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Posts Tagged ‘Holy Spirit Baptism’

Concerning Spiritual Gifts

Opened Your Gifts Yet?

Opened Your Gifts Yet?

“Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed …”       (1 Cor 12: 1-3)


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In order for us, as believers, to cooperate with God’s Grace it is important to be informed about the “Spiritual Gifts” because it is through His Gifts that we are conformed into His Image to be channels of His Love.

In order to be properly informed, it must be noted that the Spiritual Gifts mentioned  by St. Paul in the letter to the Corinthians cited at the beginning of this post were in reference to the “gifts” that were manifested at “Pentecost” and recorded in the Book of Acts,

Acts 2: 1 “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.”

The Empowerment Gifts: The Promise of the Father

These “gifts” which all 120 persons initially received at Pentecost are those which Jesus termed, “ the Promise of the Father”. A Promise that was made to Israel by the Prophet Joel … (cf., Joel 2:28-31).

This is the “Promise Of the Father” that Jesus referred to just before His Ascension, when He instructed His disciples as follows:

Acts 1: 4 “While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the Promise of the Father. “This,” he said, “is what you have heard from me; “

The “Promise” manifested itself as spiritual gifts that could be observed and noted by the community and the outside world in which they were embedded.  It was the Lord’s purpose at the initiation of the Church to empower “all” its members to fulfill Jesus’ mission for evangelization of the world (ie.,the Great Commission) – a mission that could be accomplished only if each member received a share in the anointing  that was on Jesus.  That is the reason these gifts are sometimes termed “the Empowerment Gifts”.

Acts 1: “8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Jesus receives the Anointing

Jesus Baptized in the Spirit

The Gifts were basically the same spiritual gifts manifested by Jesus during His Ministry and they were the gifts passed on to His Church by Jesus, when, at His Ascension He told the disciples to return to Jerusalem and wait for the Holy Spirit whom He will send to empower them to continue to carry out His mission to evangelize the world through them as His empowered representatives.

Here is what Peter told the crowd of 3000 regarding what had just happened at the Pentecost gathering, when they were amazed ay what was happening:

Peter Proclaims and Explains the Gifts

Beginning at Acts 2: 14 … “But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. 15 Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 16 No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:

17 ‘In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
    and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
    and your old men shall dream dreams.
18 Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
    in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
        and they shall prophesy.
19 And I will show portents in the heaven above
    and signs on the earth below,
        blood, and fire, and smoky mist.
20 The sun shall be turned to darkness
    and the moon to blood,
        before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.
21 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

This scripture then, refers to the foundational Spiritual Gifts that were manifested to 120 disciples, including the apostles and the initial 3000 converts at the Pentecost celebration described in the Book of Acts.

There are many levels of these gifts, but…
the foundational nine gifts of the Spirit are listed by Paul in the first letter to the Corinthians, Chapter Twelve…

4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit;
5 and there are varieties of ministries, but the same Lord;
6 and there are varieties of manifestations,
           but it is the same God who empowers all of them in everyone.
7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
8 To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and
to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit,
9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.

Now, in the scripture cited in the preface to this article, Paul was exhorting the Corinthian Christians , who were recent baptized converts from paganism. to be informed about the nature of these gifts of the Spirit, in order that the community could grow and function appropriately to fulfill God’s purposes for them. It is for this same reason, we also need to be properly informed of these Spiritual Gifts today. That is why in our study of  Scripture we should put appropriate emphasis on St. Paul’s letters to the Corinthians as well as those to the Romans, Colossians, and Ephesians.

How The Sanctifying Gifts Relate to the Empowerment Gifts

Besides these foundational “Empowering Gifts” it must be emphasized that there are also another set of Spiritual Gifts that are termed, the “Sanctifying Gifts of the Spirit”. These gifts are the spiritual character and gifts of the Messiah as indicated by the verses in Isaiah 11…
1 A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
    and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
2 The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
    the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
    the spirit of counsel and might,
    the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
3 His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
    or decide by what his ears hear;
4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
    and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
    and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
5 Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist,
    and faithfulness the belt around his loins.

The gifts mentioned in this scripture are sometimes termed, the “Sanctifying Gifts”, because they are qualities of character and virtue to which we are called to attain as the Holy Spirit sets us apart to be conformed to the Image of Christ, that is to sanctify us as we progress in our spiritual life in this world.

As you might well imagine, these also are NOT our gifts but, rather the graces and spiritual character of Christ Himself. These are the character traits that characterize our progress in being conformed to His image by the Holy Spirit. These set of graces is in accord to the statement made by John the Baptist ,,, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30). That is, in order for “me” to grow spiritually into His image, the “I” in me must decrease through my “dying to self” so that His Inner Virtues and Character Traits may gradually grow and be manifested in me and through me.

Although the Sanctifying Gifts are not explicitly called out in the New Testament as “gifts”, they are alluded to indirectly as challenges we need to attain to in the growth of our inner man.  St. Paul does list some the “fruit” of these gifts on our personal character in his epistles, but one citation we remember especially is the one to the Galatians…

Gal 5:22 “By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another.”

While the “Sanctifying Gifts” are clearly indicated by today’s church as being those gifts dealing with the spiritual growth of the individual person in the process of being conformed to the inner Spirit of Christ (cf., Rom 8:29) the “Empowerment Gifts” we described prior to this section are the gifts that are manifested by believers outwardly for the benefit of the community, and are those gifts which were received at Pentecost and termed, “the Promise of the Father”.

St. Thomas Aquinas, in his treatise, “Summa Theologica”, clarifies the distinction between these two categories of Grace, namely, Sanctifying Grace and Actual Grace. The Empowerment Gifts clearly pertaining to the latter. This distinction not only helps us to understand the Spiritual Gifts but also how they are to be manifested in our spiritually active Christian lives.

Another concept that helps us in our understanding is how these Gifts, which are really  Christ’s Gifts relate to the Image of “Christ in us, the Hope of Glory”.

In being conformed to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29), the first thing that must happen is that, as we proceed in the process, His self increases in us in proportion as we die to “self”. This is the process of Sanctification that begins to form our inner self into His Inner Self.

Think of it this way, just as he identified Himself with us and our sins at His baptism, so also we are identified with His Spirit at our conversion and baptism and thus acquire access to His Inner Spiritual Gifts or Sanctifying Gifts to permit us to be conformed into His Image. For if we are NOT “in Christ” none of this applies and we are still in our sins.

Also note that after Jesus accepted His commission at water baptism and identified Himself with us to bear our sins, then the Holy Spirit came upon Him so that He could be anointed by the power of the Holy Spirit to carry out His calling. Here is what Jesus testified of that process when He returned to His home town of Nazareth  …

The Spiirt of the Lord is Upon Me...

The Spiirt of the Lord is Upon Me…

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

Thus in order for us who are baptized to share in His commission (ie., His Empowerment) with us, we must similarly receive our share of His anointing in order to carry out the role or purposes of the Father for us, who respond to His calling. This is why access to the Sacrament of Confirmation (ie., strengthening or empowerment) is provided us after our baptism. The only reason most of us don’t receive the Empowerment Gifts allocated to us, being that we are not properly informed about our access to them and thus our faith for these gifts remains dormant.

Before concluding, one of the final points that need to be clarified for us, as we proceed to enter into further study,  is that , in order for us to receive the Empowerment Gifts which are the gifts which enable us to function as envoys of Christ, under His anointing, the Sanctifying Gifts are a prerequisite.  And that satisfy that prerequisite, we must first identify spiritually with Christ and have His Spirit abide in us. For, as He told his disciples (and us), “… without me you can do Nothing”.

That Identification and New life by Abiding in Christ only comes when the Word of God leads us, through faith, to a sincere repentance and conversion leading to a reception of the Sacrament of Baptism, for as scripture says … “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.  … So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Rom. 6: 3,10 )

The reason we must be identified with Christ is that both sets of  Spiritual Gifts are NOT our gifts but a delegation of Christ’s spiritual gifts to us so that HE is the one that operates in us and through us bring us closer to His image, so that all the Glory is His and we are but channels of His Love and Mercy.

In Conclusion

I believe by now we have come to understand in distinguishing the two sets of gifts, that the Sanctifying Gifts are mainly demonstrated in our inner and personal character traits and the fruit of those traits, while the Empowerment gifts are designated to be manifested outwardly though us with the power of the Holy Spirit for the benefit and growth of the community.

This is why Paul, with the intent of building up the community, exhorts the already baptized  Corinthians to continue their growth in Christ by striving for the Empowerment Gifts .…“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 upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. Those who speak in a tongue build up themselves, but those who prophesy build up the up the church” (1 Cor.14: 1-4 )

Praised Be His Holy Name!     Amen and Amen!

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My Brothers and sisters NOW is the time to act on the WORD and receive all that the Lord has provided for those who believe! May He reveal His Presence in you and may His Word burn in your hearts forever!

Baruch Ha Shem! Blessed be the Name!

Your Brother in Christ … Bartimaeus

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

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Related and Pertinent Links

Has Jesus Arisen In your Heart ? (Part 2)

Has Jesus Arisen in Your Heart? (Part 3)

Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit

Cast Your Net on the Other Side!

The Promise of the Father (Part 2)

Jesus, The Source of Living Water and Us!

 

 

 

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Did Not our Hearts Burn Within Us?

Sacred Heart

Jesus’ Burning Heart is Within Us

When Jesus Proclaims the WORD the Holy Spirit Activates it in our Hearts.
Luke 24: … 30 When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them.31Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight. 32They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?”

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

If there ever as a time in world history where we need a great revival it is now. Our western culture that was once the cultural bearer of the Gospel of Christ to the world has now fallen away and not only rejects Christianity but has fallen into the grasp of the world system and a humanistic ideology that permeates and corrupts our culture to a complete  falling away from the basic Judaeo-Christian principles that has kept our ship afloat.

Without a new, world-wide spiritual revival, that brings us all to repentance and faith in Christ our Redeemer, our Earth will become a living Hell.

I know that there are many Christian groups praying for a spiritual revival … but somehow we must be lacking something … or, Someone, … a Divine Someone who can bring our spirits to a renewed faith and spirituality so we can truly be God’s ministers of renewal in this fallen world. Someone who can empower us to preach the Word of God with power… a pure and explosive spiritual power that will reach the heart of the peoples and set their hearts on fire with a spiritually empowered fire of the Word.

That Someone, my fellow pilgrims, is the Holy Spirit.

Yes, we need the Holy Spirit to empower us to proclaim the Word with signs following so that the deceived world can be turned back to the truth of the Gospel. An empowerment that permits us to speak for Jesus, explaining and proclaiming the Word in such manner that our hearers will also say, “did not our hearts burn within us…” and turn their lives around for Christ.

Yet, we must understand that unless God’s Word has burned within us, as the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is sometimes termed, we cannot speak for Christ as His messengers. Nor can we proclaim a Message that will burn in  the hearts of our hearers.

Of course, it is clear from the cited scripture, that not only did their hearts burn with inspiration at the proclamation of the scripture but their spiritual eyes were opened at  the “breaking of the Bread”. This is the way it should be with us at the celebration of the Mass, where His Word is proclaimed and His Bread (another form of “His Word”) is  also broken for us to receive Him, Praised be His Holy Name!

Remember that Jesus told his disciples that, “ … without me you can do nothing”. So thus, if we have not yielded our lives to Christ and received Him as His Disciples, we cannot make disciples, and likewise we cannot proclaim His Word, which, as disciples is what is needed to comply with the Great Commission.

It is only through the active Spirit of Christ in us and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit  that we can be participants in Christ’s ministry to proclaim the Word and bring the fire of the inspired Word to the world. Without the abiding presence of Christ in us, we can do nothing.

As believers, we are covered by His Blood and reconciled to the Father, but unless we have yielded ourselves to His Lordship and received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit we, as merely self-willed religious humans, have no way to accomplish His Mission here on Earth – that is to bring the Fire of His Word to others in this fallen world.

He has told us that His words are Spirit and Life (Jn. 6:63)and that if we abide in Him and His Words abide in us we can ask whatever we need to fulfill His Mission (Jn15:7) and it will be granted to us. So, if you have opened the door to your heart to him and personally consecrated your life to Him (Rom.12: 1-2), then, you abide in Him, and you can ask for the anointing you need to fulfill the calling He has placed on you as His bond-servants in this world.

If, you have not yet yielded yourself, but are being moved by the spirit to move in that direction then you may grow in that direction by first coming to an understanding that the WORD of God is NOT just a document that you can just read, study and receive spiritual activation. Yes, all those preliminary steps must be taken to satisfy your intellect and reason, but the most important step to spiritual empowerment is to let the Holy Spirit bring the Empowerment of the WORD to life in your Spirit so you become assimilated into the Spiritual Life that is in His Word! This will activate your spirit so that whatever you say and do and think – everything that emanates from that activation, will come not from you but from His Spirit that dwells in you. That is what spiritual empowerment is about!

Unfortunately our modern christian culture does not give us all the teaching we need to move in the spiritual realm and truly understand what “walking in the spirit” really means. We must come to realize that we all need a gradual process of initiation into what a “burning”, empowered spirituality is all about, so that the Holy Spirit Himself will inspire and guide us spiritually the rest of the way.

Our first pope, St. Peter instructs us how this initiation begins …

<> First of all you must let the Word of God bring you to a “New Birth”

1 Peter 1: 23 “You have been born anew [in your spirit], not from perishable but from imperishable seed, through the living and abiding word of God,* 24 for:  “All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of the field; the grass withers, and the flower wilts 25 but the word of the Lord remains forever. This is the word that has been proclaimed to you.”

<> Then walking in the Inspired Word, you must “Grow up to Salvation”
I Peter 2: 1 “So put away all malice and all guile and insincerity and envy and all slander. 2 Like newborn babes, long for the pure spiritual milk [of the Word] , that by it you may grow up to salvation; 3 for you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.”

As we grow in the Word we then understand that to unite ourselves to Christ’s mission here on Earth, requires that we must first consecrate ourselves to Him so that we can truly discern the Father’s Will regarding our role as His bond-servants.

<> St.Paul exhorts the Faithful regarding our Consecration as  a Form of Worship

Rom. 12: 1 “I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Once we are consecrated to Christ we need the Empowerment of the Spirit to act in His Name. With this empowerment we are then ready to obey our Lord and Master and truly take part in His Ministry to the Church and the World.

<>  Entering the “Kingdom” requires joining your self to Christ’s Ministry

Thus, Jesus, instructing Nicodemus about His Kingdom Ministry, tells him that the Holy Spirit may open your spirit to be aware of what God is doing through the Spirit, but in order to be part of what God is doing (His Kingdom), you have to repent and dedicate yourself to Him (ie., water baptism) and then move into His ministry through the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

John 3: 1 “Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do, unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 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?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born anew.’  8 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.”

This is in accord with what John the Baptist told His disciples …

Matt. 3:11 “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.

Jesus Himself stated His Mission ..

fire_book_800x600_618x463_xlarge

The Spirit Inspired Word

Luke 12:49 “I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!

Now Jesus, in His Compassion, still wishes to bring the Fire of His Word into the World and He is looking for volunteers  …

Matt. 9:  36 But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. 37Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Pray then, brethren, to the Lord of the Harvest and ask: “Lord, am I one of your workers?”

Are you ready to be baptized with the Holy Spirit and with Fire?

Luke 11: 9 “So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 11 Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? 12 Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

May the Lord hear you prayers, and answer them …..

“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few;  pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matt. 9 : 37-38)

Your Brother In Christ Jesus … Bartimaeus

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

Related Links…

Jesus the Source of Living Water and Us

Testimony of the Pope’s Preacher

The Transforming Work of the Cross

Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit

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Assessing our Discipleship / Forming Disciples

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

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Are you being Conformed to Christ's Image?

Are you being Conformed to Christ’s Image?

All believers are called to be conformed to the image of Christ! That is God’s purpose for us, and it is to this end we should be living out the fulness of His purpose for us.

One of the main problems we lay people have in living out our faith to its fullness is that most of us have left out one of the main facets of entering into a truly and complete living faith journey, namely, our personal relationship with Jesus and subsequent yielding ourselves to the Holy Spirit so He may conform us into the image of Christ that is in us (Rom.8:29).  Without this facet of our faith life we cannot be “true disciples” or what may be called  “Intentional Disciples”.

Sherry A.Waddell in her book “Forming Intentional Disciples – The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus” makes it clear that there are three concurrent spiritual journeys to what one might call “normative” Catholicism.  She lists these as:

1. The personal interior journey of a relationship with Christ resulting in intentional discipleship.

2. The ecclesial journey into through the Church through the sacraments of initiation.

3. The journey of active practice (as evidenced by attending mass, receiving the sacraments and participating in the life and mission of the Christian community).

She also makes it clear that in a study conducted by her and a Catholic Cleric indicated that the majority of Lay Catholic Christians basically assume that all that is needed to be “Catholic” are to be involved in paths 2 and 3 (the ecclesial journey and the practice of the religious tenets of the faith).

To complicate matters, most of the Catholic participants in the study did not even know or understand that without the personal interior journey of “Intentional” Discipleship (#1) the other two paths become essentially a self-driven religious journey that leaves out what should be our most essential journey, that is, the personal yoking ourselves to Christ so that He and He alone may empower the Living of our Christian Life to its fulness.

Counter to this lack of understanding in our laity, leaders in the Church have reiterated time and time again that “normative” Catholicism must begin with…

“… the proclamation of the Good News that is directed to a conversion of heart and and life and clinging to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior; to disposing a person to receive Baptism and Eucharist and to strengthen a person in the prospect and realization of new life according to the Spirit”

(see on-line at:  http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_exhortation/documents/hf_jp-11_exh_30121988_christifideles-laici_en.html as of May 8,2012)

Because of the lack of in-depth adequate faith formation teaching (catechesis) most Catholic Christians are not properly taught the scriptural foundations behind the essential need for all of us to participate in a personal spiritual relationship with Christ that directly leads us to commit ourselves as “intentional” disciples. Without our direct and intentional consent to becoming Jesus’ disciples the Holy Spirit will NOT force discipleship on us because He respects our free will. Thus unless we come to such a commitment in our lives we CANNOT consider ourselves as TRUE DISCIPLES of Christ no matter how well we practice our religion. Discipleship requires a commitment beyond believing in Jesus – it requires a decision to surrender our lives to the Father so that the Spirit of His Son may act in us and through us for the Glory of the Father.

Being FormedTrue Discipleship is the process the Holy Spirit uses to conform us to the image of Christ during our lives (Rom.8:29). Discipleship is not a process that we perform. It is a divine process of Grace in our inner being that molds us and forms us to become more and more like Christ each day that we live. It is a process that works in every aspect of our being, body, soul and spirit as long as we cooperate with the Holy Spirit in His work of Grace. It is a process that leads to what is called a state of Holiness. That is, a state  where every part of our being is set apart for God’s use and direction to accomplish His purposes, not ours.

In order to facilitate our meditation on assessing our discipleship. I will list below several scriptures and my commentaries so that my readers may pray over this theme and let the Holy Spirit guide them in discerning where they stand as disciples.

One of the first themes I propose we consider for meditation is that of the Good Shepherd. If we are to be truly His disciples then we must truly be one of His sheep.

<1>    Jesus spoke of the relationship between Himself and His Sheep: “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.…” (John 10:14-15)

Point:  Jesus is declaring that to be one of His Sheep you need to have a “knowing, living” relationship with Jesus that emulates His relationship to the Father. Are you in your inner spiritual life living out and experiencing such a relationship? If not. Why Not?

<2>    “The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”  (John 10:2-5)

Point: Jesus leads His sheep through a personal interaction by speaking directly to them so they can recognize His Voice and not follow a stranger’s voice. Do you have a daily dialogue with Jesus in prayer so that you hear and know His Voice and thus are able to follow Him and learn from Him?  If not. Why Not?

<3>    Jesus answered [the Pharisees], “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all ; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:34-38)

Point: Those who are called to be disciples “know” who Jesus is in their hearts and thus have spiritual ears to hear and listen to His Voice and follow Him. If you have heard His Voice, then all you have to do to enter into discipleship is decide to follow Him and act on your decision by making a commitment in faith to Him directly!

Comment: In the above discussion we may be faced with a dilemma. We have a strong desire to act on our desire to follow Jesus but we have never experienced a dialogue with Jesus or really understood what the Kingdom of God that He preaches is about.

Well you are not alone. Nicodemus, a ranking member of the Sanhedrin was in the same situation that you are. So what did He do? He went looking for Jesus to ask Him directly. Of course he came by night because, like you, because it was a little embarrassing. Here is what  happened:

<4> “Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”  Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again ” (John 3:1-3)

Comment: Notice that Jesus equates the effects of God working through His ministry, that Nicodemus is referencing, as the evidence of the “Kingdom of Heaven” at work. Nicodemus, a cleric with standing, was shocked at Jesus’ response. How could this lay person say such a thing to a member of the Sanhedrin? And what is this thing about being “born again”?

Regarding the term “born again”, note how St. Peter comments on this in his first epistle: “ Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for…

“All flesh is like grass
and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
and the flower falls,
but the word of the Lord remains forever.”

And this word is the good news that was preached to you.” (1 Peter 1:22-25)

<5> Nicodemus, in trying to understand this saying, asks Jesus: “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 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 again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:4-8)

Point: Jesus indicates that a person’s spirit must be “brought to life” or “activated” in order to be sensitive to the work of the Holy Spirit. Only the Holy Spirit can revive a person’s spirit by Grace, through The Word. Jesus refers to those who have received such sensitivity to the Spirit as having spiritual ears so they can her His Voice.

He also tells Nicodemus that although he has been granted the grace of this sensitivity and has responded to it by coming to Him,  yet in order to be a disciple and participate in His ministry (ie., enter the service of the Kingdom of Heaven) he must take a further step and make a commitment to Jesus to follow Him.

Jesus, is also telling Nicodemus the action he now needs to take to enter the Kingdom, that is become a disciple in His Ministry is two fold:

1) repent of his sins and accept Jesus for who He is (water Baptism),
and
2) yield himself to be empowered by the Holy Spirit (commissioned) to carry out the role he has been called to fill in the Kingdom.

Have you been moved by the Spirit to renounce yourself and your own goals and objectives, as noble as they may be, and turn towards God for the change of life He wants for you. And…, if you have done this, are you willing to freely and openly offer your self as living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1-2) so that the Spirit of Christ that is in you can work in you and through you to achieve the purpose for which the Father has called you?”

If your answer is “yes” to these latter two questions, then you should seriously consider making a declared commitment to follow Jesus. This is what being an “intentional” disciple is about.

Comment: Note that Nicodemus did not take up Jesus’ offer of full discipleship at the time of his encounter with the Master. He did continue as a “discreet” or “undeclared” disciple which is the role most of us lay Christians, in our passive ignorance, inadvertently choose.

Brethren in Christ …

I now implore you to meditate and pray on the themes and Scriptures I have presented to you andask the Holy Spirt to Guide you to discerning your calling.  Then…act on whatever He tells you!  Praised Be His Holy Name, Forever and Ever, Amen!

There are very few people
who realise what God would make of them
if they abandoned themselves into his hands,
and let themselves be formed by his grace. (Saint Ignatius of Loyola)

Your Brother in Christ Jesus … Bartimaeus

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

Important Links Relevant to the Current Article

Hearing God’s Voice and Obeying It

Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit

The Cost Of Discipleship

Cast Your Net On the Other Side

Blog Comments On Sherry Weddell’s Book

http://www.focus.org/blog/posts/forming-intentional-disciples.html

Contacts Regarding Discipleship

The Catherine of Siena Institute
PO Box 26440
Colorado Springs, CO 80936
Web Site: www,siena.org
(719) 219-0056
(888) 878-6789 (toll free US)
(719) 219-0097 (fax)

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JesussmercydarkLiving the Truly Christian Life – is letting Christ live through us … In order to truly live the Christian life we have to intentionally yield our selves to the Spirit of Christ so that He may not only live in us but also through us to the Glory of God the Father and the manifestation of His Kingdom in the world today!

<> Intentionally following Jesus begins the process … Jesus said to all, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it.” (Luke 9:23)

<> Jesus emptied Himself to let the Spirit of God work through Him… Paul told the Philippians, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” (Phil 2:5-7)

<> As we empty ourselves, the Holy Spirit conforms us to Christ our Master… Likewise we also must empty ourselves so that He may increase His life in us and perform His Works through us(cf. John 3:30). For… “We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren.” (Rom 8:28-29)

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

One of the main problems that we modern Christians have in really living out our faith is that we don’t understand that, in order to truly live the Christian Faith in Christ Our Savior and Lord, we have to let Christ truly “live in us” and “through us”, not just “around us”.   Because we incorrectly assume that, because we have received the Spirit of Christ at baptism, all we have to do to live the “Christian life” is through our own self-willed, efforts and diligence in living a “moral” and “sanctified life”. We never consider that this approach is not consistent with the Gospel of the Kingdom that Jesus preached. And, that living a religiously compliant life under our own self-will is exactly what the Pharisees were doing in Jesus’ time. Jesus is asking us to go beyond that.

The Gospel of the Kingdom that Jesus preached indicated that, the Father, through His Son, Jesus, was opening the door for a new epoch in Man’s relationship with God. A relationship that would involve an intimate personal interaction of God with us, such that by re-birthing His Spirit in us, He would bring us into partnership with Him in order begin the process of bringing His Kingdom to this world. Since Jesus, His Son, was to be the Way for Man to enter into that partnership, He had to become one of us, yet without sin, so that He could, through the sacrifice of His Life and Resurrection, be the source of the New Life in the Spirit for those who believed in Him and accepted Him as their Savior and King.

Jesus accepted His commission from the Father when He yielded Himself to the Father’s Will and was baptized by John. In turn, we as believers, not only receive His indwelling Spirit at our baptism, but also the responsibility and honor of freely ratifying Jesus’ commitment to the Father by yielding ourselves completely to His Spirit in us so that He, and He alone, could work in us and through us to bring forth the Kingdom of God in this fallen world.

We must further understand that we, even though baptized, cannot, out of our own self-willed efforts, do anything spiritual, such as bringing forth God’s kingdom! It is only through the power and authority of the KING who dwells in us that anything spiritual may be accomplished. Remember what Jesus said, “…without Me you can do nothing”.

The only thing lacking for our full participation in partnership with Him, however, is our ratification of Jesus’ commitment to the Father. We ratify Jesus’ commitment and become His partners by yielding ourselves completely to His authority, and letting ourselves be empowered by His Spirit so that He, and He alone can operate in us and through us. And, by doing so, then we make it clear that it is indeed He who activates and empowers all that we do in His Name! “For Thine is the Kingdom, and the Power and the Glory, Forever and Ever. Amen!”

Nevertheless, because we don’t know any better, most of us neglect to make this affirmation or ratification of Jesus’ Commission through the yielding of our lives to Him and thus fail to activate the work of the Holy Spirit in us to permit HIM to revive us spiritually and open us to a new awareness of the Spirit of Christ in us to move us towards the accomplishment of His purposes – not ours!

If however, when led by God’s gracious Spirit, we do make such an intentional yielding of the right to ourselves, we continue our normal everyday, intellectually self-aware living of our lives but we begin a gradual transition to a life lived in a new, transformed awareness – a spiritual awareness completely apart from the awareness we receive in this material world, that is, from our physical senses and our intellect and reasoning powers and our emotions. It is an awareness that we, sadly, didn’t even realize was available to all believers who have been converted and baptized into Christ.

I am speaking of a spiritual awareness where we can, without leaving our bodies, actually experience contact with the Spirit of God and His Holy Spirit and where we can experience a personal fellowship with the Triune God, who then, through this relationship, empowers us to live our lives, not for ourselves, but for Him, through the indwelling Spirit of Christ in us. To Him be the Glory forever and ever. Amen and Amen!

<> What Jesus told Nicodemus about  coming to a renewed Spiritual Awareness …

jesus_nicodemusWhen Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin, came to Jesus at night (to avoid being noticed), he admitted to Jesus that the testimonies he had heard about the miracles Jesus was doing in the community, caused Him to realize that God must be working through Him. Jesus, in essence told him that if He had come to the awareness that God was working through His ministry, the only way he could come to that awareness was that God had activated his spirit to that sensitivity.

Here is what Jesus said, “ Verily, Verily I say to you, unless the spirit of a person be re-born (or re-activated), that person would not be aware of the manifestation of His Kingdom.” (see. John 3:1-18 for the entire discourse)

Nicodemus, like many of us, was incredulous, asking, “How is it possible for a mature living person to be “re-born”? Can he enter into his mother’s womb a second time?”

Doesn’t that sound like a lot of us when we first hear that our spiritual natures need to be re-activated in order to be aware of what God wants to do in our lives? Don’t we respond with. “well, I have been baptized, do I need to be baptized again?”.

Listen to how Jesus responded to Nicodemus’ question. “verily, verily, I say to you, unless a person is not only baptized in water [like I was] but also baptized in the Spirit [like I was] he cannot participate in the Ministry of the Kingdom. Being born naturally does not activate your spirit, only the Spirit of God can re-activate a person’s spirit [so that you become a new creation and be empowered to minister in the Spirit].”

He continued to explain to Nicodemus (and to us), “Just as you can sense when the wind is blowing in your face so also you can sense the leadings of the Holy Spirit. If you have not yet become aware of the leadings of the Holy Spirit working in your life, then you have NOT YET been born of the Spirit!”

<> Would you like to go further in Following Jesus?

Yes, brothers and sisters, we may have received our spiritual batteries at baptism, but have we, at the cusp of our maturity and free will, turned on the switch that turns on those batteries? Don’t you think it is time to do that and begin living our lives as instruments of His Love in us?

And say, that in the past you may have actually turned on the switch, but through the circumstances of your life, the switch was somehow turned off? Don’t you feel the Spirit urging you to turn it back on again?

And what is that “switch”? It is our free-will decision, out of agape Love, to die to self by relinquishing the right to our self-will, and yielding our self to the Rule of Christ our King so that He may live in us and through us! This is how we may all truly live out the Christian Life! Now, doesn’t that reach your heart?

Here is the opportunity to do so! Below are a brief set of prayers that will get the power of the Holy Spirit flowing through you to set about letting Christ work in you and through you! Praised be His Holy Name!!

~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~

# Prayer to Receive the Holy Spirit

Receiving the Gift of the Holy Spirit

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.

Now, if the terminology,  “baptism in/with the Holy Spirit”, creates a theological hurdle for you receiving the gift 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!”

Now, begin praising and worshipping 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, [2008-20014].

Related Links

I Stand At The Door and Knock.

Has Jesus Arisen In your Hearts? (Part 1)

(… Part 2)

(… Part 3)

 

 

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Has Jesus Arisen In Your Heart? (part 2)

From Enlightenment to Empowerment and Consecration

Jesus receives the Anointing

Jesus Baptized in the Spirit

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

Jesus Welcomes Children

Jesus begins teaching us as children

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

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

My dear fellow pilgrims in Christ Jesus,

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

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

Stage 2 – Spiritual Awakening to Spiritual Empowerment and Consecration

Stage 3 – Spiritual Consecration to Spiritual Union With Christ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

<> Consecration as  a Disciple Requires a Decision

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

The Way of  True Discipleship

The Way of True Discipleship

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

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

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

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

(Jn 14:6)

and …

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.                                                                                          (Jn. 15:45)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I bid every one among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith which God has assigned him.” (Rom. 12:1-3)

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

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

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

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

“… walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh, for the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would.

But if you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

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

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

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

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

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

Your brother and fellow pilgrim in Christ Jesus …. Bartimaeus

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

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Worship as a Modality of Prayer

Medjlightface“God is spirit and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth” (Jn 4:24)

My fellow pilgrims and family in Christ,

As Jesus clearly tells us, true Worship of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the One Jesus calls “Father”, can only be entered when one is in a state which Jesus terms, “in spirit and in truth”.  In the Book of Revelation, the apostle John relates that was in such a state, on the Lord’s day when he received the visions presented in the sacred writings.  Although, entering such a state, is the work of the Holy Spirit in us, He will not force us into such a state without our willing cooperation.  Deep, intimate Prayer, is the means through which we subdue our flesh and yield willingly to the Spirit so that He can bring us to the state of  true “worship”.

I can truly say that, it was not until I yielded my religious self to the Holy Spirit that I, through Spirit-guided prayer was able to truly understand and experience what “worship in spirit and truth” really meant. For this reason I now post this article excerpted from our Brother, Jorge Madrid’s works, as a follow on to his article on the “Modalities of Prayer”, which  I presented to you in my prior posting. In this excerpt our brother Jorge, expands on this topic by presenting his testimony on the ultimate modality of prayer,that is “worship”

In this submission I present to you Mr. Madrid’s reflection in order to ensure that as you enter into a deeper prayer experience, you clearly understand that prayer, the path of dialogue and relationship with the Divine, has, as its main objective, the yielding of ourselves to God through worship, and especially, worship as expressed through Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice of Love, as expressed in the ordinance He left us – the  Eucharistic service we Catholics call the Mass.

Because many of us Christians have not fully comprehended the Word of Truth and the Glorious Gift of God’s redeeming grace and His Presence in us, we are seemingly afraid to enter into a deeper spiritual relationship with the Divine through prayer, mainly from sensing correctly that we are sinners and that, as sinners, we are not worthy to enter into the Divine Presence. However, if we are truly converted Christians and thus are baptized “into Christ”, we are a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17), and, when we come before the Father in prayer we come not in our name or in our presumed righteousness, but in the Name of His Son, Jesus and in His righteousness which is imputed unto us who believe.

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor. 5:21)

Therefore, We need not fear or be inhibited in coming to an experience of this deeper level of personal spiritual relationship with the Divine, in fact, it is Jesus, himself who has given us His Divine invitation for us to enter into prayer at this ultimate level as He says to us:

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” (Rev.3:20 )

Now, our brother Jorge Madrid is no different from any of us, and, according to his own assessment, is merely a repentant sinner whom God has graced because he turned to Him in desperation. His testimony, which follows is merely his attempt to share with us his experience in how the Holy Spirit activated his heart through the Word, repentance and prayer bringing him to experience Worship at a Eucharistic service at a spiritual level he had never experienced before in his life. He shares his story with us to encourage all of us to go deeper in our relationship with the Father, through Jesus, His Son, who is the Door to the Father and the source of all the graces for our relationship with Him. Graces that He offers freely to us through the precious Blood!

Realizing that “…we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Heb.4:14-16).  Praised be His Holy Name!

The only condition to this confidence of Faith being that we “put on Christ” as we enter into prayer.  In order to do so, always keep in mind St.Paul’s admonition to the pilgrims of his day …

The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Romans 13:12-14).

With this said I present to you the testimony of our brother and fellow pilgrim, Jorge Madrid Sr..

May the Holy Spirit be with you as you walk along The Way!

Your fellow pilgrim in Christ Jesus … Bartimaeus

PS: Don’t miss the Worship video at the end of this posting!

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2014])

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Regarding Worship: The Ultimate Modality of Prayer

A personal Reflection By Jorge Madrid Sr., AMDG

Praying In the Spirit

Praying in the Spirit

“God is spirit and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth”

(John4:24)

One of the things I have learned, as the Lord opened my Heart to the Love of the Father, is that the true worship of the Father necessarily involves entering into a living relationship with Him.  Without such a relationship we can only approach worship from a distance as from the outer courts of the Temple. The true worship the Father desires of us is through a loving relationship with Him – a relationship that may only be realized through a living dialogue and communion with Jesus, who is the Door to the Father and in whom the fullness of the Godhead resides.

As a (more or less) traditional and cultural Catholic, I was observant of all the church rules, partook of the sacraments and attended mass regularly and assumed that my attendance at mass was de facto worship. The beauty and reverence of the services did help me to reverence God, His Word, and the sacrifice of His Son that brings us to salvation and acceptance as His children. I also believed that during the mass (the Catholic Eucharistic Service) I was a participant in that awesome and magnificent act of God’s Love for humanity and that, by being present, I was, in fact, present at the greatest act of worship ever. However, my personal participation in that worship was limited in that I perceived myself more as a devoted observer than a participant.

One circumstance that limited me was my lack of spiritual awareness through faith. At the intellectual level, I assented theologically to the concept of the mass being a participation in Christ’s offering of Himself to the Father, but in hindsight, I know now that I was not entering the level of awareness of being in communion with Christ during the worship that I ought to have had. I cannot speak for others, but for me, before my conversion experience, I never really comprehended the full meaning of that worship in my spirit. Metaphorically speaking, it was as if I were an observer of the Temple worship from the court of the gentiles but never as an actual participant in that worship in the Holy of Holies as I ought to have been. For that reason I could not, at that period in my life, say I had personally experienced, at the spirit level, the worship that the Father desires, which is, that we worship Him “in Spirit and in Truth”. Now, I must be clear, I did also believe that I received the Body and Blood of Christ at the reception of the Eucharist and I can say that the sustenance of the life of Christ did help me through some difficult times in my life. I am only attempting to state that there was a certain dullness in my spirit that prevented me from receiving the fullness of the graces that flow from the Sacrament of His Love. It was only after my conversion experience, which opened me to a spiritual awareness, that I have been able to experience the fullness of the worship experience at mass, the Eucharistic celebration.

As I later discovered, through the grace and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, there were three major factors casting a veil over my worship experience. These were as follows: (1) my spiritual ignorance, (2) my un-yielded self-will, and (3) the hidden sins of my heart.

Spiritual Ignorance

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge …”   (Hos. 4:6)

My ignorance consisted of not clearly understanding that we humans are endowed by our creator with three levels of awareness: (a) an awareness through our physical senses of our physical self and the material worlds around us, (b) an inward mental awareness of our personal identity and all of our intellectual and our emotional attributes and capabilities (ie. what we sometimes categorize as the “soul”), and (c) the spiritual level of awareness, which we sometimes identify with the human heart or spirit. This latter level of awareness is intuitive, non-conceptual and non-verbal and includes our conscience. It is this latter level of awareness that we sometimes ignore or overlook as a part of our personal assessment. Yet it is at this level of awareness that our Creator intended as the level where He desires to meet with us and establish a personal relationship that brings us into communion with Him. Due to Adam’s act of disobedience (original sin), however, this level of communion with the Holy One was disrupted in Adam and all his generations.

I must add, with great sadness that my ignorance extended further to the fact that I did not understand that in order for me to connect with the Father in true worship, I had to enter the spiritual level of my spirit, which had been renewed in me through baptism. I also was not aware that, even though baptized, this channel of relationship remained inactive, and needed to be activated through an act of my will – by a sincere, heartfelt repentance and conversion. In my traditional and cultural passivity as a young child, I went through the motions required of me in receiving the sacraments but did not truly understand the level of  heartfelt repentance and commitment needed in giving my heart to Jesus. As a result, although the grace of baptism and confirmation worked in the circumstances of my life, I had not totally yielded my inner self to my Savior, Jesus, thus creating a veil that kept me from a true relationship with the Lover of my soul. Through the grace and mercy of the Father, the Holy Spirit continued working in the circumstances of my life so that as an adult He brought me to the point where I recognized my need to know Him in a personal way, and thus, after a heartfelt repentance, I turned to Him in a conversion of heart, inviting the Lord Jesus into my Heart and thus beginning a personal relationship with Him “in the Spirit”.

My Unyeilded Self-will

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, if anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”  (Matthew 16:23-25)

This brings me to the next barrier that hindered me from fully entering the spiritual awareness I needed to truly participate in worship, namely my self-will. You see even though I had come to conversion and repented of my known sins, and turned to the Lord for his forgiveness, I still retained my self-will. That is, I had not fully yielded myself to the Holy One. In my continuing ignorance and, of course, my pride, it had not entered my mind that what the Father desired of me is the total yielding of my self to His reign in me. I incorrectly supposed that, I, in my turning to Him I could now use my self will to serve Him. So the Holy Spirit had to make it clear to me, through His Word, that I had to deny my self will in order for the Lord to rule in my life. I had to yoke my self to Jesus so that all that through that yoking I my desires, and my thoughts would become His desires and his thoughts, and thus my actions would be in conformity to his will and thus “walk in the spirit”.

Of course, once I understood my problem, I repented again and I made the decision to surrender my self completely to His reign in me. What this decision did was to begin a process of transformation in me where I now continually come to situations where I have to put down my self will so that He and He alone would reign in me. This tension between my spirit and my flesh is still the cross I have to bear daily but now I am more aware of my self will attempting to creep in, but now, by the grace of God, in Him I  have the spiritual strength needed to walk in the spirit and not in the flesh. Praised be His Holy Name!

The Hidden sins of the Heart

ascending-temple

“ Who may ascend the hill of the LORD?   

      Who may stand in his holy place?

          He who has clean hands and a pure heart,

                who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false.

   He will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God his Savior.

   Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, O God of  Jacob.”

…                                                                    (Psalm 24:3-5)

Having yielded my self completely to the Lord, He then began His work of transformation in me to conform me more and more into His image. He began His work in me with a very thorough house cleaning. In this process the Holy Spirit began to reveal to me the secrets of my heart.

Yes, although I had repented of my sins at my conversion, there were secret sins that I harbored in my heart, that were barriers to the fullness of worship. These were sins that I had long ago buried in my subconscious by justifying them as merely human idiosyncrasies.  They were very personal sins, which included things like: bitterness originating from unresolved personal grudges and hurts, an anger and cynicism towards others that came on me for no apparent reason, a prideful and stubborn attitude that always placed my ideas and will above others, and flowing from this sulking behavior when I didn’t get my way.  These sins, of course, affected all my relationships but again I was blind to them because they were so deeply hidden in my inner self. Even now I still encounter them attempting to creep back into my life. But now that the Lord has brought them into His Light I am rapidly aware of them and bring them under His Blood in confession. Some of these sins are gone forever as the Lord healed me of my inner hurts and I forgave all who had injured me. Praised be His Holy Name!

Worship revived me

As the Lord worked His transformation in me, my worship experience continued to deepen. In the beginning, after I received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, I experienced a totally heavenly worship at a mass conducted after a spiritual retreat. I literally thought I was before the throne of God, I experienced a sense of communion with the Lord that I had never experienced before, a communion that extended to all who were present in the church as well. Later the worship experience extended even beyond my participation at mass. I noticed this happening during the daily events in my life. For instance, I sometimes would enter into worship as I was driving to work and I would have to stop until I the experience passed and I was able to drive again. Nowadays, I find myself going into worship during my evening prayer times and when I am exercising in the Gym. Thus is the Glory of the Lord manifested in us! “Baruch Ha Shem” Blessed be the Name!

In Conclusion..

Like the man born blind who received his sight at from the healing Hand of Jesus, and having been given new life in Him, I now wish to tell others (whatever their religious upbringing or lack thereof) who are still seeking, about the renewed spirituality that comes with knowing Jesus personally and the more vibrant worship and prayer life that abounds when you put aside you inhibitions and yield your self to the Spirit of the Living God and receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

To Jesus, our Blessed Savior, be Glory and Honor and Praise forever and ever! Amen!

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Author’s Note: I add a poem I wrote regarding my conversion experience

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As  One  From  a Dream Awakens

As one from a dream awakens,

           So the day I came to the light of life.

                       As the whirlwind of the Spirit entered,

The door to my soul opened wide.

           It broke through the shell of self, erected

                       To  defend the self against the embrace of Love,

…. That Eternal Love for which my soul was made.

.

Oh ! I built my defenses well!

In my narcissist enclave all was to justify the Self.

All I said and did was well under the control

Of reason and science and intellectual disdain,

Of a measured theology and attitude profane,

           But sorely wanting of the very thing from which I fled,

…. That Eternal Love for which my soul was made.

 

But then as if from nowhere,  I heard  …

A Word that pierced and shook me to my very depths

A Word that revealed the sham that I was living

           A Word that deflated my ego and my pride

It told me that nothing in me was worthy

      But that He who Loves me, died that I might have

…. That Eternal Love for which my soul was made.

 

As into my heart His Word descended,

I was overcome by the intensity of His Love.

As His Love called out to me and sought me,

Willingly, I ceded self to its manifold embrace,

Basking in the warmth of His Compassion, the Mercy of His Grace,

Asking only that He renew and restore me, to receive more of

…. That Eternal Love for which my soul was made.

                                                                        Jorge Madrid Sr., AMDG

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Copyright © 2008 Madrid Family Living Trust

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Spiritual Growth and the Wilderness Experience

“As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him.  And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness  to be tempted by the devil.”  (Matt. 3:16-17, 4:1))

Wilderness Strip

My dear fellow pilgrims and brothers and sisters in Christ,

As we participate in the Lenten devotions this year it would be well for us, to keep in mind that one of the objectives of the Lenten tradition is to assist us in cooperating with the Holy Spirit as He works in us to conform us more and more to the image of Christ (Rom: 8:29).  The process of conforming us to Jesus is a transformation that begins with our conversion and also involves being led by the Holy Spirit into a “wilderness” or “desert Place” where the Almighty may interact with us and begin to enact the changes He wants in us.

Why we should expect a “widerness” experience

Since we Christians are being modeled after Jesus, by implication, we also may be led by the Spirit into a “wilderness experience”. This term “wilderness” is used metaphorically to represent a crucial situation in life, that the Father uses with those He loves the most to bring them to a place where they have to be totally dependent and focused on His Person in order to survive – an initially forced intimacy –  so that he may reveal His Face towards them without the distractions of the flesh and the world in which we are all embedded..

Regarding Israel whom the Father loves, but who, at the time of this prophecy, has betrayed Him by continuing to follow their Baals, He says “Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.” (Hos.2:14)

Jesus, who was without sin, but was identified with us through His baptism, was led into the wilderness to prepare him for His role as the sacrificial lamb of God. And it is probably no coincidence that Jesus, at His Transfiguration, shares His experience with Moses and Elijah (Matt.17:1-3), who also had their own “wilderness” experiences in being prepared for their callings through  a season of intimacy with the Father.

So, it may be, for those of us in the midst of some traumatic situation in our lives, that the Lord may use this Lenten Season to approach you, in the desolation you are experiencing, to Present His Face towards you, In  Christ, and draw you into His intimate embrace, bringing you the consolation and renewal of spirit you have been seeking in Him. For remember that in baptism we not only are united with  Christ in His Passion and death but also joined with Him in the newness of His Resurrected Life (cf., Rom.6:3-11)! Our primary purpose and destiny is to be conformed to Christ in all things so that He may bring forth fruit through us to the Glory of the Father!

For all of us, this “conformance to Christ” is a discrete ongoing process in our spirits that requires our cooperation with the Spirit in order for the transformation to take effect. We have to open the door to our hearts in order for Him to enter in; that is why it is so important that we go beyond the mere superficiality of the events of the Lenten tradition and truly ask the Holy Spirit to open our hearts to His Word during this period so we can hear His voice in us. Lent provides the opportunity to be led of the Spirit into a deeper attitude of cooperation and willingness by to dying to self and permitting ourselves to be yoked to Christ so that He may move in us and through us to cleanse us and prepare us to fulfill the Father’s purpose for our lives.

Jesus tempted ...

Jesus tempted …

If we make a decision to fully cooperate with the Holy Spirit during Lent, then the Spirit may guide us, like Jesus, into a “spiritual wilderness” where He assists us in separating ourselves from the world and its influences and, so that we may focus on His Word and the changes the Lord wishes to work in our innermost selves based on His Word. In this way the Character of Christ and His Virtues will begin to come to the surface in our lives to bring forth fruit for His Glory. All this is accomplished, in Faith, by the Spirit of Christ that is in us and NOT by our own zeal or outward effort in the performance of pietistic works.  For, as Jesus explained to Nicodemus that to participate in His Ministry one must be born again of the Spirit because “… the flesh cannot beget that which is spiritual, only the Spirit of God can beget that which is spiritual” (cf., John 3:6).

My First “Wilderness Experience”

What I am about to share with your is based my own experience with a “wilderness” experience and not from mere speculation or my own interpretation of the scriptures regarding this matter.  This experience led to my own conversion and my entry on the path to discipleship.

Of course I have had other types of wilderness experiences thereafter but this was the first one that I recognized afterward, that  was truly something the Lord permitted in my life to bring me to conversion and deliver me from my own egocentric and self-centered  flesh.

Here is my story –

As a young Christian man, married to the love of my life, a wonderful Christian lady, and with two lovely children, the Lord was opening for me an exciting set of doors to a wonderful career as an aerospace engineer. However, I was so enthused by the career I was entering into that I began to lose my spiritual balance. I was so totally controlled by my ambitions, my place at work, my on-going studies in science, engineering and astronautics, that I was completely neglecting my wife and my family. But more significantly I was neglecting my relationship to God. I had made my career and profession my god without my realizing my error and the spiritual darkness into which I was entering!

Now, at this point, outwardly, I was a baptized, compliant, practicing catholic; but inwardly, I was spiritually dead.  I was dead because all the religiously motivated actions that I took in my life, to that point, were done out of mere cultural habit, tradition and training – not from my heart, with faith. I did not have a personal relationship with Christ, so my religious performance was merely the “fig leaf” I used to keep my conscience from continuing to accuse me. I was in fact, in a “wilderness”, dying of spiritual thirst, but did not know it, because the world system had inured me from that awareness and blinded me to the Word of God and the reality of the spiritual life in Christ. Yes, I was a believer in Christ, intellectually, but I did not “know” Christ in my heart!

I did not even know what it meant to have a “personal relationship” to Christ and experience His Living Water flowing through me. Likewise, because, I was spiritually dead, I also did not know that I was depriving myself of the “Living Water” that would bring me to life and thus was taking no action to remedy the situation! It may surprise you, but during this period I observed may “Lents” with my family yet not one of these observances awakened me to my desperate condition. Not because of the pietistic devotions themselves, but because my own spiritual blindness and lack of faith in God’s Word kept me from the redeeming work of Christ that needed to take place in me.

It was God, in response to my wife’s prayers that came to my rescue – oddly enough, by permitting me to come down with “walking” pneumonia, right after Easter!  This illness stopped me cold in my tracks. I was treated and assigned by my doctor to medications and total bed rest at home for at least two weeks. It was during this time of forced quiet and desperation (my wilderness) that the Holy Spirit worked in me to bring me to an awareness of my spiritual deprivation. He did this by working through my wife who, at the time was going through a spiritual renewal herself. As she ministered to me in my bedroom she brought in scriptural pamphlets and teachings on “the New Pentecost” from sessions she was attending given by a charismatic priest of our catholic tradition.

As I read through these materials, the Holy Spirit began opening my heart to the Word of God – so much so that I asked my wife to bring me an old Bible that was given to me at high school graduation and which I had hardly ever opened. My initial motive for reading the Bible was to verify the statements made in the pamphlets that God was working anew in His church and bring the faithful to a New Pentecost experience where one was made alive in Christ to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the ensuing powers bestowed on the believers! I continued to read the Word, but now with a new enthusiasm and resolve to open my heart to Jesus and drink of the Living Waters that He offers to all who come to Him to satisfy their thirst!

After my recovery, and before I stated back to work, my wife invited me to a weekend retreat being offered by this same priest I just mentioned. The Word of God preached by this priest during the retreat reached the depths of my heart in such a way, that at the end of the retreat I repented of my waywardness and my sins, inviting Jesus into my heart. I then asked to be baptized in the Holy Spirit at a meeting that was to be held later that month, on the Feast ofd Pentecost! By the Grace of God, and only by His Grace, I advanced spiritually, into the arms of my Savior and was consoled by the Spirit of Grace in my heart! Praised be His Holy Name!

As the Lord worked His transformation in me my worship experience continued to deepen. In the beginning, after I received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, I experienced a totally heavenly worship at a mass conducted after a spiritual retreat. I literally thought I was before the throne of God, I experienced a sense of communion with the Lord that I had never experienced before, a communion that extended to all who were present in the church as well. Now I began to truly understand that the ideal for the fullness of worship is in a corporate setting. Where we believers as the “Body of Christ” in communion with Him are, in fact, also participating in His Priesthood at His ultimate act of worship as He offers Himself to the Father in compliance with His Merciful will for the salvation and redemption of humankind!

Later the worship experience spilled over even beyond my participation at Mass to a personal worship time with Him. I noticed this happening during the daily events in my life. For instance, I sometimes would enter into worship as I was driving to work and I would have to stop until I the experience passed and I was able to drive again. Nowadays, I find myself going into worship during my evening prayer times and when I am exercising in the Gym. Thus is the Glory of the Lord manifested in us!

Like the man born blind who received his sight at from the healing hand of Jesus, and having been given new life in Him, I now wish to tell others (whatever their religious upbringing or lack thereof) who are still seeking, about the renewed spirituality that comes with knowing Jesus personally and the more vibrant worship and prayer life that abounds when you put aside your inhibitions and yield your self to the Spirit of the Living God and receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

To Jesus, our Blessed Savior, be Glory and Honor and Praise forever and ever! Amen!

Can This Happen to Everyone?

Approach the Throne as a Child

Jesus receives all who come to Him …

Such experiences are common amongst the Charismatic Renewal – and some are even more dramatic than my own. If this happened to me, an average person with many faults, it can happen to every Christian because God is not a discriminator of persons and the whole reason He sent His Son to die for all Humanity was to bring all of us to this point – to draw us to Himself and fill us with His Spirit so we can be His instruments in bringing forth His Kingdom in this world!

However, I need to add, that you MUST NEVER focus in on the experience itself. Your desire to be right with God and enter into a relationship with Him through Faith in Jesus, His Son, who died for our sins and was resurrected unto Life for us MUST BE the ONLY REASON you turn to Him and NOT for any emotions or consolation you might or might not receive!

I also need to tell you that the Lord may lead us into such wilderness experiences for many other reasons than our conversion. These type of experiences usually occur at each stage of our spiritual growth and are used by God to draw us out of one stage to another, when we have become too comfortable with the stage we are currently at. When we get into a spiritual rut the Lord sometimes uses such experiences to test our faith and pull us out of the spiritually inactive state in which we find ourselves stranded and move us to where He wants us to be, Not where we want to be!

The Lenten observance is tailored around the Life and Passion of Jesus exactly for us to yield ourselves to His Spirit and, through His guidance, discern our progress in being conformed to the image of Christ in us. It also gives us the opportunity to perform, without guilt, the self-assessment needed to determine if we are in a spiritual rut and cry out to the Lord for His help in moving forward in our spiritual journey. Praised Be His Holy name! I say, “without guilt” because “… there is no more condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1); all we are doing is bringing all of our sinful baggage to the foot of the Cross, where the price was paid for all of our sins!

This Lent, If you really want to move forward spiritually to be more like Jesus, just yield yourself to the Holy Spirit, asking for His guidance while keeping in mind this admonition from the Apostle Paul about the need to die to self and become a servant through hearing His Voice and Obeying it!!

“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.2:5-8)

May the Lord strengthen you in your walk with Him! 

Baruch Ha Shem, Blessed Be The Name!

Your Fellow Pilgrim in Christ …. Bartimaeus

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2013])

<> Here is a Worship Music Video that will open up your spirit …

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

Prodigals Amongst us

Be Reconciled with God

Rend your Hearts – Not Your Garments

The Crucified Life

The Cost Of Discipleship

The Renewal of Our Minds

Discerning The Lord’s Call

Praying as Jesus Prayed (Part 1)

Praying as Jesus Prayed (Part 2)

I Stand at the Door and Knock

Receiving The Holy Spirit

Growing in The Spirit

Jesus the Source of Living water and Us

Christ In Us The Hope of Glory

<>Viernes Santo PPS Download  (in Spanish):

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

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