post, “Be Reconciled to God” I provided a scriptural argument against this  erroneous position. In that article I point out that it is the apostle Paul, himself, who, after having proclaimed that God has “reconciled us to Himself”, is, in this same letter, he then exhorts the Colossian beleivers to “be reconciled to God” (Col.1: 21-23). Clearly indicating to us, that we, whom God has reconciled, also need to respond to His infinite act of Reconciling Love by an act of faith that activates in our renewed spirit the reconciliation He offers.  This act being our repentance.

Now that act of faith, is in effect, an act or word on our part, that acknowledges our godly sorrow, our need for reconciliation, and our willingness to receive God’s forgiveness – an act that, directly or indirectly, expresses repentance, on our part. Being keenly aware, that this act of faith is incited by God’s Grace and Love, as an act of gratitude and is NOT deemed by us as somehow earning a grace or favor that was freely provided to all humanity while we were yet sinners more than two millenia past.

Jesus:  Regarding the Gospel of Repentance

After His resurrection. Jesus gathered his disciples at an unscheduled prayer beakfast and tried to explain to them that what had happened in Jerusalem during His Passion was all contained in the scriptures, saying to them …

“…This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms. Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.  He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day,  and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.” (Luke 24:44-48)

Quickly bring  a robe and put it on him ...In the parable of the prodigal son (cf.,Luke 15:11-32), Jesus, portrays very clearly how  the Grace of Reconciliation is received through a sincere act of repentance. Namely, when the son who has left the father’s house to “do his own thing” in a far-off land finds himself in a famine with nothing to eat and feeding pigs instead of himself, he, because of his circumstances, “comes to his senses” and says to himself “I will return to my father’s house”. And the father, who, holding nothing against him, has been lovingly waiting for his son, such that when sees him approaching he runs to him and embraces him, telling his servants to provide the son with a family robe and sandals while he places the ring of family authority on his finger.

In this parable,Jesus paints  an allegorical picture about how grace and repentance relate to one another! It is provided to us through scripture for our instruction to let us know how we are loved by the Father, without condemnation, and how we, in returning to Him, should respond to the unmerited Grace he showers upon us by accepting his embrace and the symbols of His love for us: the Robe, the sandals and the ring he places upon us,as unworthy as we are. But the story also tells us that when the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, and, although sensitive of our own unworthiness, we need to freely turn to the Lord without fear of condemnation, because we know in our hearts that He loves us and  will accept us as we are. (see also my article on “The Prodigals Amongst Us”)

Branches Bearing FruitIn another allegory, Jesus tells us that our relationship (fellowship) with Him should be like the branches to the Vine, that is,   in our attachment to Jesus. And, just like the branches, if we are to function and bring forth fruit, we must remain attached to the Vine. Otherwise, if we become detached (lose our  fellowship with Him) we risk being like dried up branches that must be cut off and burned (John 15:1-8). Our fellowship with Jesus is, of course, is the outcome or the purpose for the Grace of Reconciliation and implies  that this Grace, that comes through the Vine, must continuously  flow in our lives in order for us to remain attached to the Vine and  bear fruit for the Kingdom and the Glory of the Father. (see also my article on “Bearing Fruit Through Prayer”)

Through Jesus parables like these and through the teaching of the apostles in scripture, the case can be clearly established that this Grace of Reconciliation through Repentance is freely provided to us believers, not only to enter into fellowship with the Divine, but also in order to continue in and maintain that fellowship throughout our lives so that we may bear fruit!

The Apostle John; Regarding Fellowship, Sin, and Confession

John the Evangelist affirms this thesis when he says in His first epistle…

“If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.” (1John 1:6-10)

And, in order to ease our discomfort, when we do sin, he says…

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense — Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.  But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.  (1John 2:1-6)

The Apostle Paul: Regarding Putting on the New Self after our Justification

The apostle Paul also make some clear statements regarding how to carry out our responsibility to “walk as Jesus walked’, in our loving response to the Grace of Reconciliation and Fellowship which we freely receive at our justification. Now, it must be clearly  understood, that this ability to maintain fellowship also emanates from the Grace of Reconciliation and reflects the work of the Holy Spiirt in us in conforming us to the Image of Christ. (Rom. 8:29)

From all of this, It is should be clear to us that when we sin by living by the flesh rather than the Spirit we begin to break out of our fellowship relationship with the Divine and the Holy Spirit, who is in us, works in us to help us recognize our failings, so that through the on going Grace of Reconciliation, we may be brought back into full fellowship with the Divine.

I challenge you to take seriously, these statements from the apostle Paul, who is sometimes misunderstood or misquoted on the subject of being “under Grace and not under law”…

“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?

CrossBy no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Rom. 6:1-2)

Here also for your discernment, is  his exhortation to the Ephesians (Eph. 4:17-32) regarding the sin problem amongst (apparently) justified believers, and what Paul proposes they do …

“So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.  Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.  You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds;  and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

“Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.  Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

To this, Paul, adds an important statement indicating that the intent of living a holy life after justifications is not to claim any gain on our part for His Magnificent and free provision of Grace, but to lovingly yield ourselves to Him in acknowledgment  and thanksgiving for the sacrifice of His Son for our salvation.

“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.  For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person — such a man is an idolater — has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God”

“Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” (Eph 5:1-14)

What then is to be our response?

In conclusion brethren, in light of what I have just presented and in light of the darkness that is coming over this world, I think we all need to pray and meditate on these scriptures and, in discerning God’s will, we should ask ourselves:

<>”Have I arisen with Christ?” or am I just sliding along in life with one foot in the “world’ and the other foot in “church”?

<>”Have I truly awakened to the light of Christ and the Resurrection Life He brings us, or am I still stumbling along in the spiritual darkness of the world and its enticements?

<>Let us then awake and rise up, understanding that the full intent Grace that God provides is not merely  to “justify” us so that we can go to heaven, but to also give us the opportunity to yield ourselves fully to the Holy Spirit so that He may initiate the process of conforming our lives to the image of our master, Jesus. So that, being under His anointing for service, we may be filled with His Light and become envoys of His Light to this fallen world in which we live, for the Glory of His Name and for His Kingdom!

May God, our Father who loves us, and His Son who saved us, be praised for ever and ever. Amen!

Your Brother In Christ and Fellow Pilgrim … Bartimaeus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2017])

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Monstrance

“Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’ ”. (1 peter 1: 13-16)

“We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He might be the firstborn among many brothers.”  ( Romans 8:28-29)

My dear fellow Pilgrims,

Having trouble understanding and responding to our call to be Holy as He is Holy?

There are many challenges we lay Christians face if we want to grow spiritually
in our walk with Jesus. The first and foremost of these being, living out  the Holiness  to which we have been called. The only way given us is by yielding ourselves in obedience to the Holy Spirit and rendering Him our full cooperation so that “the Grace that is brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ” may be manifested in our lives.

Many of us, for instance, do not even understand what the “at revelation of Jesus Christ” refers to since most of us have never experienced such an occurrence. And if we do not comprehend this point how can we proceed to respond to our call to holiness?

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Do not be anxious ….

Let us begin by attempting to understand the term “at the revelation of Jesus Christ” by recounting the revelation that Peter experienced in His walk with Christ, when Jesus asked His disciples, including Peter, “ … who do men say that I am?”

“… they replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”  “But what about you? Jesus asked. “Who do you say I am?”

… Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

… And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon  , because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.  (Matt. 16:14-17)

Note that Jesus’ asked first asked them what the people in their religious culture thought about who He was.  He did this because, all of us, even today, initially base our assessment of Jesus on human understanding and tradition about who Jesus is, and NOT on what the Spirit of God is revealing personally to us. That is why, by asking the first question, Jesus was opening  their spirits to answer the next question: “… but who do YOU say that I am”?

In order to bring us to the same point, He asks us the same question. He wants us to meditate on His Word and go into our inner selves and assess the nature of who WE really think Jesus is? He wants us to distinguish beyond what the world or our culture thinks and what the Father in the Spirit is revealing to us, through His Word, about the divinity of His Son. And not only that, He wants us to testify in faith to the revelation about Jesus we find He has placed in us.

Yes! That is why when Peter proclaimed  that Jesus was “the Anointed one of God”, that Jesus told Him that the only way he could honestly make this statement was if it had been divinely revealed to him by the Father. And yes, it is the Father’s desire for us also — to reveal the person of His Son to us so that we may not only know about Him but KNOW Him personally was Our Lord and Savior and manifest our faith by verbally testifying to His Divinity.

Remember, also, what happened when the Samaritan woman at the well testified to her village that she had encountered the Messiah (cf., John 4:4-42). They believed her witness and believed in Jesus, but not from their own personal experience, but by her testimony. That is where most of us laity are with regards to “knowing” Jesus – indirect believers based on the witness of true believers who have received the grace of His revelation.

Nonetheless, second-hand faith is very important as it initiates our entry into the Kingdom. But its importance rests on what we do with this faith we with which we initially believe..

Notice that the Samaritan believers took that initial faith and sought Jesus for themselves. So that when they found Him they told the woman …“It is no longer because of your words that we believe,  for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.” (John 4-42)

or, in our modern idiom the villagers response to the Samaritan Woman might be something like this …

“… now that we have encountered Him personally, we believe in our hearts not just because of your testimony but, mainly,  because we have heard His Word directed to each of us personally and directly so that now I KNOW spiritually that Jesus is not only the Savior of the world but that He is MY savior and MY Lord!”

That is what the Father desires for each of us – that we take the initial faith in the Good News that has been proclaimed to us in the Church and seek out Jesus personally so that we meet our Shepherd and experience Him and His  Word directly revealed in our spirits to the Glory of His Name. Praised be His Holy Name!

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The Light Shone in the Darkness

Understanding this, we are then better able to understand that our Holiness comes from the transformation that comes from “knowing” Jesus personally and our yielding completely to Him and His Lordship. And, doing so thus permits the Holy Spirit to work in us and through us that we  may be conformed to His Image, the image of His Holiness (Rom. 8:28-29)

And, of course, this transformation is based from our union with the Spirit of Christ that is in us from our conversion and Baptism. “Christ in us the Hope of Glory!”

But knowing this, you might now ask, how then do we yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit so that He might work in us to bring us to this Holiness in Him?

The answer is simple …

<> First, seek to know the Spirit of Jesus that is in you – “Christ in us, the Hope of Glory”! (Colossians 1:26-28)

…’Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. ‘I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD… (Jeremiah 29:12-14)

‘Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.’  (Matt. 7:7)

“Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away” (John 6:37)

“I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.” (John 10:9)

“Those I love, I rebuke and discipline. Therefore be earnest and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and dine with him, and he with Me.To the one who is victorious, I will grant the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne…”  (Revelation 3:19-21)

<> Then, you set yourself apart exclusively for the Father’s Work – that is, consecrate yourself, (offer yourself as a living Sacrifice) to the Father.

“I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service of worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:1-2)

<> Finally, live out your life placing al your faith and trust in Him, and His Holiness will be made manifest in your lives for His Glory!

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

“Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient. These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life. But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator.” (Col. 3:1-10)

<> And do not be afraid that your load is too heavy, for He Himself will be your Help.

OXEN-YOKE

Sweet Yoke of Love

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30)

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painting-picture-image-jesus-christ-love copyI urge you brothers and sisters, that, especially, this Lenten season, you turn your heart to Jesus and seek a personal communion with Him asking to grow deeper in your relationship with Him. Open the door to your hearts and let Him sup with you – then yield yourself fully to the Grace that flows from Him, the Living Water that will bring you a holy, renewed, and empowered Life In  Him! Praised be His Holy Name!

May the Lord Bless You in all that you dedicate to do In His Name!

Your Brother  and Fellow Pilgrim In Christ … Bartimaeus

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(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2017])

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